The subject depicted is probably a story from the Old Testament. Ahasuerus, King of Persia, dismissed his wife Vashti because she had offended him. He chose Esther to take his place, without knowing she was Jewish. Esther was an orphan and had been brought up by her cousin Mordecai. Haman, the King's chief minister, who was an enemy of Mordecai and who hated the Jews, decreed that all the Jews of the Persian Empire should be massacred. Mordecai asked Esther to intercede. Esther entered into the King's presence without previously having been summoned, which was forbidden under penalty of death. Ahasuerus raised his golden sceptre to receive her, and she interceded on behalf of the Jews. Haman was hanged on the gallows he had prepared for Mordecai.