The commentary approaches the Book of Esther from a fresh literary point-of-view. It includes essays entitled “When and Where Was the Book of Esther Written?”; “Sex and Spies”; “Rabbinic Interpretation”; and many others. Recipient of the Prize of the Minister of Science, Culture, and Sport [of the State of Israel] for classical literature for the year 5762 .
This resource is available as part of the JPS Tanakh Commentary Collection (11 volumes).
“Most scholars now date the writing of the Book of Esther to the late Persian or early Greek period, roughly between 400–200 b.c.e.” (Page xli)
“The tone of the book fits its purpose: a comic story for a carnivalesque holiday.” (Page xvi)
“Are the events recounted in it true? In other words, is the book historic ally accurate? Arguing against the book’s historicity is the fact that many things in the story conflict with our knowledge about Persian history or are too fantastic to be believable.” (Page xvi)
“In the Greek versions of Esther, which de-emphasize Purim, the comic elements are diminished. The Hebrew Esther and the festival of Purim bring us a uniquely irreverent and joyously optimistic celebration of Jewish identity and Jewish continuity.” (Page xvi)
“To govern a country in which a law could never be changed would make governing impossible” (Page xvii)
This informative commentary ... dissects the Book of Esther and, by extension, the Jewish holiday of Purim. Berlin begins with a lengthy introduction, discussing Esther as comedy and as Diaspora literature; the introduction does a fine job of explaining the Persian period and its various art forms.
Adele Berlin, a scholar of biblical and ancient Near Eastern literature, has developed the Biblical Studies program at the University of Maryland and has designed and taught courses on biblical narrative and poetry, ancient Near Eastern culture and literature, and methods of biblical interpretation.
The Jewish Publication Society of America was founded in Philadelphia in 1888 to provide the children of Jewish immigrants to America with books about their heritage in the language of the New World. As the oldest publisher of Jewish titles in the English language, the mission of JPS is to enhance Jewish culture by promoting the dissemination of religious and secular works of exceptional quality, in the United States and abroad, to all individuals and institutions interested in past and contemporary Jewish life.
Over the years JPS has issued a body of works for all tastes and needs. Its many titles include biographies, histories, art books, holiday anthologies, books for young readers, religious and philosophical studies, and translations of scholarly and popular classics. It is perhaps known best for its famous JPS Tanakh, the translation of the Hebrew Bible in English from the original Hebrew.