Esther 2:1 Later when King Xerxes’ fury had subsided, he remembered Vashti and what she had done and what he had decreed about her. 2 Then the king’s personal attendants proposed, “Let a search be made for beautiful young virgins for the king. 3 Let the king appoint commissioners in every province of his realm to bring all these beautiful young women into the harem at the citadel of Susa. Let them be placed under the care of Hegai, the king’s eunuch, who is in charge of the women; and let beauty treatments be given to them. 4 Then let the young woman who pleases the king be queen instead of Vashti.” This advice appealed to the king, and he followed it.
5 Now there was in the citadel of Susa a Jew of the tribe of Benjamin, named Mordecai son of Jair, the son of Shimei, the son of Kish, 6 who had been carried into exile from Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, among those taken captive with Jehoiachin[a] king of Judah. 7 Mordecai had a cousin named Hadassah, whom he had brought up because she had neither father nor mother. This young woman, who was also known as Esther, had a lovely figure and was beautiful. Mordecai had taken her as his own daughter when her father and mother died.
8 When the king’s order and edict had been proclaimed, many young women were brought to the citadel of Susa and put under the care of Hegai. Esther also was taken to the king’s palace and entrusted to Hegai, who had charge of the harem.9 She pleased him and won his favor. Immediately he provided her with her beauty treatments and special food. He assigned to her seven female attendants selected from the king’s palace and moved her and her attendants into the best place in the harem.
10 Esther had not revealed her nationality and family background, because Mordecai had forbidden her to do so. 11 Every day he walked back and forth near the courtyard of the harem to find out how Esther was and what was happening to her.
12 Before a young woman’s turn came to go in to King Xerxes, she had to complete twelve months of beauty treatments prescribed for the women, six months with oil of myrrh and six with perfumes and cosmetics. 13 And this is how she would go to the king: Anything she wanted was given her to take with her from the harem to the king’s palace. 14 In the evening she would go there and in the morning return to another part of the harem to the care of Shaashgaz, the king’s eunuch who was in charge of the concubines. She would not return to the king unless he was pleased with her and summoned her by name.
15 When the turn came for Esther (the young woman Mordecai had adopted, the daughter of his uncle Abihail) to go to the king, she asked for nothing other than what Hegai, the king’s eunuch who was in charge of the harem, suggested. And Esther won the favor of everyone who saw her. 16 She was taken to King Xerxes in the royal residence in the tenth month, the month of Tebeth, in the seventh year of his reign.
17 Now the king was attracted to Esther more than to any of the other women, and she won his favor and approval more than any of the other virgins. So he set a royal crown on her head and made her queen instead of Vashti. 18 And the king gave a great banquet, Esther’s banquet, for all his nobles and officials. He proclaimed a holiday throughout the provinces and distributed gifts with royal liberality.
a. Esther 2:6 Hebrew Jeconiah, a variant of Jehoiachin
I have been thinking of Cinderella.... the Disney Cinderella with a little robin perched on her dainty hand while she sings a pretty song.... The commentary from yesterday is right on two counts.... it is a cool story and so far... no mention of God.
This is from enduringword.com.
After these things: This is broader than just the events of the previous chapter. Esther 2:16 indicates that there was a four-year span between chapters one and two. During that time King Ahasuerus made his great, unsuccessful invasion of Greece and he came home a defeated man, wanting to cheer his heart through sensual diversions.
Let beautiful young virgins be sought for the king: The plan was to assemble a harem from the most beautiful women of the land; to bring them into a harem for the king, and to choose the most favored woman to be his queen from that group. This was sort of a “Miss Persian Empire” contest, and the winner would be queen instead of Vashti.
This thing pleased the king, and he did so: The ancient Jewish historian Josephus says the Ahasuerus had a total of 400 women selected.
After she had completed twelve months’ preparation: Persia was one of many countries famous for its aromatic perfumes and ancient customs for the preparations of brides, including ritualistic baths, plucking of the eyebrows, the painting of hands and feet with henna, facial make-up, and applications of a beautifying paste all over the body, meant to lighten the color of the skin and to remove spots and blemishes.
One reason for the lengthy time of preparation was to tell if the women had been pregnant upon coming into the harem, so that the king would not be charged with fathering a child that was not his.
Matthew Poole says that the oils and perfumes were necessary because “The bodies of men and women in those hot countries did of themselves yield very ill scents, if not corrected and qualified by art.”
Thus prepared, each young woman went to the king: It sounds wonderful – a year of constant spa treatments. Yet the destiny of these women should also be considered: one evening with the king. If he chose them from the 400 others to be his queen, then she would be his companion (until she displeased him). As for the 399 who lost, they were banished to the harem where they stayed the wife or the concubine of the king, but rarely if ever saw him afterwards. And they were never free to marry another man, essentially living as a perpetual widow.
Wow.... if a girl was chosen to be in the "Miss Persian Empire" she'd have to sit in the spa for a year to prove she wasn't mysteriously pregnant, causing the king to raise a bastard..... and if she didn't win.... well her life was pretty much hang out at the spa all day for the rest of her life because if the king didn't want her.... no one could have her..... bummer....
But the good news is..... Esther won the prize.... the little Jewish orphan.... raised by her uncle.... was now the Queen of Persia.... ooohh.... nifty..... Oh and the king was so excited he gave out presents to everyone with "royal liberality".... never heard that phrase before but it sounds expensive!