In Search of a Queen
Bad starts do not always mean bad finishes. We all know this. We’ve seen the game, we’ve heard of the person born in poverty who rose above his circumstances, and so on. The same is true in the Bible. There are bad starts, and there are great finishes. Humanity started out poorly in Adam, but Christ turned things around. What lies ahead is rather magnificent because of Him.
Of the sons of Israel, some started out well. Reuben was the firstborn of Jacob, but he didn’t finish too well. His father’s final words from his deathbed were rather terse, and they close out with the anticipation of things not excelling for Reuben in the future.
Benjamin did not start out well. He was the last of Jacob’s sons, and his mother died in giving him birth. In fact, she named him Ben-Oni, Son of My Suffering. Were it not for dad renaming him with a very positive name, it would have seemed like he would always be on the bad side of things. But like his naming and renaming, Benjamin’s history takes a parallel course.
He remained somewhat in obscurity, but eventually during the time of the judges, he was caught up in something so wicked and so perverse that it looked like he might not survive at all. He was reduced to a mere 600 men. He may have blinked off into extinction at this point, but he continued on. The bad-streak didn’t end there. Saul, the first king of Israel was from Benjamin, and it seemed like things had turned around for them. But Saul re-turned them around and lost the kingship. Benjamin’s infancy was one of suffering, and it seemed that it was destined to continue.
But along with these, and other bad things, which happened to him, he is now given a chance to make things better. That really isn’t apparent in the story yet, but the very fact that Benjamin is singled out shows us that this is possible. Will the son of suffering take on a new direction? Will he really become the son of the right hand? Well, all things are possible. The apostle Paul sure found that out…
Text Verse: “If anyone else thinks he may have confidence in the flesh, I more so: 5 circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; concerning the law, a Pharisee; 6 concerning zeal, persecuting the church; concerning the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.” Philippians 3:4-6
What? Paul… a Benjamite! And proud of it! Where does he get such confidence? While penning his words to those at Philippi, he probably was thinking about the events from the book of Esther. And probably about verse 5 of chapter 2. He knew the story, he celebrated it year by year at the Feast of Purim, and it could have been a great source of boasting for him that he was from this tribe, highlighted here for the first time, in the book of Esther.
Great things had come from Benjamin, including the Apostle Paul. But Paul would have us less happy for him about his heritage and lineage than he would have us fix our eyes on Jesus, the true Son of the Right Hand. These names, these stories, these actual events in human history… all of these things only point to the One who provides the greatest finish of them all.
We have little victories in life that change our destiny and put us on a path to success, fame, wealth, or whatever, but unless the Lord is in the equation, in the end it just doesn’t matter. The billionaire will turn back to the same dust as the bum in the streets. The movie star will putrefy just the same as the ditch digger, and the stock broker is heading to the same end as the 7-11 clerk.
Benjamin started poorly, but Benjamin will get a chance to end well. But that good ending is only because of the Lord who directs the events and calls people to Himself. If the response is made, then good will come of things – not just for this life, but for all the ages to come. After finishing the list of things he could brag in… that he COULD brag in, Paul tells of what value those things are in relation to what is truly worthy of boasting – “But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ.” In the end, the entire Bible is to lead us to that one Person who is worth boasting in – Jesus. This is a truth which is to be found in His superior word. And so let’s turn to that precious word once again and… May God speak to us through His word today and may His glorious name ever be praised.
I. Queen Instead of Vashti (verses 1-4)
After these things, when the wrath of King Ahasuerus subsided,
The words “After these things” take us back to all that occurred concerning Vashti, her refusal to heed the king, and everything resulting from that embarrassing ordeal. It is at some point after this that kesok khamat ha’melekh akhashverosh – “was subsided wrath the king Ahashuerus.” The word used for “subsided” is rather rare. It was seen in Genesis and Numbers. It will be seen here in Esther twice, and then only one more time in Jeremiah.
It comes from a root meaning “to weave a trap.” And so figuratively, through the idea of secreting away, it gives the sense of subsiding or pacifying. The second time it will be seen in Esther is in verse 7:10 where it is again used to speak of the subsiding of the king’s wrath. Thus, it is the basis for forming a new set of two’s. This first subsiding of the king’s anger is after his actions against Vashti, and it will set up the decision to find a queen to replace her, leading to Esther being selected to fill her vacancy. The second subsiding of his anger is after his actions against the wicked Haman, and it will set up the decision to replace Haman with Mordecai, filling his his vacancy.
