King Xerxes throws a half-year feast. Then a seven-day feast. Queen Vashti refuses a stupid command. King Xerxes complains to his advisors. [UPDATED]
VERSE 1. Now in the days of Ahasuerus (this is Ahasuerus who reigned from India even to Ethiopia, over one hundred twenty-seven provinces),
Ahasuerus. That is the name used in the Bible. But he is mainly known as Xerxes. He ruled the Persian Empire from 485 to 465 BC.
India. In this context, the word “India” is modern-day west Pakistan.
one hundred twenty-seven provinces. The vast extent of the Persian empire has been confirmed by several outside sources.
VERSE 2. in those days, when King Ahasuerus sat on the throne of his kingdom, which was in Susa the palace,
Susa the palace. King Ahasuerus had a winter citadel (palace) in Susa.
VERSE 3. in the third year of his reign, he made a feast for all his princes and his servants; the power of Persia and Media, the nobles and princes of the provinces, being before him.
in the third year of his reign. That was 483 BC.
he made a feast. This banquet might be the great feast Ahasuerus gave when he was planning to invade Greece.
VERSE 4. He displayed the riches of his glorious kingdom and the honor of his excellent majesty many days, even one hundred eighty days.
one hundred eighty days. If this banquet is the great feast Ahasuerus gave when he was planning to invade Greece, then the 180 days would have been for the many planning sessions for the war effort.
VERSE 5. When these days were fulfilled, the king made a seven day feast for all the people who were present in Susa the palace, both great and small, in the court of the garden of the king’s palace.
VERSE 6. There were hangings of white and blue material, fastened with cords of fine linen and purple to silver rings and marble pillars. The couches were of gold and silver, on a pavement of red, white, yellow, and black marble.
The author writes with exquisite detail. This suggests the writer had firsthand knowledge of the setting and the occasion.
VERSE 7. They gave them drinks in golden vessels of various kinds, including royal wine in abundance, according to the bounty of the king.
VERSE 8. In accordance with the law, the drinking was not compulsory; for so the king had instructed all the officials of his house, that they should do according to every man’s pleasure.
drinking was not compulsory. The guests were not required to drink alcohol.
VERSE 9. Also Vashti the queen made a feast for the women in the royal house which belonged to King Ahasuerus.
Vashti the queen made a feast for the women. Separate banquets were not unusual in that culture.
VERSE 10. On the seventh day, when the heart of the king was merry with wine, he commanded Mehuman, Biztha, Harbona, Bigtha, and Abagtha, Zethar, and Carcass, the seven eunuchs who served in the presence of Ahasuerus the king,
VERSE 11. to bring Vashti the queen before the king with the royal crown, to show the people and the princes her beauty; for she was beautiful.
to show the people and the princes her beauty. King Ahasuerus requires his wife to parade before a mob of drunken men.
VERSE 12. But the queen Vashti refused to come at the king’s commandment by the eunuchs. Therefore the king was very angry, and his anger burned in him.
queen Vashti refused. Good for her! A woman is not an object to be paraded around at the whim of a man.
the king was very angry. King Ahasuerus was enraged that he did not get his way. He exhibits narcissistic rage.
VERSE 13. Then the king said to the wise men, who knew the times (for it was the king’s custom to consult those who knew law and judgment;
VERSE 14. and the next to him were 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),
VERSE 15. “What shall we do to the queen Vashti according to law, because she has not done the bidding of the King Ahasuerus by the eunuchs?”
she has not done the bidding of the King. In their worldview, a woman must do whatever a man commands her to do.
That is not the way of the Lord Jesus Christ. But unfortunately, it is indeed the way of many of his followers.
VERSE 16. Memucan answered before the king and the princes, “Vashti the queen has not done wrong to just the king, but also to all the princes, and to all the people who are in all the provinces of the King Ahasuerus.
VERSE 17. For this deed of the queen will become known to all women, causing them to show contempt for their husbands, when it is reported, ‘King Ahasuerus commanded Vashti the queen to be brought in before him, but she didn’t come.’
show contempt for their husbands. Queen Vashti did not have contempt for her husband. Rather, she simply refused his stupid command.
The king’s advisors are misrepresenting the facts. They say if a woman refuses any command from her husband, she is having contempt for him.
VERSE 18. Today, the princesses of Persia and Media who have heard of the queen’s deed will tell all the king’s princes. This will cause much contempt and wrath.
VERSE 19. “If it pleases the king, let a royal commandment go from him, and let it be written among the laws of the Persians and the Medes, so that it cannot be altered, that Vashti may never again come before King Ahasuerus; and let the king give her royal estate to another who is better than she.
VERSE 20. When the king’s decree which he shall make is published throughout all his kingdom (for it is great), all the wives will give their husbands honor, both great and small.”
all the wives will give their husbands honor. That is, the edict from the king will terrify women.
VERSE 21. This advice pleased the king and the princes, and the king did according to the word of Memucan:
VERSE 22. for he sent letters into all the king’s provinces, into every province according to its writing, and to every people in their language, that every man should rule his own house, speaking in the language of his own people.
every man should rule his own house. This is the mindset of men whose hearts are not yet transformed by God. It is enshrined in every culture.
On the contrary, the Bible teaches that all people are equal before the LORD God:
Galatians 3:28. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
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