Esther Bible Study Beth Moore Viewer'S Guide Answers Details

Beth Moore Esther Form is an excellent resource for understanding the book of Esther. This form can be used to study the book of Esther on your own, with a small group, or in a class setting. The form includes commentary from Beth Moore and background information that will help you further understand the book of Esther. The form also includes questions to help you study and apply the Scriptures. I highly recommend using this form if you want to study the book of Esther in depth. Are you interested in studying the Bible but don't know where to start? If so, Beth Moore's Esther Form is an excellent resource for getting started.

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esther

it’s tough being a woman

BETH MOORE

Published by LifeWay Press®. ©2008 Beth Moore. Permission is granted to store, print, and distribute this document for its intended use.

Distribution for sale is strictly prohibited. Address requests for additional permissions in writing to Leadership and Adult Publishing;

One LifeWay Plaza; Nashville, TN 37234-0175.

esther

viewer guide y introduction

The Background of Esther in the Hebrew Bible and Tradition

The Book of Esther is also known as the Megillah .

Historical Background

Like the Book of Daniel, Esther is a Diaspora story.

The Uniqueness of the Book of Esther

1. The total

absence

 

of any

reference

to God

Why study the Book of Esther?

 

 

 

• It’s part of

God’s

 

Word .

 

 

 

• Based on Psalm 138:2b God’s name may not be in

it

,

but

it

is

on

it .

 

 

 

• It offers tremendous

 

hope

.

 

 

• It extends a vital perspective on the

providence

of _

God .

Merriam Webster’s deinition of providence: “God conceived as the

power

 

sustaining

and

guiding

human

 

destiny .” Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary adds, “In so doing [in His providence] God attends not only to apparently momentous events and people but also to those that seem both

mundane and trivial . … Indeed, so all encompassing is God’s attention to events within creation that nothing …

happens by chance .”

8

Ephesians 1:11—Even when we’re blind to the evidence, God

works

out

everything

in conformity with the

purpose

of His will.”

 

 

Philippians 2:13—Godworks__

in

you to will and to act

according to His good _______purpose______.”

 

2. The title bears a ___ woman’s___ ___ name___.

Throughout the next nine weeks we’ll consider different scenarios to underscore the concept captured in our study’s title.

Scenario #1

It’s tough being a woman in another woman’s shadow .

3. The God-ordained emphasis on __human __

responsibility ____

According to Word Biblical Commentary, the inspired author of Esther

“lays all the stress on the human

contribution to the

divine-human synergism ” [combined or shared energy].

introduction

Video sessions are available for download at www.lifeway.com/women

9

 

 

esther 2:1-7

viewer guide y session one

Today’s session introduces our protagonist and most vital supporting actor. We will use these important “first mentions” to help us draw character sketches of each based on what we know and what we also might imagine.

Part One

A Character Sketch

of Mordecai

• He was a

Jew

(6:10; 8:7; 9:31; 10:3; 5:13).

 

“Its significance is indicated by the fact that this is the

only

time

in the whole Old Testament that a

native

member

of the community of Israel is named and identified by a gentilic.”1

• He was an

exile

.

 

 

Esther 2:6 “employs the root of the word for exile (glh) in four distinct

constructions, lest the full measure of the Jewish plight be overlooked.”2

View the repetition in the King James Version: “Who had been

carried

away

from Jerusalem with the

captivity

which

had been

carried

away with Jeconiah king of Judah whom

Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon had carried

away .”

• He was a sudden

parent

to his cousin

.

32

Part Two

A Character Sketch of Esther

• She was named

Hadassah

.

 

 

This Jewish name comes from the word for “ myrtle

 

and means “

fragrance

 

.”3

 

 

• She was

orphaned

.

 

 

 

• She was

brought

 

up by her male

cousin

.

• She was

lovely .

 

 

 

 

Scenario #2

It’s tough being a woman in a

 

world

where

beauty

is a

treatment

 

.

 

• She was also known

as

Esther

.

This Persian name means “ star

.”

 

Perhaps even more significantly, “the name Esther comes from the

verbal root in Hebrew str, meaning ‘to

conceal

.’ ”4

esther 2:1-7 W e e k 1 • A R o y a l M e s s

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33

 

 

esther 3:1-5

viewer guide y session two

Scenario #3

It’s tough being a woman in a mean

world .

1.

Meanness

always has a

history

.

Consider the history of these two rivals.

