The Great Feast of Jesus

or Riffing on Moses


The Lord’s name might not be mentioned explicitly in the book of Esther (though some scholars see it hidden in the text), but as literature it is riddled with riffs on the patterns found in the Law and the Prophets. We don’t see it because we don’t interpret “musically,” that is, looking for recurring themes. [1]

Not only is the book structured according the Covenant pattern (at various levels), James Jordan notices that, as in Israel’s annual calendar, there are seven feasts in the book of Esther:

There are seven feasts in Esther. The Great King is almost presented as living in a kind of perpetual feast. This is the Great Feast of History. At the beginning of Esther, everyone is included, but then because of Esther’s and Mordecai’s sins, the Hews are excluded from the Great Feast and go into mournful fasting.

The word translated as feast or banquet, mishteh, comes from shatah, meaning “to drink.” A mishteh is always a meal with wine. The word occurs twenty times in Esther. The word “wine” occurs six times.

At each of the seven feasts that appear in the book, we see two things: the king drinking wine, and the king issuing a decree. These are the two characteristics of the Feast of Booths in the Law. Deuteronomy 14:26 speaks of spending your tithe money on “whatever your soul desires: for oxen or sheep or wine or beer or whatever your soul desires,” and in Esther 1:8 we find that the Great Kind had decreed that each person should drink as much as little of whatever he wanted. In Deuteronomy 31:10-13 Moses commanded that his sermons in Deuteronomy were to be read at the Feast of Booths every seven years.

At a practical level it may appear contradictory for a king to issue decrees at a feast of wine: Proverbs 31:4-5 counsels that a king should not make decisions when drunk. We must remember though that Esther is recording history with a theological eye. It is not apparent that the Great King is suffused with “much wine” when making decrees, and in fact usually the decree comes before the wine.

The seven feasts in Esther fit with the seven eunuchs and seven nobles of Esther 1 and the seven assistant maidens of Esther 2. Given the symbolism of the book, it is also possible that the seven feasts relate to the sequence of feasts of the Levitical year in Leviticus 23. We shall explore this as we go…

Excerpt from James B. Jordan, The Bedazzling Adventures of Myrtle Morningstar: The Great Feast of History, Biblical Horizons Newsletter No. 224, December 2011. Subscribe at

[1] See Jordan’s Musical Hermeneutics.

Pic: Cordell Jackson, by

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