Mark 6:14-29 and the book of Esther

Tue, 07/07/2009 - 09:26 -- James Oakley

I thought the reference in Mark 6:23 to "up to half my kingdom" sounded familiar. Sure enough, the phrase also occurs in Esther 5:3 and Esther 7:2.

That got me thinking.

In the book of Esther we have a king with an extravagant party who makes an oath to depose his queen, which would be (for her) a kind of death. He promises a girl up to half of his kingdom, and then executes somebody because it is effectively what that girl asked for. We have someone (Haman), who has the king's ear, asking for the people of God to be put to death. Sound familiar?

The difference is that, in Esther, the one deposed is the foreign queen, the girl asking the favours represents the enemy of God's people, but the one executed is the faithful Jew. Mark 6 is a reversal of the story of Esther.

So far, so good. What I don't know is: Is this deliberate (in the mind of the Spirit, at least), or is it just that there are only so many court stories out there, so there are bound to be some similarities in the end? If it is a deliberate echo by Mark (or the divine author who inspired him), how does that shape the way we read Mark 6? Thoughts anyone?

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dave bish's picture
Submitted by dave bish on

Very interesting.

Does it also then evoke the memory of Esther as a reminder that though John dies deliverance will arise?

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