Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Esther Online, and An Interview with Barry Webb

The last full-book sample from the ESV Study Bible, the Book of Esther.

The introduction and notes are by Barry Webb, Senior Research Fellow in Old Testament, Moore Theological College, Sydney, Australia.

Gordon Cheng of Matthias Media’s Sola Panel blog recently interviewed Dr. Webb about his work on Esther. Here are the questions:

  • Barry, how long have you been a student of the Old Testament?
  • What’s the book of Esther about?
  • Tell us a bit about the flawed heroes of the story, Esther and Mordecai.
  • You’ve said in your ESV Study Bible notes on Esther that it is a humorous book. Can you give some examples of what you mean?
  • You also said in your notes on Esther 6:1–13, “Events now move so tellingly in favor of Esther and Mordecai that a presumption of God’s providential involvement becomes unavoidable”. Can you say more about that? Can we read providence in our own circumstances of life?
  • What tips would you give for someone who is trying to preach through the book of Esther for the first time?
When working on editing this material, one of the most helpful things for me was putting together a timeline, which is fairly straightforward in Esther, given that many of the events are explicitly dated. I hadn't realized before that the events of Esther unfold over an entire decade.

Here's a version of the chart that's included on the bottom of p. 855 (though go to the PDF to see a prettier version):

Chronology in Esther

The events of Esther unfold over a period of 10 years.

ReferenceEventMonthDayYear of ReignYear
1:3Ahasuerus holds his banquets

2:16Esther goes to Ahasuerus10
3:7Haman casts his lots1
3:12Haman issues his decree11313
3:13Date planned for annihilation of the Jews121313
8:9Mordecai issues his decree32313
8:12; 9:1Day upon which Jews could defend themselves from attack121313
9:6–10, 20–22Ten sons of Haman executed; Feast of Purim celebrated1214, 1513