Esther, born Hadassah, is the Jewish heroine of the Book of Esther in the Old Testament. She was born about 500 B.C. Becoming the queen of the Persian King, Ahasuerus (commonly identified with either Xerxes I or Artaxerxes II), she is able to save her people from a plot to destroy them at the hands of Haman. The festival commemorating this event, Purim, is still celebrated in Judaism.
Esther was an orphan, raised by her cousin, Mordecai. She was chosen to replace the deposed Queen of Persia because of her meticulous preparation. A Prince of Persia, Haman, plotted to exterminate the Jews in Persia and presented his plan to the King. Esther, who was not allowed to approach the King without permission upon penalty of death, prayed and fasted on how she could stave off the plight of her people. Finally, God instilled courage in her and she approached the King and revealed herself as a Jew. At this, the King ordered Haman hanged from a gallows built for Mordecai. The Jewish genocide was reversed, and the Jews were ordered to arm themselves and rise up against their oppressors.