Once Upon a Time ....
Long ago there was a king named Ahasuerus, ruler of the
Medes and the Persians. So mighty was he that his domain
extended from Ethiopia to India, and he ruled over one
hundred and twenty-seven provinces. Now it happened once
that King Ahasuerus ordered a feast in Shushan, his capital,
and he invited all the princes and governors of his provinces.
For seven days, he showed off his riches and ate and drank
with his guests.
When the feasting was at its height and the king was
quite drunk, he began to boast. Anything that he had,
he said, was the best in the world. His horses were
the best, his jewels the finest, his gardens the most
"And your queen?" asked the princes.
The Boast That Failed
Queen Vashti, replied Ahasuerus, was the most beautiful
woman in the whole world. To prove it, he would order
her to appear at once, dressed only in her royal crown!
The queen was deeply insulted and refused to appear.
Her husband, who saw the princes giggling behind their
wine goblets, was infuriated. He ordered Vashti driven
from the palace and he banished her from his kingdom.
Now King Ahasuerus found himself very lonely and he
issued a proclamation, stating that all the fairest
maidens of the land were to gather before him. The one
whom he found most pleasing would be made queen in place
Beauty On Parade
Hundreds upon hundreds of contestants arrived and paraded
before the king. Now there was in the royal palace at
Shushan a certain Jew named Mordecai, who had been carried
away from Jerusalem with the captives by Nebuchadnezzar,
the king of Babylonia. He had adopted Esther, his uncle's
daughter, for she had neither father nor mother. The
maiden was very beautiful, and, after her father and
mother died, Mordecai took Hadassah, that is, Esther,
as his own daughter.
When the king's command was made known, among the
many maidens brought to the royal palace at Shushan,
Esther also was taken and placed in charge of Hegai,
who took care of the women.