In both, there is a replacing of a Gentile with a Jew. One is a female, one is a male. The two accounts contrast, and yet they confirm the hand of God in the appointment of two of His chosen people to fill the highest roles of the king’s life and government. Both are of the same tribe and family, Benjamin, or “Son of My Right Hand.” It is a fitting name when considering that in verse 8:8 both Esther and Mordecai are given royal authority, using the king’s signet ring, to then issue an edict which will save the Jews.
As the signet is a symbol of the king’s right hand, or authority, the fact that they are from Benjamin points directly to Christ as the true Savior of the Jews, and the true Son of the Right Hand. All of this can be gleaned from a simple statement using a particular word that the king’s wrath had shakakh, or subsided. It prefigures the replacement of Adam by Jesus pictured by Mordecai, and also those merely circumcised in the flesh with those circumcised in the heart, seen in Vashti/Esther. Paul speaks of both. First Mordecai –
“The first man was of the earth, made of dust; the second Man is the Lord from heaven. 48 As was the man of dust, so also are those who are made of dust; and as is the heavenly Man, so also are those who are heavenly. 49 And as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly Man.” 1 Corinthians 15:47-49
Mordecai will replace Haman who acted wickedly, being a follower of the works of the devil, as we are shown in 1 John 3:8. Christ came and replaced Adam who acted wickedly when he believed the lies of the devil. For man, that sad state is overturned by the work of Christ. Second we see Esther –
“Therefore, if an uncircumcised man keeps the righteous requirements of the law, will not his uncircumcision be counted as circumcision? 27 And will not the physically uncircumcised, if he fulfills the law, judge you who, even with your written code and circumcision, are a transgressor of the law? 28 For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh; 29 but he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, not in the letter; whose praise is not from men but from God.” Romans 2:26-29
Esther replaces the wayward bride, Vashti. She was externally beautiful, but her internal attitude was not directed towards the king’s command (circumcision of the flesh only). Esther will be both internally and externally obedient towards what is right (circumcision of the heart).
Although we are jumping ahead in order to understand our sets of two’s, it’s ok because we will get to number 2 too, and when we do, we can then review everything that here we looked into. That is, if it’s ok with you.
It won’t be seen until verse 16 of this chapter exactly when Esther will be chosen as queen, but for now, we can review the historical timeline. The feast at Susa of Chapter 1 was in the year 483BC. In the spring of the year 481BC Ahasuerus, or Xerxes, set out for Greece. It is some time between these dates that these events began to come about. There is a long absence of time between the events of chapter 1 and later in chapter 2 which is perfectly explained by the Greek campaign which is recorded in extra-biblical history. In other words, the account is perfectly reliable, and it fits with historical records found elsewhere.
1 (con’t) he remembered Vashti, what she had done, and what had been decreed against her.
The words here give us the sense that the king actually wished he had not made the decision and enacted the decree. Whether he could actually override his edict, or whether it was impossible according to law, hardly matters. Even if he could, by overriding it, he would demonstrate that his decision wasn’t firm, fixed, and final. It would reflect a vacillating king who had been more influenced by wine than by sound judgment.
This could not be allowed. And so the sense of almost sadness at what had come about is seen in these words. The king was left without a queen that he probably otherwise adored, and his decree finalized the matter. This is all the more surely the case, because he already would have had a harem, and yet there is no sense of pleasure in any of them. Otherwise, the “another” of verse 1:19 would have been an easy replacement. But none of the harem interested him. We can almost see one of the royal court asking him, “Why haven’t you chosen a new queen to replace Vashti?” His answer, “None of the concubines interests me.” And so, to repair the situation, an exciting new avenue is recommended…
2 Then the king’s servants who attended him said: “Let beautiful young virgins be sought for the king;
The king’s servants mentioned here are not the royal court of seven. Instead, they are probably the attendants of the court, such as the eunuchs and the like who served the king, and who would be personally affected by his disposition, and aware of his demeanor. They would also know of his preferences concerning the harem, and were aware that none of them was agreeable to the king as a replacement queen. And so, as a point of self interest in having a happy king, they set forth their proposal.
Four words are used to describe the women in the proposal, nearot betulot tovot mareh – “young women, virgins, beautiful in appearance.” In this, they have covered all of the desired bases. They are to be young, and thus not set in mind and demeanor. They are to be virgins, an obvious qualification. To not be a virgin would be wholly unsuited to the distinction of being presented to the king. And they were to be beautiful in appearance, another obvious requirement.
