Why did King Ahasuerus insist his virgin women undergo such lengthy beautification processes before becoming queen?



Esther is now one of my favorite books in the Bible. Although it is quite a short and simple book, it is packed with plenty of events with action and historical events. Esther is definitely the main character, but there are also sub events that make other characters and stories stick out to the readers. Chapter two really caught my eye because of the procedures the women went through to become “beautiful” before going to the king.

When King Ahasuerus became angry with Queen Vashti he chose Esther to become the new queen. In 2:12 it reads, “Now when the turn came for each young woman to go in to Kin Ahaseurus, after being twelve months under the regulations for the women, since this was the regular period of their beautifying, six months with oil of myrrh and six months with spices and ointments for women.”


This particular verse led me to question why these particular long steps were so important, and why these women had to endure these lengthy procedures in order to be with the king.

Why did these women have to take part in such a structured process? http://womenfromthebook.com/2012/08/14/esthers-make-over-fit-for-a-queen/ suggests that women’s mothers would use fragrances and teach their daughters how to make incense. Although this was a well-known practice performed by many women, the women who were inducted into the king’s palace were the only ones who had the luxury of actually going through a twelve month beautification process. This site also suggests that the king most likely wanted the women to take part in the process because people did not bathe often, and he thought of it as a cleansing before they came to him.


As many people would think that the twelve month long process would be a little ridiculous, it was actually quite common during the ancient Hebrew times. According to a blog found at http://doctorkanayo.com/2013/02/09/estherchallenge-day-2-chapter-two/, the author came to the conclusion that the idea of becoming beautiful for a King represents the idea of Christians becoming a beautiful bride for Jesus Christ.

As a woman, I really hate taking time out of my day just to become what the world now thinks is “beautiful”. The thirty minutes I spend on this process is not even close to comparing to a whole year. I could not imagine how these women felt. http://petticolaspdub.blogspot.com/2011/04/esthesr-year-beautification-process-for.html states the theory of this process being applied to shape these young women into becoming the new queen. The idea behind this is basically the grooming of these women in order to make them applicable for the queen’s position.


I really would hate to know that someone required me to go through all of these process in order to succeed the thrown. http://www.gty.org/resources/sermons/80-392/esther-for-such-a-time-as-this provides the suggestion of the lengthy processes being put into place as some sort of beauty contest with all of these virgin women. Almost like the king was letting these women become as beautiful as they could over the span of a year, and then he would pick which one he thought was the prettiest at the end.

Another blog that I discovered at https://preciousoils.wordpress.com/2010/04/27/esthers-days-of-purification-intro-part-one/ really stuck out to me. The author also states that he or she believes that the process was used to clean these women because they seldom took baths, but the author also states why these women may have reeked of a bad odor. Some of the women that were chosen to go through the process were of lower families and fed course strong food. These certain foods that they ate were not easily digested and caused a strong odor when they perspired.


All of the sources I found on this particular subject really struck me. Not only is it hard for me to choose which one I believe the most, but I also feel like all of these were understandable reasons as to why a king would force his “beautiful” yet “stinky” virgins to go through a twelve month beautification process.

And we girls think we have it bad…..

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