My name appears in the Bible more often than any other woman's. I am an orphan Jewess, reared by my cousin. I was born of a noble Jewish family carried into captivity when Nebuchadnezzar reduced Jerusalem to a wilderness of thorns and briars. Now, four years later, I have risen to the position of a queen here in the sumptuous palace of the Persian Empire.

My predecessor was Queen Vashti, a woman of nobility and honor, one who had the courage to refuse an unjust command from her husband. The king became so incensed that he issued an order that her royal position be given to another. This opened the way for me to be considered for the position. My cousin Mordecai brought me before the king. I was probably the only one of the maidens assembled who worshiped the true God. The king did not know I was a Jewess. I am told that he chose me because he could show me off. Robes of gold and purple and handsome jewels are set off to advantage against my black hair, olive skin, and bright dark eyes. But as time went on, I won both his confidence and his love. And my position has allowed me to play a stellar role in the lives of my people who had been threatened with destruction.

My cousin warned me that the Jews were in danger, and that I might be able to intercede for them. He even sent me this message, "Who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?" (Esther 4:14). In order to seek the king's protection of my people, I risked my life by going unbidden before him. The end result of that was the downfall of the wicked Haman whom the king ordered to be hanged. To gain long-lasting protection of my people, I was instrumental in having it written into the law that not only could Jews defend themselves, but also they could slay their enemies. The Jewish people in Persia celebrated their deliverance from wholesale massacre; they called this a Purim Festival. I have since decreed that this feast is to be held annually.

When I became queen, my name was changed from the Hebrew name Hadassah which meant "myrtle." The Persian version of my name means "star." You know me as . . . ESTHER.
Copyright ©2004. Beverly Whitaker
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Appears only in the Old Testament book of Esther