Esther 2: 12-18
12 The turn came for each girl to go in to King Ahasuerus, after being twelve months under the regulations for the women, since this was the regular period of their cosmetic treatment, six months with oil of myrrh and six months with perfumes and cosmetics for women. 13 When the girl went in to the king she was given whatever she asked for to take with her from the harem to the king’s palace. 14 In the evening she went in; then in the morning she came back to the second harem in custody of Shaashgaz, the king’s eunuch, who was in charge of the concubines; she did not go in to the king again, unless the king delighted in her and she was summoned by name.
15 When the turn came for Esther daughter of Abihail the uncle of Mordecai, who had adopted her as his own daughter, to go in to the king, she asked for nothing except what Hegai the king’s eunuch, who had charge of the women, advised. Now Esther was admired by all who saw her. 16 When Esther was taken to King Ahasuerus in his royal palace in the tenth month, which is the month of Tebeth, in the seventh year of his reign, 17 the king loved Esther more than all the other women; of all the virgins she won his favor and devotion, so that he set the royal crown on her head and made her queen instead of Vashti. 18 Then the king gave a great banquet to all his officials and ministers– “Esther’s banquet.” He also granted a holiday to the provinces, and gave gifts with royal liberality.
So we come to the ‘rose ceremony’ after the date where the king gets to choose the person who he has fallen for, what the woman thinks about the matter doesn’t matter. After a year of treatments, and we really don’t know exactly what all these treatments would entail and whether they would also include training to be more sexually proficient, but this is a story of excess and after a year of preparation, at least in Esther’s case, the girl is brought to the palace to spend the night with the king and then shipped off to be with the rest of the concubines to be summoned at the king’s will. The young girl is to try to win the heart of the king or be consigned to the house of the concubines never to be summoned again. Unlike the Bachelor, these girls are not sent home that they may find someone else who will love them, nope they are the kings women, and they have no say in this.
Esther plays the game well and the king loves her. She is his new queen and the throws a banquet, proclaims a holiday and there was much rejoicing. Again this is a story of excess and this is the celebration of the completion of the search for the new queen. Esther the powerless orphan and the Jew is now Queen Esther, bride of King Ahasuerus the ruler of the world (or at least the biggest empire of the day).
One final note, Esther apparently isn’t a devoutly practicing Jew. There is no mention of her requiring a special diet, like Daniel. Nobody realized that she is Jewish, it never seems to be a consideration. She assimilates to the culture of the people who she is in exile with. As the prophet Jeremiah states:
4 Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: 5 Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat what they produce. 6 Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. 7 But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare. Jeremiah 29: 4-7
There is no condemnation of this assimilation, Esther does what she has to do (just as Mordecai does) to survive. Yet, somehow through these two powerless ones God will work to make a place for his people in the midst of Babylon.