Esther, a role model for feminism or orthodox Judaism?
Upon reading the book of Esther for the first time, as a gentile with a limited Protestant knowledge of the Hebrew Bible, I was puzzled. The Book of Esther seems a strange choice for inclusion in the canon and the fact it is part of the scriptures has intrigued many scholars through the years. Some have found it so troubling as to question if it should have been included at all.1 There are marked differences between this book and other Old Testament books. The language is stylistically very different to the patriarchal books.2 There appears to be three separate stories woven together into one book. The first about Vashti, Persian queen who is banished by Ahasuerus, the Persian king, for her disobedience, the second, the story of how a young Jewish girl, Esther became the new queen, and thirdly a tale of two warring courtiers, Mordecai and Haman.3 Esther, one of the main protagonists hides her Jewishness for much of the text. This is strange when the other Jewish protagonist Mordecai, who is part of the Persian court, is not afraid of declaring his Jewishness and is eventually given a very high position of power. 4 It ultimately celebrates the triumph of Jews in the diaspora, facilitated by the massacre of another people.5 It is then a confusing book, where the notion of individuality is hidden for the good of the community. Disobedience leads to banishment for one and salvation for another, where victims come to power and those who would have been killed wage war instead. Most strikingly of all, this appears to happen because of a woman, rare in other biblical books. 6 Unable to cover all the unusual features of the Book of Esther, this limited study will explore how it portrays women, and the influence of this book on the ideal female role model. Considering the place of the book of Esther in the scriptural canon, feminist views on the book and contrasting more orthodox Jewish thinking, it will also make use of case studies from Stephanie Wellen Levine's book, Mystics, Mavericks and Merrymakers: an Intimate Journey Among Hasidic Girls.
W. Lee Humphreys writes that the Book of Esther ;
“...was one of the last to find a secure place in the Hebrew Canon.”7
With this in mind, it is interesting to learn that there are no fragments of the Book of Esther among the Dead Sea Scrolls. God is not named in the Hebrew form of the text, nor is there mention of Jerusalem or Jewish laws, customs and practices. Less surprisingly, Luther thought the Book of Esther had no place in the Bible, and the lack of piety demonstrated in the text that offended Luther so many years later, most likely also offended the Essene Jews.8 9 The lack of explicit reference to God and the nationalistic twist to Esther have provoked great Jewish scholars through the ages to question the place of Esther in the canon. 10 11 Certainly, there are some very distinguishing features to the text. As mentioned before, God is not mentioned in its original Hebrew form. Nor are the laws, the practices or the traditions of the Jewish people. The writers of the Septuagint and the Targum felt the need to add various names of God to the text and almost completely alter the character of Esther, in order to make it acceptable to them.12 13 14
It is the altering of the character of Esther that is most pertinent to this study. The alterations make Esther more religious, for example, praying for help before approaching the king.15 16 A possible reason for these alterations is that the writers of the Septuagint could not reconcile the contents of the story with the books place in the canon.17 Esther can be read as the story of a woman saving the Jewish people in an independent manner if one looks at the Hebrew text alone. Esther could then be seen as an example to women wanting to act independently, something a patriarchal society would want to discourage. To be a fitting role model with a place in the canon, Esther must behave in an acceptable manner to the writers of the Book of Esther.
Modern scholars have tended to see the book of Esther as an allegory or a novella, an “entertaining tale” rather than as historical account18 This view that the Book of Esther is more entertainment or morality tale, simply a story, and not really worthy of its place as scripture can be seen in the Babylonian Talmud.
“Levi b. Samuel and R. Huna b. Hiyya were repairing the mantles of the Scrolls of R. Judah's college. On coming to the Scroll of Esther, they remarked, 'O, this Scroll of Esther does not require a mantle.'”19
The footnote to this section explains they held the opinion the Book of Esther was of lesser sanctity and therefore would not defile their hands like other Old Testament Texts, thus removing the need for a mantle.20 They were quickly rebuked by R. Judah for irreverence, but the footnotes to the sentence about their rebuke merit further examination. Maharsha says “it was because they spoke slightingly of its sanctity.”, but Rashi says they were rebuked simply because they went ahead without consulting R. Judah.21 Here again Jewish tradition is still unclear as to the true status of the book of Esther, on the one hand irreverence towards it is punished, on the other the fact these rabbis seem to think the book is of 'lesser sanctity' is less important than them going ahead with their job without the permission of authority.
