Tamarajo is an avid Bible Studier who loves nothing more than to seek out the treasures in God's Word and share them with others.
The Hebrew Bible, otherwise known as the Tanakh, consists of the same books as the Christian Old Testament, only it is arranged a bit differently. In the Tanakh, Esther and Daniel present together at the end of the book. Reading these two books in succession is eye-opening in terms of their similarities and Messianic themes. Daniel seems to present the Messiah and Esther, the followers of Christ.
The following will compare the two books in terms of their parallel events and Messianic interpretations.
Chronologically, the book of Daniel occurs towards the end of the Babylonian captivity between 605 BC and 530 BC. The book of Esther occurs later, between 486 BC and 465 BC, after many Jews had returned to Jerusalem and rebuilt the temple. The temple restoration was completed in 515 BC and happened between the Daniel and Esther narratives.
The timing reveals that the Jews in the book of Esther remained in Persia and did not return with the others. The text does not tell us why they stayed.
It is a compelling observation that God remains hidden in the text of Esther. Esther's name means "I will hide" in Hebrew. In the book of Deuteronomy, God forewarned His people of this outcome should they forsake Him. He adds that He will hide from them.
And the Lord said to Moses: “Behold, you will rest with your fathers; and this people will play the harlot with the gods of the foreigners of the land, where they go to be among them, and they will break My covenant which I have made with them. Then My anger shall be aroused against them in that day, and I will forsake them, and I will hide My face from them, and they shall be devoured. And many evils and troubles shall befall them, so that they will say in that day, ‘Have not these evils come upon us because our God is not among us?’ And I will surely hide My face in that day because of all the evil which they have done, in that they have turned to other gods.
— Deuteronomy 31:16-18
The captivity in Babylon occurred due to God's people embracing the "gods" of the foreign nations. Perhaps those who stayed behind had become comfortable with their secular environment and did not want to go back and face the challenges of the new beginnings back home. Could it be that their refusal to return left this opportunity for evil to play its hand in the story of Esther?
Daniel and Esther Were Both Chosen
With the timeline now in place, we will begin the first of several parallels along with their Messianic fulfillment.
While still in captivity, Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah were chosen from the exiled Jews to serve in the King's Palace. These four ultimately become witnesses of the God of all of heaven and earth to the Gentile kingdom they served.
Then the king instructed Ashpenaz, the master of his eunuchs, to bring some of the children of Israel and some of the king’s descendants and some of the nobles young men in whom there was no blemish, but good-looking, gifted in all wisdom, possessing knowledge and quick to understand who had the ability to serve in the king’s palace, and whom they might teach the language and literature of the Chaldeans.
— Daniel 1:4
This scene hints at the coming Messiah, who would serve in this same capacity as Isaiah prophesied.
He (Jesus) warned them (the multitude) not to make Him known (to those who plotted to kill him), that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying:
“Behold! My Servant whom I have chosen,
My Beloved in whom My soul is well pleased!
I will put My Spirit upon Him,
And He will declare justice to the Gentiles.
— Matthew 12:16-18
Likewise, Esther was chosen to marry king Ahasuerus after Vashti was removed from being queen.
Then the king’s servants who attended him said: “Let beautiful young virgins be sought for the king . . . Then let the young woman who pleases the king be queen instead of Vashti . . . The king loved Esther more than all the other women, and she obtained grace and favor in his sight more than all the virgins; so he set the royal crown upon her head and made her queen . . .
— Esther 2:17
Esther gives us a glimpse of the bride of Christ chosen from this world.
He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love
Both Daniel and Esther went through a type of preparation for their positions. And both were under the advisement of supervisors.
Daniel Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah's training included education in language and literature and dietary requirements.
Then the king instructed Ashpenaz, the master of his eunuchs, to bring some of the children of Israel . . . whom they might teach the language and literature of the Chaldeans. And the king appointed for them a daily provision of the king’s delicacies and of the wine which he drank, and three years of training for them, so that at the end of that time they might serve before the king . . .
— Daniel 1:3-4
The preparation in Daniel's case included a test that involved food decisions connected to faith. According to the above portion of Scripture, the king expected Daniel to eat of his delicacies. Daniel instead chooses to be faithful to his God-instructed dietary laws.
