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Bible Commentaries
Esther 2

Brown's Commentary on Selected Book of the BibleBrown's Commentary

Verses 1-23

John Brown

Esther 2

The Beauty Contest


A. Last week we saw Queen Vashti loose everything for refusing to come to the party when King Xerxes requested her presence!

1. Not only did she loose her crown as Queen but she was never allowed to be in the presence of the King again!

a) Which we will see this morning, that the King lived to regret!

2. Also, at the suggestion of the King's 7 advisors, it became law for a woman to respect her husband!!

a) And we concluded our study by stating that it is also a spiritual law that a woman respect her husband, only in Christ, the husband is equally responsible to respect and love his wife!

B. This morning we continue in our study of Esther, with Chapter two!


A. Est_2:1 (NKJV) After these things, when the wrath of King Ahasuerus subsided, he remembered Vashti, what she had done, and what had been decreed against her.

1. First, let's take a look at the After these things phrase at the beginning of this verse.

a) Of course, After these things, refers to the events of the first Chapter.

b) But it also refers to the war against Greece that Xerxes was determined he could win!

(1) Remember his 6 month party to solicit military allegiance?

c) But King Xerxes lost the war!

(1) Secular history tells us that his opponent, the Greek soldier, was better trained.

(2) It seems that one Greek soldier was the equivalent of ten Persian soldiers.

(3) And although the Greeks were out numbered, the war was determined at the battle of Thermopylae where only a few men could get through a narrow passage.

(a) As a result, the Greek soldiers being stronger and better trained, gained the victory! Xerxes was defeated!!

d) He returned home dejected and in need of comforting, but Vashti was no longer his Queen!

(1) I'm sure the servants watched as he paced up and down the palace pondering the decision he had made.

(a) The law of the Medes and Persians could not be revoked, and if for some reason, the King would buckle under and re-instate Vashti, it would mean the heads of the seven advisors.

(b) The kings servants come up with a plan.

B. Est_2:2-4 (NKJV) Then the king's servants who attended him said: "Let beautiful young virgins be sought for the king;

3 "and let the king appoint officers in all the provinces of his kingdom, that they may gather all the beautiful young virgins to Shushan the citadel, into the women's quarters, under the custody of Hegai the king's eunuch, custodian of the women. And let beauty preparations be given [them]. :

4 "Then let the young woman who pleases the king be queen instead of Vashti." This thing pleased the king, and he did so.

1. Now, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out why this plan pleased the king!

a) It is estimated that there were hundreds of young girls rounded up for this "beauty contest!"

b) The most beautiful among them would become queen, and the others would become concubines in the kings harem!

(1) By the way, there is nothing here to indicate that the girls considered this anything but an honor!!

(a) It was a part of their culture, and an extreme priviledge to be chosen by the king!

C. Est_2:5-6 (NKJV) In Shushan the citadel there was a certain Jew whose name [was] Mordecai the son of Jair, the son of Shimei, the son of Kish, a Benjamite.

6 [Kish] had been carried away from Jerusalem with the captives who had been captured with Jeconiah king of Judah, whom Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon had carried away.

1. As you can see Mordecai was from the tribe of Benjamin, from the family of King Saul, he shouldn't have been in Shushan at all! He should have been in Jerusalem - his home!!

a) But, remember, when Cyrus gave the decree for Jews to return to their homeland only a few returned!

b) Mordecai was one of those whom had grown comfortable in Persia!

(1) Notice that his was a "political" job!

(a) He lived and worked in the "Citadel" or palace!

2. There is nothing wrong with a "political" job if it is in the will of the Lord!

a) Joseph had a political job in Egypt in the will of God.

b) Daniel had a political job in the court of Babylon but also in the will of God.

(1) Mordecai is not in the will of God because he was supposed to return to Jerusalem!

(2) We will however see God's permissive will and His providence in the life of Mordecai.

(a) Dr. J. Vernon McGee describes the providence of God like this: ".. it is how God coaches a man on second base. .. this man Mordecai is going to be brought `home', although he is out of the will of God, and although he is not looking to God for help."

