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ESTHER

The adopted daughter and niece (or cousin) of Mordecai, she was also known as Hadassah (Esther 2:15). She is a traditionally heroic figure to Jews because she outwitted the anti-Semitic Agagite, Haman, a powerful official in King Ahasuerus' court. Following the banishment of Queen Vashti, the king chose Esther to be his wife (Esther 2:17). Using her beauty and intelligence to combat Haman in his attempt to wipe out the Jews, she brought about his execution on the gallows, a fate he had planned for Mordecai (Esther 3-6). The struggle emphasizes patriotic and racial devotion rather than religious aspiration (Esther 7:10). It is a lively, stirring story whose events are celebrated by Jews all over the world in the annual Feast of Purim (Esther 9:27-28). The Book of Esther was written by an unknown author, probably not later than the time of Ezra. The text of Esther has come down in two revisions, a shorter Hebrew and a longer Greek. The Catholic Bible follows the Hebrew, and then adds the missing passages (10-16) from the Greek.

All items in this dictionary are from Fr. John Hardon's Modern Catholic Dictionary, © Eternal Life. Used with permission.

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