Esther part 2
Now it came to pass in the days of Ahasuerus (this was the Ahasuerus who
reigned over one hundred and twenty-seven provinces, from India to
Ethiopia), 2 in those days
when King Ahasuerus sat on the throne of his kingdom, which was in
Shushan the citadel, 3 that
in the third year of his reign he made a feast for all his officials and
servants -- the powers of Persia and Media, the nobles, and the princes of the
provinces being before him -- 4
when he showed the riches of his glorious kingdom and the splendor of his
excellent majesty for many days, one hundred and eighty days in all.
Most scholars believe that King Ahasuerus is the same king
known as Xerex I who reigned from 485 to 486 B.C. He had huge territory to look
after, which included
tablet has been recovered from Xerxes' palace at
The Persian kings are always mentioned as sitting on the throne of their kingdom. For example Keil notes:
Herodotus wrote that
Xerxes watched the battle of
Shushan also called
It was common for the kings of that time to show off their wealth by having these extravagant feasts. This 180 day feast mentioned in our text happened in the 3rd year of Ahasuerus’ reign. According to Bible, one purpose of this feast was to show off his wealth and another possible purpose for this feast comes from history. According Mr. Rawlingson:
occasion of the entertainment seems to have been the summons to
This would make sense because if you wanted to impress those who were fighting your battles for you and prove that you could supply them with all the supplies they needed for battle this would be the way to do it.
Esther 1:5 And
when these days were completed, the king made a feast lasting seven days for
all the people who were present in Shushan the citadel, from great to small, in
the court of the garden of the king's palace.
6 There were white and blue linen curtains fastened
with cords of fine linen and purple on silver rods and marble pillars; and
the couches were of gold and silver on a mosaic pavement of
alabaster, turquoise, and white and black marble. 7 And they served drinks in golden
vessels, each vessel being different from the other, with royal wine in
abundance, according to the generosity of the king. 8 In accordance with the law, the
drinking was not compulsory; for so the king had ordered all the officers of
his household, that they should do according to each man's pleasure. 9 Queen Vashti also made a feast
for the women in the royal palace which belonged to King
After the 180 days of
feasting for those special guests, the king had a 7 day feast for everyone in
the city. According to Rawlingson, the court of the garden was around 60,000 sq
feet. We are give a description of how elegant
this place was decorated. Adam Clark notes,
It was customary, on
such occasions, not only to hang the place about with elegant curtains of the
above colours, as Dr. Shaw and others have remarked, but also to have a canopy
of rich stuffs suspended on cords from side to side of the place in which they
feasted. And such courts were ordinarily paved with different coloured marbles,
or with tiles painted, as above specified. And this was the origin of the
Musive or Mosaic work, well known among the Asiatics, and borrowed from them by
the Greeks and the Romans. The beds of gold and silver mentioned here were the
couches covered with gold and silver cloth, on which the guests reclined.
As you can see, the king spared no expense in showing off his wealth. Could you imagine drinking out of cups made of gold with every one of them being a different design? Now the king did not force people to drink a certain amount of wine. Instead, it was left up to them how much they drank and this often led to many to over drink, which caused many problems just like it causes many problems today.
Based on the custom of the day, the men and women did not mingle with each other, and this is why there was a separate feast for the men and the women.
Esther 1:10 On the
seventh day, when the heart of the king was merry with wine, he commanded
Mehuman, Biztha, Harbona, Bigtha, Abagtha, Zethar, and Carcas, seven eunuchs
who served in the presence of King Ahasuerus,
11 to bring Queen Vashti before the king, wearing her
royal crown, in order to show her beauty to the people and the officials, for
she was beautiful to behold. 12
But Queen Vashti refused to come at the king's command brought by his
eunuchs; therefore the king was furious, and his anger burned within him.
The King and these men
had been drinking for 7 days now and the king was drunk. The king had already
showed off his wealth to these men and now he wanted to show off his wife. The
custom was that the women were supposed to be kept in seclusion and they were
to wear veils because no man was to see the expression on their face. But, the
king wanted these drunken men to see her beauty, which indicates he wanted her
to come before them unveiled.
Only the eunuchs were
allowed to go into the king harem and so these 7 eunuchs were sent to queen
Vashti with this unreasonable request from the king. This a just another
example of how alcohol can cause a person to make decisions they wouldn’t
Proverbs 31:4 … It
is not for kings to drink wine, Nor for princes intoxicating drink; 5 Lest they drink and forget the
law, And pervert the justice of all the afflicted.
