The Book of Esther and the Computer Virus

A computer virus called Stuxnet has attacked computers in many countries. However, most of the infestation of the virus has been in China, India, Indonesia, and Iran. Security experts who have studies Stuxnet believe that the virus was designed to attack Iran’s nuclear program.

One of the files inside the virus is called “Myrtus.” Security experts believe that the use of the word “Myrtus” may be a veiled allusion to the book of Esther. The word “Myrtus” may be a reference to myrtle, a plant that was known to many cultures in the Ancient Near East. It is for this reason that security experts believe that the reference to Myrtus is a signature allusion to the book of Esther.

The Book of Esther is an Old Testament story which tells how the Persians were planning to destroy the Jews by imperial decree and how the Jews acted to pre-empt the plot to destroy them.

An article published in The New York Times quotes an Old Testament scholar who links the word “Myrtus” to the Book of Esther:

Carol Newsom, an Old Testament scholar at Emory University, confirmed the linguistic connection between the plant family and the Old Testament figure, noting that Queen Esther’s original name in Hebrew was Hadassah, which is similar to the Hebrew word for myrtle.

Although Israeli experts have denied Israel’s involvement in the development of Stuxnet, the possible connection of the virus to the book of Esther is intriguing. Since Iran has said publicly that they would like to see Israel disappear as a nation, it is ironic that “deliverance and protection for the Jews will come from another source,” this time a computer virus, and that imageries from the book of Esther are being used “for such a time as this” (Esther 4:14).

Claude Mariottini
Professor of Old Testament
Northern Baptist Seminary

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