Skip to main content
Esther in Ancient Jewish Thought
  • Export citation
  • Recommend to librarian
  • Recommend this book

    Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this book to your organisation's collection.

    Esther in Ancient Jewish Thought
    • Online ISBN: 9781107261419
    • Book DOI:
    Please enter your name
    Please enter a valid email address
    Who would you like to send this to? *
  • Buy the print book

Book description

The book of Esther was a conscious reaction to much of the conventional wisdom of its day, challenging beliefs regarding the Jerusalem Temple, the land of Israel, Jewish law, and even God. Aaron Koller identifies Esther as primarily a political work, and shows that early reactions ranged from ignoring the book to 'rewriting' Esther in order to correct its perceived flaws. But few biblical books have been read in such different ways, and the vast quantity of Esther-interpretation in rabbinic literature indicates a conscious effort by the Rabbis to present Esther as a story of faith and traditionalism, and bring it into the fold of the grand biblical narrative. Koller situates Esther, and its many interpretations, within the intellectual and political contexts of Ancient Judaism, and discusses its controversial themes. His innovative line of enquiry will be of great interest to students and scholars of Bible and Jewish studies.


'[Koller’s] suggestions are intriguing and insightful, and his detailed research is impressive. I highly recommend this book for seriously interested students and scholars … If you are doing any kind of serious work on Esther, you must reckon with this fantastic book.'

John Anthony Dunne - graduate student, University of St Andrews

'… [contains] convincing insights, based on thorough analysis … recommended, not only for lovers of the Book of Esther, but also for those who are generally interested in the development of Jewish identity from the Persian period.'

Anne-Mareike Wetter Source: translation from the Nederlands Theologisch Tijdschrift

'… this book is without peer in what it sets out to do, and it should succeed admirably in introducing a wide readership to a field where it is often difficult to find reliable and up-to-date information in a digestible format.'

H. G. M. Williamson Source: Journal of Jewish Studies

‘I thoroughly enjoyed this well-researched and stimulating book and I can recommend it highly to anyone interested in the Esther scroll and in the development of early Judaism.’

Lena-Sofia Tiemeyer Source: Vetus Testamentum

    • Aa
    • Aa
Refine List
Actions for selected content:
Select all | Deselect all
  • View selected items
  • Export citations
  • Download PDF (zip)
  • Send to Kindle
  • Send to Dropbox
  • Send to Google Drive
  • Send content to

    To send content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about sending content to .

    To send content to your Kindle, first ensure is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

    Note you can select to send to either the or variations. ‘’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

    Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

    Please be advised that item(s) you selected are not available.
    You are about to send:

Save Search

You can save your searches here and later view and run them again in "My saved searches".

Please provide a title, maximum of 40 characters.

This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

Tzvi Novick , “Law and Loss: Response to Catastrophe in Numbers 15,” HTR 101 (2008), 10.

Karen Martens , “‘With a Strong Hand and an Outstretched Arm’: The Meaning of the Expression ביד חזקה ובזרוע נטויה,” Scandinavian Journal of the Old Testament, 15 (2001), 123–41.

Ziony Zevit , “Is there an Archaeological Case for Phantom Settlements in the Persian Period?,” Palestine Exploration Quarterly, 141 (2009), 124–37, esp. 133–34.

Hagith Zlotnick-Sivan , “The Silent Women of Yehud: Notes on Ezra 9–10,” JJS 51 (2000), 3–18

Mary Douglas , “Responding to Ezra: The Priests and the Foreign Wives,” Biblical Interpretation, 10 (2002), 1–23.

Seth Schwartz , “Language, Power and Identity in Ancient Palestine,” Past & Present, 148 (1995), 3–47.

Adam Silverstein , “The Book of Esther and the Enūma elish,” Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, 69 (2006), 209–23.

Erich Gruen , Diaspora: Jews amidst Greeks and Romans (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2002), 135–212.

Elie Assis , “Zechariah 8 and its Allusions to Jeremiah 30–33 and Deutero-Isaiah,” Journal of Hebrew Scriptures, 11.1 (2011), 11–12 and 20.

