Abstract : The book of Esther deals with issues of Jewish identity in exile. This article argues that early in the story (chapters 2 and 3) Mordecai is depicted as trying to assimilate into Persian culture before experiencing a reversal and returning to his Jewish identity, a development that occurs from chapter 4 onwards. This reading illuminates an important theme addressed in the book, namely, how the danger of assimilation threatens Jews in the Diaspora. The book portrays an ideal Jewish leader operating in a foreign court while adhering to his Jewish identity and serving his fellow Jews.
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