3 and let the king appoint officers in all the provinces of his kingdom,
The kingdom consisted of 127 provinces from India to Ethiopia with princes appointed over them. It is a giant swath of land, with an enormous number of cultures and languages. In appointing officers in each province, they would be able to search out the most beautiful and cultured of all of the women. Even if only one was chosen from each province as the epitome of those she represented, it would increase the king’s harem by 127 women – of every color, culture, and ethnicity. The officers would be meticulously careful to find the very best, as it would then reflect favorably on them and on their status before the king.
3 (con’t) that they may gather all the beautiful young virgins to Shushan the citadel,
From their home, to which they would never return, and unless chosen as a queen, from their family whom they would never see again, these women would become property of the king, and would spend their lives at the citadel, awaiting his call.
3 (con’t) into the women’s quarters,
el beit hanashim – unto house the women. This would be a house where women were separately maintained. In one part of the house would be the virgins. In another part would be the wives or concubines. They would be kept under separate governors who would be over them, serving the king’s interests.
3 (con’t) under the custody of Hegai the king’s eunuch, custodian of the women.
Hege, as the Hebrew reads, is seen only here in Chapter 2. He will be also be called Hegai, but it is the same person. The context of the passage seems to show that he is the keeper of the entire house of the women, both virgins and the non-virgin concubines or wives. He is a eunuch, something rather necessary for someone being placed in such a position of authority under the king of the land.
3 (con’t) And let beauty preparations be given them.
v’naton tamruqehen – “and a giving cosmetic purification.” The verb is in the infinitive absolute form, which highlights and gives prominence to the act. As John Lange says, it “presupposes the subject as being self-evident.” If this was modern English, the thought might be, “And of course, naturally, she will be purified in the usual way.”
This customary way of purification introduces the word tamruq. In the Bible, it will only be seen three times, all in this chapter. It comes from the word maraq, meaning to polish or scour. Thus, it would be a purification of rubbing. There would be cosmetics combined into a soap or oil, and then the rubbing may have been with hands, towels, or a nice soft luffa. Whatever is intended, it would have been a pretty delightful way to be pampered.
4 Then let the young woman who pleases the king be queen instead of Vashti.”
Going under the assumption that only one young woman was selected from each province, that still leaves the odds extremely slim for any particular girl to be chosen. Therefore, in order to be the one who pleases the king, she would have to be not only beautiful, but cultured; wise; pleasantly emotional, but not overly so; bold in one way, but completely submissive in another; and so on. The idea of, “You only get one chance to make a first impression,” is wholly true here. To be chosen would mean a completely different type of life lay ahead than to be rejected and to forever remain a concubine.
4 (con’t) This thing pleased the king, and he did so.
With the coming war with Greece, the order would go out, and there would have been plenty of time for selecting the finest virgins, for the women to be gathered, and then to educate them in the Persian language, and to properly prepare them according to the standards of purification. Further, an extended period under eunuch control would ensure that no chance of an already-pregnant girl could be presented to him. There was no rush in the matter, and the longer the period, the better for both the king and for the potential queen. He is pleased with the suggestion, and it would be carried out in a thorough and meticulous way.
A chaste virgin, to be presented to the King
Prepared and presented for His delight
A woman who will make His heart sing
A woman to outshine the darkness of night
Who will it be that is presented to the King?
Who is the one chosen for the King’s delight?
The call has gone out; like a bell it does ring
For a chaste and perfect virgin; beautiful to the sight
So the King will rejoice in His precious bride
The beautiful virgin in whom He does delight
Forever she will remain at His side
And together they will outshine the darkness of the night
II. Hadassah, That is, Esther (verses 5-7)
5 In Shushan the citadel there was a certain Jew
The Hebrew is laid out in a completely different way than almost all the English translations. It begins with ish yehudi hayah – “man, Jew, there was.” It is an abrupt and sudden change from the previous narrative concerning the king, the royal court, and the various things which transpired there. It is obviously a grammatical form used to introduce a complete contrast to what has been stated, and a look forward to what lies ahead. Cambridge states, “The influence which he, a Jew, is to have upon the history is thus placed in significant contrast with the brilliancy of the court of Susa.”
