0 Vashti and Esther (Esther 1-2)

Episode 161: Vashti and Esther

Esther 1-2

Vashti refuses to entertain the king's drunken guests

1 1-4 King Ahasuerus invited guests from all of his 127 provinces to his palace in Shushan for a 180-day party. 5 When the six-month party was over, he invited everyone to his palace for a seven-day feast. 7 The king encouraged everyone to drink as much wine as they wanted. 8-11 On the seventh day of the party, when the king was merry with wine, he commanded his servants to bring Queen Vashti to show off her beauty to his drunken guests while wearing the royal crown. 12 But Vashti refused, and the king was angry. 13-15 So he asked his wise men, "What should we do to Queen Vashti for disobeying the king?"

Vashti Refuses the King's Summons, painting by Edwin Long

16 One of his wise men, Memucan, answered the king, saying,

Vashti has not only wronged you, but she has wronged every man in the kingdom.

17 Now every woman will despise her husband.

19 So you should write a decree, saying that Vashti will never see you again, and that someone better than her will become queen in her place.

20 The decree should also command all wives to honor their husbands.

21 So the king did as Memucan suggested and sent out a decree saying that every man should rule in his own house.

Esther wins the fair young virgin contest (and becomes queen)

2 1 When the king's party was finally over, his servants said,

We must find a beautiful virgin for the king. 3 Let the king appoint officers in all the provinces of his kingdom to find all the beautiful young virgins and bring them to him.4 The maiden that pleases the king the most will replace Vashti as queen.

So that's what they did.

5 There was a Jew in the king's palace whose name was Mordecai. 7 His adopted niece, Esther, was a beautiful young virgin. 8 So Esther was brought to the king's house, to the custody of Hegai, the keeper of the women.

9 And Esther pleased him, so he got her ready for purification as quickly as possible. 12 (The competing young virgins had a twelve-month beautification program. For six months they were rubbed with oil and another six months, with perfume.) 13-14 Each competing virgin went in unto the king for one night. Then she returned to the king's concubine keeper. If the king enjoyed the visit, he'd call her back. 15 When it was Esther's turn to go in unto the king, the king loved her above all the other virgins.

17 So he put a crown on her head and made her queen instead of Vashti.

Queen Esther, Edwin Long, 1878.

19 Mordecai told Esther not to tell anyone that she was a Jew. And Esther did as she was told.

A few more words about this episode

The book of Esther
The story in the book of Esther is the basis of the Jewish holiday of Purim, during which the book of Esther is read.
Some historians believe that the book of Esther is a fictional story that was used to provide an etiology for the feast of Purim.
The book of Esther is one of only two books in which God is not mentioned. (The other book is the Song of Solomon.) It is also a book that Martin Luther didn't like very much. In fact, he wanted to exclude it from the Bible.
While wearing the royal crown (1:11)
The rabbis from several Midrashic sources say that Vashti was to appear naked to the king's drunken guests, wearing only the royal crown.
No comments yet

Copyright © 1999-2024
The Skeptic's Annotated Bible

Send comments to Steve Wells
at swwells(at)gmail.com