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. Then said the king’s servants that ministered unto him, Let there be fair young virgins sought for the king: 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: And let the maiden which pleaseth the king be queen instead of Vashti. And the thing pleased the king; and he did so.
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; 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. 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.
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. 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.
Esther had not shewed her people nor her kindred: for Mordecai had charged her that she should not shew it.
And Mordecai walked every day before the court of the women’s house, to know how Esther did, and what should become of her.
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;) 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. 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.
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.
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. 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. 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.
And when the virgins were gathered together the second time, then Mordecai sat in the king’s gate. 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.
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 hands on the king Ahasuerus. And the thing was known to Mordecai, who told it unto Esther the queen; and Esther certified the king thereof in Mordecai’s name. 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 chapter could be likened to a fairy tale come true for Esther, as this orphan girl from an obscure part of the kingdom is taken under the wing of the King’s Chamberlain, given the choicest things from the “house of women” and before long, desired by the King to become his Queen.
Thinking back though from the previous chapter, how Vashti was vanquished from the King’s sight, and most likely kept comfortable though for the rest of her life in the haram, I can’t imagine the life of those kept women. Most of them likely only had one time in the presence of the King, before being relegated to the haram, back down the totem pole to make room for new and younger ladies. Never to have a husband, never to have and raise a family of their own. Most likely pampered or at least kept well enough, but living in a prison still.
Esther was destined to avoid that it seems, and this chapter also seems like a chapter of “coincidences” although people who believe in an omniscient, omnipresent and sovereign God know there is no such things as coincidences.
During her life, and Mordecai’s raising her, she must have wondered at the turn of events which brought her into the King’s servants’ good graces, and then desired by the king himself. As pointed out in the lead up to this book, the fact is, God is not mentioned at all in the Book of Esther, and yet those who recognize His hand in things can see His presence or at least His working in her life, and of those around her.
Mordecai had ordered her not to let it be known she was Jewish. Why? Jews were proud people, even in captivity. They still observed many of their traditions, if not being obedient to God. And they still longed for, and remembered their history and roots, and especially their City~ Jerusalem. So its interesting that Mordecai would forbid her to share her Jewish roots with anyone. And yet, we will see that (coincidentally?) it’s specifically her Jewishness which by way of danger ends up saving her people. She finally lets her nationality be known at such a time as this… when it’s imperative that she do so.
Is it coincidence that Mordecai just happens to overhear a couple of guards bad mouthing the king, and in their hot anger plot to kill him?
God puts us in different places for different reasons, and while they may be comfortable, if He has us there for a reason, we all have choices to make- stay comfortable, show complacency and sit back while disaster or enemies strike, or obey the Lord, get out of that comfort zone and do something. Mordecai didn’t do anything huge, or fight these two on his own. He does the only thing he can think of- tells Esther, to tell the King. He still did something. And while King Xerxes (sorry that’s the way I’ve always known him as) wasn’t the nicest guy around, and he most likely had little regard for Jews and other minority slaves of his kingdom, Mordecai was obedient in his recognizing Xerxes’ authority, and willing to risk warning him.
Is it coincidence that Esther just happens to be in the King’s good graces and made Queen? It would have been easy for her to just keep quiet and live her life in the comfort of the King’s household. But things take some major turns and twists in the next couple of chapters- and to me it shows that God doesn’t always want us comfortable. And we can see enough in hindsight, to realize that in our time, in our lives, He is constantly at work arranging things for our good and His glory.
I think that’s one of the things I love about this story. It reminds me that no matter what’s happening in life, He is there, aware and in control and that is a real comfort, especially when I’m moved farther away from my comfort zone. And that I can trust Him even though I don’t know the immediate future of my life, that some day I will see and be amazed…
Have a blessed Wednesday all!