The Story of Esther (1) : A young Jewish girl is chosen as the Queen of Persia, but quickly finds she has enemies.
The Story of Esther
Part one

Based on The Book of Esther.

The story of Esther is the story behind the Jewish feast of Purim on the 14th of Adar, which falls in February-March. The tale is set in the 480s BC, following Persia’s conquest of Babylon, when the Kings of Persia became lords over Jewish people scattered right across the ancient Near East.

AT a banquet to close a great exhibition for the princes of his empire, a tipsy King Ahasuerus ordered Vashti, his lovely Queen, to parade herself for his guests’ gratification. When Vashti refused to be exhibited, Ahasuerus, fearing a wave of female insubordination, pointedly divorced her, and crowned Esther, Persia’s most beautiful virgin, in her stead.

Esther’s standing with Ahasuerus rose further when her cousin Mordecai exposed a plot to assassinate the King. His loyalty was duly noted in the national Chronicles; yet when the King appointed a viceroy from among his household, it was not Mordecai, his Queen’s kinsman, but Haman.

All the household now bowed before Haman — all except Mordecai.

Haman’s spies had told him that Mordecai was Jewish, so after prostrating himself before Ahasuerus the indignant viceroy accused the whole Jewish race of sedition, and recommended seizing their wealth and then slaying every last one. Ahasuerus, knowing nothing of Esther’s background, consented, and the day was fixed for the thirteenth of Adar.

* The ancient Greek translation of the Old Testament (known as the Septuagint) translates Ahasuerus’s name as Artaxerxes, meaning Artaxerxes I (r. 465-424 BC) or Artaxerxes II (r. 404-358 BC). However, Rabbinic and modern Western scholarship are agreed that Xerxes I (r. 486-465 BC), the King who lost to the Greeks at The Battle of Salamis, is the Persian King of the story.

Based on The Book of Esther.

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Picture: From the National Gallery of Victoria, Melboure, via Wikimedia Commons. Licence: Public domain. View original
‘Let the king appoint officers in all the provinces of his kingdom, that they may gather together all the fair young virgins unto the custody of Hege the king’s chamberlain, keeper of the women.’ (Esther 2:3). Esther in the harem of Xerxes I, painted by Somerset-born Edwin Longsden Long in 1878.
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