Who was the women Esther in the Bible?


Quick Answer

Esther was a Jewish woman living in Persia in the fourth century B.C. who became the wife of the Persian king and used her influence and ingenuity to keep him from killing the Jewish people. The story of Esther and how she saved the Jews is the basis for the Jewish holiday of Purim.

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Full Answer

The story begins with King Ahasuerus looking for a new wife. His officers gather the beautiful virgins of the kingdom so that he may choose a new queen from among them. One of the candidates is the young Jewish woman, Hadassah. Her cousin and guardian, Mordecai, advises her not to let it be known that she is Jewish. She presents herself to the keeper of the king's harem as Esther, and the king chooses her from among all the virgins to be his queen.

When Haman, the king's top official, learns that Mordecai is a Jew, he decides to kill all the Jews in the kingdom and convinces the king to agree to it. Mordecai tells Esther must go to the king and plead for her people. However, the king kills anyone who approaches him unless he has called for the person, although he grants permission to some by holding out his golden scepter.

Esther fears that she may be put to death, but she goes to King Ahasuerus. He holds out his golden scepter to her, so she approaches him, and he offers to grant anything she requests. She reveals that she is a Jew and requests that the king stop Haman's plot to kill her people. The king puts Haman to death and grants the Jews the right to defend themselves. Esther thus saved the Jewish people of Persia.

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