Shadow and Fulfillment in the Book of Esther -- By: Michael G. Wechsler

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 154:615 (Jul 1997)
Article: Shadow and Fulfillment in the Book of Esther
Author: Michael G. Wechsler


Shadow and Fulfillment in the Book of Esther

Michael G. Wechsler

[Michael G. Wechsler is a missionary with Chosen People Ministries, Chicago, Illinois.]

From the time of its acceptance into the Old Testament canon, the Book of Esther has been recognized by Jewish sages and scholars as divinely inspired.1 Representative views may be noted from the time of Paul, who referred to the scriptural canon of his day (which included Esther) as τὰ λόγια τοῦ θεοῦ (“the utterances of God,” Rom 3:2), as well as the Tannaim who consistently state that “[the Book of] Esther was given utterance by the Holy Spirit.”2 Traditional Jewish regard for this book is most positively expressed in the idea that while the prophets and writings will one day be annulled, only the Scroll of Esther along with the Torah will never be annulled.3 In marked divergence from the traditional Jewish and early Christian appraisal of the Book of Esther, however, recent scholars have been skeptical of including the book in the biblical canon.4

At the same time, however, a few modern scholars have posited the idea of a thematic/structural relationship between the Book of Esther and the Passover account in Exodus. A recent pioneer among these is Gerleman, who has argued that “all the essential features of the Esther narrative are already there in Exodus 1–12 : the foreign court, the mortal threat, the deliverance, the revenge, the triumph, and the establishment of a festival.”5 Following Gerleman, though critical of certain points in his thesis, several other scholars have commented on the proposed connection between the two narratives.6 Evidence for a possible linguistic connection of Purim (פוּרִים) to Passover (פֶּסַח) may also be derived from the Syriac rendering of Esther 9:26a, “Therefore they called these days Purim in accord with the name Passover,” in which “Passover,” normally rendered in Syriac as pasḥâ, is here rendered peṣḥâ.7 Perhaps this reflects an ancient tradition that recognized a legitimate connection between the thematic/theological bases of P...

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