Hadassah is the Jewish name of Queen Esther. Esther 2:7 explains that Mordecai "was bringing up Hadassah, that is Esther, the daughter of his uncle, for she had neither father nor mother." Hadassah was a Jewish orphan living in exile in Persia. "When her father and her mother died, Mordecai took her as his own daughter" (Esther 2:7).
The name Hadassah means "myrtle." The myrtle tree is referenced a handful of times in the Bible representing God's blessing of life and fertility (Isaiah 55:13) and peace and well-being (Zechariah 1:11). The myrtle tree is in the eucalyptus family with stiff, leathery leaves that stay green year round. It is a strong tree with a pleasant smell. And it is known to flourish in adversity, sprouting back after being chopped down and growing back stronger and more lush after being burned. In the Jewish context, it has come to represent the righteous.
In many ways, Esther's Jewish name, Hadassah, foreshadowed her experience. She had been through the adversity of losing her parents while living far from the family's ancestral land. Providentially, her cousin Mordecai stepped in to raise and care for her. She flourished under his care. The Bible says that "the young woman had a beautiful figure and was lovely to look at" (Esther 2:7). Due to her beauty, when the Persian king Ahasuerus needed a new queen, Esther, along with many other young virgin women, was taken into the king's palace (Esther 2:8). Due to her upstanding behavior and humble comportment, she quickly won "favor in the eyes of all who saw her" (Esther 2:15). When presented to King Ahasuerus, he "loved Esther more than all the women, and she won grace and favor in his sight more than all the virgins, so that he set the royal crown on her head and made her queen instead of Vashti " (Esther 2:17). Despite the adversity of losing her parents and then being taken from the only family member she had left, Esther flourished in each new situation.
Furthermore, like the symbol of the myrtle tree, she was destined to bring life and peace to God's people in Persia. During her reign as queen, Haman, a confidant of the king, planned to kill the Jews. Esther, in meekness and humility, trusted God to rescue His people through her bold actions. With great fear, she entered the king's presence without his first requesting her to appear before him. Because she had favor with the king, he granted her an audience with him. This favor from the king enabled her to intercede for her people, expose Haman's evil plan, and ultimately save the Jews from destruction. Thus, Hadassah has become a beloved name representing strength and life.
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