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Esther
Esther
(/ˈɛstər/; Hebrew: אֶסְתֵּר‬, Modern ’Estēr, Tiberian ʼEsetēr), born Hadassah (Hebrew: הֲדַסָּה‬, Modern Hadasa, Tiberian Haḏasā), is the eponymous heroine of the Book of Esther. According to the Hebrew Bible, Esther
Esther
was a Jewish
Jewish
queen of the Persian king
Persian king
Ahasuerus. Ahasuerus
Ahasuerus
is traditionally identified with Xerxes I
Xerxes I
during the time of the Achaemenid Empire, although Josephus wrote that Esther's king husband was Xerxes' son Artaxerxes.[2] In his Historia Scholastica Petrus Comestor
Petrus Comestor
identified Ahasuerus
Ahasuerus
( Esther
Esther
1:1) as Artaxerxes III, who reconquered Egypt.[3] Her story is the basis for the celebration of Purim
Purim
in Jewish tradition.

Contents

1 In the Bible 2 Purim 3 Origin and meaning of the name Esther 4 Interpretations

4.1 Esther
Esther
as rhetorical model

5 Persian culture 6 Depictions of Esther 7 Canonicity in Christianity 8 References

8.1 Citations 8.2 Sources

9 Further reading 10 External links

In the Bible[edit] Main article: Book of Esther King Ahasuerus
Ahasuerus
displayed his wealth for 180 days then held a 7-day feast in Susa
Susa
(Shoushan). While in "high spirits" from the wine, he ordered his queen, Vashti, to appear before him and his guests to display her beauty. But when the attendants delivered the king's command to Queen Vashti, she refused to come. Furious at her refusal to obey, the king asked his wise men what should be done. One of them said that all the women in the empire would hear that "The King Ahasuerus
Ahasuerus
commanded Vashti
Vashti
the queen to be brought in before him, but she came not." Then these women would despise their husbands, which would cause many problems in the kingdom. Therefore, it would be prudent to depose Vashti.[4]

The Feast of Esther
Esther
by Johannes Spilberg the Younger

Many beautiful maidens were then brought before the king in order that he might choose a successor to the unruly Vashti. The King chose Esther, an orphan daughter of a Benjamite
Benjamite
named Abihail. Esther
Esther
was originally named Hadassah, meaning myrtle. She had spent her life among the Jewish
Jewish
exiles in Persia, where she lived under the protection of her cousin Mordecai.[4]

Esther
Esther
talking to Mordecai

Mordecai
Mordecai
was the son of Jair, a Benjamite, who had been carried into captivity together with Jeconiah
Jeconiah
by Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon. Mordecai
Mordecai
became chief minister of Ahasuerus
Ahasuerus
and lived in the Persian capital of Susa.[5] One day, while sitting at the gate of the king's palace, Mordecai
Mordecai
overheard a plot of two eunuchs, Bigthan and Teresh, to kill the king. Having informed the king through Esther
Esther
of the conspiracy, Mordecai
Mordecai
brought about the execution of the two conspirators, and the event was recorded in the royal chronicles.[5] The grand vizier, Haman the Agagite,[6] commanded Mordecai
Mordecai
to do obeisance to him. Upon Mordecai's refusal to prostrate himself, Haman informed the king that the Jews were a useless and turbulent people and inclined to disloyalty, and he promised to pay 10,000 silver talents into the royal treasury for the permission to pillage and exterminate this alien race. The king then issued a proclamation ordering the confiscation of Jewish
Jewish
property and a general extermination of all the Jews within the empire.[4] Mordecai
Mordecai
tore his robes and put ash on his head (signs of mourning or grieving) on hearing this news. Sheltered in the harem, Esther
Esther
was unaware of the decree until Mordecai
Mordecai
advised her of it through Hathach, one of the king's chamberlains.[7] He informed her that she should not think that she would escape simply because she was in the palace. At the request of Esther, Mordecai
Mordecai
instituted at Susa
Susa
a general fast for three days.[5]

Ahasuerus
Ahasuerus
and Haman at the Feast of Esther, by Rembrandt

Esther
Esther
could not approach the king without being summoned, on pain of death, and the king had not summoned her for thirty days, implying that she may have fallen out of favor.[8] Nevertheless, at the end of the three days, Esther
Esther
dressed in her royal apparel and went before the king, who was pleased to see her. When the king asked her what her request was, she invited the king and Haman to come to a banquet she had prepared. At the banquet they accepted her invitation to dine with her again on the following day. Haman, carried away by the joy that this honour gave him, issued orders for the erection of a gallows on which he intended to hang the hated Mordecai.[9] But that night the king, being sleepless, ordered the chronicles of the nation to be read to him. Recalling that Mordecai
Mordecai
had never been rewarded for his service in revealing the plot of the eunuchs, he asked Haman, the next day, to suggest a suitable reward for one "whom the king desired to honour". Thinking it was himself that the king had in mind, Haman suggested the use of the king's apparel and insignia. These the king ordered to be bestowed on Mordecai.[9]

Esther
Esther
denouncing Haman by Ernest Normand.

