Abused

She was only young, barely past puberty when she was taken from her friends and family to live a life in servitude to a foreign man who would use her for sex when he wanted to and the rest of the time ignored her, unless he wanted to parade her in front of his friends and acquaintances, all men, as an object to be ogled. When she was not wanted she sat, bored, with other young women who were being abused in the same way.

This could be a modern story of human trafficking, but is in fact from the Bible. This is the story of Esther.

Esther

40 blogs of Lent, day 31

Harem girls
I tried to find a picture of harem girls that did not look like a male erotic fantasy. I failed. Picture via Wikimedia

We make a lot about Ester being Queen, but life as part of a harem was not the glamour and regality of modern royalty, anything but. The previous Queen, Vashti, had refused to be used in this way, refusing to be paraded in front of men as a sexual plaything. It was a humiliation too far for her. In these days, Vashti’s stance would be hailed by the feminists, and rightly so. In those days it meant that she was banished from the palace. She was lucky not to have been executed.

So enter Esther, the new Queen, the new King;s plaything to be used, humiliated and discarded at the King;s wish. That Esther had to endure the humiliation of being the erotic entertainment of the Kings male guests is not in the script of the Bible. But as her role was to replace the predecessor who failed to do this, it can be taken as read that this was part of the deal. This was not a pleasant or glamorous existence.

Yet the story of Esther is the story of a woman who saved her people.

When Esther comes before the King to tell of Haman’s plot things could have gone badly. The role of Queen did not hold a lot of power, she was merely a sexual plaything, part of a harem full of sexual playthings. When the Bible said she put on her royal robes you can expect then to be less regal and more revealing. If the King had not wanted her at that time her fate could have been that of Vashti before her. Or worse. Execution was always a possibility.

The book of Esther. Or how God can use even the most humiliated and abused people for his purpose.


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