Four years passed after King Ahasuerus banished Queen Vashti. He missed her, but, of course, he couldn’t undo what he’d done. In an effort to cheer him up, the king’s servants suggested he find a new queen from the most beautiful virgins in the city of Shushan.
This pleased the king, so the search began. A decree was sent out with the king’s commandment that all beautiful young women be brought to the palace to compete for the title of queen. One of those women brought to compete was Esther, a Hebrew orphan being raised by her cousin Mordecai.
Not only was Esther beautiful, but she was kind. She impressed Hegai, the custodian of the women, and he gave her extra beauty treatments, and placed her in the best room in the palace along with seven maidservants.
For a full year the women went through a series of beauty treatments preparing for the introduction to the king. At the end of their year, they were given one night in which to impress the king.
The young virgins had much at stake in the contest. The winner received fame and acclaim. Everyone else was sentenced to life in the king’s haram, unable to leave the palace or have their own husbands or families. The competition must have been fierce.
When it came Esther’s turn to meet with the king, she followed Hegal’s advice exactly. Out of all the beautiful candidates, the king liked Esther the best. He put the crown on her head and made her queen, then the king hosted a great banquet, proclaimed a holiday, and freely distributed gifts to celebrate.
Read about Esther in Scripture: Esther 2
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