Bible Survey on Esther – Lesson 2

The first chapter of Esther laid some important groundwork for the book.  More than once we saw how that society operated according to the law and how their laws once made were not changeable.

We also saw a real life example of the danger of making rash decisions with emotion, and how there can be lasting consequences to them.

In chapter 2 we have more important groundwork laid down for us.  This time it is about the character of Esther.

The whole issue of life, of regeneration, of character, is a heart matter.  – J. Frank Norris

  1. Frank Norris was the preacher who trained Sam Weller. He taught that character is a heart matter.

Pro 4:23  Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life. 

A person’s actions come from the state of their heart.  The Bible teaches that since out of the heart are the issues of life, then you should guard your heart.  If you want good and right to come out of your life, and since the root of the matter is actually the heart, then put effort into the root of the matter and work on your heart.

What is in the heart works its way out into a person’s life and is revealed by the actions they take and the choices they make.  It is revealed by what they say and even what they refuse to say.  By what they do and yes by what they don’t do.

Since that is true you can understand a lot about a person’s heart from looking at their actions.  I know there are many fakers in life.  Those who put on a front to try to impress and can hide their true rotten character, when things are good. But they will fail over time and especially in times of trouble and crisis.

The choice we make when a crisis confronts us reveals character. – Bernie Smith

In Esther we see a woman who is put into several difficult situations.  And if we slow down and consider how she handles herself we can learn much about her character.  What kind of heart did she have.  Did she work on doing what the scripture in proverbs says?

Pro 4:23  Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life. 

Est 2:5  Now in Shushan the palace there was a certain Jew, whose name was Mordecai, the son of Jair, the son of Shimei, the son of Kish, a Benjamite; 

Mordecai’s father was Jair.  Mordecai’s grandfather was Shimei.  Mordecai’s great grandfather was Kish.

Est 2:6  Who had been carried away from Jerusalem with the captivity which had been carried away with Jeconiah king of Judah, whom Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon had carried away. 

Mordecai’s great grandfather Kish was carried away from Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar.  This helps us understand the timing of everything that is going on.

Mordecai’s family has been living in Persia a long time.  This has been home a long time.  When the permission was given that they could go back to Jerusalem Mordecai’s father choose not to go.  When Mordecai became old enough to make that choice for himself he also chose not to go.

Est 2:7  And he brought up Hadassah, that is, Esther, his uncle’s daughter: for she had neither father nor mother, and the maid was fair and beautiful; whom Mordecai, when her father and mother were dead, took for his own daughter. 

Since we know the timing of all of this, we know that Esther’s parents were not killed in the conquest of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar.  That happened long ago.  Her parents are dead for some other reason.

This is the first hard thing that we learn that has come into Esther’s life.  She lost not one but both of her parents.  We do not know how old she was when this happened except we know that she was young.  Young enough to need to be raised by Mordecai.

Mordecai was family.  His father Jair had a brother and that brother was Esther’s father.  That would make Esther and Mordecai in the same generation.  Mordecai could be older but don’t have this image of him that some have of him being an old man.

Most likely Mordecai was a still a young man when Esther’s parents died.  And he took her in.  And not just as a cousin that he is helping out.  He took her in as his own daughter.

Losing parents is traumatic and can be devastating.  Some people that this happens to become angry and bitter.  Others might have problems in relationships later in life.  Some become rebellious to authority.  This kind of trauma has different effects on different people.  While the effects will be different with each, one thing that is common to all is that it is hard.

Some might react to their cousin with, who do you think you are, you are not my father.  So how did Esther take it?  We see a clue to that in verse 20.

Est 2:20  Esther had not yet shewed her kindred nor her people; as Mordecai had charged her: for Esther did the commandment of Mordecai, like as when she was brought up with him. 

Esther rose above such bad attitudes.  In verse 20 we learn that Esther is keeping the fact that she is Jewish quiet.  And the reason why.  Mordecai charged her.  Esther is respecting Mordecai.  She is obeying and catch it, like as when she was brought up with him.

She obviously appreciated and accepted Mordecai stepping up and helping her in a bad situation.  We see right away that Esther is a woman of Character.  One who can rise above bad things happening in her life.

Est 2:11  And Mordecai walked every day before the court of the women’s house, to know how Esther did, and what should become of her. 

These two had a special bond.  Mordecai walked every day before the court.  Every day.  Why?  To know how Esther did and what should become of her.  Every Day.  He cared about Esther and not as a cousin.  But with a depth of a Father.

