Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Esther: Wisdom and Respect win Favor

Esther: Wisdom and Respect win Favor

 

And Esther obtained favor in the sight of all who saw her.” – Esther 2:15
The King had remembered Vashti, and how his anger had overwhelmed his good sense and he had dethroned her.  He would have most likely reconciled with her, but the damage was done, and decrees were made.  He had ordered for young virgins to be gathered from all the provinces of Persia and Medes and gathered together for his pleasure.

The young women would be given beauty treatments for twelve months.  Twelve months was necessary to assure that the young women were not pregnant, and therefore would cause an undue responsibility to the King.  The first six months they were given hot baths and slathered with oil of myrrh.  As the young virgins were taken from all walks of life, many did not eat easily digestible foods, which would cause their natural scent from body perspiration to be something less than desirable.  Hot baths and myrrh were to change their scent, as well as soften their skin and hair.  The last six months they were given perfumes and cosmetics to beautify them.
Thereafter they waited.  They waited for the King to summon them to his bedroom for one night.  They would go into the King for one night of his pleasure, and then be sent to the house of the concubines to live for the rest of their lives.  Should the King never call for them again by name, they would remain there, unable to marry, unable to have children, and become nothing more than the King’s property. 

Esther was an orphan in a foreign land being cared for by her older cousin, Mordecai.  They were third generation Babylonian Jews, having been born in Babylon after their great-grandfather had been taken captive from Judah when Nebuchadnezzar was the King of Babylon.  When her parents died, Mordecai raised her as his own daughter, teaching her the Jewish laws and the commandments, and raising her to be a God-fearing woman.  Though Esther was beautiful to the eye, there was more to this young woman than what the eye would see.  She had wisdom.  She showed respect for those in authority over her.  Because of this inner beauty, her natural beauty, she found favor with everyone who saw her.
Being a beautiful young woman, she was taken by the officers of the King’s court to the women’s quarters.  From the beginning Mordecai warned Esther not to reveal her Jewish heritage.  The Jews were not a favored race in Persia, and her destiny would not be enhanced with sharing this information.   Esther, being respectful of Mordecai as the one who had raised her, did as he told her, and kept it a secret.  Mordecai, showing his great love for the little cousin he had raised, paced in front of the women’s quarters every day to find out how she was.  Daily he did this for twelve months.

Hegai, the King’s eunuch (a castrated man), took care of the women.  Esther found favor with Hegai, and he became her friend.  Having been raised with the commandments of God as her way of life, and respecting authority, she gained favor once again.  In Esther 2:9 it says, “she obtained his favor; so he readily gave beauty preparations to her, besides her allowance. Then seven choice maidservants were provided for her from the King’s palace, and he moved her and her maidservants to the best place in the house of the women.”
It had been four years since Vashti had been dethroned.  King Ahasuerus had been without a queen for four years, and no doubt in that four years had summoned many young virgins to his bedroom.  As each woman would have only one night to please the King and audition for the position of Queen, they were allowed to take with them from the women’s quarters whatever things they wanted to beautify and dress theirselves.  Each woman would spend time planning the perfect look, the perfect dress, the jewelry, the headdress, the cosmetics, all in hopes that the King would be overwhelmed by her beauty, and choose her to be his Queen. 

The day came for Esther.  She was called to go to the King.  But Esther didn’t plan what to take with her.  Being a wise young woman, she chose to allow Hegai, who knew the King well, to choose these for her.  And when she went to the King he was overwhelmed by her.  The King had seen many beautiful women in the four years of Vashti’s absence, yet Esther’s inward wisdom and respect won his heart.  In Esther 2:17-18 we read “The king loved Esther more than all the other women, and she obtained grace and favor in his sight more than all the virgins; so he set the royal crown upon her head and made her queen instead of Vashti.  Then the king made a great feast, the Feast of Esther, for all his officials and servants; and he proclaimed a holiday in the provinces and gave gifts according to the generosity of a king.”
Esther was no longer just another woman in the women’s quarters.  She was now to be respected above all the young women, above all the concubines.  She was given a ‘release from the provinces’ which was funds from taxation.  This was her portion of riches for gaining the title ‘Queen Esther’.  The King gave a feast in her honor, and proclaimed a holiday just for her.  And still, he did not know her Jewish heritage.

Mordecai must have been so proud of his younger cousin.  And yet he did not reveal his relationship to her.  He sought what was best for her, and kept the matter hidden. 
You can often tell the most about a child by looking at their parent or guardian.  The old adage “an apple doesn’t fall far from the tree” is most often true.  Mordecai was put into a precarious position.  As he sat at the King’s gate, two of the King’s eunuchs, Bigthan and Teresh, were overheard to be planning to kill the King.  Mordecai took the information to Queen Esther, who then told the King the matter and that the information had come from Mordecai.   The King investigated the matter and found it to be true.  The men were hanged and the matter was recorded in the book of chronicles for the King’s historic record, that Mordecai had saved the King’s life that day.

Mordecai respected authority.  He got involved when it would mean no gain to him, and could have endangered his life.  Esther shared this same integrity, and it brought her great favor in life.  In fact, it seated her as Queen.

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