Apocryphal Additions to Esther Refuted
The Meaning of Esther and its Integration with the Bible Wheel
Esther had not shewed her people nor her kindred: for Mordecai
had charged her that she should not shew it.
Esther 2:10 (Spoke 17, Cycle 1)
One of the most significant results derived from the Bible Wheel, which profoundly impacts all aspects of
canonical studies, is the synergistic mutual confirmation of the content
of Holy Scripture with its geometric form and integration with the Hebrew Alphabet.
The integration of the content of Esther with its position on
the Bible Wheel is one of the most astounding examples of God's providential supervision over the formation of the
Canon. The full explanation is given on pages 307-309 of the BW book, reproduced here online in the Spoke 17 article called
Esther: The Hidden Face of God. The explanation is based on the
nearly universal understanding of the real meaning of Esther propounded by both Christian and Jewish exegetes
throughout the ages, the earliest witness being found in the Talmud (5th century). Here is how A. M. Hodgkin expressed
it in his review of every Book of the Bible called
Christ in All the Scriptures :
The Book of Esther is designed to show God's providential care of His people.
Through the name of God is not mentioned, the hand of God, ruling and over-ruling the events for the preservation
of His people, can be seen throughout. In the Talmud the question is asked: "Where do we get Esther in the Law?"
The answer is Deuteronomy 31:18 "And I will surely hide my face, or presence." God was
hiding His face
from His people on account of their sins; they had deliberately chosen to continue in the land of their captivity
among the heathen, instead of availing themselves of the opportunity of returning to Jerusalem with Zerubbabel.
Jews use the phrase hester panim to refer to this "hiddenness" of God's "face" that characterizes
the Book of Esther. It is based on
a pun on the name "Esther" and the Pey KeyWord panim (face) which God used frequently
in the corresponding Alphabetic Verses. We have therefore a
direct and incontrovertible integration of the primary theme of the Seventeenth Book with the symbolic
meaning of the Seventeenth Letter as established by God Himself in the Alphabetic Verses and which has been expounded by
biblical exegetes throughout the ages! The Bible Wheel therefore
confirms the inclusion of Esther in the Canon. Furthermore, the integration
of its content with the symbolic meaning of the corresponding Hebrew letter confirms the design of the
whole Bible on the pattern of the Wheel. Yet there is more ....
The Apocryphal Additions to Esther
Having discovered how the primary theme of Esther integrates with its position on the Wheel and the meaning
of the corresponding Hebrew letter, we have extremely
strong evidence - indeed proof - for the validity of its inclusion in the Canon.
The miracle of God is that exactly the same evidence that proves Esther belongs in the canon also proves that
we most definitely must exclude the apocryphal additions because they expressly contradict the whole
lesson the Book was designed to teach!
The apocryphal additions to Esther consist of 107 verses in seven short chapters interspersed
throughout the Greek Septuagint version. They were not found in the Hebrew text that Jerome used when
he produced the Latin Vulgate (5th century) and he did not recognize them as Scripture, so he moved them to an
appendix at the end of his translation. The Roman Catholic Church still considers the Vulgate to be the
authoritative Latin version of the Bible. Its content - including all the apocrypha -
was canonized by the Council of Trent in 1545 in reaction to the Protestant Reformation which held only to the protocanonical
Books accepted by the Jews.
As noted above, the additions to Esther consist of seven short chapters amounting to a total of 107 verses.
Yet within these 107 verses, we find a total of twenty-five references to "God" and twenty-three references to "Lord"
which yields an average of one such reference in almost every other verse! These additions therefore expressly contradict
the primary message of the Book as explained at length above and in the article called
Esther: The Hidden Face of God.
It is good at this point to recall how Baxter explained it:
The purpose of this book is to demonstrate the providential care of God over His people.
It is vital to see this, for herein lies the living significance and permanent value of the book. ...
It is this which explains why the name of God does not occur in the Book of Esther.
This non-mention of God in the story has been a problem to many.
Martin Luther, in one of his occasional lapses of self-restraint, went so far as to say that he wished
the book did not exist! Others have contested its right to a place in the canon.
Yet surely to find
a problem in this non-mention of God is to miss that which above all else we are intended to see!
We say it reverently, yet none the less unhesitatingly, that if God had been specifically mentioned in the story,
or, still more, if the story had specifically explained, in so many words, that it was God who was bringing about
all those happenings which are recorded, the dramatic force and moral impact of the story would have been
reduced; for above all, we are meant to see, in the natural outworking of events, how without violating human free
will, and without interrupting the ordinary ongoing of human affairs, a hidden Power unsuspectedly but infallibly
controls all things. There may have been other reasons the anonymous author may have omitted any direct
reference to God ... but we believe one main reason to be that which we have given, namely,
the emphasizing of God's invisible activity in providence.
To see the complete divergence of the apocryphal additions from whole thrust of the truly canonical Book of Esther,
we need only to quote the first chapter. Here we find seven references to "God", two to "Lord", and the express statement that
"God hath done these things":
- Then Mardocheus said, God hath done these things.
- For I remember a dream which I saw concerning these matters, and nothing thereof hath failed.
- A little fountain became a river, and there was light, and the sun, and much water:
this river is Esther, whom the king married, and made queen:
- And the two dragons are I and Aman.
- And the nations were those that were assembled to destroy the name of the Jews:
- And my nation is this Israel, which cried to God, and were saved: for the Lord
hath saved his people, and the Lord hath delivered us from all those evils, and God
hath wrought signs and great wonders, which have not been done among the Gentiles.
- Therefore hath he made two lots, one for the people of God, and another for all the Gentiles.
- And these two lots came at the hour, and time, and day of judgment, before God among all nations.
- So God remembered his people, and justified his inheritance.
- Therefore those days shall be unto them in the month Adar, the fourteenth and fifteenth day
of the same month, with an assembly, and joy, and with gladness before God, according to the
generations for ever among his people.
Obviously, the aprocryphal additions are the work of mere humans who felt a need to thrust God into the story in which
He Himself had clearly chosen to "hide His face." There are many lessons to be learned here. We must never think to
"improve" on the Word of God. Many aspects of its design are hidden from us. If we try to "force-fit" anything to conform
to our limited human understanding, we most certainly will distort the Work of God.
These results demonstrate yet again the overwhelming power of the Bible Wheel. It truly is the
Rosetta Stone of Biblical Hermeneutics. It confirms the
canonical Books even as it proves (with the same evidence, no less!) that the apocryphal additions must be excluded. Note also that we have the
mutual confirmation of the Canon and the Wheel. The Canon proves the Bible Wheel, and the Bible Wheel proves the Canon.
This may appear to be circular reasoning, but it is not because there is a third element - an independent parameter - found
in the sequence and symbolic meaning of the Hebrew Alphabet that unites the two.