Now, the search is on for a new queen. The king's servants (under his head eunuch, Hegai) help gather together a number of young virgins to join the king's harem, from which he will choose his new spouse.
Meanwhile, in another part of town, there is a good, virtuous Jewish man named Mordecai. He was among the Jews who were kidnapped and brought to the east by the Babylonian king, Nebuchadnezzar.
Mordecai has been raising his orphaned cousin Esther as his own child. When they hear about the king's call for young virgins to audition for the part of being the queen (it seems like there's been a bunch of reality shows exactly like this, doesn't it?), Esther joins the king's harem too.
Soon enough, she impresses the chief eunuch Hegai, who dishes out the cosmetic treatments and food rations that Esther needs, in addition to providing her with seven maids. She quickly rises to the highest place out of all the harem girls.
"You Can Call Me 'Queen Bee'"
Yet, she hasn't revealed that she's Jewish. She's trying to "pass," as it's said, because Mordecai told her not to tell. He continues to stop by and see how things are working out for Esther at the harem.
Esther still hasn't met the king yet, but after twelve months of cosmetic treatments and special harem-girl training, at last the time has come.
Each woman will spend a night with the king and receive whatever gift she asks for, to bring back to the harem's quarters.
When Esther's turn comes, she cautiously decides to only ask for whatever gifts Hegai tells her are okay to ask for.
Come morning, she's now the king's favorite as well. He decides to make her his new queen, permanently replacing Vashti. He throws a big banquet in her honor. There is much celebration and many gifts given to the different provinces.
Two Dead Eunuchs
A little while before Esther was made queen, Mordecai happened to be sitting near the palace gates (probably waiting to get news from Esther) when he heard two of the king's eunuchs talking about assassinating the king.
Mordecai tells Esther about it and in turn she tells the king—not forgetting to mention that the news came from Mordecai. The eunuchs are executed by hanging and Mordecai's good deed is recorded in the king's annals.