“When the turn came for Esther daughter of Abihail, the uncle of Mordecai who had adopted her as his own daughter, to go in to the king, she asked for nothing except what Hegai the king’s eunuch who had charge of the women, advised. Now Esther was admired by all as she found favor in the eyes of all who saw her. When Esther was taken to King Artaxerxes into his royal palace in the twelfth month, which is Adar, in the seventh year of his reign, the king loved Esther more than all the other women. She won his favor and grace over all the virgins. He set the royal diadem crown on her head as she became queen. Then the king gave a great banquet to all his friends and officials lasting seven days to celebrate his marriage to Esther. He also granted a holiday remission of taxes to all the provinces under his rule. He gave gifts with royal liberality.”
Esther finally got her turn to audition with the king. She simply followed the advice of the eunuch Hegai. This was now the 7th year of the king’s rule, around 458 BCE. The original feast where the argument took place about Queen Vashti was in the 3rd year of his rule. Now after 4 years, Vashti was gone, without any mention of what happened to her. Now King Artaxerxes was smitten with Esther as he said that she was the one, since he loved her more than all the others. He immediately gave her the crown as she became Queen Esther. He gave a big wedding banquet in Esther’s honor. He also gave a tax holiday. Now that is a real holiday. He also gave gifts, which seems the opposite of most weddings where the bride and groom get the gifts. There is no specific mention of a wedding ceremony, but it might be presumed if they had a wedding banquet. There seems to be no problem about a Jewish woman marrying a non-Jewish person as there was in Ezra, chapters 9-10, and Nehemiah, chapter 10, which would have been about the same time frame. That prohibition was more about Jewish men marrying non-Jewish women.
“So when the decree of the king was proclaimed, many girls were gathered in Susa the capital in the custody of Hegai. Esther also was brought to Hegai who had custody of the women in the king’s palace. The girl pleased him and won his favor. He quickly provided her with her ointments and her portion of food, as well as seven maids chosen from the king’s palace. He treated her and her maids with special favor in the harem. Esther had not disclosed her people or kindred country because Mordecai had charged her not to make it known. Every day Mordecai walked around in the courtyard of the harem, to see what would happen to Esther.”
Esther must have made the cut to join the harem of King Artaxerxes. Since she was already in Susa, it was not far for her to go. This may have helped her to adjust since she had already lived in Susa. She was part of the king’s harem preparing to meet him. Although the Greek text says the head of harem was Gai, I prefer the Hebrew Hegai. Esther got along very good with this eunuch, Hegai so that he gave her perfumes, ointments, and plenty of food. He also gave her 7 maids from the king’s palace, which seems odd. She and her maids got special favors and attention. She never revealed her Jewish background, but there was no need to do so since King Artaxerxes had been kind to Nehemiah, a Jewish official cup bearer. Mordecai wanted her to keep that quiet anyway. He also seemed to be in good with the eunuchs since he sometimes slept in the courtyard with them as in preliminaries of the Greek text to this book.