Friday, April 5, 2013

Godless Esther?

It has often been noted that the book of Esther in the Old Testament has no mention of God. That may be true of the Hebrew text but it is definitely not true of the Septuagint version of Esther, which has several additional passages not in the Hebrew Bible. Here is a quote from one of them, Esther's prayer on finding out about the execution order:
O God, who has power over all things, hear the voice of those who have been rendered hopeless, and save us from the hand of the evil-doers, and save me from my fear. (Esther 4:17z LXX).
There are obviously two ways of looking at this situation. Either the Greek version is the original and the Hebrew version has deliberately removed references to God, or the Hebrew version is the original and the Greek version added the piety back in.

In the ancient world it is rare for anything to be written without reference to a god of some sort. The Hebrew version of Esther is an anomaly, and not just in the Hebrew Bible.