Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Esther ~ another Heroine!

Rembrant ~Esther Xerxes and Haman dining.

Following on from yesterdays post about Miep Gies, I found my memory jogged about another heroine of mine.

As a teenager, I was told the story of Esther and for some reason she seemed to me to be an amazing woman and one whom I aspired to be like. I'm not sure why she touched me, but it was probably because like Miep, she risked her own life to protect other people.

If you are Jewish, I'm sure you will be very familiar with the story, but for those of you who are not, then I'll tell you all about Esther ...

Esther lived in the land of Persia. She was an imigrant, her father and mother were dead and she was being raised by her uncle Mordecai.

The area was ruled over by King Xerxes (pronounced Zerk sees.) One day Xerxes held a large banquet and asfter he'd had quite a bit to drink called for his wife Vashti to come so that all the courtiers and guests could see how beautiful she was. Vashti refused and theis embarrassed the king greatly. This embarrassment turned to anger and he had Vashti exiled from the palace.

The king then set out to find a new wife. He called all the eligable girls to the palace. They were all treated for a year wth beuaty treatments, lotions and potions and in that year Esther made quite a hit with everyone who met her.

At the end of the year, the girls wre paraded in font of the king.

Xerses fell in love with Esther, she was beautiful and has a radience about her.

With out knowing she was a jew, (her Uncle Mordecai had told her not to let on), Xerxes married her.

Two of the kings ministers plotted to kill the king and Mordecai told Esther and she in turn told the king. The plot was foiled and then the king elected Haman to be minister. Haman was a man who hated the jews. What fueled his hatred more was the fact that Haman wanted everyone to bow to him in him new ministerial position. Mordecai refused because he said his Jewish faith did not allow it. Haman set out to see the downfall of the jews. He asked the king to decree that all the jews should be killed. The king did indeed decree it and set a date.

One night the king could not sleep and ordered his servants to bring him the diaries and to read from them. The entry that was read concerned the overthrowing of the plot to assasinate him. Xerzes asked what reward had been given to the man who had discovered the plot and found that no reward had been given.

The next morning he called Haman to him and asked what should the king do to reward the man who pleased him? Haman, thinking that the king was going to reward him said dress him in your robes and have your top man lead him about the city. Imagine Hamans anger and surprise when the king instructed him to go to Mordecai and lead him about the city.

Mordecai begged Esther to go to the king and beg for the pardoning of the jews. Esther was afraid, to enter the kings quarters with out his summoning was punishable with death. She pryed and faested and after three days went to the king.

The King although angry did not kill her, but asked what she wanted. Esther asked the king and Haman to dine with her. They did so and Esther met favour with the king, tell me what you want h said, even if it half my kingdom and you shall have it said the king. Esther simply asked that the king and Haman would come agian the following day, when she would tell the king of her desires.

The following day Esther explained that she ws a Jew and that hanam had pltted against them. She asked for the death threat to be lifted. The king ordered the death of Haman and set the jewish people free from their death penalties.

The celebration that followed is known and celebrated to this day by Jewish people and is known as the feast of Purim.

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