Not only will alcohol
cause you to make bad decisions, it can also keep you out heaven as Paul said,
1 Corinthians 6:9 Do you
not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the
When queen Vashti heard
this request she refused. Certainly she knew there would be consequences to her
response, but she was not about to compromise her morality by parading herself
in front of these drunken men. We need more men and women today that are like
queen Vashti who are willing to take a stand for what is right and not comprise
their morality just because the king or the world demands us to.
While the Bible doesn’t
give us a specific length of clothing to wear or how low our neck line should
be, it does tell us to dress in a way that will profess godliness. A good test
we can give ourselves when we go out in public is would we wear those clothes
if you knew that you were going to be standing in front of Jesus? If you are
dressing like the world and wearing shorts that look like underwear and shirts
that reveal most of your body do you think that professes godliness or
worldliness? I never have been able to figure out why some wouldn’t dare walk
out of there house in their underwear, but they give no thought to wearing a
two piece bathing suite out in the public when it shows the same amount skin.
As Christians, we really
need to think about how we are dressing ourselves because we are supposed to be
example of what Christianity is all about. The Bible stresses over and over
again to follow the example of Christ and no one in right mind would think of
Jesus wearing a Speedo, and no Christian man should wear one those in pubic
It is important that we
teach our children at an early age that their beauty can be seen by who they
are not by showing off their bodies. Sometimes we become unpopular parents when
we deny our children of wearing some of the latest fashions, but if we want to
instill morality in our children and be pleasing to God, then we need take a
stand against worldliness.
Esther 1:13 Then
the king said to the wise men who understood the times (for this was the
king's manner toward all who knew law and justice, 14 those closest to him being Carshena,
Shethar, Admatha, Tarshish, Meres, Marsena, and Memucan, (meh-mue-kan)
the seven princes of Persia and Media, who had access to the king's presence, and
who ranked highest in the kingdom): 15
"What shall we do to Queen Vashti, according to law, because she
did not obey the command of King Ahasuerus brought to her by the
eunuchs?" 16 And Memucan
answered before the king and the princes: "Queen Vashti has not only
wronged the king, but also all the princes, and all the people who are in
all the provinces of King Ahasuerus. 17
"For the queen's behavior will become known to all women, so that they
will despise their husbands in their eyes, when they report, 'King Ahasuerus
commanded Queen Vashti to be brought in before him, but she did not come.' 18 "This very day the noble
The king relied on the
advice of his wise men and he wanted to know what he should do about Vashti’s
refusal of his command. Memucan believed that if Vashti wasn’t punished for
disobeying the law of not obeying the kings command that news would spread to
other woman in his kingdom and all of them would start to rebel. While this
principle is true, none of this would have happened if hadn’t been for the
unreasonable request of the king.
Under the O.T., women
didn’t have many rights especial the gentile women and the kings advisors
wanted to keep it that way, so the king thought this good idea and he sent out
royal decree to all provinces that each man should be the master of his house
and the household should speak in the language of the man. This royal decree
would have been sealed with a royal signet and not even the king could reverse
it. So, now he could never see his Vashti again and he would have to seek a new
Esther 2:1 After
these things, when the wrath of King Ahasuerus subsided, he remembered Vashti,
what she had done, and what had been decreed against her. 2 Then the king's servants who
attended him said: "Let beautiful young virgins be sought for the
king; 3 "and let the
king appoint officers in all the provinces of his kingdom, that they may gather
all the beautiful young virgins to Shushan the citadel, into the women's
quarters, under the custody of Hegai the king's eunuch, custodian of the women.
And let beauty preparations be given them. 4 "Then let the young woman
who pleases the king be queen instead of Vashti." This thing pleased the
king, and he did so.
Most believe that after
Ahasuerus sent out his royal decree that he went on his 4 year campaign against
After the king had
banished Vashti from his site, he began to remember his beautiful wife and what
she had done, and how he had made this royal decree. Even though we are not
told specifically in what way he was thinking about her, it seems that he was
remembering her with fondness and may have been feeling bad about his decision
of banning her from his presence. In our overview of this book, we talked about
how this king would make rash decisions and it possible that he could have even
went against the law and brought Vashti back into his life.
This why I believe his
servants came up with the plan of him finding another beautiful woman to take
her place. I think we can all relate to the king at this moment because we have
all done things that we wished we could change, and when we think about those
instances, it makes us feel bad because we know there is nothing we can do take
back that rash decision that we made in the past.
So, all the virgins from
127 provinces of his kingdom were to be brought to Shushan and they were to be prepared
for the king, so he could decide which one would become his new queen. None of
these of the young virgins would have a choice in this matter and all of them
would become part of the kings harem.