Mordecai,

a

Jew

from the tribe of

Benjamin and a descendant of

King Saul

Haman,

a presumed Amalekite and descendant

of

Agag

, their king during

Saul’s reign

The disobeyed

instruction:

1 Samuel 15:10-23,30

The revealed

explanation :

Deuteronomy 25:17-19

(Referring to Ex. 17:8-16.)

56

Exodus 17:16—“ The

LORD

will be at war against the

Amalekites from generation to generation.”

2.

Meanness

perceives a threat (2 Cor. 10:12).

3.

Meanness

catches like a

virus

.

The word Agag is believed to be related to an Assyrian term (agagu)

that means “to be

powerful

, vehement,

angry

.”5

The name “Haman” sounds similar to the Hebrew word for

wrath (Hebrew, heman).6 (Compare Prov. 22:24-25.)

Consider the following quote

“Surely as Christians we must recognize the ‘

spirit

_ of

Haman ’ not only in our world but

 

within

ourselves

.”7

 

4. Meanness

is

curable

(Rom. 12:17-21).

esther 3:1-5 W e e k 2 • A C o n t e s t f o r a Q u e e n

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esther 4:1-14

viewer guide y session three

The Human Dilemma of Destiny

Many of the biblical figures who fulfilled their God-appointed

destinies shared some of Esther’s basic inner conflicts.

Consider the dilemma of destiny from a human perspective:

1. The

poor

timing

. Reflect on Esther 4:11b.

2. The

unreasonable

expectation

.

Scenario #4

It’s tough being a woman

thrown

a

giant - size

weight .

 

80

3. The

 

risky

 

identification

.

 

• Remember, destiny appoints

 

one

__ but affects __

__.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

many

 

• The

revelation

 

of a person’s destiny always demands

a revelation of the

person

 

. Consider the wording “if you

remain silent at this time.” The Hebrew word translated silent in this

verse can also be translated

 

conceal

.

 

4. The

unanswered

question

.

 

(See verse 14.)

 

 

 

 

“The sentence contains a igure of speech known as aposiopesis—a

sudden

breaking

off

of what was being said or written

so that the mind is more impressed by what is

left

unsaid ,

it being too wonderful, solemn or awful to verbalize. In English

this igure is sometimes called the ‘sudden

silence

.’ ”8

esther 4:1-14 W e e k 3 • A R a g i n g P a s s i o n f o r H o n o r

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81

 

 

esther 4:11-17

viewer guide y session four

Part One

Our protagonist made three shifts that moved her

from self-preservation to brave determination.

1. Esther had a

choice

.

 

 

“She [Esther] had to

overcome

herself

in order to

do what God had created her and positioned her to do.”9

2. Esther faced the fear .

Consider general fears, then our context’s specific fear:

• Facing any ___fear

And if ____________________________, then ___________.

[your answers here]

104

Scenario #5

It’s tough being a woman in the tight

fist of fear .

• Facing fear of ___death

Hebrews 2:14-15 from The Message: “By embracing death,

 

taking it into himself, he destroyed the Devil’s hold on death

 

and freed all who

cower

through life,

scared

to

death

of

death

.”

 

 

Recall a quote we discussed in week 3 of our homework:

“Living perpetually in the shadow of immanent catastrophe,

the Jew was threatened not only physically but psychologically.

Walking in the

shadow

 

of

death

was as

perilous

as

dying

.”10

3. Esther

took

the

courage

she was offered.

esther 4:11-17 W e e k 4 • I f Yo u R e m a i n S i l e n t

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105

 

 

esther 5:1-8

viewer guide y session five

Sometimes God

forces

the issue of

time .

Amazingly, other times He seems to entrust

it.

Reflect on the importance of knowing … 1. When it’s time .

See verse 1. Compare Hosea 6:2.

2. When it’s

time

to

wait .

 

 

Ecclesiastes 3:1,7 say, “There is a time for everything, and a season for

every activity under heaven … a time to be

silent and a time to

speak

.”

 

 

 

 

• Sometimes we need to be

silent

even when man invites us to

speak .

 

 

 

 

Consider the idiom, “Even up to half the kingdom.”

(Compare Mark 6:17-28.)

• Sometimes the

words

sound

right , but they don’t

taste

right

. See Job 34:2-4. (Compare 2 Cor. 6:1-2.)

128

3. When it’s time to

wait

for

someone

else’s time.

• The time wasn’t

right

for

Xerxes

.

(Recall Mark 6:23.)

• The time wasn’t

right

for

Haman

.

