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Bible People  -  Queen Esther

 

Joan Collins as Esther in 'Esther and the King'
They don't make them like they used to...

 

 









Extra Websites

What to look for in a husband; compare this with Ahaseurus'  method of choosing a wife
Finding a Husband

Fabulous gold jewelry worn by royal women in the ancient world 
Bible Archaeology: Jewelry
 

Esther's story in more detail
Bible Women: Esther

Esther as one of the great heroines of the Bible 
Bible Top Ten Heroines
 

The Palace of Persepolis 
Bible Archaeology: Palaces

Paintings of Esther, with the famous 'Fainting Paintings'
Bible Art: Esther

 

FAMOUS PAINTINGS
OF ESTHER

         Esther, Bible Heroine

         Wife Disobeys Husband!!!

Esther: A beautiful young Jewish orphan who is cared for by cousin Mordecai. Chosen to be a possible wife for the great king Xerxes I. Becomes wife of the Persian emperor, who does not know she is Jewish. Intelligent, discreet - the perfect wife. Saves the Jewish people from the danger of an ancient Holocaust.
Mordecai: a Jew during the Babylonian exile. Esther's cousin and guardian. He urges Esther to use her influence to save the Jewish people, even though it means possible death for her. Afterwards he becomes chief minister to the emperor/king.
Ahasuerus:  the Hebrew name for the Persian king Xerxes. Divorced his highborn first wife in a fit of pique. Holds a nation-wide search for a second wife. Erratic and short-sighted, unsuited for government of the huge Persian empire - an ideal character for this satire on absolute power.
Haman: Chief minister and adviser to King Ahasuerus. He hates all Jews, but especially Mordecai. Esther outmaneuvers him, and he is hanged from the gallows he built for Mordecai.
Vashti:  The first wife of Ahasuerus. Refuses to parade before her husband's drunken friends at a royal banquet. There's a hint of political intrigue going on behind the scenes, which Ahasuerus is too stupid to pick up. She is banished for lèse majesté.

See the story below


The Drunken Banquet

Painting by Edwin Long, sometimes called 'Vashti', sometimes 'Esther' ; both names make sense

Painting by Edwin Long, sometimes called 'Vashti', sometimes 'Esther'; both names make sense 
(see Bible Art)

One night when the Persian king, Ahasuerus, was drunk, he sent for his beautiful queen, Vashti, to appear before his men. 

She refused to come. Humiliated, the king banished her. 

But now he was lonely, so a beauty contest was held: the most beautiful girl would become his new queen.

See Esther: Bible Text 

Esther Becomes Queen

A young Jewish girl called Esther was chosen. She was helped by her cousin Mordecai, but nobody knew that they were related, or that Esther was a Jewess. Mordecai was in the king's favor, since he had once saved the king's life.

But Mordecai had an enemy, a powerful man called Haman. Discovering that Mordecai was Jewish, Haman fed the mind of the king with ideas about people who were 'different'. 

Under his influence, the king decided to execute all Jews in his kingdom - not realizing his beloved new queen Esther, and his savior Mordecai, were both Jewish.

See Esther: Bible Text

Esther in Danger

Mordecai went to Esther and told her she must do something to save her people. She did not wish to, because it would place her own life in danger - she was not allowed, on pain of death, to go to the king unless she had been summoned. 

Esther, Millais

Esther, John Everett Millais, 1865
(see Bible Art)

But she gathered her courage together, went to the king's throne-room, and fortunately was embraced by him. She invited him to a special banquet at which, of course, he would be the guest of honor. Haman was to come as well.

See Esther: Bible Text

Esther's Banquet

Haman and the king attended the banquet, and Ahasuerus promised Esther that she could have anything she wanted – even half his kingdom.
 
Esther asked that the king and Haman attend a second banquet. The king agreed. In high spirits, Haman returned to his home and ordered the erection of a gallows, to hang Mordecai.

Esther Springs Her Trap

Esther Accuses Haman

The Feast of Esther, Jan Lievens (see Bible Art)

Meanwhile, Esther’s banquet had started. Ahasuerus again promised Esther anything she wanted. She asked that her life be spared and her people saved. From whom? asked the King. From Haman, replied Esther. 

Haman was trapped. He was taken out and hanged from the gallows he had built for Mordecai. 

The Jews were not only saved from death: they could attack those people who had been their enemies, and claim their property. On the very day that they were to have been annihilated, they turned the tables by destroying all those who had sought to kill them. Thousands were killed, including the ten sons of Haman. From that day on, the Jewish people kept the day as a special festival called Purim.


Bible Text for the story of Esther

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Bible Stories: People of the Old Testament - Bible Study Resource
Esther Saves the Jewish People