Esther: Chapter 2:1-23

Esther Chosen Queen     

Esther:  Chapter 2 – Esther Chosen Queen        January 19, 2019

Let’s look at the mental state of the King, lost 3 wars; he needs money for his life style, treasury is broke, next week we will see why he does what he does.

Esther 2:1 Later when King Xerxes’ fury had subsided, he remembered Vashti and what she had done and what he had decreed about her.

  • Xerxes had regret for the treatment he had given to his dignified queen.
  •  Between chapters 1 and 2, at least four years pass, during which Xerxes went on his disastrous Greek campaign (481–479 B.C.).
  • After these battles, the king came home a bitter man, and it was only natural that he should seek some kind of comfort in his own home.

There are 4 Greece – Persian Battles.

490 BC Battle of Marathon  –  See drawing

  • The battle took place between the Greeks and the Persians at Marathon, a plain on Athenian territory 25 mi NE of Athens, in 490 B.C.
  • The Persians (90,000?) far outnumbered the Greeks (10,000?);

480 BC Battle of Thermopylae – Movie: the 300 Spartans

  • Thermopylae was the main route by which an invading army could penetrate from the north into southern Greece.
  • In ancient times it was a narrow track about 50 ft wide passing under a cliff.
  • It was the scene of the first major battle fought during the invasion of Greece to avenge the Persians defeat and for expansion of his empire.

480 BC Battle of Salamis   Movie: 300 – Rise of an Empire

479 BC Battle of Plataea was the final battle of the Persian Wars in which the remaining Persian forces in Greece were defeated and driven out.
  • It was after his return from this disastrous invasion that Esther was chosen as his queen.
  • It is 478 B.C.; Xerxes will live another 13 years.
  • Esther will live into the reign of her stepson Artaxerxes and Nehemiah’s request to rebuild Jerusalem.

Nehemiah 2:6 Then the king, with the queen sitting beside him, asked me, “How long will your journey take, and when will you get back?” It pleased the king to send me; so I set a time.

  • As the Persian monarchs did not admit their wives to be present at their state festivals, this must have been a private occasion.
  • The queen referred to was probably Esther, whose presence would tend greatly to embolden Nehemiah in stating his request;
  • Through her influence, here is a possibility that the queen’s throne was occupied by the queen mother

Esther 2:2-3 Then the king’s personal attendants proposed, “Let a search be made for beautiful young virgins for the king.  (3)  Let the king appoint commissioners in every province of his realm to bring all these beautiful young women into the harem at the citadel of Susa. Let them be placed under the care of Hegai, the king’s eunuch, who is in charge of the women; and let beauty treatments be given to them.

It was customary for the virgins of the king’s harem to spend a year in beauty treatments and purification rites such as oil of myrrh, spices, to remove all impurity and ill scent from them, and make them look smooth and beautiful before going to see the king (vs 12). 

Prove she is a virgin and not carrying child.

  • They had many different houses, one for the virgins (vs 9),
  • another for the concubines (vs 14)
  • another for the queen.

Esther 2:4 Then let the young woman who pleases the king be queen instead of Vashti.” This advice appealed to the king, and he followed it.

  • The young woman will be given the royal estate,
  • the royal set crown on her head, etc
  • and was very powerful.

Esther 2:5 In Shushan the citadel there was a certain Jew whose name was Mordecai the son of Jair, the son of Shimei, the son of Kish, a Benjamite.

  • Mordecai. means a little man; bitterness of my oppressed,
  • Son could be son, or grandson or even great grandson.

Returning exiles individuals to Jerusalem.

Ezra listed Mordecai as a returning individual to Jerusalem *Ezra 2:2  *Nehemiah 7:7

  • Shimei”: From King Saul, son of Kish, of the tribe of Benjamin.
  • Josephus refers to Esther as of the royal family being of Saul.
  • Esther had royalty in her blood.

Who was Shimei, remember he Curses David

2 Samuel 16:5 As King David approached Bahurim, a man from the same clan as Saul’s family came out from there. His name was Shimei son of Gera, and he cursed as he came out.

  • When David, fleeing from Absalom, reached the edge of the valley, between the road and Shimei’s house,
  • Shimei ran along the ridge over against the road, cursing and throwing stones and dust at him and his mighty men

Dumb move to curse the king with his army there.