Avi Hurvitz , “The Date of the Prose-Tale of Job Linguistically Reconsidered,” HTR 67 (1974), 28–30

Jordan D. Rosenblum , Food and Identity in Early Rabbinic Judaism (Cambridge University Press, 2010), 37–38.

Charles D. Harvey , Finding Morality in the Diaspora? Moral Ambiguity and Transformed Morality in the Books of Esther, BZAW 328 (New York and Berlin: De Gruyter, 2003)

Athalya Brenner , “Esther Politicised in a Personal Context: Some Remarks on Foreignness,” European Judaism, 32 (1999), 4–10.

Clarke E. Cochran , “Joseph and the Politics of Memory,” Review of Politics, 64 (Summer 2002), 421–44.

Seth Schwartz , “Israel and the Nations Roundabout: 1 Maccabees and the Hasmonean Expansion,” JJS 42 (1991), 16–38

Daniel R. Schwartz , 2 Maccabees, CEJL (Berlin: De Gruyter, 2008), 45–56.

Tessa Rajak , Translation and Survival: The Greek Bible of the Ancient Jewish Diaspora (Oxford University Press, 2009), 183–85.

Chris Seeman , “Enter the Dragon: Mordecai as Agonistic Combatant in Greek Esther,” Biblical Theology Bulletin, 41 (2011), 3–15

Julia Schwartzmann , “The Book of Esther – A Case Study of Ideological Interpretation,” Shofar 29 (2011), 124–47.

Hanne von Weissenberg , “‘Canon’ and Identity at Qumran: An Overview and Challenges for Future Research,” in Anssi Voitila and Jutta Jokiranta (eds.), Scripture in Transition: Essays on Septuagint, Hebrew Bible, and Dead Sea Scrolls in Honour of Raija Sollamamo (JSJ Suppl. 126; Leiden and Boston: Brill, 2008), 629–40

Anthony J. Marshall , “Flaccus and the Jews of Asia (Cicero ‘Pro Flacco’ 28:67–69),” Phoenix 29 (1975), 139–54.

Armin Lange , “‘The Law, the Prophets, and the Other Books of the Fathers (Sir, Prologue): Canonical Lists in Ben Sira and Elsewhere?,” in Géza G. Xeravits and József Zsengellér (eds.), Studies in the Book of Ben Sira: Papers of the Third International Conference on the Deuterocanonical Books, Shime’on Centre, Pápa, Hungary, 18–20 May, 2006, JSJ Suppl. 127 (Leiden and Boston: Brill, 2008), 55–80.

Moshe J. Bernstein , Reading and Re-Reading Scripture at Qumran, STDJ 107 (Leiden: Brill, 2013), vol. i.

M. J. Geller , “Alexander Jannaeus and the Pharisee Rift,” JJS 30 (1979), 202–11.

Rachel Hachlili , Ancient Jewish Art and Archaeology in the Diaspora, Handbuch der Orientalistik, part i: Der Nahe und Mittlere Osten 35; Leiden: Brill, 1998), 119–21.

Annabel Jane Wharton , “Good and Bad Images from the Synagogue of Dura Europos: Contexts, Subtexts, Intertexts,” Art History 17 (1994), 1–25

Shmuel Safrai , “Relations between the Diaspora and the Land of Israel,” in Shmuel Safrai and Menachem Stern in co-operation with David Flusser and W. C. van Unnik (eds.), The Jewish People in the First Century: Historical Geography, Political History, Social, Cultural and Religious Life and Institutions, CRINT I.1 (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1974), 195–98

Sacha Stern , “Attribution and Authorship in the Babylonian Talmud,” JJS 45 (1994), 28–29

Robert Hayward , “Targum a Misnomer for Midrash? Towards a Typology for the Targum Sheni of Esther,” Aramaic Studies, 9 (2011), 47–63

Robert Hayward , “Profile Targum Esther Sheni, Excerpt from: Database of Anonymous and Pseudepigraphic Jewish Literature of Antiquity, c. 200 bce to c. 700 ce, ed. A. Samely, R. Bernasconi, P. Alexander, and R. Hayward,” Aramaic Studies, 9 (2011), 65–82.

