Welcome back to the Esther Study! Let’s take a journey back into Esther into chapter 2.
Chapter 2 gives us an inside look into the process that took place once the uproar surrounding Vashti subsided and King Ahasuerus was ready to find his new queen. King Ahasuerus delegates the search for Vashti’s replacement to his servants who suggested that the king dispatch his officers in order to conduct a search in all of the kingdom’s provinces for beautiful, young virgins.
The virgins were to be brought back to “Shushan the citadel, into the women’s quarters, under the custody of Hegai the king’s eunuch, custodian of the women” (Esther 2:3).
“So it was, when the king’s command and decree were heard, and when many young women were gathered at Shushan the citadel, under the custody of Hegai, that Esther also was taken to the king’s palace, into the care of Hegai the custodian of the women.” (2:8)
This Scripture has the somber tone of resignation and submission to the royal issuance. It is matter-of-fact, and I just wonder how Esther must have felt being escorted away from her daily routine and surroundings to the king’s royal palace. It must have felt numbing and surreal–exciting yet frightening to walk into that opulent world. She must have felt trapped– a little like a bird being placed inside a gilded cage among other exotic women who were just as obligated as she was.
Esther 2:5-7 provides us with details about Esther’s background. We learn that Esther was living in Shushan under the care of Mordecai, a Jew whose descendants were captives of Nebudchanezzar king of Babylon. They were not native Persians but Jews who had remained in Shushan and assimilated into Persian culture. Mordecai had “brought up Hadassah, that is, Esther, his uncles’ daughter, for she had neither father nor mother. The young woman was lovely and beautiful. When her father and mother died, Mordecai took her as his own daughter.”
Important Facts To Remember
Esther’s Jewish name Hadassah is derived from the Hebrew word hadas, which is a myrtle tree. The myrtle tree is noted for its pleasant fragrance. — chabad. org, Zaklikowski.
In the Bible, the myrtle tree is denoted as a favored plant of the land that is a prophetic symbol of God’s promised blessings:
“Instead of the thorn shall come up the fir-tree; and instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle tree.” (Isaiah 55:13)”
The spiritual reference to the myrtle tree hadas, suggests that Queen Vashti was a brier–a painful thorn–to King Ahasuerus’ pride, and that seems to prophetically promote Esther’s (Hadassah’s) “come up” as the myrtle instead of Vashti. We shall see how Esther personified the attractive qualities of the myrtle tree.
Furthermore, the berries, leaves and wood of the myrtle tree are used in making perfumes. In Samaria and Galilee the myrtles “emit a perfume more exquisite than that of the rose” (Biblehub).
Back to the rounding up of the virgins! Esther was not brought immediately to the king when his officers brought her to Shushan’s citadel. 🕌
Esther was taken to the king’s palace and was given beauty preparations for twelve months before she would be deemed acceptable to meet him and please him.
Can you imagine?
It must have been quite the royal life but nerve-wracking to spend an entire year being pampered for just one night with the king that would hopefully lead to her becoming the queen!
12 Months of Beauty Preparations
Six Months Preparations w/ Oil of Myrrh ~ Myrrh oil comes from the Commiphora myrrha tree and is collected as a sap resin. Myrrh oil is a precious aromatic oil with fascinating medicinal qualities. All of the young women were basically being quarantined because King Ahasuerus not only wanted beautiful women. He wanted them to be healthy as well! Myrrh was used in perfumes as it was considered to have an intoxicating aroma, and it was used to treat skin conditions.
Myrrh was used in incense and aromatherapy oil for massages. Its medicinal properties made it useful as a mouthwash to freshen the breath and heal gum issues. It was also used as an expectorant and for healing various respiratory ailments. Myrrh cured flatulence, diarrhea, and strengthened the immune system. Myrrh oil is anti-fungal, anti-parasitic and also heals herpes and other gynecological issues.–Mercola. com
Esther and the young women had to be in excellent health. I can imagine Esther being pampered, massaged, and bathed in distillations and perfumes of myrrh and other exotic spices. The additional 6 months preparations could have involved whatever was on trend for the Persian culture at that time as the Bible does not specify. I can imagine they applied intricate henna tattoos and performed waxing or threading to groom and manage their hair.
Cosmetics were probably used to enhance their beauty, as well as elaborate hairstyling with jeweled ornaments.
