Project Genesis

Jewish Texts

The Prophets and Writings

The Book of Esther and the Purim Celebration

Question: I am currently involved in a Bible study of the book of Esther. Would you please tell me when this particular writing became part of the sacred scripture for the Hebrew people? Was the Feast of Purim begun because of the story of Esther and when was it first celebrated? I am also wondering why no parts of it were found among the Dead Sea Scrolls.

Answer: When the Rabbi’s of the Sanhedrin (The Jewish Supreme Court) were convinced that both Mordechai and Esther were prophets and the inspiration to know precisely what to write came from G-d, then the Book was included in scripture. This was a little over 2,000 years ago.”Was the Feast of Purim begun because of the story of Esther and when was it first celebrated?”

Yes. Commemoration of the fast was declared by the sages of the 2nd Temple, so it couldn’t have been too long after the actual event. I don’t know if it was immediately after.

I can only speculate as to why Esther is not found among the Dead Sea Scrolls. One reason is chance. There are other Books where only one or two references are found, and perhaps it is just the luck of the draw that Esther has not turned up.

Another reason is that the Essenes, who may have deviated from the true Jewish path, did not like Esther because it is the only Book where the Name of G-d is not to be found. Actually it is found in very important hidden ways…a thing the Essenses may not appreciate. The name “Esther” itself implies that which is hidden.

Regards, Eliahu Levenson

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