Esther, original name “Hadassa” which means “myrtle” in Hebrew, was a member of the large Jewish community forced to relocate to Persia, but decided not to return to Judah with Ezra. During Esther’s time, the land of Judah was regarded as a wild and backward place. Esther, in Persian, means “star.”
Orphaned at a young age, she was raised by her older cousin, Mordecai, a royal official who sat by the king’s gate. Mordecai was able to provide a good home and upbringing for Esther in Shushan, the capital city of Persia. More importantly, Mordecai was good, kind and loyal, and taught Esther to develop the same qualities.
When Esther was older, she was selected to take part in a beauty pageant of sorts, something like “Miss Universe, a.k.a. the Persian Empire.”