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Bible Commentaries
Esther 2

Old & New Testament Restoration CommentaryRestoration Commentary

Verses 1-4

Est 2:1-4

Introduction

ESTHER BECOMES QUEEN INSTEAD OF VASHTI

This chapter takes us into the seraglio of Xerxes, an ancient Persian ruler, most certainly one of the vilest cesspools of immorality, selfishness, greed, hatred, wickedness, lust and shame that existed in the ancient pagan world.

In order to protect and preserve the chosen people, God worked His will in the lives of the evil men who controlled and directed the affairs related in this chapter. It is somewhat distressing to this writer that there is almost no word of condemnation in the commentaries we have consulted regarding this festering Satanic ulcer on the body of the human race, called Shushan the palace. Yes, we know that Solomon did it also, but it was still sinful, a rebellion against God that cried to high heaven for vengeance.

Esther 2:16 tells us that Esther became queen in Xerxes’ seventh year; and, as the great feast mentioned in the previous chapter was in his third year (Esther 1:3), we must understand a time lapse of some four years in between Esther 1 and Esther 2. During this period, Xerxes fought the Grecian war.

Although the military expedition against Greece was principally concluded in the years 481-479 B.C., the greater portion of the entire four-year gap between the punishment of Vashti and the coronation of Esther were consumed by Xerxes’ preparations for the campaign, and by his efforts to cover some of his losses afterward.

That Grecian campaign was an unqualified disaster for Xerxes: (1) At Thermopylae, a handful of Spartans under Leonidas checked and delayed his mighty army; and (2) later that same year Xerxes’ navy of 1,400 ships was unable to overcome 380 ships of the Greeks in the Battle of Salamis. (3) In 479 B.C., at Plataea, "The bulk of the Persian army was destroyed. Meanwhile, the Greek fleet commanded by the king of Sparta drove the Persian fleet to the Asian mainland at Mycale. Leotychidas, the Spartan king, landed his sailors and marines farther up the coast, destroyed the Persian fleet and inflicted heavy casualties on a supporting army. The Ionians and the Aeolians at once rose in revolt, thus ending the Persian invasion of Greece in the final disaster for Persia."

After Xerxes’ return to Shushan, Herodotus tells us that he consoled himself over his shameful defeats by sensual indulgences with his harem.

Esther 2:1-4

THE SEARCH FOR A REPLACEMENT FOR VASHTI

"After these things, when the wrath of king Ahashuerus was pacified, 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, unto the house of the women, unto the custody of Hegai the king’s chamberlain, keeper of the women; and let their things for purification be given them; and let the maiden that pleases the king be queen instead of Vashti."

"After these things ... he remembered Vashti." This means after the Grecian campaign, and after Xerxes had begun to seek a more normal pattern of living. Anderson viewed the last clause here as, "A subtle suggestion that the king desired to reinstate Vashti, but he had signed an irrevocable decree against her." This is probably true, because his son, and heir, Artaxerxes I, born during the Grecian campaign, or just prior to it, was now, no doubt a charming child of three or four years of age. The king found himself a victim of his own drunken and extravagant decree against Vashti; but there was nothing he could do about it.

Of course, he might have tried to reinstate Vashti, but the king’s advisors, in such a development, might easily have fallen under the severe wrath and punishment inflicted upon them by a restored Vashti; therefore, they proposed this shameful rape of all the pretty girls in Persia as a prerequisite for the choice of Vashti’s successor. Evil beast that he was, Xerxes liked the idea, "and the king did so"!

"And the king did so" (Esther 2:4). This means that they searched throughout the vast domain of the Persian empire, and brought "all the fair young virgins to Shushan" (Esther 2:3). "What unspeakable horror this must have caused among all the beautiful young women of Persia! They were forcibly taken from their homes, turned over to a eunuch in the house of the women, and secluded for life among the wretched company of the king’s concubines." The king would gratify his lust upon these girls, one each night, as they came to his bed. And then what happened? They were returned to the harem, henceforth and forever mere chattels, his property, having no more rights than one of the king’s dogs.

