The Book of Esther is one of the books of the Hebrew Bible. The Book of Esther or the Megillah is the basis for the Jewish celebration of Purim. Its full text is read aloud twice during the celebration, in the evening and again the following morning.
The book commences with a feast organized by Ahasuerus, initially for his court and dignitaries and afterwards for all inhabitants of Shushan. Ahasuerus orders the queen Vashti to display her beauty before the guests. She refuses. Ahasuerus removes her as queen. Ahasuerus then orders all "beautiful young girls to be presented to him, so he can choose a new queen to replace Vashti. One of these is Esther, who had no parents and is being fostered by her cousin Mordechai. She finds favor in the king's eyes, and is made his new queen. Esther does not reveal that she is Jewish. Shortly afterwards, Mordechai discovers a plot by courtiers Bigthan and Teresh to assassinate Ahasuerus. They are apprehended and executed, and Mordechai's service to the king is recorded.
Ahasuerus appoints Haman as his prime minister. Mordechai, who sits at the palace gates, falls into Haman's disfavor as he refuses to bow down to him. Having found out that Mordechai is Jewish, Haman plans to kill not just Mordechai but all the Jews in the empire. He obtains Ahasuerus' permission to execute this plan, against payment of ten thousand talents of silver, and he casts lots to choose the date on which to do this—the thirteenth of the month of Adar. When Mordechai finds out about the plans he orders fasting. Mordechai informs Esther what has happened and tells her to intercede with the King. She is afraid to break the law and go to the King unsummoned. This action would incur the death penalty. Mordechai tells her that she must. She requests that all Jews fast for three days together with her, and on the third day she goes to Ahasuerus, who stretches out his sceptre to her which shows that she is not to be punished. She invites him to a feast in the company of Haman. During the feast, she asks them to attend a further feast the next evening. Meanwhile, Haman is again offended by Mordechai and builds a gallows for him. That night, Ahasuerus suffers from insomnia, and when the court's records are read to him to help him sleep, he learns of the services rendered by Mordechai in the previous plot against his life. Ahasuerus is told that Mordechai has not received any recognition for saving the king's life. Just then, Haman appears, and King Ahasuerus asks Haman what should be done for the man that he wishes to honor. Thinking that the man that the king is referring to is himself, Haman says that the man should be dressed in the king's royal robes and led around on the king's royal horse, while a herald calls: "See how the king honours a man he wishes to reward!" To his horror and surprise, the king instructs Haman to do so to Mordechai which foils Haman's plan to have Mordechai killed by the gallows.
Later that evening, Ahasuerus and Haman attend Esther's second banquet, at which she reveals that she is Jewish and that Haman is planning to exterminate her people, including her. Overcome by rage, Ahasuerus leaves the room; meanwhile Haman stays behind and begs Esther for his life, falling upon her in desperation. The king comes back in at this moment and thinks Haman is assaulting the queen; this makes him angrier than before and he orders Haman impaled on the stake that had been prepared for Mordechai. The previous decree against the Jews cannot be annulled, but the king allows the Jews to defend themselves during attacks. As a result, on 13 Adar, five hundred attackers and Haman's ten sons are killed in Shushan, followed by a Jewish slaughter of seventy-five thousand Persians, although they took no plunder. Mordechai assumes a prominent position in Ahasuerus' court, and institutes an annual commemoration of the delivery of the Jewish people from annihilation.
Dr. Karen A. Atkins, PhD: Born Karen Adrien Osbey. To Adrien Francis. Osbey And Daisy Lee. Osbey. Born and raise in Chicago, IL. Has one son Zackary H. Atkins. Husband Herman Atkins Jr. Married in 1988. Doctorate Degree Of Doctor Of Philosophy in the Academic Discipline of Biblical Studies. Upon Rev. Dr. Karen A. Atkins. From Saint. Luke Evangelical School Of Biblical Studies. August 10, 2002.