The Book of Esther (S1E12a)

Join us as we explore a little bit about the holiday of Purim, and do a quick overview of its central book – the Book of Esther. We tease out the farcical tone Esther is written in, identify many of its comedic elements, and identify some of its main themes. (Those themes will be more fully explored in episode 12b.)

The Gilbert and Sullivan style Book of Esther is a feature for the holiday of Purim, with Jews around the world marking the holiday of Purim by reading the Book of Esther twice. The comedic presentation is by design. Esther is set in Persia, during the reign of King Ahasereus. Esther follows the travails of Mordechai and his niece Esther, following along the story of Ahasereus, his vizier Haman, and a plot to murder all the Jews in the world. The plot unravels in incredible fashion, leaving Haman dead and the Jews ascendant…yet nowhere in the Book of Esther do you see G-d’s Name, and the simple explanation of Divine Providence is eschewed for…well…that part seems unclear.

The Book of Esther as a literary work is a work of genius. Each plot point gets woven together from random threads and strings into a story of a perfect reversal where every single action undertaken by its antagonist results in his own downfall…directly. Insane plot points like state organized rape fests are presented as beauty pageants, subtly inserting a level of farce into the book that can be missed in a casual reading! Any book that can be read on multiple levels is a masterpiece, and the Book of Esther is brilliant. 

We humbly suggest you read the book along with us! Join us as we peel back the layers of the book and strike at its salient themes.

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