I was reading Esther for my upcoming sermon for the 10th. And realized that a lot more happened in the “Beauty Pageant” that named the successor to Queen Vashti. By the way… did anyone find the story of Vashti a bit funny? I mean, she refuses the king’s request, as was her right. The dude was like wasted. He’d been drinking for seven days straight! And she was hosting her own party. But the king gets upset because his trophy wife wasn’t available to be a trophy. I love the way the experts of the law and justice decided to act upon this “disrespectful” behavior. They were afraid that the Queen’s behavior would affect all the women of the kingdom. Basically, “Dude, since you couldn’t keep your woman in check, how in the world are we gonna be able to keep ours in check?” So they banished the Queen. And now, “all the women will respect their husbands.” Yea. I love the next verse too, “the king and his nobles were pleased with this advice.” The images I get in my head as these men are trying to figure out how to keep their wives in check makes me chuckle. It ain’t gonna work, fellas.
But, after a while the king wants a queen, so they decide to have a competition. (Who are his advisors?)
I likened the contest to be more like the Bachelor, the BCE edition. But after today, I think this competition would air on VH1 and be part of the “Of Love” series. (You know, like I Love Money, Rock of Love, Real Chance of Love. No? You don’t know? Uh… Neither do I.) But, I think if Xerxes’s competition happened today, it’ll be called like For the Love of Xerxes, or Queen of Hearts or whatever catchy title VH1 would come up with.
Anyway, there were 127 provinces in Xerxes kingdom. Beautiful girls from each province would be part of this competition. The Bible never states how many. I’m assuming, at least 1 per province, right?
They came to Susa and were under the charge of Hegai, a eunuch of Xerxes. Now, before they were to be presented before the King, the girls had to go through a 12 months of beauty treatments. (Which beg’s the question… what would they look like after all the make-up and treatments wore off…). The girl would meet the king in the evening, then in the morning, they would go to another part of the harem in Susa, and now would be under the care of Shaashgaz, the eunuch who was in charge of the concubines. Yea. Concubines. Let that sink in for a moment.
That means, these ladies entered the chamber as virgins, then left as concubines. A LOT more than judging the beauty of the girls went on in these meetings.
Why didn’t any of my Sunday School teachers tell me this? I mean, doesn’t this go far beyond “Esther was the prettiest of the girls” as I was told in Sunday School?
I’m also wondering why I never noticed that before. This might’ve helped me a bit when, in my teenage years, I thought the Bible was completely boring and did not have a single interesting story. I’m sure some part of this story would have appealed to my hormonal mind. But, hey, that’s not to say that this Sunday, you grab your youth and say, “This one time, in Persia…” There are some weird and funny stories in the Bible. Like, someone being so fat, when stabbed with a sword “the fat closed in over it” Judges 3:12-30. That’s hilarious, dude. Who says the Bible is boring?
2 thoughts on “For the Love of Xerxes”
don’t forget talking animals and never-ending wine
Ehud and Eglon was my favorite Bible story as a child. Yes, we read those stories in our home. I got tired of Joseph’s coat of many colors (I could totally relate to his brothers’ reaction to him)