During the biblical story, as in my series, Esther, undergoes a dramatic transformation: the Esther at the beginning of the story is a passive, obedient Esther, a marionette doll whose strings are pulled by several men. “Be beautiful and keep quiet” is the message she is given and she understands the message well. Later though, during the meeting with Mordechai at the palace, we see a new Esther who, despite her former obedient self, she refuses his request. Without an invitation to appear before the king, she does not dare go before him. Mordechai then tells this passive and beautiful woman that when her people die, no matter how elevated her role is within the King’s court, her turn to die will also arrive, as she is Jewish herself.
It was these words which brought about Esther’s dramatic transformation. They succeeded in bringing to the surface the courage and leadership qualities that were hidden in the personality of this submissive, obedient woman. From this moment on, the “second Esther” reveals herself as an assertive, resourceful woman, in short, a leader.
Esther is the one who gives the orders to Mordechai, not the other way around. She orders him to gather together all the Jews of Susa and asks them to “fast for her.” In other words, she tells her people: “I need your support. Alone, I can do nothing but if you stand behind me, perhaps I will find the strength to go before the king who has not called for me.” The transformation that took place in Esther’s personality is nothing but amazing. From a woman used to taking orders, she becomes a woman who gives others orders and encourages them to act. From a beautiful young girl who had only herself to worry about and who was isolated from the troubles of her people, safely ensconced in her palace, Esther suddenly puts her life in danger for the sake of her people. “if I perish, I perish.” In the panel of Esther being given permission to speak, we see a sexy and elegantly dressed Queen being given permission to speak, by her master, husband and King- Ahasuerus. He is lowering his staff in her direction; she is modestly curtseying with eyes lowered. Her plan is just starting to gel. The high drama that culminates in the Banquet is about to begin. Rich Persian artifacts appear in the background and flooring She reveals her identity to the king and to Haman. She presents Haman for what he is, a murderer and a coward. Shortly afterward Haman is executed. Even after Haman’s death she continues to pull the strings overtly and covertly, she appoints Mordechai in Haman’s place, hosts banquets, is responsible for cancelling Haman’s decree, receives direct communications from King Ahasuerus and, finally inscribes the event forever in the collective memory of the Jewish people.
Just like the legendary Lilith of my previous Series, the story of Esther is the story of female empowerment. It encourages women to believe in their own strength, even if the surrounding culture does not yet acknowledge it. If we don’t have the innate courage and wisdom of Lilith, we certainly all possess the potential of the “second Esther” – the one that was hidden inside a shy, reserved, obedient girl.