Esther becomes queen
1 Some time later, King Xerxes was not feeling so angry. He thought about Vashti and what she had done. He remembered the law that he had made, that she should not be queen any more.
2:1King Xerxes could not change the law. Because of this law he no longer had a queen.
2 The king's servants who helped him in the palace said, ‘We think that the king should send some men to look for beautiful young women for him. 3 The king could choose officers from every region of his kingdom to do this. They will bring all the beautiful young women here to Susa. Hegai will take care of them in the royal harem. He is the eunuch who has that job. The young women will receive special oils and perfumes to make them more beautiful. 4 The king may choose the young woman that pleases him most. She may take the place of Vashti as queen.’
2:3(1) Often kings at the time of this story had many wives. The harem was the part of the palace where the king's wives lived. — (2) It was also the name of the wives of a man who has several wives. The men who looked after a harem were eunuchs.
King Xerxes thought that this was a good idea. He did everything that the servants said.
5 A Jewish man called Mordecai lived in Susa. He was the son of Jair. Jair was the son of Shimei. Shimei was the son of Kish. Kish was a descendant of Benjamin. 6 When Nebuchadnezzar was king of Babylon, he had taken Kish away from Jerusalem as a prisoner. That was the time when Nebuchadnezzar also took Jeconiah, king of Judah, away to Babylon as well as other Jews.
2:6Judah was the south part of Israel.
7 Mordecai was taking care of a young cousin called Hadassah. She was also called Esther. Esther's mother and father were no longer alive. She was the daughter of Mordecai's uncle. When her parents died, Mordecai took care of her, as if she was his own daughter. Esther was very beautiful.
2:7Hadassah was a Hebrew name. Esther was a Persian name.
8 Esther was one of the young women that the king's officers took to Susa. That happened because of the king's command. The beautiful young women lived in the royal harem. Hegai had the authority to take care of them. 9 Hegai liked Esther and he was kind to her. As soon as Esther arrived, Hegai gave her special food and oils to make her more beautiful. He chose seven female servants from the king's palace to take care of her. Then he moved Esther and her servants to the best rooms in the harem.
10 Esther did not tell anyone that she was a Jew. That is what Mordecai had told her. 11 Mordecai wanted to know what was happening to Esther. So every day he walked in the palace yard that was near the harem. He wanted to hear some news about her.
12 All the young women stayed in the harem for 12 months. For six months they received myrrh oil for their bodies. Then they received perfume and different kinds of oil for another six months. After that time they could each go to the king's bedroom. 13 When the time came for a young woman to go to the king, she could take whatever she wanted with her. She would take those things with her from the harem to the king's room.
2:13Each young woman could choose what clothes and jewels she wanted to wear when she went to be with the king.
14 She would go to be with the king in the evening. She would stay with him during that night. In the morning, she went to a different part of the harem. That was where the king's slave wives lived. One of the king's eunuchs, Shaashgaz, took care of them there. After that, the young woman would only see the king again if he was pleased with her. Then he would ask for her by name.
2:14These women did not have any authority in the house. In the king's harem, some of these women did not see the king again. They did not have the authority that the queen had.
15 One evening, it was the time for Abihail's daughter, Esther, to go to the king. Abihail was Mordecai's uncle. After Abihail had died, Mordecai took care of Esther as if she was his own daughter. Everyone who saw Esther liked her. When she went to the king, she took with her only the things that Hegai had suggested. 16 Esther went to King Xerxes in his royal rooms in the palace. That happened in the tenth month of the year, called Tebeth. King Xerxes had ruled for seven years.
17 The king loved Esther more than he loved any of the other women. He was more pleased with her than all the other young women. He put the royal crown on her head. He chose Esther to be queen, instead of Vashti. 18 The king gave a great feast for all the leaders and officers of his kingdom. He did it to give honour to Esther. He said that there would be a holiday for people in all the regions. He also gave expensive gifts to people.