The New International Encyclopædia/Esther, Apocryphal Book of
ESTHER, Apocryphal Book of. In the Greek translations of the Hebrew book of Esther there are large interpolations, intended to supplement and amplify the story, which became a favorite one with the Jews. The late Greek origin of these additions is indicated by such a detail as the representation of Haman as a Macedonian who attempted to transfer the sovereignty from the Persians to the Macedonians. These additions, which are the work of Hellenistic writers, were all put by Jerome, in his Latin translation of the Bible, at the end of the book, together with notes to show where other additions to the Hebrew occur in the Septuagint. In English versions, these additions are embodied in the Apocrypha under the title “The Rest of the Chapters of the Book of Esther.” The additions embody such subjects as Mordecai's pedigree, his detection of the conspiracy against Ahasuerus, prayers of Mordecai, full terms of royal decrees, and a fuller account of Esther's interview with the King. In the Aramaic paraphrases of Esther, of which there are two (known as the first and second Targums to Esther), there are similar embellishments, independent of the Greek additions. Such liberties taken with the book, while illustrating its popularity, despite (or perhaps because of) its peculiar origin, also indicate that it was not regarded as sacred in the same sense as the Pentateuch, the historical books proper, and the Prophets.