Finding God in the Book of Esther

There is no mention of God in the book of Esther. None of His names appears in the book. The miraculous events of the book are shared with no attribution; it is up to the reader to recognize God’s hand in these events.

Perhaps this is appropriate for the story of a woman who had to conceal her faith. Esther’s real name was Hadassah (הֲדַסָּה), a Hebrew word which means “myrtle.” At some point, presumably when she became a candidate to be queen of Persia, she took on the name Esther (אֶסְתֵּר), which means “star” in Persian, but which is similar to the Hebrew word sathar, סָתַר, meaning “hidden” or “secret.”

On the advice of her cousin and mentor, she concealed her Jewish identity while in the palace: “Esther had not shewed her people nor her kindred: for Mordecai had charged her that she should not shew it” (Esther 2:10.). They must have known that conspicuous adherence to a minority religion would not serve her well in that setting.

Even though God is never directly mentioned in the book, His intervention is implied throughout. For example:

  • When Haman, the chief of the princes, wanted to kill all of the Jews in the kingdom, he and his associates cast lots—purim ( פוּרִים֙)—to determine the date for this action. The date was set for eleven months later, which provided ample time for Esther’s intervention with the king. (See Esther 3:7, 12-13.) That’s why the Jewish commemoration of this event is called Purim. See Esther 9:26-32.)
  • The fact that Esther was queen at this moment of danger for her people can’t have been a coincidence. Mordecai acknowledged this when he asked her, “Who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14).
  • He also acknowledged that, if she failed to act, God could preserve His people in another way: “If thou altogether holdest thy peace at this time, then shall there enlargement and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place” (Esther 4:14).
  • When the Jews learned about the decree, they fasted (Esther 4:3). As Esther prepared to intervene on their behalf, she requested that they all fast for her (Esther 4:14).
  • The night before the feast where Esther revealed Haman’s evil plans, the king could not sleep. He felt prompted to review the written record of recent events, which led him to recognize that Mordecai had saved his life and had not been rewarded for this action. So he came to the banquet prepared to hear Esther’s message (Esther 6:1-3).

The first author in the Book of Mormon, Nephi, saw the hand of God in the events of his life. Near the beginning of his writings, he declares “that the tender mercies of the Lord are over all those whom he hath chosen, because of their faith, to make them mighty even unto the power of deliverance” (1 Nephi 1:20). Later, he prophesied that, in our day, many people would “deny the power of God” and fail to recognize the miracles in their lives (2 Nephi 28:5-6).

The last author in the Book of Mormon, Moroni, testified that God is and will always be “a God of miracles” (Mormon 9:10-21). He urged his readers to “deny not the power of God,” affirming that “he worketh by power, according to the faith of the children of men, the same today and tomorrow, and forever” (Moroni 10:7).

The book of Esther can help us learn to recognize the hand of God. Individual events may seem arbitrary, but if we are paying attention, we will recognize that God is involved in the details of our lives. Elder David A. Bednar said, “The tender mercies of the Lord are real and…they do not occur randomly or merely by coincidence” (“The Tender Mercies of the Lord,” General Conference, April 2005).

Today, I will strive to recognize God’s hand in my life. Just as I can discern his hand in the life of Esther, I will look for evidence of His influence in the events of today.

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