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Bible Insights

Did Queen Esther Live Happily Ever After?

Applying the Fairytale Story of Cinderella to Esther Disrespects Her Situation

I’ve always liked the story of Queen Esther. She’s an ordinary girl who wins a national beauty pageant and becomes queen. If this story seems familiar, consider the fairytale story of Cinderella. The two have much in common.

  • Both are orphans.
  • Both are raised by a relative.
  • Both are beautiful.
  • Both are common people.
  • Both have an improbable, amazing interaction with royalty.
  • Both are elevated to a high position.

Given all this, in my imagination, I’ve ascribed to Esther a Cinderella-like romanticism, with Esther and the king falling in love and living happily ever after.

Alas, this isn’t what the Bible says.

The biblical account of Esther doesn’t mention love. It fails to include any hint of happiness. Let’s review some more facts:

  • Forcibly relocated to a foreign land, Esther and her people are victims of war.
  • Esther doesn’t opt to take part in the beauty contest. All attractive virgins must participate. Her involvement is unwilling and more akin to slavery.
  • Esther’s heritage prohibits her from marrying outside her faith. To do so is a shameful and disobedient act.
Esther’s elevation to Queen puts her in a position to influence the king to save her people from annihilation. Click To Tweet

Contrast Cinderella to Queen Esther

Whereas the prince rescues a Cinderella from a subservient life under her unloving stepmother, the king removes Esther from a loving life with her guardian Mordechai to make her subservient to the king’s sexual whims.

Add to this some reasonable conclusions about Esther’s relationship with the king:

  • Even after she becomes queen, he continues to enjoy the company of other women in his harem.
  • She and the king don’t have regular interaction. He hasn’t summoned her for thirty days.
  • She fears him. She faces execution by merely approaching him without permission.

Esther’s elevation to queen isn’t to give her a grand life and make all her dreams come true. Instead God uses it to put her in a position where she can influence the king to save her people from annihilation.

Queen Esther is a hero to her people, despite personally forced into a life she doesn’t want to live.

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is Esther 1-4, and today’s post is on Esther 2:17-18.]

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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The Origin of Purim

Early each spring our Jewish friends celebrate Purim. The origin of Purim is found in the book of Esther, which is a beautiful and moving story:

In a rags to riches manner, Esther was whisked from obscurity to become queen.  From her new position of access and influence, she was able to stop a plot to kill her people, the Jews.

This was done at great personal risk as she could have been summarily executed.  Esther’s bravery shows how one person can make a difference

To commemorate this event, an annual celebration was commanded, which is still celebrated today:

“Mordecai recorded these events, and he sent letters to all the Jews throughout the provinces of King Xerxes, near and far, to have them celebrate annually the fourteenth and fifteenth days of the month of Adar as the time when the Jews got relief from their enemies, and as the month when their sorrow was turned into joy and their mourning into a day of celebration.

“He wrote them to observe the days as days of feasting and joy and giving presents of food to one another and gifts to the poor.”

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is Esther 8-10 , and today’s post is on Esther 9:20-22.]

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Bible Insights

Women of the Bible: Esther Was Not Like Cinderella

I’ve always liked the story of Esther. She was a peasant girl who won a national beauty pageant and became queen. In my imagination, I’ve given this tale a Cinderella-like grandness, with Esther and the king, falling in love and living happily ever after.

Alas, the story doesn’t mention love and fails to include any hints  of happiness. Let’s review the facts:

  • Esther and her people were forcibly relocated to a foreign land. She was a spoil of war.
  • Esther did not opt to take part in the beauty contest. All attractive virgins were compelled to participate.
  • Esther’s heritage prohibited her from marrying outside her faith. To do so would be a shameful and disobedient act.

Add to this these reasonable conclusions about Esther’s “relationship” with the king:

  • Even after she became queen, he continued to enjoy the company of other women in his harem.
  • She and the king didn’t have regular interaction. He had not “summoned” her for thirty days.
  • She had reason to fear him. She faced execution by merely approaching him without permission.
Esther: a peasant girl who won a national beauty pageant and became queen. Does that make her a historical Cinderella? Click To Tweet

Esther’s Prayer

In the New Jerusalem Bible (learn more), we are treated to the prayer that she offered in the middle of this. She says, in part:

  • “I loathe the bed of the uncircumcised,” that would be the king.
  • “I am under constraint” to wear the crown, that is, to be queen.
  • “Nor has your servant found pleasure from the day of her promotion until now.”
  • “Free me from my fear.”

Sadly, there is no love, happiness, or satisfaction in her role as queen. Even so she did use her unwanted position to save her people, the Jews, from a certain annihilation. So this account of Esther isn’t a love story, at least not in the traditional sense. It is, however, a tale of valor and bravery—and a reminder that one person can make a difference.

Get your copy of Women of the Bible, available in e-book, paperback, hardcover, and audiobook.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Bible Insights

What About Daniel and Esther?

The discussion of the text that is not found in all Bibles concludes by addressing the books of Daniel and Esther.

In some versions of the Bible, the book of Daniel contains 12 chapters, while in others there are 14. These two chapters are both interesting and insightful.

Daniel 13 is the story of upright Suzanna, who is falsely accused of adultery and sentenced to death. God intervenes by revealing to a young Daniel the duplicity of her accusers; Daniel is able to expose their false testimony and save Suzanna.

Daniel 14 contains two stories of Daniel later in his life. First, he shows that the Babylonian god Bel is not living; he then kills Bel’s prophets and destroys the temple. Second, he proceeds to kill a dragon that the people worship.

His detractors throw him in a pit of lions for a week; God again intervenes to save Daniel.

As far as Esther, the two accounts seem like a condensed version and an unabridged version. The longer version contains a prelude and a postscript, along with helpful insertions throughout, including the edicts that where issued and the prayers of Mordecai and Esther. 

The result is a fuller and more detailed understanding of what took place.

These additional passages are found in The Jerusalem Bible, as well as other versions.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.