Esther: Pow­er, Fate and Fragili­ty in Exile

Dr. Eri­ca Brown

January 13, 2020

The Book of Esther takes us to the heart of des­tiny moments: a beau­ti­ful but unlike­ly queen evolves into a Jew­ish leader. A wise and trust­ed Jew­ish courtier expands his plat­form of influ­ence, and a vul­ner­a­ble minor­i­ty fac­ing death becomes a pow­er­ful peo­ple in a land not their own. Dr. Eri­ca Brown offers us a close tex­tu­al and the­mat­ic read­ing of this beloved sto­ry of courage and hero­ism against a back­ground of hate and polit­i­cal inep­ti­tude. This ancient sto­ry sheds its light on today’s most press­ing prob­lems: con­tem­po­rary anti­semitism, sex­u­al tyran­ny and the absence of leadership.

Discussion Questions

Unlike any oth­er book of the Hebrew Bible, Megillat Esther (The Scroll of Esther)has left the great­est minds and schol­ars of the Jew­ish tra­di­tion bewil­dered and dumb­found­ed while simul­ta­ne­ous­ly cap­tur­ing the hearts, minds, and imag­i­na­tion of artists, writ­ers, and poets for thou­sands of years. Both as a love let­ter and state­ment of cau­tion, the scroll speaks to the sit­u­a­tion of the Jew in exile and invites the read­er on a jour­ney to ensure Jew­ish secu­ri­ty in the pres­ence of polit­i­cal predators.

In her lat­est book, Esther: Pow­er, Fate, and Fragili­ty in Exile, Dr. Eri­ca Brown takes the scroll’s sto­ry­line, mas­querad­ing behind lay­ers of silli­ness, and sobers its car­ni­va­lesque unrav­el­ing. Dr. Brown unlocks the hid­den secrets to this cod­ed and sub­ver­sive book. Slow­ing down each scene with exe­ge­sis from rab­binic, mod­ern, and aca­d­e­m­ic schol­ars lay­ered with cita­tions from arche­ol­o­gists, psy­chol­o­gists, and soci­ol­o­gists, she offers a holis­tic lens to every line of the Megillah. Dr. Brown gives the read­er a broad range of pen­e­trat­ing lessons, point­ing out par­al­lel plots in the bib­li­cal canon and the human con­di­tion as a whole.

Most sig­nif­i­cant­ly, Dr. Brown brings faith and empa­thy for those who live with dark­ness and fear, illu­mi­nat­ing a path­way to see beyond the top­sy-turvy world, con­nect­ing seem­ing­ly dis­joint­ed sto­ry­lines to reveal the hid­den pur­pose of it all.