Esther and 24

This is the first in a series of posts on the book of Esther, which I am preparing to teach a summer seminar series on. I put them out here not as completed works, but as half-developed ideas seeking feedback. Please chip in with your own criticisms and additions in the comments. This first one is not to be taken too seriously, but I hope to follow up with a few more that explore various theological and practical issues raised by the book of Esther.

Made for Television

There are few stories in the Bible as suitable for movie adaptation as the book of Esther. It has all the elements of a good Hollywood movie – a tough non-conformist hero, a beautiful young heroine, an ego-centric murderous villain, and a foolish and easily manipulated ruler. There are several unexpected plot twists, a tense climax, and some comedy thrown in for good measure.

In fact, I got thinking about who the various characters in the book of Esther would be if they were in the “24” television series. Here’s my suggestions (although I still think I need to pick a better villain to be Haman).

Elisha Cuthbert as Kimberly Bauer on 24.  ª©2002 FOX BROADCASTING COMPANY.  CR:  Aaron Rapaport/FOX. Mordecai is Jack Bauer – he’s fiercely loyal to the king (even if he is a bit of an idiot), but he always does what he believes is right, no matter what the consequences. He won’t take orders from fools either.

Esther is Kim Bauer. At first she seems to be in the story just for being beautiful and her relationship to the chief protagonist, but as the drama unfolds, we discover that, like it or not, she will have  a crucial role to play requiring courage and wisdom.

Ahaseurus (Xerxes) is President Charles Logan. He’s the most powerful ruler in the world, yet we find it hard to be impressed by him. A morally ambiguous man, easily manipulated, unable to make his own decisions without the aid of advisors.

Vashti is Sherry Palmer. Wife of the most powerful man alive, she is not content to just stand at his side and smile sweetly. She is her own woman, who does her own thing, and ends up being divorced as a result.

Haman is Jonas Hodges. He is a powerful and influential man, who knows how to manipulate the king to get what he wants. He has his own agenda and will stop at nothing to get it. In the end his pride becomes his downfall

Hegai is Aaron Pierce. On the staff in the palace, he’s not necessarily on anyone’s “side”, but he is honourable and reliable. Charged with the care of queens and princesses, he is made a eunuch to prevent him from overstepping his bounds (no affairs with the first lady for Hegai).

Harbona is Mike Novik – a trusted advisor who knows when to keep his mouth shut and when to speak and as such is able to maintain his own position and influence policy making.

4 thoughts on “Esther and 24

  1. Kinda works. It’s the kind of plotline the 24:movie needs really. Three acts. A major cliffhanger at the end of the first act (end of ch3) once we’ve met all the key characters, and then a ticking clock at the end of ch7 (Haman wouldn’t get a silent clock methinks) where things have turned around but the crisis isn’t quite over and “we’re running out of time”…, before it all wraps up with lots of killing in the final act and a happy ending.

  2. thanks Dave. I enjoyed reading your notes on Esther and I’m planning to go through them again in the next few weeks

  3. I’d really value your thoughts, particularly on the most recent version (from May 2010). I’ve got some quirky views, especially on chapter 1-2 and you’ve read way more commentaries on it than me so you can probably figure whether I’m barking!

  4. sure, I might interact with your take on the early chapters when I do Esther and the Gospel sometime later in this series. In brief, it seems artificial to try too hard to make Xerxes & Vashti a picture of God & the church, but I wouldn’t be averse to drawing a “how much more” parallel contrasting Xerxes and God in the same way that Jesus allows an unjust judge to represent God in one of his parables.

    Seeing “allegories” of the gospel is generally considered bad hermeneutics these days, but I think that if it is illuminated by other parts of Scripture, not contrived, and not confused with being the main “point” of the passage then it can have its place.

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