1 But after Xerxes' anger had cooled, he began thinking about Vashti and what she had done and the decree he had made.
2 So his attendants suggested, "Let us search the empire to find beautiful young virgins for the king.
3 Let the king appoint agents in each province to bring these beautiful young women into the royal harem at Susa. Hegai, the eunuch in charge, will see that they are all given beauty treatments.
4 After that, the young woman who pleases you most will be made queen instead of Vashti." This advice was very appealing to the king, so he put the plan into effect immediately.
5 Now at the fortress of Susa there was a certain Jew named Mordecai son of Jair. He was from the tribe of Benjamin and was a descendant of Kish and Shimei.
6 His family* had been exiled from Jerusalem to Babylon by King Nebuchadnezzar, along with King Jehoiachin* of Judah and many others.1
7 This man had a beautiful and lovely young cousin, Hadassah, who was also called Esther. When her father and mother had died, Mordecai adopted her into his family and raised her as his own daughter.
8 As a result of the king's decree, Esther, along with many other young women, was brought to the king's harem at the fortress of Susa and placed in Hegai's care.
9 Hegai was very impressed with Esther and treated her kindly. He quickly ordered a special menu for her and provided her with beauty treatments. He also assigned her seven maids specially chosen from the king's palace, and he moved her and her maids into the best place in the harem.
10 Esther had not told anyone of her nationality and family background, for Mordecai had told her not to.
11 Every day Mordecai would take a walk near the courtyard of the harem to ask about Esther and to find out what was happening to her.
12 Before each young woman was taken to the king's bed, she was given the prescribed twelve months of beauty treatments--six months with oil of myrrh, followed by six months with special perfumes and ointments.
13 When the time came for her to go in to the king, she was given her choice of whatever clothing or jewelry she wanted to enhance her beauty.
14 That evening she was taken to the king's private rooms, and the next morning she was brought to the second harem,* where the king's wives lived. There she would be under the care of Shaashgaz, another of the king's eunuchs. She would live there for the rest of her life, never going to the king again unless he had especially enjoyed her and requested her by name.2
15 When it was Esther's turn* to go to the king, she accepted the advice of Hegai, the eunuch in charge of the harem. She asked for nothing except what he suggested, and she was admired by everyone who saw her.3
16 When Esther was taken to King Xerxes at the royal palace in early winter* of the seventh year of his reign,4
17 the king loved her more than any of the other young women. He was so delighted with her that he set the royal crown on her head and declared her queen instead of Vashti.
18 To celebrate the occasion, he gave a banquet in Esther's honor for all his princes and servants, giving generous gifts to everyone and declaring a public festival for the provinces.
19 Even after all the young women had been transferred to the second harem* and Mordecai had become a palace official,5
20 Esther continued to keep her nationality and family background a secret. She was still following Mordecai's orders, just as she did when she was living in his home.
21 One day as Mordecai was on duty at the palace, two of the king's eunuchs, Bigthana* and Teresh--who were guards at the door of the king's private quarters--became angry at King Xerxes and plotted to assassinate him.6
22 But Mordecai heard about the plot and passed the information on to Queen Esther. She then told the king about it and gave Mordecai credit for the report.
23 When an investigation was made and Mordecai's story was found to be true, the two men were hanged on a gallows.* This was all duly recorded in [The Book of the History of King Xerxes' Reign.]7