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Deeper Commentary

Esther 2:1 After these things, when the wrath of King Ahasuerus was pacified, he remembered Vashti and what she had done, and what was decreed against her- The LXX reverses this: "he no more mentioned Astin, bearing in mind what she had said, and how he had condemned her". This is perhaps painting a picture of the king as generally living for the moment and forgetting the past and its implications. It would explain why he agrees to Haman's request in an irresponsible manner, forgetting that his servant Mordecai was a Jew. And it fits with his forgetting of how Mordecai had saved him from assassination, and he had forgotten to reward him.

Esther 2:2 Then the king’s servants who served him said, Let beautiful young virgins be sought for the king-
As explained on :1, he had forgotten the whole issue with Vashti, perhaps because he was drunk for many days whilst it was all going on (Esther 1:10). He likely had many wives and concubines and may literally have forgotten about the whole business. He is now as it were reminded by his servants of his publicized intention to replace Vashti, as if he needed to get on with it. The long period of time in the program for finding a replacement for her (:12), five years after Vashti was fired (:16), would suggest that he had many wives and was not seeking as it were a singular wife; it was just one of his wives who was being replaced by another.

Esther 2:3 Let the king appoint officers in all the provinces of his kingdom, that they may gather together all the beautiful young virgins to the citadel of Susa, to the women’s house, to the custody of Hegai the king’s eunuch, keeper of the women. Let cosmetics be given them-
This house of the women and "keeper of the women" would suggest that Vashti was far from his only wife / queen and he had a special harem of women.

Esther 2:4 and let the maiden who pleases the king be queen instead of Vashti. The thing pleased the king, and he did so-
Again the king is being nudged towards realizing that he is not sovereign and all wise and powerful, as he was addressed. He did the word of an adviser, who came up with a plan he didn't conceive; and this is a repeat of the lesson given to him in Esther 1:21 when again he is obedient to the words of others. He was being prepared to agree to do the words of Esther and Mordecai later. And God likewise works with people today, using one situation or experience to prepare them for another.

Esther 2:5 There was a certain Jew in the citadel of Susa, whose name was Mordecai, son of Jair, son of Shimei, son of Kish a Benjamite-
So much of later Isaiah is taken up with mockery and criticism of the Babylonian gods and the Marduk cult. The book of Esther, with Mordecai as the joint hero, named as he was after Marduk, demonstrates how caught up were the Jews with the Babylonian gods. Ezekiel repeatedly reveals the idolatry of the captives. Isaiah was therefore an appeal for the Jews to quit the Marduk cult and believe in the radical prophecies about the overthrow of Babylon. We know from Ez. 8, Jer. 44 and Zech. 5 that many Jews had accepted the idols of their Babylonian conquerors, rather like Ahaz did after his defeat by Assyria (2 Kings 16:10). The spirit of ridiculing the idolatry of Babylon whilst living in it, waiting the call to leave, is so relevant to modern Christians working, living and waiting in latter day Babylon. Mordecai was a descendant of the family of Saul; he isn't presented as a particularly spiritual man to start with. The fact he worked in the palace also indicates that, seeing he would have to go along with much paganism to do his job. If the LXX is correct, he sacrificed his own intended wife because he loved the idea of having power and prestige more than he did his wife. Again, not a very spiritual impression.


Esther 2:6 who had been carried away from Jerusalem with the captives who had been carried away with Jeconiah king of Judah, whom Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon had carried away-
Note the triple repetition of "carried away". This is to se up the similarity but spiritual contrast with Daniel who is described in the same way. 

Esther 2:7 He brought up Hadassah, that is, Esther, his uncle’s daughter; for she had neither father nor mother-
"Myrtle" ['Hadassah'] is a plant native to Persia and not Palestine; and the group of myrtle trees in Zech. 1:8,10,11 appears to represent Persia. Esther, "Star", is another reference to Marduk (see on :5). She is hardly presented as a spiritually minded young woman, but as a Jewess who had totally assimilated into Persia.  

The maiden was fair and beautiful; and when her father and mother were dead, Mordecai took her for his own daughter- LXX "And he had a foster child, daughter of Aminadab his father's brother, and her name was Esther; and when her parents were dead, he brought her up for a wife for himself". This would be rather similar to how Uriah raised Bathsheba (according to Nathan's parable of the man with the lamb) to become his wife, and she did so. Seeing Mordecai hadn't yet married Esther, she would have been very young, perhaps still in her mid teens. That God should use such a youngster is typical of how He uses the meek and weak for His great purposes.

Esther 2:8 So it happened that when the king’s commandment and his decree was heard, and when many maidens were gathered together to the citadel of Susa, to the custody of Hegai, Esther was taken into the king’s house, to the custody of Hegai, keeper of the women-
Hegai and his college of women was not simply a safe place for the women to stay. It was effectively a college for sex workers. And Esther willingly entered it, on Mordecai's arrangement. The whole intention was to produce women who could fulfil the king's various desires.

Esther 2:9 The maiden pleased him, and she obtained kindness from him. He quickly gave her cosmetics and her portions of food-
She is contrasted with young Daniel, who in this situation refused to eat such food. She is presented as spiritually weak.

And the seven choice maidens who were to be given her out of the king’s house. He moved her and her maidens to the best place in the women’s house- Hegai clearly had a big influence upon who was finally accepted. He knew the king's taste in women as it was his job to pander to it and arrange fulfilment for him. His instinctive liking of Esther amongst the many competitors was therefore providentially arranged.

