Esther, like Daniel, the three Hebrew Princes, Joseph, and her cousin-uncle Mordecai, found herself in the court of a foreign king. Her people were brought to the Babylonian kingdom, soon overtaken by the Medes and Persians, and under the rule of Xerxes I a.k.a. Ahasuerus.
Esther’s Dual Captivity
Ahasuerus’ wife, Vashti, embarrassed him in front of his likely drunk princes, government officials, and military men by not appearing and thus bought herself and one-way ticket to former “queendom”. Beautiful virgins were taken from all over the empire and dragged to the royal citadel to become part of the king’s harem in hopes that one of them would be worthy enough to land the newly vacant role of Queen. Esther, formally known as “Hadassah”, was among these women.
Now most PG-rated ministers will tell you that the king simply wanted to look at the women, pick who was prettiest, and make her queen. They would be wrong. The king spent one night—not sleeping—with each virgin, allowing them to cross over from the virgin’s harem to the experienced women’s harem to remain indefinitely until the king called them by name.
This, as I’m sure you know, is against everything Christians and Jews—especially ancient, traditional Jews—believe in. Sleeping with a man you were not formally married to or at least not considered married until after the [sexual] intercourse took place; marrying a foreigner, etc. There were rules against that kind of thing. And yet God allowed it. Could it be that the king’s acquisition of Esther was made to mirror the acquisition of the entire people? The prophet Jeremiah prophesied time and time again that those who gave in to the Babylonian captivity would flourish and be blessed while those who resisted it brought themselves under a curse (Jeremiah 29). Likewise, had Esther fought the king and his servants or allowed herself to sink into the depths of despair, then she would have missed her blessing and ultimately been destroyed. But Esther knew her God.
Another Babylonian “acquisition”, Daniel knew the benefit of knowing his God as well.
“But the people who know their God shall be strong, and carry out great exploits,” (Daniel 11:32).
Like Daniel, Esther understood that her situation was not traditional or even desirable, but she also understood that she could choose to make the most out of it and allow God to do “exploits” through her.
Esther put on a positive attitude and through her amiability, God gave her favour with the eunuch who ran the entire harem. It was he that instructed her on what she should wear for her encounter with the king. I don’t know if the king liked a certain kind of jewelry, perfume, Medo-Persian lingerie or what, but whatever the eunuch gave Esther to wear, she apparently wore it very well and I believe that her willingness to adapt and learn coupled with her optimism and favour was what moved the king to select her. Of course, God’s hand was in all of this from the beginning; however, Esther played her part in the grand scheme of things very well.
Eventually, Esther won favour that had her king-husband overruling himself, countering edicts, and offering her up to half his kingdom on multiple occasions. Needless to say, Esther had Ahasuerus in the palm of her hand. I can imagine that they had a very long, happy life together despite his non-Jewish heritage and religion. God absolutely used Esther “for such a time as this” and through her position and favour, allowed her to save alive her entire captive people and set the stage for Nehemiah and Ezra to lead the people back to Israel. Today, Esther’s tomb is still guarded and lauded by the Muslim, sworn enemies of Israel and Christianity in Modern day Persia [Iran] despite her Jewish-captive status. If that isn’t a lasting legacy, I don’t know what is.
Take a Cue from Esther
What I love about Esther was that she was not religious; that would have cost her her life or at least her favour in the royal harems and court. Esther was discerning with her faith; she knew when to keep it to herself and when to display it. She also did not employ manipulation, fear, or mere beauty to get what she wanted. If she had, her favour and position never would have lasted. Esther chose instead to use her brains. Yes, her beauty was absolutely a tool and benefit, but it was not all she had. I dare say there were other, prettier girls in the harem with her, but something about her caused her to stand out.
What do you have in your possession? As women, especially in the corporate world, we are encouraged to act or dress a certain way that will attract the desired attention and help us up the corporate ladder. That is not God’s way; it’s manipulation. Then there is the other extreme who try to equate themselves to men, take no care for their appearance or even hide it, attempting to force the men around them to see only their work and not their face or form. This doesn’t work too well either. It is possible to be a successful female entrepreneur and businesswoman whilst being attractive and well-dressed.
Your appearance can be an asset to you just like it was to Esther, but don’t let that be the end; allow it to only be a means to an end. Think like this “people notice me because of how I look”, (be realistic, not arrogant), “but I will allow it to be a platform for my true gifts and talents”.
Numerous times in the past when I would apply for particular jobs, the hiring managers would verbalize their desire to hire me because of how I looked. Even back in high school a guest speaker informed me that she would trust me as a [future] wedding planner because of how I looked and presented myself. And just the other day, a movie executive interested in helping me publish my first book told me that my “great name” was one of the benefits that place me ahead of other aspiring authors. And guess what? I have the knowledge and expertise to back up those beauty and name-based remarks.
So again I ask you: what do you have? Maybe you’re like me and have a good-looking outer shell in your favour. This also means that many people have probably underestimated you because of your beauty; story of my life. Most people have no clue of the God-ideas and depth that are within me.
A few weeks ago I participated in a conference call with Marshawn Evans, marketplace mentor and reinvention strategist, who recalled a time when an ex-boyfriend of hers doubted her ability to write a professional column for a magazine saying, “What are you going to write about? You’re a pretty short book”. WOW. I’ve had a lot of things said to me in my day, but never anything so ugly. Luckily for Marshawn, she’s written that column, SKIRTS in the Boardroom, had a successful law career, and now has a thriving branding and marketing business; all by her early 30s. Sucks for him whoever he was.
So for the last time, I ask you: what do you have? Beauty is a God-given gift from the Father of Lights who desires that you use it for His glory (James 1:17). That beauty will serve as a “foot in the door” which will lead to a platform to display the full set of gifts and talents God has given you as well. Don’t be a Vashti and hide behind your religious convictions, false humility, and futile desire for the world to judge you based on your talents and not your beauty. The world will see your outer shell before they ever give you the time to display what you are gifted to do. Don’t fight it. Go with the flow, put your trust in God, and allow Him to make you and Esther in your realm of influence!
For the entire story of Esther, see the Book of Esther.
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Desiree M. Mondesir is the CEO and Founder of Desired Assistance or “DA” virtual writing and editing company which also encompasses DA Inspires, DA Weddings, DA Luxury and her self-titled authoress blog. As a dedicated writer and entrepreneur, Desiree seeks to inspire the imagination, educate her readers, and challenge the toxic mindsets of individuals all over the world. Sign up for a FREE subscription at www.dainspires.wordpress.com!