After these things, when the wrath of king Ahasuerus was appeased, he remembered Vashti, and what she had done, and what was decreed against her. 2 Then said the king's servants that ministered unto him, Let there be fair young virgins sought for the king: 3 And let the king appoint officers in all the provinces of his kingdom, that they may gather together all the fair young virgins unto Shushan the palace, to the house of the women, unto the custody of Hege the king's chamberlain, keeper of the women; and let their things for purification be given them: 4 And let the maiden which pleaseth the king be queen instead of Vashti. And the thing pleased the king; and he did so. Esther 2:1-4
As the story unfolds verse one gives us a little different picture of Ahasuerus. It appears that the king may have had a change of heart, but it was too late. He made a written decree that could not be changed. People more often than not regret the drunken actions or words once they are sober but it is too late to take them back.
The king’s servants quickly said, “Let’s have a beauty contest to find you another queen.” Young women did not “apply” for this beauty contest but “they were sought out”.
Officers of the king were appointed throughout the territory looking for beautiful young women. Once the women were “found” and “gathered” they were in the custody of Hege, the king’s chamberlain.
There are many Hebrew meanings for the word custody but the closest one for this verse is “forced”. The Hebrew meaning for keeper is "to hedge about, guard".
The women were not coming under their own free will but forced to come and “try out” for the king’s harem and maybe at a chance to be the queen. The entire process was demoralizing.
The next time we meet I’ll look at an unlikely candidate.
Have a blessed day,