Esther Chapter Two, God Approves Of Beauty Pageants?
In our study of Esther chapter two, we look at how God allows some things to
happen but that does not mean that He approves of them. This chapter demonstrates God's permissive
will in that He will allow us to do things and will use them for good even though He doesn't like
Later when the anger of King Xerxes had subsided, he remembered
Vashti and what she had done and what he had decreed about her.
The king had been so angry about Vashti's actions that he couldn't
even think but now he has calmed down. He remembers that he has issued a law saying that
Vashti must be replaced as queen.
Then the king's personal attendants proposed, 'Let a search be made
for beautiful young virgins for the king.'
Now, we see that the king's attendants propose what we would call a
beauty pageant or contest. It is funny that what caused the problems with the former
queen (Vashti) was the fact that the king wanted to put her on display. Now, the
solution that is presented is to put a bunch of women on display but this isn't your
ordinary beauty contest as we will see.
'Let the king appoint commissioners in every province of his realm
to bring all these beautiful girls 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.'
The attendants continue to explain the contest and we see that the
girls were to be brought into the harem. A harem was a large group of women that were
set aside to have sexual relations with the king. A eunuch (man that no longer had the
ability to be with a woman) was put in charge so that there was no possibility of the
girls being with another man.
'Then let the girl who pleases the king be queen instead of
Vashti.' This advice appealed to the king, and he followed it.
The winner of this "beauty contest" would be queen but what about
the losers? They would be a permanent part of the king's harem and that is not what God
has designed for women.
Esther 2:5 & 6
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, who had been
carried into exile from Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, among those taken
captive with Jehoiachin king of Judah.
Now, we are introduced to Mordecai whose great grandfather had been
carried into exile to Babylon. Mordecai was still in Susa instead of going back to
Jerusalem as instructed by God therefore he was being disobedient and was outside the
will of God.
Esther 2:7 & 8
Mordecai had a cousin named Hadassah, whom he had brought up
because she had neither father nor mother. This girl, who was also known as Esther, was
lovely in form and features, and Mordecai had taken her as his own daughter when her
father and mother died. When the king's order and edict had been proclaimed, many girls
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.
Now, we are introduced to an orphan girl who has been adopted by
her cousin. Esther, whose name meant "star" was a lovely girl and Mordecai had raised
her as his own. This all sounds well and good until we see that his disobedience leads
to giving her over to what we would consider prostitution. Because Mordecai had not
obeyed God and went back to Jerusalem, he was there and entered Esther into this "beauty
contest". If she won, she would be queen but, if she lost, she would just be another
woman that was kept for the physical pleasures of the king.
The girl pleased him and won his favor. Immediately he provided her
with her beauty treatments and special food. He assigned to her seven maids selected
from the king's palace and moved her and her maids into the best place in the harem.
God takes care of His own even when they aren't seeing it. When
Esther was taken to the man in charge of the beauty contestants, he showed her favor and
moved her to the head of the line. She was immediately the favorite to win the contest.
Esther 2:10 & 11
Esther had not revealed her nationality and family background,
because Mordecai had forbidden her to do so. 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.
Esther had not revealed her Jewish identity because Mordecai told
her not to. Mordecai is not in the will of God and we can see it by his lack of peace.
He spent every day pacing at the gate but, if it was of God, he would have peace. If we
know that something is God's will for us, we can be confident and rest in the fact that
He is in control.
Before a girl'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 months with perfumes and cosmetics.
We are reminded that the girls had a year to prepare for their
chance with the king.
Esther 2:13 & 14
And this is how she would go to the king: Anything she wanted was
given to her to take with her from the harem to the king's palace. 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.
Now, my friends, that brings into focus the fact that this is not
God's will. We know, from Genesis 2:24,
that God created a man and a woman to be one (not a bunch of women to be one with a
man). The losers from the encounter with the king became concubines (women that were
just used for the pleasure of the king).
When the turn came for Esther (the girl 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.
God can and will show favor to His people in various ways. Even
though God was probably not happy with this whole contest, He blessed Esther by causing
the people around her to like her. The same can be true for us today in that, when we
are walking with Jesus, people will see a difference and want to be a part of Him.
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.
Esther's turn came and if we look behind the scenes we can see that
God was still in control. It was the tenth month and the number ten throughout the Bible
tells of earthly completion. It was the seventh year and seven is the number of
spiritual completion. God's divine will is going to meet with earthly circumstances at
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.
God continued to work and Esther was favored by the king. You can
almost feel that God has a reason for this although we don't see it yet. That is true in
our daily lives as God is constantly in control and working but we don't always see His
purpose. As His children we can be confident that He is looking out for our best interests.
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.
After Esther was chosen, the king threw a big banquet to show her
off. He celebrated by declaring a holiday.
Esther 2:19 & 20
When the virgins were assembled a second time, Mordecai was sitting
at the king's gate. But Esther had kept secret her family background and nationality
just as Mordecai had told her to do, for she continued to follow Mordecai's instructions
as she had done when he was bringing her up.
Even after she became queen, Esther humbled herself and continued
to listen to Mordecai. She still kept the fact that she was a Jew hidden from the king.
Meanwhile, Mordecai was promoted from a servant of the king to a judge (Esther probably
put in a good word for him with the king). We can tell that by the fact that we are told
that he was sitting at the king's gate (that was where the judges held court).
Esther 2:21 & 22
During the time Mordecai was sitting at the king's gate, Bigthana
and Teresh, two of the king's officers who guarded the doorway, became angry and
conspired to assassinate King Xerxes. But Mordecai found out about the plot and told
Queen Esther, who in turn reported it to the king, giving credit to Mordecai.
Mordecai was in the right place at the right time to learn of a
plot to kill the king. Esther continued to demonstrate her humbleness by giving credit
to Mordecai and Mordecai is in position to be favored by God.
And when the report was investigated and found to be true, the two
officials were hanged on a gallows. All this was recorded in the book of the annals in
the presence of the king.
The plot was investigated and the men were executed. The king was
made aware of all of this and you can imagine how thankful he was for Mordecai. Behind
the scenes, the hand of God is at work to protect His people. The same is true for us
today as He looks after His children even when we don't see what He is doing sometimes.