The Book of Esther tells the story of the titular heroine, a young woman who was taken to become a Persian Queen, while her cousin works in his court. While there, a plot is made by the official Haman to murder all the Jews.

One of the fun and more exciting stories in the Bible, the events are commemorated by the uproarious festival of [[UsefulNotes/JewishHolidays Purim]], and the (surprisingly short) book is read in the synagogue that day at an atypically-noisy session.

The Protestant canon version of Esther is ten chapters long, with the tenth chapter ending at verse 3. The Vulgate version (which is based on the Greek) extended the story to about sixteen chapters, though these additions are interspersed into the original story in Catholic editions, bringing the chapter count back down to ten.

The story is the basis for the film ''Film/OneNightWithTheKing''. And the WesternAnimation/VeggieTales episode "Esther: The Girl who Became Queen." ''And'' author Joan Wolf's romance novel ''The Reluctant Queen: The Love Story of Esther''.

It was also adapted into a politically charged Israeli film, titled ''Esther'' by Amos Gitai.


* AnachronicOrder: In Christian canonical ordering, the Book of Esther comes after the Book of Nehemiah, even though its events come directly before. (In the Jewish ordering, Esther is grouped with the literary books and Nehemiah with the late historical books, in different subsections of the Bible.)
* ArtisticLicenseHistory: Although it's very clear there ''was'' a King Xerxes/Ahasuerus (actually, [[KingBobTheNth a couple of them]], the one from this book usually identified as [[ Xerxes I]]), history never says he had a primary wife by the name of Vashti. His primary queen was named Amestris. Although it's clear he had a RoyalHarem full of other, "lesser" queens, there is no record of any "[[CastingCouch beauty contest]]" held to obtain them. He most likely obtained these wives and concubines in the same way that ''most'' kings of that time and place obtained their wives and concubines: through AltarDiplomacy. Nor did Amestris ever get divorced by him, or deposed from her position as queen.
* AudienceParticipation: When the book is read aloud during Purim, audiences are [[CheapHeat expected to boo and jeer]] every time they hear the name of Haman. Noisemakers are even provided just so we can be sure his name is properly drowned out.
* BatheHerAndBringHerToMe: A longer version with all the girls (including Esther) selected for the contest.
* BeautyContest: Xerxes has a very elaborate one to choose the new queen. No surprises: the winner is Esther.
* {{Bowdlerise}}: Many people hear the search for a queen portrayed as a beauty contest. While physical beauty ''was'' part of it, it was really more about who could "please the king" the most... ''[[SexTropes in bed]]''. In other words, it was more of a CastingCouch than a BeautyContest. [[FridgeHorror Also]], these girls had [[SexualHarassmentAndRapeTropes little to no say]] in whether or not they actually joined the RoyalHarem.
* DisproportionateRetribution:
** If anyone visits the king without him having called for it, the visitor is to be killed unless the king decides it's one he's glad to see. Naturally, this puts a snag in Esther addressing to the king the matter of the Jews.
** When Haman finds out that Mordecai's reason for not [[KneelBeforeZod bowing down to him]] is that Mordecai is a Jew, he decides to massacre ''all'' the Jews.
* DreamIntro: The Greek additions to the original story start with one for Mordecai. The last chapter ends with Mordecai's interpretation of the dream he had at the beginning.
* EvilChancellor: Haman is one of the [[UrExample earliest examples]] and one of the evilest.
* {{Fainting}}: According to the Greek additions to the original story, Esther fainted when she went into the king's throne room on the third day to address the king in order to save her people.
* FinalSolution: What Haman proposes regarding the Persian Jews.
* ForgotICouldChangeTheRules: Averted. The king is maneuvered into creating a law that would allow all the Jews to be massacred by Haman. When Queen Esther reveals to the king that she's Jewish herself and exposes Haman's plot, the law authorizing pogrom cannot be annulled by even the king. However, there is nothing that prevents him from passing a new law [[LoopholeAbuse enabling the Jewish population to defend themselves]] with state support.
* {{Guile Hero}}ine: Esther is able to keep her head in stressful circumstances, and her courage saves her people.
* HappilyEverBefore: For one person; Xerxes's assassination is foiled in this book, but later he was eventually murdered by a court guard. There is also no mention of Esther outside of this book.
* HoistByHisOwnPetard: Haman builds a gallows on which to hang Mordecai. When his plot is discovered, Hangman Haman himself is hanged on it.
* HumiliationConga: Boy does Haman ever get his comeuppance! First is a Hitler-to-Jesse-Owens mission -- he has to publicly honor his hated rival Mordecai, with an elaborate parade that Haman came up with when thinking he'd be the honoree. Then his fancy dinner with the king and queen turns out to be a set-up to expose him as the villain. When he tries to plead with the queen for his life, the king [[NotWhatItLooksLike thinks he's trying to assault or rape her]] and sentences him to death right then and there. He winds up literally HoistByHisOwnPetard on the gallows he built himself for Mordecai. Every detail of Haman's luck is really [[FromBadToWorse spiraling downhill]]. You almost feel sorry for the guy. '''Almost'''.