This is correct. The Jews had been in exile – though the exile was ended by Cyrus in 529BC. Many are scattered among the nations, and they have been out of favor with God. Jerusalem was not yet a walled and vibrant city. That wouldn’t occur until the time of Nehemiah in 445BC. The Jews are in a lowly state which is completely contrasted to the royal scene which has thus far been presented.
This Jew is right in Shusan, the citadel. From later in the narrative, it would rightly be assumed that he is either a eunuch or a doorkeeper in the king’s employ. Although there could be some further explanation for his ability to access the women’s court. More about this Jew is next revealed…
5 (con’t) whose name was Mordecai
The name Mordecai is generally debated as to belonging either to a Persian word, mordkai, meaning “Little Man,” or it is tied to the name of the Babylonian god Marduk, and thus it would mean “Pertaining to Marduk.” If this is so, it is not without precedent. The name of Daniel was changed to reflect a Babylonian god, as were others. If Mordecai was a eunuch or a doorkeeper, he would serve among the royals, and would be renamed accordingly. As Paul means “Small,” I would go with Mordecai – Little Man – showing a connection between the two.
5 (con’t) the son of Jair, the son of Shimei, the son of Kish,
Here are listed four names which are widely debated. Some see them as his four immediate ancestors. But this is unlikely. Names of ancestors in Scripture are, at times, given to highlight a particular genealogy without specifically naming all in that genealogy. This is the case with Jesus’ record in Matthew 1. The term ben, means “son,” but it can be, and often is, a generational term. One can be a son of Abraham even today, for example.
In this case, he was either the direct son of Jair, or Jair may be listed for another reason which I will explain in verse 6. From there, Mordecai is the son by ancestry of Shimei who is recorded as having cursed King David in 2 Samuel 16:5. Eventually, this same person was executed by Solomon in 1 Kings 2:46. Kish then is named as his next important ancestor. Though Shimei’s father was Gera, it is Kish who is significant, being the father of King Saul, the first king of Israel.
Therefore, Kish is the tie between the two genealogies. It is from his house that both King Saul and Mordecai, through Shimei, come. They are both sons of Kish according to ancestry. This Kish is mentioned by Saul, or Paul, in Acts 13:21. The importance of this connection to Kish lies yet ahead in the story. The name of Kish is connected to the word qush, a verb meaning to ensnare. Thus it may mean “To Snare.”
5 (con’t) a Benjamite.
Finally, we learn here that the term yehudi, or Jew, only indicates that he fell under the broader term which is by now being used to designate any person from any tribe of Israel. He is thus both a Jew and a Benjamite. Again, Benjamin means “Son of my right hand.”
6 Kish had been carried away from Jerusalem with the captives who had been captured with Jeconiah king of Judah, whom Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon had carried away.
The name Kish is incorrectly inserted here. The Hebrew simply says, “Which has been carried away.” It is speaking in a general term, not of either Kish or of Mordecai. Rather, this means that this family line, leading to Mordecai, had been carried away. In fact, it very well may be Jair who then is listed for this very reason. He being the ancestor who saw exile. Though more a paraphrase, the New Living Translation gives the correct sense of this verse –
“His family had been among those who, with King Jehoiachin of Judah, had been exiled from Jerusalem to Babylon by King Nebuchadnezzar.” NLT
It is this family line which eventually was carried away along with Jeconiah, king of Judah, by Nebuchadnezzar. That was more than 100 years before (598/597BC). As a side note, this is the only time Jerusalem is mentioned in Esther. Further, it is spelled in an alternate way Yerushalayim.
As a completely amazing point. Of the acrostics found in this one verse, four are one and the same word, mehera, or “In a hurry.” Two are in the noun form, and two are in the verb form. They form from reading the verse both forward AND backwards. It is exceptional! The chances of this being random are zero.
7 And Mordecai had brought up Hadassah,
This is the only time that the name Hadassah is used in the Bible. It means “Myrtle.” The myrtle is one of the branches used by the Jews to build their sukkah in the Feast of Tabernacles according to Nehemiah 8:15. The hadas, or myrtle, is from the same root at hadom, or footstool. The root means, “to stamp upon.” One can think of stamping out sin. It is also one of the prophetic pictures of God’s promised blessings in Isaiah 55:13. Thus, it is quite appropriate to this story of saving and blessing the Jewish people.
