Esther nervously walked into the grand palace at Shushan. Beautiful banners hung from tall pillars. The marble floors were red, blue, black, and white. Even the drinking cups were made of gold. Then she saw the king sitting on his great throne.
King Ahasuerus ruled over all of Persia. He had commanded that the loveliest young women in the kingdom be brought to the palace so he could choose a new queen. Esther was one of those beautiful young women.
Esther had been raised by her cousin, Mordecai, after her parents died. Mordecai told Esther not to tell anyone at the palace that she was a Jew. The Jews believed in Jehovah, but the king did not.
When King Ahasuerus saw Esther, he chose her above all the other young women. He made her the new queen. Now Esther would wear rich clothing and a royal crown. But she could not return to her home or worship God openly.
Every day Mordecai came to the palace gate to find out if Esther was all right. One day Haman, the king’s chief minister, saw him. Haman demanded that Mordecai bow down to him. But Mordecai refused. He bowed only to God.
Haman was furious. He told the king that the Jews would not obey the laws and should be killed. The king sent out a decree that all of the Jews in the kingdom were to be killed.
When Queen Esther heard about the awful decree, she sent word to Mordecai. What should they do?
Mordecai said that Esther must talk to the king to save the lives of the Jewish people. He said that Esther had a special mission to perform. Perhaps she had been chosen as queen so she could save the people who believed in Jehovah.
Esther was frightened. Anyone who went to see the king without being invited could be put to death—even the queen. Esther gathered her courage and faith. She told Mordecai to ask all the Jewish people to fast with her for three days.
After three days Esther dressed in her royal robes and went to the door of the throne room. King Ahasuerus saw her and beckoned for her to come and talk to him. Esther invited the king and his minister Haman to a banquet.
At the banquet Esther told the king how Haman had plotted to kill the Jews. She said that she was Jewish too. King Ahasuerus was very angry. He could not take back the decree, but he quickly sent riders on mules and camels with a new decree. It said the Jews could defend themselves against anyone who tried to kill them. The lives of many Jews were saved.
Throughout the land the Jewish people celebrated the courage of Queen Esther with a great feast called Purim.