* InformedJudaism: Esther's Jewishness is a major plot point, but she apparently passed for a non-Jew well enough that her own husband was surprised to find out her ethnicity/religion. However, hiding her Jewishness from Xerxes before they get married is also part of Mordecai's plan. Possibly a more acurate example of this trope in the story would be the scholarly suggestion that Esther and Mordecai are secular Jews, rather than religious ones. See YMMV.
* InSpiteOfANail: Mordecai tells Esther outright that the Jews will be saved regardless of her actions, because God won't allow otherwise to happen. ''Esther'' is the one who will suffer if she refuses to help.
* IOweYouMyLife: Mordecai reveals the plot to kill Xerxes, and the king later decides to reward him.
* JesusTaboo: Rather surprisingly for a book of Literature/TheBible, the story never once mentions the name of {{God}}. (At least not the Hebrew only version anyway; the Greek additions are another story.) It's generally accepted that the point is God can work behind the scenes InMysteriousWays even when he is TheUnseen.
* JustSoStory: There is no evidence Persia ever had a Jewish queen, and its possible ''Esther'' was invented to explain the festival of Purim which already existed. No doubt, though, Xerxes was an actual Persian King, possibly the same one who is in ''Film/ThreeHundred'' as a matter of fact.
* KneelBeforeZod: Haman is furious when Mordecai refuses to bow to him, and decides to [[DisproportionateRetribution kill all the Jews]] to get revenge.
* LoopholeAbuse: How Haman's planned massacre is ultimately prevented. Not even the king can rescind a royal decree once issued -- but there's nothing preventing him from issuing a new decree allowing the Jews to defend themselves and, in their turn, take the property of those who tried to kill them.
* NatureAdoresAVirgin: The girls selected for the harem are mentioned as being virgins (though some translate it simply as "teenage girls" whether they were ''actually'' virgins or not). Esther, in particular, is lauded for her chastity, which is described as being part of her beauty or appeal. [[note]] Why that [[NotLikeOtherGirls sets her apart]] if all the other girls are virgins (if "virgins" is the correct translation) is a matter of FridgeLogic; or else it's perhaps something that got LostInTranslation. [[/note]]
* NiceJobFixingItVillain: Haman goes to ask the king for a death warrant for Mordecai, but gets sidetracked when Xerxes asks him what a good reward would be for a man who has done great service to the king. Haman, assuming that he's the honoree, proposes an elaborate public ceremony. Turns out the king was asking about Mordecai, and Haman is ordered to carry out his own plan to honor his hated rival. HumiliationConga ensues.
* NotWhatItLooksLike: Haman throws himself at Queen Esther to beg for his life, ''another'' thing that backfires -- The king comes in at the wrong moment and assumes that Haman is trying to assault/rape her. This does not end well for Haman.
* OneDialogueTwoConversations: Xerxes calls in Haman to discuss how he should reward a man who has done a great service to the king. Haman assumes ''he's'' the one implied, only to find to his horror that the king actually meant Haman's hated rival Mordecai.
* OriginalPositionFallacy: Haman being asked to think up a reward and assuming it's for ''himself'' is a textbook example.
* PromotedToParent: Mordecai has raised Esther after her parents died.
* ReplacementGoldfish: Xerxes holds a competition to find a beautiful wife for him to replace his divorced one Vashti.
* RagsToRoyalty: Esther gets hand-picked to be the queen.
* RoyalHarem: The home of all the women selected for the BeautyContest.
* SuddenlyEthnicity: To stop Haman's planned pogrom, Esther makes the big reveal that she's Jewish. Granted, the audience has known this all along, but ''her own husband'' is astonished to find out.
* ToiletSeatDivorce: The king divorces Vashti because she refused to appear in public.
* ThereAreNoCoincidences: "It so happened" is a recurring line in this book.
* ThroughHisStomach: Esther prepares two banquets for King Xerxes in order to gain his favor and listen to her petition to spare her people. It is at the second banquet that Esther exposes Haman as the adversary responsible for the plot.
* TheUnseen: God is never once mentioned, but the story serves as a great example of Him placing the right people in places where they'll eventually be needed.
* VillainsWantMercy: Haman begs Esther to save his life. It backfires when Xerxes catches him throwing himself at her while on her bed.
* WorldsMostBeautifulWoman: Esther is determined to be by Xerxes.
* YouCanLeaveYourHatOn: A literal case, at least implied. The previous queen, Vashti, is asked to parade before Xerxes' drunken party guests wearing her royal crown-- the insinuation being, ''[[MsFanservice only]]'' her crown. Her refusal sets the story in motion.