Girls, lots and lots of them, were brought to the palace in Shushan. One of them would be chosen to be the next queen of Persia!
Each girl would go through an extensive year of purification before she was to meet the king. After arriving at the palace, each maiden was assigned a place in the "first house of women". At the end of the year of purification, each girl was given "whatsoever she desired" to take with her from that house to the King's house. She was now ready to meet the king. Her potential husband.
Not really. Put yourself in their shoes.....
You've been taken from your home. You are now living with a very large group of single women, all of which are hoping to gain the affection of King Ahasuerus. When it's your turn to go to the King, you are taken from the "first house of women" to the King's house where you will spend the night with the King. If the King likes you, or delights in you, more than all the other girls, you will be chosen to be his new queen. If not, you will be taken from the King's house to the "second house of women" - essentially the harem. There you will live the remainder of your life with hundreds of other ladies, doing whatever it was they did (probably throwing parties!), and hoping the king would, some day, remember you by name. If you had ever had any dreams of a family, or children, your chances of achieving that dream were now slim to none.
Living the dream?? I think not...!!
One of the fair, young virgins brought to the palace was a Jewish girl by the name of Esther. Esther was immediately a favorite of Hegai, the "keeper of the women". There was something special about Esther that Hegai was drawn to. A quiet, inner beauty. There was something different about her. A sweetness unlike the other girls seemed to posses. The Bible says, Hegai was kind to Esther, and made sure that she was given the very best of everything she needed. (2:8-9)
One day, it was finally Esther's turn to meet the king. What would he think about her? What would happen to her if the King didn't approve? What would happen if he did? The questions and fears must have been hard to deal with, but Esther was stronger than most. She had God on her side. God provided an inner strength. She knew God would help her through whatever came her way.
Esther didn't request any "extras" when it was her turn to meet the king. She took only what Hegai recommended. She was, quite obviously, not greedy or "over the top" in the way she wore her clothes. She didn't put on airs, or pretend to be something more than she was.
She was authentic. She was simply herself. She was what God created her to be. She accepted her successes and her failures and she trusted God to use her as He saw fit. She didn't look around at the other ladies and wish for what they were wearing. Even though she could have. She was more than allowed to request anything she thought appropriate for the occasion. After all, this was her one chance to shine. Her chance of a life time. Once it was over - it was over. But, we see a quiet calmness that kept her steady and well balanced. Something that was, more than likely, just as attractive to the King and others around her as her outer beauty.
She went in to the King in the 7th year of his reign, (4 years after Queen Vashti had been removed) and God gave her favor in the eyes of the king so that he loved her more than all the other virgins. (2:16-17) Esther was chosen to be the Queen of Persia!
And, to celebrate this event....a party of course!! A feast was made in Esther's name and the whole kingdom rejoiced! (2:18) (...except for the other ladies in the harem!)
Life As Queen:
We don't know much of what Esther did or what happened to her over the next 5 years. We can assume her life took on some kind of normalcy. She had servants, and queenly responsibilities. She know that she was still able to see her uncle Mordecai, who worked in the King's gate, on a regular basis. (2:11&21) We don't know if she ever had children, although Jewish tradition says she bore at least one son named, Darius.
She may have been queen of Persia, but she was more than willing to obey her Uncle Mordecai. He had asked her to keep the fact that she was Jewish a secret. 5 years is a long time to keep such a secret! Being Jewish was who she was. It was part of her life. Yet, she obeyed her uncle even though she was now married and no longer under his authority. And, did we mention she was QUEEN!?! It is quite possible that, in her heart, she didn't understand such a request. Perhaps she even thought it foolish, or a bit silly, or unnecessary. But regardless, she obeyed. She told no one her secret. (2:20)
What we can learn from her life:
Be yourself. Be the person God created you to be. Let Him have your successes and your failures. Let Him be your strength. Put your trust in Him and take Him at His Word. He will sustain us. He will guide us.
It is imperative that we learn to obey (and train our children to do the same) because one day the little mundane actions and decisions we made today, could make all the difference in the lives of those we love. Think what would have happened if Esther had shared her secret with just one "special friend". Or, if she had decided that she was the queen and could do what she wanted. Her decision to obey her uncle's wishes would later result in blessing and change the history of her people forever!
As opposed to the sin of King Saul in refusing to kill King Agag in 1 Samuel 15. If King Saul had utterly destroyed the Amalikites and King Agag as God had commanded, Wicked Haman would never have been born! Esther brought peace and blessing to an entire nation by one simple act of obedience. King Saul brought terror and fear, and very nearly annihilation to his descendants because of his DISobedience.
In case you missed our previous posts in this series:
Introduction: Esther, Queen of Persia
Ahasuerus - The Party Kind of King