Dear 365 Readers,
This week we will spend Wednesday – Friday reading the book of Esther, a quick-paced story about a Jewish queen in Persia that may be familiar to many of you.
Esther’s story takes place in Persia (modern day Iran) during the exile of the Jewish nation. Technically, her story falls between the events of Ezra chapter 6 and Ezra chapter 7, in that 20 year gap, and before Nehemiah travelled to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. Some Jews had returned to Jerusalem to help with the rebuilding of the temple, but many more chose to stay in Persia as they had grown comfortable in exile (Isaiah and Jeremiah will call this disobedience).
Esther was written from Persia to the Jews who returned and were struggling. It was an encouragement, telling a story of God’s intervention to save His people even though they were still in exile. As you read Esther, watch for all of the events where God worked to fulfill His plans for the Jews. Jews today still celebrate the Feast of Purim and retell the story of Esther and God’s faithfulness. “Purim” comes from the Persian word “pur” which means to cast lots as Haman did when picking the day to schedule the massacre (Esther 2:7).
Enjoy this intriguing tale!