The Story of Esther in the Bible
Esther lived in exile in ancient Persia about 100 years after the Babylonian captivity. She and a significant number of the Jewish people lived scattered throughout Persia after the Babylonian exile. When Esther’s parents died, the orphaned child was adopted and raised by her older cousin Mordecai. King of the Persian Empire, Xerxes I, had recently deposed his wife, Queen Vashti. One day the king threw a party and called for his queen to show her beauty to his guests. But the queen refused to appear before Xerxes and his guests so the king deposed her.
To find his new queen, Xerxes hosted a royal beauty pageant. Esther was an extremely beautiful woman, so much so that The king falls in love with her. She was chosen for the throne entering the king’s harem through her youth and beauty and became queen of the Persian Empire. Her cousin, Mordecai, became a low-ranking official in the Persian government of Susa. The king had an advisor called Haman. Haman hated the Jews, especially Mordecai, because Mordecai refused to bow to him, so he decided to kill Mordecai and the Jewish people. He brought his proposal to the King and the king signed it, without realizing that his own bride would be affected by this mass slaughter.
Esther was not aware of the agreement between the king and Haman. Mordecai came to the palace to inform her. He asked her to speak to the king and beg him to revoke the decree. Esther knew that no one, not even the queen, could approach the king without being called. She risked her own life in order to save her people and approached the king with a request. She invited Xerxes and Haman to a banquet and revealed her Jewish heritage to the king, as well as Haman’s plot to kill her and her people. Surprisingly, The king ordered Haman to be hung on the gallows–the very same gallows Haman had built for Mordecai.
Mordecai was promoted to Haman’s high position and Jews were granted protection throughout the land. The King allows Mordecai and Esther to write another decree as they wish. They decree that Jewish people may preemptively kill those who are against Jews. As a result, on 13 Adar, five hundred attackers and Haman’s ten sons are killed in Susa. Throughout the empire 75,000 of the Jewish peoples’ enemies are killed. On the 14th, another 300 are killed in Susa. Festival of Purim is celebrated by Jewish people every year. Esther is considered one of the most heroic women in Jewish history. Her story is read every year on Purim.