Esther heard the rumors, but she paid little attention to such stories. Especially from the palace. She had little patience with politics.
Esther was a beautiful Jewish woman. She was kind, considerate, quiet, and respectful. Esther’s cousin, Mordecai had raised her as his own daughter because her parents had died when she was a small child. She had grown up happy and satisfied with her life.
In time, the rumors were validated. The queen had been banished from the palace. It seems that the king had given a banquet.
During an elaborate banquet he was hosting, King Xerxes ordered Queen Vashti to appear and display her body for his guests. She refused which angered and humiliated the king. As was the custom at the time, King Xerxes called his councilmen together and asked their advice. The men were afraid that all the wives in the kingdom would disobey their husbands like Queen Vashti had. The councilmen, in all their wisdom, suggested that Queen Vashti be stripped of her title and never allowed to see the king again. King Xerxes, full of male ego, agreed and decreed it so.
As we all do, King Xerxes calmed down in a few days and deeply regretted his decision. However, because of the way he had decreed the action, he could not reverse his decision. So like most people who don’t get their way, he pouted. He was in a deep funk and close to depression. The councilmen decided that what he needed to take his mind of Vashti, were more women. So they suggested that they be allowed to gather all the young virgins of the kingdom and bring them before him so he could choose a new queen. Immediately, the king cheerfully agreed.
Mordecai loved Esther with all his heart and wanted to protect her as a father. However, the decree had been issued and Esther had to go to the palace. As she was leaving, Mordecai hugged her tightly and whispered in her ear. “Now, daughter, be yourself. You have many lovely traits that will serve you well in the palace. You have a kind heart and are wisdom beyond your years. Just be sure that you do not tell anyone you are a Jew. I’m afraid that you will not be safe if someone finds out.”
“I’ll be careful.” Esther said with tears in her eyes as she left with the men who were sent for her. On the way to the palace, she prayed for guidance. She prayed that God would use her to His honor and glory. When they arrived, all the young women were paraded before the king. Esther immediately caught his eye. Although she was very beautiful, she didn’t walk with arrogance like some of the other women. She had a humble expression on her face, which only added to her beauty.
All the women were taken to a special place in the palace where they were to spend twelve months preparing their bodies for their time with the king. The area they lived in was hot, dry, and much like a desert. The dry winds were rough on the skin of women. The first six months was devoted to skin care. Their diet, exercise and ‘spa’ treatments were designed to improve their skin. Any skin diseases were corrected during this time. The second six months was devoted to softening and beautifying the skin. The skin was treated with expensive cosmetics, oils, and fragrances.