Anderson wrote that, "Here the author ignored the Persian custom that stipulated that the king could marry only a Persian," insinuating that this account is founded, not on fact, but upon legend and folklore, but such opinions are in error, reflecting only anti-Biblical bias. Yes, Herodotus states that there was such a custom, but it was not the sacred author of Esther who ignored it - it was the wicked Xerxes and his evil advisers. Xerxes’ own father had married a foreigner; and any notion that Xerxes would have honored such a custom is ridiculous.

Before leaving this paragraph, it should be noted that the young women thus conscripted as subjects of the king’s lust had no choice whatever in the matter. They were ordered into the king’s harem, from which they would never be able to escape.

E.M. Zerr:

Esther 2:1. He remembered Vashti. This could not refer merely to an act of the memory, for the king would not forget his wife in that sense. And what she had done should be connected in thought with the other italicized words. Moffatt’s translation which helps to clarify this place is as follows: "He recalled what Vashti had done and the edict against her." I will also quote Josephus on this incident: "But the king having been fond of her, he did not well bear a separation, and yet by the law he could not admit of a reconciliation, so he was under trouble, as not having it in his power to do what he desired to do." The thing that distressed the king most was the thought that his fleshly desires had been cut oft from gratification by his rash edict. This conclusion is supported by what follows in the text immediately after the statement about his remembering her. The servants made their suggestion about the virgins in direct connection with, and as a solution for, the distress of the king. This proves the statement that his worry was over his disappointment at not being able to expect the gratifica-tion of his desires of the flesh.

Esther 2:2. We all would know that a purely sentimental love for his wife would not be satisfied by merely finding the virgins. But the servants knew the character of the king, and concluded that he would be appeased by the prospect of lustful indulgence. The virgins of the realm were to be sacrificed to his desires.,

Esther 2:3. All the fair young virgins were to be gathered, not just some one to take the place of Vashti. The purpose of getting so many will appear soon. The word fair is from an original that means "a shapely and beautiful form of body." These girls were to be collected, as so many cattle, by officers appointed and authorized to take possession of them and take them from their homes. They were then to be turned over to Hege, spelled also Hegai. He is called a chamberlain in the text, but the word means a eunuch, supposed to be just the right kind of person to be entrusted with a group of young virgins being kept for the use of the king. They were to be taken to the capital city where the palace was located and placed in the house of the women, which was about the same as a harem. Things for purification will be noticed in Esther 2:12.

Esther 2:4. Pleaseth the king. The first word is formed from two Hebrew originals, the first of which means "beautiful," and the second means "eye." So the phrase means that the girl having a body that looked beautiful to the eye of the king was to be put in the place of Vashti. The proposition was favorable to Artaxerxes (secular name for Ahasuerus), and he ordered it to be carried out. It will not be forgotten that God had a hand in this transaction as a whole, whose purpose will be seen near the close of this book. When the Lord has something special to be accomplished that requires the services of a not too virtuous man, he always finds the man already having the qualifications and therefore does not induce any man to become something he had not been before. But all these considerations do not justify the motives such a man discloses. I believe it will be well to make further reference to Josephus, and get his picture of this lustful king, and his shameful treatment of the girls: "And when the eunuch thought the virgins had been sufficiently purified, in the forementioned manner, and were now fit to go to the king’s bed, he sent one to be with the king every day. So when he had accompanied with her [had intimate relations], he sent her back to the eunuch." The quotations in this and the first paragraph of this chapter are from Josephus, Antiquities, Book II, Chapter 6, Section 2.

Verses 1-23

Est 2

Esther Chapter 2

Esther 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." The indication, here, is that he was sorry he had listened to his advisors and put Vashti away. None of this would have happened, had he not been drinking. After he settled down and thought about what had happened, he had to realize that this was his fault, and not hers. He cannot change her punishment, however, because he had made it a law.

