1. Look at The Outline (Ab), and The Book of Esther From a Jewish Perspective (Ac) before starting on the commentary itself.
2. The DIG and REFLECT questions are in bold navy blue and will help to give you a deeper understanding of the book and make it more personal to you. Go slowly and give yourself time to answer these questions. They really strike at the heart of the commentary. What are the DIG questions for? To dig into the Scripture “story.” To find out what’s going on, to figure out the main idea, the plot, the argument, the spiritual principle, and so on. What are the REFLECT questions for? To apply the “story” in the Scripture to your own life; to take personal inventory and to decide what you are going to do about it! Many of the DIG and REFLECT questions are taken from the Serendipity Bible.
3. I would strongly suggest that you look up the references that are given in each section. Many times this will greatly enhance the background, and hence, your understanding of the Scriptures that you are reading on a particular day. Take your time, read only as much as you can digest.
There are times when I refer you to either another file in Isaiah, or a file in another book of the Bible, to give you more detail on a particular person, topic, concept or theology. An example might be something like the Great Sanhedrin (see my commentary on The Life of Christ Lg - The Great Sanhedrin). If you feel you already know enough about the Great Sanhedrin, you can skip the reference and continue reading. But if it interests you, or if you don't know what the Great Sanhedrin is, you can go to that file and read it first before continuing. It's your choice.
4. All Scripture is in bold print. The NIV is used unless indicated otherwise. However, sometimes the purpose of the bold print is merely for emphasizing a certain point. When bold maroon is used, it is for special emphasis. The words of Jesus are bolded in red.
5. When bold teal is used, it is quoted from one of the two Jewish commentaries listed in the bibliography. This will give you the moderate Orthodox Jewish interpretation. It is useful for word studies, but its Christology is obviously entirely wrong. Where rabbinical interpretation is cited, I will add, “The rabbis teach. . .” in front of the passage. Although it is not a Christian interpretation, I think it is interesting to see how the rabbis interpret these passages.
6. To study any particular passage, I strongly suggest that you read through the entire book of Esther, preferably at one sitting, before using this commentary. The parts of the story can be understood only as they relate to the whole, and, conversely, the point of the story in all of its complexity can best be understood by reflecting on the significance of each part.
7. Read the Scriptures for a particular day first, then skim the DIG or REFLECT questions, read the commentary and reflect on it; answer the DIG or REFLECT questions, then read your Bible again. Hopefully, it will have greater meaning for you the second time you read it. Then live it out.
8. You can download anything you want from this devotional commentary © 2013 but all rights are reserved by Jay D. Mack, M.Div.