Esther has Shown Jews How to Survive Persecution

A clever heroine.

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Still, the traditional view of Esther as the brave heroine prevails. "Esther embodies feminist ideals: She was brave, courageous, tough, with an imagination equal to the task of saving the Jews," says Moore. Adds Adelman: "Esther had the wisdom to get what she wanted from the king, not by being strident or adversarial, which doesn't get you too far. She succeeded where Vashti failed."

And of all the women of the Bible, Esther recently received the best publicity boost, from pop star Madonna. When the Material Girl became enamored of Jewish mysticism—kabbalah—she changed her name to Esther.