Mordecai (Greek text only)

“In the second year of the reign of King Artaxerxes the Great, on the first day of Nisan, Mordecai son of Jair, son of Shimei, son of Kish, of the tribe of Benjamin, had a dream. He was a Jew, living in the city of Susa, a great man, serving in the court of the king. He was one of the captives whom King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon had brought from Jerusalem with King Jeconiah of Judea.”

First you will notice there is no chapter and verse. To be honest, that was a medieval concept. The idea of chapter divisions began in the 9th century CE, but was codified in the 13th century CE with Stephan Langton. Finally in the 16th century, with the widespread use of printing, chapter and verse numbers became common. However, the problem here is that these additions are only in the Greek Septuagint edition of this work, while the official Hebrew version has chapter and verse numbers. The Jerusalem Bible puts these verses in italics, while the Oxford Bible calls them additions. I have decided to use the pre-medieval technique of using neither chapters nor verses, just simply the phrase “Greek text only.” I have inserted these texts where they are found in these 2 biblical additions.

Interesting enough, the setting is slightly earlier than Nehemiah and Ezra, but during the reign of King Artaxerxes the Great (465-424 BCE). It also takes place at the capital of Persia, Susa. Mordecai, like Nehemiah, was a Jewish court official. Apparently some of the captive Jews served the royal family in various positions. Once again, it is the Persians who are tolerant of the Jews. The text says that Mordecai was a captive taken in the Babylonian captivity of King Nebuchadnezzar, but that would put Mordecai over a 100 years old. He may have been a member of a Jewish family that was taken captive in 587 BCE. Unlike Tobit, who was a northern Israelite, Mordecai was a Benjaminite which puts him closer to Saul than David.

Outline of the Book of Esther

Outline of the Book of Esther


Mordecai (Greek text only)

The dream of Mordecai (Greek text only)

Interpreting the dream of Mordecai (Greek text only)

The plot against King Artaxerxes (Greek text only)


I. King Artaxerxes and Queen Vashti

The kingdom of King Artaxerxes (Esth 1:1-1:4)

The seven day feast of King Artaxerxes (Esth 1:5-1:8)

Queen Vashti and her banquet (Esth 1:9-1:11)

Queen Vashti refuses to come to the party (Esth 1:12-1:20)

The king agrees with Muchaeus (Esth 1:21-1:22)


II. Mordecai and Esther

The king searches for a new queen (Esth 2:1-2:5)

Mordecai and Esther (Esth 2:5-2:7)

Esther joins the king’s harem (Esth 2:8-2:11)

The king’s audition (Esth 2:12-2:14)

Esther becomes the new queen (Esth 2:15-2:18)

Esther keeps her Jewish background secret (Esth 2:19-2:21)

Mordecai and the plot to kill the king (Esth 2:21-2:23)


III.      The Jewish Menace

Haman is in charge (Esth 3:1-3:6)

They cast lots to determine the perfect day (Esth 3:7-3:9)

Haman proposes his plan to the king (Esth 3:8-3:9)

The signet ring (Esth 3:10-3:11)

The sending of the decree (Esth 3:12-3:13)

The title of the decree for the extermination of the Jews (Greek text only)

The decree states the need for peace and tranquility (Greek text only)

The decree is against one group of disruptive people (Greek text only)

The decree for the extermination of the Jews (Greek text only)

The posting of the decree (Esth 3:14-3:15)

Mordecai finds out about the decree (Esth 4:1-4:3)

Queen Esther finds out about the situation of Mordecai (Esth 4:4-4:5)

Mordecai sends the decree to Queen Esther (Esth 4:6-4:8)

Queen Esther sends a message to Mordecai (Esth 4:9-4:11)

Mordecai tells Queen Esther not to be silent (Esth 4:12-4:14)

Queen Esther calls for a fast (Esth 4:15-4:17)

The prayer of Mordecai to God the creator (Greek text only)

The prayer of Mordecai on why he did not bow to Haman (Greek text only)

