Esther 2:4, The Most Odoriferous Parade Ever

“Then let the young woman who pleases the king be queen instead of Vashti.”

//In the book of Esther, queen Vashti upsets the king by asserting her independence (she refuses to dance for the king and his pals), and King Xerxes (Ahasuerus) decides he must replace her. It won’t do for men—especially the king—to tolerate such disrespect from their wives. So, he decides to replace his wife. He sends out a decree that all the beautiful young virgins in the kingdom be prepared for his examination. He gives them to the care of his eunuch (who can be trusted not to spoil their virginity) for a period of one year. Each of the young maidens must spend six months being soaked in oil of myrrh and six months being soaked in assorted perfumes.

After each maiden’s year is up, she is paraded in front of the king. If he decides not to accept her, she is returned back to the “harem” and given to the care of a different eunuch. So one eunuch watches over the hopefuls, and one watches over the rejections.

Xerxes rules over 127 provinces stretching “from India to Cush,” so there are quite a lot of maidens to examine. This process appears to continue from the third year of Xerxes reign through his seventh year. It would appear that for four years, only ugly maidens are allowed the marry. The rest remain in the king’s queue while he pretends to make a selection.

But the king has his eye on just one maiden: Esther. He watches daily to make sure she is getting proper treatment. The examination of all the other maidens in the kingdom appears to be only a sham, perhaps merely building his excitement for the day Esther is ready. Like four years of foreplay.

Oh, to be king.

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