Finding a new queen
1Sometime later when King Artaxerxes was less angry, he no longer remembered Vashti, what she had done, or what he had decided about her. 2His servants said, "Perhaps the king could have a search made for beautiful young women who haven’t yet had sex with a man. 3Perhaps the king could choose certain people in all the royal provinces to lead the search. They could bring all the beautiful young women together to the city of Susa, to the women’s house, under the care of the king’s eunuch in charge of the women, and supply them with bath oils and anything else they might need. 4Perhaps the young woman who pleases you the most could take Vashti’s place as queen." The king liked the plan and put it in place.
5Now there was a Jew in Susa whose name was Mordecai, Jair’s son. He came from the family line of Shimei and Kish; he was a Benjaminite. 6He had been taken into exile away from Jerusalem by King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. 7Mordecai had a foster child named Esther, a daughter of his uncle Aminadab. When her parents died, Mordecai had taken her and raised her to become his wife. The girl was lovely to look at. 8When the king’s order and his new law became public, many young women were gathered into the city of Susa under the care of Hegai.#Gk Gai Esther was also taken to Hegai, the one in charge of the women. 9The young woman pleased him and won his kindness. He eagerly began her beauty treatments and gave her carefully chosen foods. He also gave her seven female servants selected from among the palace servants and provided well for her and her female servants in the women’s house. 10Esther hadn’t told anyone her race or family background because Mordecai had ordered her not to. 11Each day Mordecai walked back and forth along the wall in front of the women’s house to learn how Esther was doing.
12According to the rules for women, there were twelve months of preparation before the time arrived for each young woman to see the king. She had six months of rubbing treatment with oil from myrrh and six months with fragrant oils and cosmetics. 13So this is how the young woman would go to the king: They gave her anything that she asked to take with her from the women’s house to the palace. 14In the evening she would go in, and the next morning she would return to the second women’s house under the care of Shaashgaz.#Gk Gai He was the king’s eunuch in charge of the secondary wives. She would never go to the king again unless she was called by name. 15The time came for Esther daughter of Aminadab, Mordecai’s uncle, to go to the king. She didn’t refuse anything that Hegai, the king’s eunuch in charge of the women, told her to take along. Esther kept winning the favor of everyone who saw her.
16Esther went in to see King Artaxerxes in the twelfth month, the month of Adar,#February–March in the seventh year of his rule. 17The king fell in love with Esther, and she gained more favor than all the other young women. He placed the royal crown on her head. 18The king sponsored a wine festival for all his political advisors and important officials for seven days. He celebrated Esther’s wedding ceremony and canceled debts for many under his rule.
Mordecai saves the king
19Meanwhile, Mordecai was working for the king in the court. 20Esther still wasn’t telling anyone her family background and race. As Mordecai had ordered her, she continued to worship God and obey God’s commands just as when she was in his care. Esther didn’t change the way she lived. 21But two eunuchs, the king’s two main bodyguards, became very upset because Mordecai was promoted. They secretly planned to kill King Artaxerxes. 22When Mordecai got wind of it, he reported it to Esther, who spoke to the king about the plan. 23The king questioned the two men and hanged them. Then the king ordered a record of the event to be placed in the royal archive to remember Mordecai’s loyalty.