From BiblePortal Wikipedia

Fausset's Bible Dictionary [1]

A Jewess of Benjamin, descendant of the captivity carried to Babylon with Jeconiah, 599 or 597 B.C.; born abroad, of a family which chose to remain instead of returning to Jerusalem. Kish, the ancestor of Mordecai ( Esther 2:5-7;  Esther 2:15), had been carried away with Jeconiah; thus Mordecai was contemporary with Xerxes, which harmonizes with the view that (See Ahasuerus is Xerxes. Mordecai and his uncle Abihail's daughter (his own adopted ward) lived at Shushan, the Persian royal city. Mordecai probably held some office in "the palace" ( Esther 2:5;  Esther 2:21-23). Her original name Hadassah means "myrtle." Her Persian name Esther means and is akin to "star," implying like Venus good fortune.

Vashti the queen having been divorced for refusing to show the people and the princes her beauty, Esther was chosen out of the fairest virgins collected out of all the provinces, as her successor. Ahasuerus, unaware of her race, granted leave to Haman his favorite, who was offended with Mordecai for not doing him reverence, to destroy the whole people to which Mordecai belonged. Esther, at the risk of her own life, uninvited entered the king's presence, and obtained a virtual reversal of the decree against the Jews. Haman was hung on the gallows designed by him for Mordecai ( Psalms 7:16). The Jews defended themselves so effectually on the day appointed by Haman for their slaughter that in Shushan the palace alone they slew 500 and Haman's ten sons on one day, and, by Esther's request granted by the king, slew 300 at Shushan; and the Jews in the provinces, "standing for their lives," slew 75,000, "but on the spoil laid they not their hand."

So thenceforward the feast Purlin (lots) on the 14th and 15th of the month Adar (February and March) was kept by the Jews as "a day of gladness and of sending portions to one another, and gifts to the poor." "Esther the queen wrote with all authority to confirm this second letter of Purim" ( Esther 8:7-14;  Esther 9:20;  Esther 9:29-32); "her decree confirmed these matters of Purlin." The continuance of this feast by the Jews to our day confirms the history. It is also confirmed by the casual way in which  2 Maccabees 15:36 alludes to the feast ("Mardochaeus' day") as kept by the Jews in Nicanor's time. In the 3rd year of Xerxes ( Esther 1:3-4) the disastrous expedition against Greece (foretold in  Daniel 11:2, "by his strength through his riches he shall stir up all against the realm of Grecia") was determined on in an assembly at Susa (Herodotus vii. 8).

The Book of Esther describes in the same year, the 3rd, the lavish feasting during which Vashti was deposed, 488 B.C. In his 7th year the battles of Plataea and Mycale, according to secular history, drove Xerxes in fright from Sardis to Susa. So, in Scripture, it was not until the tenth month of this 7th year that Esther was made queen. The long delay between Vashti's deposal and Esther's accession is satisfactorily accounted for by the Greek expedition which intervened. On returning from it Xerxes tried to bury his disgrace in the pleasures of the seraglio (Herodotus vii. 35,114); as indeed he had begun it and, according to Herodotus, at intervals continued it with feastings. Possibly Vashti answers to the Amestris of secular history, who was queen consort from the beginning to the end of his reign, and was queen mother under his son and successor Artaxerxes.

Esther cannot be Amestris, since the latter was daughter of a Persian noble, Otanes; if Vashti be Amestris, then her disgrace was only temporary. Or else Vashti and Esther were both only "secondary wives" with the title "queen." A young "secondary wife" might for a time eclipse the queen consort in the favor of the king; but the latter would ultimately maintain her due position. Esther's influence lasted at least from Ahasuerus: 7th to the 12th year and beyond, but how far beyond we know not ( Esther 3:7;  Esther 3:10). His marriage to a Jewess was in contravention of the law that he must marry a wife belonging to one of the seven great Persian families. But Xerxes herein, as previously in requiring the Queen Vashti to appear unveiled before revelers (such an outrage on oriental decorum that she refused to come), set at nought Persian law and prejudice.

