How Did a Jewess Become Queen of Persia?


Esther by Narmin Backus
Esther by Narmin Backus

Once Upon a Time

While the Bible contains many accounts reading more like an adventure story than part of a religious text, it could be argued the tale of Haddesah is one of the more remarkable:

A young orphan is being raised by her uncle in the city of Susa.  One day it is announced the king ‘s eunuchs are holding a beauty contest to find a new queen.  The lovely Haddesah is quickly chosen to be among the contestants and her personality is so sweetly unique she gains the notice of all.  Because of a friendship with the eunuch in charge of the contest and her own wisdom, she gains the king’s favor when presented to him and the lovely Haddesah becomes Queen Esther.  

The most wondrous thing about this tale is that it is absolutely true, but what makes it even more amazing is this: Haddesah is a Jew.  Today’s Jews still celebrate the festival of Purim, which commemorates her astonishing contribution to the nation of Israel.  How in the world did a Jewish orphan end up queen of a Persian court?

Artist's conceptual drawing of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon
Artist’s conceptual drawing of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon

The Babylonian Captivity

If you’ve read our most recent blogs about Persian history and culture, you’ll remember the Babylonian captivity of the nation of Israel, by King Nebuchadnezzar, brought Israeli captives from Israel to Babylon.  Then Cyrus the Great conquered Babylon, so he inherited the lands Nebuchadnezzar controlled and the Jewish captives in Babylon.

The magnanimous Cyrus allowed all of his subjects to follow their own religious persuasions and he allowed Jewish captives to return home.  The book of Nehemiah tells the story of the return to Jerusalem to rebuild the wall and the Temple.  However, not everyone wanted to return.

The Jews had been in Babylon for 70 years.  Many had been born there.  Many held important positions in the government of the Babylonians and continued to earn favors under Cyrus.  A life rebuilding their traditional home did not seem as desirable as continuing their pleasant sojourn under the auspices of the wise King Cyrus.

Susa today, a UNESCO world heritage site dates back to the time of Queen Esther
Susa today, a UNESCO world heritage site dates back to the time of Queen Esther

Enter Xerxes and the City of Susa

Susa is the city where the action in the book of Esther took place. While there are some scholars who tag Artaxerxes as the Persian king called Ahasuerus in the Book of Esther, most say Ahasuerus was Xerxes, the son of Darius.  Both kings made their home in Susa, a city which associated with both Daniel and Nehemiah, so one might say Haddesah was in the right place at the right time to save the Jewish nation.

Remember, at the time of Esther/Haddesah, Persia included everything from Turkey to India west to east and everything from Egypt to Russia south to north.  This means that the city of Jerusalem and its new temple were included.  It also means that far flung Jewish communities, like those still existing in Uzbekistan until today were under the rule of Queen Esther.

When the evil courtier Haman, frustrated by Queen Esther’s uncle Mordecai, tricked the King into allowing all the Jews of the Persian Empire to be killed, the entire Jewish race was within the reaches of the empire and they would have all been slain.  But King Ahasuerus didn’t know his queen was a Jew.  The wily Mordecai had insisted she keep this part of her history a secret.

Before revealing how Haman’s evil plot would reach into the palace of Susa and cost the king his queen, Esther and her ladies fasted and prayed.  The roll-out of Esther’s reveal contains cliff-hangers of the highest order, but they also demonstrate dramatically how the will of the Lord works out in the lives of real people – like the King and Queen of Persia, an evil courtier named Haman and Uncle Mordecai, who eventually became second only to the King in Persia.

Esther’s Friends

When Queen Esther wondered if it was indeed her place to approach the king about Haman’s scheme, her uncle told her it was likely God had placed her in her high position, “for such a time as this.”  Like Queen Esther, Global Heart Ministries has been placed in history at a very specific time – a time when technology has opened a window for the Gospel to shine its light into the Middle East and Central Asia.  We have no idea if this modern day miracle will continue, but as long as it does, like Esther, “thus [we] will go.”

Also, like Queen Esther, we have a group of ladies who join us in our endeavors.  We call them Esther’s Friends.  They pray for us, volunteer with us and donate to us on a regular basis, helping to further the Kingdom of God among the Persians and the Arabs.  If you’d like to join Esther’s Friends in our battle for the Gospel in the Middle East and Central Asia, contact our volunteer coordinator at

Join Your Heart to Ours

Joining Esther’s Friends is just one of the ways you can partner with Global Heart Ministries to fulfill The Great Commission in this generation. Together we can bring the light and the truth of Jesus Christ right into the living rooms of every deceived child, every oppressed woman, and every hurting home. This is our message. This is our call.

We invite you to join this vision as a volunteer, a prayer warrior, or a financial donor.  Contact us today by phone or email.  Let us know how you’d like to partner with us as we reach out to the Most Unreached Regions of the World.




One thought on “How Did a Jewess Become Queen of Persia?

  1. Pingback: Daniel’s Men of Valor

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