Saturday, February 19, 2011

The Book of Esther 3

The Book of Esther 
Esther 1:10-22

On the seventh day, when the heart of the king was merry with wine, he commanded Mehuman, Biztha, Harbona, Bigtha, and Abagtha, Zethar, and Carcas, the seven chamberlains that served in the presence of Ahasuerus the king, To bring Vashti the queen before the king with the crown royal, to shew the people and the princes her beauty: for she was fair to look on. But the queen Vashti refused to come at the king's commandment by his chamberlains: therefore was the king very wroth, and his anger burned in him.

 Then the king said to the wise men, which knew the times, (for so was the king's manner toward all that knew law and judgment: And the next unto him was Carshena, Shethar, Admatha, Tarshish, Meres, Marsena, and Memucan, the seven princes of Persia and Media, which saw the king's face, and which sat the first in the kingdom;)  What shall we do unto the queen Vashti according to law, because she hath not performed the commandment of the king Ahasuerus by the chamberlains? And Memucan answered before the king and the princes, Vashti the queen hath not done wrong to the king only, but also to all the princes, and to all the people that are in all the provinces of the king Ahasuerus.  For this deed of the queen shall come abroad unto all women, so that they shall despise their husbands in their eyes, when it shall be reported, The king Ahasuerus commanded Vashti the queen to be brought in before him, but she came not.  Likewise shall the ladies of Persia and Media say this day unto all the king's princes, which have heard of the deed of the queen. Thus shall there arise too much contempt and wrath.  If it please the king, let there go a royal commandment from him, and let it be written among the laws of the Persians and the Medes, that it be not altered, That Vashti come no more before king Ahasuerus; and let the king give her royal estate unto another that is better than she.

 And when the king's decree which he shall make shall be published throughout all his empire, (for it is great,) all the wives shall give to their husbands honour, both to great and small.  And the saying pleased the king and the princes; and the king did according to the word of Memucan: For he sent letters into all the king's provinces, into every province according to the writing thereof, and to every people after their language, that every man should bear rule in his own house, and that it should be published according to the language of every people.

The King Defied
The banquet hall at Shushan the palace was impressively beautiful with such magnificent furnishings. The King had provided food at this banquet which was sumptuous and extravagant with the over abundance of wine to be indulged as one saw fit. When the king’s heart was merry with much wine, he requested the presence of Queen Vashti (his most beautiful and prized possession) to come before his guests to show her beauty; for she was fair to look on. Queen Vashti, for reasons we do not know, refused to obey the command of the king causing him to become very angry with her disregard for his authority.
Some have said that she was with child (Artaxerxes) and did not wish to come before the people in this manner. Usually, Persian queens ate at the king’s table; but, Queen Vashti was engaged in having her own banquet for the women of the kingdom and must have feared for her dignity in front of this drunken group. Nonetheless, she did go against the desires of the king of Persia and in doing so, brought condemnation upon herself. The queen’s conduct would be known to all women of the kingdom as an example that none would repeat such defiance to their husbands especially when it came to the king and his seven princes in counsel. The Law of the Medes and Persians could not be repealed, and Queen Vashti would no longer be allowed to come before the king.
The king was instructed by Memucan, one of the seven princes, to turn the royal family’s affair into a public and national crisis and send out a proclamation to all the land that every man should be the master of his own house and through this proclamation it would achieve the desired submission. In this royal decree, the king included a bill of divorcement to Queen Vashti banishing her from the royal palace and his presence. Strong consideration was conveyed to all women discouraging them from any thought or act of defiance against their husbands.
The Persian Empire had a great communication system; something like our “Pony Express” was used to send the message from the king to all the people.  The decree was written in every known language, given to all the people in the king’s providences, and to every people in the surrounding areas.
Thought:  Much speculation has been given why Queen Vashti defied her husband, the king, and did not come before him when he summonsed her. Although we cannot condone a wife’s unwillingness to be submissive to her husband, it is fair to to say, we can understand her reluctance and defiance with regards to the drunken state of her husband and those in his company. All seems quite unfair for Queen Vashti, but God, in His providential care, used this very plan to bring into view a young Jewish woman that would inevitably change the heart of the king in history.

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