Wednesday, October 12, 2016

For such a time as this

{Special note to "ckrut" who commented . . . thank you for stopping by! I wanted to reply directly, but your settings are on no-reply. I'm glad you are studying with us! If you would like to receive a reply, you can change your settings so that it will show, or you can leave your address for me like this one: name(at)gmailorother(dot)com} Hugs!

Last time, we read our first chapter in the book of Esther, and we saw that Queen Vashti was deposed, because she wouldn't cooperate with her tipsy husband by parading about for all of his buddies to look at her . . . that made her disposable. And deposable. But I digress.
That leaves us with a king with a kingdom, but no queen.
Now what?
Well, let's read in chapter 2:
Later when King Xerxes’ fury had subsided, he remembered Vashti and what she had done and what he had decreed about her. Then the king’s personal attendants proposed, “Let a search be made for beautiful young virgins for the king. 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. Then let the young woman who pleases the king be queen instead of Vashti.” This advice appealed to the king, and he followed it.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.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.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. 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.

What a plan! What's not to like, as far as the king is concerned? He sits in his palace and lovely young virgins are rounded up and prettied up and brought to him, one by one, so that he can choose the next queen! I find that a little bit disturbing. But that's not the point here. . . Hadassah (Esther) is following the advice of her uncle, Mordecai, and relying on the guidance of the chief eunuch, Hegai. She's not revealed her nationality, because Mordecai insisted that she keep that quiet.

Can we put ourselves in her slippers for a moment? Taken to the palace, given beauty treatments and wonderful food, but always the thought in her head -- one night soon she will go to the king and submit to him sexually, and perhaps be chosen as the new queen. Esther must overcome those negative thoughts. She is hoping for a positive outcome. Scholars have suggested that she won the heart of the eunuch in charge of the harem, with her lovely looks and personality. Surely that looks like what happened -- Hegai gave her the best of everything, seven attendants, and a special place in the harem!

If this was (as it seemed to be) a beauty pageant, I reckon Esther would have won the "Miss Congeniality" award, for the passage notes that everyone liked her! Ah, but what about the embittered king, who was looking for love?
The verses say that Xerxes loved her more than any of the others -- he fell head over heels for her. He placed a royal crown on her head, and declared her to be the new queen. What's more, he established a new holiday with a banquet named for her!

This is not the end of the story, though.
So far, it reads a bit like a fairy tale. But I promise you, there are nuggets of truth for us to learn. Tune in tomorrow!


Cathy said...

I’m with you in the finding it disturbing thing. All those girls, most likely given no choice, most likely some of them at least, are terrified and unwilling, taken to the palace for this one night only with the King trial. And if they fail the test, the rest of their lived in a harem. Sure, it’s luxurious, sure they are fed well, sure some of them have it better there than maybe they would have had out in the world. It’s the no choice aspect of it that is so disturbing. Such a different world. And for all the problems and evils of our world today, I’m so grateful that we live now, and not then.

ckrut said...

Thank you so much for acknowledging my comment. I had no idea I was a "no reply". I think I have it set right now. First time I've ever been mentioned in a blog. I am loving your Bible studies. Read them on my lunch hour at work, and it helps get me through the afternoon. Sorry this is so wordy!