The surprise is that the word is quite meaningful there. It suggests a close relationship between the book of Esther and the preceding books. The former books of Ezra and Nehemiah tell of the return of many Jews to their beloved Promised Land following the permissive decree of Cyrus about fifty years before Esther’s time (Ezra 1:1-4). The book of Esther follows with information about Jews who remained at home in Persia. Many other Old Testament historical books begin in the same manner and for a like purpose. Note that eight books before Esther begin with the word now.
Dr. John M. Adams