Queen Esther (formerly known as Hadassah ’round in her uncle Mordecai’s house) is one of my two favorite people from the Bible. My other favorite is Joseph. While at Bible Study the other night, we were talking about “Bad Girls of the Bible” and listed the names of some “bad girls” from the Bible (women who didn’t always act right). We listed Sarah (concocting a scheme that wound up with her husband essentially married to Sarah’s maid, Hagar, and then forcing them out of the house because Hagar started smelling herself), Rebekah (for helping trick Isaac into giving away Esau’s birthright blessing), Job’s wife (“curse God and die!”), Jezebel (because…of course), Sapphira, Jael, Eve, and then for some reason Esther came up.
My extrabiblical research showed me that Esther was queen of Persia and Xerxes was her husband, but Vashti’s son, Artaxerxes, was her co-regent or something like that. Apparently, Esther’s purpose as queen went deeper than the story from her book. She appears to be mentioned in Nehemiah 2:6 when he received permission from Artaxerxes to return to Jerusalem. Nehemiah noted that the queen was with the king during his meal. Women often aren’t mentioned in the Bible unless they played a significant role. (I won’t want to get into why that might be the way it is, so please don’t comment about it. I don’t have time.)
The queen mentioned by Nehemiah would likely be Esther as her presence at the time of the request might indicate she held some sway over the king’s decision. Also, Artaxerxes would have remembered all that she did to save her people from Haman, who the former Prime Minister, Haman, was, and how much power she likely amassed living in the palace and being queen. That last part got me to thinking about Esther’s life and I came up with the following questions.
2. Hadassah had a year of beauty treatments to make her ready for her wedding night with the king. ONE YEAR. Six months of being bathed in myrrh and then six months of being bathed in other sweet oils. How supple and sweet-smelling did she need to be?!
3. What did Mordecai do to advise her on how to win the contest? What would he have known to give her the upper hand? Did he tell her to show a little more cleavage than the other girls and keep the skirt slightly past the butt line? He was doing more than just looking out for her, I’m sure. I wonder what tips he gave to help her gain the edge over the other girls and land the king.
4. Did Esther have more than one dinner for Haman to make the king jealous and use that to help drive him to order Haman’s death? Did Esther flirt a little with Haman during the first dinner? Esther’s skills here show her to be thoughtful and wily. (Also, why did the king’s heart melt when he saw Esther and her beauty? It’s been reported by historians that he was a freak almost on the level of Marquis de Sade and that’s why Vashti/Amestris wouldn’t come out with only her crown on in front of all those governors. She knew what was up and wasn’t in the mood for an orgy with just her being the centerpiece.)
5. Esther was thoughtful, wily, faithful, and strong. I wonder what else she was able to do during her time as queen and how much intrigue she was involved in. Did she have any kids or work her way in the palace to ensure they held onto power after she was gone? We know she was likely instrumental in having the Jews return to Jerusalem, but I wonder just how powerful she became.
What the devil meant for evil, God meant for good. No, I don’t mean Haman’s plot to kill all Persian Jews. I mean using the king’s lust, horniness, and pride to make him irrationally react when he couldn’t get his way with his first wife in front of all of his boys, which resulted in a beauty contest where his horniness was used again to secure a place in power for a beautiful young woman who would turn out to be
probably the most important piece of the puzzle in saving the lives of Jews and returning them home!