D. Est_2:7 (NKJV) And [Mordecai] had brought up Hadassah, that [is], Esther, his uncle's daughter, for she had neither father nor mother. The young woman [was] lovely and beautiful. When her father and mother died, Mordecai took her as his own daughter.

1. When Babylon captured Jerusalem there were 3 deportations of Jews.

a) The first was that of the nobility and the upper-class.

(1) Daniel was among that first group.

b) The second deportation was of the middle-class and most likely Mordecai was amongst that group and he was very young!

c) After the last deportation, only the common an poorest of the land were left when Jerusalem was destroyed.

(1) It is speculated that Esther's parents may have been slain when Nebuchadnezzar took the city because thousands were killed!

2. Her Hebrew name Hadassah means "star", and scripture tells us that she certainly was beautiful.

3. On one hand you have to give cousin Mordecai credit for adopting her as his own daughter, but on the other, you have to wonder if what happens next is not somewhat selfishly motivated!

E. Est_2:8-9 (NKJV) So it was, when the king's command and decree were heard, and when many young women were gathered at Shushan the citadel, [under] the custody of Hegai, that Esther also was taken to the king's palace, into the care of Hegai the custodian of the women.

9 Now the young woman pleased him, and she obtained his favor; so he readily gave beauty preparations to her, besides her allowance. Then seven choice maidservants were provided for her from the king's palace, and he moved her and her maidservants to the best [place] in the house of the women.

1. Most likely, it was Mordecai that entered Esther in the "beauty contest" for queen!

a) He is disobeying the Lord because interracial marriages with unbelievers were forbidden!

b) Second, if Esther looses the competition, she will for a lifetime be the king's concubine!

2. Hegai, keeper of the women, takes a liking to her and provides everything she needs to make her even more beautiful!

a) We begin to see the hand of God even in awful circumstances!

F. Est_2:10-11 (NKJV) Esther had not revealed her people or family, for Mordecai had charged her not to reveal [it].

11 And every day Mordecai paced in front of the court of the women's quarters, to learn of Esther's welfare and what was happening to her.

1. Nebuchadnezzar hated the Jews!

a) He is long since gone but the anti-Semitism remains!

b) A new nation is in charge of these "captives" but the hatred is still there!

c) Cousin Mordecai knows that Esther's Jewish nationality could cost her the crown so they keep it hidden!

d) It is important to understand that God and being a Jew were inseparably linked!

(1) So to deny their nationality was to deny their God also!

2. Mordecai's events prove that he was out of the will of God

a) You see when we know that when we are in the will of God we can rest!

(1) Mordecai cannot rest! every day Mordecai paced in front of the court of the women's quarters, to learn of Esther's welfare and what was happening to her.

G. Est_2:12 (NKJV) Each young woman's turn came to go in to King Ahasuerus after she had completed twelve months' preparation, according to the regulations for the women, for thus were the days of their preparation apportioned: six months with oil of myrrh, and six months with perfumes and preparations for beautifying women.

1. Most of us men think it takes too long for our wives to get ready to go somewhere.

a) Look at how long it took these gals to "put their face on"!

(1) six months with oil of myrrh, and six months with perfumes and preparations (1 year in all!)

(2) And there were the best looking girls in the kingdom! "My girl friend was so ugly that she came in second in a beauty contest and she was the only contestant."

2. I think an interesting "aside" is this is a pagan nation and a tremendous emphasis is placed upon beauty!

a) It is interesting, the further we get away from the Lord as a nation or as individuals, the greater emphasis we put on the externals instead of "the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible [beauty] of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God." 1Pe_3:4

H. Est_2:13 (NKJV) Thus [prepared], [each] young woman went to the king, and she was given whatever she desired to take with her from the women's quarters to the king's palace.

Est_2:14 In the evening she went, and in the morning she returned to the second house of the women, to the custody of Shaashgaz, the king's eunuch who kept the concubines. She would not go in to the king again unless the king delighted in her and called for her by name.