The massacre of 75,000 by Jews ( Esther 9:16) would be unlikely, if they were Persians; but they were not, they were the Jews' enemies in the provinces, idolaters, naturally hating the spiritual monotheism of the Jews, whereas the Persians sympathized with it. The Persians in the provinces would be only the officials, whose orders from court were not to take part against the Jews. The persons slain were subject races, whose lives as such Xerxes made little account of. The Book of Esther supplies the gap between Ezra 6 and Ezra 7. Xerxes, or the Ahasuerus of Esther, intervenes between Darius and Artaxerxes. The "feast unto all his princes," etc., for "an hundred and fourscore days" ( Esther 1:3-4) was protracted thus long in order that. all the princes in their turn might partake of it; for all could not, consistently with their duties in the provinces, have been present all that time.

The Book of Esther describes the stare of the exiled people of God in Persia, and thus complements the narratives by Ezra and Nehemiah of what took place in the Holy Land. Possibly Mordecai was the author; for the minute details of the banquet, of the names of the chamberlains and eunuchs, of Haman's wife and sons, and of the usages of the palace, imply such an intimate acquaintance with all that concerned Esther as best fits Mordecai himself. Similarly, Daniel, Ezra, and Nehemiah, who held official posts in the Persian court, wrote under inspiration the books which bear their names, and which describe the relations of the Jews to the pagan world power. This view accords with  Esther 9:20;  Esther 9:23;  Esther 9:32;  Esther 9:10. Ezra and the men of the great synagogue at Jerusalem probably edited and added it to the canon, having previously received it, and the book of Daniel, while at the Persian court.

The last of the great synagogue was Simon the Just, high priest 310-291 B.C. The canon contained it at latest by that time, and how long earlier is unknown. "The chronicles of the kings of Media and Persia" ( Esther 10:2) were at the time of the writer accessible, and the very order whereby Media is put before Persia implies it cannot have been much later than the time of the events recorded, the former and middle part of Xerxes' reign, before Artabanus became Xerxes' favorite, and Mordecai's (perhaps = Matacas the eunuch) influence waned. The Book of Esther was placed by the Jews among the Kethubim (hagiographa), in the portion called the five volumes, Megilloth. Maimonides says that in Messiah's days the prophets and hagiographa shall pass away, except "Esther," which will remain with the Pentateuch. It is read through in the synagogues during Purim.

The scribes wrote the names of Haman's ten sons in three perpendicular columns of three, three, four, hanging upon three parallel cords, three upon each, one above another, representing the hanging of Haman's sons. The absence of the name of GOD is unique to this book; the Song of Solomon similarly has no express mention of GOD. The design apparently was, in the absence of the visible theocracy while God's people were under the pagan world power, that the historic facts should speak for themselves with expressive silence (just as the book of nature does: Psalm 19;  Romans 1:20), attesting God's providence even when God hid His name and verbal manifestation. When God is invisible He is not the less active. The very absence of the name sets believers about inquiring why? and then they discover that God works no less by His providence in the world where He is veiled than by His grace in the church wherein He is revealed.

The hand of Providence is to be traced palpably in the overruling of the king's reckless feastings and wanton deposing of Vashti because she shrank from violating her own self respect, to laying the train for His appointed instrument, Esther's elevation; in Mordecai's saving the king's life from the two would-be assassins, and the recording of the fact in the royal chronicles, preparing the way for his receiving the royal honors which his enemy designed for himself; in Haman's casting Pur, the lot, for an auspicious day for destroying the Jews, and the result being, by God's providence which counterworked his appeal to chance, that the feast of Purlin is perpetually kept to commemorate the Jews' preservation and his destruction; in Esther's patriotic venture before the king after previous fasting three days, and God's interposing to incline the king's heart to hold out to her the golden scepter, ensuring to her at once life and her request ( Proverbs 21:1); in Haman's pride at being invited to the queen's banquet and his preparing the gallows for Haman, and Providence, the very night before it, withdrawing sleep from the king so that the chronicles were read for his pleasure, and Mordecai's service was thus brought to his remembrance, so that when Haman came to solicit that Mordecai should be hanged the king met him with the question, "What shall be done unto the man whom the king delighteth to honor?"