The prayer of Mordecai to God to save Israel (Greek text only)

Queen Esther puts away her normal clothes (Greek text only)

The prayer of Queen Esther to God (Greek text only)

Queen Esther asks God for courage (Greek text only)

Queen Esther dresses up to go to the Palace (Greek text only)

Queen Esther encounters the king (Greek text only)

Queen Esther faints again (Greek text only)

Queen Esther goes to the palace (Esth 5:1-5:3)

Queen Esther invites the king and Haman to dinner (Esth 5:4-5:8)

Haman was happy (Esth 5:9-5:13)

Haman prepares the gallows (Esth 5:14-5:14)


IV. The revenge of the Jews

The king remembers the work of Mordecai (Esth 6:1-6:3)

The king asks Haman for advice (Esth 6:4-6:10)

Haman honors Mordecai (Esth 6:11-6:12)

Haman realizes that he is in trouble (Esth 6:12-6:14)

Haman at the banquet of Queen Esther (Esth 7:1-7:6)

Haman pleads with Queen Esther (Esth 7:7-7:7)

Haman is hung on his own gallows (Esth 7:8-7:10)

The property of Haman goes to Queen Esther (Esth 8:1-8:2)

Queen Esther asks for the revocation of the Haman decree (Esth 8:3-8:6)

The response of the king (Esth 8:7-8:8)

Mordecai writes the letter about the Jews to the empire (Esth 8:9-8:12)

The title of the letter that favors the Jews (Greek text only)

Those who receive much should be generous (Greek text only)

The bad behavior of the past (Greek text only)

The problem of Haman (Greek text only)

The Jews are good people (Greek text only)

The problem of the thirteenth day of Adar (Greek text only)

Follow this order carefully (Greek text only)

The sending of the royal edict that favors the Jews (Esth 8:13-8:14)

The triumph of Mordecai and the Jews (Esth 8:15-8:17)

The great day of execution arrives (Esth 9:1-9:4)

The killing of the ten sons of Haman in Susa (Esth 9:5-9:15)

The Jews kill 75,000 people in the provinces (Esth 9:16-9:17)

The Jews in Susa celebrate (Esth 9:18-9:19)


V. The Feast of Purim

The official institution of Purim (Esth 9:20-9:23)

The origin of the name Purim (Esth 9:24-9:28)

Queen Esther on Purim (Esth 9:29-9:32)

Praise for Mordecai (Esth10:1-10:3)

The interpretation of Mordecai’s dream (Greek text only)

Purim in Egypt (Greek text only)



Thank you – 18

March 31, 2015

Thank you – 18


I just finished blogging the biblical book Judith. Every time I finish a book of the Bible, I send a thank you blog. I usually post five blogs a day covering about a chapter of one of the biblical books. So far I have posted 2,280 blogs about the individual paragraphs of the first five books of the Torah, Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy, as well as Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 Samuel and 2 Samuel, 1 Kings and 2 Kings, 1 Chronicles and 2 Chronicles, Ezra and Nehemiah, Tobit, and Judith. This makes the first 18 books of the Bible that are now complete with a commentary for each paragraph. It has taken me a little over a year and a half to get this done.

About 200 people have emailed me that they are following this project in some form or another. I do not think that I know any of you personally. 80 people receive an email subscription every day. About 20 people look at this site every day, but it has reached as high as 363 people on January 19, 2015, which was also the best week with 554 people that week. Last month, February 2015, 1,364 people visited this site. There have been over 5,837 hits on this blog since its inception. I just want to thank all of you.

I realized that 163 of you have left comments, but I have not responded to them. There have been over 5,931 spam comments. Some of you might want to moderate my comments, which is fine with me. If you want to contact me directly, my email is

Since my last thank you note a few weeks ago, the following people have sent me emails about this blog site. Thank you very much. Here is a list.


Steve Finnell



Peace –love-joy

Gene Finnegan

My Understanding of Judith

This is another disputed book of the Bible. The Book of Judith can be found in the Greek Septuagint and thus in the Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Christian Old Testament parts of the Bible. However, Judith is not in the Jewish Hebrew texts and therefore is considered apocrypha by the English King James Bible.

