Esther (or Ester) (492-460 B.C.) was the daughter of Abihail of the tribe of Benjamin. She was the cousin and the adopted daughter of Mordecai. The Persian Queen, Vashti, disobeyed King Ahasuerus’s orders so he divorced her and he called for all the young virgins to be brought to him (Est 2:2-4) and he chose Esther to be the queen of Persia (Est 2:9 & 16) and during her lifetime it was the greatest empire in the known world.
After Haman, the king’s chief minister found out that his foe, Mordecai was Jewish he devised a plan to have all Jews killed (Est 3), he didn’t know that Mordecai was the queen’s cousin. Haman secured the king’s permission to have a massacre of all the Jews in the empire on the 14th day of the month of Adar. Haman built a gallows to hang Mordecai.
Esther was informed of Haman’s plan and acted to foil it. She revealed to the king that she was Jewish and that the Jews were destined to be massacred by orders from Haman. Haman’s last-minute appeal to the queen’s mercy was misinterpreted by the king as an attempt at seduction and the king ordered that Haman be hung on his own gallows (Est 7). Esther reminded that king that the decree of extermination was still in effect.
King Ahasuerus told her that a royal edict couldn’t be revoked so he issued a counter-edict, permitting the Jews to arm and defend themselves (Est 8-9:19). When the day arrived the Jews were so successful in defending themselves that they observed a new feast. In commemoration of these events, Esther and Mordecai instituted the annual festival of “Purim,” which means “throwing rice,” taken from the Persian word “Pur.” (Est 9:20). Esther and Mordecai were given Haman’s estate.
The story of Esther is found in the book of Esther.