Revisiting the Book of Esther: Assessing the Historical Significance of the Masoretic Version for the Achaemenian History

Document Type : Original Research Article


Department of History, Faculty of Literature and Human Science, University of Tehran


Most modern scholars consider the Book of Esther to be a kind of historical novel; hence, the historicity of many of its characters and events is highly debatable. While the present study does not intend to defend the historicity of the book, it does review it again by using sources that have received less attention in this regard. That the Book of Esther has a lot of Persian realia in it is not news, but most scholars have debated its historical value by comparing the book with classical sources. However, the present article aims to show how a significant part of the historical material of the Book of Esther is in line with evidence that if not all, but most of the classical sources are unaware of, and accepting this fact means that the author of the Masoretic Esther had direct or indirect access to sources associated with the Persian state. In order to prove this issue, using the descriptive-analytical method based on library studies, the primary focus of this article has been on sources other than the Greek ones, mainly Achaemenian royal inscriptions, and economic and legal documents found in different parts of the Persian Empire.


Main Subjects

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Volume 3, Issue 4 - Serial Number 4
January 2023
Pages 19-32
  • Receive Date: 27 May 2022
  • Revise Date: 08 July 2022
  • Accept Date: 21 September 2022
  • First Publish Date: 30 October 2022