Perspectives

The Book of Esther, President Obama, and Benjamin Netanyahu

By Jackie Muhammad -Guest Columnist- | Last updated: Sep 27, 2013 - 3:47:21 PM

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President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu deliver a press conference following their meeting in the Oval Office. Photo: Wikimedia Commons
‘For Prime Minister Netanyahu to give the President of the United States a book whose authenticity is highly questionable and ask him to base his foreign policy decisions on such a document is risky and dangerous.’
(FinalCall.com) - On the occasion of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s most recent visit to the White House in March 2013, to pay a state visit to the president of the United States, Mr. Netanyahu presented President Obama with a parting gift, a copy of the Old Testament Book of Esther, a book that is revered by both Zionists and Evangelical Christian supporters of Jewish Zionism.

Esther is a book of the Hebrew Bible that focuses principally on three central characters: Esther, Mordecai and Haman. Esther, reputed to be a beautiful young Jewish orphan, was made a part of the King of Persia’s harem by her cousin and adopted father, Mordecai. The King of Persia, Ahasuerus, became so infatuated with Esther that he made her the Queen of Persia. Haman, the villain in the story, hated Mordecai because of Mordecai’s refusal to bow down to him, so a plot unfolds in which Haman schemes to destroy the entire Jewish population in Persia.  

Mordecai prevails upon Esther to persuade the king to prevent the genocide of the Persian Jews. The king agrees, and the tables are turned on Haman. He is put to death and the Jews of Persia launch a preemptive strike against 75,000 Gentile men, women and children in Persia who they considered to be their enemies, even though none of the Gentiles harmed any Jew.

The Book of Esther is essential to the Jewish belief system. It is the basis upon which one of their most important holy days is celebrated, the Jewish celebration of Purim, the commemoration of the Jewish deliverance in the ancient Persian Empire from destruction by Haman, the Prime Minister of Persia.

Among the very interesting facts concerning this book is that it never mentions God. God has no role to play in the salvation of the Jews. He appears to have been a forgotten Entity. What is more interesting, however, is that most credible biblical scholars consider the Book of Esther to be a fraud. For example, the Interpreters One-Volume Commentary on the Bible, written by some of the leading biblical scholars in the world, states, “Various historical and chronological inaccuracies and improbabilities lead to the conclusion that the book is something less than dependable history and was written a long time after the events it describes.” Author H. Neil Richardson goes on to say the “book is the work of a skilled literary artist …”

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‘Mr. Netanyahu was using what some refer to as a well-known Jewish “fable” to encourage President Obama to attack Iran and remove them permanently as a leading “threat” to the Jewish nation.’
The Book of Esther was originally believed to have been written by Mordecai. The book was then “modified” or “redacted,” words changed or rewritten, by a group of Jewish scribes known as the Great Assembly. 

Even Mr. Netanyahu’s co-religionists disagree with the validity of the Book of Esther. According to the Jewish Encyclopedia we learn, “Comparatively few modern scholars of note consider the narrative of Esther to rest on an historical foundation … . The vast majority of modern expositors have reached the conclusion that the book is a piece of pure fiction.”

Mr. Netanyahu’s purpose was to warn the President that he now fills the role of Esther and it is his responsibility to save the Jewish people from their arch enemy, the Iranians, the modern-day Persians of ancient history. Mr. Netanyahu was using what some refer to as a well-known Jewish “fable” to encourage President Obama to attack Iran and remove them permanently as a leading “threat” to the Jewish nation.

The Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible, known as the Septuagint, further modifies the story of Esther. According to the Jewish Babylonian Talmud, the Sages of the Great Assembly redacted portions of the original text written by Mordecai. Coptic and Ethiopic versions of Esther were then written from this modified version instead of the Hebrew Bible version of Esther, thereby further corrupting that which had already been corrupted. 

A Latin version of Esther was produced by Jerome, a Latin Christian priest, considered one of the early church fathers, a theologian and church historian. Jerome’s translation became known as the Vulgate Bible, the Roman Catholic version of the Bible that predates the King James Bible. We learn from the Encyclopedia of Judaism that Jerome removed 107 verses in the text of his Latin translation. Jerome translated The Vulgate from the Greek and Hebrew Bibles. But because of Jerome’s actions The Vulgate version of the Book of Esther and the King James Version of the book, therefore, are not congruent—they are not the same.

Further, the Dead Sea Scrolls, written by a little-known group of abstemious followers of Moses, who received their original training and inspiration in Africa, preserved the oldest known copies of the Old Testament, predating the Masoretic text, from which the King James Bible is translated, by about 1,000 years. Their works date back to between 150 and 70 B.C. and there is no mention of a book of Esther. 

Jewish scribes were known to have borrowed heavily from the Babylonian fables such as the Epic of Gilgamesh, considered the earliest surviving works of literature. They copied themes from the Epic of Gilgamesh, reinterpreted them, and included them in the Bible. In this manner, it is believed the Book of Esther found its way into the Bible. It is believed they changed the name of the Babylonian goddess Ishtar to Esther, recalibrated the story, and made it a part of the Hebrew Bible.

Purim and other such holidays are therefore fashioned out of whole cloth. Purim as a significant “Jewish” holiday was either not known to many members of the ancient “Jewish” groups or ignored as a significant holiday. Among those who never practiced such holidays are the Ethiopian “Falashas” or House of Israel (Beta Israel), the ancient Essenes, the Lemba, Original African Hebrew Israelites and the Jews of Elephantine in Egypt.

The Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad warned us that the Bible, though very important, was a book that had been “tampered” with, a book that had become corrupted. The conflicting versions of Esther and the controversy concerning its authenticity underscore his warning. 

Therefore, for Prime Minister Netanyahu to give the President of the United States a book whose authenticity is highly questionable and ask him to base his foreign policy decisions on such a document is risky and dangerous. The Middle East is one of the most explosive regions in the world. Careful thought based on fairness and a truthful depiction of Biblical teachings are paramount ingredients needed to resolve these issues—not distorted biblical fables.

(Jackie Muhammad is a former presidential appointee, member of the Oxford round table, educator, businessman and member of the Nation of Islam Research Group. Visit the Research Group online at http://www.noirg.org and join the conversation on FaceBook.com/NOIResearch and Twitter @ NOIResearch. Jackie Muhammad can be reached at jacrb519@ aol.com.)

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