Mordecai, palace official, and cousin (some translations say uncle) of Esther
Hegai, a eunich in charge of the harem
(1) King Xerxes holds a week-long feast at his winter palace, complete with lots of drinking. He orders Queen Vashti to parade in the front of the guests in order to show her off. Annoyed, she refuses, and winds up banished for this insubordination.
(2: 1-12) Xerxes' advisers suggest finding a replacement queen, and recruit women from throughout Persia to the harem for beauty treatments. Hegai the eunich is in charge of the harem. Mordecai prepares Hadasseh for the harem by changing her name to Esther, and telling her not to reveal she is a Jew. She quickly becomes Hegai's favorite candidate.
Introduction (15 min)
Read Esther 1
Read Esther 2: 1-12
If time allows, Chapter A of Esther (fCatholic Bible) contains Mordecai's dream foretelling the struggle between the Persians and the Jews.