SCRIPTURE REFERENCES FOR THIS SERMON:
1:1 The following events happened in the days of Ahasuerus. (I am referring to that Ahasuerus who used to rule over 127 provinces extending all the way from India to Ethiopia.) 2 In those days, as King Ahasuerus sat on his royal throne in Susa the citadel, 3 in the third year of his reign he provided a banquet for all his officials and his servants. The army of Persia and Media was present, as well as the nobles and the officials of the provinces.
4 He displayed the riches of his royal glory and the splendor of his majestic greatness for a lengthy period of time—180 days, to be exact! 5 When those days were completed, the king then provided a seven-day banquet for all the people who were present in Susa the citadel, for those of highest standing to the most lowly. It was held in the court located in the garden of the royal palace. 6 The furnishings included white linen and blue curtains hung by cords of the finest linen and purple wool on silver rings, alabaster columns, gold and silver couches displayed on a floor made of valuable stones of alabaster, mother-of-pearl, and mineral stone. 7 Drinks were served in golden containers, all of which differed from one another. Royal wine was available in abundance at the king’s expense. 8 There were no restrictions on the drinking, for the king had instructed all his supervisors that they should do as everyone so desired. 9 Queen Vashti also gave a banquet for the women in King Ahasuerus’ royal palace.
10 On the seventh day, as King Ahasuerus was feeling the effects of the wine, he ordered Mehuman, Biztha, Harbona, Bigtha, Abagtha, Zethar, and Carcas, the seven eunuchs who attended him, 11 to bring Queen Vashti into the king’s presence wearing her royal high turban. He wanted to show the people and the officials her beauty, for she was very attractive. 12 But Queen Vashti refused to come at the king’s bidding conveyed through the eunuchs. Then the king became extremely angry, and his rage consumed him.
13 The king then inquired of the wise men who were discerners of the times—for it was the royal custom to confer with all those who were proficient in laws and legalities. 14 Those who were closest to him were Carshena, Shethar, Admatha, Tarshish, Meres, Marsena, and Memucan. These men were the seven officials of Persia and Media who saw the king on a regular basis and had the most prominent offices in the kingdom. 15 The king asked, “By law, what should be done to Queen Vashti in light of the fact that she has not obeyed the instructions of King Ahasuerus conveyed through the eunuchs?”
16 Memucan then replied to the king and the officials, “The wrong of Queen Vashti is not against the king alone, but against all the officials and all the people who are throughout all the provinces of King Ahasuerus. 17 For the matter concerning the queen will spread to all the women, leading them to treat their husbands with contempt, saying, ‘When King Ahasuerus gave orders to bring Queen Vashti into his presence, she would not come.’ 18 And this very day the noble ladies of Persia and Media who have heard the matter concerning the queen will respond in the same way to all the royal officials, and there will be more than enough contempt and anger. 19 If the king is so inclined, let a royal edict go forth from him, and let it be written in the laws of Persia and Media that cannot be repealed that Vashti may not come into the presence of King Ahasuerus, and let the king convey her royalty to another who is more deserving than she. 20 And let the king’s decision that he will enact be disseminated throughout all his kingdom, vast though it is. Then all the women will give honor to their husbands, from the most prominent to the lowly.”
21 The matter seemed appropriate to the king and the officials. So the king acted on the advice of Memucan. 22 He sent letters throughout all the royal provinces, to each province according to its own script and to each people according to their own language, that every man should be ruling his family and should be speaking the language of his own people.
2:1 When these things had been accomplished and the rage of King Ahasuerus had diminished, he remembered Vashti and what she had done and what had been decided against her. 2 The king’s servants who attended him said, “Let a search be conducted on the king’s behalf for attractive young women. 3 And let the king appoint officers throughout all the provinces of his kingdom to gather all the attractive young women to Susa the citadel, to the harem under the authority of Hegai, the king’s eunuch who oversees the women, and let him provide whatever cosmetics they desire. 4 Let the young woman whom the king finds most attractive become queen in place of Vashti.” This seemed like a good idea to the king, so he acted accordingly.
5 Now there happened to be a Jewish man in Susa the citadel whose name was Mordecai. He was the son of Jair, the son of Shimei, the son of Kish, a Benjaminite, 6 who had been taken into exile from Jerusalem with the captives who had been carried into exile with Jeconiah king of Judah, whom Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon had taken into exile. 7 Now he was acting as the guardian of Hadassah (that is, Esther), the daughter of his uncle, for neither her father nor her mother was alive. This young woman was very attractive and had a beautiful figure. When her father and mother died, Mordecai had raised her as if she were his own daughter.
8 It so happened that when the king’s edict and his law became known many young women were taken to Susa the citadel to be placed under the authority of Hegai. Esther also was taken to the royal palace to be under the authority of Hegai, who was overseeing the women. 9 This young woman pleased him, and she found favor with him. He quickly provided her with her cosmetics and her rations; he also provided her with the seven specially chosen young women who were from the palace. He then transferred her and her young women to the best quarters in the harem.
10 Now Esther had not disclosed her people or her lineage, for Mordecai had instructed her not to do so. 11 And day after day Mordecai used to walk back and forth in front of the court of the harem in order to learn how Esther was doing and what might happen to her.
12 At the end of the twelve months that were required for the women, when the turn of each young woman arrived to go to King Ahasuerus—for in this way they had to fulfill their time of cosmetic treatment: six months with oil of myrrh, and six months with perfume and various ointments used by women— 13 the woman would go to the king in the following way: Whatever she asked for would be provided for her to take with her from the harem to the royal palace. 14 In the evening she went, and in the morning she returned to a separate part of the harem, to the authority of Shaashgaz, the king’s eunuch who was overseeing the concubines. She would not go back to the king unless the king was pleased with her and she was requested by name.
15 When it became the turn of Esther, daughter of Abihail, the uncle of Mordecai (who had raised her as if she were his own daughter), to go to the king, she did not request anything except what Hegai the king’s eunuch, who was overseer of the women, had recommended. Yet Esther met with the approval of all who saw her. 16 Then Esther was taken to King Ahasuerus at his royal residence in the tenth month (that is, the month of Tebeth) in the seventh year of his reign. 17 And the king loved Esther more than all the other women, and she met with his loving approval more than all the other young women. So he placed the royal high turban on her head and appointed her queen in place of Vashti. 18 Then the king prepared a large banquet for all his officials and his servants—it was actually Esther’s banquet. He also set aside a holiday for the provinces, and he provided for offerings at the king’s expense.