"There She Is... Miss Persia..."By Rabbi Jack Abramowitz
After Ahasuerus calmed down, he missed having a pretty woman around, so he needed a new queen. His advisors suggested that the most beautiful virgins in the kingdom be gathered to the king’s palace and placed in the care of Heigei (presumably a eunuch). Whoever most pleased Ahasuerus would become the new queen.
In Shushan, there lived a Jewish man named Mordechai, of the Tribe of Benjamin. Mordechai had been among those exiled from Jerusalem by the forces of Nebuchadnezzar. He had raised Hadassah, also known as Esther, his uncle’s daughter. (People usually think of Mordechai and Esther as uncle and niece because of the difference in their ages, but they were actually first cousins.) Esther was particularly beautiful, so when the king’s officers gathered the girls for the king’s consideration, she was among them. Heigei took a special liking to Esther, so he gave her access to all the best resources. Esther, on Mordechai’s instructions, did not reveal anything about her background.
Every day, Mordechai would go to the house where the women were kept to find out what was going on with Esther. Whenever a woman was sent to the king, she was given whatever she felt would help her make a good impression. She would go to the king at night and in the morning, she would be sent to the king’s harem, where she would remain until Ahasuerus requested her again by name. When it was Esther’s turn, she requested no special accompaniment and only brought that which Heigei gave her. Ahasuerus selected Esther as his new queen and moved her into the palace. Ahasuerus threw another of his famous parties to celebrate Esther’s appointment; this celebration even included tax relief. Meanwhile, Esther continued to be evasive on the matter of her nationality, as Mordechai had directed her.
At that time, Mordechai had been hanging out at the entrance to the palace, when he overheard Bigsan and Seresh, two of the king’s guards, plotting a coup. Mordechai got word to Esther, who warned Ahasuerus, giving Mordechai credit for informing her of the conspiracy. The charges were found to be true and the conspirators were hanged. The incident was recorded in the king’s chronicles, a fact that will be important later.