Esther—How could this book be part of the Holy Scriptures when God is not even mentioned?
Problem: Although the rabbis at Jamnia, in about a.d. 90, debated whether the book should continue to be counted among the inspired Scriptures, the Book of Esther has enjoyed a long history of acceptance among the books of the Hebrew canon. However, the Book of Esther is the only book in the entire Bible in which the name of God is not mentioned. How can it be part of the Word of God?
Solution: Even though there is an absence of the name of God, it is evident that there is no absence of the hand of God. The entire book overflows with the providence of God in human affairs. God so directed the lives of those involved that He had the right person at precisely the right place at precisely the right point in time. As Mordecai observed, “Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this” (Es. 4:14).
Further, the name of God is found in the Book of Esther in acrostic form. At four crucial points in the story (1:20; 5:4; 5:13; 7:7), twice forward and twice backward, God’s name (YHWH) is present. The devout Jew would have recognized this, while the Persians would not. This may have been God’s way of preserving His sacred name from pagan perversion. Even apart from any explicit use of God’s name, the hand of God in directing the affairs of men is glaringly obvious throughout the narrative. Yet, the free moral agency of each participant is perfectly preserved. Although He can, God does not need to invade the normal process of daily affairs to accomplish His will. His providence delicately intertwines into the acts and decisions of people so that He accomplishes all His will with divine perfection and precision, without violating human free choice. The Book of Esther, like no other book, reveals the hidden, supernatural providence of God in directing all of His creation according to the good purpose of His will. Even in the explicit absence of God’s name, Esther reminds us that He is always present and always in control.
See All Problems
This excerpt is from When Critics Ask: A Popular Handbook on Bible Difficulties (Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books, 1992). © 2014 Norman Geisler and Thomas Howe. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Click here to purchase this book.