Esther 2:10 Esther had not made known her people nor her relatives, because Mordecai had instructed her that she should not make it known-
This was surely an indication of spiritual weakness; and yet God worked through it, just as He may use marriage out of the faith to bring someone to the faith. She stands in stark contrast to Daniel, and yet similar to Jonah who in his weakness did not tell / make know his people to the sailors (Jonah 1:8 s.w.)- and at that point, he was representative of a spiritually weak Judah in exile.


Esther 2:11 Mordecai walked every day in front of the court of the women’s house, to find out how Esther was doing, and what would become of her-
Mordecai really wanted his plan to succeed, but for the wrong reasons. But God chose to work through it, rather than turn away from a poorly motivated man and his weak daughter.

Esther 2:12 Each young woman’s turn came to go in to King Ahasuerus after her purification for twelve months (for so were the days of their purification accomplished, six months with oil of myrrh, and six months with sweet fragrances and with preparations for beautifying women)-
The long period of time in the program for finding a replacement for her (:2) would suggest that he had many wives and was not seeking as it were a singular wife; it was just one of his wives who was being replaced by another. 'Going in to the king' surely is the familiar euphemism for the sexual act. To be willing to do this with a Gentile outside of marriage is surely an indication of spiritual weakness.

Esther 2:13 The young woman then came to the king like this: whatever she desired was given her to go with her out of the women’s house to the king’s house-
This doesn't just refer to whatever cosmetics or clothing she desired. She had been given seven female assistants. The idea was that she would conceive and put on a sex show for the king; for the idea was that she was to do what Vashti had refused to do. But see on :15. The Gentile Vashti thereby appears as more moral and ethical than the Jewish Esther, as we find so often in Biblical history. 

Esther 2:14 In the evening she went, and on the next day she returned into the second women’s house, to the custody of Shaashgaz, the king’s eunuch, who kept the concubines. She came in to the king no more, unless the king delighted in her, and she was called by name-
That Esther 'went in' to the king in the evening and then returned in the morning, having spent the night with the king, to the separate dwelling, of women with whom the king had slept and who were no longer virgins, indicates clearly enough that she slept with him. She knew this was to be the procedure and that statistically he was unlikely to 'marry' her seeing there were many such competitors. To participate in this, let alone with the enthusiasm for it which Mordecai showed, was clearly sinful and a betrayal of all the moral principles Israel were supposed to be committed to.

Esther 2:15 Now when the turn of Esther, the daughter of Abihail the uncle of Mordecai, who had taken her for his daughter, came to go in to the king, she required nothing but what Hegai the king’s eunuch, the keeper of the women, advised. Esther obtained favour in the sight of all those who looked at her-
I suggested on :13 that she had been given the seven other young women in order to prepare a sex show for the king. But it could appear that she didn't take them with her, and only used the cosmetics and clothing provided. Perhaps it was this unusual departure from the norm which focused the king's attention singularly upon her. So perhaps she too was being taught that her even slight attention to some level of morality was being blessed.

Esther 2:16 So Esther was taken to King Ahasuerus into his royal house in the tenth month, which is the month Tebeth, in the seventh year of his reign-
"The royal house" is literally "the house of the kingdom", the term used for the temple in 2 Chron. 2:1,12. This extends the  impression discussed on Esther 1:7 that we have here a fake, imitation temple of Yahweh. This was about five years after the Vashti incident; see on :2.

Esther 2:17 The king loved Esther more than all the women, and she obtained favour and kindness in his sight more than all the virgins; so that he set the royal crown on her head, and made her queen instead of Vashti-
This was also from God; He worked on the tastes and perceptions of the king so that he favoured Esther. For all such attraction is subjective and deeply personal. But God worked through this.

Esther 2:18 Then the king made a great feast for all his princes and his servants, even Esther’s feast; and he proclaimed a holiday in the provinces, and gave gifts according to the king’s bounty-
"Holiday" is literally "release"- from taxation, or from military service, or from both, for a specified period.

Esther 2:19 When the virgins were gathered together the second time, Mordecai was sitting in the king’s gate-
It would seem that the gathering of virgins to the king for him to choose a queen was a regular occurrence. The houses for the girls were already built and the system of preparing them was already organized. But it could be that there was an attempt to replace Esther with the puppet of some other group. Esther had won the conquest because (under God's hand) the king preferred her. But there were likely men interest groups like Mordecai who wanted their daughters to be chosen. The repetition of Mordecai being "In the king's gate" in :21 would suggest that it was because of his position there that he uncovered the assassination plot. And this would have solidified his position, when perhaps it was under threat from other pretenders who were aware that Esther was his daughter, even though the king seems unaware of it.

Esther 2:20 Esther had not yet made known her relatives nor her people, as Mordecai had commanded her; for Esther obeyed Mordecai, like she did when she was brought up by him-
LXX "and Esther changed not her manner of life" may suggest she did not have any spiritual transformation whilst in the palace. She was still a spiritually weak young woman who rose up to the situation.

Esther 2:21 In those days, while Mordecai was sitting in the king’s gate, two of the king’s eunuchs who were doorkeepers, Bigthan and Teresh, were angry, and sought to lay hands on the King Ahasuerus-
LXX claims they were angry because Mordecai had been promoted.

Esther 2:22 This thing became known to Mordecai, who informed Esther the queen; and Esther informed the king in Mordecai’s name-
This was clearly the invisible hand of God working to set up Esther and Mordecai positively in the king's eyes.

Esther 2:23 When this matter was investigated, and it was found to be so, they were both hanged on a tree; and it was written in the book of the chronicles in the king’s presence
- And yet the king seems to have forgotten about Mordecai, who was well known as a Jew, because he signs the decree for killing all the Jews without thinking about that. He comes over as a superficial man with no interest in the past or its consequences. And yet God was working to nudge even such a person towards Him.