God and Politics in Esther (2016)

Yoram Hazony
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At first glance, the biblical story of Esther seems anything but religious: God isn’t mentioned once. Instead, we have a taut political thriller describing the crisis that erupts when the Persian government falls into the hands of fanatics, and a low-profile Jewish insider goes rogue. The entire story from beginning to end is one of political action taken by a people who face death at the hands of a tyrannical government and decide to act and save themselves.

God and Politics in Esther argues that the story of Esther was included in the Bible precisely to speak to a generation like ours–one that largely doesn’t see God in the world and isn’t waiting for miracles. Esther shows us that we can bring God’s justice into the world with our own hands.

Hazony’s The Dawn has long been a cult classic, read at Purim each year the world over. William Safire of The New York Times called it “a brilliant exegesis of this controversial work.” Twenty years on, this revised edition brings the book to much wider attention. Three controversial new chapters address the astonishingly radical theology that emerges from amid the political intrigues of the book.
 

Reviews

Yoram Hazony’s God and Politics in Esther is a tour de force. It is a fresh and illuminating book about power, and about the power of a book. Profoundly engaged in the challenges of ancient and current controversies, Hazony shows elegantly and persuasively why Esther is significant both politically and theologically, and how even its silences speak to timely and timeless concerns.”
—Tamara Cohn Eskenazi, Professor of Biblical Literature and History, Hebrew Union College, Los Angeles

Yoram Hazony challenges the typical reading of the book of Esther as a fairy tale, even a grotesque fantasy, dependent upon improbable coincidences. He does so with arresting subtlety, providing a provocative alternative that compels the reader to rethink not only the book of Esther but the entire Hebrew Bible and its place in our cultural heritage. A rich reward awaits readers of this noteworthy, remarkable accomplishment.”
—Steven Grosby, Professor of Religion, Clemson University

“Conventional wisdom tells us that religion and politics don’t mix. If you’re of this opinion, philosopher Yoram Hazony would like to have a word with you. In God and Politics in Esther, he makes the case that statecraft is soulcraft, powerfully showing how an exiled and persecuted people of faith, through their weakness, can became strong. The story of Esther, with its king and queen, heroes and villains, is more than just a nail-biting biblical drama. It is a cipher for understanding how the rough and tumble world of politics can give rise to the miraculous.”
—Gregory Alan Thornbury, President, The King’s College, New York City

Extraordinary. Yoram Hazony reads the Book of Esther as is has never been read before… Beautifully written, brilliantly reasoned. God and Politics in Esther is a mind-opener.”
—Jeff Jacoby, Boston Globe

 

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