A lot of readers ask me about the name of my newest novel, Esther’s Sling. “Why did you choose a title that seems to have no connection to Israel, Iran or the struggle over Iran’s nuclear program?”, they ask. “Why not something straight forward like ‘Israel Attacks Iran’?”
Well, for my Jewish fans, the biblical tale of Esther is familiar from the annual observance of Purim. For my Gentile fans, the Book of Esther is a part of the Old Testament that is often glossed over since it is more applicable to the history of the Jewish people than the narrative of Jesus.
So, what is the story of Esther? I will give the short version. Esther was an orphan in Persia who was raised by her uncle Mordecai. Esther becomes a queen of Persia when she marries King Xerxes – yes, the same Xerxes that is caricatured as a god-king in the movie 300.
Unfortunately, Mordecai later runs afoul of a powerful member of the Persian court named Haman. When Haman finds out that Mordecai is Jewish, he persuades Xerxes to decree death to all of the Jews in the Persian empire. Mordecai informs Esther – who, if you haven’t guessed, is secretly Jewish – and she reveals her Jewish identity to her husband. In a fit of anger at Haman, Xerxes not only decides to “spare” the Jews, but also has Haman hanged on the same gallows that Haman had built to kill Mordecai.
I use the word “spare” in quotes because what Xerxes did was simply decree that the Jews could legally arm and defend themselves. In the ensuing clashes, the Jews inflicted heavy losses on those who tried to slaughter them.
Did Esther really exist? Nobody knows for sure. There remains scholarly debate over whether her husband was actually Xerxes or another Persian king who followed with a similar name. There doesn’t seem to be much evidence for an Esther outside of the Bible, but there is some archaeological evidence that supports the existence of one or more Mordecai’s in the Persian court.
But what is certain is that, to this day, the name of Esther is celebrated annually in the festival of Purim and the name is synonymous with the salvation of the Jews from the threat of Persian annihilation. Of course, modern day Persia goes by a new name: Iran.
Now that explains why I chose “Esther” for the first part of the title of my novel. As for why I follow it with “Sling”, the only hint I will give you is that David used a sling to kill Goliath. For a better understanding, you will have to read Esther’s Sling!
© 2013 Ben Brunson