In the light of this difference of opinion regarding Esther one can understand why Humphrey places it as one of the last books to be canonised. More evidence for disagreement over Esther's place can be found through further exploration of the Talmud. Rikvah Lubwitch points out in her article, 'A Feminists Look at Esther', in B. Megillah 7a would appear to have Esther herself arguing that she should be included in the Hebrew Bible.22
"Esther sent to the Wise Men saying "commemorate me for future generations" They replied, " You will incite the ill will of the nations against us" She sent back the reply, " I am already recorded in the chronicles of the kings of Media and Persia" Rab and Rabbi Hanina and Rabbi Yohanan and Rabbi Haibaba record: Esther sent to the Wise Men saying, "Write an account of me for posterity" They sent back an answer (and refused) until they found a verse written in the Torah [Ex 17:14]" 23
This is intriguing. Here is another example of the 'norm' being turned on its head. Not only is someone daring to challenge the authority of the Rabbis, but that person is a woman. One is drawn to Lubwitch's analysis of this section of the Talmud:
“ The image of Esther demanding to be recorded and arguing with the rabbis is fascinating. She is portrayed as being strong, the rabbis weak and ignorant.”24
Of course, Lubwitch is a feminist writer and one must be aware that she is writing from the perspective of a feminist “looking for role models in the bible for modern women”.25 However she makes a valuable point. The Esther who is demanding to be included in the Old Testament comes across as forceful, powerful. One could extrapolate that Esther could be demanding to be included because she is a 'strong woman', or her demands arise out of a fear that her sex would preclude her story from being included.
Sidnie White Crawford, another feminist writer, offers a contrasting view. Comparing the Book of Esther with the Book of Judith, she suggests that the reason Esther 'made it 'into the scriptures is due to Esther “always working within the system.” the system being of course that of patriarchy26 She goes on to discuss Kristin de Troyers idea that Esther actually contains a “code” of how women should behave.27 The Talmud here can also provide support for this contrasting view. Sanhedrin 74b says;
But did not Esther transgress publicly?— Abaye answered; Esther was merely natural soil. 28
The footnotes go onto explain Esther's transgression as marrying a gentile, the Persian king Ahasuerus. 29 Rabbi Abaye's response, that Esther was like soil, refers to the fact she was the passive object of the king's embraces, like soil being tilled by the plough.30 This would certainly seem to fit White Crawford's assessment of Esther. She may have been aggressive in pursuing her goal of saving the Jewish people, but because her actions were for the good of the Jewish people, Esther is looked upon favourably.31 What she did not challenge the patriarchal system that was the 'norm' in Jewish society at the time.32 This might be one of the reasons why the Rabbis allowed the book of Esther to become canon. It would seem on some levels to portray the ideal of Jewish woman.33 Turning back to the Hebrew text of Esther, there is another female character that often gets overlooked. Queen Vashti is the focus of the first book of Esther. As we shall see, Queen Vashti did challenge the patriarchal norm of the society at the time, which has made her beloved of contemporary feminist writers. In Esther 1:3 – 12, the Persian king, Ahasuerus, holds a banquet,34 to which all the princes of the land are invited. The Hebrew word used here is משׁתּה, that has connotations of drinking, and feasting according to Strong's Exhaustive Concordance.35 Vashti throws an identical party for the women of the palace.36 The word used to describe Vashti's banquet is exactly the same as the king's, משׁתּה, a feast with drinking. The king orders Vashti to appear at his banquet, because she “is pleasing to look upon”, טוב and she refuses.37
