Living quietly in exile in Persia, a young woman called Hadassah, had no dreams of being queen. An orphan, she had been adopted by her uncle Mordecai. If she dreamt at all, more than likely it was the same dream that most of the exiles had… to return to their homeland, Jerusalem.
But God had other plans…
When king Ahasuerus (Xerxes) returned from his unsuccessful military campaign, four years had passed from ‘putting Vashti away’. Probaby he was ‘dispirited’, miserable. His servants suggested the round up of beautiful virgins from all the provinces, and that the one who pleased the king be queen instead of Vashti.
Caught up in that ‘net’ was Hadassah, a young and lovely woman, who was taken to the kings harem, to undergo the beauty preparations with all the other young women. Did she go willingly? Was she excited… ambitious? Probably not. She was a young Jewish virgin, and as such would have expected Mordecai at some stage to arrange a marriage for her amongst the other exiles.
But what about the other women in the harem? Were some of them ambitious? More than likely there was considerable competiton. Perhaps that’s why this modest young woman stood out as a ‘star’, as her Persian name means. According to Esther 2:8,9, she pleased the custodian of the women and he gave her ‘cosmetics, food and seven choice maids’. So accepting that she had been taken from the life she had expected, she accepted the situation with a good attitude. Perhaps she sensed God’s hand in this.
Even in this situation, removed from his direct influence, Esther (Hadassah no longer) kept Mordecai’s instruction to tell no one she was Jewish. Here is a little glimpse of her character. She respects her adopted father, obeys him and keeps the secret of her background. She was teachable… and God cultivated the character He wanted in her.
Just as an aside, reading Esther chapter 2… this was no small adjustment the women had to make. They lived during their time of preparation in one part of the harem… but after their one ‘night’ with the king, they were sent to the house of the concubines. These young women couldn’t just pack up and go home. They were the kings property for life… even if they didn’t see him again.
So, in that tme of preparation Esther had plenty of time to think and meditate, and develop trust in God.
Next week I will continue this story…
Till then… tread softly, you may be treading on someone’s dreams