What Queen Esther Really Looked Like In The Bible

Queen Esther is noted for being a popular costume of choice during Purim, an annual Jewish festival that often includes people dressing up, similar to Halloween. The origin of the holiday stems from Esther being able to hide the fact that she was Jewish while being married to the Persian king Ahasuerus, per Britannica. In her reign, the young queen helped save Jews from persecution in Persia by strategically negotiating with her husband, the king who had approved a mass killing of Jewish Persians. She succeeded in not only saving them from death, but also earned them the right to retaliate against their enemies. As a result, Purim was created and honors her journey and what she did to save her people (BBC). Today, people of the Jewish faith celebrate her victory by also dressing up as her on Purim. So what did this memorable queen look like?

There are many accounts of Queen Esther that describe her as young and beautiful. Several illustrations and depictions of her show as pale (as above) or perhaps olive-skinned, but what does the Bible say she really looks like?

The story of Queen Esther and her victorious journey is described in the Book of Esther in the Bible. The account also explains her ancestry: She was an orphan being raised by her older cousin Mordecai. The first physical description of her is found in Esther chapter 2, verse 7.

How the Bible describes Queen Esther

"Mordecai had a cousin named Hadassah, whom he had brought up because she had neither father nor mother. This young woman, who was also known as Esther, had a lovely figure and was beautiful. Mordecai had taken her as his own daughter when her father and mother died" (per Bible Gateway).

In those days kings had the power to choose among young women to replace his previous queen. When King Ahasuerus (formerly Xerxes) set out on his quest, he asked that all the beautiful young women in the city of Susa to be part of his harem. Esther couldn't refuse and was one of many women who were sent to the king. She also had to undergo a 12-month beautifying process ahead of being sent to him. The women of the king's harem were given anything they wanted, but Esther never asked. It helped set her apart and in verse 15, her looks are mentioned again when it states: "And Esther won the favor of everyone who saw her."

No further description of her physical traits are mentioned in the Bible, but verse 17 goes on to mention how her beauty was remarkable, so much that the king chose Esther to be his queen: "Now the king was attracted to Esther more than to any of the other women, and she won his favor and approval more than any of the other virgins. So he set a royal crown on her head and made her queen instead of Vashti."