Esther 2:5 In
Shushan the citadel there was a certain Jew whose name was Mordecai the
son of Jair, the son of Shimei (shem-ih-uh), the son of
Both Mordecai and Esther are introduced to us and we can see
that Mordecai’s belonged to the tribe of Benjamin and that his forefather
Mordecai was born in captivity otherwise he would be over 100 years old. He adopted his cousin Esther as his own daughter because she had no one else to take care of her. She was a beautiful young lady, which why she was one of the women chosen to go before the king.
She stood out from the other virgins to Hegai (Heg-i) and he made sure she got extra beauty treatments that the others did not. Each woman was provided 7 maidservants and Hegai moved Esther along with her maidservants to the best part in the house of the women. It is my opinion that she stood out not because of her outer beauty, but because of her inward beauty because all the virgins that were brought to him were beautiful.
Mordecai instructed Esther not to reveal that she was a Jew. One possible reason that he told her this was because the Jews may have been looked down and he didn’t want her ethnic background to cause her become a mere concubine in the kings harem. We can see Mordecai’s love for his adopted daughter as he paced around the women’s quarters waiting for updates of Esther’s welfare.
Esther 2:12 Each
young woman's turn came to go in to King Ahasuerus after she had completed
twelve months' preparation, according to the regulations for the women, for
thus were the days of their preparation apportioned: six months with oil of
myrrh, and six months with perfumes and preparations for beautifying
women. 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. 14 In the evening she went, and in
the morning she returned to the second house of the women, to the custody of
Shaashgaz, (shay-ash-gaz) the king's eunuch who kept the concubines.
She would not go in to the king again unless the king delighted in her and
called for her by name.
This had to be a stressful situation for these women. First, they taken from their homes knowing they were going to belong to the king. They had to go through 1 year of preparation, which included these oils and perfumes being used on them.
According to Rawlingson:
highly esteemed, both for its scent and for its purifying power, by the
After this one year of preparation they were allowed to wear whatever they wanted to try and impress the king when they went to his bed that night. They knew that if the king did not choose them to be his queen that they would be sent to the second house, which was the place where his concubines would have to stay for the rest of their lives and the only time they would ever see the king again was if he asked for them and the chances of that would be slim.
Esther 2:15 Now
when the turn came for Esther the daughter of Abihail the uncle of Mordecai,
who had taken her as his daughter, to go in to the king, she requested nothing
but what Hegai the king's eunuch, the custodian of the women, advised. And
Esther obtained favor in the sight of all who saw her. 16 So 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 other women,
and she obtained grace and favor in his sight more than all the virgins; so he
set the royal crown upon her head and made her queen instead of Vashti. 18 Then the king made a great
feast, the Feast of Esther, for all his officials and servants; and he
proclaimed a holiday in the provinces and gave gifts according to the
generosity of a king.
Once again, we see that Esther stood out and gained the favor of all that saw her. When it came her turn to go to the king, she relied on the eunuch to pick out what she should wear before the king. Well, the eunuch’s advice paid off because the king chose her out all the women that came before him and he made her queen in the 7th year of his reign. The date given here corresponds to part of our December and January. As the custom was, he made a great feat for this occasion and proclaimed a holiday in honor of his new wife.
Esther 2:20 Now Esther
had not revealed her family and her people, just as Mordecai had charged her,
for Esther obeyed the command of Mordecai as when she was brought up by
him. 21 In those days, while
Mordecai sat within the king's gate, two of the king's eunuchs, Bigthan and
Teresh, doorkeepers, became furious and sought to lay hands on King
Ahasuerus. 22 So the matter
became known to Mordecai, who told Queen Esther, and Esther informed the king
in Mordecai's name. 23 And
when an inquiry was made into the matter, it was confirmed, and both were
hanged on a gallows; and it was written in the book of the chronicles in the
presence of the king.
Here we can see that
Esther was obedient and she respected Mordecai as her adopter father because
she did not reveal who her family was. Since Mordecai was sitting in the gate
and was able to stay outside the woman courtyard, it believed that he was
employed by the kings perhaps as a gatekeeper.
Mordecai found out about
the plot of the two eunuchs and told Esther who then told the king. If Mordecai
had not spoiled their plans it would had been fairly easy for them to kill the
king because they had access to the king when he was sleeping. When the king
found out about this, he investigated the matter and found it to be true and
had these 2 men hung and Mordecai deed was recorded in the chronicles. Now the
king did not reward Mordecai at this time and we are not told why, but later on
Well these first two chapters sets the stage for Esther to be able save her people and all this came to pass through the providence of God.