Only at the second dinner party, when the king was sufficiently beguiled by her charms, did Esther
Esther
reveal for the first time her identity as a Jew, and accused Haman of the plot to destroy her and her people. The king ordered that Haman should be hanged on the gallows prepared for Mordecai, and, confiscating his property, bestowed it upon the intended victim.[9] The king then appointed Mordecai
Mordecai
as his prime minister, and issued a decree authorizing the Jews to defend themselves.[8] Purim[edit] Main article: Purim The Jews established an annual feast, the feast of Purim, in memory of their deliverance. Haman set the date of Adar 13 to commence his campaign against the Jews. This determined the date of the festival of Purim.[8] Origin and meaning of the name Esther[edit] It has been conjectured that the name Esther
Esther
is derived from a reconstructed Median word astra meaning myrtle.[10] An alternative view is that Esther
Esther
is derived from the theonym Ishtar. The Book of Daniel
Book of Daniel
provides accounts of Jews in exile being assigned names relating to Babylonian gods and "Mordecai" is understood to mean servant of Marduk, a Babylonian god. "Esther" may have been a different Hebrew interpretation from the Proto-Semitic
Proto-Semitic
root "star/'morning/evening star'",[11] which descended with the /th/ into the Ugaritic
Ugaritic
Athtiratu[12] and Arabian
Arabian
Athtar.[13] The derivation must then have been secondary for the initial ayin to be confused with an aleph (both represented by vowels in Akkadian), and the second consonant descended as a /s/ (like in the Aramaic
Aramaic
asthr "bright star"), rather than a /sh/ as in Hebrew and most commonly in Akkadian. Wilson, who identified Ahasuerus
Ahasuerus
with Xerxes I
Xerxes I
and Vashti
Vashti
with Amestris, suggested that both "Amestris" and "Esther" derived from Akkadian
Akkadian
Ammi- Ishtar
Ishtar
or Ummi-Ishtar.[14] Hoschander alternatively suggested Ishtar-udda-sha (" Ishtar
Ishtar
is her light") as the origin with the possibility of -udda-sha being connected with the similarly sounding Hebrew name Hadassah. These names however remain unattested in sources, and come from the original Babylonian Empire
Babylonian Empire
from 2000 BCE,[citation needed] not the Chaldean Empire
Chaldean Empire
or Persian Empire of the Book of Esther.[citation needed] The Targum[15] connects the name with the Persian word for "star", ستاره setareh, explaining that Esther
Esther
was so named for being as beautiful as the Morning Star. In the Talmud
Talmud
(Tractate Yoma 29a), Esther
Esther
is compared to the "morning star", and is considered the subject of Psalm 22, because its introduction is a "song for the morning star". Interpretations[edit] Further information: Esther
Esther
in rabbinic literature Dianne Tidball argues that while Vashti
Vashti
is a "feminist icon", Esther is a post-feminist icon.[16] Abraham Kuyper
Abraham Kuyper
notes some "disagreeable aspects" to her character: that she should not have agreed to take Vashti's place, that she refrained from saving her nation until her own life was threatened, and that she carries out bloodthirsty vengeance.[17] The tale opens with Esther
Esther
as beautiful and obedient, but also a relatively passive figure. During the course of the story, she evolves into someone who takes a decisive role in her own future and that of her people.[18] According to Sidnie White Crawford, "Esther's position in a male court mirrors that of the Jews in a Gentile world, with the threat of danger ever present below the seemingly calm surface." [7] Esther
Esther
is related to Daniel in that both represent a "type" for Jews living in Diaspora, and hoping to live a successful life in an alien environment. Esther
Esther
as rhetorical model[edit] Since she used only rhetoric to convince the king to save her people, Esther
Esther
has been interpreted as a model for a successful rhetoric of marginalized groups persuading those who have power over them. According to Susan Zaeske, the story of Esther
Esther
is a "rhetoric of exile and empowerment that, for millennia, has notably shaped the discourse of marginalized peoples such as Jews, women, and African Americans."[19] Persian culture[edit]

The Shrine venerated as the tomb of Esther
Esther
and Mordecai
Mordecai
in Hamedan, Iran

