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Esther 2 says:

¹²In the twelve months before her turn to go to King Xerxes, the harem regulation required each young woman to receive beauty treatments with oil of myrrh for six months, and then with perfumes and cosmetics for another six months. ¹³When the young woman would go to the king, she was given whatever she requested to take with her from the harem to the king’s palace. ¹⁴She would go there in the evening, and in the morning she would return to a second harem under the care of Shaashgaz, the king’s eunuch in charge of the concubines. She would not return to the king unless he was delighted in her and summoned her by name.

Does a woman officially become a concubine of the king after spending a night with the king? Was the second harem just temporary housing?

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  • I think it was the other way around - a woman could spend a night with the king because she had been taken as a concubine. However, the rules and customs around wives vs concubines were neither uniform nor static. Concubines were a secondary wife, a kind of kept mistress. – Dottard Dec 18 '20 at 3:56
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Does a woman officially become a concubine of the king after spending a night with the king?

The answer to your question is given in verse 14 and it is "yes". For the account says that in the morning the other women brought to the king were returned to the second house under the charge of the king’s eunuch, "the guardian of the concubines." The women who spent the night with the king thus became his concubines or secondary wives.

Esther 2:14 (NET Bible)

14 In the evening she went, and in the morning she returned to a separate part[a] of the harem, to the authority of Shaashgaz, the king’s eunuch who was overseeing the concubines. She would not go back to the king unless the king was pleased with her[b] and she was requested by name.

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