The Tanach’s (Inner and outer)Beauty Pageant
Mirror, Mirror on the wall, who is the fairest of them all? One whose beauty comes from within, whose heart is free from sin. One who is beautiful both inside and out, yet her beauty she doesn’t flout.
Dovid and his men were hungry and in need of supplies. Naval lived nearby yet Naval refused to give them food. Naval had a very intelligent wife by the name of Avigayil. When Avigayil relaized that her evil husband had refused to grant Dovid food, she snuck out and gave him food and spoke to him, urging him not to be angry at Naval. After Avigayil reveals to Naval what she has done, “Hashem struck Naval and he died,” (v.38), after which Dovid married her.
The text explicitly describes Abigail as “intelligent and beautiful” (1 Samuel 25:3,). The Talmud amplifies this idea, mentioning her as being one of the “four women of surpassing beauty in the world
Esther Hamalkah (Queen Esther)
Esther was the descendent of Shimi ben Ge’era, according to some. She was from the tribe of Binyomin and the heroine of the Purim story. In Shushan there was pretty lass named Hadassah, who lived with her wise uncle Mordechai (who used to serve on the Sanhedrin and knew 70 languages). The ruler of Shushan was Achashveirosh, who was married to Vashti. When Vashti, an evil and vain woman and grand-daughter of Nebuchadnezzar refused to show herself at the kings feast (something she would have done if she never had a tail and her body covered in pimples), she was executed. Achashveirosh was so distraught when he realized what he had done, so he decided to find another queen. All throughout the land young maidens were chosen for their beauty. Hadassah tried to hide, yet she was caught and was sent to the palace. Right before she went, her uncle Mordechai took her aside and told her not to reveal her lineage to Achashveirosh and tell him her name was Esther. Achashveirosh fell for her beauty that he didn’t even prod her to divulge her lineage. An evil man named Haman rose to the king’s prime minister. As his new position he ordered all people bow done to him. Yet Mordechai did not bow. So incensed was he, that he wanted Mordechai to be hung and all the Jews killed. He chose a date – 13 Adar through lots and he went to the king with his plan. The king, no lover of the Jews, agreed and he signed the document saying that on the 13 Adar all the non Jews can kill all the Jews they want. When Mordechai heard this he donned sackcloth in mourning, and he and all the Jews began to do Teshuva. He asked Esther to intercede on their behalf before the king. To do this, Esther would have to go uninvited to the king, an act punishable by death. She asked Bnei Yisrael to fast for 3 day on her behalf. Finally on the third day, Esther went to the king. Although the king was about to behead her, a miracle occurred and Esther was granted favor in the king’s eyes. She invited Haman and Achashveirosh to a feast and at that feast to another feast and at that feast to another and so on. Finally at the third feast, Esther revealed her identity, saying Haman wanted to destroy her people. Haman was hanged, and Mordechai was elected the new Prime Minister. As they couldn’t annul the previous decree, they made a new decree stating that the Jews be allowed to defend themselves, and so they did.
When Yehoshua sent Pinchas and Calev as spies to the land of Yericho, one woman helped them, at the risk of her life. Her name was Rachav, and she lived right on the city walls. She brought them to her house and fed them. When the city’s officials came to look for them, Rachav hid them on her roof. After the officials left, Rachav let them out of the city. As a reward, she and her family were saved (the Jews could tell which house not to touch as she hung a red string from her window). She later converted and married Yehoshua. Most of the prophets were her decendants.
Maybe Sara’s beauty was apparent when her parents named her “Sarai” which means princess.
As they neared Egypt, Avraham said to his wife, “See now, I know that you are a beautiful woman; and it will come about when the Egyptians see you, that they will say, ‘This is his wife’; and they will kill me, but they will let you live. Please say that you are my sister so that it may go well with me because of you, and that I may live on account of you” (Gen. 12:11-13). It was a tribute to Sarah’s beauty that at sixty-five years of age she was still so gorgeous that Avraham thought the Egyptians might try to kill him for her. And the beauty was not just in Avraham’s eyes. “And it came about when Avram came into Egypt, the Egyptians saw that the woman was very beautiful. And Pharaoh’s officials saw her and praised her to Pharaoh; and the woman was taken into Pharaoh’s house” (Gen. 12:14, 15). While Avraham thought the Egyptians might murder him to get his wife, he was sure they would treat him as an honored guest if they thought he were her brother.
(Source: Babylonian Talmud, Megillah 15a)
Next Weeks Question: The number 7: What is seven?