Esther 2:2 "Then said the king’s servants that ministered unto him, Let there be fair young virgins sought for the king:"

Esther 2:3 "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]:" The king’s servants had discovered the sadness of the king at the loss of his queen. In an oriental palace, there are separate apartments for the women away from the men. We saw that, in the Palace of king David. These young, beautiful virgins were to be gathered from the many provinces that Xerxes ruled. They would be brought to the women’s quarters at the palace, and prepared to meet the king. Most of these young women would not have fine clothes to wear, so they would be provided for them to wear before the king. Even though they were virgins, they would be purified in some way. This took approximately a year for the purification. This, possibly, meant that they were bathed and clothed in the garments provided. It, also, meant they were perfumed and rubbed with ointment in the purification.

Esther 2:4 "And let the maiden which pleaseth the king be queen instead of Vashti. And the thing pleased the king; and he did so." The king was lonesome, and by his own edict he could not get Vashti back, so he agreed to the suggestion. He sent for the maidens to be brought. In the next few verses, we can see that the hand of the LORD was in all that had happened.

Esther 2:5 "[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;" During the Babylonian captivity, Mordecai had been taken to Shushan. This is the first mention of a Jew in this book. We read of a Mordecai in Ezra and in Nehemiah, It is, probably, not the same person. The Mordecai, here, was a Benjamite.

Esther 2:6 "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." There were a number of captivities that took place. This one seems to have been fairly early on. This was, probably, the second captivity, because of the capture of Jeconiah. Nebuchadnezzar was king of Babylon at the time.

Esther 2:7 "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." Hadassah is another name for Esther. It appears, that her mother and father were dead, and Mordecai had raised her. It was Mordecai that brought Esther up to be shown to the king for a possible wife. She was a virgin, and she was very beautiful.

Esther 2:8 "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 seems, that many beautiful maidens from throughout the provinces were brought to the women’s apartments to be prepared to be viewed by the king. Hegai was the eunuch that was in charge of the women, who would be viewed by the king.

Esther 2:9 “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.” It seems, that when Hegai saw Esther, he was pleased with her, and he wanted every advantage shown her. He assigned 7 maidservants to her and gave her the nicest of the women’s apartments. He saw that all of her needs were met, while she was waiting. We may safely assume that the LORD caused the king to be pleased with Esther.

Esther 2:10 "Esther had not shewed her people nor her kindred: for Mordecai had charged her that she should not shew [it]." This just means that she did not reveal to the king that she was a Hebrew. Mordecai did not even allow her to tell the king that he had raised her.

Esther 2:11 "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 was very interested in Esther, since she was like a daughter to him. He was allowed to walk before the court of the women, because he had been made a eunuch to serve the king.

Esther 2:12 "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;)" Some of them had, probably, been out in the sun, and rough skin would not be becoming to a queen. After the twelve months in the apartments of the women, they would appear before the king to be selected. This oil of myrrh was perfume that was generally for the wedding bed. This was something to make her smell nice. During this time, she would have her skin rubbed with oil, so she would be soft to touch. She was groomed to appear as a queen. During this time, she was, probably, taught the duties of the queen as well.

Esther 2:13 "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." This is just saying, that every one of these maidens, individually, were given whatever clothes and ornaments they wanted to wear.

Esther 2:14 "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 second house was for the king’s concubines. It appears, that each of them stayed the night with the king and the next morning was carried to the house for his concubines. Shaashgaz was, also, a eunuch who took care of the king’s concubines. They would never go again to the king, unless he called for them. If he called for one, she would be called by name, because he was pleased with her.

Esther 2:15 "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." Esther’s father was Mordecai’s uncle. It seemed, each of these maidens went to see the king, and spent the night with him. When Esther’s turn came, it was interesting that she did not demand any ornaments, or extra clothes. She just took what Hegai, the king’s chamberlain gave her. They all loved her, because this proved she was not greedy, or demanding.

Esther 2:16 "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." The month Tebeth is, probably, speaking of the month of January on our calendar. Four years had passed since Vashti had been put away for disobeying the king. Esther would be accepted, or rejected, of the king on this night.

Esther 2:17 "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 king loved Esther above all the other women. She was his choice of all the beautiful virgins of the provinces. He loved her so much, that he chose her to be his queen. He crowned her queen immediately.

Esther 2:18 "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." All joyful occasions were accompanied by a feast. The king announced this feast to celebrate Esther’s becoming queen. He sent gifts and released the provinces from taxes and fighting in war, for a time to celebrate his queen.

