In my recent reading of the Old Testament, I have been struck by the abundance of messianic symbols, allegories, and parallels. The story of Esther is no exception. In parallel to Christ, she offers her life in pursuit of the redemption of her people and ultimately plays the role of intercessor in their salvation. This painting portrays her draped in a rich red shawl, a symbol of her willingness to offer her blood for her people. It is embroidered with tiny gold stars which offer a multiplicity of symbolism. First and foremost they represent the Jewish nation, multiplied like the starts of the heavens according to Abrahamic prophecy. They aslo reference the etymology of her Persian name, Esther, wich is related to the word "setarah" or star. Around her neck she wears a queenly necklace of gold, sapphires, and pearls, Biblical symbols of heaven and hidden wisdom. In Judaic color theory red, white and blue represents judgement, kindness, and mercy. On her wrist she wears a gold bangle embossed with the crest of the Achaemenid dynasty, a hint at the darker side of this story that is barely or never addressed in Christian tradition. While it is not explicitly stated that Esther was presented to and married to Xerxes/Ahasuerus with out her consent, historical context suggests that is by far the most likely of the two scenarios. Even if there was consent, the power difference makes that consent negligible. At the end of the day she was another sparkling jewel, a prized possesion, of an emperor.