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Who was Esther?

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The story of Esther is told in the Book of Esther in the Hebrew Bible. Esther was a young Jewish woman who married a Persian king and saved the lives of the Jewish people.


Esther was the wife of the Persian king Xerxes I. The king had a chief minister called Haman, who wanted everyone to bow when they saw him. Esther's cousin, Mordecai, refused. Haman was furious and told the king to kill all the Jews in Persia. Mordecai visited Esther and asked her for help. Esther invited the king to a feast. She told him that she was Jewish and Haman wanted to kill her people. The king was furious and ordered Haman to be killed instead. Mordecai was appointed chief minister.


Every year in February or March, Jews remember Esther's courage at the festival of Purim. The story is read out at a service in the synagogue. Whenever Haman is mentioned, children in the congregation boo, hiss, stamp their feet and shake rattles called greggors, to drown out the sound of his name.

The Tapestry below is from the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. It tells the story of Queen Esther, Haman and King Xerxes I.

800px-WLA_vanda_Queen_Esther_Tapestry.jpg

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