The story of Esther in the Bible is a romantic one: an orphaned girl marries a king and becomes the queen of a vast nation. But was the story of Esther and Xerxes a love story? The Bible is silent on this topic and it’s in this silence which Hadassah: Queen Esther of Persia by Diana Wallis Taylor lives.
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The Story of Esther
The story of Esther is one of my favorites in the Bible. I love the idea of an unknown Jewish girl becoming queen. It’s the Bible’s version of Cinderella. But I doubt it was all glitter and glamor for Hadassah the girl who became Queen Esther.
The Bible tells us that Esther was an orphaned Jewish girl who was raised by her cousin, Mordecai. That she was adopted by Mordecai suggests that he was some years older than she was and became more of a surrogate father than an older cousin. Hadassah lived in Persia during the reign of King Ahasuerus also known as Xerxes.
If you’ve never read the story of Esther I encourage you to do so now. Or, you can take 40-minutes and listen to the dramatized version on YouTube.
Anyway, to continue the Cliff notes versions, Ahasuerus’ wife Vashti displeases him and starts the king on a search for a new queen. All the beautiful virgins across the provinces of Media-Persia are scooped up and brought to the palace for a Persian version of a beauty pageant. It’s in this forum that the girl we knew as Hadassah becomes Queen Esther of Persia.
Why is Esther in the Bible?
After reading, or listening, to the story of Esther you may wonder why this story is in the Bible (especially if you noticed that the name of God is not mentioned once). The story of Hadassah, Queen Esther plays a number of roles:
- It reminds you that God is intimately involved in your story even when you can’t see Him.
- It shows that God can use hard, horrible things for the greater good and to bring glory to His name.
- It teaches the desirable characteristics that God looks for in His people.
When King Ahasuerus chose Esther as his wife it was at least in part related to how the young girl portrayed herself. Esther had a number of character traits that would be useful for a queen to have. And I think that God wouldn’t have elevated her to that position without them.
The Characteristics of Queen Esther
As you read Hadassah’s story in the Bible, you quickly realize that Esther was an obedient, humble, and respectful person. When Mordecai told her to adopt a new name when she went into the harem, she changed her name from Hadassah to Esther.
When Mordecai told her to keep her heritage a secret, she did. No one knew she was Jewish until she revealed it at the opportune time.
When it was Esther’s turn to go before the king, she accepted the suggestions of Hegai, the king’s eunuch who was in charge of the harem.
When Mordecai asked her to appeal to the king on behalf of her people, she did–even though it could have come at the cost of her life. Even as King Ahasuerus’ wife she was allowed to see the king without being summoned.
The entire story of Esther shows that she had the characteristics of a queen long before she became the wife of Xerxes.
Ms. Taylor uses her imagination to flesh out the life of the young girl we met just before she became queen. She blends historical facts with cultural tidbits into a rich tale that draws the reader in. We get to imagine what life was like for Esther as she lived with her cousin Mordecai, as she lived in the palace and as she became the wife of one of the greatest rulers of her time. We get to imagine the union between Esther and Xerxes as a love story.
We don’t know what happened to Esther Queen of Persia after the biblical account but once again, Ms. Taylor spins a plausible tale in her fictional account Hadassah Queen Esther of Persia.
Review of Hadassah Queen Esther of Persia
The story drew me in. I was able to imagine Hadassah as a young girl who lost her mother and had to get used to a new environment. And then, when she had finally gotten used to life as Mordecai’s ward, things changed again.
Sometimes when we read the Bible we forget to add the details which make up humanity. Yes, we know the people in the Bible were real but sometimes they get stuck in the black and white of the text of our Bible pages.
We forget to add the color that comes from real, every-day emotions.
Ms. Taylor’s Hadassah dreamed of marriage to a young Shamir—this is not stated in the Bible—but yes, it’s possible that Esther dreamed of marrying one of her own people. She may have dreamed of having babies and following in the footsteps of women who had gone before her.
If you’ve ever read the story of Esther, Hadassah: Queen Esther of Persia will have you looking at this young Jewish woman in a new way. You may also find yourself thinking: “Wouldn’t it be nice if the story of Esther and Xerxes was a love story?”
Even if you’ve never gotten around to read the book of Esther this story will inspire you to shine where you are and be a positive influence wherever you may find yourself.What can Hadassah: Queen Esther of Persia teach you about God or how to run your race? #christianbookreview #christianhistoricalfiction #hebrews12endurance #readingcommunity Click To Tweet
Know God—Esther’s relationship with God is woven into the story. She never spoke about God openly but His influence on her life was evident in the way she submitted her life to be used by Him even when she didn’t understand what He was doing.