Contemporary women in today's post-feminist age would understand Vashti's reluctance to appear in front of a group of drunken males, especially as Esther 1:10 says that the king had been drinking for a week and his heart was “merry with wine”38 Who knows what could have happened to her, especially if she was “pleasing to look upon”? The balance of power between Vashti and Ahasuerus at this point in the text is tipped in Vashti's favour. She is powerful enough to host a party that is equal to man's, and by refusing to appear before the king she demonstrates this power through disobedience.39 Daring to disobey the king is something that the king would clearly want to discourage, but there is also the insult to his manhood to consider. This would explain why he both banishes Vashti and issues a decree under the orders of his advisers that “all the wives should give their husbands honour” in his empire. 40 The biblical text shows that the advisers were afraid that the women of the Persian empire would follow Vashti's example and thus disturb the patriarchal order of their society. As Esther Fuchs discusses, the portrayal of women in the bible can reflect male fears and desires regarding women rather than historical portraits. 41
Returning to Esther herself, one can clearly see the contrast between the behaviour of Vashti and Esther in the first chapters of the book. She is not mentioned at all in Chapter 3. Reading the text, she comes across as very passive, reserved and private. For example, she does not speak for herself until Ch. 5:7-8, all prior speaking is done through messengers42 Lubwitch also comments on this passivity, describing her as “passive, obedient, dependant and silent”.43 Let us compare these qualities to the ones displayed by Vashti. Vashti acts actively in the text, she “made a feast”, she "refused to come".44 Esther's actions on the other hand are passive in the first chapters. Things happen to Esther, rather than Esther causing things to happen. Examples of this include: "Esther was also brought unto the king's house", "Esther was taken unto King Ahaserus".45 There is a marked and "unusual" use of the passive form in these verses.46 Even when Esther's actions are grammatically active, they are passive in character as I have mentioned before, the use of messengers through the text, the submission to the will of Mordecai, in hiding her true identity, and the requiring of nothing more than what was allotted by the keeper of women in the king's household.47 She does nothing that could upset the "norm", as opposed to Vashti's insolent and challenging activities.
Esther's character does become more assertive after the challenge by Mordecai to help save her people in Ch. 4:14. She begins giving orders to Mordecai rather than receiving them from him.48 She comes to the king's throne room unbidden.49 She makes her request boldly.50 Her petition flys in the face of the order of Ahasuerus to exterminate the Jewish people that was initiated by Haman.51 Esther begins to hold power in her own right. This can be seen in Ahasuerus' offers in Ch. 5:6 and 7:2, Haman going to Esther to plead for his life in Ch 7:7, and after Haman's execution in Ch 8:1, Ahasuerus giving Esther power over Haman's estates.52
Why was Esther able to act in this way when Vashti's agressiveness was punished? It is here that Lubwitch's idea of Esther being a role model for feminism begins to crumble. Leonard Swidler considers Esther's successful aggression. He describes Esther's actions as quietly persistant and unassuming, gaining power through the love she inspired in Ahasuerus. 53 Esther's actions maybe aggressive but they are permissable because Esther works within the bounds of the 'ideal woman', rather than being the actions of a proto-feminist.
In discussing Esther's actions, I neglected to mention one of her other major attributes. Esther is beautiful, and it is this beauty that enabled her to reach her position in court. The words used to describe her beauty, טוב , and the word used when she finds favour with the king, חן, have similar meanings, to be pleasing. Vashti was also beautiful, but to quote Swidler;
"Good women in the wisdom literature are beautiful and submissive; but the beauty of women is dangerous and leads to the death of many."54
Vashti was beautiful, but she was not submissive. Esther fufills both these characteristics, with added redeeming factors. Her actions are altruistic, in that she only behaved aggresively to save the Jewish people. 5556She is demure and well behaved, passing the test of living in the royal household of women, thus proving herself worthy of being the king's consort.57 None of Esther's actions ultimately upset the ideals of patriarchal society.