Then, in Haman supposing himself to be the object of honor, and suggesting the highest royal honors (such as Joseph had from the Egyptian king,  Genesis 41:43), and thus unwittingly being constrained with his own voice and hand to glorify him whom he had meant to destroy; then in the denouement at the queen's banquet, and Haman's execution on the very gallows he erected for Haman ( Psalms 7:14-16); and the consequent preservation from extinction of the holy race of whom Messiah must spring according to prophecy, and of whom Isaiah ( Isaiah 54:17) writes, "no weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper, and every tongue that shall rise against thee thou shalt condemn." Compare  Isaiah 6:13;  Isaiah 65:8;  Jeremiah 30:10-11;  Zechariah 2:8-9. The Septuagint, at, a much later date, interpolated copiously the name of GOD and other apocryphal additions.

The purity of the Hebrew canon stands out in striking contrast with the laxity of the Alexandrian Greek version. The style of the Hebrew in Esther is like that of the contemporary Ezra and Chronicles, with just such a mixture of Persian and Chaldee words as we should expect in a work of the age and country to which Esther professes to belong. Jerome (Proleg. Gal.) mentions the book by name. So Augustine, De Civit. Dei; and Origen (in Eusebius, Hist. Ecclesiastes, 6:25). Haman the Agagite ( Esther 3:1;  Numbers 24:7;  Numbers 24:20), as being of the blood royal of Amalek, was doomed to destruction with that accursed nation ( Exodus 17:14-16). His wife and all his friends shared his guilt ( Esther 5:14), and therefore by a retributive providence shared his punishment (Esther 9).

Esther's own character is in the main attractive: dutiful to her adoptive father, and regardful of his counsels though a queen; having faith in the high destiny of her nation, and believing with Mordecai that even "if she held her peace at the crisis deliverance would arise to the Jews from another place," and that providentially she had "come to the kingdom for such a time as this" ( Esther 4:14); brave, yet not foolhardy, but fully conscious of her peril, not having received the king's call for 30 days, with pious preparation seeking aid from above in her patriotic venture; "obtaining favor in the sight of all them that looked upon her "( Esther 2:15). At the same time Scripture does not hide from us the fact of her not being above the vindictiveness of the age and the country, in her requesting that Haman's ten sons should be hanged, and a second day given the Jews to take vengeance on the enemies who had sought to kill them.

Holman Bible Dictionary [2]

Mordecai heard about a plot against the king's life which he reported through Esther. Haman was made prime minister and began to plot against Mordecai and the Jews because they would not pay homage to him. The king issued a decree that all who would not bow down would be killed. Esther learned of the plot and sent for Mordecai. He challenged her with the idea, “Who knoweth whether those art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” ( Esther 4:14 ). She asked Mordecai and the Jews to fast with her while she decided. She entered the king's presence unsummoned which could have meant her death. The king granted her request.

Haman was tricked into honoring Mordecai, his enemy. At a banquet, Esther revealed Haman's plot to destroy her and her people, the Jews. Haman was hanged on the gallows prepared for Mordecai. Mordecai was promoted, and Esther got the king to revoke Haman's decree to destroy the Jews. The Jews killed and destroyed their enemies. The book closes with the institution of the festival of Purim.

The Book of Esther The Book of Esther has been placed among the writings in the Old Testament. It, along with four others small books—Song of Solomon, Ruth, Ecclesiastes, and Lamentations, was placed on one scroll called the “Meghilloth” and was used for festival readings. Many scholars feel that the Book of Esther is a short historical novel or short story sprinkled with historical data and names to make its message more urgent and important. Thus it would be comparable to Jesus' parables. Others think it is an attempt to write history with free interspersion of speeches and conversation following the conventions of history writing of its day. Others insist on the historicity of every detail, pointing to  Esther 10:2 .

