INTRODUCTION TO ESTHER CHAPTER 2
This chapter covers a period of four years since the king has divorced his queen wife Vashti. A young Jewish girl from Benjamin’s tribe who had been carried off into captivity lines up in a beauty pageant and since she is a total knock-out wins the right to be the queen of Persia. I will walk you through the process and selection of the new queen.
EXPOSITION TO ESTHER CHAPTER 2
1 After these things, when the wrath of king Ahasuerus was appeased, he remembered Vashti, and what she had done, and what was decreed against her.
After he sobered up he reflects on the decision that had been made. “The king having been fond of her did not well bear a separation, and yet by the law he could not admit of reconciliation; so he was under trouble, as not having it in his power to do what he desired to do. But when his friends saw him so uneasy, they advised him to cast the memory of his wife, and his love for her, out of his mind.” Josephus 11:6:2 Josephus wrote the whole story of Esther in his book 2,000 years ago and it remains, in my opinion, the best that has ever been written about Esther. I have copied his entire book and put it in the appendix in hope that you would read his comments.
2 Then said the king’s servants that ministered unto him, Let there be fair young virgins sought for the king:
Young virgins from India to Ethiopia show up for the beauty pageant to compete for the privilege of being the queen. A search party is formed to find young virgins with style, good looks and well favored to be the next reigning queen.
3 And let the king appoint officers in all the provinces of his kingdom, that they may gather together all the fair young virgins unto Shushan the palace, to the house of the women, unto the custody of Hege the king’s chamberlain, keeper of the women; and let their things for purification be given them:
All the women in the harem are under the supervision and care of Hege and the caretaker of the harem was always a eunuch. For the next six months these women will be given the very best cosmetics and their skin will be bathed in special oils. I suppose the six months will also assure the king that he will not be fathering a child that is not his. A group of young women will spend the next year or so in beauty treatments, polished in grace and elegance─trained how to be charming─polished in the finishing school─taught how to act as a reigning beauty.
4 And let the maiden which pleaseth the king be queen instead of Vashti. And the thing pleased the king; and he did so.
These girls must possess the right decorum and understand protocol so when they are in public they will not embarrass the king. It was also important that she be able to produce a male offspring who would be the future king. Guidelines are sent to all parts of the kingdom and the beauty contest is under way.
5 Now in Shushan the palace there was a certain Jew, whose name was Mordecai, the son of Jair, the son of Shimei, the son of Kish, a Benjamite;
The genealogy shows that Mordecai was from the family of King Saul and therefore Esther was from royalty. As providence would have it, or as we say, it just so happens, that a Jew has a relative who is gorgeous and in full bloom and he suggests that she enter the contest.
6 Who had been carried away from Jerusalem with the captivity which had been carried away with Jeconiah king of Judah, whom Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon had carried away.
It is evident that Jair was the one that was carried off into captivity because that would make Mordecai more than a hundred years old. At this point the writer introduces us to a little history as to the circumstances of how this attractive young belle gets in the running.
7 And he brought up Hadassah, that is, Esther, his uncle’s daughter: for she had neither father nor mother, and the maid was fair and beautiful; whom Mordecai, when her father and mother were dead, took for his own daughter.
The writer wants us to know that the pretty girl is an orphan and was raised by her uncle. Hadassah was her Persian name and Esther was her Jewish name. Esther is as beautiful as the sunset that ends a perfect day.
8 So it came to pass, when the king’s commandment and his decree was heard, and when many maidens were gathered together unto Shushan the palace, to the custody of Hegai, that Esther was brought also unto the king’s house, to the custody of Hegai, keeper of the women.
It appears that Mordecai introduces Esther to Hegai (He is in charge of all of the women in the harem).
9 And the maiden pleased him, and she obtained kindness of him; and he speedily gave her her things for purification, with such things as belonged to her, and seven maidens, which were meet to be given her, out of the king’s house: and he preferred her and her maids unto the best place of the house of the women.
Hegai immediately spotted her as a winner─he seen that she was attractive, shapely and gorgeous. He puts her in the top running to be the next Queen and provided all the clothes, perfumes, support teams and the best apartment while in training.
10 Esther had not shewed her people nor her kindred: for Mordecai had charged her that she should not shew it.
Esther was bold but not brash if she had told about her family it would have meant that she would be disqualified from the competion.
11 And Mordecai walked every day before the court of the women’s house, to know how Esther did, and what should become of her.
Mordecai lets Esther know that he is there if she needs him.
12 Now when every maid’s turn was come to go in to king Ahasuerus, after that she had been twelve months, according to the manner of the women, (for so were the days of their purifications accomplished, to wit, six months with oil of myrrh, and six months with sweet odours, and with other things for the purifying of the women;)
All the girls will need refinement classes they were “diamonds in the rough” they will learn elegance, sophistication, classiness and graduate from the finishing school.
13 Then thus came every maiden unto the king; whatsoever she desired was given her to go with her out of the house of the women unto the king’s house.
Her wardrobe was filled with the best style of the day. Her gowns were custom made and fitted by the best designers.
14 In the evening she went, and on the morrow she returned into the second house of the women, to the custody of Shaashgaz, the king’s chamberlain, which kept the concubines: she came in unto the king no more, except the king delighted in her, and that she were called by name.
The king is infatuated with Esther─she’s in the top running she has spent a night in his bedroom and he is delighted with her. He remembers her name.
15 Now when the turn of Esther, the daughter of Abihail the uncle of Mordecai, who had taken her for his daughter, was come to go in unto the king, she required nothing but what Hegai the king’s chamberlain, the keeper of the women, appointed. And Esther obtained favour in the sight of all them that looked upon her.
Her beautician, her clothing designer—all her attendants admired her she had charm, elegance, refinement and unadorned gracefulness.
16 So Esther was taken unto king Ahasuerus into his house royal in the tenth month, which is the month Tebeth, in the seventh year of his reign.
His divorce from Vashti had occurred four years earlier and now all preparations have been made for this royal wedding.
17 And the king loved Esther above all the women, and she obtained grace and favour in his sight more than all the virgins; so
that he set the royal crown upon her head, and made her queen instead of Vashti.
The head of the harem and the head chamberlain had recommended Esther but the final choice among the contestants was left to the king.
18 Then the king made a great feast unto all his princes and his servants, even Esther’s feast; and he made a release to the provinces, and gave gifts, according to the state of the king.
The king throws a huge banquet, with her name at the head of the invites. Everyone who is someone is there. He calls for a national holiday and hands out presents like it were Christmas time.
19 And when the virgins were gathered together the second time, then Mordecai sat in the king’s gate.
It would appear that Mordecai has been promoted all the way up the line to the king’s gate. This will put him close to the throne room and in favor with the king.
20 Esther had not yet shewed her kindred nor her people; as Mordecai had charged her: for Esther did the commandment of Mordecai, like as when she was brought up with him.
The king has not been introduced to her relatives.
21 In those days, while Mordecai sat in the king’s gate, two of the king’s chamberlains, Bigthan and Teresh, of those which kept the door, were wroth, and sought to lay hand on the king Ahasuerus.
Two men are planning to assassinate the king.
22 And the thing was known to Mordecai, who told it unto Esther the queen; and Esther certified the king thereof in Mordecai’s name.
Esther tells the king of the plot upon his life and gives the credit to Mordecai.
23 And when inquisition was made of the matter, it was found out; therefore they were both hanged on a tree: and it was written in the book of the chronicles before the king.
This was a capital offence and therefore the death penalty was carried out.