Esther 1

Esther 1

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The King’s Banquets

Now in the days of Ahasuerus, the Ahasuerus who reigned from India to Ethiopia over 127 provinces, in those days when King Ahasuerus sat on his royal throne in Susa, the citadel, in the third year of his reign he gave a feast for all his officials and servants. The army of Persia and Media and the nobles and governors of the provinces were before him, while he showed the riches of his royal glory and the splendor and pomp of his greatness for many days, 180 days. And when these days were completed, the king gave for all the people present in Susa the citadel, both great and small, a feast lasting for seven days in the court of the garden of the king’s palace. There were white cotton curtains and violet hangings fastened with cords of fine linen and purple to silver rods and marble pillars, and also couches of gold and silver on a mosaic pavement of porphyry, marble, mother-of-pearl, and precious stones. Drinks were served in golden vessels, vessels of different kinds, and the royal wine was lavished according to the bounty of the king. And drinking was according to this edict: “There is no compulsion.” For the king had given orders to all the staff of his palace to do as each man desired. Queen Vashti also gave a feast for the women in the palace that belonged to King Ahasuerus.

Queen Vashti’s Refusal

On the seventh day, when the heart of the king was merry with wine, he commanded Mehuman, Biztha, Harbona, Bigtha and Abagtha, Zethar and Carkas, the seven eunuchs who served in the presence of King Ahasuerus, to bring Queen Vashti before the king with her royal crown, in order to show the peoples and the princes her beauty, for she was lovely to look at. But Queen Vashti refused to come at the king’s command delivered by the eunuchs. At this the king became enraged, and his anger burned within him.

Then the king said to the wise men who knew the times (for this was the king’s procedure toward all who were versed in law and judgment, the men next to him being Carshena, Shethar, Admatha, Tarshish, Meres, Marsena, and Memucan, the seven princes of Persia and Media, who saw the king’s face, and sat first in the kingdom): “According to the law, what is to be done to Queen Vashti, because she has not performed the command of King Ahasuerus delivered by the eunuchs?” Then Memucan said in the presence of the king and the officials, “Not only against the king has Queen Vashti done wrong, but also against all the officials and all the peoples who are in all the provinces of King Ahasuerus. For the queen’s behavior will be made known to all women, causing them to look at their husbands with contempt, since they will say, ‘King Ahasuerus commanded Queen Vashti to be brought before him, and she did not come.’ This very day the noble women of Persia and Media who have heard of the queen’s behavior will say the same to all the king’s officials, and there will be contempt and wrath in plenty. If it please the king, let a royal order go out from him, and let it be written among the laws of the Persians and the Medes so that it may not be repealed, that Vashti is never again to come before King Ahasuerus. And let the king give her royal position to another who is better than she. So when the decree made by the king is proclaimed throughout all his kingdom, for it is vast, all women will give honor to their husbands, high and low alike.” This advice pleased the king and the princes, and the king did as Memucan proposed. He sent letters to all the royal provinces, to every province in its own script and to every people in its own language, that every man be master in his own household and speak according to the language of his people.

(ESV)


Esther 1 Commentary

by Hank Workman

The year is 483 BC.  100 and some years have passed since the Jewish people were taken into exile.  The first wave of people had already returned to Israel under the leadership of Zerubbabel.  Ezra led the second wave who worked on the temple and Nehemiah would eventually finish the task of rebuilding the walls.  There were exiles who decided to stay in Persia for one reason or another and that is where the story unfolds.  What is seen is God had a plan unknown even to the key players of His work and the protection of His people far and wide.

The fascinating aspect of this story pulls back the curtain to Persian rule, customs and God’s sovereignty interplayed with human will.  Drama escalates immediately as King Xerxes throws a lavish party.  Running for 180 days, it was to showcase his wealth, splendor and majesty as ruling King.   When asking his wife, sitting Queen Vashti, to parade her beauty, she revolts and refuses.  Incensed by such an act of rebellion, she is banished from his sight.  A nationwide, 127 provinces to be exact stretching from India to Cush, a beauty contest of sorts is made known for someone to replace her.

This is where God’s hand will intervene and bring someone to the forefront who is more than just a trophy.  He will raise up a woman who will be instrumental in His will and protection.

God uses all kinds of things to bring about His divine will.  As key players, we all have a role to fulfill.  On many levels, there may even be nothing remotely spiritual about it.  Yet who knows what down the road our path will cross with another, a collision course at His perfect intersection, to bring about a greater story to be told?  Decisions we make today, even those that have nothing to do with spiritual matters, can indeed be part of God’s orchestration of something within the future He desires to bring to pass.  The challenge is to be in prayer about everything we encounter, every decision we make, knowing there may be more to the story than what we thought.


Esther 1 Commentary

by Brad Boyles

At this point in Israel’s history, Ezra has just returned from the exile to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem. The Persian Empire is firmly in control and its territory extends from India to Ethiopia (including Israel). The time of Esther takes place between Ezra and Nehemiah. It would be 40 years after her time that Nehemiah would go back to Jerusalem to rebuild its walls.

The book opens with a great feast. The king of Persia wanted to flex his muscles and impress everyone with the wealth and riches of his kingdom. During the celebration, he has a little too much to drink and that’s when the comparisons begin. Jewish tradition holds that all the men at the feast were debating who was the most beautiful woman of the land. Immediately, the king called for his servants to bring out Queen Vashti with her royal crown to settle the debate. Some traditions interpret this to mean wearing ONLY her royal crown.

But apparently, Queen Vashti was not fond of the idea. Some say she mocked the request because she was technically royalty and the king had just married into it. Others say she was ready to come out but her body was struck with leprosy. I tend to give her the benefit of the doubt. To her credit, I think she refused to be objectified by the likes of these drunken men. This, of course, infuriated the king. He banished her from the kingdom and released a memo that he was now single and ready to mingle!

The real reason for his decision was based on power and authority. He wanted to send a message to the rest of the Persian wives that disrespect will not be tolerated. The intention is good but the execution is foolish. Paul agreed that a wife should respect her husband, but true respect cannot (and should not) be forced or manipulated.

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