H is for Hadassah

photo by Yanko Peyankov

photo by Yanko Peyankov

Her story is filled with scandal.

Political scheming, mass murder plots, divorce, seduction, deception, sleeping your way to the top….

And it’s in the bible.

Whaaatttt?

Let’s back up and start at the beginning. Once upon a time there was a sweet little Jewish girl named Hadassah. She lived from 486-465 BC in Persia (modern-day Iran) under the rule of King Xerxes.

An orphan, Hadassah lived with her cousin, Mordecai, who had been taken during one of the many Babylonian invasions of Jewish lands. She had grown up in the shadow of the palace and, perhaps like many other young girls, fantasized what life inside the castle as a Disney princess might be like.

She’d heard of Queen Vashti; the drop-dead gorgeous queen of Persia. But Vashti was dethroned for her blatant disrespect, and the king found himself without a queen…totally unacceptable for someone of his position. So, the kingdom was scoured for the most beautiful young women/virgins to be rounded up and volunteered for the ultimate beauty pageant.

Hadassah was one of those women and spent a year being *purified* for her big debut in the king’s bedroom. The woman who made the best impression on the king would be queen. Before her interview process, Mordecai told the king’s men Hadassah’s name was Esther, meaning hidden, as she was told to hide her Jewish ancestry from the king. He was on a strict need-to-know basis.

King Xerxes loved Esther best and chose her as queen. And for nine years, she hid her Jewish identity from him until a time came when he needed to know; a time when her people would need her to reveal the truth.

That time came when a decree to kill all the Jewish people came down from Xerxes’ highest official, Haman. So what does Esther do? She, of course, plans a couple of dinner parties for her man and Haman. During the second party after wonderful meal, she discloses that Haman is plotting to commit genocide and the fact that she is one of *those* people.

Haman is hanged, but that doesn’t automatically null the decree. So Esther risks her life and enters the king’s chambers unannounced…an act that could have gotten her hanged as well. She fell down at his feet and begged him to spare the lives of her people. Out of love for his wife, Xerxes rescinds the decree.

Esther is one brave, self-controled woman, isn’t she? She knew exactly when to speak up and chose the most appropriate tone for the situation. I can only imagine the fear, panic and rage she felt when she learned of the genocide decree. She faced the risk of certain death by appearing in front of the king when she hadn’t been called. Her courage and faith are a testament to her trust in God to guide the series of events unfolding in front of her…regardless of how hopeless they looked to her at the time. I’m not sure any of us possess the kind of faith that prompts us to walk into impossible situations armed with nothing but faith and trust in God’s providence.

The odd thing about the book of Esther is God is never mentioned by name. It’s not even hinted that he’s working behind the scenes. But we all know he’s guiding the events. Even though Esther’s life took a drastic detour from what she probably had planned, she let go of those dreams and was able to understand that God was leading her to a different destiny. She was being put in the right place at the right time to do something only she could have done…at that particular time and place.

Linking up with ABC Wednesday, Round 14
ABCWed14

Photo attribution: Photo by Yanko Peyankov from Unsplash photo sites. Some rights reserved by Creative Commons license. Orignal photo cropped and retouched for purposes of this post.

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23 thoughts on “H is for Hadassah

  1. The story of Esther is one of my favourites! I used to teach Bible at a private Christian school and the kids loved all the stories about her, Daniel, Moses, Joseph, etc.

    Leslie
    abcw team

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  2. A wonderful re-telling of the story of Esther! You are so gifted. This should be part of a book of Bible stories retold by you. I am full of admiration for your gift of writing — and of Esther’s courage and strength of character.

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  3. FASCINATING read, Lisa! I had no idea about the story of Ester…WOW! And as I’ve shared with you before, I love the way you present these posts.

    Well done!

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  4. Hello Lisa, what a beautifully written piece, I must confess that I haven’t read my bible for a long time, sadly it’s gathering dust in a bookcase….however I shall make a effort and retrieve it, from it’s dusty obscurity, then sit in front of my favourite Hearthside and read The Book of Ester.
    Thank you for sharing this most interesting story,

    Di.x

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  5. I also think it is important to note that before Esther went to the king she spent three days in fasting and prayer and asked her people to do the same.

    Mordechai and Esther were descendants of King Saul (Esther 2:5, 1 Sam 9:1-3). Haman was an Amalekite, descended from the Amalekite king, Agag. This explains why Mordecahi refused to bow down to him, as that would be considered idolatry.

    Lastly, this scenario may have been avoided all together had Mordechai gone back to Jerusalem when Cyrus gave the Israelites permission to go back. He chose not to do that.

    Same thing happened with Passover-scholars estimate that only about 10% of the Hebrews left Egypt in the exodus-the majority stayed behind.

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  6. Pingback: Q is for Queen | peripheral perceptions

  7. Pingback: That kind of woman – peripheral perceptions

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