Esther’s name means “star.” As the orphaned daughter of Abihail, a member of the tribe of Benjamin, Esther grows up in Persia with her older cousin, Mordecai, who raises her as if she were his own daughter. Mordecai held an office in the household of the Persian king, Xerxes. Esther is exceptionally beautiful and is chosen to replace the deposed queen Vashti.
Esther’s life in the palace chronicles how actively the forces of evil are trying to eliminate the Jewish race, and her story reveals how faithfully God sovereignly preserves His people. Esther was in a high position in the land ‘for just such a time as this.’ Mordecai encouraged her to enter the king’s presence – an act punishable by death, if the king so decided. At first she refused, but out of respect for Mordecai, she listened to his wise counsel and agreed. She fasted and prayed before she took this brave action. Esther’s influence with the king saved the day for the Jews.
When the crisis of their near extinction was over, the Jews instituted a two-day festival of Purim, which became an annual observance to celebrate their survival. Esther had a strong faith in God and dealt with the situation in a gentle way. She was a woman of integrity who had to face some difficult choices.