The book of Esther could appear, at first glance, to be a fictional work. It bears all the marks of a short story: a dramatic plot, a villain, a hero, a damsel in distress, and a surprising climax, followed by everyone living happily ever after. But it is absolutely authentic, bearing all the marks of inspired literature. It is, in fact, a vital link in the chain of Jewish history, as it reveals what neither Ezra nor Nehemiah includes: crucial experiences of the Jews who remained in Persia. As we dig into this account, keep an eye on the central crisis driving the work.