Mordecai walked every day in front of the court of the women’s house, to find out how Esther was doing, and what would become of her.—v. 11.

We recognize this scene. The concerned father figure, continually patrolling near where the young woman whom he has raised lives, to see that—in so far as he can do anything—she prospers.

Each young woman’s turn came to go in to King Ahasuerus. . . . The young woman then came to the king like this: whatever she desired was given her to go with her out of the women’s house to the king’s house. . . . .

Now when the turn of Esther, the daughter of Abihail the uncle of Mordecai, who had taken her for his daughter, came to go in to the king, she required nothing but what Hegai the king’s eunuch, the keeper of the women, advised.

Esther obtained favor in the sight of all those who looked at her. —vv. 12, 13, 15.

Here we see more evidence of Esther’s intelligence and humility, which together form wisdom. When her turn comes to see the king, she seeks and follows the counsel of Hegai. It has been his job for years to help please the king, and she avails herself of his experience and knowledge. Many a pretty girl, accustomed to deference, thinks she knows more than those around her. Not Esther, she is ready to learn. And she charms Ahasuerus as well.

The king loved Esther more than all the women, and she obtained favor and kindness in his sight more than all the virgins; so that he set the royal crown on her head, and made her queen instead of Vashti.

Then the king made a great feast for all his princes and his servants, even Esther’s feast; and he proclaimed a holiday in the provinces, and gave gifts according to the king’s bounty.—vv. 17-18.

In an interesting irony, Ahasuerus makes a feast to celebrate Esther’s elevation to Queen, which opportunity came to her because Vashti, her predecessor, refused to appear at an earlier feast. Whatever Vashti’s reasons, whether she was justified or not, the King clearly wanted to contrast the new Queen with the previous one. Ahasuerus celebrates his own delight by sharing it with the entire kingdom, declaring a holiday and giving gifts to the populace. These feasts had a political purpose as well. They highlighted the King’s power and wealth. This one resulted in Esther’s name becoming known throughout the kingdom. Through all this, she kept her ethnicity secret. Mordecai kept close.

Esther had not yet made known her relatives nor her people, as Mordecai had commanded her; for Esther obeyed Mordecai, like she did when she was brought up by him.

In those days, while Mordecai was sitting in the king’s gate, two of the king’s eunuchs, Bigthan and Teresh, who were doorkeepers, were angry, and sought to lay hands on the King Ahasuerus.

This thing became known to Mordecai, who informed Esther the queen; and Esther informed the king in Mordecai’s name. When this matter was investigated, and it was found to be so, they were both hanged on a tree; and it was written in the book of the chronicles in the king’s presence. —vv. 19-23.

Whatever his other duties, Mordecai continues watching out for Esther, his cousin and adopted daughter. Wise enough to realize he had only her best interests at heart, she obeyed him as she had growing up.
We sometimes overlook the seriousness of the plot Mordecai overheard. We may mistake doorkeepers as glorified ushers, but in fact they serve a serious security function, as they control who enters a secured area, in this case, apparently the palace. The doorkeepers themselves have access to the palace, and are positioned to give entry to someone who might be a party to their plot. If you don’t think so, contemplate for a moment that the Secret Service are the ‘doorkeepers’ at the White House. So this represented a not insignificant threat. And a threat to Ahasuerus is a threat to his Queen. Mordecai warns Esther, who relays word of the plot to the King himself,mentioning Mordecai as the source of her information.

Conspirators so vocal as Bigthan and Theresh were bound to have left other evidence, which the palace guard quickly discovered, and verified the existence of a plot to harm Ahasuerus. Justice was brutal and swift. But any ruler needs to know whom he can count on, so the whole incident was entered into the official royal chronicle.

One of the reasons we are so familiar with the story of Esther is that it is a finely crafted story. The author includes this episode here, to lay a foundation for competition for the King’s favor in the next phase of the story, where the villain of the piece makes his appearance.

After these things King Ahasuerus promoted Haman the son of Hammedatha the Agagite, and advanced him, and set his seat above all the princes who were with him. — ch. 3:1.

Once again we encounter a familiar setting, The (Alien) Power Behind The Throne. Not as elaborate or as detailed as a story framework, it is more a character type. By this time in Bible history, we have seen it at least three times. In a positive light, we have Joseph and Daniel. Both captives and aliens who rise above all the other rules, save the King himself, giving them great influence over the kingdom. In a negative light, we have Jezebel, the Phoenician princess who becomes Queen of Israel, a position of prestige but little official power. But at crucial junctures, we see that though Ahab may rule Israel, Jezebel rules Ahab.

In this case, Ahasuerus appoints Haman, who is not Persian, to the highest place of authority, next to the King himself. Will he be positive or negative? Even though he has done nothing positive or negative at this point in the narrative, the author has already signaled that danger lies ahead, by informing us that Haman is an Agagite. We do not know for certain whether this refers to the town of Agag, or whether it designates Haman as a descendant of Agag, King of the Amalekites. In either case, it almost certainly indicates that Haman will be an enemy of the Jews, as the Amalekites come to represent the arch-enemies of the Jewish people. There is no other reason to mention this. And as the story unfolds, certainly Haman fits the part of the archenemy of the Jews.


Read other posts in the “Matriarchs and Prophets” series.