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Four Bible Queens: How Physical Beauty Helped or Hurt Them

MsDora, Certified Christian Counselor, has spent four decades empowering young and adult women to pursue positive, productive womanhood.

Four Bible Queens: How  Physical Beauty Helped or Hurt Them

Four Bible Queens: How Physical Beauty Helped or Hurt Them

“The true beauty of a woman is revealed only after you get to know her” writes Richelle E. Goodrich, and her statement is true for both queens and commoners. Physical beauty gets noticed first, but whether or not her attractiveness will be an asset or a liability is determined by the woman’s beauty of character, which is revealed over time.

The stories of these four womenall Bible Queensshow that physical beauty is a gift to be nurtured and appreciated; and that it brings more benefits to the wearer when it is combined with inner beauty. Learn from these episodes how beauty can be both helpful and hurtful. See how true beauty remains beautiful!

Abigail: Intelligent and Beautiful

She was an intelligent and beautiful woman, but her husband was surly and mean in his dealings—he was a Calebite (1 Samuel 25:3).

Abigail, portrait of brains and beauty was married to Nabal the Calebite, a wealthy (verse 2) and foul-tempered man. She was wise and he was foolish (that being the meaning of his name). Her name suggests a connection to a source of joy. Her positivity was a trademark of her inner beauty which remained intact despite her marriage to a difficult man.

When her mean-spirited husband insulted King David and his men by refusing their request for food and water, Abigail appeased the king’s wrath with an offering of food and wine, and asked his forgiveness for her husband's misdeed. Certainly, the king noticed her physical beauty, but it was for her wise judgment (verse 34) that he blessed her.

About ten days later, Nabal died from a heart attack. David must have remembered Abigail as a beautiful, kind woman. He sent for her and made her one of his wives.

Physical beauty may attract a wealthy man, and a beautiful woman may be fooled into thinking that beauty plus money will make her happy. But had Abigail considered her outer beauty to be her greatest asset, she would have hurt her chances to demonstrate her greater beauty of wisdom and kindness. When physical beauty opens a door, it helps for beauty of character to walk through beside it.

Artist's portrait of Bathsheba -- exceptionally beautiful.

Artist's portrait of Bathsheba -- exceptionally beautiful.

2. Bathsheba: Exceptionally Beautiful

Late one afternoon, after his midday rest, David got out of bed and was walking on the roof of the palace. As he looked out over the city, he noticed a woman of unusual beauty taking a bath (2 Samuel 11: 2, 3 NLT).

When this incident happened, David already had six wives plus concubines who bore him children. He was not looking for a wife; besides, the beautiful woman on the roof was Bathsheba a married woman, whose husband was a soldier in David’s army. He inquired about her, so he knew who she was when he sent for her.

Did Bathsheba anticipate the king looking down to her rooftop through the lattice in the palace window above? Did she and the king play this game before? Was either of them motivated by the fact that Uriah was away on the battlefield? People speculate about the answers to these questions, but whether she intentionally set out to seduce the king, or she was forced into adultery against her will, her beauty clearly proved a disadvantage.

If Bathsheba intentionally set out to seduce David, she acted irresponsibly like the woman who says, “I can’t help it if I’m beautiful and men are attracted to me.” The result in this case was an unwanted pregnancy and the untimely death of a husband and soldier. (David had Uriah killed so he could have Bathsheba, but he repented.)

Later though, Bathsheba gave birth to Solomon who became king with the help of her political maneuvering.

What a positively powerful story the Queen Mother would have had to tell if the story of her beauty did not have adultery and murder attached to it? Who knows how else her beauty might could have made her famous?

3. Vashti: Lovely to Look At

On the seventh day, when King Xerxes was in high spirits from wine, he commanded the seven eunuchs who served him . . . to bring before him Queen Vashti, wearing her royal crown, in order to display her beauty to the people and nobles, for she was lovely to look at (Esther 1:10,11).

King Ahasuerus of Persia held a celebration for his military leaders, nobles and supporters. It was a display of wealth and splendor. During the final day of a seven-day banquet, the king in his drunken stupor requested a new display for his guests to admire.

His display would have been the beautiful Queen Vashti, who according to Dr. Malka Zeiger Simkovich and other Torah scholars, was Babylonian royalty in her own right. She refused to comply. The king was embarrassed; and fearing that other women would imitate the queen’s insubordination, his advisers convinced him to replace her.

The king aimed to make her a showpiece, intending to prove (according to the scholars) that Vashti may be royalty but her value to him was only in her beauty. Vashti refused to disrespect herself by participating in his effort to trivialize her worth. His misunderstanding of her value hurt her social position, but her refusal to compromise helped to establish her as a wise woman who knew her worth. She remained beautiful because she left the king's palace with her true beauty intact.

Artist's portrait of Esther - Lovely Figure and Beautiful

Artist's portrait of Esther - Lovely Figure and Beautiful

4. Esther: Lovely Figure and . . . Beautiful

This young woman, who was also known as Esther, had a lovely figure and was beautiful . . . And Esther won the favor of everyone who saw her (Esther 2:7, 15).

Among the beautiful women gathered in the search for a queen to replace Vashti, was a Jewish girl named Hadassah (meaning myrtle) whose Persian name was Esther. She had been adopted by her cousin Mordecai who raised her to be self-confident. Hegai, who was in charge of the candidates favored Esther and “immediately he provided her with her beauty treatments and special food."

When Esther’s turn came to spend time with King Ahasuerus, he “was attracted to Esther more than to any of the other women, and she won his favor and approval. So he set a royal crown on her head and made her queen instead of Vashti” (2:17).

Esther’s physical beauty helped her win her royal position, but it was her beauty of character that kept her on the throne. Her obedience to the principles that Mordecai taught her, and her loyalty to her faith motivated her to become involved in the struggles of her Jewish people. She fasted with them in their time of crisis.

Esther's commitment to her people and her struggle for justice on their behalf were not lost on the king. She became a prominent figure in her nation’s history. Although her physical beauty helped to begin her journey, her success was the result of her strength and inner beauty,

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© 2011 Dora Weithers

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