Esther - Bible study ideas

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Esther crowned by Ahasuerus

Esther's story

Scroll of the Bible

Bible text for this story

Middle Eastern woman dressed for her wedding

Finding a Husband

Compare with Ahaseurus'  method of choosing a wife

Ancient jewelry from Nimrud, Iraq

Ancient Jewelry

Golden crown

 Bible Women: Esther

Bible heroine: Judith, from the painting by Caravaggio

Bible Heroines 

Layout of the central palace at Persepolis

Ancient palaces

 Famous paintings of Esther

Famous paintings Esther








Joan Collins as Esther in 'Esther and the King'
An oldie but a goodie...


Activities for individuals or groups

Film reviews

Stage 1:  Make up a list

List some films about the dangers of political or social corruption - for example 'Absolute Power' which explores the themes of corruption and power, a dangerous mix, or 'The Hunger Games', about political tyranny.  If this is a group activity, choose films most people know. 'Absolute Power'

Stage 2:  Glance over your list

1.  Have you chosen films that are realistic, showing the nitty-gritty of political life, or do you prefer films/series, like 'The West Wing' that are inspiring/uplifting?
2.  Do your favorites have both these qualities?

Stage 3:  Choose your favorite The Hunger Games
4.  What are the central themes in this film? 
5.  Do you think they are realistic? Do they mirror the political situation you know? 

Stage 4:  Think about your choices

Group activity: discuss these questions, making sure everyone in the group has a chance to talk about their ideas.

Movies about women with power 

Can you name the films?

Can you see a connection with Esther's story?

ElizabethThe Queen
Charlie Wilson's WarLegally Blonde

The Slipper and the Rose

Answers HERE (see 'Esther')  Can you think of others?


Paintings of Esther

Stage 1Painting of Esther preparing for her marriage to Ahaseurus

Read the story at Bible People: Esther

Stage 2

Go to the link Esther: Paintings. Scroll through the paintings from first to last.

Which part of the story of Esther has been the most popular with artists?

Would this have been your choice?

Artists paint what they want to paint, but they also paint with their audience in mind. Look at the paintings again. Who is the painting directed at? Explain your reasoning.

Stage 3

If you have chosen something different, ask yourself why this other incident appeals to you more than the scene favored by the artists. Spend some time quietly thinking about your response.

Debate: ‘that benign despotism is an effective form of government’

  • Decide what 'benign despotism' means.
    Divide the group into two sides

  • Decide which side will support the proposal and which will oppose it.

  • Draw up a list of at least three points to support your argument

  • Decide which points should be argued most strongly

  • Nominate a number of debating team members and a chairperson

  • Choose the team members for your side.

  • Team members meet and prepare their arguments.

  • Conduct the debate; guests may be invited

  • Hold a debriefing/discussion afterwards.  


Discussion, analysis

Queen Elizabeth IWhat would be the qualities of an ideal queen?
In other words, what should Ahasuerus have been looking for when he searched for a new queen/wife?

What qualities do you hope to find in a husband/wife? Discuss this question with a learning partner, and list the five most important qualities.

What qualities do you think your future life partner would hope to find in you? How can you cultivate these qualities in yourself? List some practical strategies for being the person you want to be.  

Focus Questions

Esther's banquet, by Rembrandt
1. What are the most interesting moments in Esther's story? 
2. In the story, who speaks and who listens? Who acts? Who gets what they want? If you were in the story, which person would you want to be friends with? Which person would you want to avoid?
3. What is God's interaction with the main characters? What does this tell you about the narrator's image of God? Do you agree with this image?
4. The narrator/editor has chosen to tell some things and leave other things out. What has been left out of the story that you would like to know?
5. Are the characteristics and actions of the people in the story still present in the world? How is the story relevant to modern life and politics?

Write Esther's Biography

Esther lived the opulent life of an ancient queen. The Book of Esther gives her origins, her achievements, the powers and restrictions of being a queen, her emotions, and the way she handled a husband with many failings.

Write a short biography of Esther, or at least as much as you can given the information in the Book of Esther (see Bible Text: Esther for help with this). Open book

  • Collect your data

  • Organise it into time sequence or subject matter

  • Match a Bible text to each time sequence or incident

  • Read these texts carefully, noting the nuances of the passage and jotting down questions as you go

  • Write character outlines for each person

  • Divide Esther's life into separate sections

  • Write a list of questions for each section

  • Answer the questions, making each answer a paragraph or set of paragraphs

  • Read your responses from start to finish, making sure you have the correct sequence of events and noting any important bits you might have missed

  • Polish your material by editing out unnecessary words or phrases

Congratulations. You've written Esther's biography.

Extra Websites

What to look for in a husband; compare this with Ahaseurus'way of choosing a wife
Finding a Husband

Fabulous gold jewelry from the ancient world 
Bible Archaeology: Jewelry

Esther's story in more detail
Bible Women: Esther

The Palace of Persepolis 
Bible Archaeology: Palaces

Paintings of Esther at the court of the king, with the famous 'Fainting Paintings'
Bible Art: Esther



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