About Jesus   Steve Sweetman

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Esther 2

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ch. 2:19-22

Esther Mae Queen (ch. 2:1 - 18)  


Note here in verse 1, as I've said earlier, "King Xerxes".  The KJV uses the name Ahasuerus", which is the Hebrew name for Xerxes.      


Verse 1 uses the word "later".  Non-Biblical history tells us that "later' most likely means at least three and a half to four years later, after Xerxes came home from losing a long drawn out battle.


What the king remembers after these years was that he deposed Queen Vashti as his queen. Now that he is back home and getting settled in, he wants a new queen to replace Vashti.   


In verse 2 the king's personal attendants suggests that they gather lots of beautiful girls, virgins, from all over the empire so the king can check them out and see who he would like for his queen.  Obviously, when I say "check out", that includes having sex with them.  It is said of Xerxes that he has 360 wives, many concubines, and even more virgins.


Note the term "eunuch" in verse 3. Eunuchs were either men who had become sterile for some reason, or, were important men in the king's palace.  Both definitions are used in the Bible.  The important men didn't necessarily have to be single or sterile.


Note also in verse 3 that a man named Hegai was "in charge of the women".  These women would be "Xerxes' women, which there would have been many.  Again, some suggest he could have had up to 360 wives.  Then beyond that, concubines and virgins.


Hegai told the king that he'd make sure these young virgins would have "beauty treatments" before they king got to sleep with them.  I guess they needed to be next to perfect before they could be seen by the king.  The king, and kings in general, were pretty proud men.


In verse 4 we see that this advice appealed to the king, and why not.  Xerxes wasn't your nice Christian king.  During the long battle that he just came home from, he probably didn't have much of a sex life, and this should make up for lost time.


In verses 6 and 7 we see Mordecai, from the tribe of Benjamin enter the picture.  The text states that he was brought to Babylon when Nebuchadnezzar attacked and defeated Israel.  This would have made him pretty old.  Some say 80 years old or older.  Others say that it wasn't Mordecai that came from Israel , but his father, and that depends on the timing and dating when the Babylonians attacked Jerusalem.  There were three major attacks on Jerusalem , dating from 611 B. C. to about 586 B. C. 


A Mordecai as a historical figure has been discovered in archeological excavations that appears to be this very Mordecai. 


In verse 7 we note that Mordecai's cousin, who had lost her parents, was being looked after by him.  Her Hebrew name was Hadassah, which means "myrtle".  Hadassah is another name for Esther, which means "bride".  Of course, Esther is her Persian name.


In verses 8 and 9 we see that Esther was one of the countless virgins that were conscripted from across the land for Xerxes to choose his wife from.  Esther pleased Hegai and so he gave her seven maids, special food and beauty treatments and the best place to live.  Clearly, Esther was one good looking girl and now would be even better looking.  The king needed the best.  Nothing else would suffice.


Verses 10 and 11 state that Mordecai told Esther not to reveal the fact that she was a Jew.  This would probably have spoiled the chances of her being chosen by the king to be his queen.  Mordecai hung out daily around the place where Esther was staying.  This shows us the concern he had for Esther.  She wasn't his daughter, but he had raised her as if she was his daughter.  That being said, there is some evidence according to some, that Mordecai just didn't hang out at the king's gate.  He actually worked there in some capacity, and that is probably correct.  


In verses 12 to 14 we see the procedure how the king would select his queen.  First of all, the virgins who were chosen to go before the king had 12 months of beauty treatments.  I can't imagine twelve months of beauty treatments, but I guess the girls had to be perfect. Every night the king would have one of the virgins come to him.  In the morning they would not return to where they came from.  They'd go to another place especially prepared for them.  If the king really liked one of the girls, he could call her back for another night.  You wonder, if any of these girls, or, how many of these girls got pregnant in the mean time.  You'd then wonder how many children were born from these sexual encounters.   


Again, this shows us something of the culture in Persia back then, especially the king's culture.  Women were not seen as they are today.  Whether the modern woman believes it or not, it wasn't until the advent of the Judeo Christian consensus in society that women lost their status of being property of men.  The fact that the Judeo Christian teaching actually elevates women is something that is lost in today's world.


We note in verses 15 and 16 that Esther's turn finally came to visit the king.  Everyone, that is, all the other girls, thought she was simply stunning.  I imagine then hat the other girls probably thought that they had just lost their chance at becoming queen.


In verses 17 and 18 we see that Xerxes really like Esther, and she was chosen to be queen.  Xerxes called a special holiday, which means people would not have had to pay any taxes that day, and, no man could be drafted into the army that day either.


Mordecai Uncovers A Conspiracy (ch. 2:19 - 22)  


Verse 19 says that the "virgins were assembled for a second time".  Most scholars really are unsure to what this second time really means.  Many guess, but it's pretty much speculation.


We see in verse 20 Esther's devotion to how Mordecai has trained her.  He told her not to divulge her Jewish heritage, and she didn't, even after she had become queen.  We should realize that just because she is queen, doesn't mean she had a real close relationship with Xerxes and would tell him everything.  Xerxes still had other sex partners.  She might have been intimate with Xerxes in a physical way but I doubt if she was intimate in her thoughts and feelings, which was probably the case with most women in that culture.


The last few verses of this chapter relates the event of Mordecai overhearing two guards conspiring to kill Xerxes.  Mordecai told Esther and Esther told the king.  The two men were executed on the gallows, according to the NIV.  What most likely happened is that the two men were pierced with a very long pole, the pole was raised from the ground and displayed until the men died.  This was the beginning of what became known as crucifixion that Romans made popular.  Crucifixion evolved from men being impaled on poles.


We will see later that Mordecai was never rewarded for his good deed done for the king.  This is clearly God working behind the scenes, because this lack of recognition is important to the story line of the book.  This is an example how God works behind the scenes in world events and national and international affairs of nations.  Those without this Biblical understanding don't see this, but for those who are educated in the Bible, we see that God does work behind the scenes, and this is one important lesson we learn from the book of Esther.



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