The Purpose of the Book The purpose is not clear from a reading of the book. It considers the question of destruction or survival of the Jews under persecution. Though the book deals with religious issues, the name of God is never mentioned in the book. The writer deliberately avoids the name of God. When Esther prepares herself to present herself unrequested into the presence of the king, prayer does not accompany fasting. Also vengeance is more prominent than devotion. An important function of the book is to explain the observance of the festival of Purim. The Purim festival was a Jewish commemoration of deliverance—deliverance of the Jews from the hands of the Babylonians.

If this is the purpose of the book, then that explains the absence of the name of God. The book was intended to be read at the Purim festival—a festival of merrymaking, noise, and conviviality. Thus the major theme of the book, persecution returning on the head of those who initiate it, leads through all the details of the story to the final victory which Purim celebrates.

Theological Teachings Many feel that the religious concepts taught in the book are sub-Christian. Probably the persons who can understand and appreciate the attitudes of Esther are those who have lived through persecution and occupation by others. In times of peace it is incomprehensible and unforgivable that hard suffering creates such rigidity and callousness. Though the book does not mention the name of God, it has a definite theology. Throughout, the book points to justice and indicates that faithfulness to the covenant people is a duty whether it pays or not. Mordecai's insistence that Esther must intervene to save her people is based on the idea that a good Jew must worship and be loyal to the covenant God and to Him alone. To be faithful to Him means to be faithful to His people.

The book teaches the axiom that “the Lord helps those who help themselves.” During the days of oppressive persecution the very survival of the people depended upon the Jews doing something. The book shows the sovereignty of God working in a foreign land to preserve His people. It shows God working through people of unpretentious backgrounds as they prove faithful to Him. It shows ultimate punishment for those who oppose God's people. It calls for celebration of God's deliverance.


I. Humble faithfulness can lead to large responsibilities ( Esther 1:1-2:18 ).

A. Political power of ungodly rulers may be far-reaching ( Esther 1:1-8 ).

B. Protection of personal rights may result in loss of position and rights ( Esther 1:9-15 ).

C. Family relationships and respect cannot be enforced by political means ( Esther 1:16-22 ).

D. Self-giving love and loyalty to family, nation, and God may require hiding one's identity to gain opportunity to serve ( Esther 2:1-11 ).

E. Humble obedience can lead to opportunities to serve ( Esther 2:2-18 ).

II. Faithfulness to one's people can be expressed through service to a foreign ruler ( Esther 2:19-3:15 ).

A. Loyalty to one's people does not require participation in conspiracy against foreign rulers ( Esther 2:19-23 ).

B. Loyalty to the foreign ruler does not mean participating in immoral government practices ( Esther 3:1-2 ).

C. Loyalty to God and godly traditions over loyalty to foreign rulers may cause personal and even national persecution ( Esther 3:3-15 ).

III. Positions of influence bring responsibility to act for God's people ( Esther 4:1-17 ).

A. Mourning rites are appropriate responses to national danger ( Esther 4:1-4 ).

B. God's people must act and pray in times of danger ( Esther 4:5-17 ).

IV. Responsible actions for God are honored by God's actions for His people ( Esther 5:1-8:17 ).

A. Self-giving action is rewarded in unexpected ways ( Esther 5:1-8 ).

B. Human pride leads to rash actions ( Esther 5:9-14 ).

C. Honor comes to God's faithful at the opportune moment ( Esther 6:1-3 ).

D. Human pride often leads to humiliation ( Esther 6:4-12 ).

E. God's people will experience vindication eventually ( Esther 6:13-14 ).

F. Brave action for God's people brings deliverance ( Esther 7:1-10 ).

G. God's providence brings reward for faithfulness and joy to God's people ( Esther 8:1-17 ).

V. Celebration through the ages helps God's people remember His salvation and the lessons of history ( Esther 9:1-32 ).

VI. Work for God's people can bring new opportunities for service and honor ( Esther 10:1-3 ).

Jerry Stubblefield

Bridgeway Bible Dictionary [3]

Esther was a Jewess who lived in Persia and became queen to the Persian king Ahasuerus, also known as Xerxes I. He reigned from 486 to 465 BC. The story of Esther is found in the book that is named after her. The book does not say who wrote it.