Esther 2:19 "And when the virgins were gathered together the second time, then Mordecai sat in the king’s gate." These had to be the maidens that had been chosen from the provinces. Mordecai sitting in the king’s gate, showed that he was one of the king’s servants.

Esther 2:20 "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." Esther showed great respect to Mordecai, as she would a father. She had not told the king, or anyone else, that she was a Hebrew, or that she was raised by Mordecai. Mordecai thought it best that she not tell, and she obeyed his wishes.

Esther 2:21 "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." These two men were highly regarded by the king. They were eunuchs that guarded the door to his sleeping chamber. They would have had an advantage, if they decided to kill the king, because they were trusted and could surprise him in his sleep.

Esther 2:22 "And the thing was known to Mordecai, who told [it] unto Esther the queen; and Esther certified the king [thereof] in Mordecai’s name." Somehow Mordecai got word to Esther of their plan to kill the king. Esther told the king of their plot against his life. She, also, told him that it was Mordecai that sent the warning to him. She still did not reveal that she was related to Mordecai.

Esther 2:23 "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." The king had this checked out, and found it to be true. He had them both hung in punishment. This is a matter of historical record.

Esther 2 Questions

1. When the king got over his anger, he remembered ________.

2. None of this would have happened, had he not been ___________.

3. What did he realize about the whole thing, after he thought about it?

4. Why could he not change her punishment?

5. What did the king’s servants say to him?

6. The apartments of the women were ___________ from the men’s.

7. How long would they take for purification?

8. The maiden that pleased the king shall be _________.

9. Who was the Jew that was in the palace?

10. What tribe was he from?

11. Who had taken him captive?

12. What was another name for Esther?

13. What relation was she to Mordecai?

14. Why did Mordecai raise her?

15. Where was Esther brought?

16. Who was Hegai?

17. What special favor did the king show Esther, even before she became his queen?

18. What does Esther 2:10 mean?

19. How did Mordecai check on Esther?

20. What was given to the maidens after the 12 months of grooming?

21. What was the second house they were taken to, after being with the king?

22. Who was Esther’s father?

23. How did Esther find favour with those who had kept her, before she went to the king?

24. When was she taken to the king?

25. The king loved Esther _________ all the other women.

26. Esther was __________ ________ by the king.

27. What was the name of the feast the king gave?

28. Esther treated Mordecai as a __________.

29. Who plotted to kill the king?

30. How was their plan stopped?

31. What happened to these two men?

Verses 5-7

Est 2:5-7

Esther 2:5-7

THE INTRODUCTION OF MORDECAI AND ESTHER

"There was a certain Jew in Shushan the palace 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 captives that 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 maiden was fair and beautiful; and when her father and mother were dead, Mordecai took her for his own daughter."

"Mordecai" (Esther 2:5). This name is said to be derived from the pagan god Marduk, meaning "dedicated to Mars."

"Carried away from Jerusalem (by) Nebuchadnezzar" (Esther 2:6). That deportation of Jews was more than a century prior to the events of this chapter; and the meaning appears to be that Mordecai’s parents or grandparents were the ones carried away. Mordecai’s name suggests that he was born in Babylon, although the Babylonians generally changed the names of people whom they employed, as in the case of Daniel and others.

These three verses serve the purpose of introducing the persons around whom the rest of the narrative is woven.

E.M. Zerr:

Esther 2:5. Tribal relations were regarded very highly in ancient times, hence the pains taken in this and many other instances to trace them out.

Esther 2:6. The reader has previously learned that the Babylonian captivity was accomplished in 3 divisions or sections. That was while studying 2 Kings 24, 25. The 2nd one was in the days of Jeconiah, otherwise spelled Jehoiachin. At that time Mordecai was taken to Babylon, together with "all the princes, and all the mighty men of valor" (2 Kings 25:14). Ezekiel was another one of these mighty men.