Interior of the structure venerated as the tomb of Esther
Esther
and Mordecai

Given the great historical link between Persian and Jewish
Jewish
history, modern day Persian Jews are called "Esther's Children". A building venerated as being the Tomb of Esther
Esther
and Mordechai
Mordechai
is located in Hamadan, Iran,[20] although the village of Kfar Bar'am
Kfar Bar'am
in northern Israel
Israel
also claims to be the burial place of Queen Esther.[21] Depictions of Esther[edit] See also: Book of Esther
Book of Esther
§ Modern retelling There are several paintings depicting Esther, including one by Millais. Canonicity in Christianity[edit] The status of Esther
Esther
as a canonical book of the Bible has historically been under dispute. For example, in the first several centuries of Christianity, Esther
Esther
does not appear in the lists of books produced by Melito, Athanasius, Cyril, Gregory of Nazianzus, and others. Additionally, no copies of Esther
Esther
were found at Qumran in the contents of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Nevertheless, by the fourth century CE, the majority of Western churches accepted Esther
Esther
as a part of their Bibles.[22] Esther
Esther
is also commemorated as a matriarch in the Calendar of Saints of the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod
Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod
on May 24. She is also recognized as a saint in the Eastern Orthodox
Eastern Orthodox
and Coptic Orthodox Churches. "The Septuagint edition of Esther
Esther
contains six parts (totaling 107 verses) not found in the Hebrew Bible. Although these interpretations originally may have been composed in Hebrew, they survive only in Greek texts. Because the Hebrew Bible’s version of Esther’s story contains neither prayers nor even a single reference to God, Greek redactors apparently felt compelled to give this secular tale a more explicitly religious orientation, alluding to “God” or the ‘Lord” fifty times."[23] The approximate dates for the Additions to Esther
Esther
in the Apocrypha are: Second or first century BCE. [24]Link to online version of Esther
Esther
in English translation of Septuagint: http://www.ecmarsh.com/lxx/Esther/index.htm. References[edit] Citations[edit]

^ Robert J. Littman (January 1975). "The Religious Policy of Xerxes and the "Book of Esther"". The Jewish
Jewish
Quarterly Review.  ^ Josephus, Antiquities. Book 11 Chapter 6 (184) ^ https://la.wikisource.org/wiki/Historia_Scholastica/Esther#De_Ocho_seu_Artaxerxe. ^ a b c "Esther", Jewish
Jewish
Encyclopedia ^ a b c "Mordecai", Jewish
Jewish
Encyclopedia ^ A descendant of the Amalekite
Amalekite
people, of King Agag, whom King Saul of Israel
Israel
was commanded by the prophet Samuel
Samuel
to utterly destroy because of their wickedness; but Saul chose to spare their king instead.(1 Samuel
Samuel
15:1-33) Haman's hatred of the Jews may have had its root in this event. ^ a b Crawford, Sidnie White. "Esther", Eerdmans Commentary on the Bible, (James D. G. Dunn, John William Rogerson, eds.), Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 2003 ISBN 9780802837110 ^ a b c Crawford, Sidnie White. "Esther: Bible", Jewish
Jewish
Women's Archive ^ a b c McMahon, Arthur. "Esther." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 5. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1909. 11 Apr. 2015 ^ Barton, John; John Muddiman (2001-09-06). "Esther". The Oxford Bible Commentary. Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780198755005.  ^ Huehnergard, John (2008-04-10). "Appendix 1: Afro-Asiatic". In Woodard, Roger D. The Ancient Languages of Syria-Palestine and Arabia. Cambridge University Press. pp. 225–246. ISBN 9781139469340.  ^ Rahmouni, Aïcha; Ford, J. N. (2008). "Section 1, The Near and Middle East". Divine Epithets in the Ugaritic
Ugaritic
Alphabetic Texts. Brill. p. 86. ISBN 9004157697.  ^ Offord, Joseph (April 1915). "The Deity of the Crescent Venus
Venus
in Ancient Western Asia". Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland: 198. JSTOR 25189307.  ^ NeXtBible Study Dictionary, entry "Ahasbai" Archived 2008-12-22 at the Wayback Machine. ^ Targum
Targum
to Esther
Esther
2:7 ^ Tidball, Dianne (2001). Esther, a True First Lady: A Post-Feminist Icon in a Secular World. Christian Focus Publications. ISBN 9781857926712.  ^ Kuyper, Abraham
Abraham
(2010-10-05). Women of the Old Testament. Zondervan. pp. 175–176. ISBN 9780310864875.  ^ Coogan, Michael David; Brettler, Marc Zvi; Newsom, Carol Ann and Perkins, Pheme. The New Oxford Annotated Bible, Oxford University Press, 2007 ISBN 9780195288803 ^ Zaeske, Susan (2003). "Unveiling Esther
Esther
as a Pragmatic Radical Rhetoric". Philosophy and Rhetoric. 33 (3): 194.  ^ Vahidmanesh, Parvaneh (5 May 2010). "Sad Fate of Iran's Jews".  ^ Schaalje, Jacqueline (June 2001). "Ancient synagogues in Bar'am and Capernaum". Jewish
Jewish
Magazine.  ^ McDonald, Lee Martin (2006-11-01). The Biblical Canon: Its Origin, Transmission, and Authority. Baker Academic. pp. 56, 109, 128, 131. ISBN 9780801047107.  ^ The Old Testament: An Introduction to the Hebrew Bible
Hebrew Bible
(p. 375) by Stephen Harris and Robert Platzner ^ The Meaning of the Dead Sea Scrolls, p. 182 by James Vanderkam and Peter Flint

