Check out these four ways to study Esther.
Surprisingly, there are four people in Esther on the Top 55 list. The first of these is King Ahasuerus or Xerxes who is ranked #20. He far outranks Esther (#42), Mordecai (#46), her older cousin, and Haman (#54), the villain of the story. There is a one-page study on each of these in the Top 55 booklet.
THE ESTHER TOP FOUR GAME: Take the cards for Ahasuaerus, Esther, Mordecai, and Haman from the Top 55 deck or make four new cards with these names on them. Arrange these cards on the table or a white board to form a rectangle with the cards defining the four corners. Then the leader(s) leads a pregame study by teaching some basic things about these four main characters in Esther, with others joining in as much as possible in this teaching. Do not spend too much time on this however. More will be learned during the game.
During the game itself, players or teams take turns making sentences about one or two of the Top Four people in Esther. One point is awarded for each correct sentence that mentions one of the Top Four, and two points is awarded for each correct sentence which links two of them. A player or team is allowed to make two sentences in one turn IF only one of the Top Four is mentioned in each sentence. Thus there are two ways to earn two points each turn -- with one sentence mentions two of the Top Four or with two sentences about one of them.
For instance, a player or team could earn two points by saying, "Moredecai was Esther's older cousin." Alternatively, they could earn two points by saying, "Esther was young and beautiful." and then adding a second sentence saying, "Moredecai was not young."
At first it is easy to make sentences and score points, but sentences can only be used once. (The leader should keep record of what is said.) As the game progresses, it becomes difficult to think of anything new to say. So as things slow down, the leader may allow players to use their Bibles, but there should be a timer to keep the game from becoming too slow.
Near the end of the game, players or teams are to be given between five and ten minutes to use their Bibles and write out on paper as many NEW lines about people in the Top Four as possible. This special, game-ending round is where most of the differences in scoring will occur.
The Lord is never directly mentioned in Esther. So in a way it is a godless book, and the title of this study is God's People in Godless Times. As in other studies in this series on passages in which God is never or rarely mentioned, the main point is that the Lord is active even when he seems to be missing. -- So for us, Esther is a call to live by faith (Heb. 11:1-2), expecting to see God work in the little things as well as in the big things of human history which is centered on the Jewish people and the Messiah (John 4:22).
The idea of building a gallows or execution tower to hang Mordecai was Hanan's wife's idea, and as she hoped, it changed his somber mood (Est. 5:14). In the end, however, the tower was used to hang Haman. So it was a very bad idea for him, but the outcome was fitting. Zeresh was Haman's counselor, and this is one of several studies on good and bad ideas in the Bible which demonstrate four simple steps to use in order to see if an idea is good or bad.
This study on Vashti, the queen whom Esther replaced, is featured in the Lesser-Known but Significant Women series. The main point in the study is that God was in charge of all that happened. It is similar to the study in Esther in the Godless-Times series, but that study (#2 above) makes it more clear that God was not responsible for the various evil things that the king did.
© 2020 by Jon F. Mahar, Hakusan City, Japan