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Septuagint Esther Addition F:
Mordecai's Dream Explained
Highlights
The dramatic events described in the biblical Book of Esther are best understood in the context of a battle between two serpents, according to the text. But the serpents are missing from the standard Hebrew version of the book.

Set in the ancient Persian city of Susa — modern-day Shush — the Book of Esther describes how the Jewish Mordecai and Esther defend their people in the face of Persian religious persecution. Also known as the "Megillah" (Hebrew for "scroll"), the text is closely connected to the Jewish holiday of Purim, which celebrates the salvation of the Jews.

Surprisingly, this mainstream book doesn't mention God, but the Septuagint preserves a tradition that does include God, by way of six additions and other minor differences.

The first addition, which scholars call "Addition A," includes a dream Mordecai has that sets the context for the rest of the book. In this section ("Addition F"), Mordecai explains his dream.

The Text Speaks
"The two serpents are myself and Haman."

"This is why he made two lots, one for God's people and one for all the nations. These two lots arrived at the date and time, at the day of judgment before God and among all nations. God remembered his people and vindicated his allotment."

Translation
Mordecai1 said:

"It is because of God that this2 has happened. I remember the dream3 I saw about these things, and every single thing has occurred:4 the tiny spring that became a river, and the light, and the sun, and lots of water. The river is Esther5 whom the king married and made queen. The two serpents6 are myself and Haman. The nations are the people who gathered together to blot out7 the name of the Jews. And my nation is Israel, who cried out to God and were delivered. The Lord delivered his people and the Lord saved us from all of these evils.8 God has brought signs and great wonders such as have never before occurred among the nations.


Illustrated 18th-century megillah.

"This is why he9 made two lots,10 one for God's people and one for all the nations. These two lots arrived at the date and time, at the day of judgment11 before God and among all nations. God remembered his people and vindicated his allotment.12

"So they will observe these days in the month of Adar, on the fourteenth and fifteenth of that month by assembling with joy and gladness before God, from generation to generation forever among his people Israel."



Notes
1. Mordecai: Mordecai's name appears in Greek as "Mardochaeus."

2. This: The events in the Book of Esther.

3. Dream: Or vision. The dream itself is described in Addition A.

4. Every single thing has occurred: Literally, "no thing has failed."

5. The river is Esther: Better would be "Esther is the river," but that phrasing would make the rest of the sentence too awkward in English.

6. Serpents: Others, "dragons," because the Greek is drakon. But though the English "dragon" comes from that Greek word, the Greek drakon was a water-dwelling animal. (The "snake" or "serpent" of the Garden of Eden was an ofis in Greek.)

7. Blot out: Or "destroy." We think "blot out" works better in the context of "the name of the Jews."

8. Evils: The "evils" here match the evils of the dream.

9. He: God.

10. Lots: The theme of lots pervades the entire story, even — according to the text — forming the basis of the name "Purim," the holiday that commemorates the salvation of the Jews. Lots were also a central theological theme 2,000 years ago. The Dead Sea Scrolls, for example, frequently refer to "God's lot" and "Satan's lot."

11. At the day of judgment: Or, "for a day of judgment."

12. Allotment: Commonly, "inheritance." The Greek word here contains the word for "lot," so we try to do the same in English.


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