Features of the book

When an earlier Persian king gave the Jews permission to return to their homeland, many preferred not to go. Rather than face the hardships and risks involved in rebuilding Jerusalem and its temple, they made life more comfortable for themselves where they were. Their prosperity increased, but they showed little interest in re-establishing the Jewish religious order as a spiritual force among the Jewish people.

This attitude is reflected in the book of Esther, whose story is built around Jews in Persia. The book does not mention God, apart perhaps from one reference to some unseen force that determines events ( Esther 4:14). The closest indication of any spiritual awareness in the people is in one reference to fasting, though even then there is no reference to any kind of prayer ( Esther 4:16). But whether his people acknowledged him or not, God was still directing their affairs to ensure they were not destroyed.

Summary of the story

When the Persian king decided to replace his queen, the woman chosen was Esther, an orphan Jew who had been brought up by her cousin Mordecai. Mordecai worked around the palace where, on one occasion, he saved the king’s life by reporting an assassination plot (1:1-2:23).

Some time later a proud and ambitious man named Haman became chief minister in the Persian government. Haman hated the Jews, and when Mordecai refused to bow to him, he determined to destroy all Jews throughout the Empire (3:1-15). While Haman cast lots (purim) to find the right day for the Jews’ slaughter, Mordecai persuaded Esther to appeal to the king to have mercy on her people (4:1-5:14). Esther then revealed to the king that she was Jewish. When the king discovered that Haman wanted to wipe out a people that included his queen, and in particular that he wanted to kill the man who had saved the king’s life, he executed Haman (6:1-7:10).

Mordecai then became chief minister instead of Haman. The day that had been chosen by the casting of lots (purim) for the slaughter of the Jews now became the day when the Jews took revenge on their enemies. The Jews’ celebration of their victory was the origin of an annual Jewish festival known as the Feast of Purim (8:1-9:32). Through Mordecai the Jews enjoyed increased freedom and prosperity (10:1-3).

Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible [4]

Esther (‘star’). The Jewish name, of which this is the Persian (or Babylonian) form, is Hadassah (cf.   Esther 2:7 ), which means ‘myrtle.’ She was the daughter of Abihail, of the tribe of Benjamin, and was brought up, an orphan, in the house of her cousin Mordecai , in Shushan. Owing to her beauty she became an inmate of the king’s palace, and on Vashti the queen being disgraced, Esther was chosen by Xerxes, the Persian king, to succeed her. The combined wisdom of Mordecai and courage of Esther became the means of doing a great service to the very large number of Jews living under Persian rule; for, owing to the craft and hatred of Haman , the chief court favourite, the Jews were in danger of being massacred en bloc  ; but Esther, instigated by Mordecai, revealed her Jewish nationality to the king, who realized thereby that she was in danger of losing her life, owing to the royal decree, obtained by Haman, to the effect that all those of Jewish nationality in the king’s dominions were to be put to death. Esther’s action brought about an entire reversal of the decree. Haman was put to death, and Mordecai was honoured by the king, while Esther’s position was still further strengthened; the Jews were permitted to take revenge on those who had sought their destruction. Mordecai and Esther put forth two decrees: first, that the 14th and 15th days of the month Adar were to be kept annually as ‘days of feasting and gladness, and of sending portions one to another, and gifts to the poor’ (  Esther 9:22 ); and, second, that a day of mourning and fasting should be observed in memory of the sorrow which the king’s first decree had occasioned to the Jewish people (  Esther 9:29-32 , cf.   Esther 4:1-3 ).

The attempt to identify Esther with Amestris, who, according to Herodotus, was one of the wives of Xerxes, has been made more than once in the past; but it is now universally recognized that this identification will not bear examination. All that is known of Amestris her heathen practices, and the fact that her father, a Persian general named Otanes, is specifically mentioned by Herodotus proves that she cannot possibly have been a Jewess; besides which, the two names are fundamentally distinct. As to whether Esther was really a historical personage, see the next article.

W. O. E. Oesterley.

Morrish Bible Dictionary [5]

The Persian name of Hadassah, daughter of Abihail, son of Shimei, son of Kish, a Benjamite. Being an orphan she was brought up by her cousin Mordecai. She was fair and beautiful and was thought suitable to be presented to the king. God gave her favour in the eyes of the royal household, and also caused the king to choose her for his queen, though she was a captive. The king is called Ahasuerus, but he is supposed to have been the Xerxes of history.

