This is how the story starts: The King and the Queen had fight.
We don't know the background- but clearly- the King did something to upset the queen. (the scriptures left this part out )
Ahasuerus is the king. He is King over the land from India to Ethiopia- quite a large area- over 127 provinces at the time.
During his third year as king- he threw a feast- inviting all the important people. Somewhere during this- or before this- he ticked off the queen, Vashti.
On the seventh day of the feast- he sent for the queen- to show off her beauty before all his guests. "for she was fair to look upon" the scripture says.
But the queen refused to come. (did I mention that she was upset?) I'm sure this angered the King on several levels. First of all- the queen should always be obedient. Secondly- she is embarrassing him in front of important people. His consultants let him know that he had a third issue on his hands- the queen was setting a bad example for other women- what if other women in the kingdom started disobeying their husbands after seeing such a public example by the queen? They too might start to "despise their husbands." The king needed to show who was boss around here. He was mad - "his anger burned in him." His consultants told him that he should very publicly ditch the queen and get "another that is better than she." And so he did.
The kingdom had the first beauty pageant. All of the fair virgins were were brought in to be "checked out" by the King. The one that "pleaseth the king" the most would be the next queen.
One of the guards at the king's gate was Mordecai. He was a Jew, and was raising his cousin, who was an orphan. The cousin's name was Esther, and she was very beautiful.
And he brought up... Esther, his uncle's daughter: for she had neither
father or mother, and the maid was fair and beautiful; whom Mordecai, when her
father and mother were dead, took for his own daughter.
Esther made the finalists of the competition. As such, she got to stay (or perhpas was forced to stay) at the court of the woman's house.
Esther, under Mordecai's direction, didn't tell anyone who she was- that she was Mordecai's family, or that she was a Jew. (background checks weren't what they are today back then.)
Esther had not shewed her people nor her kindred: for Mordecai had charged
her that she should not show it.And Mordecai walked every day before the court of the woman's house, to
know how Esther did, and what should become of her.
...to be continued
(I love the painting above- I saw it first in the Bride's Room at the Sacramento Temple- does anyone know where I can purchase a very large one- over 48 inches in length?)