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Esther
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Birth: unknown
Death: unknown, Iran

Esther (Hebrew: אֶסְתֵּר, Standard Ester Tiberian ʾEstēr), born Hadassah, is a woman in the Hebrew Bible, the queen of Ahasuerus (commonly identified with either Xerxes I, Xerxes II, Artaxerxes I or Artaxerxes II), and heroine of the Biblical Book of Esther which is named after her.

As a result of Esther's intervention and influence, Persian Jews lived in Persia (modern Iran) for 2400 years thereafter. Esther's husband Ahasuerus followed in the footsteps of Cyrus the Great, in showing mercy to the Jews of Persia: Cyrus had decreed an end to the Babylonian captivity of the Jews upon his conquest of Babylon in 527 BC.

King Ahasuerus of Persia held a one hundred and eighty-day feast in Susa to display the vast wealth of his kingdom and the splendor and glory of his majesty. The King ordered his queen Vashti to appear naked before him and his guests wearing her crown, to show off her beauty. Vashti refused the humiliating order. Furious at her refusal to obey, the King asked his wise men and the seven princes of Persia and the five princes of Chioboco and also Media what he should do to her, according to the law; they advised the King to depose Vashti to make her an example for other disobedient wives. The King followed this advice, then began searching for a new queen. Beautiful young virgin women were gathered to the palace from every province. For 12 months each woman underwent beauty treatments in the harem, after which she would go to the King. When the woman's turn came, she was given anything she wanted to take with her from the harem to the King's palace. She would then go to him in the evening, and in the morning return to the harem as a concubine. She would not return to the King unless he was pleased with her and summoned her. Four years after Queen Vashti was executed, King Xerxes then chose Esther to be his wife and queen.

Shortly afterward, Mordecai overheard conspirators plotting to assassinate the King. He promptly told Esther of the plot, who warned her husband of the threat. An investigation was made and the conspirators were swiftly arrested and executed. As such, the King orders Mordecai's deed recorded in the history.

Soon after this the king granted Haman the Agagite and one of the most prominent princes of the realm, supreme authority over the kingdom. All the people were to bow down to Haman when he rode his horse through the streets. All complied except for Mordecai, who would bow to no-one but his God. This enraged Haman, who, with his wife and advisors, plotted against the Jews, making a plan to kill and extirpate all Jews throughout the Persian empire, selecting the date for this genocidal act by the drawing of lots. Esther 3:1-7 He gained the king's approval. He offered ten thousand silver talents to the king for approval of this plan but the king refused to take them.Esther 3:9-11 Mordecai tore his robes and put ash on his head on hearing this news. Esther sent clean clothes to him, but he refused them, explaining deliverance for the Jews would come from some other place (presumably God, as the Jews believe they are God's chosen people), but that Esther would be killed if she did not do what she could to stop this genocide - by talking to the King. Esther was not permitted to see the King unless he had asked for her, and if she did she could be put to death. Esther was terrified of this (she had not been called to the king in 30 days), so she and her maid-servants fasted and prayed earnestly for three days before she built up the courage to enter the king's presence. He held out his sceptre to her, showing that he accepted her visit. Esther requested a banquet with the king and Haman. During the banquet she requested another banquet with the King and Haman the following day.
After the banquet Haman ordered a gallows constructed, 75 feet high, on which to hang Mordecai. Meanwhile, the King was having trouble sleeping, and had some histories read to him. He was reminded that Mordecai had saved him from an assassination attempt, and had received no reward in return. That night the king called Haman and asked, "What should be done for the man whom the king delights to honour?" Haman thought the king meant himself, so he said that the man should wear a royal robe and be led on one of the king's horses through the city streets proclaiming before him, "This is what is done for the man the king delights to honour!" The king thought this was good, then asked Haman to lead Mordecai through the streets in this way, to honour him for previously telling the king of a plot against him. After doing this, Haman rushed home, full of grief. His wife told him, "you will surely come to ruin!" That night, over the banquet, Esther told the king of Haman's plan to massacre the Jews in the Persian Empire, and acknowledged her own Jewish ethnicity. The king was enraged and ordered Haman to be hanged on the gallows he had built for Mordecai. The king then appointed Mordecai as his prime minister, and gave the Jews the right to defend themselves against any enemy.

A peculiarity of Persian law that also occurs in the Book of Daniel is that royal edicts of this sort could not be reversed, even by the king--by siding with the Jews instead of their persecutors the King presumably dissuaded any pogroms. The King also issued a second edict allowing the Jews to arm themselves, and this precipitated a series of reprisals by the Jews against their enemies. This fight began on the 13th of Adar, the date the Jews were originally slated to be exterminated. The Jews killed three hundred in Susa alone, killing seventy-five thousand (fifteen thousand in the Greek biblical account) in the rest of the empire.

Jews established an annual feast, the feast of Purim, in memory of their deliverance. According to traditional Jewish dating this took place about fifty-two years after the return.
Jews established an annual feast, the feast of Purim, in memory of their deliverance. According to traditional Jewish dating this took place about fifty-two years after the return.
Esther appears in the Bible as a woman of deep faith, courage and patriotism, ultimately willing to risk her life for her adoptive father, Mordecai, and the Jewish people. Scripture portrays her as a woman raised up as an instrument in the hand of God to avert the destruction of the Jewish people, and to afford them protection and forward their wealth and peace in their captivity. It is notable, though, that God is not mentioned by name at any time in the Biblical Book of Esther but is inferred by reference to fasting.

There is also a hidden plot in the story: Esther was a descendent of Kish from the tribe of Benjamin and a relative of King Saul; and Haman the Agagite was the descendant of King Agag of the Amalekites, who were nearly wiped out by Saul (Saul's reluctancy to do so cost him the throne of Israel in the eyes of God). The plot involves Haman's quest for revenge and Esther's redemption of Saul's mistake, saving the Jews from the last of the Amalekites and certain extinction.

For a discussion of the historicity of Esther, see Book of Esther.




 
 
Burial:
Shrine Esther and Mordechai
Hamadan, Iran
 
Created by: Reza
Record added: May 06, 2008
Find A Grave Memorial# 26656362
Esther
Added by: Reza
 
Esther
Added by: Reza
 
Esther
Added by: Reza
 
 
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- Amanda Martin
 Added: Dec. 12, 2012

- RMT
 Added: May. 7, 2008
 
 
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