King David servant said Let me go over and cut off his head.” *Samuel 16:9

King David said Leave him alone; let him curse, for the LORD has told him to.  *2 Samuel 16:11

When King David returned, Shimei hurried down with the men of Judah to meet King David. *2 Samuel 19:16

Shimei wisely was the “first of the house of Joseph” to meet David on his victorious return over Jordan.

King David said to Shimei, “You shall not die.”*2 Samuel 19:23

This is interesting how God works for His plan for mankind.

  • King David’s sparing of Shimei resulted in a Mordecai in our story.
  • Saul’s sparing of Agag, he was not supposed to, resulted in a Haman.
  • King Saul was tied to both men.

Esther 2:6 Kish had been carried away from Jerusalem with the captives who had been captured with Jeconiah king of Judah, whom Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon had carried away.

Kish belonged to the second captivity.

There were at least three captivities or sieges of Judah:

  • The first when Daniel was carried away, in the third year of Jehoiakim, which was 605 B.C. (Dan 1:1).
  • The second that is here referred to, when Jehoiachin, or Jeconiah, was made prisoner, 8 years later, or 597 B.C.
  • The third when Zedekiah was taken and Jerusalem burnt, in 586 B.C.

Esther 2:7  Mordecai had a cousin named Hadassah, whom he had brought up because she had neither father nor mother. This young woman, who was also known as Esther, had a lovely figure and was beautiful. Mordecai had taken her as his own daughter when her father and mother died.      {Lovely in form and features}

  • Esther Jewess name was Hadas’sah (the myrtle),
  • When she entered the royal harem she received the name by which she henceforth became known,
  • Esther (means Star in Persian– name related to that of a local deity, the goddess Ishtar).

Esther 2:8  When the king’s order and edict had been proclaimed, many young women were brought to the citadel of Susa and put under the care of Hegai. Esther also was taken to the king’s palace and entrusted to Hegai, who had charge of the harem.

  • Hegai occurs as an officer of Xerxes in the Histories of Herodotus.
  • Esther and the other women did not really have a choice about this.
  • Josephus said the number was close to 400 women.
  • How many people does it take to take care of them all.

Esther 2:9 Now the young woman pleased him, and she obtained his favor; so he readily gave beauty preparations to her, besides her allowance. Then seven choice maidservants were provided for her from the king’s palace, and he moved her and her maidservants to the best place in the house of the women. 

  • Like Joseph in Egypt, person in charge takes a liking to her.
  • As a side: How many maidservants did this king have.
  • Someone had to be moved out.
  • Interesting: Pleased – Because she was very beautiful and her behavior,  therefore he concluded within himself she would be acceptable to the king.
  • Seven maidservants – They were to attend her, bath her, to anoint and adorn her, and be her servants in general. A totally different mindset then.

Esther 2:10 Esther had not revealed her nationality and family background, because Mordecai had forbidden her to do so.

  • Esther is Jewish, but was told not to tell anyone, she would pass for a native Persian.

Esther 2:11 Every day he walked back and forth near the courtyard of the harem to find out how Esther was and what was happening to her.

  • Show his love and concern for her in such a really dangerous place
  • It is a crime to enquire what goes on within the women apartment walls.
  • But hints were given him through the eunuchs.
  • Mordecai occupied, apparently, a humble place in the royal household.
  • He was probably one of the porters or doorkeepers at the main entrance to the palace (vs 21)

Esther 2:12  Before a young woman’s turn came to go in to King Xerxes, she had to complete twelve months of beauty treatments prescribed for the women, six months with oil of myrrh and six with perfumes and cosmetics.

  • The myrrh was used to make the skin smooth and soft,
  • Perfumes to remove all ill scents through sweat,
  • or any other cause by hot baths, food, rubbing the body with olive oil, plucking of the eyebrows, facial make-up, will in almost every case remove all disagreeable odors.  The country was hot.
  • Why 12 months: One reason for the preparation time was to tell if the women had been pregnant upon coming into the harem,so the king would not be charged with fathering a child that was not his.

Esther 2:13 Thus prepared, each young woman went to the king, and she was given whatever she desired to take with her from the women’s quarters to the king’s palace.

  • What would someone take with them: jewels, clothing after her own taste.

Esther 2:14  In the evening she went, and in the morning she returned to the second house of the women, to the custody of Shaashgaz, the king’s eunuch who kept the concubines. She would not go in to the king again unless the king was pleased with her and called for her by name.

