The Hebrew Bible

Esther_Presented (1)

When the turn came for Esther daughter of Abihail the uncle of Mordechai… to go to the king she did not ask for anything but what Hegai, the king’s eunuch, guardian of the women, advised. Yet Esther won the admiration of all who saw her. Esther was taken to King Ahasuerus, in his royal palace… the king loved Esther more than all the other women, and she won his grace and favor more than all the virgins. (Esther 2-15-17)

Rembrandt shows Esther presented to Ahasuerus by Hegai the keeper of the harem. Esther kneels before the king, who rises and extends his hand to greet her. Ahashuerus’ expression of kindness is a welcome gesture for the timid and frightened Esther, who is uncertain about her newfound destiny. Note the anachronistic globe on the table on the right. Perhaps this is intended to highlight Ahasuerus’ governance over one hundred and twenty-seven countries (Esther 1-1).

Dr. Bryna Jocheved Levy

Photo courtesy of The Louvre, Paris.