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The Forgotten “Religious” Version of the Book of Esther

March 5 2015

Any Catholic edition of the Bible contains a text known as “Additions to Esther.” Based on an ancient version of the Book of Esther, and originally written in Greek, these “additions” differ strikingly from the Hebrew text in more than one way. Aaron Koller writes:

One of the most famous—and significant—features of the Hebrew Book of Esther is the absence of any mention of God. Some of the book’s earliest readers were disturbed enough by that fact that they actually changed it. They changed a lot of other details, as well. . . .

These are six blocks of text, conventionally labeled A through F, found in all known Greek versions of Esther and without any parallel in the Hebrew text. . . . Additions A and F, found at the very beginning and very end of the book, are a dream of Mordecai’s and its interpretation. In his dream, Mordecai sees two dragons fighting, threatening to destroy the world; peace is effected by a spring that bursts forth. At the end of the book, he realizes that the two dragons represented himself and Haman, and that their conflict would have wreaked havoc had it not been for Esther. . . . Addition C contains prayers uttered by Mordecai and Esther for the salvation of the Jews. . . .

Who were the “earliest readers” responsible for this revised and expanded version? Evidence suggests they were Jews living in the land of Israel in the first century BCE, and that they had a clear theological agenda:

[T]heir new and improved version of Esther brought the book and its associated festival back in line with what was, to their minds, normative Jewish ideology and practice: devotion to God, prayer, an abhorrence of intermarriage, . . . and a fealty to Jewish law and practice.

Read more at TheTorah.com

More about: Apocrypha, Bible, Esther, Purim, Religion & Holidays

Mahmoud Abbas Comes to the UN to Walk away from the Negotiating Table

Feb. 22 2018

On Tuesday, the Palestinian Authority president, Mahmoud Abbas, addressed the United Nations Security Council during one of its regular discussions of the “Palestine question.” He used the opportunity to elaborate on the Palestinians’ “5,000-year history” in the land of Israel, after which he moved on to demand—among other things—that the U.S. reverse its recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. The editors of the Weekly Standard comment:

It’s convenient for Abbas to suggest a condition to which he knows the United States won’t accede. It allows him to do what he does best—walk away from the table. Which is what he did on Tuesday, literally. After his speech, Abbas and his coterie of bureaucrats walked out of the council chamber, snubbing the next two speakers, the Israeli ambassador Danny Danon and the U.S. ambassador Nikki Haley, . . . [in order to have his] photograph taken with the Belgian foreign minister.

Abbas has neither the power nor the will to make peace. It’s the perennial problem afflicting Palestinian leadership. If he compromises on the alleged “right of return”—the chimerical idea that Palestinians can re-occupy the lands from which they [or their ancestors] fled, in effect obliterating the Israeli state—he will be deposed by political adversaries. Thus his contradictory strategy: to prolong his pageantry in international forums such as the UN, and to fashion himself a “moderate” even as he finances and incites terror. He seems to believe time is on his side. But it’s not. He’s eighty-two. While he continues his performative intransigence, he further immiserates the people he claims to represent.

In a sense, it was entirely appropriate that Abbas walked out. In that sullen act, he [exemplified] his own approach to peacemaking: when difficulties arise, vacate the premises and seek out photographers.

Read more at Weekly Standard

More about: Mahmoud Abbas, Nikki Haley, Politics & Current Affairs, United Nations