This Book of Judith contains numerous historical anachronisms, like many of the biblical stories. Thus it has been considered a parable, a historical novel, or a folklore tale with an ironic twist. Judith is the feminine form of Judah. She was like an ancient Joan of Arc. This book certainly expresses the world view of the post-exilic Jews. However, it is not clear whether the Book of Judith was originally written in Hebrew or in Greek. The oldest extant version is the Septuagint. It was likely written by a Jew during the Second Temple period, perhaps in the second century BCE, but certainly before the finished Septuagint in the late second century BCE.

The Book of Judith has a seventh century BCE setting with King Nebuchadnezzar and his army led by General Holofernes. The first part of this book described the rising threat to Israel of King Nebuchadnezzar and his General Holofernes. The second part of the book revolves around Judith, a daring and beautiful widow, who is upset with her Jewish countrymen for not trusting God to deliver them from their foreign conquerors. She goes with her loyal maid to the camp of the enemy general, Holofernes, with whom she slowly ingratiates herself, promising him a plan to defeat Israelites. Gaining his trust, she is allowed access to his tent. One night as he lies in a drunken stupor, she then decapitates him and takes his head back to her fearful countrymen. The Assyrians, now that they have lost their leader, dispersed and Israel was saved. Though she is courted by many, Judith remains unmarried for the rest of her life until her death. Judith, the heroine of the book, is the daughter of Merari, a Simeonite, and a widow. There are no indications of her as a historical figure. Thus, the great villain in this book is King Nebuchadnezzar, who ruled over the Assyrians. However, the historical Nebuchadnezzar was the king of Babylonia, not Assyria. Judith’s village, Bethulia, which literally means “virginity,” is unknown and otherwise unattested to in any ancient writing. Thus it is an allegorical representation of personages and historical events. Much of this work has focused on linking King Nebuchadnezzar with various conquerors of Judea from different time periods. The only historical female leader was Queen Salome Alexandra, Judea’s only female monarch (76-67 BCE). She was the last ruler to die while Judea remained an independent kingdom. Some late 19th and early 20th century scholars have identified this King Nebuchadnezzar with King Artaxerxes III, (425–338 BC), because there was a “Holofernes” in his army.

Although the text itself does not mention Hanukkah, it has become customary for a Hebrew variant of the Judith story to be read on the Shabbat of Hanukkah. Her name, which means “Jewish woman,” suggests that she represents the heroic spirit of the Jewish people. This heroic spirit, as well as her chastity, has endeared her to Christianity. Because of her unwavering religious devotion, she was able to step outside of her widow’s role. She dressed and acted in a sexually provocative manner while clearly remaining true to her ideals. The character of Judith is larger than life so that she has won a place in Jewish and Christian folklore, art, poetry and drama. Judith has become a Christian allegorical figure, the holy woman, a pre-figuration of the Virgin Mary. Her seduction and beheading of the wicked General Holofernes has been made her very attractive. Thus this account of Judith’s beheading of Holofernes has been the subject of many painters, sculptors, and plays.

The story itself centers on King Nebuchadnezzar in Nineveh with his army. His messengers did not get the response that he wanted. He attacked Ecbatana in eastern Medes. Then he planned a western campaign with General Holofernes as the head of the army. Thus a large organized army went west with General Holofernes in charge. He was so successful that most people just asked for peace. He had conquered the seacoast, so that an alert went out in Judea. Somehow the Israelites who were fasting in sack cloths feared this invasion. The Lord heard their prayers. General Holofernes heard of the Israelite from Achior the Ammonite who explained the history of Israel from their time in Egypt. Achior explained that Israel could not lose when God was on their side. General Holofernes did not like to hear this. He chastised Achior and sent him away to the Israelites, who in turn told his story to the Israelites. The Israelites prayed for help.