More evidence for this line of thought can perhaps be seen in the writers of the Septuagint adding God's name to the text. The patriarchal society of their time could not stomach the idea that a woman, a mere woman, could save the Jewish people through her own initiative.58 The lack of explicit reference to God in the Hebrew text is often explained by Jewish traditions as God working through Esther. He was hidden, his actions were not. This tradition pervades well into the 19th and 20th Centuries. An example of this would be Esther approaching Ahaserus in the throne room, where she reached out and touched the kings sceptre, a sign of her obtaining favour.59 A woman could not have gained that favour on her own, which is why one reads in Louis Ginzberg's Legends of the Jews, that angels were apparently present through out this exchange, forcing the king to look at Esther and sucumb to her charms, and lengthening the sceptre towards her. 60 61That a woman, the most lowly and unexpected means, was used by God to save his people, reinforces his omnipotence.62 This is certainly the feeling one gets from the works of Grace Aguilar, who wrote her book, The Women of Israel, in 1889. Esther is to be an example to women of "sweet, gentle" femininity, allowing herself to be used by God for good and rejoicing that he chose such a "weak and frail an instrument".63
Esther, being one of few major female characters in the bible, clearly influenced Jewish female identity. Esther has drawn the attention of many a female scholar, and as mentioned before, many the feminist scholar.64 This study has tried so far to outline the line taken by some feminist scholars that Esther is included in the bible as an example of acceptable Jewish womanhood, passive, obedient, charming and only aggressive altruistically, if her people require it, and ultimately not threatening patriarchal society. Lubwitch tried to make Esther a role model for Jewish feminists , a woman who stood up for her faith, in direct contradiction to the law, in a male dominated court, but there is more of the modern feminist in Vashti's more volitile and aggressive actions. It would be prudent then, to examine how Esther is viewed in more orthodox Jewish circles today, to see if the accusations levelled by the feminist scholars are merited.
Esther is a Jewish woman living in a mainly gentile world, a position that parallels the lives of most Jewish women today. Researching for this study, the lives of Hasidic Jewish women seemed to have even more parallells with the Esther story. Segregated from men, much like Ahasuerus having a separate palace for the women of his court, women sublimating/putting aside their needs and desires for the good of the Jewish people, much like Esther's apparent bravery in approaching the king. Other parallels can be drawn between the qualities inherent in Esther and the traits encouraged in Hasidic women, such as passivity, obedience, a desire to marry, and to please their husbands. In a sense the Hasidic community could be considered patriarchal, with women within that community encouraged not to upset the 'norm' expected by that community. They should follow the example of biblical women such as Esther. 65David Resnick purports that religious culture shape and educate the viewpoints of their adherants.66 To go further, culture in general shapes our viewpoints. This is why one must balance the views of feminist scholars with that of orthodox Judaism, as each side will be as equally subjective. As a non Jew, and as a child brought up in a world with a feminist movement, my ideas on Hasidic Judaism are assumptions based on my upbringing. These assumptions are both challenged and reinforced by the real life examples that follow.
According to an article from the Chabad website on the role of women in Judasim, women are considered the akeret habayit, the 'mainstay of the home'. The body of the text concentrated on the woman's role in the home, her place in caring for children, in preserving the family, her duty to ebody the spirit of mersirat nefesh, self sacrifice in order to further God's purpose.67 This would seem to be encouraging Jewish women to emulate the characteristics of Esther marked out by the feminists as oppressive. Levine's book provides examples of girls in the Lubawitch community of New York feeling repressed by such expectations, though to different degrees. Some were asked to leave because they chose not to, or felt they could not live within the boundaries set by the community.68 Esther is held up as being 'reserved, modest, quiet, humble, self controlled and hidden'.69 In short everything Lubavitch girls are encouraged to be. One girl 'Chaya' flirted with rebellion, before returning to her more modest observant life.70 This would see to fit with Karol Jackowski's thoughts on Esther.
