The John Knox Press INTERPETATION COMMENTARY series provides thoughtful but highly readable insights into the various books of the Bible. I haven't picked up a volume yet which disappointed me. But Carol Bechtel's commentary on ESTHER really goes the extra mile. It's chock full of fresh perspectives well stated. (Although she borrows many of these insights from the recently published commentaries of Adele Berlin and Jon Levenson, she is quick to credit her sources. And she is very selective about what she restates.)
The commentary is directed primarily to Christians, and to Protestants specifically. She raises an interesting point that Christians who "get their Scripture" solely from the lessons that are read aloud as part of Sunday services, are only exposed to a reading from Esther once every three years: Esther 7:1-6,9-10; 9:20-22. This clearly is not the best way to experience a book of the Bible that is a cleverly constructed "novella" with exciting characters, court intrigues, and dizzying plot reversals. She encourages Christians to imitate Jews by reading the book repeatedly, aloud, and in its entirety. As Bechtel points out, "It is a book, after all, about the struggle to be faithful in the midst of an increasingly unfaithful culture. It is a story of courage, faith, and deliverance. It is the story of men and women working together with a God who is not always obvious, but who is always gracious."
To use this commentary most effectively, you need to have a copy of the New Revised Standard Version Bible (preferrably with the Apocrypal/Deuterocanonical books) since the biblical text is not printed in the commentary. You do not need any knowledge of Hebrew (or Greek), however. Where an understanding of the Hebrew is essential, Bechtel provides clear explanations. One example, her explanation of how the Hebrew words for "enslavement" and "destruction" are homophones, serves as a very plausible explanation of why the King could have been so easily duped into signing a death warrant for the Jewish people.
Although Bechtel presents the shorter, Hebrew version of Esther as the "best text," she does examine the Additions to Esther (those passages that are found only in the Greek and Latin versions of the text) in a brief Appendix.