For some strange reason I thought this happened fairly quickly, but I learned that I was wrong.
First the King had to cool down. (vs 1)
Then he had to issue a decree that he was looking for a new wife among the virgins of the kingdom. His "officers in all the provinces of his kingdom to gather all the beautiful young virgins" and they were to bring them to his harmen in Susa. (vv 2-4)
Then the officers actually had to do that. That would have I'm sure, taken a great deal of time. First to find them, then to transport them. We learn in verse 8 that Esther was one of the women taken. Esther was being raised by her relative Mordecai. She was the daughter of his uncle (so he was her cousin I think). Esther's original name was Hadassah. Mordecai raised her as if she was his own daughter.
Then Esther found favour with Hegai, who had charge of the women. He advanced her to the best spot in the harem.
Esther told no one who she was since Mordecai commanded her not to. Mordecai kept a close eye on her.
It was 12 months (a full year) before the young women were deemed ready to meet the king. Six months for oil treatments, and six months for spices and ointments. One at at time they met the King. When the young women met with the King, they were allowed to bring in whatever they desired. Esther brought in only what Hegai advised.
This is the routine the young women followed
when the young woman went in to the king in this way, she was given whatever she desired to take with her from the harem to the king's palace. 14In the evening she would go in, and in the morning she would return to the second harem in custody of Shaashgaz, the king's eunuch, who was in charge of the concubines. She would not go in to the king again, unless the king delighted in her and she was summoned by name.Esther won the favour of all who saw her.
And the King was one of those people.
16And when Esther was taken to King Ahasuerus into his royal palace in the tenth month, which is the month of Tebeth, in the seventh year of his reign, 17the king loved Esther more than all the women, and she won grace and favor in his sight more than all the virgins, so that he set the royal crown on her head and made her queen instead of Vashti.I have to admit, it seems like it was almost two years before Esther was finally brought before the king. What happened to Vashti during that whole time? Was she kept locked up in the harem? I know, she's unimportant to the story ever since she showed dishonour to her husband, but it's just one of those things I wonder about.
Enough of that though, :), When the king chose Esther to be queen he threw a big party. He cut taxes and gave gifts to people. He showed his royal generosity.
As an end note to this chapter, we see that Mordecai discovers a plot against the king. He tells Esther who tells the King what is going on (using Mordecai's name). The king handles the problem AND has it recorded. This will be important later.
Through all of this, Esther obeyed Mordecai. She did not tell her heritage or people. She did what she was commanded.
I have to commend her for that. It must have been hard for her to not let it all go to her head. Here she is, the most beautiful girl and everyone is falling in love with her. Through it all though, she maintains who she is. An obedient girl to her "father" Mordecai.