But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s delicacies, nor with the wine which he drank; therefore he requested of the chief of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself.
— Daniel 1:8
This scene links us with the beginning "garden" narrative that also involved a test that included food. Adam's faithless disobedience of partaking of forbidden delicacies stands in stark contrast to Daniel's refusal to obey a human king in matters of food to remain faithful to God.
Then the Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it. And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” . . .
. . . Then the Lord God called to Adam and said to him, “Where are you?”
So he said, “I heard Your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked, and I hid myself.”
And He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you that you should not eat?”
Then the man said, “The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I ate.”
— Genesis 2:15-17, 3:9-12
Daniel, therefore, points to Jesus, the Messiah. He, too, would endure a test that included food during a contest with evil in a wilderness. Jesus also was advised by a trainer called the Holy Spirit.
Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterward He was hungry. Now when the tempter came to Him, he said, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.”
But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’ ”
— Matthew 4:1-4
Esther's preparation centered more around beauty preparations but also included a mention of food.
This young woman pleased him (Hegai, guardian of the women) and found favor with him. He quickly arranged her beauty treatments and provided her special food.
— Esther 2:9
This "special food" in Hebrew was called מָנָה mânâh, which means an assigned portion. It sounds very much like "Manna," as in the special food God gave His people in the wilderness. Both words contain the same letters.
Esther again portrays the church's dependency upon Christ, the living manna from heaven.
As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who feeds on Me will live because of Me. This is the bread which came down from heaven—not as your fathers ate the manna, and are dead. He who eats this bread will live forever.”
— John 6:57-58
In terms of adornment, she underwent extensive beauty preparations.
So it was, when the king’s command and decree were heard, and when many young women were gathered at Shushan the citadel, under the custody of Hegai . . . Each young woman’s turn came to go in to King Ahasuerus after she had completed twelve months’ preparation, according to the regulations for the women, for thus were the days of their preparation apportioned: six months with oil of myrrh, and six months with perfumes and preparations for beautifying women. Thus prepared, each young woman went to the king . . .
— Esther 2:8-9
Esther once again characterizes the church prepared for Christ. The New Testament expresses this in terms of the body of believers who likewise is adorned for her husband.
Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem (metaphor for the body of Christ), coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.
— Revelation 21:2
Like Esther, under the advisement of Hegai, the body of Christ is also under the advisement of the Holy Spirit.
. . . he Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.
— John 14:26
Beautification—Without Spot or Blemish
Both Daniel and Esther were noted for their youth and beauty.1 In Daniel's case, young men with no blemish and who were good looking were selected.
Then the king instructed Ashpenaz, the master of his eunuchs, to bring some of the children of Israel and some of the king’s descendants and some of the nobles, young men in whom there was no blemish, but good-looking . . .
— Daniel 1:3-6
The phrase "no blemish" links messianically with Jesus as the lamb of God without blemish sacrificed for our redemption.
. . . you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.
— I Peter 1:13-19
Esther, exhibiting the church, is beautified by the Holy Spirit symbolized by oil.
. . . and let the king appoint officers in all the provinces of his kingdom, that they may gather all the beautiful young virgins to Shushan the citadel, into the women’s quarters, under the custody of Hegai the king’s eunuch, custodian of the women. And let beauty preparations be given them . . . six months with oil of myrrh, and six months with perfumes and preparations for beautifying women.
— Esther 2:3
The writer of Hebrews connects us with this application.
. . . how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?
— Hebrews 9:14
Paul uses the husband and wife relationship metaphor to depict the "bride of Christ" being prepared and presented without spot or blemish.
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish.
— Ephesians 5:25-27
False Accusations and a Plot to Destroy
In both the Daniel and Esther narratives, accusations arose about not obeying a law that challenged God's people's loyalty to Him. Conspiracies to destroy God's people are the root of these events.
In Daniel's account, Daniel was singled out as the target of the plot to destroy him because of the jealousy of those who resented Daniel's promotion. He refused to obey the command to not pray to anyone but the king for thirty days.