  • Interesting, 400 women, one is picked, means 399 lost.
  • They became concubine of the king,
  • but rarely if ever saw him afterwards.
  • Never free to marry another man, becomes a widow for life.
  • Darius, whom Alexander conquered, had three hundred and sixty concubine

The harem is comprised at least 3 houses or palaces:

  1. A residence for the queen, corresponding to that which Solomon built for the daughter of Pharaoh (1 Kgs 7:8).
  1. A house for the secondary wives, or concubines; and,
  1. A house for the virgins. On returning from her first visit to the king’s chamber, a woman ordinarily became an inmate of the “second house.” This “second house” was under the care of a eunuch called Sha’ashgaz.

Esther 2:15  When the turn came for Esther (the young woman Mordecai had adopted, the daughter of his uncle Abihail) to go to the king, she asked for nothing other than what Hegai, the king’s eunuch who was in charge of the harem, suggested. And Esther won the favor of everyone who saw her. 

  • Esther used wisdom to allowed the custodian to assist her preparations mainly by her modesty, virtue, beauty, appearance and humble attitude, were sufficient.
  • Not loaded with bracelets, earrings, anklets as the others.

Esther 2:16 She was taken to King Xerxes in the royal residence in the tenth month, the month of Tebeth, in the seventh year of his reign.

  • Xerxes divorce Vashti in the third year of his reign,
  • the great feast was four years before Esther was taken by him,
  • probably in December – January 479/478 BC.

Esther 2:17  Now the king was attracted to Esther more than to any of the other women, and she won his favor and approval more than any of the other virgins. So he set a royal crown on her head and made her queen instead of Vashti.

  • Esther was selected to be the queen to king Xerxes, found grace and favor.
  • It was usual with the eastern kings to put a crown on the heads of their wives at the time of marriage, and declare them queen. The wedding?

Esther 2:18 And the king gave a great banquet, Esther’s banquet, for all his nobles and officials. He proclaimed a holiday throughout the provinces and distributed gifts with royal liberality.

  • The feast or banquet lasted a whole month.
  • Esther is now the first woman in all Persia
  • the wife of the greatest of living monarchs
  • the queen of an empire which comprised more than half of the known world. This shows God had a plan, and Esther is part of it.

Mordecai Discovers a Plot, saves the king’s life, evil starting now

Esther 2:19-20 When the virgins were assembled a second time, Mordecai was sitting at the king’s gate.  (20)  But Esther had kept secret her family background and nationality just as Mordecai had told her to do, for she continued to follow Mordecai’s instructions as she had done when he was bringing her up.

  • This position indicates that Mordecai was associated with the decision makers
  • Men of influence in the kingdom, an officer.
  • More virgins gather for the king.
  • Remember, King Solomon had 700 wives and 300 concubines.
  • Mordecai was of the king’s household.

Esther 2:21-22  During the time Mordecai was sitting at the king’s gate, Bigthana and Teresh, two of the king’s officers who guarded the doorway, became angry and conspired to assassinate King Xerxes.  (22)  But Mordecai found out about the plot and told Queen Esther, who in turn reported it to the king, giving credit to Mordecai.

  • According to Jewish writings,
  • The Targum says that they found out that Esther had intended to use her influence with the king to get them removed from their office, and Mordecai put in their place;
  • therefore they determined to poison Esther,
  • and slay the king in his bedchamber,
  • the plot to kill the king.
  • This was a position of the highest possible trust, and gave conspirators a terrible advantage.
  • Xerxes later actually lost his life through a conspiracy formed by Artabanus, the captain of his guard, with a eunuch.
  • Josephus says that a certain Jew, named Barnabasus, overheard the plot, told it to Mordecai,

Esther 2:23 And when the report was investigated and found to be true, the two officials were impaled on poles. All this was recorded in the book of the annals in the presence of the king.

Crucifixion Invented by the Persians

  • Rather than being “hanged” on a modern-type gallows, the men were impaled on a stake or post.  

*Ezra 6:11 Furthermore, I decree that if anyone defies this edict, a beam is to be pulled from their house and they are to be impaled on it. And for this crime their house is to be made a pile of rubble.

  • This was not an unusual method of execution in the Persian Empire.
  • Darius, Xerxes father, was known to have once impaled 3,000 men.
  • A record of this assassination attempt was written in the annals, the official royal record.

This is where the Romans got this method of punishment. .

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