Mordecai, refusing to bow to Haman the Agagite, roused the wrath of the latter, who procured an edict for the destruction on a certain day of all the Jews in the empire. Esther was hereupon charged by Mordecai to plead with the king for their deliverance. She therefore called all the Jews in Shushan to fast with her three days and nights, saying she would go in to the king unbidden, and if she perished she perished. God gave her favour in the eyes of the king and he held out the sceptre to her. At a banquet she told the king that Haman had sold her and her people. The king was enraged, and being told at this moment of the gallows on which Haman intended to hang Mordecai (who had been the means of the king's life being saved), orders were at once given to hang Haman thereon. Esther had again to endanger her life by appearing before the king unbidden; but again the king received her graciously and gave her the desired authority to rescue the Jews from their threatened calamity: they were allowed to defend themselves when attacked by their enemies.

By a remarkable providence, the king not being able to sleep one night, Mordecai had been brought into favour, and he was now exalted to fill the office of Haman. This gave the Jews great advantage, for the provincial rulers all stood in fear of Mordecai. When the appointed day arrived, instead of the Jews being destroyed, they were able, not only to defend themselves, but avenge themselves on their enemies, ending with a day of feasting and gladness. The days of deliverance were appointed by Esther and Mordecai as an annual festival. See Esther, Book Of

Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary [6]

The book of Esther is so called, because it contains the history of Esther, a Jewish captive, who by her remarkable accomplishments gained the affections of King Ahasuerus, and by marriage with him was raised to the throne of Persia; and it relates the origin and ceremonies of the feast of Purim, instituted in commemoration of the great deliverance, which she, by her interest, procured for the Jews, whose general destruction had been concerted by the offended pride of Haman. There is great diversity of opinion concerning the author of this book; it has been ascribed to Ezra, to Mordecai, to Joachim, and to the joint labours of the great synagogue; and it is impossible to decide which of these opinions is the most probable. We are told, that the facts here recorded happened in the reign of Ahasuerus king of Persia, "who reigned from India even unto Ethiopia, over a hundred and twenty-seven provinces,"  Esther 1:1; and this extent of dominion plainly proves that he was one of the successors of Cyrus. That point is indeed allowed by all; but learned men differ concerning the person meant, by Ahasuerus, whose name does not occur in profane history; and consequently they are not agreed concerning the precise period to which we are to assign this history. Archbishop Usher supposed, that by Ahasuerus was meant Darius Hystaspes, and Joseph Scaliger contended that Xerxes was meant; but Dean Prideaux has very satisfactorily shown, that by Ahasuerus we are to understand Artaxerxes Longimanus. Josephus also considered Ahasuerus and Artaxerxes as the same person; and we may observe, that Ahasuerus is always translated Artaxerxes in the Septuagint version; and he is called by that name in the apocryphal part of the book of Esther. See Ecbatana , and See Ahasuerus .

Smith's Bible Dictionary [7]

Es'ther. (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 of Purim , on the 14th and 15th of Adar (February, March). History is wholly silent about both Vashti and Esther.

People's Dictionary of the Bible [8]

Esther ( Ĕs'Ter ), A Star, The Planet Venus. A Hebrew maiden, the daughter of Abihail, of the tribe of Benjamin. At the death of her father and mother she was adopted by her cousin Mordecai, the descendant of a Jew who had been carried away captive with Jehoiachin. Mordecai resided at Shushan, or Susa. See Mordecai. On the repudiation of Vashti, Ahasuerus, king of Persia, ordered a large number of young virgins to be collected throughout his realm, and brought into his harem. Esther (her Persian name was Hadassah) was distinguished among these, and was chosen to bear the title of queen. By her influence the plot of Haman to destroy the Jews was frustrated. Haman was hanged. The Jews revenged themselves on their foes, and Mordecai was advanced to a high place in the empire. It was common with Persian kings to have many wives, and Esther was one of these.

