Meet Esther from Jill Eileen Smith’s Star of Persia

Tell us something about where you live.

I was born in Persia, though my family is of Jewish heritage. My people have been enslaved in Persia for over 70 years, though before I was born, the Persian king allowed us to return to Jerusalem to rebuild the walls of the city. My parents did not return, nor did my cousin Mordecai, who ended up becoming my adoptive father after my parents died.

Is there anything special about your name? Why do you think you were given that name?

I was born Hadassah, a common Jewish name. But when the king required all virgins brought to him at the palace, my adoptive father, Mordecai told me to use the name Esther, which means Persian Star. It was a wise decision for it allowed me to keep my Jewish heritage a secret.

Do you have an occupation? What do you like or dislike about your work?

I am the queen of Persia – a position that I never sought or expected. I am beginning to like the king, though he is a difficult man. I do not like that the only work I am called on to do is to entertain dignitaries’ wives’ at the king’s request, or simply be willing to allow him to show my beauty to others. I have no real work or value apart from that.

Who are the special people in your life?

My adoptive family, Mordecai and Levia were my life, along with their sons, my cousins. I also have a dear friend Jola. We were supposed to marry and live near each other and be friends for life, but she ended up betrothed to a boy I favored, while I ended up in the palace of the Persian king. 

What is your heart’s deepest desire?

I would like my freedom. I wish I could see my family whenever I liked, but my life is now at the mercy of the king. I am not able to go or do whatever I please. I would like fewer restrictions, as I used to have.

What are you most afraid of?

Displeasing my father. Displeasing my king. I supposed mostly I don’t want to dishonor God, though I do not know Him as my ancestors once did.

Do you have a cherished possession?

My adoptive mother’s ring. It is the only jewelry I brought with me to the palace. It is the only thing I wear unless I am called on to dress royally.

What do you expect the future will hold for you?

There is much intrigue in a palace, and while I might hope that I could be like other women who bear children and are the wife of one man who loves only them, that is not the lot that has fallen to me. I only hope that if I outlive the king, that my family and I will be safe to live out our days away from this place. I do not expect to hold any power if I become widowed.

What have you learned about yourself in the course of your story?

With God’s help, I can do more than I thought I could. I did not think myself capable of doing anything great, but God has given me courage beyond what I could have imagined. When called upon to act in a frightening situation, God’s grace gave me strength.

Is there anything else you’d like people to know about you?

I am no different than any other woman or any other Jewess. Who I am inside is a simple young woman who dreams things as everyone dreams them. I never sought glory or acclaim for myself or thought to do anything great with my life. But one thing I know. If God puts a person in the place where they can do much good, they must call on His help to do just that. To remain silent when by speaking we can save others, then our silence is wrong. We must draw on courage and grace to do what we can. What I thought impossible for me to do on my own, I found very possible to do by God’s grace.

Thanks for allowing us to get know you a little better!

Jill Eileen Smithis the bestselling and award-winning author of the biblical fiction series The Wives of King David, Wives of the Patriarchs, and Daughters of the Promised Land, as well as The Heart of a Kingand the nonfiction book When Life Doesn’t Match Your Dreams. Her research into the lives of biblical women has taken her from the Bible to Israel, and she particularly enjoys learning how women lived in Old Testament times. Jill lives with her family in southeast Michigan. Learn more at www.jilleileensmith.com.

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