Reading the book of Esther in my Catholic Bible, I find the numbering of the extra verses found in the Catholic version of Esther very confusing. Why isn’t Esther just published in the form recognized as canonical by the Catholic Church and then numbered in order. The current numbering makes the additional verses look spurious.
There are 2 versions of Esther: the Massoretic Hebrew version, and the Greek LXX.
Catholics use the LXX; Jews and Protestants, the Hebrew.
The LXX contains verses that are not found in the Hebrew, and so not in the Jewish or Protestant versions.
The cumbrous numbering system is done in order to match up the verse numbers used by all three traditions.
Because the numbering are what were set by St. Jerome, who lumped the Greek sections as an appendix after the Hebrew sections, regardless of their logical position.
How they are numbered in Catholic Bibles depends on the publisher and/or copyright holder. Some have decided to simply copy St. Jerome’s numbering. Others have decided to replace those with letters, such as Chapter A, B, C, etc.
But keeping sequential numbering is out of the question because of longstanding tradition and the fact that they easily set apart the Deuterocanonical sections of Esther from the Protocanonical.
Following St. Augustine, I accept the Canon of the Bible only because of the authority of the Church says this is so. That authority is protected by God’s grace according to His promises.
Looking at it from just a logical perspective, if one admits the possibility that God inspired the one – the shorter version – then a person is inclined to accept at least the possibility that God could have also inspired the longer version.
Compare two excerpts I listed below from chapters 8 and 9 which come from the shorter Hebrew canon with two excerpts from Chapter C which are found in the longer, fuller Catholic canon, and hence missing from the Protestant canon**.
In the Protestant version of Esther God is never mentioned**. This comparison alone makes me more endeared to the fuller Catholic edition.
Esther 8:13, 16-17
“A copy of what was written was to be issued as a decree in every province, and by proclamation to all peoples, and the Jews were to be ready on that day to avenge themselves upon their enemies. … 16 The Jews had light and gladness and joy and honor. … there was gladness and joy among the Jews, a feast and a holiday. And many from the peoples of the country declared themselves Jews, for the fear of the Jews had fallen upon them.”
“So the Jews smote all their enemies with the sword, slaughtering, and destroying them, and did as they pleased to those who hated them. 6 In Susa the capital itself the Jews slew and destroyed five hundred men … 13 And Esther said, “If it please the king, let the Jews who are in Susa be allowed tomorrow also to do according to this day’s edict. And let the ten sons of Haman be hanged on the gallows.” 14 So the king commanded this to be done; a decree was issued in Susa, and the ten sons of Haman were hanged. 15 The Jews who were in Susa gathered also on the fourteenth day of the month of Adar and they slew three hundred men in Susa; but they laid no hands on the plunder.
16 Now the other Jews who were in the king’s provinces also gathered to defend their lives, and got relief from their enemies, and slew seventy-five thousand of those who hated them; but they laid no hands on the plunder.”
The following verses are from the Deuterocanonical edition. They are omitted in the Protestant canon but included in the fuller Catholic version.
Mordecai’s prayer in Chapter C
Esther C: 1-11 same as 13:8-18 in Vulgate. This follows 4:16 in NAB
“8 Then Mordecai prayed to the Lord, calling to remembrance all the works of the Lord. He said:
9 “O Lord, Lord, King who rulest over all things, for the universe is in thy power and there is no one who can oppose thee if it is thy will to save Israel. 10 For thou hast made heaven and earth and every wonderful thing under heaven, 11 and thou art Lord of all, and there is no one who can resist thee, who art the Lord. 12 Thou knowest all things; thou knowest, O Lord, that it was not in insolence or pride or for any love of glory that I did this, and refused to bow down to this proud Haman. 13 For I would have been willing to kiss the soles of his feet, to save Israel! 14 But I did this, that I might not set the glory of man above the glory of God, and I will not bow down to any one but to thee, who art my Lord; and I will not do these things in pride. 15 And now, O Lord God and King, God of Abraham, spare thy people; for the eyes of our foes are upon us to annihilate us, and they desire to destroy the inheritance that has been thine from the beginning. 16 Do not neglect thy portion, which thou didst redeem for thyself out of the land of Egypt. 17 Hear my prayer, and have mercy upon thy inheritance turn our mourning into feasting, that we may live and sing praise to thy name, O Lord; do not destroy the mouth of those who praise thee.”
18 And all Israel cried out mightily, for their death was before their eyes.”
The conclusion of Esther’s prayer in Chapter C
Esther C:16-30, same as 14:5-19 in Vulgate. This as well as Chapter D precede Chapter 5
“ O Lord, didst take Israel out of all the nations, and our fathers from among all their ancestors, for an everlasting inheritance, and that thou didst do for them all that thou didst promise. 6 And now we have sinned before thee, and thou hast given us into the hands of our enemies, 7 because we glorified their gods. Thou art righteous, O Lord! 8 And now they are not satisfied that we are in bitter slavery, but they have covenanted with their idols 9 to abolish what thy mouth has ordained and to destroy thy inheritance, to stop the mouths of those who praise thee and to quench thy altar and the glory of thy house, 10 to open the mouths of the nations for the praise of vain idols, and to magnify for ever a mortal king. 11 O Lord, do not surrender thy scepter to what has no being; and do not let them mock at our downfall; but turn their plan against themselves, and make an example of the man who began this against us. 12 Remember, O Lord; make thyself known in this time of our affliction, and give me courage, O King of the gods and Master of all dominion! 13 Put eloquent speech in my mouth before the lion, and turn his heart to hate the man who is fighting against us, so that there may be an end of him and those who agree with him.
14 But save us by thy hand, and help me, who am alone and have no helper but thee, O Lord. 15 Thou hast knowledge of all things; and thou knowest that I hate the splendor of the wicked and abhor the bed of the uncircumcised and of any alien. 16 Thou knowest my necessity—that I abhor the sign of my proud position, which is upon my head on the days when I appear in public. I abhor it like a menstruous rag, and I do not wear it on the days when I am at leisure. 17 And thy servant has not eaten at Haman’s table, and I have not honored the king’s feast or drunk the wine of the libations. 18 Thy servant has had no joy since the day that I was brought here until now, except in thee, O Lord God of Abraham. 19 O God, whose might is over all, hear the voice of the despairing, and save us from the hands of evildoers. And save me from my fear!”