Esther was born as a Jewess named Hadassah. Haddash is a Hebrew name that means "Myrtle" or in Persian meaning "Star". Esther the Queen of Persia was lovely in form and features who was an example of how to love God, how to love others as well as how to be more concerned with the welfare of other people than herself.
Esther was the daughter of Abihail who was a Benjamite. The Jews who had been in captivity years earlier in Persia were allowed by Cyrus the Great to return to their homeland, many decided not to return. Haddasah's family was one of them. Her parents later died and her cousin Mordecai, the nephew of Abihail raised her and took her for his own daughter.
Ahasuerus (King Xerxes) was married to Vashiti who he divorced as she had made a mockery of him by not following his request to display her beauty before the guests. The king, in his anger, removed Vashiti as queen. After his divorce, he ordered a search to be made to find a new queen. Many of the young virgins of the area of Susa were rounded up and taken to the citadel, including Esther.
When the king's order and edict had been proclaimed, many of the young women were brought to the citadel of Susa and put under the care of Hegai. Esther was also taken to the king's palace and entrusted to Hegai, who had charge of the harem. As she pleased him and won his favour, he immediately provided Esther with beauty treatments and special food. He also assigned to her seven female attendants selected from the king's palace and gave them the best place in the harem.
Esther had not revealed her nationality or family background as Mordecai had forbidden her to do so. Every day Mordecai would walk back and forth near the courtyard of the harem to find out how Esther was and what was happening to her.
Before any young woman's turn came to go in to see King Xerxes, she had to complete 12 months of beauty treatments prescribed for the women, 6 months with oil of myrrh and 6 months with perfumes and cosmetics. This is how she would go to the king: Anything she wanted was given her to take with her from the harem to the king's palace. In the evening, she would go there and in the morning return to another part of the harem to the care of Shaashgaz, the king's eunuch who was in charge of the concubines. Esther would not return to the king unless he was pleased with her and summoned her by name.
When it came to Esther's turn to go to the king, she asked for nothing other than what Hegai, the king's eunuch suggested. Esther won favour of everyone who saw her. The king was attracted to Esther more than any of the other women, she won his favour and approval more than any of the other virgins.
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. This threat began when King Ahasuerus appointed Haman, the Agagite, and descendant of Agag to be his Prime Minister. With this appointment, Haman was given broad powers that would soon be used to bring about the destruction of the Jews that remained in Persia.
Immediately, Esther’s cousin Mordecai became involved in a conflict with the evil Haman. His appointment to the position of Prime Minister went to Haman’s head to such an extent that he began to require that people pay homage to him. Many people did, but Mordecai refused to. This enraged Haman and caused him to lash out at Mordecai. When Haman saw that Mordecai did not bow or pay him homage, Haman was filled with anger. From this point on, Haman was all-the-more determined to annihilate not only Mordecai, but the entire Jewish people who were still displaced in Persia.
During the time Mordecai was sitting at the king's gate, two of the king's officers who guarded the doorway, became angry and conspired to assassinate King Xerxes. Mordecai found out about the plot and told Queen Esther, who in turn reported it to the king, giving credit to Mordecai. When the report was investigated and found to be true, the two officials were impaled on poles. All this was recorded in the book of the annals in the presence of the king.When Mordecai learned of all that had been done, he tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and ashes, and went out into the city, wailing loudly and bitterly. He went only as far as the king's gate, because no one clothed in sackcloth was allowed to enter it. In every province to which the edict and order of the king came, there was great mourning among the Jews, with fasting, weeping and wailing.
When Esther's eunuchs and female attendants came and told her about Mordecai, she was in great distress. She sent clothes for him to put on instead of his sackcloth, but he would not accept them. Then Esther summoned Hathak, one of the king's eunuchs assigned to attend her, and ordered him to find out what was troubling Mordecai and why.
Hathak went out to Mordecai in the open square of the city in front of the king's gate. Mordecai told him everything that had happened to him, including the exact amount of money Haman had promised to pay into the royal treasury for the destruction of the Jews. He also gave him a copy of the text of the edict for their annihilation, which had been published in Susa, to show to Esther and explain it to her, and he told him to instruct her to go into the king's presence to beg for mercy and plead with him for her people.
