Esther was a Jewish woman who became the Queen of Persia during the reign of King Ahasuerus. Esther was an orphaned Jewish girl who was raised by her first cousin named Mordechai. She is recognized by the Jewish people as a prophet and a heroine because she saved the Jewish people from destruction by influencing the King to stop an anti-Semitic decree made by a court official named Haman.
Queen of Persia
In the third year of his reign, after killing his disobedient queen Vashti, King Ahasuerus conducted a massive beauty contest in search of a new queen. She was reluctant to join the beauty contest but had no choice in the matter. King Ahasuerus ultimately chose Esther to be the new queen, although she kept her Jewish heritage a secret from him because he openly despised the Jews. Even though she hid her religious identity from the King, she still maintained Jewish practices as queen, such as keeping kosher and worshiping the Jewish God.
Saving the Jewish People
A court official named Haman met with King Ahasuerus to warn him about a possible uprising stemming from disloyalty by the Jewish people. With permission from the King, Haman issued a decree that every Jew was to be put to death on the 13th day of the 12th month of the year. But Esther went before the King and convinced him to stop Haman's plan to kill the Jews. The king instead ordered for Haman to be hanged.
The Fast of Esther
Before approaching King Ahasuerus to save the Jewish people, Esther instructed the Jewish people to fast for three days along with her. Esther's cousin Mordechai helped her to organize the fast for all the Jews in the kingdom. During the fasting time, Esther prayed to God to show pity on her and the Jewish people by giving her the proper words to tell the King.
The Jewish people celebrate the festival of Purim every year on the 14th day of the month of Adar to commemorate Esther's faithful actions and the salvation of the Jews from Haman's sinister plot. The festival involves the reading of the Book of Esther, which the Jewish people call the “megillah,” partaking in a special feast and sending special foods to friends. It is also a day of giving gifts to the poor.
- Photos.com/Photos.com/Getty Images