I had my first English class with my new Chinese students on Friday night. The class was smaller than usual as one of the students was hospitalized last week. Fortunately she is doing well, for which I’m thankful. But the students who did come were quite intrigued.
I had felt led to do a study on the book of Esther. This is as exciting for me as I hope it will be for them. Since this book is a true story, I wanted to find a “fish hook” so to speak, from extra-Biblical history that would draw the students into the book of Esther. None of them believe in God and the three whom I met with on Friday night have read very little of the Bible. So I needed a hook that would really make them WANT to read this book with more than just the desire to learn English.
As I did my studies, I learned something amazing. King Ahasuerus (Xerxes I) was a very interesting king from the perspective of history. And Persian history has left a record of just what he was doing and when from their perspective of what was important. When you make a timeline of recorded history, and lay it over the timeline as recorded in the book of Esther, you get a very compatible history of events. Further, there are records about Xerxes’ personality and deeds. When you superimpose these on the man seen in the book of Esther, there is no contradiction. In fact, you are left with the feeling that the book of Esther was written by someone who knew everything quite well, and who was so aware of the facts around the story (as would have been the readers), that there was no need for explanations and details that were beyond the scope of the author, that is, to make sure we knew about Queen Esther and how/why Purim came to be celebrated amongst the Jewish people.
I was very thankful when, after the lesson, my students all asked Mr. Wong (the pastor of the Chinese church) if they could borrow Bibles to take home with them, as they want to read the book of Esther in Chinese before the next lesson!