CLICK HERE TO READ THE ENTIRE BOOK OF ESTHER
When I was nine years old, I started saving my money for something special. I had seen it one day while shopping with my mother at the department store. One glance and I knew I had to make it my own.
Nearly a year later, I returned with my mother, my black patent leather handbag clutched to my chest. I counted out my dollar bills and my quarters. Triumphantly I returned home with my long-desired treasure: a sparkling rhinestone tiara.
I made sure my daughter had her own rhinestone tiara before she turned ten. And—confession time—two years ago, I bought myself a brand new tiara, reliving the time when that sparkling piece of glass and metal had made me feel like a princess.
Esther was beautiful. She was also a queen. She probably had a tiara and no doubt it was dripping with jewels. But Esther didn’t start out as royalty. Nor was the search that led her to the King intended to grant her nobility. The search was suggested by the King’s servants and companions to find beautiful women to please the King.
“Let a search be made for beautiful young virgins for the king. Let the king appoint commissioners in every province of his realm to bring all these beautiful girls into the harem at the citadel of Susa. Let them be placed under the care of Hegai, the king’s eunuch, who is in charge of the women; and let beauty treatments be given to them. Then let the girl who pleases the king be queen instead of Vashti” (Esther 2:2-4, emphasis added).
Most scholars believe that Queen Vashti had been from noble birth, possibly even feeling as if she was the true heir to the throne, rather than her husband King Xerxes. Queen Vashti was a noble. She had been born royal. King Xerxes’ noble advisors suggested Queen Vashti be deposed “according to the law.” (Esther 1:15). Think of the King’s noble advisors as his Supreme Court Justices.
But it was not a group of legal advisors who came up with the idea for a new queen. It was the King’s servants or companions who concocted that clever notion. Sure, let’s bring in beautiful young virgins—lots of them—for the King’s harem. And if one pleased the King, then—hey, here’s an idea—let her be Queen.
The servants’ idea was outside of legal thought. Nor did the servants suggest that young noble women be included in the search. Rather, they made a suggestion they thought would please the King; a way to bring him pleasure.
The search was for beautiful women from ordinary families in ordinary society; not for women of noble birth as would be fitting to become Queen of the Persian Empire. It is doubtful that any nobleman would allow his noble daughter to become part of a harem. A noble daughter’s worth was in the political or financial power her marriage could bring to the family. That potential power would be wasted if she became a consort to the King; little more than a royal prostitute. No, the women heading to the King’s harem were not likely of noble birth.
Still, at first reading it sounds like the stuff of fairy tales. Not born into a royal family; but because of her loveliness, Esther was whisked off to the palace to live happily ever after. Princess Diana. Kate Middleton. Grace Kelly. Real-life fairy tales. The dreams of little girls. A desire to be Princess, Queen, Goddess. Set upon a throne. Loved by all.
But it doesn’t happen that way in real life. Usually princesses are born princesses. Queens become queens through arranged marriages. There’s that pesky thing known as “royal blood.” Not that the blood is any different from a scientific point of view. But throughout history, royals have tried to maintain royalty—and power—by keeping royalty royal through heredity. Going back to the Egyptian pharaohs, the desire for royal purity meant that even brothers and sisters married to keep the lineage “pure.”
That’s one reason why the story of Esther is so intriguing. We don’t know from Scripture what Queen Vashti’s background was. But we do know that the King of Persia could have wed a royal woman and made her queen. Yet, he chose Esther. A woman of non-royal blood. An ordinary woman. A Jewess—her ancestors taken as captive slaves. She was made Queen of one of the greatest empires in history.
Esther was not a noble woman. She had no aspirations of power that might come from the possibility of becoming queen. Yet, once she was within the King’s court; once the King himself made Esther his queen, he endowed Esther with nobility.
Servants and companions suggested the King find beautiful young virgins for his harem. The servants would not have particularly cared about a political marriage or the uniting of enemies through a royal wedding. Joining the harem, however, was not a voluntary process. Esther 2:8 tells us that the beauty contest was a result of the King’s commandment and decree (or order and edict). The young women from throughout the kingdom “were gathered” and “were taken.” By force, if necessary. Certainly without choice.
Would it have been an honor to be a member of the king’s harem? It meant a life of luxury; possibly a better life for women who otherwise would have been forced to live in poverty. But being a member of the king’s harem meant that marriage, traditional family, and freedom were no longer possible for those women. Surely marriage, family, and freedom—not dependent upon the whims of the king presently in power—would have been an important dream for women of that day. Just as it is today.
Thus Esther was taken to be part of the king’s harem—an ordinary woman from an ordinary family in an ordinary part of society. Yet God used her for an extraordinary purpose to fulfill part of His extraordinary plan. Perhaps, as ordinary women in our modern world, God has a way to use us to fulfill His extraordinary plan, too. Are you willing to consider the possibility that the God of the universe could use you for His good purpose?
Most of us weren’t born noble. Fortunately our worth in God’s eyes is not dependent on whose earthly family we were born into. It does not matter to God who our parents were, because, when we accept Jesus’ salvation, we are born again into His family. Although we were not noble born, we become nobility as children of God, adopted daughters and sisters.
In love he predestined us for adoption to son-ship [daughter-ship] through Jesus Christ (Ephesians 1:4-5, emphasis and explanation added).
See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! (1 John 3:1, emphasis added; see also Romans 8:14-17, Galatians 3:25-27; John 1:12; 2 Corinthians 6:18).
For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters (Romans 8:29, emphasis added; see also Hebrews 2:10-15).
Our Heavenly Father wants us to be one big, happy family. His adoption process began that first Christmas morning when Jesus temporarily set aside His own divine nobility in order to provide a way for our salvation. By accepting that salvation, Judge God signs the adoption papers that forever bring us into His eternal, noble family. We were not born noble, but we become the daughter of the King and sisters of Jesus. Like Esther we are made noble.
If Esther were here she would say this was her story. She was not born royal, but was made noble.
Who are we to God? When we realize that although we were born ordinary, God has made us noble, we understand how He might see His women of faith. We can answer:
I am (like) Esther.
For Thought and Discussion
- How does a family’s background affect an individual’s ability to rise above circumstances?
- In what ways do you feel ordinary? In what way do you feel special?
- Is it difficult to call yourself a “daughter of the King”? Do you struggle with feelings of not being worthy of this title? How do you think Jesus sees you?How can you daily remind yourself that, as an adopted child of God, you are the daughter of the King?
PRAYER: Heavenly Father, thank you for loving us so much that you have adopted us as your daughters. It is such an honor to be your Princess—to be royalty in your eyes; to know that you are both King and Abba Daddy. Please help us understand the depth of your love that you would want to include us in your royal family. Please open our hearts and minds to be used by you today. Amen.
Click HERE to read the entire book of Esther
PRAYER: Heavenly Father, thank you for giving us Scripture to meditate on and learn from. Thank you for making us teachable, Jesus, and for not giving up on us as we stumble along in our faith. Show us how you see us as your precious daughters—daughters of the King. Amen.
Carol Peterson, Author, is a member of the Ruby Blogger Team and a regular contributor to the Ruby for Women as a book reviewer. You can connect with Carol on her blog, http://www.carolpetersonauthor.com