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ESTHER CHOSEN AS QUEEN
We read nothing more as to Vashti, whether she was simply banished from the king's court or killed. But it was four years before the king married a queen to take Vashti's place (cf. ch. 1:3 and ch. 2:16). For this marriage there was much preparation. The king's servants advised the king to appoint officers throughout all his kingdom to pick out beautiful virgins and send them to Shushan, to be under the custody of Hegai, the king's eunuch, who would supervise their being provided with every artificial means of enhancing their beauty (vv. 2-3). In due time the king would interview these women individually and decide which of them he wanted (v. 4). The king was glad to put this plan into action.
Now we are introduced to a certain Jew, Mordecai, who lived in the city of Shushan.We may wonder why, if he loved his nation, he had not returned to Jerusalem when the Persian king had given his permission for any Jews to return.But evidently there was a very large number of Jews who preferred to remain in Persia.Mordecai's grandfather had been carried captive by the Babylonians, but since that was over 70 years previously, Mordecai was no doubt born in Persia, as were the great majority of Jews who lived during that captivity.
Mordecai had brought up his cousin Hadasseh, or Esther, since she was an orphan. Since neither of her parents were living, it was not hard to conceal the fact that she was Jewish, though she had been adopted by Mordecai, a Jew.If people generally were aware of the fact that she was Jewish, there would have been strong objection to her being allowed to be an applicant for the the place of Queen in Persia. We are told that the young woman was "lovely and beautiful" (v. 7).
When the king's decree became known, many young women gathered at the castle, Esther being among them, and she was one chosen to be taken to the king's palace in care of Hegai, the custodian of the women. Hegai was pleased with her, so that he provided everything necessary for the purpose of enhancing her beauty, giving her also seven maidens who would help her prepare for an audience with the king.In fact, Hegai was so impressed with her that he gave her the best place in the house of the women (v. 9).
At the advice of Mordecai, Esther had not revealed her nationality (v. 10). Some have thought this was deception, but without taking sides in this matter, we know that God used the whole circumstance to work for great blessing to the Jews, in spite of not allowing His name to be identified with all that was done. In fact, we may rightly question whether a Jewish woman should think of being married to a Persian, whether king or not, and whether Mordecai should encourage such a union. But the Jews were in such a state that they had virtually forgotten what was becoming to Jewish character.Mordecai walked every day before the court of the women's quarters, anxious to hear any news of Esther's progress (v. 11). He was not content that the Jews should be despised in this foreign land, but had aspirations for his adopted daughter, who might be a means by which the Jews would receive more honor. Certainly this is not to be the Christian attitude, and we cannot say that God ordered Mordecai to engage in this project, for the honor of God was not Mordecai's object, but the blessing of the Jews.On the other hand, God was concerned about the Jews too, though He could not associate His name with them at the time.
All of the women applicants were given 12 months of preparation! (v. 12).Thus, the unbelieving world thinks it can improve on the beauty of those whom God has created, by various artificial means. Very likely the king would have been just as impressed with Esther if there had not been this long delay, for Hegai at the beginning gave her the best place among the women.
Each young woman in turn was interviewed by the king as though they were applying for employment.They were given anything they desired to take with them, whether make up, perfumes, delicate clothing, flowers or anything they might consider helpful in appealing to the king (v. 13).To a believer, what are all these surface things compared to the moral and spiritual beauty he sees in a prospective wife? Compare 1 Peter 3:4.
What was involved in the interview we are not told, except that each woman went for this in the evening and returned in the morning to the custody of Shaashgaz, a eunuch who was in charge of the king's concubines (v. 14). We might ask, where did she sleep? -- but we have no answer.
When Esther's turn came, she asked for nothing extra, very likely because her faith was in God, however weak that faith may have been (v. 15). Another note is added here, that all who saw her were favorable toward her. She was taken to the king in the tenth month of the seventh year of the king's reign, four years after Vashti was deposed (v. 16).
Though the king had a large number of women to choose from, he loved Esther more than any of the others (v. 17), so he set the royal crown on her head.This was a plain step in the working of God behind the scenes on behalf of the Jews. The king made a great feast for Esther, inviting all his officials and servants, proclaiming a holiday on this occasion (v. 18).
MORDECAI'S WARNING TO THE KING
We read that "Mordecai sat within the king's gate." Apparently this was allowed to any citizen and Mordecai took advantage of it so as to be as near to Esther as he could, though Esther had not revealed her nationality, in obedience to Mordecai's instructions to her (vv. 19-20).It seems strange that the king had not inquired into Esther's background, but oftentimes it is clearly the case that "truth is stranger than fiction." Also these circumstances are a part of God's working behind the scenes.
While Mordecai was sitting in the gate, a place of discussion of many matters, specially concerning the kingdom, he learned that two of the king's servants who were doorkeepers were embittered against the king and plotted his overthrow (v. 21).He was able to tell this to Esther, who informed the king in Mordecai's name (v. 22).The king had this matter investigated, and when the warning of Mordecai was confirmed, the two conspirators were hanged, and the incident was recorded in the book of the chronicles of the king of Persia.
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Grant, L. M. "Commentary on Esther 2". L.M. Grant's Commentary on the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 11 / Ordinary 16