Jewish Journal

Comparing the lives of Sarah Palin and Queen Esther

by Brad A. Greenberg

September 10, 2008 | 9:15 am

Jon Wiener at The Nation has some fun, and intimates some fear, breaking down the preposterous claim that Sarah Palin is a latter-day Esther.

In a way, Wiener seems to imply that Palin, if she were like Esther, would actually be a champion of the Jewish people. This, he writes, should make Iran, descendant of the great Persian empire central to Esther’s story, very scared.

The thing is: As far as anyone can tell, Palin has no opinion about foreign politics. And looking to the Bible for a blueprint of her imagined Middle East is unlikely to accomplish much.

Nonetheless, a significant portion of Wiener’s blog post is after the jump:

The parallels are clear. Esther was selected queen in a beauty contest; Palin was runner-up in the Miss Alaska pageant.

So Queen Esther apparently provided the role model for the former beauty queen who went to our own king and asked for earmarks for her people.

The Palin/Queen Esther report has sparked a flood of commentary from fundamentalist Christian web sites. One reports that “Sarah Palin, like Esther, was an unlikely choice. Sarah Palin, like Esther, is bold and courageous in the face of fear. Sarah Palin, like Esther, proves you can be loyal and devoted to your family while having a high position. But perhaps, more than anything, . . . we are seeing someone right before our eyes who is capturing the hearts of the American people in a way that defies description” - just like the Bible says, “And Esther won the favor of everyone who saw her.”

Another says “Every once in a while a woman comes along who is made for the times. Sarah Palin is such a woman. . . . Another woman, Esther, was brought on the scene by God at just the right time. God’s timing was perfect for he used Esther to save the Jews”—and now he is using Palin to save the Republicans.

One problem with this view -that God sent Palin the way He sent Esther—is that the Book of Esther never mentions God. It never says God sent Esther to save His people, or even that Esther’s belief in God gave her the power to defeat her enemies. Somebody should point this out to the fundamentalists.

If you follow the logic in the story - as another fundamentalist Christian website did - you find a “major, and creepily precise” parallel between the threats to Jews then and now. In Esther’s day the threat came from Persia - and what country is the modern successor to Persia? Iran, of course—“the same Iran that has vowed to wipe Israel off the map and is well on their way to acquiring the nuclear weaponry to do so . . . . And along comes tough, clear-eyed, plain-speaking Sarah Palin.”

The implications for Palin’s Iran policy are clear. In the Bible, after the Jews are saved from annihilation, and after the first day of Jewish revenge against their enemies, the King tells Esther the Jews have killed 500 people, and asks what she wants to do next. Esther says she wants permission for a second day of killing - so the king grants the Jews the right “to destroy, to slay, and to cause to perish the entire host of every people and province that oppress them, small children and women, and to take their spoils for plunder.”

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Since launching the blog in 2007, I’ve referred to myself as “a God-fearing Christian with devilishly good Jewish looks.” The description, I’d say, is an accurate one,...

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