Esther 2:7. Brought up means he nourished or reared the girl who was his cousin, her parents having died when she was young. Of course she would be in the same situation with Mordecai as to the captivity, hence we find her in Persia with him. Fair and beautiful. The first is from two originals, the one meaning "beautiful" and the other meaning, "outline, i. e. figure or appearance."--Strong. The last of the italicized words is practically the same in meaning as the first, and was used by the writer evidently for emphasis. The phrase means to describe a girl with a beautiful form, one to please the eye of a man like the king. We are not to suppose that Esther had no other qualities than those of her body. The story will show her to have been a modest, sweet, truthful, respectful girl, and genuinely unselfish. But those were not the traits that caused her to be chosen by the officer, for he did not know about them, neither did the king upon his first relations with her.

Verses 8-11

Est 2:8-11

Esther 2:8-11

ESTHER TAKEN INTO THE HOUSE OF THE KING’S WOMEN

"So it came to pass when the king’s commandment and his decree was heard, and when many maidens were gathered unto Shushan the palace, to the custody of Hegai, that Esther was taken into 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 the things for her purification, with her portions, and the seven maidens who were meet to be given her out of the king’s house: and he removed her and her maidens to the best place of the house of the women. And Esther had not made known her people nor her kindred; for Mordecai and charged her that she should not make it known. And Mordecai walked every day before the court of the women’s house, to know how Esther did, and what would become of her."

The key development here was Hegai’s partiality to Esther. The words speedily and the best place (Esther 2:9) show that Hegai probably shortened the one year stay in the house of women for Esther and that he moved her as quickly as possible into the rotation for the king’s bed.

E.M. Zerr:

Esther 2:8. To the "outside world" it would seem as a matter-of-course event that Esther would be included in this group, since she possessed all of the general characteristics of body that had been stipulated. God’s purpose in all this story was to get her into the intimacy of the king, and it was done by the drag-net method employed. Had that plan not been used, then some special one would have been necessary. But that would have roused the suspicions of the king and all the others concerned, and the intentions of the Lord would have been hindered if not prevented.

Esther 2:9. Maiden pleased him means she pleased Hegai (Hege). Of course it means she pleased him from the standpoint of the kind of girl that would likely please the king. Gave her things for purification. The officers sent out through the empire were to make a collection of all the eligible girls. That was a general and extensive work. Had they brought in someone who did not "pass inspection" under the eye of Hege, she would have been deferred at least for further examination. Obtained kindness means she was favored by him, by being given the necessary things for the season of purification (Esther 2:12). Such things as belonged to her is merely a fuller statement than the one just before it. In other words, the eunuch was so well satisfied that Esther would rank high in the eyes of the king that he showed her great favor. He preferred her by giving her a special apartment in the house of the women. Maidens associated with women of distinction was a common practice in Biblical times. (Genesis 16:1; Genesis 29:24; Genesis 29:29; Exodus 2:5; 2 Kings 5:2; Proverbs 31:15.) Verse 10. Esther did not know any reason for not telling her relatives about her situation. She was merely doing what her cousin, who was older than she and who was her guardian, had told her to do. Neither do we know what Mordecai had in mind, unless he was being influenced by a Higher Power. The whole plan needed to be carried out wisely or it might fail.

Esther 2:11. Mordecai had a parent-like interest in Esther, having cared for her from her young childhood. There could have been nothing but the most affectionate nearness between them. He knew of the edict of the king, followed by the proposition of the servants. He also was aware that his precious cousin, who was also his ward, had been taken into the house of women, as a possible though involuntary candidate for the king’s bed. If she were sent out of this house on that mission, what might be her lot after he is through with her. No wonder, then, that Mordecai walked every day before the court of the women.

Verses 12-15

Est 2:12-15

Esther 2:12-15

ESTHER’S TURN TO GO IN TO THE KING

"Now when the turn of every maiden was come to go into king Ashuerus, after it had been done to her according to the law for the women twelve months (for so were the days of their purifications accomplished, to wit, six months with oil of myrrh, and six months with sweet odors and with the things for the purifying of women), then in this wise came the 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 who kept the concubines: she came in unto the king no more, except the king delighted in her, and 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 Hagai the king’s chamberlain, the keeper of the women, appointed. And Esther obtained favor in the sight of all them that looked upon her."

