v1 Later, when the king was not still angry, he thought about Vashti. He remembered what she had done. And he remembered the law that he had made.
Verse 1 Xerxes may have been sorry for what he had done to Vashti. We do not know if he was sorry soon afterwards. It may have happened much later. It was several years later that Xerxes made Esther queen. (See Esther 2:16-17.) The delay was probably because Xerxes was abroad. During this time, he fought wars against the armies of Greece.
v2 Then the king’s personal servants gave him advice. ‘The king should order people to find some beautiful young *virgins for the king. v3 The king should appoint officials in all the countries that he rules. There is a castle at Susa. They can bring all these beautiful young *virgins to the women’s house that is in the castle. Hegai is the royal servant who looks after the king’s wives. He will look after them and give them *beauty treatments. v4 Then the girl that you like best can be queen instead of Vashti.’ The king liked this advice and he followed it.
Verses 2-4 Usually the kings of Persia only married wives from the 7 most important families in Persia. Esther was a *Jew, but God wanted Esther to be queen. The servants of the unhappy king suggested that officials should search all the *kingdom for suitable young girls. These girls had not had sex with a man. The king would then choose his favourite girl and he would make her queen.
v5-6 A *Jew called Mordecai, from the family of Benjamin, lived in the castle in Susa. He was the son of Jair, who was the son of Shimei. Shimei was the son of Kish. Kish was one of the *Jews whom Nebuchadnezzar took from Jerusalem to Babylon with Jehoiachin (the king of Judah). v7 Mordecai had looked after his cousin Hadassah because she had no father or mother. Hadassah, who was also called Esther, was very beautiful. And she had a lovely figure. When her father and mother died, Mordecai adopted her.
Verses 5-7 The writer interrupts the story to tell us about Esther and Mordecai. They are very important people in the story. They were *Jews.
The king of Babylon had taken King Jehoiachin and many of the *Jews away from Jerusalem over 100 years earlier.
Esther’s *Jewish name was Hadassah. The name Esther might be the same as Ishtar, who was the female god of love in Babylon. Often the people in Babylon gave *Jews the names of false gods. They did this because they wanted the *Jews to forget the real God. Daniel and his friends also had two names (Daniel 1:7). (The king of Babylon had taken Daniel and his friends away from Jerusalem too.)
Esther was very beautiful. God made her beautiful, because he was going to make her the queen. God makes each of us what he wants us to be.
v8 So, when the king issued his law, his officials brought many girls to the castle at Susa. Hegai was responsible for them. They also brought Esther to the king’s palace. Hegai, who looked after the women, was responsible for her. v9 She pleased him and he was kind to her. Immediately he gave her *beauty treatments and special food. He also gave her 7 female servants from the king’s palace. He put her and her servants in the best place in the women’s house.
Verses 8-9 The king wanted a beautiful woman as his wife. Esther was beautiful and a pleasant person. Hegai helped her because he liked her. Everyone that she met liked her. (See Esther 2:15.) God made Joseph and Daniel pleasant too and people helped them (Genesis 39:21-23 and Daniel 1:9). Mordecai and Hegai gave good advice to Esther and she obeyed them (Esther 2:15).
v10 Esther had not told anyone her nationality. Nor had she said anything about her family. Mordecai had warned her not to tell anyone. v11 Every day Mordecai walked about near the yard of the women’s house. He wanted to know if Esther was well. He wanted to know what was happening to her.
Verses 10-11 Mordecai had told her not to tell anyone that she was a *Jew. Esther always obeyed Mordecai. (See also verse 20.) We do not know why he said this. However, this fact is important to the story. Perhaps the king would not choose a *Jew to be queen. It was the usual custom in Persia to choose a queen from one of the 7 noble families.
v12 Before King Xerxes saw the girls, they had *beauty treatment for a year. That was the rule. They had one kind of *beauty treatment for 6 months and a different kind for another 6 months. v13 Then each girl took whatever she wanted from the women’s house to the king’s palace. This was how she went in to the king. v14 She went in the evening. In the morning, she went back to another house for women. Afterwards, Shaashgaz looked after her. He was the king’s servant who looked after the king’s other wives. The girl did not return to the king unless he liked her. Then he would ask for her by name.
Verses 12-14 The young women had *beauty treatment for a year to make them ready for the king. Their time to go in to the king would come. Then they probably chose the clothes and other things that they wanted.
v15-16 When Xerxes had been king for almost 7 years, it was Esther’s time to go to the king. (Esther was the daughter of Mordecai’s uncle Abihail. Mordecai had adopted her.) Esther did not ask for anything except for the things that Hegai advised. Hegai was the king’s servant who looked after the women’s house. Esther pleased everyone who saw her. She went to the king, in his palace, in the tenth month (the month called Tebeth).
v17 The king loved Esther more than he loved any of the other women. He was kinder to her than he was to any of the other *virgins. So, he put a royal crown on her head and he made her queen instead of Vashti. v18 The king gave a big party (Esther’s party) for all his officials and important people. He ordered a holiday for the whole nation. And he gave generous presents fit for a king to give.
Verses 15-18 The king liked Esther immediately. It seems that he did not see any more of the young women. He made Esther queen.
Because Xerxes wanted to show honour to Esther, he arranged a big party. The happy king gave everyone a holiday. This might mean that they did not pay any taxes for a short time.
v19 When the *virgins were together for a second time, Mordecai was sitting at the king’s gate. v20 Esther still did not tell anyone about her family or about her nationality. Mordecai had told her not to say that she was a *Jew. Esther had obeyed Mordecai since she was a little girl. She still obeyed him.
v21 At that time, the king had two officials who guarded his rooms. They were called Bigthan and Teresh. They became angry with the king and they plotted to kill him. v22 Mordecai heard about the plot and he told Queen Esther. Esther told the king what Mordecai had discovered. v23 The king checked and found that the report was true. So the king’s men hanged both the officials on *gallows. By the king’s orders, the official records included an account of the event.
Verses 19-23 The writer says that the *virgins were together for a second time. He does not say why. Esther still obeyed Mordecai even when she was the queen.
Mordecai sat at the king’s gate. This probably means that he was now a royal official. Perhaps Esther appointed him. Mordecai was in a good place to hear about the plot against the king. But the king forgot to reward him. That was unusual. But God knew that the best time for Mordecai to get his reward was much later.
Bigthan is probably not the same person as Bigtha. (See Esther 1:10-11.)