1. Each young maid had use of all the royal clothing and could dress to the "nines" if she wanted to.

I. Est_2:15 (NKJV) Now when the turn came for Esther the daughter of Abihail the uncle of Mordecai, who had taken her as his daughter, to go in to the king, she requested nothing but what Hegai the king's eunuch, the custodian of the women, advised. And Esther obtained favor in the sight of all who saw her.

1. Hegai knew that Esther was beautiful just as she was, and Esther trusted him to make the necessary choices as she went before the king.

a) She was a hit! Everybody loved her!

(1) Except for possibly the other young ladies!

J. Est_2:16-17 (NKJV) So Esther was taken to King Ahasuerus, into his royal palace, in the tenth month, which [is] the month of Tebeth, in the seventh year of his reign.

17 The king loved Esther more than all the [other] women, and she obtained grace and favor in his sight more than all the virgins; so he set the royal crown upon her head and made her queen instead of Vashti.

1. It appears that when the king saw Esther, his search was over!

a) This "contest" for queen took place in December 479 or January 478 BC.

b) And Esther was made queen!

(1) Ladies how would you like to be the queen and know that hundreds of your husbands "mistresses" hated you for being queen?

(2) If you are looking for a good study on love and romance, you will not find it in the book of Esther.

(a) You would do well to take a look at the book of Ruth!

(3) This is an old pagan king married to a young beautiful girl.

(a) He has absolutely no idea what real love in the Lord means!

(4) Yet even in the midst of all this paganism, we will see the hand of God!

K. Est_2:18-19 (NKJV) Then the king made a great feast, the Feast of Esther, for all his officials and servants; and he proclaimed a holiday in the provinces and gave gifts according to the generosity of a king.

19 When virgins were gathered together a second time, Mordecai sat within the king's gate.

1. Mordecai has gone from a job to a "position."

a) Sitting at the kin's gate means that he was a judge for the King's matters!

2. This is nepotism at its finest!

a) Ester is queen, cousin Mordecai is now a judge!

b) Politics haven't changed much in 2500 years!

(1) Jam_2:2-4 (NKJV) For if there should come into your assembly a man with gold rings, in fine apparel, and there should also come in a poor man in filthy clothes,

3 and you pay attention to the one wearing the fine clothes and say to him, "You sit here in a good place," and say to the poor man, "You stand there," or, "Sit here at my footstool,"

4 have you not shown partiality among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts?

L. Est_2:20 (NKJV) [Now] Esther had not revealed her family and her people, just as Mordecai had charged her, for Esther obeyed the command of Mordecai as when she was brought up by him.

1. Esther still has not revealed that she is Jewish to the King or anyone else!

2. Notice that although she is married to the king she is still taking orders for Mordecai!

a) More evidence that this is an unholy marriage!

(1) Gen_2:23 (NKJV) And Adam said: "This [is] now bone of my bones And flesh of my flesh; She shall be called Woman, Because she was taken out of Man."

Gen_2:24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.

(2) Many marriages today are unsuccessful because either husband or wife is taking orders from someone else in the family instead of listening to their spouse!

III. And we will close with the last 3 verses in Chapter 2

A. Est_2:21-23 (NKJV) In those days, while Mordecai sat within the king's gate, two of the king's eunuchs, Bigthan and Teresh, doorkeepers, became furious and sought to lay hands on King Ahasuerus.

22 So the matter became known to Mordecai, who told Queen Esther, and Esther informed the king in Mordecai's name.

23 And when an inquiry was made into the matter, it was confirmed, and both were hanged on a gallows; and it was written in the book of the chronicles in the presence of the king.

1. This event puts Mordecai "over the top" with the king!

2. And we will see how the Lord uses it to protect His people later!

Bibliographical Information
Brown, John. "Commentary on Esther 2". Brown's Commentary on Selected Books of the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jbs/esther-2.html.
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