the queen of Ahasuerus, and heroine of the book that bears her name. She was a Jewess named Hadas'sah (the myrtle), but when she entered the royal harem she received the name by which she henceforth became known ( Esther 2:7 ). It is a Syro-Arabian modification of the Persian word satarah, which means a star. She was the daughter of Abihail, a Benjamite. Her family did not avail themselves of the permission granted by Cyrus to the exiles to return to Jerusalem; and she resided with her cousin Mordecai, who held some office in the household of the Persian king at "Shushan in the palace." Ahasuerus having divorced Vashti, chose Esther to be his wife. Soon after this he gave Haman the Agagite, his prime minister, power and authority to kill and extirpate all the Jews throughout the Persian empire. By the interposition of Esther this terrible catastrophe was averted. Haman was hanged on the gallows he had intended for Mordecai ( Esther 7 ); and the Jews established an annual feast, the feast of Purim (q.v.), in memory of their wonderful deliverance. This took place about fifty-two years after the Return, the year of the great battles of Plataea and Mycale (B.C. 479).
Esther appears in the Bible as a "woman of deep piety, faith, courage, patriotism, and caution, combined with resolution; a dutiful daughter to her adopted father, docile and obedient to his counsels, and anxious to share the king's favour with him for the good of the Jewish people. There must have been a singular grace and charm in her aspect and manners, since 'she obtained favour in the sight of all them that looked upon her' ( Esther 2:15 ). That she was raised up as an instrument in the hand of God to avert the destruction of the Jewish people, and to afford them protection and forward their wealth and peace in their captivity, is also manifest from the Scripture account."
(a star ), the Persian name of HADASSAH (myrtle ), daughter of Abihail, the son of Shimei, the son of Kish, a Benjamite. Esther was a beautiful Jewish maiden. She was an orphan, and had been brought up by her cousin Mordecai, who had an office in the household of Ahasuerus king of Persia --supposed to be the Xerxes of history-- and dwelt at "Shushan the palace." When Vashti was dismissed from being queen, the king chose Esther to the place on account of her beauty, not knowing her race or parentage; and on the representation of Haman the Agagite that the Jews scattered through his empire were pernicious race, he gave him full power and authority to kill them all. The means taken by Esther to avert this great calamity from her people and her kindred are fully related in the book of Esther. The Jews still commemorate this deliverance in the yearly festival Purim, on the 14th and 15th of Adar (February, March). History is wholly silent about both Vashti and Esther.
es'-ter ('ecter, akin to the Zend tstara, the Sanskrit stri, the Greek aster, "a star," Esther):
Esther was a Jewish orphan, who became the queen of Xerxes, in some respects the greatest of the Persian kings. She was brought up at Susa by her cousin Mordecai, who seems to have held a position among the lower officials of the royal palace. Vashti, Xerxes' former queen, was divorced; and the most beautiful virgins from all the provinces of the empire were brought to the palace of Susa that the king might select her successor. The choice fell upon the Jewish maiden. Soon after her accession a great crisis occurred in the history of the Jews. The entire people was threatened with destruction. The name of Esther is forever bound up with the record of their deliverance. By a course of action which gives her a distinguished place among the women of the Bible, the great enemy of the Jews was destroyed, and her people were delivered. Nothing more is known of her than is recorded in the book which Jewish gratitude has made to bear her name.
\Change of Name:
The change in the queen's name from Hadassah hadacah, "a myrtle," to Esther, "a star," may possibly indicate the style of beauty for which the Persian queen was famous. The narrative displays her as a woman of clear judgment, of magnificent self- control, and capable of the noblest self-sacrifice.
See ESTHER, BOOK OF.
These files are public domain.