Esther Two

by Dr. Henry M. Morris

(taken from the Defender's Study Bible)

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Esther 2:1 After these things, when the wrath of king Ahasuerus was appeased, he remembered Vashti, and what she had done, and what was decreed against her.

After these things. The succeeding account was probably at least two years “after these things,” for the king and all his officers embarked on their projected invasion of Greece immediately following the great assemblage. As history shows, however, the great fleet of King Xerxes (Ahasuerus) suffered bitter defeats at the naval battles of Thermophylae and Salamis, and returned home sadder and wiser. According to the Greek historian Herodotus, the king went back to “comfort himself” with his harem. At this time he “remembered Vashti,” and proceeded with his comforting mission of examining many “young virgins” (Esther 2:2) from all parts of his kingdom to find a new queen.

Esther 2:2 Then said the king's servants that ministered unto him, Let there be fair young virgins sought for the king:

Esther 2:3 And let the king appoint officers in all the provinces of his kingdom, that they may gather together all the fair young virgins unto Shushan the palace, to the house of the women, unto the custody of Hege the king's chamberlain, keeper of the women; and let their things for purification be given them:

Esther 2:4 And let the maiden which pleaseth the king be queen instead of Vashti. And the thing pleased the king; and he did so.

Esther 2:5 Now in Shushan the palace there was a certain Jew, whose name was Mordecai, the son of Jair, the son of Shimei, the son of Kish, a Benjamite;

Mordecai. The name “Mordecai” has been found on a cuneiform tablet, mentioned as a high official at the court of Xerxes. He may have been the great grandson of a Benjamite named Kish who had been one of the captives taken from Jerusalem in the days of King Jeconiah.

Esther 2:6 Who had been carried away from Jerusalem with the captivity which had been carried away with Jeconiah king of Judah, whom Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon had carried away.

Esther 2:7 And he brought up Hadassah, that is, Esther, his uncle's daughter: for she had neither father nor mother, and the maid was fair and beautiful; whom Mordecai, when her father and mother were dead, took for his own daughter.

Hadassah, that is, Esther. “Hadassah,” probably meaning “myrtle,” was Esther's Jewish name. The name “Esther” was from the Babylonian goddess “Ishtar.”

Esther 2:8 So it came to pass, when the king's commandment and his decree was heard, and when many maidens were gathered together unto Shushan the palace, to the custody of Hegai, that Esther was brought also unto the king's house, to the custody of Hegai, keeper of the women.

many maidens. The Jewish historian Josephus cites a tradition that four hundred beautiful virgins were conscripted for Xerxes' harem.

Esther was brought. The fact that Esther “was brought” instead of “came” may suggest that her participation in this “contest” to become queen was not voluntary on her part, but compulsory. In any event, the Lord used it and her to deliver His people at a time of great crisis.

Esther 2:9 And the maiden pleased him, and she obtained kindness of him; and he speedily gave her her things for purification, with such things as belonged to her, and seven maidens, which were meet to be given her, out of the king's house: and he preferred her and her maids unto the best place of the house of the women.

Esther 2:10 Esther had not showed her people nor her kindred: for Mordecai had charged her that she should not show it.

her people. This was evidently during one of those intermittent periods in history when the Jewish people were looked upon with disfavor (even though Cyrus and Darius had aided them earlier in their desire to return to Jerusalem and rebuild their temple) and it was unwise for Esther to risk her chance of becoming queen by revealing her background. Jews have often been made scapegoats when trouble befalls a nation, and it is possible that they had been accused of complicity in Xerxes' recent naval defeats. This probably also accounts for the fact that the book of Esther, alone among all the books of the Bible, contains no direct mention of God or of religion. The author (possibly Mordecai, although the actual author of the book is not known) may have feared reprisals if he had connected the remarkable deliverance of Israel with their religious faith.

Esther 2:11 And Mordecai walked every day before the court of the women's house, to know how Esther did, and what should become of her.

Esther 2:12 Now when every maid's turn was come to go in to king Ahasuerus, after that she had been twelve months, according to the manner of the women, (for so were the days of their purifications accomplished, to wit, six months with oil of myrrh, and six months with sweet odours, and with other things for the purifying of the women;)

Esther 2:13 Then thus came every maiden unto the king; whatsoever she desired was given her to go with her out of the house of the women unto the king's house.

Esther 2:14 In the evening she went, and on the morrow she returned into the second house of the women, to the custody of Shaashgaz, the king's chamberlain, which kept the concubines: she came in unto the king no more, except the king delighted in her, and that she were called by name.

Esther 2:15 Now when the turn of Esther, the daughter of Abihail the uncle of Mordecai, who had taken her for his daughter, was come to go in unto the king, she required nothing but what Hegai the king's chamberlain, the keeper of the women, appointed. And Esther obtained favour in the sight of all them that looked upon her.

Esther 2:16 So Esther was taken unto king Ahasuerus into his house royal in the tenth month, which is the month Tebeth, in the seventh year of his reign.

the seventh year. Vashti had been deposed in the third year of the emperor's reign (Esther 1:3). The four intervening years before Esther's coronation had evidently been occupied with the huge but unsuccessful attempt to invade and conquer Greece.

Esther 2:17 And the king loved Esther above all the women, and she obtained grace and favour in his sight more than all the virgins; so that he set the royal crown upon her head, and made her queen instead of Vashti.

above all the women. Although the book of Esther contains no mention of God, it abounds with implicit testimonies to providential leading and provision for His people. Under Persian law, Esther had no choice but to obey the king's decree. She herself retained her own virginity until she became the king's chosen wife. She was in a polygamous household, but this was common and accepted in the culture of the times (note the many wives of such godly men as Gideon, David, et al.). God actually used Esther in this somewhat unhappy position to preserve the Jewish people from probable annihilation. It is likely that Haman's proposed pogrom would have extended even to the land of Israel and every place inhabited by Jewish people.

Esther 2:18 Then the king made a great feast unto all his princes and his servants, even Esther's feast; and he made a release to the provinces, and gave gifts, according to the state of the king.

Esther 2:19 And when the virgins were gathered together the second time, then Mordecai sat in the king's gate.

Esther 2:20 Esther had not yet showed her kindred nor her people; as Mordecai had charged her: for Esther did the commandment of Mordecai, like as when she was brought up with him.

Esther 2:21 In those days, while Mordecai sat in the king's gate, two of the king's chamberlains, Bigthan and Teresh, of those which kept the door, were wroth, and sought to lay hand on the king Ahasuerus.

Esther 2:22 And the thing was known to Mordecai, who told it unto Esther the queen; and Esther certified the king thereof in Mordecai's name.

Esther 2:23 And when inquisition was made of the matter, it was found out; therefore they were both hanged on a tree: and it was written in the book of the chronicles before the king.

inquisition. That is, “inquiry.”