- Series: JPS Bible Commentary
- Hardcover: 110 pages
- Publisher: The Jewish Publication Society (January 1, 2001)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0827606990
- ISBN-13: 978-0827606999
- Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 0.8 x 10.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 8 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,020,261 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The JPS Bible Commentary: Esther Hardcover – January 1, 2001
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From Publishers Weekly
This informative commentary (part of JPS's Bible Commentary series) dissects the book of Esther and, by extension, the Jewish holiday of Purim. Berlin begins with a lengthy introduction, discussing Esther as comedy and as diaspora literature; the introduction also does a fine job of explaining the Persian period and its various art forms. Concerning Purim, Berlin posits that the text of Esther may have been included in the biblical canon because the Purim holiday had already taken a strong hold. Berlin concludes that "Purim existed, in one form or another, before the book was written." The commentary section presents the Hebrew text of Esther alongside the JPS translation, with Berlin's extensive annotations below. (Feb.)Children's Religion
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
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Not to be neglected is the clear format of the material.
The commentary on each verse is comprehensive, bringing in linguistics,, historiography, culture and politics related to the story.
Berlin emphasizes the similarity between Esther and Greek writings about Persia, and suggests that the author was either familiar with the Persian Empire, or was familiar with Greek writings about it. For example, common motifs in writing about Persia include the widespread use of large banquets, luxury generally, kings' consultation with legal experts, strong royal women, and Persia's excellent postal system. She also uses Greek writing to clarify details about the story: for example, Herodotus wrote that the Persian king had a yearly dinner at which he distributed gifts, which seems similar to the banquets in Esther. She also uses Babylonian history, noting that Mordecai (Marduka in Babylonian) was a common Babylonian name.
In addition, Berlin discusses parallels between the book of Esther and the Hebrew Bible. For example, she compares the story of Purim to the story of Saul and Amalek: while Saul (ancestor of Mordecai) took spoils inappropriately, the Jews who defended themselves in the book of Esther refused to take spoils from their enemies (who were led by Haman, an ancestor of Saul's Amalekite enemies)- perhaps wiping out Saul's sin in a way. Berlin also discusses differences between the dominant version of Esther and the Greek Jewish version, which makes Esther seem more pious and discusses her emotions to a greater extent, but does not suggest that Haman had Amalekite ancestry.