13 Nov. Esther 2:1-18

13 Nov. Esther becomes Queen of Persia

“Later, when King Xerxes was not so angry, he remembered [Queen] Vashti and what she had done and his order about her [that she should never again enter his presence]. Then the king’s personal servants suggested, ‘Let a search be made for beautiful young girls for the king. Let the king choose supervisors in every area of his kingdom to bring every beautiful young girl to the palace at Susa.’”

“’They should be taken to the women’s quarters and put under the care of Hegai, the king’s eunuch in charge of the women. And let beauty treatments be given to them. Then let the girl who most pleases the king become queen in place of Vashti’. The king liked this idea, so he did as they said.”

“Now there was a Jewish man in the palace of Susa whose name was Mordecai son of Jair. Jair was the son of Shimei, the son of Kish. Mordecai was from the tribe of Benjamin, which had been taken captive from Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon. They were part of the group taken into captivity with Jehoiachin king of Judah.”

“Mordecai had a cousin named Hadassah, who had no father or mother, so Mordecai took care of her. Hadassah was also called Esther, and she had a very pretty figure and face. Mordecai had adopted her as his own daughter when her father and mother died.”

“When the king’s command and order had been heard, many girls had been brought to the palace in Susa and put under the care of Hegai. Esther was also taken to the king’s palace and put under the care of Hegai, who was in charge of the women. Esther pleased Hegai, and he liked her. So Hegai quickly began giving Esther her beauty treatments and special food. He gave her seven servant girls chosen from the king’s palace. Then he moved her and her seven servant girls to the best part of the women’s quarters.”

“Esther did not tell anyone about her family or who her people were, because Mordecai had told her not to. Every day Mordecai walked back and forth near the courtyard where the king’s women lived to find out how Esther was and what was happening to her.”

“Before a girl could take her turn with King Xerxes, she had to complete twelve months of beauty treatments that were ordered for the women. For six months she was treated with oil and myrrh and for six months with perfumes and cosmetics. Then she was ready to go to the king…”

“The time came for Esther daughter of Abihail, Mordecai’s uncle, who had been adopted by Mordecai, to go to the king. She asked for only what Hegai suggested she should take… So Esther was taken to King Xerxes in the royal palace in the tenth month, the month of Tebeth, during Xerxes’ seventh year as king.”

“And the king was pleased with Esther more than with any of the other girls. He liked her more than any of the other girls, so he put a royal crown on her head and made her queen in place of Vashti. Then the king gave a great banquet for Esther and invited all his important men and royal officers. He announced a holiday for all the empire and had the government give away gifts.”

          (Esther 2:1-18)

 

 

The Persian Empire at the time of the Jewish exile stretched from India to Cush (the Upper Nile Valley region) and contained many subservient peoples including the Jews from Judah. King Xerxes I ruled from his royal palace at Susa (Shush in modern day Iran).

In 483BC, during the third year of his reign, Queen Vashti, his wife, angered the king and was deposed (see Esther 1:10-22). His courtiers suggested that all the most beautiful young girls in the empire be brought to the royal palace, and the young woman who pleased the king most should become queen in place of Vashti.

Consequently, Hadassah – a young Jewish woman of noble birth – was brought to the king’s harem at Susa. She was given a Persian name – Esther – and completed twelve months of beauty treatments before being brought before the king. Xerxes fell in love with Esther and she became Queen in 479 or 478BC.

The Book of Esther describes the unparalleled luxury of the king’s apartments at Susa (see Esther 1:5-8). The cedar timbers were brought from Lebanon, while ivory came from Ethiopia and India. The palace walls were covered with colourful moulded glazed bricks depicting the spear-bearers of the king’s bodyguard (now displayed at the Louvre Museum in Paris). The courtyards were lined with seated sphinxes and pacing lions, and decorated with linen wall hangings, while the splendid thirty six-columned ‘apadana’ or audience hall featured a magnificent raised golden throne (see Esther 5:1).

The royal household reclined on couches of gold, resting on marble pavements inlaid with mother-of-pearl and precious stones. They wore gold bracelets adorned with horned griffins and necklaces featuring the Achaemenid flying disk.

The photo shows a Persian gold bracelet with horned and winged griffins (on display at the British Museum in London).

You can read more about Xerxes’ royal palace at Susa @ https://www.thebiblejourney.org/biblejourney2/35-the-exiles-return-to-judah/esther-becomes-queen-of-persia/


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