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The Oxford Bible Commentary Line-by-line commentary for the New Revised Standard Version Bible.

Provenance and Date.

1.

The tale's focus on the Jewish community in Persia, along with its intimate knowledge of Persian customs and its total lack of interest in Judean life and institutions, indicates that Esther was composed in the eastern Diaspora. Jews who lived as a minority near the locus of power in the post-exilic period would have been the natural audience for this tale of Jewish accommodations and accomplishments in a foreign setting.

2.

Extensive textual analysis in the last decade has established that the final Hebrew stage of the book would have been formed by the second century BCE. That it lacks any Greek words or evidence of Greek culture pushes it back to the pre-Hellenistic period for most scholars, although that absence is possibly the result of deliberate archaizing (so Berg 1979: 170–1). The earliest date would be that of the only identifiable historical figure in the book, the Persian ruler Ahasuerus, or Xerxes I (486–465 BCE). Some late fifth-century elements are possible, but the story shows some distance from Xerxes and probably did not reach its present form until some time in the fourth century. In vocabulary and syntax, its Hebrew has much in common with that of the Chronicler (c.400 BCE); and its sense of Jews widely and comfortably—though not necessarily securely—settled throughout the empire suits the Persian II period (see Hoglund 1992 ).

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