es'-ter ('ecter, akin to the Zend tstara, the Sanskrit stri, the Greek aster, "a star," Esther): Esther was a Jewish orphan, who became the queen of Xerxes, in some respects the greatest of the Persian kings. She was brought up at Susa by her cousin Mordecai, who seems to have held a position among the lower officials of the royal palace. Vashti, Xerxes' former queen, was divorced; and the most beautiful virgins from all the provinces of the empire were brought to the palace of Susa that the king might select her successor. The choice fell upon the Jewish maiden. Soon after her accession a great crisis occurred in the history of the Jews. The entire people was threatened with destruction. The name of Esther is forever bound up with the record of their deliverance. By a course of action which gives her a distinguished place among the women of the Bible, the great enemy of the Jews was destroyed, and her people were delivered. Nothing more is known of her than is recorded in the book which Jewish gratitude has made to bear her name.
Change of Name:
The change in the queen's name from Hadassah hadacah, "a myrtle," to Esther, "a star," may possibly indicate the style of beauty for which the Persian queen was famous. The narrative displays her as a woman of clear judgment, of magnificent self-control, and capable of the noblest self-sacrifice.
See ESTHER, BOOK OF.