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The Oxford Handbook of Biblical Studies Provides a comprehensive survey of Biblical scholarship in a variety of disciplines.

Additions to Esther

There have been several recent studies of the two Greek texts of Esther, known respectively as the Septuagint text and the Alpha-Text, which have focused mainly on the relationship of the Greek versions to each other and to the extant Hebrew text. The six Greek additions themselves (A–F) have been accorded less attention. Unlike the additions to Daniel, they were intended to be an integral part of the Greek Esther story.

The first addition (A) prefaces the first chapter of the canonical book. In the manner of Daniel, Mordechai dreams of two dragons in combat, and a tiny spring that becomes a river. He then overhears two eunuchs plotting to kill the king, and he is rewarded for saving the king's life. Addition B gives the text of the edict described in Esther 3: 14, giving the reason for the annihilation of the Jews as their inability to assimilate and their hostility towards the government (cf. 3 Macc. 3: 13–29; Moore 1973: 384). Addition C consists of lengthy prayers by Mordechai and Esther, a feature that was perhaps felt to be lacking in the Hebrew Esther. Notably, Esther emphasizes her unhappiness in the harem, her abhorrence for her diadem and for the bed of the uncircumcised king, and her avoidance of foreign food and wine. Addition D replaces Esther 5: 1–2 and describes in much more dramatic detail Esther's entrance into the king's court and how God changes the king's anger to concern. Addition E is another full text of a royal edict, which besides counter-manding the previous one and allowing the Jews to defend themselves, blames Haman's malevolence for the king's former policy towards the Jews, and accuses him of treachery (cf. 3 Macc. 7: 3–9). In the final addition, F, Mordechai reflects on his earlier dream and its fulfilment. There is also a short colophon recording that the book was translated in Jerusalem and brought to Egypt in the fourth year of Ptolemy and Cleopatra (i.e. probably in 78/7 BCE). Josephus used the text of Greek Esther in his Jewish Antiquities, and Esther's prayer in addition C was popular in the Church, but otherwise the Greek form was not much regarded (deSilva 2002: 126).

Compared with Hebrew Esther, the Greek texts and additions give a more ‘religious’ feel to the book in terms of the dream, God's interventions, and the prayers. Moreover, the distinctive life-style of Jews and Gentile antipathy towards them are both strongly emphasized. However, the additions may well have been composed in different languages and at different times (Moore 1973). It is almost certain that B and E (the edicts) were written in Greek, but the other material may go back to Semitic originals.

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