1. What is the central theological point of this book?
2. Why would a book so obviously Jewish be devoid of any reference to the Lord?
3. Is the God-story of Esther and Mordecai better suited to its purpose if they are seen as obedient servants of God, or as unknowingly used by a sovereign God?
1. What national day of celebration do you enjoy the most? What makes it so special?
2. Birthdays aside, which event in your life is an annual personal day of celebration? Why?
3. Purim is a most revered Jewish festival, celebrated to this day. Why is that? How was it first established? Where did it get its name?
4. Why is Purim celebrated for two days (verse 27)? What customs make Purim different from the other feast days of the Jewish people?
5. In recounting the story (verses 23 – 28), why do you suppose the narrator chose to start with Haman’s plot, instead of “at the beginning”, with Esther’s rise to prominence in a foreign monarchy? (reminiscent of Joseph)?
6. What event in your life has turned sorrow into joy? How have you commemorated that event? How have you shared it with others so that they could join in with you?
7. Purim is a time for giving to one another and to the poor. What prompts you to give to others, especially the poor? Times of tragedy? Only at Christmas? More often than that? How regularly?
8. What traditions or national customs do you observe regularly as a family? Who joins you from outside the family? Have these traditions gained new meaning, or lost all meaning, over the years? How so?
9. What “relief from you enemies” have you received” lately? What relief are you still seeking?
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1. What have you won (a job, a game, a partner, an appeal) that you were not expected to win? Did you crow about it? Make others eat humble pie? Or what?
2. How often do you cheer for the “underdog”? The “top dog”? When on top, do you ever “pour it on”? Why or why not?
3. To what do you compare the distinct tone of this chapter?
- nostalgic newsreel of World War II?
- teaser for an upcoming horror show?
- notes on the jacket of a war novel?
4. How and why were the Jew able to triumph? Who “turned the tables”? When the Jews got the upper hand, how did they handle it: Cruelly? Mercifully? As expected in war?
5. In what sense is this defeat of the Amalekites the very antithesis of what happened in 1 Samuel 15? Why do the Jews seem intent this time “to take no prisoners” and “take no plunder” (verses 10, 15, 16)?
6. What does this chapter reveal about the character of Esther? Of God?
7. When might “winning the battle” mean “losing the war”? When might “going easy” on the defeated enemy only invite their revenge later? How do you know the difference?
8. When have you had the tables turned on you? How did you feel? What did you learn from that?
9. How do you square this story of annihilating and humiliating one’s enemy with what Jesus stood for: namely, to “love your enemy”? Would it make a difference to you if it were “kill or be killed”? When, if ever, have you faced such a dilemma?