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In: Archaeology of the Books of Samuel
Author: Jürg Hutzli

Abstract

This article deals with two theological paradoxes in the Book of Esther (Masoretic Text). Arguably, the most striking characteristic of the book is that it does not mention God. At the same time, the two Jewish protagonists bear names that are identical with, or at least strongly reminiscent of, those of the Babylonian deities Marduk and Ištar. While the author of Esther seems to completely ignore the cultic laws of the Pentateuch, at the end of the book he strongly emphasizes the foundation of the Purim feast. Although each of these four topics has been dealt with in scholarship, they are seldomly—and if so, only partly—investigated with regard to their mutual coherence. In aiming to do this, the present article undertakes to reevaluate the theological profile of the Book of Esther (as expressed in the Masoretic Text) as well as its historical location. As for the latter question, the intriguing statement related to “relief and deliverance coming to the Jews from another place” in Est 4:14 provides an important hint.

In: Vetus Testamentum