- First Reference: Esther 2:7
- Last Reference: Esther 9:32
- Included in Eastons: Yes
- Included in Hitchcocks: Yes
- Included in Naves: Yes
- Included in Smiths: Yes
- Included in Websters: No
- Included in Strongs: Yes
- Included in Thayers: No
- Included in BDB: Yes
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."
Called also Hadassah.
Niece of Mordecai
Esther 2:7; Esther 2:15
Tells the king of the plot against his life
Fasts, on account of the decree to destroy the Israelites; accuses Haman to the king; intercedes for her people
(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.
The authorship of this book is unknown. It must have been obviously written after the death of Ahasuerus (the Xerxes of the Greeks), which took place B.C. 465. The minute and particular account also given of many historical details makes it probable that the writer was contemporary with Mordecai and Esther. Hence we may conclude that the book was written probably about B.C. 444-434, and that the author was one of the Jews of the dispersion.
This book is more purely historical than any other book of Scripture; and it has this remarkable peculiarity that the name of God does not occur in it from first to last in any form. It has, however, been well observed that "though the name of God be not in it, his finger is." The book wonderfully exhibits the providential government of God.
one of the latest of the canonical books of Scripture, having been written late in the reign of Xerxes, or early in that of his son Artaxerxes Longimanus (B.C. 444, 434). The author is not known. The book of Esther is placed among the hagiographa by the Jews, and in that first portion of them which they call "the five rolls." It is written on a single roll, sin a dramatic style, and is read through by the Jews in their synagogues at the feast of Purim, when it is said that the names of Haman's sons are read rapidly all in one breath, to signify that they were all hanged at the same time; while at every mention of Haman the audience stamp and shout and hiss, and the children spring rattles. It has often been remarked as a peculiarity of this book that the name of God does not once occur in it. Schaff gives as the reason for this that it was to permit the reading of the book at the hilarious and noisy festival of Purim, without irreverence. The style of writing is remarkably chaste and simple. It does not in the least savor of romance. The Hebrew is very like that of Ezra and parts of the Chronicles; generally pure, but mixed with some words of Persian origin and some of the Chaldaic affinity. In short it is just what one would expect to find in a work of the age to which the book of Esther professes to belong.