When the twelve months of beautification were completed, Esther still had to wait her turn to go to King Ahasuerus. When it was their turn, the women were permitted to take whatever they desired for their night with the king. In the evening, she would go to the king and spend the night. And in the morning, she would have to go 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 delighted in her and called her by name.” (2:14)
Esther was favored because she sought Hegai’, the custodian of the women, to advise her on what she should take with her to spend the night with the king. Esther did not have to wake up the next morning and be grouped into the same living quarters as the rest of the women in the house of concubines. No! She was set apart. She was given beauty preparations “readily” beyond what would normally be allotted to her.
“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.” (2:9)
Esther was so favored by everyone. She must have been beautiful to look upon, and it must have been sweetly pleasant to be in her company because of her inner beauty. When Esther was taken to the king:
“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. 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.” (2:17-18)
We as wives can learn a great deal from Esther. Esther demonstrated that inner beauty of a “gentle and quiet spirit” that is prized by God and which endeared her to King Ahasuerus (1Peter 3:4).
Her gracious, deferential attitude –in stark contrast to Vashti’s haughty, defiant attitude –won her the crown. Vashti was dethroned with great flourish as Esther’s coronation was celebrated with a feast named after her –with the pomp and grandeur that was fitting her– as the new Queen. The king did it BIG and declared it a holiday. She was greatly beloved!
Like Esther, if we demonstrate to our husbands that we have a gentle, quiet spirit and deal with them in a humble, respectful manner that considers their pride and position of authority as our heads, we can also hope to be endeared and celebrated.
“An excellent wife is the crown of her husband, but she who brings shame is like a rottenness in his bones.” (Proverbs 12:4)
King Ahasuerus removed Vashti–the”rottenness from his bones” who had brought him shame in the presence of his kingdom. He removed the blemish who was Vashti from his kingdom. He replaced her with his crown–Esther who brought him honor and praise.
He prepared Esther those 12 months as she completed the beauty regimen. Not only was her physical beauty attended to; oil of myrrh was used to prepare her to be healed and healthy from the inside-out.
We need to undergo beauty preparations, in like manner. Our husbands are instructed to prepare us just as King Ahasuerus prepared Esther. Our earthly kings are instructed to present us as “a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish” (Ephesians 5:27).
We have to pray and seek God that they will walk out their calling to sanctify, cleanse, and wash us with the water by the Word of God because we need their help so we can be prepared (when Jesus the King of kings returns). That sanctification by our husbands is an important preparation that we must position ourselves to receive from them with a gracious spirit. When we submit to out husbands and honor them, we are favored by them and by God.
At the very end of chapter 2 and following Esther’s resplendent coronation, we learn an important piece of information regarding Mordecai, Esther’s cousin who raised her as his daughter. Mordecai was close to the king for he “sat within the king’s gate.” (2:19) Unbeknownst to two of the king’s eunuchs, Bigthan and Teresh, Mordecai overheard them plotting to assassinate King Ahasuerus. Mordecai informed Esther, who in turn, “informed the king in Mordecai’s name: (2:22). When their treachery was confirmed, both of the eunuchs were hanged on a gallows and it was recorded “in the book of the chronicles in the presence of the king” (2:23).
Certainly, the king was even more grateful that he chose Esther as his queen, as Mordecai was her relative and the reason he knew of the treachery within his palace. The tip-off to the plot likely endeared Mordecai to the king as a trusted friend within his gates and secured Esther’s spot in his heart as his crown–his excellent wife:
“The heart of her husband safely trusts her;” (Proverbs 31:11)
Dear Wife, Take the Scripture below and personalize it by replacing the bolded words with your name or “I”, “my”, or “me”. Speak it aloud over yourself and receive this beautiful, prophetic Word from the Lord as your prophetic declaration for your yourself and marriage:
“The Gentiles shall see your righteousness, And all kings your glory. You shall be called by a new name,
Which the mouth of the Lord will name. 3You shall also be a crown of glory
In the hand of God. 4You shall no longer be termed Forsaken, Nor shall your land any more be termed Desolate;
But you shall be called Hephzibah (*Literally My Delight Is in Her), and your land Beulah (Literally Married); For the Lord delights in you, And your land shall be married. 5For as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride,
So shall your God rejoice over you.” ~~~(Isaiah 62:2-5)
Have a blessed and Merry Christmas! I’m looking forward to hearing your thoughts on this study and to sharing with you in our next lesson!
Serving with Love,
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