Pieces from the book of Esther

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The pieces for the Book of Esther are texts that belong to the apocrypha of the Luther Bible . In contrast to the pieces for the Book of Daniel , these texts are not understandable in and of themselves, but written as a supplement to the Book of Esther and related to it.

In terms of content, there is a surplus of the Greek version of the Book of Esther in the Septuagint compared to the Hebrew Book of Esther , which is counted as one of the megillot of the Jewish canon of holy scriptures ( Tanakh ). In the Septuagint these text passages are an integral part of the book, but Jerome translated the Hebrew Book of Esters for the Vulgate and added the pieces to the Book of Esther as an appendix (chapters 10.4–16.21). Martin Luther followed the Vulgate tradition in separating the texts that have only survived in Greek from the Hebrew text stock, but differed in that he completely separated this appendix from the Esther Book and did not include it in the actual Old Testament.

The ecclesiastical Catholic standard translation offers a mixed text: in the translation of the Hebrew Book of Esther, where they appear in the Septuagint, the parts of Esther translated from Greek are inserted. The ecumenically responsible Good News Bible offers the translation of the Hebrew Book of Esther in the Old Testament and the translation of the (complete) Greek Book of Esther in the so-called late writings of the Old Testament .


The more recent research follows the Göttingen Septuagint edition by Hanhart and designates the texts with the capital letters A to F; this is also the arrangement in the revised Luther Bible (2017):

  • A dream of Mordecai; Mordechai saves the king from a plot.
  • B Edict of King Artaxerxes to exterminate the Jews.
  • C Mordechais prayer and Queen Esther's prayer.
  • D Esther appears before the king.
  • E Edict of King Artaxerxes for the legal recognition of the Jews.
  • F Mordecai interprets his dream. Midrash for the festival of Purim . Colophon for the Greek translation of the Ester book.

The Greek Esterbuch puts the fate of the Jews in the Persian Empire in a world-historical, even cosmic, context with a historical theological framework (Pieces A and F). Since two edicts of Artaxerxes are communicated verbatim (Pieces B and E), the reader also learns two contrary evaluations of the Jewish population: for the Pogromedict (B) they are a "misanthropic and state-threatening population group"; for the edict of tolerance (E), on the other hand, they are citizens who live according to very just religious laws and are children of the highest, greatest and living God. At the center of the composition are the prayers Mordechais and Esters (C); the short note in the Hebrew Book of Esther that Esther appears before the king is expanded into a dramatic scene in the Greek version (D).


The colophon names a Jerusalemite named Lysimachus as the translator of the Ester book into Greek and dates his work to the year 78/77 BC The designation of Haman as " Macedonian " in piece E could indicate that the pieces of Ester between the second half of the 2nd and the beginning of the 1st century BC. Were created. You are looking back on the victory of Alexander the Great over the Persians. The two - fictional - edicts (B and E) are typical products of Hellenistic historiography, which gives the person of Artaxerxes additional color. Pieces A and F (Mordechai's Dream and its Interpretation) may be older and were originally written in Hebrew or Aramaic. They show a closeness to apocalyptic texts, especially to Dan 7. In piece C there is probably an allusion to a limitation of the Jerusalem cult at the time of Antiochus IV. Epiphanes (167/164 BC).

Characterization of the Greek ester book

The independence of the Greek from the Hebrew Ester book can be seen in the pieces it offers in addition to it: an explicit religiosity and a theology of history that counts on God's saving intervention in favor of his people; he is addressed in prayer as an omnipotent and omniscient Creator and as a merciful and just God.

On the other hand, the Hebrew Book of Esther is the only book of the Tanach, besides the Song of Songs, that contains neither the name of God YHWH nor any other name for God. God's intervention to save his people is indicated only indirectly:

  • Mordechai reckons that the Jews will receive help “from another place” ( Est 4,14  LUT );
  • Acrostichon of God's name YHWH in Est 5,4  LUT , at a crucial point in terms of content;
  • Haman's wife considers Mordechai to be insurmountable because he is a Jew ( Est 6,13  LUT );
  • After the rescue of the Jews, many proselytes join Judaism ( Est 8.17  LUT ).

Text output


  • Markus Witte: The "additions" to the Esterbuch . In: Jan Christian Gertz (Hrsg.): Basic information Old Testament. Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 6th revised and expanded edition Göttingen 2019, pp. 489–494. ISBN 978-3-8252-5086-7 .

Individual evidence

  1. Markus Witte: The "Additions" to the Esterbuch , Göttingen 2019, p. 489.
  2. Markus Witte: The "Additions" to the Esterbuch , Göttingen 2019, p. 491.
  3. Markus Witte: The "Additions" to the Esterbuch , Göttingen 2019, p. 492 f.
  4. Markus Witte: The "Additions" to the Esterbuch , Göttingen 2019, p. 493 f.
  5. Markus Witte: The Ester Book . In: Jan-Christian Gertz (Hrsg.): Basic information Old Testament. Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 6th revised and expanded edition Göttingen 2019, pp. 481–489, here p. 486 f.