Mireille Hadas-Lebel , “Jacob et Esaü, ou Israël et Rome dans le Talmud et le Midrash,” Revue de l’histoire des religions, 201 (1984), 369–92

Jonathan J. Price , “Some Aspects of Josephus’ Theological Interpretation of the Jewish War,” in Mauro Perani (ed.), “The Words of a Wise Man’s Mouth are Gracious” (Qoh 10,12): Festschrift for Günter Stemberger on the Occasion of his 65th Birthday, Studia Judaica 32 (Berlin: De Gruyter, 2005), 109–19.

Lawrence Zalcman , “The Eternal City: Rome or Jerusalem?,” JJS 48 (1997), 312–13.

Louis H. Feldman , “Abba Kolon and the Founding of Rome,” JQR 81 (1991), 239–66

Jordan D. Rosenblum , “From their Bread to their Bed: Commensality, Intermarriage, and Idolatry in Tannaitic Literature,” JJS 61 (2010), 18–29.

Adiel Schremer , “‘The Lord has Forsaken the Land’: Radical Explanations of the Military and Political Defeat of the Jews in Tannaitic Literature,” JJS 59 (2008), 183–200.

Daniel Boyarin , “Introduction: Purim and the Cultural Poetics of Judaism – Theorizing Diaspora,” Poetics Today, 15 (1994), 4 with n. 2.

Ronald L. Bergey Late Linguistic Features in Esther,” JQR 75 (1984), 66–78.

Moshe J. Bernstein , and Aaron Koller . “The Aramaic Texts and Hebrew and Aramaic Languages at Qumran: the North American Contributions,” in Devorah Dimant with the assistance of Ingo Kottsieper (eds.), The Dead Sea Scrolls in Scholarly Perspective: A History of its Research,; Studies and Texts from the Judean Desert 99 (Leiden: Brill, 2012), 155–96.

Gerson D. Cohen Esau as Symbol in Early Medieval Thought,” in Alexander Altmann (ed.), Jewish Medieval and Renaissance Studies (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1967), 19–48, reprinted in Cohen, Studies in the Variety of Rabbinic Cultures, JPS Scholar of Distinction Series (Philadelphia: JPS, 1991), 243–69.

Edward M. Cook Remarks on the Testament of Kohath from Qumran Cave 4,” JJS 44 (1993), 209–10.

Yaakov Elman . “How Should a Talmudic Intellectual History be Written? A Response to David Kraemer’s Responses (Review of Responses to Suffering in Classical Rabbinic Literature by David Kraemer),” JQR 89 (1999), 361–86.

Yaakov Elman . “Middle Persian Culture and Babylonian Sages: Accommodation and Resistance in the Shaping of Rabbinic Legal Tradition,” in Charlotte E. Fonrobert and Martin S. Jaffee (eds.), The Cambridge Companion to the Talmud and Rabbinic Literature (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2007), 165–97.

Jaś Elsner . “Cultural Resistance and the Visual Image: The Case of Dura Europos,” Classical Philology, 96 (2001), 269–304.

Louis H. Feldman Josephus’ Portrait of Jacob,” JQR 79 (1988–89), 101–51.

Louis H. Feldman Judaism and Hellenism Reconsidered, JSJ Suppl. 107 (Leiden: Brill, 2006).

Israel Finkelstein . “Persian Period Jerusalem and Yehud: A Rejoinder,” Journal of Hebrew Scriptures, 9 (2009), (accessed January, 2010),

Joseph A. Fitzmyer Tobit, CEJL (Berlin and New York: De Gruyter, 2003).

Lisbeth S. Fried Cyrus the Messiah? The Historical Background to Isaiah 45:1,” HTR 95 (2002), 373–93.

Martin Goodman . “Trajan and the Origins of Roman Hostility to the Jews,” Past & Present, 182 (2004), 3–29.

Joseph Gutmann . Review of Kurt Weitzman and Herbert Kessler , The Frescoes of the Dura Synagogue and Christian Art, Speculum, 67 (1992), 502–04.