7 (con’t) that is, Esther,
The name Esther comes from a Persian word meaning “star.” Specifically, it would be the “star” Venus, indicating beauty and good fortune. However, the name of Esther to a Hebrew would remind the audience of two different thoughts, both having a bearing on the story. The first is a compound word which would sound like, “She Searches out Evil.” That would be relevant to the heroine. The second is even more relevant to the story itself. The name sounds like a word signifying “hiding.” And so Esther would sound like “I Am Hidden.” It is exactly what we discussed in the hidden, and yet fully evident, presence of the Lord in the book, and of the hidden acrostics pointing to the Lord in the book as well.
7 (con’t) his uncle’s daughter, for she had neither father nor mother.
This makes her his own first cousin. He was obviously older and took care of her from the time of the parent’s passing. As the Lord directs the life of man, it is obvious that He directed the death of the parents in order to bring Esther into Mordecai’s life to save the Jews. One can make obvious deductions by simply stepping back and seeing how God has orchestrated each step of what occurs in order to meet His purposes, and to fulfill His promises.
7 (con’t) The young woman was lovely and beautiful.
The same words are used to describe both Rachel and Joseph as that of Esther – beautiful of form. In addition to this another adjective signifying “beautiful in sight” is added on. She was both shapely and pleasing to the eyes – each a gift of God, but the opposite in appearance cannot be considered a curse. God endows beauty according to His wisdom, and in order to complete the course of His will. One can anticipate details of the story at this point. She has met the requirements for beauty of the royal decision. Now we just have to watch the story unfold.
7 (con’t) When her father and mother died, Mordecai took her as his own daughter.
This was not by chance, but according to will. God’s will was for the saving of the Jews, and so according to that greater purpose, the parents were taken away. Mordecai’s will was for the safety of his cousin, and the preservation of her Jewishness, and so according to that greater purpose, he took her in as his own daughter. Possibly being a eunuch or a doorkeeper, he was already close to the royal court. This further met the plan which was to be realized by the Lord. This realization begins in verse 8…
In search of a queen to be by My side
A radiant beauty to live with through the ages
A chaste virgin prepared as a bride
Whose beauty exceeds the poems on thousands of pages
Adorned as a queen in royal splendor
Gloriously appareled, such a beautiful sight
A bride like no other, so soft and so tender
And glistening with jewels, shining and bright
A bride fit for a King, radiant and lovely is she
One to bring joy forever to the King’s heart
The perfect union, so shall it forever be!
Nothing will separate them, nor tear them apart
III. Under the Hand of Hegai (verses 8-11)
8 So it was, when the king’s command and decree were heard, and when many young women were gathered at Shushan the citadel, under the custody of Hegai, that Esther also was taken to the king’s palace,
The king’s command is his spoken approval. The decree, or written law is what would have been issued based on that. Josephus records that there were approximately 400 women gathered together at this time, Esther being one of them. It is possible that the name Esther is being used in a future manner, having been given to her some time after coming into the palace. However, it very well may be that Mordecai called her Esther, and told her to use this name in order to hide her identity before entering the palace. It would go along then with what is stated in verse 10.
This now introduces another set of two’s. This one corresponds to the second gathering of virgins recorded in verse 2:19. The first gathering is to find a queen, the second gathering is after a queen has been selected. The first gathering was for the king to find sufficiency in a queen; the second is to fill a void in the king’s desired harem. One meant a good life for Esther; the second could mean death for her. They contrast, and yet they confirm that the king was always on the lookout for others to find pleasure in.
8 (con’t) into the care of Hegai the custodian of the women.
el yad hegai shomer hanashim – literally, “into the hand of Hegai keeper of the women.” The spelling of the name of Hegai varies from Hege of verse 3, but it is referring to the same person. The only difference in the spelling of the names is the final letter which changes from an aleph to a yod, previously known as a yad, which means “hand.” In this verse, Esther has been placed into the hand of Hegai, and the spelling of his name reflects that change. It is into his hand that care of this vitally important woman has been placed.
9 Now the young woman pleased him, and she obtained his favor;
Esther’s beauty must have been extraordinary. Hegai would have had countless girls under his care – virgins, concubines, lesser wives, and female attendants for them all. And yet, he was truly smitten with Esther – probably both in her physical looks, and in her comportment and demeanor. He saw someone who truly was fitting as a queen, and in preparing her, he would be possibly finding even greater favor in the eyes of the king.
