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Book

Hadassah: The Girl Who Became Queen Esther

Paperback: 159 pages
Publisher: Bethany House
Released: February 2005
ISBN: 0764227386

 
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FICTION EXCERPT

Hadassah: The Girl Who Became Queen Esther

By Tommy Tenney

CBN.com Hadassah's legs churned beneath her as she ran up the street toward the palace. Oh, she had to find Jesse! He was too young, too wonderful, too dear to her to be held against his will away from all who loved him, away from a normal life. She knew in her heart, which was pounding both from exertion and terror, that this meant Jesse was destined to be a lifelong member of the king's court, forced to do whatever the king wanted as long as he had breath, with no chance to marry or have a family of his own.

"Jesse! Jesse!" came with each gasp as Hadassah ran up to the palace gates. The guards crossed their spears firmly in front of the entrance as the distraught young woman, wearing only the tunic she had slept in, halted before them.

Hadassah tried to calm herself. "I'm looking for—do you know if—" But she stopped at the looks of derision on their faces. She turned away, weeping almost hysterically when she realized the hopelessness of it all. She slowly started back down the street toward home.

In the distance she saw Mordecai running toward her, waving his arms wildly and shouting. She could not hear what he was saying over some commotion in the street behind her. As the clatter of noise grew louder, she turned to look over her shoulder—at a column of marching soldiers headed straight for her!

Hadassah quickly moved to the side and flattened herself against a wall. She was not particularly alarmed since columns of soldiers frequently moved through the streets at all hours of the day and night. Now she was able to hear Mordecai's shouts above the sounds of the marching feet, frantically calling her name as he ran.

In another moment Hadassah was surrounded by the soldiers. She backed up as far as she could against the wall, feeling the rough stone against her hands as she tried to make herself as small and insignificant as she could.

Her heart hammered in her chest as the leader of the soldiers stood in place and looked her up and down. "What have we here?" he asked in mock humor. Hadassah made herself look up into the face of the soldier who had planted himself in front of her. "This must be the one you were telling me about, Kasmir, that ‘beautiful young lass' you saw the other night. She looks a bit disheveled right now, but I think she'll make a nice addition to the group of contestants. If she's dressed correctly, she just might be the next queen of Persia!" The other soldiers laughed loudly. Their rough comments chilled Hadassah to the bone.

Hadassah nearly wept in relief as she heard the wonderful sound of her father's voice. "What is going on here?" he demanded. But Hadassah could hear the tremor of fear in his voice.

"Oh, we're collecting beautiful young women—like this one here—to be presented to the king. He's looking for a new queen, you know—"

"But she is exempt! She is not to be included in the king's edict." By then Mordecai had pushed through the ring of soldiers and stood staring into Hadassah's frightened eyes.

"So you know this lovely maiden?" the soldier demanded. Mordecai, now speechless with sorrow, could only nod. "Well, scribe, I know who you are and where you live. You've got two days to get her ready for her trip to the palace. Make sure you do it. We will be at your door after two sundowns." He turned on his heel and the other soldiers followed him, jeering and laughing among themselves.

"Oh, my Hadassah," Mordecai whispered through trembling lips. "What will—what will we do? What will happen to you?" He knew that, just like Jesse, if she was taken into the palace, she might never be allowed to return home. And then they both were weeping in each other's arms. They stood in the street rocking back and forth.

"Hadassah, my love, we must return home," Mordecai finally said to her. "We do not have much time. We must think about what we can do...." His voice trailed off as he turned her around and led her down the street while she cried and clung to his arm.

Hadassah's fears for Jesse were now mingled with her own fears. She and Rachel spent most of the day crying and begging God to help all of them.

Mordecai did not go to work that day, and he spent those first hours in a corner of his bedroom rocking back and forth with his head bowed and his lips moving in prayer.

When he finally came out to them, he motioned for the two women to join him at the table. He reached for Hadassah's hand and held it tightly.

"I have asked the Lord for deliverance for you, Hadassah," he began, his voice full of emotion. "For you and for Jesse," he added with a glance at Rachel. "But I do not know what the Lord intends to do in this situation. What I have come to know over many years of praying and reading the sacred scrolls is that we cannot dictate what the Almighty must do."

He now reached for Rachel's hand. "I believe we must—" he paused to gain control of his voice— "we must plan for the worst and prepare for Hadassah to go to the palace." He cleared his throat and squeezed both of the hands, one smooth and soft, the other calloused and wrinkled, that he held. Renewed sobs from both women once more filled the room.

"We do not know at this time what God has in mind for you, Hadassah," he continued over the sound of their weeping, "but I believe He has something planned that we don't understand right now. For Jesse, too. But we will at the right time. Remember when we talked about the ‘why?' of life's tragedies after your parents were killed? We cannot foretell the future, but we can remain confident in God's love. Stay close to your God, my daughter," he encouraged, his voice stronger as the truth he was speaking entered his own sorrowful heart.

Those next two days were filled with more tears and sorrow, but as Mordecai continued to pray to God and talk with Hadassah about what was to come, she was able to take comfort in his words of instruction and the scriptures he read to her.

"Even more than ever, you must remember to keep your Jewishness a secret," he warned her over and over. "You do not know who is a friend and who might be the enemy around the palace," he said. And Hadassah saw the face of Haman flash before her. But she said nothing about her concerns to her poor father, who already was worried enough.

Mordecai thought of everything he could tell her about the palace and about conducting herself with the other candidates for queen.

"I cannot say at this time, my Hadassah," he said, "whether the Almighty's plan is for you to win the position of queen." He could not go on for a moment, and Hadassah squeezed his hand, not knowing which of them needed the most comfort.

"But remember the scriptures you have learned," he finally continued, "the stories you have read about our people and our land. And every day I will meet you in the evening at the eastern gate of the palace. We can talk and pray together, and you can tell me everything I need to know. I will do the same for you. And in some way we know not at this time, God will bring deliverance...."

Hadassah had myriad questions and things she wanted to talk over before it was too late, but her mind was nearly numb with her emotions and uncertainties.

The household barely slept at all, knowing their precious time together was nearly over.

"Maybe I should keep the medallion for you, Hadassah," Mordecai suggested in the early hours as the fateful morning drew near. "It could identify you." But Hadassah burst into a new flood of tears and begged to keep it with her.

"It's all I have of my family, of you," she cried. "I'll keep it hidden, safe, and no one will know what it is or where it came from," she promised through trembling lips to Mordecai's reluctant agreement.


Excerpted from Hadassah: The Girl Who Became Queen Esther by xxxxx, Copyright 2005. Published by Bethany House Publishers.

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