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Star of Persia: Esther's Story

Jill Eileen Smith

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“God had always promised a deliverer. He had promised it since the garden when Adam sinned. He had always saved a remnant of His people, even when they sinned against Him so grievously. Surely He would do so again. With or without Esther. He looked into Hathach's eyes. What if Esther was the person God had placed where she was for this moment?”

“Your name, please?" A young beauty with smooth, flowing dark hair and the darkest, widest eyes Amestris had ever seen stood before the king's eunuch. "Esther, my lord. Daughter of Abihail. Adopted by Mordecai, son of Jair." The girl's voice carried a cultured lilt. She must come from wealth or privilege. Whatever was she doing caught up in this... mess? "Mordecai. He sits at the king's gate." "Yes, my lord. He is my adoptive father, as both my parents are dead." Esther spoke matter-of-factly, as though the news was not recent. Perhaps she was not so privileged after all. Just fortunate to be beautiful. A shame.”

“You do not need to fear me, Esther." She simply nodded. "But you do." She smoothed her gown. "I will do whatever you ask of me, my lord." "You remind me of Vashti," he said, his tone low, husky. "And yet you are nothing like her." A deep sigh escaped him. "You draw out a need within me to protect you, though you are willing to do whatever I ask. You delight me, Esther.”

“You are Esther now, a Persian star, and you will shine like the dawn in the king's palace.”

“Xerxes gazed at Esther as she slept, marveling at the way her expression held such peace, her dark hair splayed over the pristine white cushion beneath her head. He had found not a single flaw in her and had quickly concluded that she surpassed even Vashti in beauty. He released a deep, contented sigh as he shifted on one elbow. Esther stirred and opened her eyes to meet his gaze. Her smile, slow and appreciative, caused a greater sense of protectiveness to rise within him. Did she love him? Could she love him? Without doubt he loved her. She had pleased him like no other. "You are awake," he said, surprised at the huskiness in his voice. What was this new feeling of exuberant joy? He was not one to grow flustered like this. Never like this. But Esther... he could not stop the need to touch his lips to hers. "I find you have tempted me beyond reason," he said when he felt confident that his voice would not again betray him. She wrapped both arms around his neck and pulled him closer. "I am glad," she whispered against his ear. "If I were not a temptation, you might not find me pleasing." She kissed him, this time not waiting for him to take the lead as she had the night before. He laughed when she pulled away, and they both caught their breath. "How bold my queen has become!”

“What is your name?" She and Mordecai had discussed what to do if she ever faced this situation. "Do not tell them you are Jewish," he had said. "And tell them your name is Esther. It is the Persian version of Hadassah." "What is your name?" the man asked again. "Esther," she said, nearly choking on the name. "I am the daughter of Abihail. My cousin Mordecai is my adopted father.”

“The night breeze cooled her flushed skin, and she lifted her head to the setting sun. The scent of the almond trees mingled with the headier lavender and roses, calming her. The sun dipped slowly, setting off a wild array of pinks and oranges, and a splay of yellow that pointed toward the clouds that brought a song to Esther's soul. Perhaps Adonai had not abandoned her in this place. Could she have a purpose even as one in hundreds or a thousand in a harem? Would God grant her favor in the king's eyes and allow her to know him- to see him more than one night?”

“She took a date and kissed it before offering it to him. He bit into it and then bent to kiss her again. This woman never ceased to amaze him. How bold she had become for one so young, and yet so graceful and even obedient. Not like Amestris or Vashti. She captured his imagination in ways he did not understand.”

“She stopped to inspect some of the blossoms on the almond trees and watched the butterflies flap tiny wings from the bushes to the skies. Oh, to have such freedom. Like a bird, they were not confined to the king's palaces or a specific set of rooms. If she thought on it overmuch, she had to admit that in her new life she felt more like a bird caged than one set free. And she missed her family. Not Mordecai, for she saw him often, but her cousins, their wives, the children. Especially the children. How long had it been since she had chased Isha through the house and taught the children of Noah! She walked past the almond trees, forcing her mind to ponder the beauty around her. Gratitude was a better choice than lonely complaints.”

“She rose and bathed, and Parisa helped her to dress in her royal robes. Shirin pulled her hair into a style reminiscent of her first night with the king. Mahin covered her glowing black tresses with a colorful veil. Hettie placed the royal crown on her head and a ring on her finger. Rosana tucked jeweled sandals on her feet. And Jazmin spritzed the faint scent of lavender over her clothes. Peace settled over Esther as Zareen held the golden mirror before her. She was ready. As ready as she was going to be. Olive oil moistened her lips, lest she appear as though she had been in mourning. The king must not know that yet. "Shall we go with you?" Parisa asked, concern etched in her gaze. None of them looked at peace- not like the peace that Esther felt- but none of them had prayed as Esther had prayed, at least not with the knowledge she had. How could they? They had no idea what trials her people had been through. They did not know the history of the Jews had with Haman's people or how the Amalekites had attacked them when they were vulnerable on their journey out of Egypt. Hostility had existed between the Amalekites and the Israelites ever since. She looked at each one, cupped each dear cheek. "You have been a blessing to me to attempt what I did not think I could ever do." She drew in a breath. "If I do not return, please know that I could have chosen no better maids. But do not mourn for me. Mourn for my people, and do what you can to tell your family and friends that we are not your enemies. Perhaps you will make a difference in my place.”

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Book Keywords:

persian, orphan, adopted, maids, natures-beauty, hadassah, xerxes, protectiveness, persia, gods-love, fortunate-enough, mordecai, gods-purpose, vashti, genuine-goodness, prepared, gods-plan, names, sunset, caged-bird, jewish, jewish-history, gratitude, purpose, optimist, natural-beauty, esther-and-xerxes, book-title, esther

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