For him to place her in the order in which she arrived would be to keep her away from the king longer. This might be a source of the king’s wrath for him later. If the king chose someone else before coming to Esther, and then was given Esther as a concubine, Hegai might look like the world’s worst keeper of the women.
These words bring in another set of two’s. Here, Esther finds khesed lepanav, or “lovingkindness before him.” This will be repeated concerning Esther in the eyes of the king in verse 2:17. Here it is favor of the keeper of the women, there it concerns the love of the king. They contrast, and yet they confirm that she was pleasing in all ways as a refined and beautiful woman. Because he has found her exceptional, he moves to prepare her for the king with all alacrity…
9 (con’t) so he readily gave beauty preparations to her, besides her allowance.
The word translated as “so he readily” is v’bahel. The word bahal gives the sense of being dismayed. In this, the sense of hurriedly, or urgently is seen. In 2 Chronicles 26, King Uzziah illegally burnt incense before the Lord. When he did, his forehead broke out in leprosy. In response to this, the priest hurried him out of the sanctuary. This is the sense of the word. Hegai was almost in a panic to have this marvelous beauty prepared for the king.
In this is seen the second of the three times tamruq, or items for purification, is found. She was quickly started on this course of preparation and also given manah, or a special diet of food, as most good translations state it. Those selected for the king’s service, be it virgins or wise men, were given a special portion of food as their diet.
9 (con’t) Then seven choice maidservants were provided for her from the king’s palace,
The word “maidservants” is prefixed with the word “the.” In other words, it is stating that there were designated seven maidservants to assist her and prepare her as a candidate to being queen. This then is more than just a glamour-fest. It is an entire body of training and introduction into how to conduct oneself in the king’s palace. These seven would prepare both her physical looks, such as in bathing, hair care, and the like, but they would also train her in etiquette, manners, customs, and so on.
The word “choice” to describe these maidservants is a participle of the verb raah which is used for a particular purpose in both the Talmud and in rabbinical Hebrew, and which occurs only here in the Bible. It shows the special care of Esther as she is being readied for her encounter with the king. Hegai has gone to enormous lengths to ensure that Esther would be ready, that she would be ready quickly, and that she would be fully ready. And as a sign of true endearment to this fabulous beauty he does more…
9 (con’t) and he moved her and her maidservants to the best place in the house of the women.
It is as if Hegai anticipates the outcome of the selection. He not only does all that he can for her to prepare her for what was to come, but he gives her the quarters which reflect what she would receive. The rooms would have been palatial, airy, and a delight to the senses. It is obvious that even if the king had not yet made his selection, Hegai had already done so for him…
10 Esther had not revealed her people or family, for Mordecai had charged her not to reveal it.
This verse is supplementary to what has just been said about Esther’s exceptional treatment, but the reason for it is not stated. Here, she has been commanded by Mordecai to not reveal either her people, meaning being Jewish, or her line of birth, meaning being of the stock of Israel. Many scholars say that if her Jewish roots had been known, it would have been a setback to her chances to becoming the queen, as if being Jewish in itself was a liability. But that makes no sense. If the best beauties of all the provinces were gathered together, it would include the province of Judea. There is no reason to assume that to be correct.
However, being raised in Sushan, her spoken Persian would be flawless. It would be a plus if she were assumed to be a native Persian, even if it was not a minus to be a foreigner. If she, without lying, said “I am from Sushan,” it would be utterly delightful to both Hegai and the king that such a beauty was reared right in their backyard. Such seems to be the thinking on Mordecai’s mind.
This verse initiates yet another set of two’s. It is that Esther has concealed her identity. That is first found here, and then again in verse 2:20. The first is at the command of Mordecai, and the second is in obedience to his command. They contrast, and yet they confirm the obedience of Esther to her adopted father.
*11 (fin) And every day Mordecai paced in front of the court of the women’s quarters, to learn of Esther’s welfare and what was happening to her.
Unlike the parents of all of the other girls who would probably never again hear of the state of their daughters, Mordecai was able to find out about Esther’s affairs. In whatever capacity he served, he was able to access the front of the women’s quarters and inquire about her there. Even in this, one can see the Lord’s hand working behind the scenes. He has chosen someone with at least partial access to find out what is going on, and to maintain a relationship with the person who would eventually become queen.
