Events Recorded in the Bible
Most of my references to the Bible in Jewel of Persia come from the Book of Esther. The first Biblical event that you see in JoP is the deposing of Vashti, whom I refer to as Amestris.
Now, much of the reason for disagreement about whether the king mentioned in Esther is Xerxes is actually due to Amestris / Vashti. Many people read Esther and assume that the queen is put to death. In which case, Amestris and Vashti obviously couldn’t be one and the same, because Amestris is the Queen Mother during her son’s reign—alive, if not mentally well.
But Esther never says Vashti is killed. It says that a decree goes out saying she might never enter the king’s presence again. That equals deposed, not necessarily put to death. Why would the king have been so lenient? Perhaps because if Vashti is Amestris, she would have been carrying their final child together at the time. Artaxerxes was born a few months after this event, and eventually went on to be king.
There is then a three year gap in Esther between the time when Vashti is deposed and when the king decides to search out a new queen. Assuming this is Xerxes, it’s because he’s off warring with Europe at the time, which fits beautifully. =) Then comes the fun stuff.
It says Esther is one of many virgins brought to the king, though it doesn’t say how many. I decided to make it twelve because I wanted them to be rather picky. After a year of preparation, she goes before the king, finds his favor, and is crowned queen.
Now, is this recorded elsewhere in history? Not that I can find–but then, that’s not surprising. Much of the history we have about this era of Persia is from the Greeks, and they didn’t pay much attention to Xerxes’ wives except to tell of the horrors Amestris perpetrated. And assuming this lines up as I have it doing, Amestris would have regained power after Xerxes is assassinated, so any records of the queen who replaced her would have very likely been wiped out.
We again skip a great many years–five, I believe–between Esther’s coronation and Mordecai discovering the assassination plot of the door keepers to Haman finally making his move against the Jews.
Now, here’s where my interpretation once again comes into play. I needed Mordecai to be well known as the representative of his people, a man of wisdom and spiritual depth. So in order to keep Esther’s heritage a secret, I had to make their relation also a secret. Other interpretations are that Mordecai had kept his heritage a secret all this time and so encouraged Esther to do the same. Which is true? The Bible doesn’t tell us, but both are feasible. I chose the one that fit best with my story.
I think we’re all pretty familiar with the main action of Esther–how the decree went out against the Jews and Mordecai finally told her to go before the king to save her people, how Haman’s plot turns on him and he ends up hanged on the gallows he’d ordered built for Mordecai. (Ah, poetic justice!) Another something we sometimes forget is that the king couldn’t undo his law, so he instead had to make a new decree to counteract it. The way they did this was to let his favor of the Jews be made known and give them permission to fight. Well, people were going to be far less likely to attack their neighbors when they know said neighbors are in the king’s good graces, but some are still anti-Jew enough to try it.
But have you noticed before that the book records that many Persians converted to Judaism?? I play that up, naturally. =) And they not only fight for their right to live and worship, they do so with amazing success. I had fun working that into my plot as well.
There are also several times when I reference events from the book of Daniel, which takes place between 60 and 100 years before Esther, in another city within the same empire. It’s from Daniel that I took many of my references. I find it interesting that while Esther never mentioned God or prayer (though faith is obvious), Daniel is one of the most spiritually intense books of the Bible. I loved integrating them too.