Now there was in the citadel of Susa a Jew of the tribe of Benjamin, named Mordecai son of Jair, the son of Shimei, the son of Kish,16
who had been carried into exile from Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, among those taken captive with Jehoiachina2 king of Judah.37
Mordecai had a cousin named Hadassah, whom he had brought up because she had neither father nor mother. This girl, who was also known as Esther,4 was lovely5 in form and features, and Mordecai had taken her as his own daughter when her father and mother died.
When the king's order and edict had been proclaimed, many girls were brought to the citadel of Susa6 and put under the care of Hegai. Esther also was taken to the king's palace and entrusted to Hegai, who had charge of the harem.
The girl pleased him and won his favor.7 Immediately he provided her with her beauty treatments and special food.8 He assigned to her seven maids selected from the king's palace and moved her and her maids into the best place in the harem.
Esther had not revealed her nationality and family background, because Mordecai had forbidden her to do so.911
Every day he walked back and forth near the courtyard of the harem to find out how Esther was and what was happening to her.
Before a girl's turn came to go in to King Xerxes, she had to complete twelve months of beauty treatments prescribed for the women, six months with oil of myrrh and six with perfumes10 and cosmetics.
And this is how she would go to the king: Anything she wanted was given her to take with her from the harem to the king's palace.
In the evening she would go there and in the morning return to another part of the harem to the care of Shaashgaz, the king's eunuch who was in charge of the concubines.11 She would not return to the king unless he was pleased with her and summoned her by name.1215
When the turn came for Esther (the girl Mordecai had adopted, the daughter of his uncle Abihail13) to go to the king,14 she asked for nothing other than what Hegai, the king's eunuch who was in charge of the harem, suggested. And Esther won the favor15 of everyone who saw her.