And the king loved Esther above all the women, and she obtained grace and favor in his sight more than all the virgins…
Gloss it as you may, this is not pleasant reading, and yet not unprofitable, having much to say to us, and especially to women, of what we owe to Christianity for the elevation of woman. Telling of a despot and sensualist, and how he claimed his country's fairest beauty for his insatiate pleasure. But it is purely told us. It can be read without dulling the conscience or staining the imagination. What nation of antiquity looked not upon woman as a decorated toy or an abject drudge? There was one exception. Among the Jews her position was relatively high as compared with that assigned to her in adjacent nations. She had larger liberty than even now is allowed her in Oriental countries, with greater variety and importance of employments. She headed, like Miriam, the bands of women who celebrated, with triumphant song, the overthrow of enemies. She led armies, like Deborah, and was, like her, a prophetess and a judge. In the free grace of an unconfined maidenhood she went out to meet her father with timbrels and dances. Her hymns were included in sacred records, as was the song of Samuel's mother. She was consulted, like Huldah, by high-priest and king. And while the effect of polygamy was disastrous, so far as that obtained before the captivity, and while it was obvious that the husband, not the wife, was the acknowledged head of the household, in independence of whom the wife could enter on no engagements, the dowry was given for the wife, not with her. The modern harem was unknown, the matron walked abroad unveiled, her husband's house was esteemed her "rest," she had a large authority in the family, and the grace and force of her character and mind were honoured, cultured, and allowed opportunity.
(R. S. Storrs.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And the king loved Esther above all the women, and she obtained grace and favour in his sight more than all the virgins; so that he set the royal crown upon her head, and made her queen instead of Vashti.
WEB: The king loved Esther more than all the women, and she obtained favor and kindness 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.