Women in the Bible: Esther, The Orphan Who Saved a People
Written by Jenn Arman | February 14, 2012
The story of Esther takes place in Persia when many Jews are living in exile within the Persian Empire. God is never mentioned in the book of Esther, though His presence is apparent in Mordecai, Esther’s actions and in the orchestration of events.
Mordecai adopts Esther, his cousin who’s a Jewish orphan. Esther grows up beautiful and when King Xerxes begins looking for a new queen, Esther is gathered with the most beautiful women in Persia and brought to the king’s palace. Mordecai advises Esther to keep her Jewish heritage a secret and she does.
Esther is placed in the care of Hegai, the man in charge of the women in the palace. We’re told immediately that “the young lady pleased him and found favor with him” (Esther 2:9). Hegai gives Esther special gifts of cosmetics, choice food, maids, and puts her in the very best place in the harem.
Hegai also gives Esther advice on how to win the heart of the king. When Esther goes in to the king, she takes only what Hegai tells her to, “and Esther found favor in the eyes of all who saw her” (Esther 2:15).
The king loved Esther more than all the women, and she found favor and kindness with him more than all the virgins, so that he set the royal crown on her head and made her queen instead of Vashti (Esther 2:17).
The book of Esther is one of the most action-packed books in the Bible. In just 10 short chapters:
- Queen Vashti disobeys the king and is banished
- Esther is chosen by Xerxes to replace Vashti
- Mordecai uncovers a plot to assassinate King Xerxes and tells Esther, saving the king’s life
- Haman is promoted by King Xerxes to prince in change of all the territorial princes in Persia
- Mordecai refuses to bow to Haman
- Haman constructs a plot to kill all of the Jews living in Persia to get back at Mordecai
- Esther risks her life to expose Haman’s plot and her own heritage to the king
- King Xerxes amends Haman’s plot, allowing the Jews to fight and defend themselves if they are attacked, saving Esther’s people
Esther and Mordecai don’t save the Jews alone. The events of the book of Esther are not a coincidence. They are well-orchestrated by God.
When Mordecai brings Haman’s plot to destroy the Jews to Esther’s attention, the first thing she tells him is that the king has not asked to see her for a month. If Esther goes to see the king without being asked, he could have her killed.
Was Esther afraid? The Bible doesn’t say, but if it was me, I’d be afraid. I might think that I of all the Jews will be spared because I’m queen and no one knows that I’m a Jew. The Bible implies that Esther also had that thought because Mordecai offers her this reply:
Do not imagine that you in the king’s palace can escape any more than all the Jews. For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place and you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not attained royalty for such a time as this? (Esther 4:13-14).
Esther asks Mordecai to have the Jews in Persia fast and pray for her for three days while she and her maids do the same; then she will go to the king.
And if I perish, I perish (Esther 4:16).
We learn from Esther obedience, complete trust in God, courage, and wisdom. Esther risked her life to do what was right. She trusted God’s will, whether she lived through the events or not. Esther fasted and prayed to hear the Lord before taking action, showing wisdom. Through her, God saved His people from destruction.
God has a plan for your life, too. Are you ready to do what’s necessary to see it accomplished?
On that day King Ahasuerus [Xerxes] gave the house of Haman, the enemy of the Jews to Queen Esther (Esther 8:1).