- Ridicule. The Persian court in general, and Ahashverosh in particular, are mocked as constantly feasting and drinking, beginning in the opening scene with a feast lasting six months! Almost every time we meet Ahashverosh he has a wine goblet in his hand, and before Esther asks him to save her people she invites him to a wine-drinking party on two successive days, presumably to ensure he is in ‘good spirits.’
- Target. As the main object(s) of ridicule appear to be Ahashverosh and the Persian court, we might well wonder what purpose the writer would have in targeting a power which allowed the Jews exiled in Babylonia to return to the Land under their protection, and permitted them to rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem. I’ll deal with this below.
- Irony. As we’ve seen in earlier posts, Esther abounds in irony. Haman and Mordecai in particular are both ironised, and their fates are ‘reversed’ in truly ironic fashion.
- Exaggeration. Almost everything is exaggerated in Esther, from the length of the opening feast and the incredible numbers attending, Haman’s outlandish bribe, and the height of his gallows, to the enormous numbers of people who failed to heed the warning and were killed as a result.
- Humour. It’s somewhat dark, but it’s there! (See here)
- Puns and wordplays. I haven’t dealt specifically with these; although they are not a big feature of the book they are there. Perhaps I’ll come back to it later.
- Contradictions. Esther has these in the form of contradictions between the text and historical facts.
- Unbelievable elements. Some of the exaggerations (hyperbole) in Esther are simply unbelievable, such as the duration of Ahashverosh’s banquet, and Haman’s incredible wealth.
In an earlier post I provided a kind of ‘checklist’ of features we would need or expect to see in a work of satire. Esther checks most of the boxes.