Sources[edit]

Zaeske, Susan. "Unveiling Esther
Esther
as a Pragmatic Radical Rhetoric", Philosophy and Rhetoric, vol.33, issue 3

Further reading[edit]

Beal, Timothy K. (1997-12-11). The Book of Hiding: Gender, Ethnicity, Annihilation, and Esther
Esther
(1st ed.). London ; New York: Routledge. ISBN 9780415167802. . Postmodern theoretical apparatus, e.g., Jacques Derrida, Emmanuel Levinas Fox, Michael V. (2010-04-01). Character and Ideology in the Book of Esther: Second Edition with a New Postscript on A Decade of Esther Scholarship (2nd ed.). Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock. ISBN 9781608994953.  Sasson, Jack M. (1990). "Esther". In Alter, Robert; Kermode, Frank. The Literary Guide to the Bible. Harvard University Press. pp. 335–341. ISBN 9780674875319.  Kahr, Madlyn Millner (1968). The Book of Esther
Book of Esther
in Seventeenth-century Dutch Art. New York University.  Webberley, Helen (Feb 2008). " Rembrandt
Rembrandt
and The Purim
Purim
Story". The Jewish
Jewish
Magazine.  White, Sidnie Ann (1989-01-01). "Esther: A Feminine Model for Jewish Diaspora". In Day, Peggy Lynne. Gender and Difference in Ancient Israel. Fortress Press. ISBN 9781451415766.  Grossman, Jonathan (2011). Esther: The Outer Narrative and the Hidden Reading. Eisenbrauns. ISBN 9781575062211. 

External links[edit]

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Esther.

 "Esther". New International Encyclopedia. 1905.  Esther
Esther
in the Ecumenical Lexicon of Saints Fachartikel in: Michaela Bauks, Klaus Koenen (Hgg.): Das wissenschaftliche Bibellexikon im Internet (WiBiLex). 2007ff. Jewish
Jewish
Encyclopedia: Esther

v t e

Prophets in the Hebrew Bible

Pre-Patriarchal

Abel Kenan Enoch Noah (in rabbinic literature)

Patriarchs / Matriarchs

Abraham Isaac Jacob Levi Joseph Sarah Rebecca Rachel Leah

Israelite prophets in the Torah

Moses (in rabbinic literature) Aaron Miriam Eldad and Medad Phinehas

Mentioned in the Former Prophets

Joshua Deborah Gideon Eli Elkanah Hannah Abigail Samuel Gad Nathan David Solomon Jeduthun Ahijah Shemaiah Elijah Elisha Iddo Hanani Jehu Micaiah Jahaziel Eliezer Zechariah ben Jehoiada Huldah

Major

Isaiah (in rabbinic literature) Jeremiah Ezekiel Daniel (in rabbinic literature)

Minor

Hosea Joel Amos Obadiah Jonah (in rabbinic literature) Micah Nahum Habakkuk Zephaniah Haggai Zechariah Malachi

Noahide

Beor Balaam Job (in rabbinic literature)

Other

Amoz Beeri Baruch Agur Uriah Buzi Mordecai Esther (in rabbinic literature) Oded Azariah

Italics indicate persons whose status as prophets is not universally accepted.

v t e

Purim
Purim
 (פּוּרִים)

Overview

Gragger Purim
Purim
spiel Purim
Purim
Torah

Foods

Hamantash Fazuelos Kreplach Mishloach manot

Background

Book of Esther Esther (in rabbinic literature) Haman (in rabbinic literature) Mordecai Ahasuerus Bigthan and Teresh Vashti Zeresh

Religious

Fast of Esther Shushan Purim Purim
Purim
HaMeshulash Purim
Purim
Katan

Authority control

WorldCat Identities VIAF: 37710

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