Esther 2:19 When the young women were assembled together for a second time, Mordecai was sitting at the King’s Gate. 20 Esther still had not revealed her birthplace or her ethnic background, as Mordecai had directed. She obeyed Mordecai’s orders, as she always had while he raised her. 21 During those days while Mordecai was sitting at the King’s Gate, Bigthan and Teresh, two eunuchs who guarded the king’s entrance, became infuriated and planned to assassinate King Ahasuerus (Xerxes). 22 When Mordecai learned of the plot, he reported it to Queen Esther, and she told the king on Mordecai’s behalf. 23 When the report was investigated and verified, both men were hanged on the gallows. This event was recorded in the Historical Record in the king’s presence.(HCSB)
Here we see that the king’s attendants had not stopped bringing in young women for the harem even though a new queen had been selected. We must remember this was a pagan empire with a pagan king. We must also remember that even in Israel the kings had concubines and multiple wives. The mentioning of the young women still being brought in is meant to do nothing other than to tell us the time period that this event takes place.
We also see that it was in the first five years of Esther’s reign. We know that she has not yet told Xerxes her true identity. Even though she is Queen of the Persian Empire she still obeys her father as if she still lived in his house. Again we are reminded of the deep relationship of trust and loyalty that this father and daughter have with one another. Not only was she not willing to assert her independence from Mordecai as a grown woman with a home of her own, but she was also not willing to exert her authority as his queen over him. To Esther, Mordecai would always be her father and elder regardless of her position. This stands is such stark contrast to how so many of us treat our fathers and elders today. Her attitude toward Mordecai also sets the stage for how things are played out later.
It was when the young women come in a second time, during the first five years of Esther’s reign, that Mordecai is sitting at the king’s gate. This location indicated that he had a position of some responsibility.
Remember he lives in the citadel and obviously has some type of responsibility around the king’s officials, if not around the king himself. While he was sitting at the king’s gate, two eunuchs who guarded the entrance planned an assassination on King Xerxes. For some reason, unknown to the readers, these two eunuchs had become angry with the king and wanted to retaliate. Many have speculated that they were angry that a new queen had been chosen and Vashti had been deposed. Regardless of the reason, they planned to kill Xerxes.
Somehow Mordecai learns of the plot, either by hearing it himself or someone else reporting it to him. If it is reported to him it may speak of the importance of his position at the gate. Mordecai then takes this information to Queen Esther. We do not know if he reported this information to her personally. If he did, it was in the capacity as an official at the king’s gate, not her father.
We do know that Xerxes mother, Atossa, had set up a Queen’s Court for herself. It may be that this tradition was continued in the reign of Esther and that Mordecai’s information was reported to her at her own court. In other words, in an official capacity. Esther in turn takes this information to Xerxes, giving Mordecai the credit for the information. And since the matter is investigated, we can assume it was taken to Xerxes at the king’s court, again in an official capacity. Doing things in a court setting was very important in Persia and therefore to our understanding of this book.
These two eunuchs were than found to be guilty and hung.
Remember this was done at court so it went into the official records of the king. Not only did it go into the king’s own official records, but it gave Mordecai the credit. As we know, this comes into the story again later. One might assume that since it was something investigated and recorded at court that Mordecai himself may have been interviewed at court about the information. This would have given Xerxes a personal encounter with Mordecai. However, to our knowledge this may or may not have been the first time the two had met.
Therefore this experience did three things. It saved the life of the king. It more than likely allowed Mordecai and Xerxes to meet. Finally, it put Mordecai into the official records of the king, perhaps for the first time. This helps set things up for later.
We must not forget that this encounter also says something about the relationship that the king and queen had with each other. Xerxes obviously took the report from his wife seriously enough to have it investigated. A trust has begun to build in them for each other. A trust that will serve them well later in their marriage.
Esther has left the world of childhood behind and is now a queen and she lived that life with dignity and grace. She was the Queen of Persia, but first of all a child of Israel and the God of Israel.
- Upon Xerxes’ Return (estherslegacy.com)
- Xerxes’ Past (estherslegacy.com)
- Vashti’s Fall (estherslegacy.com)