ESTHER, THE REST OF [ISBE]
ESTHER, THE REST OF
- || Introductory
3. Original Language
The Book of Esther in the oldest manuscripts of the Septuagint (B,A,N, etc.) contains 107 verses more than in the Hebrew Bible. These additions are scattered throughout the book where they were originally inserted in order to supply the religious element apparently lacking in the Hebrew text. In Jerome's version and in the Vulgate, which is based on it, the longest and most important of these additions are taken out of their context and put together at the end of the canonical book, thus making them to a large extent unintelligible. In English, Welsh and other Protestant versions of the Scriptures the whole of the additions appear in the Apocrypha.
In the English Versions of the Bible the full title is "The Rest of the Chapters of the Book of Esther, which are found neither in the Hebrew, nor in the Chaldee." Since in the Septuagint, including the editions by Fritzsche, Tischendorf and Swete, these chapters appear in their original context, they bear no separate title. The same is true of Brereton's English translation of the Septuagint; but in Thompson's translation the whole of the Apocrypha is omitted, so that it is not strictly a translation of the whole Septuagint.
In Swete's edition of the Septuagint the interpretations constituting "the Rest of Esther" (sometimes given as "Additions to Esther") are designated by the capital letters of the alphabet, and in the following enumeration this will be followed. The several places in the Greek Bible are indicated in each case.
A (Latin, English, Ad Est 11:2 through 12:6): Mordecai's dream; how he came to honor. Precedes Est 1:1.
B (Latin, English, Ad Est 13:1-7): Letter of Artaxerxes. Follows Est 3:13.
C (Latin, English, Ad Est 13:8 through 14:19): The prayers of Mordecai and Esther. Follows Est 4:17.
D (Latin, Ad Est 15:4-19; English, 16:1-16): Esther visits the king and wins his favor. Follows C, preceding immediately Est 5.
E (Latin, English, Ad Est 16:1-24): Another letter of Artaxerxes. Follows Est 8:12.
F (Latin, English, Ad Est 10:4 through 11): Epilogue describing the origin of the Feast Purim. Follows Est 10:3.
But besides the lengthy interpolations noticed above there are also in the Septuagint small additions omitted from the Latin and therefore from the English, Welsh, etc., Apocrypha. These short additions are nearly all explanatory glosses.
In the Century Bible (Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther) the exact places where the insertions occur in the Septuagint are indicated and described in the notes dealing with the relevant passages of the canonical text. With the help thus given any English reader is able to read the additions in their original setting. Unless they are read in this way they are pointless and even in most cases senseless.
3. Original Language:
All scholars agree that "The Rest of Esther" was written originally in Greek Both external and internal evidence bears this out. But the Greek text has come down to us in two recensions which differ considerably.
(1) The commonly received text supported by the manuscripts B,A,N, and by Josephus (Ant., XI, i).
(2) A revision of (1) contained in the manuscripts 19, 93a and 108b. In the last two manuscripts both recensions occur. This revised text has been ascribed by many recent scholars (Lagarde, Schurer, R. H. Charles) to Lucian. In his Libr. Vet. Test. Canon. Graece, Pars Prior, 1833 (all published), Lagarde gives on parallel pages both recensions with critical notes on both.
The two Greek texts are also given by Fritzsche (1871) and Swete (1891) in their editions of the Septuagint, and also by Scholz in his German Commentary on the Book of Esther (1892).
For the ancient versions see "Esther Versions."
Practically all modern scholars agree in holding that "The Rest of Esther" is some decades later than the canonical book. In his commentary on Est (Century Bible) the present writer has given reasons for dating the canonical Est about 130 BC. One could not go far astray in fixing the date of the original Greek of the Additions to Esther at about 100 BC. It is evident that we owe these interpolations to a Jewish zealot who wished to give the Book of Est a religious character. In his later years John Hyrcanus (135-103 BC) identified himself with the Sadducean or rationalistic party, thus breaking with the Pharisee or orthodox party to which the Maccabeans had hitherto belonged. Perhaps we owe these additions to the zeal aroused among orthodox Jews by the rationalizing temper prevailing in court circles. R. H. Charles (Encyclopedia Brit, XI, 797b) favors a date during the early (?) Maccabean period; but this would give the Ad Esther an earlier date than can be ascribed to the canonical Esther.
See the literature cited above, and in addition note the following: Fritzsche, Exegetisches Handbuch zu den Apokryphen (1851), 67-108; Schurer, History of the Jewish People, II, iii, 181 ff (Ger. edition 4, III, 449 ff); Ryssel (in Kautzsch, Apocrypha, 193 ff); Swete, Introduction to the Old Testament in Greek, 257 if; the articles in the principal Bible Dictionaries, including Jewish Encyclopedia and Encyclopedia Britannica (11th edition).
See also under ESTHER.
T. Witton Davies