Contests and Conspiracies

As chapter 2 opens we see a calmer, perhaps less drunk Xerxes regretting his decision and missing his wife. It had been four years and in that time he had a disastrous military defeat. Perhaps he tried every trick in the book to ease his pain. He did after all have a whole harem if sex was all he needed. He was in a snit and his attendants were worried. This king was rash and maybe they were afraid in his state of mind that one of them might suffer the fate of Vashti. They needed to fix this before it escalated. The law he had signed was not reversible so bringing back Vashti was not an option. Their solution? A beauty contest! Can you imagine how they sold this one to Xerxes? “Your majesty, bring ALL the beautiful virgins from the whole kingdom and try them out”. What red blooded flesh driven man wouldn’t respond to that! Sadly each one of these girls would preen and prep and after one night with the king would be put into the harem and perhaps forgotten. Her life would be over. Any hopes of home and family gone. It is interesting in view of the tradition that usually high born women were the only ones picked for queen that this is how Xerxes would choose his new queen. Perhaps that was the problem with Vashti, she was too high born. Maybe she thought she was “all that” and too good to obey her husband and Xerxes was taking no more chances. Before the story goes on with the contest we are introduced to Mordechai. We get a quick bio–a Jew, of the tribe of Benjamin, son of Jair, son of Shimei and son of Kish. This might not seem all that interesting but when we meet Haman in the next chapter I’ll share a few tidbits that make it very interesting.

We are told Mordechai has a cousin, a girl now orphaned and adopted by him. He is in essence her Dad. Her name in the Hebrew was Hadasseh which means fragrance. Her Persian name Esther means star. She will soon live up to this name and become to that culture what American Idol is to this one. We will find this girl has it all together. She is beautiful and lovable. Well liked by all she meets. Not only well liked but finds favor with everyone including the king. The beauty treatments the girls were subject to took a year so we fast forward to the contest and the crowning of Esther as queen. A happy ending? Not yet. There are some “hinky” situations to go through first.

The chapter ends with Mordechai sitting in the city gates, a phrase that means he had some standing in the government. He overhears a plot. Gets word to Esther who in turn tells the king and saves the day. He is credited in written record and it is forgotten, until later when it becomes a very interesting twist in our story. This chapter ends with a CSI moment. The plot is investigated and the guilty punished. Impaled. It says “hung on a gallows” in the NIV but it was actually an impaling and the bodies were left hung up as a warning to others.

Next post we meet Haman and things start to get exciting.

Till then, blessings

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