The Marriage of Esther
Text: Esther 2
Understanding What You Read
- After the king calmed down, what was on his mind?
- Why didn’t the king just call Vashti back? (Daniel 6:8)
- What did the king’s attendants propose?
- How did Mordecai end up in Susa?
- What relationship was Esther to Mordecai?
- Who took notice of Esther? What was done as a result?
- What was each potential bride allowed to bring with her when she met the king? What did Esther take?
- When did Esther marry the king? What was done to celebrate the wedding?
- Where was Mordecai all this time?
- What did Mordecai do to save the king’s life?
The banquet mentioned in Esther 1:3 occurred during Ahasuerus’ third year. Six months later Ahasuerus ends his marriage with Vashti. He marries Esther during his seventh year of reigning (Esther 2:16) which was after a year long preparation (Esther 2:12). Thus, we conclude that it took Ahasuerus about two years to calm down in regards to Vashti. The Hebrew word for the king’s anger subsiding is shakhakh. It is the same word used to describe the receding of the flood waters in Noah’s day – in other words, his anger was slow to cool down. According to history, it was during this time that Ahasuerus attempted to invade Greece and failed. After all that time, Ahasuerus began to regret his decision as he remembered all the things Vashti used to do. Unfortunately, the Medes and Persians had a rule that laws passed by the king could not be rescinded (Daniel 6:8). Calling Vashti back was not an option.
His attendants suggested that all the beautiful virgins in his kingdom be sent to his harem. He could then select the one who pleased him the most to be his next queen. Ahasuerus loved the idea.
In the capital of Susa was a Jewish man named Mordecai. His ancestors were among those who went into captivity with King Jeconiah, about 115 years earlier. Most likely it was Kish who was taken captive. He was raising his orphaned cousin, who was named Hadassah, the Hebrew word for myrtle. She also went by the Greek name Esther, which means “star.” Esther was particularly beautiful, so she was selected to enter the king’s harem.
The eunuch in charge of the virgins was named Hegai. Hegai was particularly pleased with Esther and he placed her in the best place in the harem along with select maids, cosmetics, and choice food.
At Mordecai’s request, Esther did not mention she was an Israelite. Though Mordecai could not see Esther, he would daily walk in front of the court of the harem to gather news regarding how Esther was doing.
The young women were given a year to prepare. The king would have one woman come each evening. She was allowed to bring with her anything she wanted from the harem. After spending the night with the king, she was then sent to a different harem where the king’s concubines resided. However, she would not return unless the king sent for her by name.
When it was Esther’s turn, she did not ask for anything from the harem. Instead, she asked Hegai to suggest what she should bring. Being one of the king’s men, Hegai would know Ahasuerus’ likes and dislikes. Esther was the favorite of everyone who saw her, including the king, and she became Ahasuerus’ queen.
The king ordered a great banquet to celebrate his marriage and invited all the princes and his servants to attend. The feast day was declared to be a national holiday.
Mordecai now sat at the king’s gate to keep track of Esther. Likely this also indicated that Mordecai held some government position. Esther continued to follow Mordecai’s advice and did not mention that she was from Israel. She had long listened to Mordecai while he was raising her and she continued that practice. Mordecai maintained control in his household in contrast to Ahasuerus losing control in his own household.
Because Mordecai was often at the king’s gate, he happened to overhear a plot by two officials of the king’s bodyguards. They were mad at the king for some reason that wasn’t recorded for us and had decided to depose him. But Mordecai let Esther know what he had overheard and Esther, in turn, told the king what Mordecai had said. An investigation was ordered. The plotters were found guilty and hanged.