Biblical characters: Esther


Esther, born Hadassah, is the eponymous heroine of the Biblical Book of Esther. According to the Bible, she was a Jewish queen of the Persian king Ahasuerus. Ahasuerus was traditionally identified with Xerxes I, who ruled 486–465 BCE, but more recently a number of historians have identified him with Artaxerxes II, who ruled 405–359 BCE. Besides the normal questions of historicity associated with the Bible there are two other layers of debate about Esther and history; firstly, in the Masoretic Text of the Jewish scriptures it is categorised with the Writings along with Psalms, Proverbs, and Song of Solomon; secondly, many scholars argue that it wasn’t written as history in the first place.

According to the Book of Esther King Ahasuerus deposed his queen, Vashti, after she refused to appear before him and his guests wearing no veil. To find a new queen he decreed that beautiful young virgins be gathered to the palace from every province of his kingdom. The women entered his harem and each in turn was called to spend a night with the King. Eventually the King choose Hadassah, who had been renamed Esther when she entered the royal harem.

A prince called Haman was planning to massacre all Jews in the . But Esther warned the King of the plan and pursuaded him to stop it. He granted the Jews the right to arm themselves to defend themselves against any enemy – as a result five hundred attackers were killed in Shushan, followed by a Jewish slaughter of seventy-five thousand Persians. The Jews established an annual feast, the feast of Purim, in memory of their deliverance.

The movies

One Night with the King (2006): This movie had television broadcast premier on the Trinity Broadcasting Network whose blurb optimistically compared it with some of Peter O’Toole and Omar Sharif’s more epic movies. Hadassah (Tiffany Dupont) is the rags-to-riches heroine who goes on to become the Biblical Esther, saving the Jewish nation from annihilation at the hands of its arch enemy while winning the heart of the fiercely handsome King Xerxes. Spare me. JoJo Myers Proud was the makeup department head.

The Bible: Esther (1999): Featuring Louise Lombard. Coming soon …

The Thirteenth Day: The Story of Esther (1979): If anyone can supply images of Olivia Hussey as Esther please email themakeupgallery.

Esther and the King (1960): Featured Joan Collins – say no more. You can see that the filmmakers really went for a full-on period look.Euclide Santoli was the makeup artist; Manlio Rocchetti was the hairdresser.