Esther is the last of the Megilloth, the five "scrolls" of the Hebrew bible read on five annual holidays: Ruth (Pentecost), Song of Solomon (Passover), Ecclesiastes (Feast of the Booths), Lamentations (Ninth of Ab), and Esther (Purim). It first appeared during the Persian period in the fourth century B.C.
The book has inspired many interpretations and controversies. The Hebrew text is the only book of the bible that does not explicitly speak of God, although there are five Greek apocryphal additions (traditionally assigned letters A-F) where the God is prominent.
We studied Esther in four sessions from May 6 to May 20, 2001. Presentations were by Linda Monyak.
A translation of Esther from the original Hebrew by Linda Monyak can also be downloaded. This translation is a rough, literal "word by word" translation, intended to give a feel for the meaning and word order of the original Hebrew. Alternative possible meanings for the translation of various Hebrew words are included, separating the possible meanings by slashes (meaning1 / meaning 2...).
Esther: A Commentary (Old Testament Library), Jon Douglas Levenson. Westminster, John Knox Press, 1997
JPS Commentary on Esther. Adele Berlin. Jewish Publication Society, 2001