Esther Becomes the Queen of Persia
JULY 19 - Nº 200 Esther 1:1 – 2:18
Back in Babylon, King Darius I became sick and died. His son Xerxes (also known as Ahasuerus) was crowned. Historical accounts inform us that Xerxes did not want to be known merely as the “King of Babylon” as his predecessors had been called. He wanted to be addressed either as the “King of Persia and Media” or the “King of Kings.” Eventually his empire grew to include countries from India to Ethiopia. One day, when Xerxes was in his winter palace in Susa (a city where many of the Jewish exiles lived), he looked around at all he owned and thought about all that he had accomplished. He was feeling very proud of himself and wanted to show off his wealth and glory to others. So he invited all the nobles, officials, and military leaders in the empire to come to Susa. For 180 days they were taken through the kingdom and shown everything. At the end of the six months, Xerxes threw an extravagant banquet in his huge palace garden. Everyone in Susa was invited. Food and drinks were on the house. The gardens were decorated with blue and white linen hangings that were fastened to marble pillars with silver rings. There were couches crafted from gold and silver placed on mosaic pavements made of marble and precious stones. The wine was served in golden goblets—each one of a different design. The festivities lasted for seven days. Meanwhile, Queen Vashti held a banquet for the women inside the palace. On the seventh day, after the king had drunk too much wine, he decided to show the men how beautiful his wife was. He commanded his servants to bring her to the garden so he could show her off along with everything else he owned. But Queen Vashti refused to come. The king was embarrassed and upset. He didn’t know what to do, so he consulted his advisors. They informed him that other women in the empire would soon follow her example and disregard their husbands’ wishes if Vashti wasn’t publicly disciplined. They counseled him to depose her and replace her with a new queen—so a search began. King Xerxes sent commissioners to all the provinces in the empire to search for beautiful virgins and bring them back to Susa. Esther was a beautiful young Jewish girl who lived in Susa. She was an orphan who had been raised by her older cousin named Mordecai. She was one of many girls taken to the palace and placed under the care of Hegai, the administrator in charge of the king’s harem. Before she left home, Mordecai told Esther not to reveal that she was Jewish, so she kept her heritage a secret. Hegai liked Esther very much and gave her several attendants along with special beauty treatments and food. After twelve months of treatments, each girl was brought before the king. When Esther’s turn came, she did everything that Hegai told her to do. Everyone in the palace fell in love with her heart as well as her beauty. This included King Xerxes. Esther was given the crown. The king held another royal banquet, and Esther was introduced to everyone as the Queen of Persia!
No one could have guessed that a poor, orphaned, Jewish exile would become the queen of one of the greatest empires the world has ever known. But God often uses ordinary men and women to overcome extraordinary circumstances in order to accomplish His purposes. Are you ready for whatever it is He wants you to do?