Esther Made Queen
1Later, King Xerxes stopped being angry. Then he remembered Vashti and what she had done. He remembered his commands about her. 2Then the king’s personal servants had a suggestion. They said, “Search for beautiful young virgins for the king. 3Let the king choose leaders in every province of his kingdom. Then let the leaders bring every beautiful young virgin to the capital city of Susa. These young women will be put with the group of the king’s women. They will be under the care of Hegai, the king’s eunuch, who is in charge of the women. Then give beauty treatments to all of them. 4Then let the one who is pleasing to the king become the new queen in Vashti’s place.” The king liked this suggestion, so he accepted it.
5Now there was a Jew from the tribe of Benjamin named Mordecai. Mordecai was the son of Jair, and Jair was the son of Shimei, and Shimei was the son of Kish. Mordecai was in the capital city, Susa. 6Mordecai had been carried into captivity from Jerusalem by King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. He was with the group that was taken into captivity with King Jehoiachin of Judah. 7Mordecai had a cousin named Hadassah. She didn’t have a father or a mother, so Mordecai took care of her. Mordecai had adopted her as his own daughter when her father and mother died. Hadassah was also called Esther. She had a very pretty face and a good figure.
8When the king’s command had been heard, many young women were brought to the capital city of Susa. They were put under the care of Hegai. Esther was one of these women. She was taken to the king’s palace and put into Hegai’s care. Hegai was in charge of the king’s women. 9He liked Esther. She became his favorite, so he quickly gave Esther beauty treatments and special food. He chose seven slave women from the king’s palace and gave them to Esther. Then he moved Esther and her seven women servants into the best place where the king’s women lived. 10Esther didn’t tell anyone she was a Jew. She didn’t tell anyone about her family background, because Mordecai had told her not to. 11Every day Mordecai walked back and forth near the area where the king’s women lived. He did this because he wanted to find out how Esther was, and what was happening to her.
12Before a young woman could take her turn to go in before King Xerxes, she had to complete twelve months of beauty treatments—six months with oil of myrrh and six months with perfumes and cosmetics. 13When her time came to go in to the king, she could choose to wear or take whatever she wanted from the women’s living area. 14In the evening the young woman would go to the king’s palace. And in the morning she would return to another area where the king’s women lived. Then she would be placed under the care of a man named Shaashgaz. He was the king’s eunuch in charge of the slave women. She would not go back to the king again unless he was pleased with her. Then he would call her by name to come back to him.
15The time came for Esther to go to the king. She was the one Mordecai had adopted, the daughter of his uncle Abihail. All she wanted to take with her was what Hegai, the king’s officer in charge of the women, suggested. Everyone who saw Esther liked her. 16So Esther was taken to King Xerxes in the palace. This happened in the tenth month, the month of Tebeth, in the seventh year of his rule.
17The king loved Esther more than any of the other young women, and she became his favorite. He approved of her more than any of the others. So King Xerxes put a crown on Esther’s head and made her the new queen in place of Vashti. 18And the king gave a big party for Esther. It was for all his important people and leaders. He announced a festival in all the provinces and sent out gifts to people, because he was a generous king.
Mordecai Learns About an Evil Plan
19Mordecai was sitting next to the king’s gate at the time the young women were gathered together the second time. 20Esther had still kept it a secret that she was a Jew. She had not told anyone about her family background. This is what Mordecai had told her to do. She still obeyed Mordecai just as she had done when he was taking care of her.
21During the time Mordecai was sitting next to the king’s gate, this happened: Bigthana and Teresh, two of the king’s officers who guarded the doorway, became angry with the king. They began to make plans to kill King Xerxes. 22But Mordecai learned about these plans and told Queen Esther. Then she told the king. She also told him that Mordecai was the one who had learned about the evil plan. 23Then the report was checked out. It was learned that Mordecai’s report was true. The two guards who had planned to kill the king were hanged on a post. All these things were written down in a book of the king’s histories in front of the king.