Then this Daniel distinguished himself above the governors and satraps because an excellent spirit was in him, and the king gave thought to set him over the whole realm. So the governors and satraps sought to find some charge against Daniel concerning the kingdom; but they could find no charge or fault, because he was faithful; nor was there any error or fault found in him. Then these men said, “We shall not find any charge against this Daniel unless we find it against him concerning the law of his God.”
So these governors and satraps thronged before the king, and said thus to him: “King Darius, live forever! All the governors of the kingdom, the administrators and satraps, the counselors and advisors, have consulted together to establish a royal statute and to make a firm decree, that whoever petitions any god or man for thirty days, except you, O king, shall be cast into the den of lions. Now, O king, establish the decree and sign the writing, so that it cannot be changed, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which does not alter.” Therefore King Darius signed the written decree.
— Daniel 6:3-9
Daniel, instead, continues his faithful practice of praying three times a day as he always had.
Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went home. And in his upper room, with his windows open toward Jerusalem, he knelt down on his knees three times that day, and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as was his custom since early days.
— Daniel 6:10
Like in Daniel's story, it was jealousy that inspired the accusations brought upon Jesus by the religious rulers of the day.
Now Jesus stood before the governor. And the governor asked Him, saying, “Are You the King of the Jews?”
Jesus said to him, “It is as you say.” And while He was being accused by the chief priests and elders, He answered nothing . . . For he knew that they had handed Him over because of envy.
— Matthew 27:18
Jesus refuses to deny that He is, in fact, the Messianic King the Jews had all been waiting for.
Like Daniel in whom no fault could be found, they could find no fault with Jesus, as was stated three times in the book of John.
Pilate said to Him, “What is truth?” And when he had said this, he went out again to the Jews, and said to them, “I find no fault in Him at all.
— John 18:38
Pilate then went out again, and said to them, “Behold, I am bringing Him out to you, that you may know that I find no fault in Him.”
— John 19:4
Therefore, when the chief priests and officers saw Him, they cried out, saying, “Crucify Him, crucify Him!”
Pilate said to them, “You take Him and crucify Him, for I find no fault in Him.”
— John 19:6
Daniel also typifies Jesus in following a similar pattern of planned destruction based on law developed to trap Him. At the height of His ministry, Jesus entered "their" (the Pharisees) synagogue and noticed a man who had a withered hand. He asked them if it was lawful to heal on the Sabbath. The word "their" used in the following Scriptural account is significant with the understanding that there may not have been much of anything that looked like God going in that synagogue event. Jesus wasn't claiming it as a synagogue of God anyway.
Now it happened on another Sabbath, also, that He entered the ("their" in Matthew) synagogue and taught. And a man was there whose right hand was withered. So the scribes and Pharisees watched Him closely, whether He would heal on the Sabbath, that they might find an accusation against Him. But He knew their thoughts, and said to the man who had the withered hand, “Arise and stand here.” And he arose and stood. Then Jesus said to them, “I will ask you one thing: Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do evil, to save life or to destroy?” And when He had looked around at them all, He said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” And he did so, and his hand was restored as whole as the other. But they were filled with rage, and discussed with one another what they might do to Jesus.
— Luke 6:6-11
Mark claims that they planned to destroy Him.
Then the Pharisees went out and immediately plotted with the Herodians against Him, how they might destroy Him.
— Mark 3:6
Their plot to destroy Him was relentless.
He was teaching daily in the temple. But the chief priests, the scribes, and the leaders of the people sought to destroy Him, and were unable to do anything; for all the people were very attentive to hear Him
— Luke 19:47-48
The mission continues up until the crucifixion.
But the chief priests and elders persuaded the multitudes that they should ask for Barabbas and destroy Jesus.
— Matthew 27:20
Keep in mind that the Pharisees had made quite a religion out of rule-following by adding many extra details to God's instructions not included in the Biblical text, which broke a rule in and of itself.
Do not add to what I command you and do not subtract from it, but keep the commands of the Lord your God that I give you.
— Deuteronomy 4:2
This scene again centers on obeying a law of human origin specifically designed to trap people rather than liberate them.
