Summary: Sometimes God puts us into positions or places we would not normally go. For such a time as this we are where we are for God’s glory.
Saying Yes to God part 2
After the Kings anger subsided, he remembered.
How many times have we lashed out in anger or acted on impulse and wished we could take it back. I remember when my son John first got a tattoo. He did so secretly while we were away for the weekend preaching in Tannersville, VA. John worked for Domino’s pizza while attending UT. One of his most frequent stops was a tattoo parlor. John talked about it; I warned against it, John gave into his temptation. Nothing to extravagant, barbed wire across the upper arm like most of the football players at UT had. When I learned of it, one of my friends, Frank Epperson, warned me, the tattoo is permanent, how I react to it may be just as permanent. Made me think about how I was going to deal with it. Today John covers it up.
The king remembers Vashti. It is uncertain whether he now regretted his rash action and wished to reinstate her but was prevented because his decree was irrevocable. Did he regret making such a rash decree? Does he regret his actions? We will never know, the author does not tell us what happens to Vashti. However according to rabbinical tradition, she was executed. His decision was permanent.
Accordingly it is believed that the king divorced Vashti in the third year of his reign. He does not marry Esther until the seventh year. The events that follow are those that lead to his marriage of Esther.
1. The pageant to find a suitable replacement for Vashti.
a. Between the divorce and marriage the king has several disastrous adventures.
i. Naval defeat at Salamis in 480 B.C.
ii. Defeat at Plataea in 479 B.C.
b. He now turns his attention to replacing Vashti.
i. She probably consoled him when he returned from defeat.
ii. Wants someone else now to soothe his injured ego.
iii. The attendants suggest a pageant.
The king’s personal attendants proposed that the king choose another wife from among the beautiful young virgins (Heb., "a young woman, a virgin, good of appearance"). Perhaps they feared retaliation from Vashti if she were reinstated to the king’s favor, after all she was disposed of because of their advice, or they may have seen and felt more than others the king’s unhappiness that the putting away of Vashti had caused him.
They were collected from all over the kingdom. Much like our Miss America pageant, contestants come from all over. The process is slow and meticulous. The winners of the local pageants are then brought to more pageants and then finally to the Miss America pageant. The same happens here. Only the winners are brought to the Harem in the Citadel of Susa.
The word for Harem here is actually translated “House of Women” not necessarily a place for women who perform sexual favors. These women are to be virgins, and they are to remain as such when they are presented to the King.
They go through “finishing school” if you will.
1. polishing skin and character
3. Poise and posture.
Some may not have seen this as an honor; it does not seem that Fathers were willingly giving up their daughters for consideration.
Enter Mordecai and Hadassah (later named Esther).
Mordecai: He is from the tribe of Benjamin. The text mentions his ancestors. The problem comes in when the text says “he was carried off by Nebuchadnezzar.” Some take the “he” as Mordecai. That would make him about 120 years old. However, I suggest that the “he” is Mordecai’s grandfather Kish.
Some suggest that Mordecai was a Eunuch which is why he had access to the House of the Women.
He brings up Esther, her name means “Star.”
She may have been given the name Esther at her coronation, in honor of the Persian goddess Ishtar.
There is something about Esther that gains her favor with the head of the Harem. Hegai gives Esther special treatment, is this the province of God? Yes I believe that Hegai was impressed with Esther because God had a hand in it. Was her radiance a reflection of God? Yes, God somehow shown through Esther which helped her gain favor with Hegai. It was a beautiful that was more than skin deep.
Yet, why would Mordecai want Esther in this pageant and possibly marry the King? Why would he want Esther to marry this heathen? He may not have known himself, but sometimes we do feel lead to do something, although we do not know why. Maybe it is “for such a time as this” God leads us to where he wants and later reveals why.
He orders her not to tell of her origin. She is not to reveal that she is Jewish, why? We do not know, there is no threat from Haman yet, perhaps she did not reveal her origin so there would be no known legal impediment to her marriage. But 4:14 suggests that the providence of God was at work in the events. For such a time as this. Verse 11 tells us that Mordecai kept careful watch over Esther. Just like God watches over us.