American Tract Society Bible Dictionary [9]

A Persian name given to Hadassah, a daughter of Abihail, of the tribe of Benjamin. The family had not returned to Judea after the permission given by Cyrus, and she was born probably beyond the Tigris, and nearly five hundred years before Christ. Her parents being dead, Mordecai, her father's brother, took care of her education. After Ahasuerus had discovered Vashti, search was made throughout Persia for the most beautiful women, and Esther was one selected. She found favor in the eyes of the king, and he married her with royal magnificence, bestowing largesses and remissions of tribute on his people. She was thus in a position which enabled her to do a signal favor to her people, then very numerous in Persia. Their deliverance is still celebrated by the Jews in the yearly festival called Purim, which was instituted at that time. The husband of Esther is supposed to have been the Xerxes of secular history.

Easton's Bible Dictionary [10]

 Esther 2:7 Esther 7

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."

Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary [11]

Daughter of Abihail. See her history, Book of  Esther 1:1 -  Esther 10:3. Her name means secret, from Sathar.

Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature [12]

Es´ther (asstar), a damsel of the tribe of Benjamin, born during the Exile, and whose family did not avail itself of the permission to return to Palestine, under the edict of Cyrus. Her parents being dead, Esther was brought up by her uncle Mordecai. The reigning king of Persia, Ahasuerus, having divorced his queen, Vashti, on account of the becoming spirit with which she refused to submit to the indignity which a compliance with his drunken commands involved, search was made throughout the empire for the most beautiful maiden to be her successor. Those whom the officers of the harem deemed the most beautiful were removed thither, the eventual choice among them remaining with the king himself. That choice fell on Esther, who found favor in the eyes of Ahasuerus, and was advanced to a station enviable only by comparison with that of the less favored inmates of the royal harem. Her Jewish origin was at the time unknown; and hence, when she avowed it to the king, she seemed to be included in the doom of extirpation which a royal edict had pronounced against all the Jews in the empire. This circumstance enabled her to turn the royal indignation upon Haman, the chief minister of the king, whose resentment against Mordecai had led him to obtain from the king this monstrous edict. The laws of the empire would not allow the king to recall a decree once uttered; but the Jews were authorized to stand on their defense; and this, with the known change in the intentions of the court, averted the worst consequences of the decree. The Jews established a yearly feast in memory of this deliverance, which is observed among them to this day [PURIM]. Such is the substance of the history of Esther, as related in the book which bears her name.

It should be observed that Esther is the name which the damsel received upon her introduction into the royal harem, her Hebrew name having been Hadassah, myrtle . Esther is most probably a Persian word. According to the second Targum on Esther, 'She was called Esther from the name of the star Venus, which in Greek is Aster.'

The difficulties of the history of the book of Esther, especially as regards the identity of the king, have been examined under Ahasuerus and are also noticed in the following article.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia [13]

es´tẽr ( אסתּר , 'eṣtēr , akin to the Zend ctara , the Sanskrit stṛi , the Greek ἀστήρ , astḗr , "a star," Ἐσθήρ , Esthḗr ): Esther was a Jewish orphan, who became the queen of Xerxes, in some respects the greatest of the Persian kings. She was brought up at Susa by her cousin Mordecai, who seems to have held a position among the lower officials of the royal palace. Vashti, Xerxes' former queen, was divorced; and the most beautiful virgins from all the provinces of the empire were brought to the palace of Susa that the king might select her successor. The choice fell upon the Jewish maiden. Soon after her accession a great crisis occurred in the history of the Jews. The entire people was threatened with destruction. The name of Esther is forever bound up with the record of their deliverance. 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. Nothing more is known of her than is recorded in the book which Jewish gratitude has made to bear her name.

Change of Name

The change in the queen's name from Hadassah הדסּה , "a myrtle," to Esther, "a star," may possibly indicate the style of beauty for which the Persian queen was famous. The narrative displays her as a woman of clear judgment, of magnificent self-control, and capable of the noblest self-sacrifice. See Esther , Book Of .

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature [14]

Bibliography Information McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Esther'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.