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

Meet Hannah from Jill Eileen Smith’s A Passionate Hope

Today we have the pleasure of meeting a character from the Bible, Hannah, as told in Jill Eileen Smith’s novel A Passionate Hope.

A Passionate Hope-Book CoverName:

My name is Hannah, which means “favor or grace”. Looking back on my life, I can say now that God has shown me both.


My father is Hyam. My mother is Adva. I am their only daughter, though I have many brothers and sisters-in-law.


My brothers are Barukh, Chaim, Dan, and Gilad.

Places lived:

I have lived all of my life in the hills of Ephraim.




I do not understand this foreign word.

Work then:

Ah, work. My work is to do the daily tasks of womanhood—to care for our home, keep us clothed and fed and to meet my husband’s needs. My husband, Elkanah, is a Levite and I do what I can to help him carry out his duties in that role. I also sell some of my weaving in the marketplace. This helps my husband and makes me feel useful.


My husband’s sister Meira used to be my closest friend, but once she married, we rarely saw each other. My sister-in-law Dana has become my only friend and confidant in our large and often contentious household.


I wish I had no enemies, but my sister-wife Peninnah has done her best to not live at peace with me. I find her presence trying.


I have no children—at least I did not in the early years. That is why Elkanah married Peninnah. But God blessed us later with Samuel and many more sons and daughters.

What person do you most admire?

I have always loved and admired my husband. To think that Elkanah loves me as he does…I never dreamed he would care for me.

Overall outlook on life:

Life…we are here such a short time and then we rest in Sheol. But I have always believed that one day I would see God. He is the one I long for, and when life has been at its worst, He has carried me through each struggle. What would I do without Him?

Do you like yourself?

I find this question confusing. We do not spend time thinking about liking ourselves. This sounds like someone who is focused too much on the wrong things. When I think of Adonai or Elkanah, I do not think of Hannah, though I will admit, sometimes I feel sorry for myself when Peninnah is near.

What, if anything, would you like to change about your life?

I would have chosen a path that kept our marriage between Elkanah and me alone. Sharing a husband is not God’s best and it has made life miserable for everyone at times.

How do others view you?

I have no idea what people think of me.


I fear, rather I used to fear never bearing a son, never outliving my shame. But as I said, God has shown me favor and grace. I praise Him for His goodness to me.

When are you happy?

When I am alone with Adonai. I love to walk in the hills and pray. They say we should pray at the Tabernacle, and I try…but I feel more of God’s presence in the creation that surrounds me. I do love to sing in worship with the serving women in Shiloh though.

What makes you angry?

I grow angry at the corruption of the priests in Shiloh—sometimes to the point of despair. When will God answer? When will He restore worship to what it is meant to be? Yet there is nothing to be done but wait and pray.

What makes you sad?

I will admit, every time Peninnah birthed another child, I wanted to run far from home. The joy over her success reminded me all over again of my failures.

What makes you laugh?

Elkanah. We manage to find humor in the strangest places. Sometimes you have to laugh at yourself or you will see life as too difficult.

Hopes and dreams:

I hope my children grow up to follow Adonai all of their days.

Biggest trauma:

Facing the fact that I had to release Elkanah to marry another woman. I couldn’t let him know how hard that was for me, but a piece of my heart broke away that day and I never felt the same again.

What do you care about most in the world?

Adonai. Pleasing Him. And then…having children consumed me until it no longer did.

Do you have a secret?

Yes, but I can’t share it, lest it stop being a secret.

Thank you, Hannah, for giving us this glimpse into your life.

Smith_JillEileen_Jill Eileen Smith is the bestselling and award-winning author of the Wives of King David, the Wives of the Patriarchs, the Loves of King Solomon, and the Daughters of the Promised Land series. 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