From Esther 1-5
God can use many things for his purposes. In the opening chapters of Esther, a young beautiful Jewess is chosen by King Ahasuerus to be his Queen. King Ahasuerus chose her for his own pleasure. This is not exactly the kind of life Esther wanted to live. But the LORD has his own reasons for selecting Esther. He has a special purpose. As we will find out in the chapter readings.
This post is part of my bible in a year series.
Passage and Comments
King Ahasuerus had a large and I assume well stocked harem. A harem is a dwelling place or temple for the wives, concubines and female servants of a single male ruler. Ahasuerus also liked to have a beautiful woman as his Queen. In the first chapter of the book of Esther there was a party.
During the party Ahasuerus called upon Queen Vashti to display herself to his guests. Vashti refused. Fearing the Queen would set a precedent amongst all the other women in his kingdom, King Ahasuerus in a drunken rage banished her from his presence. This is where our passage picks up.
2 After these things, when the anger of King Ahasuerus had abated, he remembered Vashti and what she had done and what had been decreed against her.
2 Then the king’s young men who attended him said, “Let beautiful young virgins be sought out for the king. 3 And let the king appoint officers in all the provinces of his kingdom to gather all the beautiful young virgins to the harem in Susa the citadel, under custody of Hegai, the king’s eunuch, who is in charge of the women. Let their cosmetics be given them. 4 And let the young woman who pleases the king be queen instead of Vashti.” This pleased the king, and he did so. (Est 2:1–4)
His anger calmed down. Now he wants another beautiful woman for his Queen and harem. He sends his servants out with a mission. To bring all the beautiful young virgins. To doll them up with cosmetics and present them to him to choose.
5 Now there was a Jew in Susa the citadel whose name was Mordecai, the son of Jair, son of Shimei, son of Kish, a Benjaminite, 6 who had been carried away from Jerusalem among the captives carried away with Jeconiah king of Judah, whom Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon had carried away.
7 He was bringing up Hadassah, that is Esther, the daughter of his uncle, for she had neither father nor mother. The young woman had a beautiful figure and was lovely to look at, and when her father and her mother died, Mordecai took her as his own daughter.
8 So when the king’s order and his edict were proclaimed, and when many young women were gathered in Susa the citadel in custody of Hegai, Esther also was taken into the king’s palace and put in custody of Hegai, who had charge of the women.
9 And the young woman pleased him and won his favor. And he quickly provided her with her cosmetics and her portion of food, and with seven chosen young women from the king’s palace, and advanced her and her young women to the best place in the harem. (Est 2:5-9)
Mordecai is mentioned first and his family ancestry is mentioned. His Jewish credentials. He is the man who looks after and protects Esther as if she was his own daughter.
Esther is a beautiful young Jewess. Esther herself has two names you might have seen from the text.
- Hadassah (Jewish name meaning “Myrtle”) and
- Esther (Persian name meaning “Star”).
The servants of the king see her, think she is hot and take her into the palace for preparation.
I can’t imagine Esther would have been pleased with her being selected.
10 Esther had not made known her people or kindred, for Mordecai had commanded her not to make it known. 11 And every day Mordecai walked in front of the court of the harem to learn how Esther was and what was happening to her. (Est 2:10-11)
Esther has a secret. She belongs to the Jews. It must not be immediately obvious from her complexion either. I suspect Jews and Persians looked alike. This secret will come out at an opportune time. I suspect Esther may be afraid to reveal it to the officials of the kings palace.
Mordecai is fretting over her safety.
12 Now when the turn came for each young woman to go in to King Ahasuerus, after being twelve months under the regulations for the women, since this was the regular period of their beautifying, six months with oil of myrrh and six months with spices and ointments for women— 13 when the young woman went in to the king in this way, she was given whatever she desired to take with her from the harem to the king’s palace. 14 In the evening she would go in, and in the morning she would return to the second harem in custody of Shaashgaz, the king’s eunuch, who was in charge of the concubines. She would not go in to the king again, unless the king delighted in her and she was summoned by name.
15 When the turn came for Esther the daughter of Abihail the uncle of Mordecai, who had taken her as his own daughter, to go in to the king, she asked for nothing except what Hegai the king’s eunuch, who had charge of the women, advised.
Now Esther was winning favor in the eyes of all who saw her.
16 And when 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 women, and she won grace and favor in his sight more than all the virgins, so that he set the royal crown on her head and made her queen instead of Vashti.
18 Then the king gave a great feast for all his officials and servants; it was Esther’s feast. He also granted a remission of taxes to the provinces and gave gifts with royal generosity. (Est 2:12–18)
Esther may not have liked being selected, but her youth and beauty were winning the approval of the people around her.
The king ‘loved’ Esther more than all the women. I think ‘love’ is more akin to lust. A strong desire to possess for oneself. Particularly in a sexual manner.
She won his grace and favour. I guess he treated her well.
The King chooses Esther to be his Queen and holds a big feast in her honour and makes it a national celebration.
Everyone knows the King has chosen a new Queen. Not many people know her secret.
Story of Israel
Beauty is a physical or spiritual quality which brings pleasure to those who behold it. Scripture stresses the beauty of God himself and his creation, while noting that the beauty of the creation can lead away from God or become idolised.
Esther was chosen by King Ahasuerus because she was beautiful. He wanted to show her off to his peers and servants. For him, choosing Esther was a matter of lust and pride.
The LORD chose Israel. Not for her beauty, actually despite any apparent quality of her own. Moses explains the LORD chose Israel because he loved her (Dt 7.6-10).
The LORD’s love is quite different from Ahasuerus. Not based on Israel’s beauty or strength. Rather because of his covenant promises with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and his desire to work through them to save the world.
Story of Jesus
In the gospel there was another woman chosen. The LORD chose Mary.
26 In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, 27 to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary.
28 And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” 29 But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. 30 And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”
34 And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?”
35 And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God. 36 And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. 37 For nothing will be impossible with God.” 38 And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her. (Lk 1:26–38)
As I write this, its December and Christmas is approaching.
Esther was chosen by the king because she was young and beautiful. But she has a secret purpose in the plans of the LORD.
Mary is another person who was chosen for a special purpose. She also has a secret. She will give birth to a son. People will not know who he is or who his Father is either.
Her son is the promised messiah, he is the Son of God and his kingdom will have no end.
Sometimes being chosen can be a cause of concern and grief. But the LORD works in the background. He can use all things to a much greater purpose than we can imagine.
Copyright © Joshua Washington and thescripturesays, 2015. All Rights Reserved.