The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. Therefore whatever they tell you to observe, that observe and do, but do not do according to their works; for they say, and do not do. For they bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.
— Matthew 23:2-4
In this particular, case the Pharisees were not interested in the law itself as much as they were trying to catch Jesus on a technicality of breaking the law.
In Esther's case, Mordecai refuses the command to bow and pay homage to the promoted evil Haman, who was a descendant of one of Israel's ancient enemies.
King Ahasuerus promoted Haman, the son of Hammedatha the Agagite, and advanced him and set his seat above all the princes who were with him. And all the king’s servants who were within the king’s gate bowed and paid homage to Haman, for so the king had commanded concerning him. But Mordecai would not bow or pay homage.
— Esther 6:1-2
Haman then makes a false accusation against all the Jews of the land.
When Haman saw that Mordecai did not bow or pay him homage, Haman was filled with wrath. But he disdained to lay hands on Mordecai alone, for they had told him of the people of Mordecai. Instead, Haman sought to destroy all the Jews who were throughout the whole kingdom of Ahasuerus—the people of Mordecai.
— Esther 3:5-6
In Esther's case, the proclamation to destroy concerned all the Jews in the kingdom and was based on false accusations about not keeping the king's laws. It also contains the element of refusing to bow to a human contrived decree.
Then Haman said to King Ahasuerus, “There is a certain people scattered and dispersed among the people in all the provinces of your kingdom; their laws are different from all other people’s, and they do not keep the king’s laws. Therefore it is not fitting for the king to let them remain. If it pleases the king, let a decree be written that they be destroyed, and I will pay ten thousand talents of silver into the hands of those who do the work, to bring it into the king’s treasuries . . . for whatever is written in the king’s name and sealed with the king’s signet ring no one can revoke.”
— Esther 3:8-9, 8:8
The Esther narrative can be illustrated with an account of accusations made against the earliest Christ-followers. The Sanhedrin decided to make a command (a type of law) that Peter and John could no longer preach in the name of Jesus, to which they refuse.
So they called them (Peter and John) and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered and said to them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.” So when they had further threatened them, they let them go, finding no way of punishing them, because of the people, since they all glorified God for what had been done
— Acts 4:18-21
The Theme of Prayer and or Fasting
Prayer is a key element in both the Daniel and Esther stories.
Although prayer is prevalent throughout the book of DanieI, in the chapter six scene, prayer is not directly mentioned, but the text tells us that the king who regretted signing the law actually fasted for him.
Now the king went to his palace and spent the night fasting.
— Daniel 6:18
Esther's account similarly contains no direct reference to prayer, but Esther calls upon all the Jews in Shushan to fast for her.
“Go, gather all the Jews who are present in Shushan, and fast for me; neither eat nor drink for three days, night or day. My maids and I will fast likewise.
Esther once again depicts the believer's application. Paul exhorts believers to remain steadfast in prayer despite the persecution and conspiracy of evil.
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints—
— Ephesians 6:12-18
In contrast to both stories, Jesus doesn't fast, but He prays at His greatest moment of darkness.
Then they came to a place which was named Gethsemane; and He said to His disciples, “Sit here while I pray.”
— Mark 14:32
Before Gethsamane, Jesus prayed for His followers. The following is a small portion of a lengthy prayer that takes up the entire chapter. I think it captures the heart of the entire petition and connects with Daniel and Esther's themes.
Now I am no longer in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to You. Holy Father, keep through Your name those whom You have given Me, that they may be one as We are. While I was with them in the world, I kept them in Your name . . . these things I speak in the world, that they may have My joy fulfilled in themselves. I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.
— John 17:11
Both Daniel and Esther were delivered from great peril. In the case of Daniel, He is resurrected from a lion's den.
Then a stone was brought and laid on the mouth of the den, and the king sealed it with his own signet ring and with the signets of his lords, that the purpose concerning Daniel might not be changed . . . Then the king arose very early in the morning and went in haste to the den of lions. And when he came to the den, he cried out with a lamenting voice to Daniel. The king spoke, saying to Daniel, “Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to deliver you from the lions?”
