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Additions to Esther

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Demetrius R. Dumm writes: "Est has been preserved in two substantially different forms: a Hebr text, assumed by most scholars to be original; and a Gk text (also existing in two rather divergent forms—LXX and Lucian), which freely translates the Hebrew and adds to it six large (deuterocanonical) sections. When Jerome translated this book, he lumped the Gk sections together at the end of his work. In this commentary, they are restored to their proper places, where they are designated by capital letters. The Gk numbering (11:2-12:26; 13:1-7; 13:8-14:19; 15:1-16; 16:1-27) is adopted in many translations. The Greek additions to Est are the 'deuterocanonical' portions, and they were, as usual, questioned by Jerome. But they were finally recognized as canonical by the Council of Trent." (The Jerome Biblical Commentary, vol. 1, p. 628)

James King West writes: "There are six items contained in these five sections. (1) 11:2-12 prefaces the story with a dream in which Mordecai receives a premonition of the events that are to follow and gives a variant of the story of the plot against the king discovered by Mordecai, which is related in 2:21-23 and alluded to in 6:2. (2) In 13:1-7 the text of the decree drafted by Haman in the king's name is supplied. (3) 13:8-18 and 14:1-19 supply appropriate prayers offered by Mordecai and Esther as she prepares to enter the presence of the king to intercede for the Jews. In Mordecai's prayer is a pious explanation for his refusal to bow to Haman; Esther's prayer ends with the striking petition, 'And save me from my fear!' (4) 15:1-16 is a much more elaborate account of Esther's preparation, entrance, and reception by the king than the brief statement in 5:1-2 which it replaces. (5) 16:1-24 supplies the royal decree nullifying the original one against the Jews and making provisions for their self-defense. Here we learn the surprising fact that Haman is not a Persian but a Macedonian! (16:10) The edict also provides the explicit connection of this letter with the Feast of Purim (cf. the colophon 11:1). (6) As the Greek Esther opens with an account of Mordecai's dream, so it closes with its interpretation and a note as to how it had been fulfilled. The appended colophon credits the Greek translation to one Lysimachus of Jerusalem. Several discrepancies between the Greek and the Hebrew texts make it appear likely that the additions were made at a later time in order to clarify and 'correct' the older version (cf. 12:2 with 2:21-23; 12:5 with 6:3; 12:6 with 3:2-6; 16:10 with 3:1; 16:22-23 with 9:20-28)." (Introduction to the Old Testament, p. 456)

David J. A. Clines writes: "The Additions are found only in the Greek Bible, and not in the Hebrew, but some of them seem to have existed earlier in a Hebrew or Aramaic form. This is the case with Additions A, C, D, and F, where traces of a Semitic original are still visible. Additions B and E (the royal letters), on the other hand, are obvious examples of flowery Greek rhetorical style and must have been composed originally in Greek. All the Additions are most probably Jewish in origin, especially Additions A and F, which breathe an anti-Gentile spirit. The Semitic Additions are quite likely Palestinian in origin, while the Greek Additions more probably come from a Jewish community outside Palestine, such as that in Alexandira, Egypt where the LXX version of the Bible was made. The date of the Additions is witnessed to by the unusual colophon or conluding bibliographic notice attached to the book at 11:1 (omitted by NAB). This librarian's note records that the Greek Esther, including the Additions, was brought from Jerusalem, where it had been translated, to Egypt in the fourth year of Ptolemy and Cleopatra. The date is therefore ca. 114 B.C. (but ca. 77 or ca. 48 B.C. are also possibilities, since there was more than one Ptolemy with a wife named Cleopatra)." (Harper's Bible Commentary, p. 815)

David A. deSilva writes: "The date, however, helpfully records the year in which Dositheus brought the scroll to Alexandria. Unfortunately, every successor of Ptolemy I took the name Ptolemy, and several were married to a Cleopatra. Bickerman (1944: 346-47) determined that the translation was accomplished in 78-77 B.C.E., the fourth year of the reign of Ptolemy XII Auletes and Cleopatra V. The other popular date is 114-113 B.C.E., the fourth year of the reign of Ptolemy VIII Soter II and an earlier Cleopatra (Moore 1977: 250; Jacob 1890: 279-80). Bickerman rejects this possibility—as well as a third, Ptolemy XIII, the brother and husband of the famous Cleopatra—since the queen was acting in both cases as a regent for a younger Ptolemy in the fourth years of those reigns, and official documents listed Cleopatra first in those cases, unlike the colophon of Esther. In addition to two lively possibilities for the date of the translation, the colophon also preserves a name, Lysimachus—a resident of Jerusalem, probably with an Egyptian Jewish background (his father's name, Ptolemy, suggests this), thus perhaps explaining why the book should speak so well to the Egyptian Jewish situation, whither it was sent (Pfeiffer 1949: 311)." (Introducing the Apocrypha, p. 117)

J. Alberto Soggin writes: "As we have seen, the proto-canonical book does not mention the name of God once, nor is it very concerned with Jewish belief; these elements appear continually in the additions. It is therefore easy for those who defend the need to read Esther with the additions to show that without them the book would be theologically void and its presence within the canon incongruous, to say the least. But notwithstanding the presence of these theological elements, the additions, like the Hebrew text, have a strongly nationalistic attitude which is also projected on to almost a cosmic plane, in this way far transcending the original dispute between Mordecai and Haman. They thus become a kind of anti-Gentile manifesto, carrying on a discourse which we have seen to be extremely problematical in itself. This is probably the reason why they were not admitted into the Hebrew canon, despite the theological element, which admirably completes what is lacking in the proto-canonical Esther." (Introduction to the Old Testament, pp. 440-441)

Daniel J. Harrington writes: "The Hebrew Esther is canonical for Jews and Protestants. In the Roman Catholic and Greek and Russian Orthodox churches, the expanded Greek version with the additions is the canonical form. The canonical status of Esther was debated in antiquity among both Jews and Christians. It is the only book in the Hebrew Bible not represented among the Dead Sea Scrolls. Indeed, the revised and expanded Greek version of Esther was most likely produced to make the book more acceptable." (Invitation to the Apocrypha, p. 53)

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