"In the evening she went; and on the morrow she returned" (Esther 2:14). Where are there any sadder words than these? One frightful night in the bed with Ahashuerus, and the next morning relegated to the status of a concubine, never more to see him, unless called by name; and the odds are that he did not even remember the names of half of them. The text states that there were many of these women.

E.M. Zerr:

Esther 2:12. There was nothing supernatural in this purification process. It was much in line with modern practices with perfumes and various kinds of "make-up" and application of cosmetics. The main difference was in the greater length of time used and the attention to formality observed. These girls were being prepared to spend a night with the king of Persia. It was possible for any given one of them to be chosen to succeed the deposed Vashti who had been exiled from the throne and bed of the king. Since the choice was to be made on the basis of bodily attraction, it was thought necessary to make every effort to please. By a liberal use of perfumes and other cosmetics the aroma of the body would gratify the olfactory sense of the king, the form of her body would please his eye, and both qualities would intensify the pleasure of another sense, that of touch or feeling. Every girl was required to spend one year in this preparation of her body before being called upon to go to the king.

Esther 2:13. The girls were to await their turns for going in to the king’s private apartment. There is no definite information as to the things a girl desired to be given her to take into the bedroom of the king. Doubtless it referred to some of the little niceties that any girl might think would add to her personal charm.

Esther 2:14. Each girl spent a night with the king. In the morning she did not return to the house of the women from where she came, for her relation to the king had been changed. Having had intimate relations with him she was no longer a virgin and hence could not properly rejoin the other girls. But she was sent into the custody of a different eunuch, the one who kept the concubines. That word did not mean what it does today. The only practical difference between that and a wife was in regard to property rights. In those ancient times when plurality of wives was tolerated even among the Jews, there was no moral objection against a concubine. A significant thought here is that the girl was classed among the concubines after having intimate relations with the king. That was the only basis of marriage given by the Lord in the beginning. See Genesis 2:24; Matthew 19:5. After this one night’s experience the girl was classed as a concubine only, and did not again come into the king’s presence unless he called for her. That would mean that her night’s association with him would not entitle her to any of the legal rights of property or royal dignity.

Esther 2:15. Esther left it to the judgment of the eunuch as to what things to take with her to the king’s apartment. She fared as well as the ones who may have made special requests along that line, in the eyes of the observers. In fact, a womanly spirit and modest behaviour are the best ornaments a woman can have. (1 Peter 3:4.)

Verses 16-18

Est 2:16-18

Esther 2:16-18

ESTHER BECOMES QUEEN OF PERSIA

"So Esther was taken unto king Ahashuerus 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 favor and kindness 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 girls, according to the bounty of the king."

Only Almighty God could have brought to pass such a thing as this. "This humble Jewish maiden, an orphan, dependent for her living upon the charity of her cousin Mordecai - this girl became the first woman in all Persia, the wife of the most powerful living monarch on earth, the queen of an empire comprised of more than half the world of that time."

It was always thus when God in his infinite wisdom laid his plans to preserve the chosen people from destruction. He sent Joseph to be seated next to the throne of Egypt; he brought up Moses in the palace of Pharaoh and made him an heir to the throne; in the land of their captivity, he made Daniel the third ruler in the kingdom; and now, when Satan would again make a move to destroy Israel, God placed Esther in a strategic position to prevent it; and it happened again with both Ezra and Nehemiah who had earned and received the respect of Artaxerxes; nor can we rule out the very great probability that it was the influence of Esther that, in part at least, had resulted in the honors that came to them.

"He made a release to the provinces" (Esther 2:18). It is not known exactly what this was, but it may have been merely a holiday.

E.M. Zerr:

Esther 2:16. Esther was in Persia, but the writer used the Jewish calendar. She was taken into the king’s house in the 10th month, named Tebeth. Ahasuerus had been reigning 7 years, and hence the selection of a woman to take the place of the deposed Vashti was in the same year that Ezra began his work (Ezra 7:17).