The campaign against Israel started with the siege of Bethulia, an unknown Israelite town, with the seizing of the spring water supply. The lack of water was a great concern to the Israelites so that they prayed to God to consider surrendering. However, their leader, Uzziah, asked them to have courage.

Then Judith arrived on the scene and called for a meeting where she gave a speech. She reminded them that they had no false gods and they should not fall into slavery. They should thank God. Then Judith prayed about her ancestor Simeon, the future, and what to do against the Assyrians. She asked for God’s help.

Judith then dressed up to go to General Holofernes. She left Bethulia with her maid to go to the tent of General Holofernes. She stunned the whole Assyrian army on her way through the camp. General Holofernes and Judith met in his tent. Judith praised the general and told him about the situation of the Israelites. She said that they had defied their God so that they were about to lose the battle. She ate some food and went out to pray. After three days she accepted the invitation of General Holofernes to have a banquet together. They drank together until he fell asleep drunk. Then she prayed before beheading General Holofernes with his own sword. She carried his head to Bethulia, where the people of Bethulia greeted her. She showed them the head of General Holofernes as the people prayed.

Judith then revealed her plan, as Achior became an Israelite. The Israelites would pretend to attack. Then the Assyrians would discover the death of General Holofernes and then flee in disarray. It worked out as she planned. They praised Judith and plundered the tent of General Holofernes. Judith and the women of Israel then danced. Judith recited a thanksgiving canticle that praised God for the intervention of Judith in this Israelite victory. They sang a new song to the Lord in Jerusalem. Judith lived a long life widowed life before her death at age 105.

The life and death of Judith (Jdt 16:21-16:25)

“After this, they all returned home to their own inheritances. Judith went to Bethulia. She remained on her estate for the rest of her life. She was honored throughout the whole country. Many desired to marry her. However, she gave herself to no man all the days of her life after her husband Manasseh died. She was gathered to his people. She became more and more famous. She grew old in her husband’s house, reaching the age of one hundred five years old. She set her maid free. She died in Bethulia. They buried her in the cave of her husband Manasseh. The house of Israel mourned her for seven days. Before she died she distributed her property to all those who were next of kin to her husband Manasseh, and to her own nearest kindred. No one ever again spread terror among the Israelites during the lifetime of Judith, or for a long time after her death.”

Judith returned to her home estate. She was honored throughout her life. A lot of men wanted to marry her, but she never remarried. She grew old gracefully as a widow until she died at the age of 105. She seemed to live like the ancient pre-historic patriarchs. She set her maid free and distributed her estate to her family and that of her late husband as set out in the Mosaic Law. There was never any mention of children. During her lifetime, no one tried to attack Israel.  So ends the saga of the saintly Judith, the general killer.


The worship in Jerusalem (Jdt 16:18-16:20)

“When they arrived at Jerusalem, they worshiped God. As soon as the people were purified, they offered their burnt offerings, their freewill offerings, and their gifts. Judith also dedicated to God all the possessions of General Holofernes, which the people had given her. The canopy that she taken for herself from his bedchamber she gave as a votive offering. For three months, the people continued fasting in Jerusalem before the sanctuary. Judith remained with them.”

When they went down to Jerusalem, they worshipped God as they offered burnt offerings and freewill offerings. Judith then took all the possession of General Holofernes that she had taken and gave it to the Temple as a votive offering. The people of Bethulia stayed in Jerusalem for 3 months fasting.

Sing to the Lord a new song (Jdt 16:13-16:17)

“I will sing to my God a new song!

O Lord, you are great and glorious!

Wonderful in strength!


Let all your creatures serve you!

You spoke, and they were made.

You send forth your Spirit.

It formed them.

There is none that can resist your voice.

The mountains shall be shaken to their foundations with the waters.

Before your glance,

The rocks shall melt like wax.

But to those who fear you,

You show mercy.

Every sacrifice as a fragrant offering is a small thing.

The fat of all whole burnt offerings to you is a very little thing.

But who ever fears the Lord is great forever.

