Esther, originally named “Hadassa,” meaning “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 because the land was regarded as a wild and backward place. Going back to her name, 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. He was able to provide a good home and upbringing for Esther in Shushan, the capital city of Persia. As a good, kind and loyal cousin, he taught Esther to develop the same qualities.
When Esther got older, she was selected to take part in a beauty pageant of sorts, something like “Miss Universe, a la the Persian Empire.”