Commentator Adele Berlin suggests the delay is “a clever move

on Esther’s part to disarm Haman and make him think he was

the center of attention. This plays to Haman’s

personal

weakness .”11 Similarly, J. Gordon McConville

explains that the delay allowed time “for Haman’s misguided

self-confidence to mature .”12

4. When the

meantime

is

God-time

.

(See Isa. 40:31, KJV.)

Scenario #6

It’s tough being a woman who can balance

passion with patience .

esther 5:1-8 W e e k 5 • A Ta b l e S e t f o r P r o v i d e n c e

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129

 

 

esther 6:6-11

viewer guide y session six

The sixth chapter is “the hinge of the story of Esther.”13 God appoints or allows circumstances (often crises) in our lives to redirect our paths. Today we explore the unexpected pivot

point of Esther by giving a name to an important concept in

the book:

The

Reversal

of

Destiny

also

called The

Reversal

of Fortunes

. Review Esther 6:6-11.

These reversals are part of a literary tapestry that will open our eyes to see …

1. The beauty of the book’s

construction

.

 

 

Am I willing to do the

work

to see the

 

wonder

?

Two literary devices are employed magnificently in the Book of

Esther. The first is called “

chiastic

 

structure

.”

What in the world is it? In its tightest form, chiastic structure is

inverted

parallelism

. In other words, it is a

 

reversal

of structures to emphasize an

overarching

 

point

.

 

 

 

 

 

What’s the best way to picture it?

• The “ chi

” that begins the word chiastic is the 22nd

letter of the

Greek

alphabet

.

152

It is written like this: X . The letter itself represents the

crisscross literary structure of a chiasm (literally in Greek, a crossing).

What’s the best example of it in the Book of Esther? Chiastic structure is deliciously illustrated in the repeated occurrences of

feasts or banquets .

2. The beauty of the book’s

instruction

.

Esther’s best theology is in its

subtlety

. To offer a

perfect example, we’ll consider a second literary device called

peripety

.”

 

 

What in the world is it?

• “Peripety: a

sudden

turn

of events

that

reverses

the expected or intended outcome”

particularly in a literary work.14

 

 

Scenario #7

It’s tough being a woman

who

feels

responsible for

the

how

.”

“A peripeteia swiftly turns a routine sequence of events into a story

worth

telling

.”15

 

esther 6:6-11 W e e k 6 • W h a t G o e s A r o u n d

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153

 

 

esther 7–8:2

viewer guide y session seven

Esther 7–8:2 shows the impact of the climactic

events on all four major players.

Every turn

-

around

 

starts with

a

step

.

1. Esther

stepped

 

through .

 

 

(See Esther 7:3 and 8:1.)

 

 

 

“Literally, ‘

what

he

was

to

her .’ The author

probably intended to convey more than is being suggested

by the translation ‘that he was related

to her.’ ”16

 

2. Haman

stepped

 

off .

 

 

 

(See Esth. 7:10. Compare Ps. 7:15-16.)

 

 

3. Xerxes

stepped

 

in .

 

 

 

(See Esth. 8:1. Compare 2 Cor. 8:9.)

 

 

 

4. Mordecai

stepped

up .

 

 

 

(See Esth. 8:1-2.)

 

 

 

 

 

Now see the “Turn It Around!” page and fill in the appropriate blanks.*

*Editor’s Note: This form is available in the leader guide and online at www.lifeway.com/bethmoore.

174

Turn Around Scenario #7

It’s tough being a woman who feels responsible for the “how.”

“The Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials and to

keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment.” (2 Pet. 2:9, HCSB)

“For he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we

are dust.” (Ps. 103:14)

Turn Around Scenario #6

It’s tough being a woman who can balance passion

with patience.

“Yet the LORD longs to be gracious to you; he rises to show

you compassion. For the LORD is a God of justice. Blessed are all

who

wait

for him.” (Isa. 30:18)

“The Lord

waits

… blessed are all those who wait

for Him.” (ESV)

 

“That same day,” Esther 8:1

“Rather than love, than money, than

fame

give me truth

.

— Henry David Thoreau (Walden, 1854)

esther 7–8:2 W e e k 7 • W h e r e i s t h e M a n ?

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175

 

 

esther 9:1-4

viewer guide y session eight

Today’s chapter explicitly states the Book of Esther’s most pronounced theme—the reversal of destiny. We will glance ahead to Esther 9:19-22 and then focus on verses 1-4. Esther 9:1 says, “but now the tables were turned.” The Hebrew transliteration for “the tables were turned” is hapak which means “to overturn, to overthrow, to tumble.”

