New Defender's Study Bible Notes
2:1 After these things. The succeeding account was probably at least two years “after these things,” for the king and all his officers embarked on their projected invasion of Greece immediately following the great assemblage. As history shows, however, the great fleet of King Xerxes (Ahasuerus) suffered bitter defeats at the naval battles of Thermophylae and Salamis, and returned home sadder and wiser. According to the Greek historian Herodotus, the king went back to “comfort himself” with his harem. At this time he “remembered Vashti,” and proceeded with his comforting mission of examining many “young virgins” (Esther 2:2) from all parts of his kingdom to find a new queen.
2:5 Mordecai. The name “Mordecai” seems to be derived from the name of Marduk, the chief god of Babylon. His name has been found on a cuneiform tablet, mentioned as a high official at the court of Xerxes. He was most likely the great grandson of a Benjamite named Kish who had been one of the captives taken from Jerusalem in the days of King Jeconiah.
2:7 Hadassah, that is, Esther. “Hadassah,” probably meaning “myrtle,” was Esther’s Jewish name. The name “Esther” was from the Babylonian goddess “Ishtar.”
2:8 many maidens. The Jewish historian Josephus cites a tradition that four hundred beautiful virgins were conscripted for Xerxes’ harem.
2:8 Esther was brought. The fact that Esther “was brought” instead of “came” may suggest that her participation in this “contest” to become queen was not voluntary on her part, but compulsory. In any event, the Lord used it and her to deliver His people at a time of great crisis.
2:10 her people. This was evidently during one of those intermittent periods in history when the Jewish people were looked upon with disfavor (even though Cyrus and Darius had aided them earlier in their desire to return to Jerusalem and rebuild their temple) and it was unwise for Esther to risk her chance of becoming queen by revealing her background. Jews have often been made scapegoats when trouble befalls a nation, and it is possible that they had been accused of complicity in Xerxes’ recent naval defeats. This probably also accounts for the fact that the book of Esther, alone among all the books of the Bible, contains no direct mention of God or of religion. The author (possibly Mordecai, although the actual author of the book is not known) may have feared reprisals if he had connected the remarkable deliverance of Israel with their religious faith.
2:16 the seventh year. Vashti had been deposed in the third year of the emperor’s reign (Esther 1:3). The four intervening years before Esther’s coronation had evidently been occupied with the huge but unsuccessful attempt to invade and conquer Greece.
2:17 above all the women. Although the book of Esther contains no mention of God, it abounds with implicit testimonies to providential leading and provision for His people. Under Persian law, Esther had no choice but to obey the king’s decree. She herself retained her own virginity until she became the king’s chosen wife. She was in a polygamous household, but this was common and accepted in the culture of the times (note the many wives of such godly men as Gideon, David, et al.). God actually used Esther in this somewhat unhappy position to preserve the Jewish people from probable annihilation It is likely that Haman’s proposed pogrom would have extended even to the land of Israel and every place inhabited by Jewish people.
2:23 inquisition. That is, “inquiry.”