Esther 2:17. Loved is from AHAB and Strong defines it, "a primitive root; to have affection for (sexually or otherwise)." All of the connecting circumstances show that the king’s love for Esther included both parts of the definition of the word. Her form of body and other phyiscal qualities would respond to his sexual demands, and her sweetness of spirit would certainly arouse in him the deepest of affection. And so a girl of exquisite attractions in body and temperament was the agency used by the Lord to bring about the fulfillment of a great prediction. The following parts of the story will show that the king was completely charmed by his love for this maiden. He at once placed her in the honored position of queen of the realm and the sole object of his love. Such a situation was perfectly adapted to the great scheme in the mind of God, and proves the supreme wisdom in all of his performances.

Esther 2:18. The king was so happy over the finding of a companion for him in his life’s relations that he made a great feast in her honor and named it for her. Release means rest, and the king granted a general holiday throughout the provinces In respect for this new wife. It was a custom to make gifts to friends on occasions of joy and gratitude. (Nehemiah 8:10.) According to the state means the gifts were proportionate to the state ("means") of the king.

Verses 19-23

Est 2:19-23

Esther 2:19-23

MORDECAI SAVES THE KING FROM ASSASSINATION

"And when the virgins were gathered together the second time, then Mordecai was sitting in the king’s gate. Esther had not yet made known 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 was sitting in the king’s gate, two of the kinifs chamberlains, Bigthan and Teresh, of those that kept the threshold, were wroth, and sought to lay hands on the king Ahashuerus. And the thing became known to Mordecai, who showed it unto Esther the queen; and Esther told the king thereof in Mordecai’s name. And when inquisition was made of the matter, and it was found to be so, they were both hanged on a tree: and it was written in the book of the chronicles before the king."

"And when the virgins were gathered together the second time" (Esther 2:19). This indicates the time when Mordecai discovered that plot against Ahashuerus. There were two gatherings of virgins for the king, the one mentioned in Esther 2:8, and a second one after that. "It was at that second collection of virgins that Mordecai had the good fortune to save the king’s life."

It is incorrect to view any of these amazing events as mere coincidences. The hand of God is evident in every one of them. Esther’s obedience of Mordecai reflects the Fifth Commandment of the Decalogue; and Mordecai’s saving the life of the king reflected the Sixth Commandment. It would have been quite easy to agree with Bigthan and Teresh, for Ahashuerus certainly deserved to be murdered, a fate that he indeed suffered about thirteen years later. Who would have wanted to kill him? Any one of the fathers of those countless women the king had forced to leave their families might have killed the king if they had a chance.

Esther’s continuing to conceal her identity as a Jewess was vital to what happened. If Haman had known she was Jewish, he could never have decided to kill all the Jews. Her making the plot known in Mordecai,s name enrolled Mordecai’s name in the chronicles of the king; and then the king forgot all about it - all of these things were absolutely vital for God’s saving his people from the wrath of Haman; and not one of them was a mere coincidence. God was at work in history.

E.M. Zerr:

Esther 2:19-20. The second time refens to another collection of girls. Josephus says the number of damsels brought together finally amounted to 400. Mordecai evidently did not know just what was going on "inside," and all the while, he was sitting at the gate. He had charged Esther not to tell any of her people what was going on. The record states that she respected his requests as she always had from her childhood. What a wonderful character she must have been. And these circumstances did not put her in the light of disobedience to her husband, for the thing that Mordecai asked her to do had nothing to do with the king’s business.

Esther 2:21-22. In the plot of a great story there will be items dropped in the course of the narrative that may seem not to have any bearing on the main subject. Then later, as the writer begins to take up these "loose ends" it can be seen that they were even some vital parts of the story. Such will be found to be so with regard to this paragraph, so note it well. The apparently casual presence at this gate gave Mordecai an opportunity to overhear a conversation between two of the gatekeepers. They were plotting to do violence to the king. He wished to have it made known to the royal husband of his cousin. No one would believe him but Esther, so he told her and she told the king. Acting on the information, the king ordered inquiry to be made. The conspiracy was discovered and the men were hanged. As this was an important event it was recorded in the official chronicles of the realm. The matter was given no attention further at the time, but it will come up again.

Bibliographical Information
"Commentary on Esther 2". "Old & New Testament Restoration Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/onr/esther-2.html.
 
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