Setting: Esther’s story occurs during the rule of the Persian Empire (559 BC-330 BC) approximately:
- 50 years after the decree of Cyrus in 538 BC announcing that exiled Jews could return to Jerusalem (Ezra 1);
- 40 years after the temple was rebuilt; and
- 30 years before the rebuilding of the wall in Jerusalem, which is detailed in the book of Nehemiah. [See Halley’s Bible Handbook.]
It is helpful to read Ezra, Esther, and Nehemiah
as a unit to get the feel for the unfolding of momentous historical events during this period of time.
Timeline (Archaeological Study Bible, Esther, p 714):
586 BC Fall of Jerusalem
539 BC Persia’s conquest of Babylon
538 BC First return of exiles to Jerusalem
486-465 BC Xerxes’ reign in Persia
479 BC Esther’s reign in Persia
458 BC Ezra to Jerusalem
445 BC Nehemiah to Jerusalem
445 BC Jerusalem’s wall rebuilt
Thanks for the information. I think it would have also been interesting and helpful to really understand what was going on by having even more info. included in the timeline for easy reference. Like when was the reign of Xerxes ended and how many years it took for all the recorded events to happen in the book of Esther. ie. virgins taken 1 st and 2nd. time, the one year beauty prep, being made queen until Haman came along, the time it took for Haman and Modecai to go back and forth, the fasting, the banquets, the day the event of killing the Jews, what next after that, all the way to the kings assasination.
Thank you for this information. I was searching for more information about the women of the Harem for a class I am giving on body preparations and beauty practices of that period and I found this most interesting.