Tag : monarchy

The Lilith Blog

February 23, 2021 by

Digging Deeper into Esther’s Mysteries

Some consider the Book of Esther history. Others, a fairy tale. After all, there is a virtuous and beautiful maiden and her protective (non-fairy) godparent, a king, a villain, looming danger, a heroic act and then… an improbably happy ending. Whether history or myth, Esther is more complicated than she seems. Like all biblical literature, there is meaning in the details. With its multiple reversals of fortune and the absence of any direct reference to God, Esther’s story raises numerous questions. So, it’s a thrill to read an author and teacher whose knowledge of rabbinic texts, classical sources and modern critical commentaries combine to tackle these questions. Esther: Power, Fate and Fragility in Exile by Erica Brown [Maggid Press, $29.95], does just that, while remaining accessible to readers of all levels.

Brown’s thought-provoking explorations of character, especially of the mysterious Vashti and her more successful counterpart, Esther, are well worth reading, as is her analysis of their reception throughout history. Brown details rabbis’ condemnation of Vashti’s alleged immorality and also explains how the pioneers of the women’s suffrage movement adopted her as a defender of women’s rights! 


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