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Hadassah was the daughter of Abihail, a Benjamite, who was among the people of the Kingdom of Judah (see The Southern Kingdom) in exile in Babylon (see Ancient Empires - Babylon; also The Two-Way Promise Of The Promised Land). When the Babylonian Empire fell to the Persian Empire (see Ancient Empires - Persia), the exiles found themselves with a new set of rulers. Hadassah (from the Hebrew name pronounced hawd-aws-saw), later known as Esther (from the Hebrew name pronounced est-tawr), was raised by her older cousin Mordecai because she by then "had neither father nor mother."
"2:5 Now in Shushan the palace there was a certain Jew, whose name was Mordecai, the son of Jair, the son of Shimei, the son of Kish, a Benjamite; 2:6 Who had been carried away from Jerusalem with the captivity which had been carried away with Jeconiah king of Judah, whom Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon had carried away. 2:7 And he brought up Hadassah, that is, Esther, his uncle's daughter: for she had neither father nor mother, and the maid was fair and beautiful; whom Mordecai, when her father and mother were dead, took for his own daughter." (Esther 2:5-7 KJV)
Mordecai helped Esther to become the new queen of Persia.
"2:17 And the king loved Esther above all the women, and she obtained grace and favour in his sight more than all the virgins; so that he set the royal crown upon her head, and made her queen instead of Vashti." (Esther 2:17 KJV)
Haman was the Prime Minister of Persia. He hated Jews, and Mordecai in particular. From that, Haman obtained a nation-wide order from the king (who did not at first know that Esther was a Jew too) to kill all Jews in Persia.
"3:5 And when Haman saw that Mordecai bowed not, nor did him reverence, then was Haman full of wrath. 3:6 And he thought scorn to lay hands on Mordecai alone; for they had showed him the people of Mordecai: wherefore Haman sought to destroy all the Jews that were throughout the whole kingdom of Ahasuerus, even the people of Mordecai." (Esther 3:5-6 KJV)
"These days of Purim in their times appointed, according as Mordecai the Jew and Esther the queen had enjoined them"
"Pur" and "Purim" are the singular and plural translations of the Hebrew words (in this case, "Pur" and "Purim" are derived from Persian) pronounced poor and poo-reem. They mean lot and lots. The word is first recorded when Haman "cast Pur, that is, the lot" to determine when would be the best time to carry out his genocide against the Jews.
"3:7 In the first month, that is, the month Nisan, in the twelfth year of king Ahasuerus, they cast Pur, that is, the lot, before Haman from day to day, and from month to month, to the twelfth month, that is, the month Adar.
When Mordecai heard of the planned mass murders, he urged Esther, as the king's wife, and as a Jew herself, to take action to prevent it. Her intervention resulted, first, in Haman being hung on the gallows that he had built to hang Mordecai (see Mordecai and Haman), but also the legal means for the Jews of Persia to defend themselves against an earlier proclamation of the king that could not be revoked. Their self-defence victory came "On the thirteenth day of the month Adar; and on the fourteenth day of the same rested they, and made it a day of feasting and gladness."
"9:1 Now in the twelfth month, that is, the month Adar, on the thirteenth day of the same, when the king's commandment and his decree drew near to be put in execution, in the day that the enemies of the Jews hoped to have power over them, though it was turned to the contrary, that the Jews had rule over them that hated them; 9:2 The Jews gathered themselves together in their cities throughout all the provinces of the king Ahasuerus, to lay hand on such as sought their hurt: and no man could withstand them; for the fear of them fell upon all people. 9:3 And all the rulers of the provinces, and the lieutenants, and the deputies, and officers of the king, helped the Jews; because the fear of Mordecai fell upon them. 9:4 For Mordecai was great in the king's house, and his fame went out throughout all the provinces: for this man Mordecai waxed greater and greater.
The victory was also the origin of the observance of Purim that continues to be observed by Jews to the present day. It is not a Holy Day commanded by the LORD, but rather a day specific to Jewish history, for "the enemy of all the Jews, had devised against the Jews to destroy them, and had cast Pur, that is, the lot, to consume them, and to destroy them" so then to "confirm these days of Purim in their times appointed, according as Mordecai the Jew and Esther the queen had enjoined them."
"9:18 But the Jews that were at Shushan assembled together on the thirteenth day thereof, and on the fourteenth thereof; and on the fifteenth day of the same they rested, and made it a day of feasting and gladness.
Fact Finder: Esther was of the Israelite tribe of Benjamin, but she was called a Jew. Why?