Know yourself—Hadassah’s story challenges each of us: how well do we thrive in environments that we’re not used to? Hadassah was able to thrive in the palace under an assumed name because she knew who she was. And more importantly, she knew whose she was.
Run your race—Hadassah became queen so that when her people needed help she was already in a position to be used. This reminds us that the circumstances of our lives have a purpose. It may not be evident now but if we subject ourselves to God He will use us as He chooses.
As a note: This story is a fictional account based on a biblical story. The best way to know what the Bible says is to read it for yourself. Hadassah: Queen of Persia assumes that the tale of Esther and Xerxes is a love story.
This is not mentioned in the biblical account. If you have never read the book of Esther please understand that Hadassah is, in essence, a fictional account and should not be taken as fact.
Have you read Hadassah: Queen Esther of Persia? What did you think of the love story between Esther and Xerxes? I’d love to know what you thought. I received an advanced reader copy from Celebrate Lit. A positive review was not required.
About Hadassah Queen Esther of Persia
Book: Hadassah Queen Esther of Persia
Author: Diana Wallis Taylor
Genre: Christian Historical Fiction
Print Length: 260 pages
Publisher: Whitaker House
Publication Date: July 2, 2019
One of the great heroines of the Old Testament, Hadassah was a beautiful, graceful young woman who put her faith in God and her guardian, her cousin Mordecai.
She dreams of marrying Shamir, a tall, handsome, studious young man who is the rabbi’s son. Her heart beats faster when she hears the sound of his deep voice as he reads the Torah. And she hopes that he will visit Mordecai soon to present a betrothal request.
Then, an upheaval in King Xerxes’s palace changes everything. Queen Vashti has been banished and an edict goes out for all qualified young virgins throughout the empire to be taken to the palace as he searches for a new queen.
Fear strikes in the hearts of many, including Mordecai, as he realizes Hadassah will be taken. To hide her identity as a Jew, he tells her to go by the name of Esther. Since he works as a record-keeper at the king’s gates, he can keep tabs on how she is doing.
Hadassah: Queen Esther of Persia imagines what life was like for the woman who saved her people—and perhaps found love in the process.
Read an Excerpt of Hadassah Queen Esther of Persia
Besides the usual vendors, there were strange, sweaty men with beady eyes who were looking to get rich from the additional population.
In the wee hours of the morning, while Mordecai sat with his head in his hands, silently praying, Jerusha stopped breathing, slipping away so quietly that Hadassah thought she was still sleeping.
One day, to the people’s relief, the news was spread that the unwelcome banquet guests had been ordered back to their provinces—to prepare for war.
Instead of bowing, Hadassah smiled unabashedly and gazed directly at the king, who at that moment had turned his head.
“Do not give your name as Hadassah, but tell them it is Esther, which is a Persian name. I would have you hide your Jewish heritage for now.”
She felt their eyes silently appraising her; some with open interest, some with sympathy, and others with calculating shrewdness.
Esther asked each maid gentle, innocuous questions about her homeland, favorite foods, culture, and the like, listening attentively to their answers and making sure to speak to them by name both to let them know they were important to her and also to help her remember who was who.
“If you maidens help me to be my very best when I am called to the king’s chambers, if he honors me by selecting me as his queen, I will not forget you, who helped to put the crown on my head.”
Esther had seen some of the women pass her quarters so laden with jewelry they could hardly walk. She wanted to laugh out loud, but suppressed even a smile.
Recognition came. “Ah, the maiden in the crowd. I thought about you many times.” He moved closer. “I remember your hair, like a cloud around your face.”
We’ll never know whether the love story between Esther and Xerxes existed but Hadassah will give you hours of enjoyment as you ponder the possibility. Get your copy of Hadassah Queen of Persia.Read an excerpt of Hadassah: Queen Esther of Persia by Diana Wallis Taylor. #christianbookreview #christianhistoricalfiction #hebrews12endurance #readingcommunity Click To Tweet
About Diana Wallis Taylor
Diana Wallis Taylor was first published at the age of twelve when she sold a poem to a church newsletter. After receiving her B.A. in Elementary Education at San Diego State University, she was an elementary school teacher for twenty-two years. Diana has also sold real estate, opened two coffeehouse/used book stores, and was a conference director for a private Christian college.
She has an extensive portfolio of published works, including a collection of poetry; an Easter cantata, written with a musical collaborator; contributions to various magazines and compilations; and several books, including Lydia, Woman of Philippi; Mary, Chosen of God; Ruth, Mother of Kings; and Halloween: Harmless Fun or Risky Business?
Learn more at www.dianawallistaylor.com.
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