Christine Hayes . “Intermarriage and Impurity in Ancient Jewish Sources,” HTR 92 (1999), 3–36.

Geoffrey Herman . “Ahasuerus, the Former Stable-Master of Belshazzar, and the Wicked Alexander of Macedon: Two Parallels between the Babylonian Talmud and Persian Sources,” AJS Review, 29 (2005), 283–97.

David Katzin . “The Time of Testing: The Use of Hebrew Scriptures in 4Q171’s Pesher of Psalm 37,” Hebrew Studies, 45 (2004), 121–62.

André Lacocque . “The Different Versions of Esther,” Biblical Interpretation, 7 (1999), 301–22.

André Lemaire , and Hélène Lozachmeur . “Bīrāh/Birtā’ en Araméen,” Syria, 64 (1987), 261–66.

Baruch A. Levine Assyrian Ideology and Israelite Monotheism,” Iraq, 67 (2005), 411–27.

Nathan Macdonald . Not Bread Alone: The Uses of Food in the Old Testament (Oxford University Press, 2008).

Jodi Magness . “The Arch of Titus at Rome and the Fate of the God of Israel,” JJS 59 (2008), 201–217.

Carey A. Moore Archaeology and the Book of Esther,” Biblical Archaeologist, 38 (1975), 62–79.

Tzvi Novick . “Charity and Reciprocity: Structures of Benevolence in Rabbinic Literature,” HTR 105 (2012), 33–52.

Lawrence H. Schiffman Temple, Sacrifice and Priesthood in the Epistle to the Hebrews and the Dead Sea Scrolls,” in Florentino García Martínez (ed.), Echoes from the Caves: Qumran and the New Testament (Leiden: Brill, 2009), 165–76.

Jeremy Schonfield . “Esther: Beyond Murder,” European Judaism, 32 (1999), 11–25.

Daniel R. Schwartz How at Home were the Jews of the Hellenistic Diaspora?,” Classical Philology, 95 (2000), 349–57.

Shai Secunda . “Talmudic Text and Iranian Context: On the Development of Two Talmudic Narratives,” AJS Review, 33 (2009), 40–70.

Eliezer Segal . “‘The Same from Beginning to End’: On the Development of a Midrashic Homily,” JJS 32 (1981), 158–65.

Katherine E. Southwood ‘And They Could Not Understand Jewish Speech’: Language, Ethnicity, and Nehemiah’s Intermarriage Crisis,” JTS 62 (2011), 1–19.

C. C. Torrey The Older Book of Esther,” HTR 37 (1944), 1–40.

Emanuel Tov . “The LXX Translation of Esther: A Paraphrastic Translation of MT or a Free Translation of a Rewritten Version?,” in Alberdina Houtman , Albert de Jong , and Magda Misset-van de Weg (eds.), Empsychoi Logoi – Religious Innovations in Antiquity: Studies in Honour of Pieter Willem van der Horst (Leiden: Brill, 2008), 507–26.

Barry Dov Walfish . “Kosher Adultery? The Mordecai-Esther-Ahasuerus Triangle in Midrash and Exegesis,” Prooftexts, 22 (2002), 305–33.

Steven Weitzman . “Forced Circumcision and the Shifting Role of Gentiles in Hasmonean Ideology,” HTR 92 (1999), 37–59.

Abraham Winitzer . “The Reversal of Fortune Theme in Esther: Israelite Historiography in its Ancient Near Eastern Context,” Journal of Ancient Near Eastern Religions, 11 (2011), 170–218.

Richard W. Wrangham James Holland Jones , Greg Laden , David Pilbeam , and NancyLou Conklin-Brittain . “The Raw and the Stolen: Cooking and the Ecology of Human Origins,” Current Anthropology, 40 (1999), 567–77.

Jacob L. Wright Rebuilding Identity: The Nehemiah-Memoir and its Earliest Readers, BZAW 348 (Berlin: De Gruyter, 2004).


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 19
Total number of PDF views: 291 *
Loading metrics...

Book summary page views

Total views: 1068 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 19th August 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.