Est 2:8  So it came to pass, when the king’s commandment and his decree was heard, and when many maidens were gathered together unto Shushan the palace, to the custody of Hegai, that Esther was brought also unto the king’s house, to the custody of Hegai, keeper of the women. 

Now another hard thing comes into the life of Esther.  She is taken into this.  This was not voluntary.  She did not go seek this out and sign up for this.

Est 2:2  Then said the king’s servants that ministered unto him, Let there be fair young virgins sought for the king: 

Est 2:3  And let the king appoint officers in all the provinces of his kingdom, that they may gather together all the fair young virgins unto Shushan the palace, to the house of the women, unto the custody of Hege the king’s chamberlain, keeper of the women; and let their things for purification be given them: 

Officers were appointed to go out and gather all the fair young virgins.  And that is what they did.  And Esther was seen and taken.

Now she could have taken an attitude here.  To be honest she had every right to.  Scream and fight and say you have no right.  But that would not achieve anything.  They are living in an empire.  It is not a land of freedom.  Laws yes, freedom and rights no.

She could take anger and hurt out on the chamberlain.  For some that might make them feel better.  But that also is not going to accomplish anything and it is not going to make her situation any better.

Watch what Esther does here.  Watch as she rises above her circumstances once again and carries herself well.

Est 2:9  And the maiden pleased him, and she obtained kindness of him; and he speedily gave her her things for purification, with such things as belonged to her, and seven maidens, which were meet to be given her, out of the king’s house: and he preferred her and her maids unto the best place of the house of the women. 

You need to slow down and think about things.  I have said it many times please don’t speed read the Bible.

Esther pleased the man in charge.  That should make it obvious that she was not only not throwing a temper tantrum.  But she was being nice and respectful.

And look what she obtained from the chamberlain.  And she obtained kindness of him.

And he speedily gave her what she needed.  And speedily gave her such things as belonged to her.  So she quickly got her belongings back.  And more than that.

She was given 7 maidens to help her.  And he even gave her and her maids the best living quarters in the house.

Ok.  Overall that is quite a reaction.  You do not get that kind of response by being a jerk.  I think that Esther had a way with people.  She had a sweetness about the way she treated people.  I am not talking about some fake, brown noising type stuff.

I think what Esther had was real genuine kindness.

Pro_31:26  She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness.

I think Esther not only knew her proverbs, but she lived them.  We are instructed to live likewise in the New Testament.

Col_3:12  Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering;

Esther was living like that.  Mercy, kindness, humbleness, meekness, longsuffering.  We see all of that in Esther’s actions.

Est 2:10  Esther had not shewed her people nor her kindred: for Mordecai had charged her that she should not shew it. 

Est 2:11  And Mordecai walked every day before the court of the women’s house, to know how Esther did, and what should become of her. 

Est 2:12  Now when every maid’s turn was come to go in to king Ahasuerus, after that she had been twelve months, according to the manner of the women, (for so were the days of their purifications accomplished, to wit, six months with oil of myrrh, and six months with sweet odours, and with other things for the purifying of the women;) 

Est 2:13  Then thus came every maiden unto the king; whatsoever she desired was given her to go with her out of the house of the women unto the king’s house. 

The stakes are high.  Becoming queen meant, perks, prestige, status.  I am sad to say it but there are very few women today of high godly standards and morals.  Richard can tell you story after story of worldly selfish women that come thru Safeway.

And we all have heard of Bridezilla’s.  The world is full of illustrations of women who married well for what they could get.  And this is nothing new.  It was that way back in Persia.  I can imagine that some of them made a scene clawing and scraping to get anything they could that might give them an advantage.   Whatsoever she desired was given her to go with her out of the house of the women unto the king’s house.

They were given what they thought would give them an advantage and be sent to meet the king.

Est 2:14  In the evening she went, and on the morrow she returned into the second house of the women, to the custody of Shaashgaz, the king’s chamberlain, which kept the concubines: she came in unto the king no more, except the king delighted in her, and that she were called by name. 

They each were given one shot.  If they did not delight the king they did not come back to the same house.  They were sent to the second house and put into the custody of a different chamberlain.

They all had one shot and they all knew it.  I can imagine that some of them were a bit of a problem with making their requests.  But not Esther.

Est 2:15  Now when the turn of Esther, the daughter of Abihail the uncle of Mordecai, who had taken her for his daughter, was come to go in unto the king, she required nothing but what Hegai the king’s chamberlain, the keeper of the women, appointed. And Esther obtained favour in the sight of all them that looked upon her. 

