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Esther
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Biblical Character
    Birth name is Hadassah
    Lived circa 450 BC in Persia (now Iran)
    Descendent of the Tribe of Benjamin
    Subject of the Book of Esther, part of the Old Testament
    Chosen by King Ahasuerus (possibly Xerxes) out of several concubines to be his wife
    Her cousin Mordecai angered Haman, a royal official, by refusing to bow before him
    As a result, Haman convinced Ahasuerus to execute Mordecai and back a Jewish pogrom
    Esther saved Mordecai and 1000s of Jews by intervening with the king
    Holiday of Purim celebrates the Jews’ deliverance against Haman
    Her story may be an adaptation of an earlier Babylonian myth.
    Her overbearing husband banished his first wife possibly for refusing to appear naked at a banquet.
    Even before marriage, she was favored and given the best part of the harem.
    She hid her Jewish background (with Mordecai’s encouragement) from Ahasuerus.
    At first she was too frightened to intervene with the king to save Mordecai and the other Jews.
    The complete Book of Esther is read aloud twice during the festival of Purim.
    A bizarre cartoon called ‘Esther…The Girl Who Became Queen’ retold her story with vegetables (2000).
    She was orphaned as a child and raised by Mordecai.
    As a young girl she was ordered to join the royal harem.
    She underwent a year long beauty treatment prior to appearing before Ahasuersus.
    She once saved the king’s life by telling him of an assassination plot.
    She sent Mordecai clean clothes when she heard he’d been arrested.
    She was afraid to approach the king uninvited as she could have been executed for this.
    Thanks to her intervention, Jews lived peacefully in Persia for 100s of years.
    Persian Jews are sometimes called ‘Esther’s children.’

Credit: Georgina


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