Hathak went back and reported to Esther what Mordecai had said. Then she instructed him to say to Mordecai, "All the king's officials and the people of the royal provinces know that for any man or woman who approaches the king in the inner court without being summoned the king has but one law: that they be put to death unless the king extends the gold scepter to them and spares their lives. It has been 30 days since I was last called to go to the king."
When Esther's words were reported to Mordecai, he sent back this answer: "Do not think that because you are in the king's house you alone of all the Jews will escape. For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father's family will perish. Who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?"
Esther sent this reply to Mordecai: "Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for 3 days, night or day. I and my attendants will fast as you do. When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish."
Mordecai went away and carried out all of Esther's instructions.
On the third day Esther put on her royal robes and stood in the inner court of the palace, in front of the king's hall. The king was sitting on his royal throne in the hall, facing the entrance. When he saw Queen Esther standing in the court, he was pleased with her and held out to her the gold scepter that was in his hand. So Esther approached and touched the tip of the scepter. When the king asked, "What is it, Queen Esther? What is your request? Even up to half the kingdom, it will be given you."If it pleases the king," replied Esther, "let the king, together with Haman, come today to a banquet I have prepared for him."
Esther invited the King to a banquet so she could reveal the evil plot of Haman and his conspirators. Courageously Esther invited Haman himself to be part of the banquet. The first banquet was held, yet Esther did not reveal Haman's plot to the king. Although, Haman left the first banquet full of joy and in good spirits, he became enraged once again when he saw Mordecai refuse to show him honour - this time by standing in his presence. Hamans anger against Mordecai was so great that he had a gallows constructed so that Mordecai could be hanged.
Calling together his friends and Zeresh his wife, Haman boasted to them all about his vast wealth, his many sons, and all the ways the king had honored him and how he had elevated him above the other nobles and officials. "And that's not all," Haman added. "I'm the only person Queen Esther invited to accompany the king to the banquet she gave and she has invited me along with the king again tomorrow. All this gives me no satisfaction as long as I see that Jew Mordecai sitting at the king's gate." His wife Zeresh and all his friends said to him, "Have a gallows built, seventy-five feet high, and ask the king in the morning to have Mordecai hanged on it. Then go with the king to the dinner and be happy." This suggestion delighted Haman, and he had the gallows built.
That night sleep escaped the king, so he ordered the book recording daily events to be brought and read to him. It was found that the written report of how Mordecai had informed on Bigthana and Teresh, two eunuchs who guarded the King's entrance when they planned to assassinate the King Ahasuerus. The king inquired "What honour and special recognition have been given to Mordecai for this act?" This incident of Mordecai’s simple performance of civic duty was recorded coincidentally. Then at precisely the right moment, the king’s insomnia not only provided opportunity for the unrewarded past deed to be acknowledged beyond Mordecai’s imagination, but it also offered the privilege to him of sharing in God’s redemptive plan to deliver His people. The king made Haman, the very one who was plotting to kill Mordecai, carry out his plan to honour Mordecai.
After Mordecai had been honuored, the second banquet began and Esther finally has her opportunity to reveal to the king the evil plot in which Haman planned to kill Mordecai and the rest of the Jews who were displaced in Persia. When they arrived at Esther’s palace apartment, neither the king nor Haman knew that Esther was a Jewess. Haman was probably still distressed because of the events of the day, but he composed himself and hoped to enjoy the banquet. Even though Esther probably knew that a decree could not be reversed once issued by the king, she none-the-less pleaded for her people, in hopes that somehow the favour the king found in her would override the previous decree and allow her people to be spared.
The king did indeed, grant Esther’s wish. That very night, after Esther revealed Haman’s evil plan to the king, Haman pleaded for his very life. He sealed his fate while the king stepped out into the courtyard for a moment. When the king returned from the palace garden to the place of the banquet of wine, Haman had fallen across the couch where Esther was. Then the king said, “Will he also assault the queen while I am in the house?” As the word left the king’s mouth, they covered Haman’s face. Haman who had earlier, tried to get the Jews to bow down and honour him – now was bowing down to a Jew, pleading for his life.
Haman was immediately hanged both for his evil plot to kill the Jews and for his contempt to the Queen in front of the king.
Due to Esther's bravery and because she pleased the king, received the house and inheritance of Haman. Mordecai was promoted to the place of the number two man in all of Persia, under the king. The king issued a decree giving the Jewish people permission to avenge those who sought to harm them throughout the entire Persian Empire.