When it was Esther’s turn she basically let Hegai make the choices.

She required nothing but what Hegai the king’s chamberlain, the keeper of the women, appointed.

Esther let Hegai, remember the one she found kindness from, she let him just appoint what he thought best.  This is humility.  This is the opposite of pre-madona.  This is opposite of Diva.  This is trust.  She had developed a kind and respectful relationship with Hegai.

Watch the wisdom of Esther here.  As chamberlain of the first house, he knew better than most what would please the king.  And Esther obtained favour in the sight of all them that looked upon her.  Esther obtained favour in the sight of all.  Not just the king of all.  I believe you need more than looks to do that.  Yes she was beautiful on the outside.  But it takes more than that.  Esther was beautiful on the inside.

An inner beauty and strength.  A wisom, humbleness, and a genuine-ness.  I am talking real character from the heart that shines thru even in a crisis.  Make no mistake.  There is some serious stress going on here.  The next few hours will determine your future.

And at this time Esther has no idea how much is riding on this.  And that is a good thing.  If we knew ahead of time all the trials and importance of certain moments we could not handle it.  But even though she does not know the fate of all her people are at stake, what she does know is stressful enough.

Est 2:16  So Esther was taken unto king Ahasuerus into his house royal in the tenth month, which is the month Tebeth, in the seventh year of his reign. 

Est 2:17  And the king loved Esther above all the women, and she obtained grace and favour in his sight more than all the virgins; so that he set the royal crown upon her head, and made her queen instead of Vashti. 

Esther finds favor with the king.  She obtained grace from the king.  He sees that Esther is different than all the rest.  It does not say that the king thought that she was more beautiful than all the rest.

It would not surprise me that some of the other women were more beautiful than Esther on the outside.  But Esther had a precious kindness a beauty on the inside as well as good looks on the outside.  Esther had a very admirable character that shown thru.

And not just when things are easy.  Not just when there is no stress involved.  Her inner strength shined brightly in the hard times of life.

Est 2:18  Then the king made a great feast unto all his princes and his servants, even Esther’s feast; and he made a release to the provinces, and gave gifts, according to the state of the king. 

Mordecai Discovers a Plot

Est 2:19  And when the virgins were gathered together the second time, then Mordecai sat in the king’s gate. 

Est 2:20  Esther had not yet shewed her kindred nor her people; as Mordecai had charged her: for Esther did the commandment of Mordecai, like as when she was brought up with him. 

Est 2:21  In those days, while Mordecai sat in the king’s gate, two of the king’s chamberlains, Bigthan and Teresh, of those which kept the door, were wroth, and sought to lay hand on the king Ahasuerus. 

Mordecai had some kind of job in the palace.  Sitting in the king’s gate tells us that.  He was not there sitting as in wasting time.  It is sitting as in holding a positon.  Doing a job.  Fulfilling a role in something.  And while Mordecai is doing that he hears about a plot.

Est 2:22  And the thing was known to Mordecai, who told it unto Esther the queen; and Esther certified the king thereof in Mordecai’s name. 

Mordecai gets word to Esther.  Those that are to be accused are the king’s chamberlains.  They are men in authority underneath the king.  They are his men.  Anytime you go and accuse men that close to the king, it is dangerous to you.

The safe selfish thing to do would be to keep quiet.  Say not my problem.  But that is not what Esther does.  She certified this truth to the king.

Est 2:23  And when inquisition was made of the matter, it was found out; therefore they were both hanged on a tree: and it was written in the book of the chronicles before the king. 

After she reports it, the matter is looked into and found to be true.

We see God at work in this in several ways.

  • This event will be used later on in the life of the king and in the life of Mordecai.
  • This event will be used in an attempt to humble Haman. Yes God is preparing for it before Haman even knows of Mordecai.  God is always working ahead.  This is true in our lives as well.
  • Giving Esther this smaller risk is helping Esther grow her faith and prepare her for when it is time for her to step up and risk her life to save her people.

God often puts things into our lives that at the time we can’t see the reason why.  But God has reasons.  He knows why.  He knows what is best and He knows the best timing.

Esther is a woman who is doing the best she can with the hard circumstances of life.

She is not letting the circumstances determine who she is going to be on the inside.  She is a woman of strength and character that decided to rise above it all and live godly in a wicked world.

Treat people with kindness anyway, have faith anyway, trust anyway, do what is right anyway.  And do it all with godly wisdom, kindness, humbleness, and grace.

See more Bible Survey lessons on Esther