Esther Book of
Es’ther, Book of, one of the latest of the canonical books of Scripture, having been written late in the reign of Xerxes, or early in that of his son Artaxerxes Longimanus (b.c. 444–434). The author is not known. The book of Esther is placed among the hagiographa by the Jews, and in that first portion of them which they call “the five rolls.” It is written on a single roll, in a dramatic style, and is read through by the Jews in their synagogues at the feast of Purim, when it is said that the names of Haman’s sons are read rapidly all in one breath, to signify that they were all hanged at the same time; while at every mention of Haman the audience stamp and shout and hiss, and the children spring rattles. It has often been remarked as a peculiarity of this book that the name of God does not once occur in it. Schaff gives as the reason for this that it was to permit the reading of the book at the hilarious and noisy festival of Purim, without irreverence. The style of writing is remarkably chaste and simple. It does not in the least savor of romance. The Hebrew is very like that of Ezra and parts of the Chronicles; generally pure, but mixed with some words of Persian origin and some of Chaldaic affinity. In short it is just what one would expect to find in a work of the age to which the book of Esther professes to belong.