In the Bible, there are two women with stories significant enough to merit their own books. In a culture where men were the ones writing and women had quite specific roles to fulfil, any named woman in the Bible is worth paying attention to. One is Ruth; the story of a young widow from the wrong country, the wrong religion, speaking the wrong language, who passes up re-marrying to become a benefits scrounger in order to provide for her ageing mother-in law. And yeah it ends well, but that that lady has gumption. I like gumption!
The other is Esther. Whom I hated. For years.
Held up as the model of ideal womanhood, Esther appeared to be your Actual Disney Princess, and I mean that in the most scathing way possible. Plucked from obscurity because of her astounding good looks and apparently nothing else, Esther is made Head Queen of the Xerxes, King of Persia. Tipped off by her uncle, a minister, she saves the king from assassination, earns a spot in his good books, and later uses this to wine and dine him into awarding the Jewish people the right to defend themselves in a society where they are outcasts and refugees. The Jewish festival of Purim celebrates her story, being told much like a pantomime, with cheering and booing and 'he's behind you'.
Beauty Queen, actual queen, national hero, Esther was annoyingly perfect. She was that cute, perky girl from school who managed to be captain of the netball team, head girl, and never without a boyfriend all at the same time.
For teenage me, the moral of this story was that being pretty will get you more or less anywhere. Which is peachy... if you're pretty. Which teen me (and sometimes adult me) was not always convinced of all. Way to make a girl resentful, Bible. Congrats.
Now I am a decade older, a lot more comfortable with myself, and therefore able to be a little less self-interested, I have to admit something. I may have misjudged Esther a tiny wee bit. But not in the way I thought...