" The book of Esther mandates doing whatever you have to do to survive, even entering and winning a beauty contest. "71
The quote of course refers to Esther 2, where Esther is rounded up to live with the other virgins of the kingdom in a type of long term audition. Just as Esther had to do something out of the ordinary for God, to live differently from Jewish norms, Chaya needed her taste of rebellion in order to appreciate her faith. She did not return to Lubavitch levels of observance but still chose an orthodox path.72 Her rebellion and exile from her community could then be regarded like Esther's time in the palace, part of God's plan.
The Book of Esther, as has been noted, contains more than simple obedience and passivity. Her success does involve her modesty and humbleness winning her favour at court, but she could not have saved the Jewish people without courage, charm and rhetoric.73 Arranging an exclusive banquet for Ahaserus, Haman and herself shows Esther's cleverness, putting herself in a position of power.74 She uses her charm to win over the Persian court and Ahaserus, thus making them more receptive to her requests.75 Parallels can be drawn here to Levine's work. A girl known as 'Dini', described as brash and bold, was permitted to remain so by the community because she used her charm and quick wit as a tool for outreach.76 In a classroom discussion she cleverly used humour to win her audience before using her charm to make a serious point about the role the girls in her class could play in encouraging religious observance in secular Jews and thus bringing the Messiah.77 Another girl, 'Gittel', appears to go against the norms of her community by planning to juggle medical school and marriage rather than becoming a housewife at the end of her education in the Lubawitch community.78 Echoes of Esther appear here too, as Gittel feels so strongly that medicine is her calling, it is her duty to combine this with leading a Hasdic life. As Cline describes Esther as a woman making her way through the use of her own qualities and initiative, Gittel wants to use her academic gifts to serve God through helping people. 79 80 There is however no possibility that Gittel would be able to delay her marriage till after medical school.81 All young Jewish women should be married, as Esther was, as this makes them more acceptable.82
This returns us to the question of Esther as a rolemodel for young Jewish women. Esther wins her place at court through her beauty and her charm.83 Neither feminism or orthodox judaism would support women trying to succeed in life today through their looks alone. Aspects of Esther's character, her obedience, modesty and work for her people, are emphasised by the Hasidic community as her "hidden beauty". 84 Lubwitch girls are expected to show these traits, whilst displaying a very high level of modesty in their dress and behaviour.85 As Proverbs 31:30 mentions, graces and beauty fade over time, but the faith of these girls should sustain them through a lifetime. 86 One would think that this sort of attitude would be supported by feminist scholars as it emphasises the personality and behaviour of a woman as defining her worth rather than her appearance.
However Esther's name in Hebrew can also be read as a form of the word 'hiding', אסתּר , from סתר, to hide, be absent, or to be concealed. 87Esther's work is not done in public, but in the confines of the palace, and though she asks that her people, be saved, the decree is ultimately issued by Ahaserus. 88 Her physical beauty and femininity are to be enjoyed by the King and the king alone. Lubawitch women too are expected to work within the home, and ultimately defer to their husbands.89 They are then 'hidden' in a way, behind a cloak of respectability, of self sacrifice, modesty and compliance. Like Vashti, those who do not completely comply are removed from the community, either by choice or through pressure from the family.90 Their rebellion is 'hidden' in case it upsets the norm and shames the family.
The book of Esther has inspired debate over its place in scripture, through the absence of God in its Hebrew text, its emphasis on 'Jewishness' and the fact its protagonist is female, something that might have precluded its inclusion altogether. As one of the few biblical books focusing on a woman, it understandably draws the attention of feminist scholars, and those seeking role models for Jewish women over time. Tradition has Esther herself campaigning for her story to be included in the canon.91This is in contrast to Esther being used as an example of the low opinion of women in biblical times, due to Vashti's independant behaviour leading to her exile, and Esther's obedience and compliance being rewarded.92 Feminists like Zuckoff and Fuchs argue that it encourages women to be aggressive and strong only in times of crisis.93 More positively, Hasidic Judaism uses the book of Esther to encourage young Jewish women to value personality and faith over appearance.94 However it does emphasise Esther's keeping the spiritual sense of the law, something added by the writers of the Septuagint. Perhaps without those additions to the text, the message found the Book of Esther by Jackowski, of doing whatever is needed to survive, even if that goes against the authority of the time, is one that is too contraversial for the Hasidic comunity to promote to its young women.95
1W. O. E. Oesterley and T. H. Robinson, An Introduction to the Books of the Old Testament, (London, The Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, 1934), p.137.
