Difficulties in Esther

So I’ve been plodding slowly into the book of Esther (through the introduction and into chapter one) and what stands out in introduction after introduction to the book are the difficulties that underly it. I suppose this is to be expected since it is different from most other Old Testament documents. Esther does not mention the word “God” anywhere in the book. There is no New Testament writer that quotes Esther. The attitudes and actions reflected from both Mordecai and Esther in the book are at times questionable. Why did Mordecai refuse to bow down to Haman, it’s not like there was a biblical prohibition against bowing down to superiors? Why does he seem to manipulate Esther into the queenship? Why does Esther go along? And the wholesale killing of 75,000 opponents of Jews, how is that justified? Not to mention Esther asking the king if they can have one more day for more bloodshed?

We could go on, but you get the point. The difficulties are great and this is undoubtedly part of why there is this whole discussion of whether or not Esther belongs in the canon from both the Jewish side and the Christian side.
I do not plan to answer the difficulties just yet, only to lay them out as I see them. Part of the joy of undertaking difficulties like this is when one comes across a surprisingly satisfying answer to them.
Oh, and for what it’s worth, Karen Jobe’s commentary on Esther is fantastic!
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