Outline of Esther
1. King AhasuerusPersian king and husband of Queen Esther More Banishes Queen Vashti (EstherQueen in Persia who prevented an anti-Jewish pogrom More 1:1-22)
Ahasuerus, king of all PersiaPersia was a southwestern Asian country. The Persian empire was a series of empires that occupied what is currently Afghanistan and Iran from 600 B.C.E. forward. Rulers of the Persian empire mentioned in the Bible are Cyrus and Darius. More and Media, orders Queen Vashti to appear at his lavish banquet to be admired for her beauty, but she refuses. King Ahasuerus, guided by his officials, worried lest all women follow Vashti’s example, banishes Vashti and commands all the women in the kingdom to honor their husbands.
2. Esther Becomes Queen (Esther 2:1-18)
King Ahasuerus has all the beautiful young virgins in his kingdom gathered into his harem so that he might choose a queen. Ultimately he chooses Esther, adopted daughter of a Jewish exile named Mordecai.
3. Mordecai Saves King Ahasuerus (Esther 2:19-23)
Meanwhile Mordecai, while sitting at the gateGates are openings in walls or fences for entrance and departure. In the Bible (as in Ruth and the prophets) the city gate was a commercial center where business and social transactions took place. In Amos the gate is the location of the law court… More, overhears two of the king’s eunuchs hatching a plot to assassinate the king. Mordecai tells Esther, who tells the king, and the two men are hanged.
4. Haman Plots to Destroy All the Jews (Esther 3:1-15)
Haman, the king’s chief official, is angered by Mordecai’s refusal to bow down before him and convinces the king to issue a proclamation that on the thirteenth day of Adar, the day chosen by lots called purim, the Jews would be destroyed and their goods plundered. While the city of Susa was thrown into confusion by the decree, the king and Haman sat down to drink.
5. Esther Agrees to Speak for Her People (Esther 4:1-17)
After Mordecai sends word to Esther that she should appeal to the king to spare her people, Esther sends word back that she has not been summoned into the king’s presence for thirty days, and the punishment for appearing without being summoned is death. Mordecai responds that if she does not do this, deliverance will come from somewhere else, whereupon Esther asks that all the Jews fast and pray on her behalf for three days, and then she will go unbidden before the king.
6. Esther Invites the King and Haman to Two Banquets (Esther 5:1-8)
Esther goes before King Ahasuerus who welcomes her, inquires as to her request, and offers her half of his kingdom. She issues an invitation to the king and to Haman for two banquets on two successive nights.
7. Haman Builds a Gallows for Mordecai (Esther 5:9-14)
Haman, puffed up by his exalted position and the queen’s attention, as well as continually angered by Mordecai’s lack of respect, follows the advice of his wife Zeresh and his friends to have a huge gallows built for the purpose of hanging Mordecai.
8. Mordecai Is Honored (Esther 6:1-13)
Meanwhile the sleepless king is reminded that Mordecai once saved him from an assassination attempt and asks Haman how he might honor one deserving of recognition. Haman, assuming he is the deserving one, advises parading the honoree through the city clothed in the trappings of the king. Thus, Haman is forced to lead his enemy with honor through the streets rather than seeing him hung on the gallows.
9. Queen Esther Appeals to the King and Haman Is Hanged (Esther 6:14-7:10)
At the second banquet, Esther reveals to the king that she is a Jew, pleads for her people, and names Haman as the villain. The king, mistaking Haman’s appeal for mercyMercy is a term used to describe leniency or compassion. God’s mercy is frequently referred to or invoked in both the Old and New Testaments. More at Esther’s feet for an attempted seduction of the queen, orders Haman hung on the very gallows he has had built for Mordecai.
10. The Edict against the Jews Is Reversed (Esther 8:1-17)
Esther persuades the king to issue a new decree reversing the king’s earlier unalterable decree to annihilate the Jews. Now the enemies of the Jews are to be annihilated instead, and there is much rejoicing.
11. The Edict Is Carried Out and Purim Is Established (Esther 9:1-10:3)
On the very day when the initial slaughter of the Jews was to be carried out, the Jews instead take vengeance on their enemies. The Jewish festival of Purim is established in memory of these events, and King Ahasuerus elevates Mordecai to the position previously held by Haman.