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This Book, which derives its name from the person whose history it chiefly relates, is termed in Hebrew, מגלה [Strong’s H4039] אסתר [Strong’s H635], megillath Esther , “the volume of Esther.” Concerning its author there are various opinions: some attribute it to Ezra; some to Joachim, the son of Joshua the high priest; others to the men of the great synagogue; and others to Mordecai, which seems the most probable opinion. The events here related probably refer to the time of Artaxerxes Longimanus, who, according to Prideaux, was the Ahasuerus of Esther, agreeably to Josephus (Ant. 1 xi. c. 6), the Septuagint version, and the apocryphal additions to this book. The history, therefore, comes in between the sixth and seventh chapters of Ezra 6:22, commencing about am 3540, and continuing through a period of twelve years . i t relates the royal feast of Ahasuerus; the disgrace of Vashti (Esther 1); the elevation of Esther to the Persian throne; the essential service rendered to the king by Mordecai, in detecting a plot against his life (Esther 2); the promotion of Haman, and his purposed destruction of the Jews (Esther 3:1-Ezra :); the consequent affliction of the Jews, and the measures pursued by them (Esther 4); the defeat of Haman’s plot, through the instrumentality of Esther, against Mordecai (Esther 5-7); and also the defeat of his general plot against the Jews (Esther 8, Esther 9:1-Ezra :); the institution of the feast of Purim to commemorate this deliverance (Esther 9:16-32); and the advancement of Mordecai (Esther 10:1-Leviticus :); and though some Christians have hesitated to receive this book into the sacred canon, yet it has always been received by the Jews, not only as perfectly authentic, but also as one of the most excellent of their sacred books. That it is a genuine and faithful description of a real fact, the observation of the feast of Purim, to the present day, is a sufficient evidence; since it is impossible, and in fact inconceivable, that a nation should institute, and afterwards continue to celebrate without interruption, through every generation of that people, in a long succession of ages, in whatever places they may have sojourned, this solemn annual festival, merely because one of their nation had written an agreeable fable or romance. It has been remarked, as an objection to this book, that the name of God no where occurs in it: His superintending providence, however, is frequently illustrated. It is shewn, indeed, in every part of the work; disconcerting evil designs, and producing great events, by means seemingly inadequate. It also presents an interesting description of mortified pride, and of malice baffled to the destruction of its possessors; and exhibits a very lively representation of the vexations and troubles, the anxieties, treachery, and dissimulation of a corrupt court.
the Week of Proper 12 / Ordinary 17