Premise for Today’s Session

God can’t

turn

a

table

that was

never

set

against

 

you .

 

 

Seeing purpose in tough scenarios increases the trust required for a turnaround.

Turn Around Scenario #5

It’s tough being a woman in the tight fist of fear.

• The Jews weren’t just

delivered

, they were

empowered

.

(See Deut. 33:29; compare Neh. 4:10-14.)

 

 

• See Esther 9:2: “The Jews assembled in their cities.” The power wasn’t

just

Mordecai’s

 

. It was all of

theirs

.

 

• Every time you’re in a

tight

fist of fear, remember you’re

in something much

tighter

. Isaiah 49:16 says, “See, I have

 

engraved

you

on the

palms

of

my

hands .”

Turn Around Scenario #4

It’s tough being a woman thrown a giant-size weight.

198

 

• God always has the

upper

 

 

hand

. Exchange the

 

burden

for a

weapon

 

(1 Pet. 5:7; see Deut. 23:3-5).

 

“However, the LORD your God … turned the

curse

into a blessing

 

for you, because the LORD your God

 

loves

you

” (Deut. 23:5).

Ahab—“Implies an ardent and

vehement

inclination of the mind and

a

tenderness

of

affection

at the same time.”17

Consider the unique metaphor in Hosea 7:8

“Ephraim is a flat

cake not turned

over .”

Turn Around Scenario #3

It’s tough being a woman in a mean world.

• In a

mean

world, New Testament believers are called

to a

good

fight

.

“I give you this instruction in keeping with the prophecies once made about

you, so that by following them you may

fight

the

good __fight____,

holding on to faith

and a good

conscience

. Some have

rejected these and so have shipwrecked their faith” (1 Tim. 1:18-19).

Consider the following excerpt from The Queen and I:

“When, because of your faith , your life too becomes perceptibly

different; when your reactions are quite

opposite

to what the

situation seems to call for and your activities can no longer be explained in

terms of your

personality

; that is when your neighborhood will sit

up and take notice. In the eyes of the world, it is not our

relationship

with Jesus Christ that counts; it is our

resemblance

to

him !”18

esther 9:1-4 W e e k 8 • T h e R i g h t t o B e R e a d y

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199

 

 

esther 9:29–10:3

viewer guide y session nine

As the inspired writer puts the finishing touches on the book, we will put the finishing touches on our approach to its overarching theme—reversals of destiny.

Interestingly, a book called by Esther’s name and showcasing her beauty and courage begins and ends without her. So, who is the Book’s real hero? Who is the truest protagonist?

Consider the following thoughts:

Neither Esther nor Mordecai had the power or position alone to deliver

their people. It was only as they acted in

concerted

power

and

authority

that they were able to lead God’s people through

the crisis of death and into deliverance. Neither of them

aspired

to the role; perhaps neither of them

deserved

it. It was thrust on

them by a series of improbable circumstances largely beyond their control.

Nevertheless, their unlikely partnership accomplished

God’s ancient promise, and the Jewish race was preserved until in the fullness of time, God entered history through this people as the

Messiah . How marvelous are God’s inscrutable ways!19

Recall Scenario #2

It’s tough being a woman in a world where

beauty

is

a

treatment

.

 

222

Before we locate and record our “turn around” Scripture, consider some of the possible implications of Genesis 3:16. Two different Hebrew words are translated “man.” They are adam and ish.

When a distinction exists between the two, ish denotes “man as the

counterpart

of woman and/or

distinguished

in his

maleness .”20 The word is first used in Genesis 2:24. In the KJV,

ish is translated “husband” 69 times and “man” or “men” 1212 times.

Turn Around Scenario #2

It’s tough being a woman in a world where beauty is a

treatment.

“He has made

everything

beautiful

in

its

time ” (Eccl. 3:11).

 

 

 

In man’s realm,

time

diminishes

beauty .

In God’s realm where we will spend forever,

time perfects

beauty .

 

 

 

 

Turn Around Scenario #1

It’s tough being a woman in another woman’s shadow.

He who dwells in the

shelter

 

of the

Most

High

will rest in the

shadow

of

the

Almighty

” (Ps. 91:1).

On the “Turn It Around!” page, write concise descriptions of each scenario over the top of each corresponding box.

esther 9:29–10:3 W e e k 9 • T h e Ta b l e s Tu r n e d

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