Woe to the nations that rise up against my people!

The Lord Almighty will take vengeance on them

In the Day of Judgment.

He will send fire and worms into their flesh.

They shall weep in pain forever.”

Now this canticle switched back to Judith praising God. Judith was going to sing a new song to the great and glorious God who has invincible strength. Once again there was an illusion to creation as she said that all creatures got their life from God. Therefore, they should praise God, who sent forth his Spirit to form the world. No one can resist the voice of God. He controls the mountains and the rocks. Sacrifices are trifling matters before God. The most important thing is to fear God. The Lord almighty will take vengeance on anyone who rises up against his people. The Day of Judgment is coming where there will be eternal weeping as fire and worms will eat flesh and cause eternal pain. Here we see the eschatological sense of a final judgment day, a post-exilic theme.

The Israelite victory (Jdt 16:11-16:12)

“Then my oppressed people shouted.

My weak people cried out.

The enemy trembled.

They lifted up their voices.

The enemy was turned back.

Sons of slave girls pierced them through.

They were wounded like the children of fugitives.

They perished before the army of my Lord.”

The victory chant came last. The weak people got courage. Now the enemy trembled at the Israelite shout. The sons of slave girls defeated the trained soldiers. This may be an illusion to the fact that some of the people of the land may have been involved in this attack. The enemy was like fugitive wounded children dying before the great army of the Lord.


The intervention of Judith (Jdt 16:5-16:10)

“But the Lord Almighty has foiled them

By the hand of a woman.

For their mighty one did not fall by the hands of the young men.

The sons of the Titans did not strike him down.

The tall giants did not set upon him.

But Judith,

Daughter of Merari,

With the beauty of her countenance,

She undid him.

She put away her widow’s clothing.

To exalt the oppressed in Israel.

She anointed her face with perfume.

She fastened her hair with a tiara.

She put on a linen gown to beguile him.

Her sandal ravished his eyes.

Her beauty captivated his mind.

The sword severed his neck.

The Persians trembled at her boldness,

The Medes were daunted at her daring.”

Suddenly the canticle is about Judith rather than Judith praying to God. The almighty God struck down the enemy with a female, almost to say, even a woman got him because he was so weak. It was not a young strong male soldier, nor some giant that brought him down. No, it was the beautiful widow who put away her widow’s clothing, anointed her face, fastened her hair, and wore a linen gown. She ravished his eyes, captivated his mind, and severed his neck. General Holofernes was not a Persian but an Assyrian. Medes was associated with the Persians, once again indicating some inconsistent details.

The thanksgiving canticle of Judith (Jdt 15:14-16:4)

“Judith began this thanksgiving before all Israel. All the people loudly sang this song of praise. Judith said.

‘Begin a song to my God with tambourines!

Sing to my Lord with cymbals!

Raise to him a new psalm!

Exalt him!

Call upon his name!

The Lord is a God who crushes wars.

He sets up his camp among his people.

He delivered me form the hands of my pursuers.

The Assyrian came down from the mountains of the north.

He came with myriads of his warriors.

Their numbers blocked up the Wadis.

Their cavalry covered the hills.

He boasted that he would burn up my territory.

He would kill my young men with the sword.

He would dash my infants to the ground.

He would seize my children as booty.

He would take my virgins as spoil.’”

This appears to be a canticle of Judith. In a sense, it is like the summary canticle in Tobit, chapter 13. Yet all the people seem to sing this song. This beautiful hymn harkens back to Exodus, chapter 15, where there is a victory chant of Moses after they got out of Egypt. This also seems like the short victory chant of Miriam, the sister of Moses. This song is to be sung with tambourines and cymbals. Once again, there is a correlation to the psalms also. You are to exalt the Lord because he crushes or decides wars. God delivered Judith from the hands of her enemies. The mighty Assyrian strong northern warrior blocked the brooks, the valleys, and the mountains. They were going to burn our territory, kill our young men and infants, and seize our children and virgins. The enemy is always portrayed in the worst light.