The purpose of the book of Esther is to show that God can accomplish his purposes just as easily through ‘coincidences’ as he can through grand miracles of deliverance. The book of Esther does not indicate an author. The work is set in the Persian Empire. The author seeks to defend the historical accuracy of the work, but the historical reliability is often debated. The literary styles of the book of Esther do not define the genre of the book. Therefore, it is considered to be in a class by itself.
Two major literary themes in the book are reversal and irony. A reversal occurs when the current state of affairs is turned around or when the plot develops in a way that is opposite or contrary to what one would expect. For example, Mordecai is elevated in society, and instead of being destroyed, the Jews are victorious over their enemies. The second literary device, irony, demonstrates that there is always more going on than meets the eye and more possibilities available than any single person understands or is aware of. One of the most obvious examples of irony occurs when the King asks Haman how he would honor someone, assuming it is he who will be honored, when in turn it is Mordecai. In addition, Haman is hanged on the gallows that he built for Mordecai.
Esther finds herself significant behind the scenes. Interestingly enough, the book does not mention Yahweh, but instead serves to show the Lord’s work behind the scenes. During the period of the book of Esther, the Hebrews were working to rebuild their homeland. There is a plot brought about by Haman to get Xerxes to allow enemies to destroy the Israelites on a given day. Esther approaches the king and in chapter 4 verse 4 said, “for if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” Esther’s faithfulness and fidelity is honored.
Traditionally, the Jewish people read the book of Esther annually at the celebration of the Feast of Purim. This festival recognizes the fact that the Jews were delivered from their enemies. God’s deliverance came by ‘chance’. The message of the book of Esther, and the celebration of Purim resounds: God’s methods may vary, but his purposes do not. Lastly, much like Abraham, the Jews in Persia were a revelatory people. God’s revelation came through the people. The Lord was faithful to provide a righteous remnant in order to fulfill his promises and preserve his people.
A modern reader of Esther should note that the Lord works in mysterious ways. The youth minister at Elizabeth Baptist Church constantly reminds the youth to “see God in the little things”. Most of the time he is referring to ‘coincidences’ that happen on mission trips, or small blessings that come to those who have been faithful to God. Christians are quick to look to God for the miraculous, when oftentimes; the miraculous comes in an unexpected, simple form. Esther’s faithfulness to Yahweh is rewarded, and the Jewish people are able to overcome their foes. Likewise, the Lord works in the lives of His people to help them overcome their foes and receive the blessings of Jesus Christ.