Esther – Session Three
Esther – Session Three
In this third session adapted from the book, Forty Women, we look at Esther and the theme of beauty and appearance.

Jesus’ treatment of women was revolutionary. He welcomed and commended women others overlooked and scorned. Bleeding women. Poor women. Physically disabled women. Notoriously sinful women. Single women. Older women. Foreign women. Prostitutes. Jesus saw and loved women as beings made in the image of God.

In the book, Forty Women, Ros Clarke helps us to see the women of the Bible with fresh eyes. She walks us through a full spectrum of stories and invites us to full-orbed vision of each woman she presents.

This series looks at four such women and in this session Esther.

Bible Reading – Esther 2: 1-18

2 Later when King Xerxes’ fury had subsided, he remembered Vashti and what she had done and what he had decreed about her. 2 Then the king’s personal attendants proposed, “Let a search be made for beautiful young virgins for the king. 3 Let the king appoint commissioners in every province of his realm to bring all these beautiful young women 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. 4 Then let the young woman who pleases the king be queen instead of Vashti.” This advice appealed to the king, and he followed it.

5 Now there was in the citadel of Susa a Jew of the tribe of Benjamin, named Mordecai son of Jair, the son of Shimei, the son of Kish, 6 who had been carried into exile from Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, among those taken captive with Jehoiachin[a] king of Judah. 7 Mordecai had a cousin named Hadassah, whom he had brought up because she had neither father nor mother. This young woman, who was also known as Esther, had a lovely figure and was beautiful. Mordecai had taken her as his own daughter when her father and mother died.

8 When the king’s order and edict had been proclaimed, many young women were brought to the citadel of Susa and put under the care of Hegai. Esther also was taken to the king’s palace and entrusted to Hegai, who had charge of the harem. 9 She pleased him and won his favor. Immediately he provided her with her beauty treatments and special food. He assigned to her seven female attendants selected from the king’s palace and moved her and her attendants into the best place in the harem.

10 Esther had not revealed her nationality and family background, because Mordecai had forbidden her to do so. 11 Every day he walked back and forth near the courtyard of the harem to find out how Esther was and what was happening to her.

12 Before a young woman’s turn came to go in to King Xerxes, she had to complete twelve months of beauty treatments prescribed for the women, six months with oil of myrrh and six with perfumes and cosmetics. 13 And this is how she would go to the king: Anything she wanted was given her to take with her from the harem to the king’s palace. 14 In the evening she would go there and in the morning return to another part of the harem to the care of Shaashgaz, the king’s eunuch who was in charge of the concubines. She would not return to the king unless he was pleased with her and summoned her by name.

15 When the turn came for Esther (the young woman Mordecai had adopted, the daughter of his uncle Abihail) to go to the king, she asked for nothing other than what Hegai, the king’s eunuch who was in charge of the harem, suggested. And Esther won the favor of everyone who saw her. 16 She was taken to King Xerxes in the royal residence in the tenth month, the month of Tebeth, in the seventh year of his reign.

17 Now the king was attracted to Esther more than to any of the other women, and she won his favor and approval more than any of the other virgins. So he set a royal crown on her head and made her queen instead of Vashti. 18 And the king gave a great banquet, Esther’s banquet, for all his nobles and officials. He proclaimed a holiday throughout the provinces and distributed gifts with royal liberality.

Study Notes

The story of Esther begins with a huge banquet at the palace of King Xerxes. The king who had drunk too much wine demanded that his wife, Queen Vashti, must show everyone how beautiful she was. She refused. The king was so angry at her disobedience that he decided to divorce her. He decreed that beautiful women from around the kingdom to attend a beauty pageant so the winner would be the next queen.

Esther, a beautiful young woman, was among those who were summoned to the palace. Before she left, Mordecai (her cousin, who raised her) told Esther not to tell anyone where she came from as it could be very dangerous for her. There were many who did not Jewish people.

From all biblical accounts, Esther was a very beautiful woman. And, given a whole year of pampering and beauty treatments, her beauty could only have been enhanced. Beauty, in those day, was a huge thing. In the end the king was attracted to Esther’s beauty and made her queen. Given her new rank, she could have requested anything she wanted. She could have been demanding, but she was humble and let her inner beauty and her faith in God shine through.

Esther didn’t come from a royal background, in fact she was an orphan, but God had a plan for her life. She probably didn’t dream of being queen. God has plans for us as well, for hope and a future.

For Reflection


Creator God,
who made everything beautiful in its time
and everyone beautiful in your image,
we praise you that you have made us all perfectly suited
to the works you have planned for us to do.
As we rejoice and delight in the beauty of your good creation,
may we also rejoice and delight in the beauty of the people you
have made.
As we seek the inner beauty of a godly character,
may we also celebrate the outer beauty you have given us.