Later the king's anger cooled down. Although he no longer mentioned Vashti, he kept thinking about how he had condemned her.
So some of the king's advisers suggested, "Why don't you make a search to find some beautiful young women of good character?
You can appoint officials in every province of the empire and have them bring all these beautiful young virgins to your harem here in Susa. Put them in the care of Hegai, the eunuch who is in charge of your women, and let them be given cosmetics and whatever else they may need.
Then take the young woman you like best and make her queen in Vashti's place." The king thought this was good advice, so he followed it.
There in Susa lived a Jew named Mordecai son of Jair; he was from the tribe of Benjamin and was a descendant of Kish and Shimei.
He was among the captives whom King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylonia had taken into exile from Jerusalem. 1
Mordecai was the guardian of Esther, the daughter of his uncle Aminadab. She was a beautiful young woman, and after the death of her parents, Mordecai brought her up until she was grown.
When the king had issued his new proclamation, many young women were being brought to Susa, and Esther was among them. She too was put in the royal palace in the care of Hegai, who had charge of the harem.
Hegai liked Esther, and she won his favor. He lost no time in beginning her beauty treatment of massage and special diet. He assigned seven young women specially chosen from the royal palace to serve her, and he treated her and her servants well.
Now, on the advice of Mordecai, Esther had kept secret the fact that she was Jewish.
Every day Mordecai would walk back and forth in front of the courtyard of the harem, watching to see what was going to happen to her.
The regular beauty treatment for the young women lasted a year: massages with oil of myrrh for six months and with beauty creams and cosmetics for six more.
After that, each young woman was handed over to the person appointed to conduct her from the harem to the palace, and she was taken to the king.
She would go there in the evening, and the next morning she would be taken to another harem and put in the care of Hegai, the eunuch in charge. She would not go to the king again unless he asked for her by name.
The time came for Esther, the daughter of Aminadab the uncle of Mordecai, to go to the king. She had done everything that Hegai had advised, and she was admired by everyone who saw her.
So in Xerxes' seventh year as king, in the twelfth month, the month of Adar, she was brought to the king.
He fell in love with Esther, who pleased him more than any of the others, and he placed the queen's crown on her head.
Then the king gave a week-long banquet for all his advisers and administrators to celebrate his marriage to Esther. He also granted a reduction of taxes for the whole empire.
Meanwhile Mordecai had been appointed to a high administrative position.
As for Esther, she had still not let it be known that she was Jewish. Mordecai had told her not to tell anyone, and she obeyed him in this, just as she had obeyed him when she was a little girl under his care. She continued to worship God and carry out God's commands, without abandoning her Jewish ways.
When the king promoted Mordecai to a higher position, the two palace eunuchs who were officers of the king's bodyguard became angry and plotted to assassinate the king.
Mordecai learned about it and told Queen Esther, who then told the king the details of the plot.
The king had the two men questioned, and both men were hanged. To honor Mordecai, the king ordered an account of this to be written down in the royal records, so that his valuable service would be remembered.