You see this beauty contest is not like a Miss USA pageant. You know, when people try to become Miss America they start out as Miss Fowler. Then they go to the Miss Colorado competition, and then to the national competition. We watch the candidates for miss USA go through an evening gown competition, a swimsuit competition, and an interview. And usually in the interview they say something about wanting world peace. And we give them a tiara and they live in a condo in New York for a year.
This beauty contest with Esther meant that you were conscripted into the king’s harem. Then, as one of his wives, you were given all sorts of treatments and training to prepare you to meet the king. This preparation consisted of getting one’s grooming just right, skin treatments, makeup makeovers, and instructions on what to do seduce the king. Esther had one night with the king when he summoned her, and if she made a really good impression on him, she would become queen. Otherwise, she would be in the harem with the concubines for the rest of her life.
Soon it came for Esther’s night with the King. It turned out that Esther won King Xerxes over. Xerxes decided to make Esther his queen. She won the “beauty contest”. Now she was one of the two or three most powerful women in the world. Not bad for an orphaned girl adopted by her cousin exiled in a strange land!
Soon after Mordecai heard of a coup that was being plotted by some of the elite soldiers that were protecting the king. Mordecai let Esther know what was going on. Esther passed the news on to the king, who foiled the plot on his life just in time.
A little while later Esther’s cousin Mordecai is spotted by one of king’s advisors named Haman. Haman became very irritated that Mordecai would not bow down to him. He found out this was because Mordecai was a Jew. So he made this law where for one day, everyone was to kill every Jew in their village, take their goods, and eliminate the Jews from the earth in said fashion.
This decree was sent throughout the country.
Mordecai is fearful that his people will be wiped out in a mass genocide. He knows he only has one option. Queen Esther must be persuaded to get King Xerxes to put an end to the day of extermination of the Jewish people. So he goes to Queen Esther. And he asks her to persuade the king to stop Haman.
Esther knows that approaching the king uninvited could mean her exile, or even her death. She sends Mordecai back to ask the Hebrew people to fast and to pray. She says that they will pray for a while, and then at an appointed time she will approach the king, and see what she can do. “If I die, I die”, she says.
Mordecai tells Esther these unforgettable words, “Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”
Well, Esther approaches the king, and begins to carry out an elaborate plan to rescue her people. She invites the king and the man named Haman, who meant to kill all the Jews, to a meal. The king joyfully says yes.
It so happens, by God’s timing, that the king was having the records of his reign read to him because he couldn’t sleep. After all, can you imagine a better sleep aid that minutia in minutes from government bureaucrats. In the middle of this reading he hears how Mordecai had saved his life previously. The king asks if he was recognized and thanked. He had not been. The king then singled him out for special recognition in front of the whole town, with Haman, the man who was to kill Mordecai, as his servant.
Esther meanwhile had dinner with this evil Haman and her husband and king. They have a good time. She invites them for a second meal. During the second meal she skillfully reveals that Haman wants to have her, Mordecai, and all of the Jews killed, and she reveals Haman’s plan to do just this.
King Xerxes has Haman executed and gives his job to Mordecai. Esther releases another decree that saves her people. Through one woman, a whole nation of Jews is saved from a mass genocide.
Because she believed that God had put her in that place, and that time, for a moment such as this. And nearly 3000 years later, the memory of her courage and her skill, and what God can do through her, had Hitler feverishly and vainly working to erase her memory and the celebration of her memory from the Hebrew people.