Study Guide

Book of Esther Revenge

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Initially, Haman wants to take revenge on Mordecai (for not bowing to him). Haman's plan is to kill Mordecai and his entire people. When this falls flat, the new act of revenge that takes center stage is the one perpetuated by Esther and her people against the opposing party, the people who Haman had (evidently) ordered to kill the Jews. This apparently includes a vast number of people—according to Esther, about 75,000 plus hundreds more.

For most readers, this is the troubling part about Esther. In Genesis, Esau forgives Jacob for stealing his birthright and Abraham urges God not to visit unjust slaughter on the people of Sodom. Here, Esther pursues revenge that on its face—and given the huge number of people involved—seems pretty gratuitous. Of course, there are similar instances of "Take No Prisoners" style tactics in the Bible, but it's still disturbing when compared with some of the more merciful examples from other books.

Questions About Revenge

  1. Is revenge ever justified? What about in Esther's case?
  2. Who are the people Esther and Mordecai and the Jews seek revenge against? Are they all supposed to be the supporters or Haman?
  3. Is it possible that this was just self-defense? Or is the revenge motive clearly stated?
  4. What does Ahasuerus think about all this revenge? Does he think anything?

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