Esther was an orphan who was raised by her older cousin, Mordecai, and eventually, through a series of events, became a queen. Mordecai used to go to the gates of the king's palace to inquire regarding the young woman he raised, and while there he saw the king's assistant, Haman. Haman demanded Mordecai bow down to him, and when Mordecai refused, he became enraged. Haman then crafted an evil plan to kill all the Jews in the entire country, and to hang Mordecai on a 7o foot gallows.
When Mordecai went to the castle the next day, he told Queen Esther of the evil that was about to come on their people. Haman deceived the king into signing an edict to carry out his plan, which could not be reversed. Esther was afraid to approach the king, because in so doing she was actually taking her life into her hands. The King received her, and she asked that the king attend a banquet she would prepare, and to please invite Haman.
The king did so, and at the banquet, he asked Queen Esther what her request was, what was the purpose of this banquet. The Queen didn't have the courage to tell him, so she just said that her request was that the king and Haman would return the next day for a second banquet, The king agreed.
In the night, the king couldn't sleep, so he asked one of his servants to read a book of records to him, thinking it would be boring enough to put him to sleep. As he listened to the reading, he heard of a time that Mordecai, Esther's cousin, had disclosed an assassination plot and saved the king's life. Asking if anyone had ever rewarded Mordecai, he told Haman to lead Mordecai through the streets on his own steed and proclaim to the crowds that this was what would be done for the man whom the king hose to honor. Mordecai was totally humiliated and covered his face as he led Mordecai through the streets. But now he knew he would be more than humiliated, as he had invented this plot to kill Mordecai and all the Jews.
At the second Banquet, finally Queen Esther mustered up the courage to tell the king of Haman's evil plot, and informed the King that she was also a Jew. Haman grabbed onto her, begging her for his life, and the king had him immediately arrested and hung from the 70-foot-high gallows where he originally intended to hang Mordecai.
This amazing event is still celebrated today as the holiday called Purim. The name of God is never mentioned in the Book of Esther, but in the story, we see the sovereignty of God and His intervention to protect His own people.
Haman is on the left, grabbing Esther's sleeve and returning the king's signet ring. The enraged king stands to right of the painting. Esther is in the center, toying with a miniature gallows. The flowers on the table are myrtle. Esther's name is thought to mean myrtle flowers. Three soldiers stand behind the people at the table, ready to arrest the man who intended to have God's people destroyed.
There are 14 birds in this painting, most of which fly around outside the artist's studio.