Iran / Persia: Queen Esther with Attendants, Edwin Long, 1878

Esther (Hebrew: ????????r), 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 is traditionally identified with Xerxes I (r. 486-465 BCE) during the time of the Achaemenid empire. Her story is the basis for the celebration of Purim in Jewish tradition.