2William M. Schneidwind, How the Bible Became a Book, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004),p. 225
3W. Lee Humphreys,'A Lifestyle for Diaspora: A Study of the Tales of Esther and Daniel' in The Journal of Biblical Literature, No. 92, (1973), p. 214.
4Est. 2:5, Est. 3:4, and Est 10:3.
5Humphreys, p. 211.
6For more information on the historicity of Esther, see Cyrus H. Gordon and Gary A. Rendsberg, The Bible and the Ancient Near East, (New York, London: W. W. Norton, 1997), Carey A. Moore, 'Esther' in The Anchor Bible Dictionary,ed. by David Noel Freedman, (New York: Doubleday, 1992),
7Humphreys, p. 211.
8“I am so hostile to this book [2 Maccabees] and Esther that I could wish they did not exist at all, for they judasize too greatly and have much pagan impropriety.” Luther quoted in Carey A. Moore, 'Esther' in The Anchor Bible Dictionary,ed. by David Noel Freedman, (New York: Doubleday, 1992), p.635.
9Eric M. Mayers, 'Jewish Culture in Greco-Roman Palestine' in The Culture of the Jews; A New History, ed. by D. Biale, (New York: Shocken Books, 2002), p.154.
10Samuel Sandmel, The Enjoyment of Scripture; the Law, the Prophets and the Writings, (London: Oxford University Press, 1972), p. 44.
11Richard I. Cohen, 'Urban Visibility and Biblical Visions', in The Culture of the Jews; A New History, ed. by D. Biale, (New York: Shocken Books, 2002), p. 771.
12David R. Blumenthal, 'Where God is Not: The book of Esther and the Song of Songs', <http://www.js.emory.edu/BLUMENTHAL/EstherSong.html>.
13Erich S. Gruen, 'Hellenistic Judaism', in The Culture of the Jews; A New History, ed. by D. Biale, (New York: Shocken Books, 2002), p. 114.
14David J. A. Cline, The Esther Scroll (Sheffield: JSOT Press, 1984), p.22.
15 Oesterley and Robinson, p.138.
16Louis Ginzberg, 'Esther Intercedes' The Legends of the Jews, (Philadelphia: The Jewish Publication Society of America, 1928), p.423, 428.
18Edwin M. Yamauchi, 'The Reconstruction of Jewish Communities during the Persian Empire' in
19Sanhedrin 100a, in Rabbi Dr. Isidore Epstein, The Babylonian Talmud / translated into English with notes, glossary and indices under the editorship of I. Epstein., (London : Soncino Pr, 1935-52). All references to the Talmud come from this publication.
20Footnote 5 to Sanhedrin 100a.
21Footnote 6 to Sanhedrin 100a.
22Rikvah Lubwitch, 'A Feminist's View of Esther' in Judaism 42,4 (1993), p. 445. This is also relayed in Ginzberg, p.447.
23B. Megillah 7a.
24Lubwitch, p. 445.
25Lubwitch, p. 438.
26Sidnie White Crawford, 'Esther Not Judith: Why One Made It and the Other Didn't', <http://prophetess.lstc.edu/~rklein/Documents/esther.htm>.
27White Crawford, 'Esther Not Judith: Why One Made It and the Other Didn't', <http://prophetess.lstc.edu/~rklein/Documents/esther.htm>.
29Footnote 5 to Sanhedrin 74b
30Footnote 6 to Sanhedrin 74b.
31Aviva Cantor Zuckoff, 'The Oppression of Jewish Women', The Jewish Woman. Response, (Summer 1973), p.49.
