The Book of Esther
So it came to pass, when the king's commandment and his decree was heard, and when many maidens were gathered together unto Shushan the palace, to the custody of Hegai, that Esther was brought also unto the king's house, to the custody of Hegai, keeper of the women. And the maiden pleased him, and she obtained kindness of him; and he speedily gave her her things for purification, with such things as belonged to her, and seven maidens, which were meet to be given her, out of the king's house: and he preferred her and her maids unto the best place of the house of the women. Esther had not shewed her people nor her kindred: for Mordecai had charged her that she should not shew it. And Mordecai walked every day before the court of the women's house, to know how Esther did, and what should become of her.
Now when every maid's turn was come to go in to king Ahasuerus, after that she had been twelve months, according to the manner of the women, (for so were the days of their purifications accomplished, to wit, six months with oil of myrrh, and six months with sweet odours, and with other things for the purifying of the women;) Then thus came every maiden unto the king; whatsoever she desired was given her to go with her out of the house of the women unto the king's house. In the evening she went, and on the morrow she returned into the second house of the women, to the custody of Shaashgaz, the king's chamberlain, which kept the concubines: she came in unto the king no more, except the king delighted in her, and that she were called by name.
Now when the turn of Esther, the daughter of Abihail the uncle of Mordecai, who had taken her for his daughter, was come to go in unto the king, she required nothing but what Hegai the king's chamberlain, the keeper of the women, appointed. And Esther obtained favour in the sight of all them that looked upon her. So Esther was taken unto king Ahasuerus into his house royal in the tenth month, which is the month Tebeth, in the seventh year of his reign.
Many young women were gathered at Susa the capital of the kings palace. There is no number given as to how many young ladies were summonsed but, as Josephus writes, “there could have been as many as four hundred virgins brought there.” Some have written that the women could have been brought to the palace against their will but there does not seem to be any unpleasant situation to constitute such belief.
Esther, through the instruction of her cousin Mordecai, was directed to keep her nationality a secret as she began her purification process. We are not sure why her cousin instructed her to do this but we can assume that possibly, it was for her protection. There were anti-Semitic sentiments during this time with Hamon and other like-minded people. Whatever the reason was for Mordecai to keep Esther’s race a secret, Hegai’s, the chief chamberlain’s choice of her, points to God’s providential control.
Unlike Daniel who kept himself pure from the defilement of the king's food, Esther would be silent about her Jewish race and make no protest about eating the unclean foods of the Gentiles. Obviously, Esther’s life was different from Daniel’s, she would be expected to sit at the kings table, if chosen queen, and would be responsible and committed to eat with the king sharing his meals.
Thought: How Esther’s life would change in just one day. Have you ever thought about how one event could reshape your life for good? If Esther were not chosen as queen, she would probably still have to live in the palace as a concubine along with the other women taken in. This plan or procedure would definitely alter her life forever.
In God’s providential and well-timed events, we will see His hand guiding and moving through His continuous care, knowing He will work in the lives of His people all things for good and His glory. Only God knows the heart of man and He alone saw the heart of Mordecai and the heart of Esther. Not all is written in this book why they stayed silent of their heritage, but we will see God use them in spite of what we may think or feel.