Although Esther follows Nehemiah in the Bible, its events are about thirty years prior to those recorded in Nehemiah
Although no one knows who wrote this book, it was apparently written by a Jew living in Persia. He made use of records kept by Mordecai and could have used the records of the books of Chronicles.
Drama, power, and romance describe a true story lived and written centuries ago in the book of Esther. This book gives us a segment of the history of the Jews that is not covered elsewhere in the Bible.
The chief characters of the book are King Ahasuerus (another name for Xerxes), Vashti, Haman, Esther, and Mordecai. Although the name of God is not mentioned in the entire narrative, the book of Esther is a living illustration of the unseen hand of God’s providence.
Esther and Mordecai were living in the royal city of Susa. This city had been an important political, cultural, and religious center for centuries. At this time the city was one of the capital cities of a vast empire stretching from what is now India in the east to Turkey and Ethiopia in the west. In fact, the ruins of Susa are in Iran near its border with Iraq.
The book of Esther begins with Queen Vashti refusing to obey an order from her husband, King Ahasuerus. Because of this, she was removed and the search began for a new queen. Through a series of circumstances, a young Jewish woman by the name of Esther was brought to the palace and was chosen to become the new queen.
At the same time, Mordecai, Esther’s older cousin, became a government official. A man by the name of Haman was appointed second in command to the king. When Mordecai refused to bow in reverence to him, Haman became angry and determined to destroy Mordecai and all the Jews along with him.
When Esther found out that Haman planned to destroy her people, she exposed him to the king. As a result, the king sentenced Haman to die on the gallows that he had built for Mordecai. Mordecai was promoted to Haman’s position, and as a result, the Jews were guaranteed protection throughout the land and a whole nation was saved.