Each step of the story continues to show that despite Israel’s inability to stay faithful to their God and the covenant cut between them, such is not the case with the Lord. He is there, tending to His promises, and ensuring that His chosen people would not be destroyed by a wicked plot against them. They had been exiled, some had returned and begun life in Israel again, but there were still many scattered throughout the nations. And soon, all of them would be threatened by the evil intent of one man.
But God has a greater plan that is being worked out in the background. Like a meticulous clock that strikes the seconds, and then the minutes, and then the hours, ever faithful to proclaim the march of time, the Lord is there, silently moving circumstances as He sees fit to faithfully proclaim the cycle of redemption from beginning to end.
He took Enoch away, for His purposes. He saved Noah through the flood, to continue them on. He called Abraham, He chose Isaac, and He faithfully led Jacob. His favor went toward Rahab, a harlot, and He called Ruth, a young Gentile widow to be His own. Here in Esther, this beautifully woven tapestry is continuing on – for Israel, in anticipation of Christ, and to secure a people from the Gentiles.
He is never distant or uninterested. Though we normally don’t see it until after the fact, He is working to bring all things to a good end for those who trust Him. This must be true. What would God merit in stepping out of the eternal realm, uniting with humanity, and dying on a cross, if it wasn’t for a very good end. If nothing else, the cross of Christ shows us that God is completely interested in every one of us. So be of good cheer, do the right thing, and call out to Jesus. As caring as the Lord is about what occurred in the palace at Shushan, He is just as caring about what occurs with you.
Closing Verse: “Oh, that you would bear with me in a little folly—and indeed you do bear with me. 2 For I am jealous for you with godly jealousy. For I have betrothed you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. 3 But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. 4 For if he who comes preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or if you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted—you may well put up with it!” 2 Corinthians 11:1-4
Next Week: Esther 2:12-23 What will be the outcome of this thing? (A Night With the King) (4th Esther Sermon)
The Lord has you exactly where He wants you. He has a good plan and purpose for you. At times, you might feel as if he has no great design for you in life, but he has brought you to this moment to reveal His glory in and through you. So follow Him and trust Him and He will do marvelous things for you and through you.
In Search of a Queen
After these things, when the wrath of King Ahasuerus subsided
He remembered Vashti, what she had done
And what had been decreed against her
After the course of his wrath had run
Then the king’s servants who attended him said
———-with a notable ring
“Let beautiful young virgins be sought for the king
And let the king appoint officers
In all the provinces of his kingdom, so to you we tell
That they may gather all the beautiful young virgins
To Shushan the citadel
Into the women’s quarters
Under the custody of Hegai
The king’s eunuch, custodian of the women
Whom on the virgins he keeps his eye
And let beauty preparations be given them
Then let the young woman who pleases the king
Be queen instead of Vashti
This thing pleased the king, and he did so; yes he did this thing
In Shushan the citadel there was a certain Jew
Whose name was Mordecai the son of Jair
The son of Shimei, the son of Kish, a Benjamite
More of Modecai, you can bet we will hear
Kish had been carried away from Jerusalem
With the captives who had been captured in the fray
With Jeconiah, king of Judah
Whom Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon had carried away
And Mordecai had brought up Hadassah
That is, Esther, his uncle’s daughter; so they were related
For she had neither father nor mother
As the Bible to us has stated
The young woman was lovely and beautiful
When her father and mother died
Mordecai took her as his own daughter
Parenting skills to her he applied
So it was, when the king’s command and decree were heard
And when many young women were gathered
———-at Shushan the citadel
Under the custody of Hegai
As the story does tell
That Esther also was taken to the king’s palace, there and then
Into the care of Hegai the custodian of the women
Now the young woman pleased him
And she obtained his favor, so we know
So he readily gave beauty preparations to her
Besides her allowance, to her he did bestow
Then seven choice maidservants
Were provided for her from the palace of the king
And he moved her and her maidservants
To the best place in the house of the women
———-so for her he did this thing
Esther had not revealed her people or family one little bit
For Mordecai had charged her not to reveal it
And every day Mordecai paced
In front of the court of the women’s quarters
To learn of Esther’s welfare
And what was happening to her from any passing reporters
Lord God, thank You for Your presence that is with us
Even when we don’t realize that You are there
Because You sent Your own Son Jesus
We can know that You truly do care
And so Lord, be real to us in a wonderful new way
Open our minds and our hearts to seeing You always
Through every step we take, and throughout every day
Be real to us, O God, and to You will shall give all of our praise
Hallelujah and Amen…