Did Queen Esther Wear Make-Up?

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In response to a few of my recent articles I have been informed that, according to the Bible, Queen Esther wore make-up. I want to examine this charge against her to see if the Bible reveals whether or not this is so. Let’s examine the Scriptures that some individuals have used to “prove” that she wore make-up.

First, I will give you each reference in the King James Version and then in the English Standard Version. After we do that let’s look at the original language and find out what the words actually mean.

Cosmetics vs. Things For Purification

KJV

And let the king appoint officers in all the provinces of his kingdom, that they may gather together all the fair young virgins unto Shushan the palace, to the house of the women, unto the custody of Hege the king’s chamberlain, keeper of the women; and let their things for purification be given them:

 

ESV

And let the king appoint officers in all the provinces of his kingdom to gather all the beautiful young virgins to the harem in Susa the capital, under custody of Hegai, the king’s eunuch, who is in charge of the women. Let their cosmetics be given them.

(Esther 2:3)

 

KJV

And the maiden pleased him, and she obtained kindness of him; and he speedily gave her her things for purification, with such things as belonged to her, and seven maidens, which were meet to be given her, out of the king’s house: and he preferred her and her maids unto the best place of the house of the women.

 

ESV

And the young woman pleased him and won his favor. And he quickly provided her with her cosmetics and her portion of food, and with seven chosen young women from the king’s palace, and advanced her and her young women to the best place in the harem.
(Esther 2:9)

KJV

Now when every maid’s turn was come to go in to king Ahasuerus, after that she had been twelve months, according to the manner of the women, (for so were the days of their purifications accomplished, to wit, six months with oil of myrrh, and six months with sweet odours, and with other things for the purifying of the women;)

 

ESV

Now when the turn came for each young woman to go in to King Ahasuerus, 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—
(Esther 2:12)

 Examining the Hebrew

So, verse 3 and verse 9 both have the same Hebrew word that is translated as cosmetics in the ESV and purification in the KJV. The word in Hebrew is tamru?q     ??????? and from Strong’s Dictionary it states it means, “properly a scouring, that is, soap or perfumery for the bath; figuratively a detergent: –  X cleanse, (thing for) purification (-fying).” So, the purpose of the application of “cosmetics” (ESV) was in order to purify or cleanse. This cosmetic that was used was not make-up instead its purpose was to purify or cleanse the body. The King James translators chose “things for purification” based upon the literal meaning of the Hebrew tamruq since it literally means “a scouring.”

The ESV translators chose the word cosmetics. This leads some people to believe that Esther put on make-up at this time. However, according to the context the book of Esther tells us exactly what cosmetics she “wore” or actually were used in order to beautify her. If you read in verse 12 you see that the cosmetics that were applied to her were “oil of myrrh and…spices and ointments for women.” Next, if we examine the word cosmetics we can see that though the ESV translators chose a somewhat confusing word they are technically correct. The word cosmetics according to Webster’s Dictionary is,

COSMETIC, a. s as z. [Gr., order, beauty.] Beautifying; improving beauty, particularly the beauty of the skin.

COSMETIC, n. Any preparation that renders the skin soft, pure and white, and helps to beautify and improve the complexion.

According to the actual meaning of cosmetics we can see that indeed oil of myrrh, spices and ointments are indeed cosmetics, but they are not the painting of the eyes as was characteristic of heathen women in Bible times.

 Conclusion

We can confidently conclude that these verses do not at all teach us that Esther wore make-up. She went through a purification or cleansing process for one year in order to be made ready for her husband, the King. That purification process was done with bathing and the application of oil of myrrh, spices and ointments. She was not “purified” with make-up or with painting of her eyes. This does not fit the context of the Scripture at all. Those who are using this as proof that wearing make-up is Scripturally acceptable are twisting the meaning of cosmetics and the context of the Scriptures themselves.

The book of Esther does not tell us that she did not wear make-up, but it also does not tell us that she did. Remember, Queen Esther is not necessarily a great example for us. She hid her Jewish heritage from the King, she married a pagan, the Babylonian captivity was over and she could have returned to Israel, but she chose to stay behind and since she hid her heritage she was likely eating meats forbidden by the Mosaic Law. But not only that, at first she refused to help the Jews because she was scared for her own life. She made the right choice in the end, but she is not necessarily the model of Christian life that we want to follow, whether she wore make-up or not.

Both Paul (1 Timothy 2:9-10) and Peter (1 Peter 3:1-4) instruct the woman to be modest and to focus more on their character and godliness than on what they wear. More than focusing on our outward appearance we should focus on our inward life in Jesus Christ, the prayer relationship we have with him and with how we are impacting those around us. Then to let our outward appearance reflect the inward character.

9 thoughts on “Did Queen Esther Wear Make-Up?

  • It is easy for people to find a scripture in the bible that can benefit their agenda. Again, if you have the real genuine Holy Ghost inside of your soul, it will reflect on the outside and you will have no desire whatsoever to paint yourself up like a prostitute.

  • I recently heard Brother Donny preach about this very subject and he brought out the same proof as you did. Another thing he talked about was all of the poisons that are actually in the worldly “cosmetics.” I bet if I told some of those women who paint their faces what they are actually putting on their face is poison, they would still “take a bit of that apple.”

  • Paul tells Timothy to preach the word and be instant in season and out of season and to reprove, rebuke with all patience and doctrine. Yes, if they have the Holy Ghost it will lead us to obedience. We also know that it is the responsibility of the five-fold ministry to teach people the word so that they know it.
    Yes, that’s true, the Bible speaks of one person that put make-up on and that is Jezebel. Because of her leading the 10 tribes to Baal worship and killing Nabal for his vineyard she was sentenced to death by God. She was not sentenced to death for wearing make-up. The make-up was a part of her character of idolatry and wickedness. The Scriptures say she painted her eyes, made up her hair and stood in the window to wait for Jehu to come. The question is why did she paint her face and make up her hair the way she did? And why was it a sin for her to wear make-up, but not a sin for her to do her hair? There are simple biblical conclusions to that as well.

  • Come on guys, look at how women were treated in that time and even the recordings of the Bible all written from the male perspective. it was Jesus who liberated women. I thank God that I can vote, chose who I will marry, (a preacher), let the Holy Spirit dress me and sometimes that included Bobby Brown! My husband loves for me to look nice and as I have aged, I need all the help I can get.

  • We are so grateful that women are not treated as property anymore and that they are treated with love, honor and respect. I believe this was always God’s intent from the very beginning and it was sin that resulted in women’s mistreatment. We are not discussing cultures and sinful behaviors. Our purpose is to follow the original blueprint, the Bible. Jesus did not “liberate” women any more than he liberated every man or woman who believes and is born of the Spirit of God. The Holy Spirit will always lead us according to the original pattern. Paul spoke of modesty in 1 Timothy 2:9. And our desire is to examine the scriptures both new and old testament to see how God would have us conduct ourselves in this present evil world. The truth is we are either patterning our dress after worldliness or godliness. I hope to point people to pattern their hearts, minds, conduct, dress and everything according to the word of God. May God bless you sister Lucy.

  • I find the definition ,”any preparation that renders the skin soft pure and white ,”interesting. What is the source?

  • Yes, I include that definition in the article as well, it’s from Webster’s dictionary. The Hebrew word is tamru?q ??????? and from Strong’s Dictionary it states it means, “properly a scouring, that is, soap or perfumery for the bath; figuratively a detergent: – X cleanse, (thing for) purification (-fying).”

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