Then Daniel said to the king, “O king, live forever! My God sent His angel and shut the lions’ mouths, so that they have not hurt me, because I was found innocent before Him; and also, O king, I have done no wrong before you.”
Now the king was exceedingly glad for him, and commanded that they should take Daniel up out of the den. So Daniel was taken up out of the den, and no injury whatever was found on him, because he believed in his God.
— Daniel 6:19-23
Daniel typifies the innocent Jesus's Resurrection from the tomb of death. Notice the mention of a stone seal in both accounts.
Now when the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, that they might come and anoint Him. Very early in the morning, on the first day of the week, they came to the tomb when the sun had risen. And they said among themselves, “Who will roll away the stone from the door of the tomb for us?” But when they looked up, they saw that the stone had been rolled away—for it was very large. And entering the tomb, they saw a young man clothed in a long white robe sitting on the right side; and they were alarmed.
But he said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He is risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid Him. But go, tell His disciples—and Peter—that He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him, as He said to you.”
— Mark 16:1-7
The apostle Paul gives us the believer's application in his letter to the Romans.
. . . . we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
— Romans 6:4
The Name Changes
Both Daniel and Esther had two names. Daniel's name change is clearly stated.
To them the chief of the eunuchs gave names: he gave Daniel the name Belteshazzar . . .
— Daniel 1:7
It is unclear if Esther's name changed through the process of coming into the kingdom or if this was simply another name for her. The text does not explicitly say other than she was brought up with the name Hadassah. Some commentaries say that Mordecai changed her name to hide her Jewish identity.
And Mordecai had brought up Hadassah (myrtle tree noted for its humble beauty and fragrance), that is, Esther.
— Esther 2:7
As referenced earlier, Esther's name in Hebrew means "I will hide." The Babylonian definition refers to the Babylonian goddess Ishtar, meaning star, as was the case with Daniel's renaming to Belteshazzar (Bel protects life). These two possible meanings could very well be an intentional play on words that suits both purposes and languages.
Although Jesus does not undergo a specific change of names, There are two names associated with Him noted in the book of Matthew. The mention of both names occurs when Joseph encounters an angel sent to speak to him concerning Mary's pregnancy.
. . . an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus (He is salvation), for He will save His people from their sins.”
— Matthew 1:20
The angel clarifies that Jesus is the messianic fulfillment of an ancient prophecy recorded in the book of Isaiah, identifying Him as Immanuel.
So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: “Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.”
— Matthew 1:21-23
The change of names also applies to the believer who overcomes.
“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give some of the hidden manna to eat. And I will give him a white stone, and on the stone a new name written which no one knows except him who receives it.”
— Revelation 2:17
Collectively these themes depict the progression and elements of the Christian life.
The first section revealed that He chose us to be His own.
But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy.
— I Peter 2:9
We are to be vessels of honor and prepare for His good work.
“The Lord knows those who are His,” and, “Let everyone who names the name of Christ depart from iniquity.”
. . . in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay, some for honor and some for dishonor. Therefore if anyone cleanses himself from the latter, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work.
— II Timothy 2:19-21
Christ, like the attendants in the two narratives, presents us blameless.
. . . you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight —
— Colossians 1:21
The Accusations and Plot to Destroy section reveals that persecution is an inevitable part of the Christian journey.
Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you.
— John 15:20
Paul reassures us concerning this in his letter to the Corinthians.
We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed— always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body . . .
— II Corinthians
Prayer and fasting are also necessary elements of our pilgrimage as we march ever closer to the end of this age.
. . . the end of all things is at hand; therefore be serious and watchful in your prayers.
— I Peter 4:7
All of these should be in view of our eternal deliverance.
. . . the Lord stood with me and strengthened me, so that the message might be preached fully through me, and that all the Gentiles might hear. Also I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion. And the Lord will deliver me from every evil work and preserve me for His heavenly kingdom. To Him be glory forever and ever. Amen!
— II Timothy 4:17-18
In the end, the overcomer is given a new name.
He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go out no more. I will write on him the name of My God and the name of the city of My God, the New Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God. And I will write on him My new name.
— Revelation 3:12
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