32White Crawford, 'Esther Not Judith: Why One Made It and the Other Didn't', <http://prophetess.lstc.edu/~rklein/Documents/esther.htm>.
33Naomi Shepherd, A Price Beyond Rubies: Jewish Women as Rebels and Radicals, (Cambridge, Mass.: Havard University Press, 1993), pp. 31 – 32.
34 Est 1:3.
35 James Strong, S.T.D., LL.D., Strong's Exhaustive Concordance, (Abingdon Press, 1890).
39Timothy K. Beal, The Book of Hiding: Gender, Ethnicity, Annihilation and Esther, (London, New York: Routledge 1997), p.19.
41Esther Fuchs, Sexual Politics in the Biblical Narrative; Reading the Hebrew Bible as a Woman, (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 2000), p.14..
42Est 4:5-6, Est 4:10.
43Lubwitch, p. 438.
44Est 1:9, 1:12.
45Est 2:8, 2:16.
47Est 2:10, 2:20, and Est 2:15.
48Est 4:15 – 16.
53Leonard Swidler, Women in Judasim: The Status of Women in Formative Judasim, (Metuchen, N. J.: The Scarecrow Press Inc., 1976), p.60.
56Zuckoff, p. 49.
60Louis Ginzberg, 'Esther Intercedes' The Legends of the Jews, (Philadelphia: The Jewish Publication Society of America, 1928), p.428.
61 This retelling of the Esther story pervades today, as can be seen on the internet. Emil G. Hirch, John Dyneley Prince, and Solomon Schechter, 'Esther' in 'JewishEncylopedia.com', <http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/view.jsp?artid=483&letter=E&search=esther>.
62Swidler p. 60.
63Grace Aguilar, The Women of Israel; or Characters and Sketches from the Holy Scriptures and Jewish History, (London, New York; Routledge, 1889.), pp. 367 – 368.
64 Edwin M.Yamauchi, 'The Reconstruction of Jewish Communities during the Persian Empire' in
65Levine, Stephanie Wellen Levine, Mystics, Mavericks and Merrymakers, (New York, London; New York University Press, 2003), p. 98 – 99.
66David Resnick, 'Esther's Bulimia: Diet, Didactics, and Purim Paidea' in Poetics Today, Vol.15, No.1, (Spring 1994) p. 76.
67 Dovid Dubov, N., 'What is the Role of Women in Judaism?' in 'Judaism 101', <http://www.chabad.org/library/article.asp?AID=108397> .
68Levine, p.55, 98-99.
69Sarah Esther Crispe, 'Esther: Hidden Beauty' in 'The Jewish Woman' <http://www.chabad.org/theJewishWoman/article.asp?AID=367185>
73David J. A. Cline, The Esther Scroll, (Sheffield: JSOT Press, 1984), p. 22.
75Est 2:8-9, 4:6, 5:8.
78Levine. pp. 139- 157.
80Levine, p. 144.
81Levine, p. 145.
82White Crawford, 'Esther Not Judith: Why One Made It and the Other Didn't', <http://prophetess.lstc.edu/~rklein/Documents/esther.htm>.
83Est 2:7, 17.
84Crispe, 'Esther: Hidden Beauty' in 'The Jewish Woman' <http://www.chabad.org/theJewishWoman/article.asp?AID=367185>
85Levine, p.4, 45.
86Proverbs 31:30, “Grace is deceitful, and beauty is vain; but a woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised “
88White Crawford, Esther Not Judith: Why One Made It and the Other Didn't', <http://prophetess.lstc.edu/~rklein/Documents/esther.htm>.
90Levine, p. 99.
92Swidler, p. 59.
94Crispe, 'Esther: Hidden Beauty' in 'The Jewish Woman' <http://www.chabad.org/theJewishWoman/article.asp?AID=367185>
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Gordon, C. H. and Gary A. Rendsberg, The Bible and the Ancient Near East, (New York, London: W. W. Norton, 1997).
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