Esther 1:1-21

Queen Vashti

1 This is what happened back when Ahasuerus lived, the very Ahasuerus who ruled from India to Cush—one hundred twenty-seven provinces in all.
2 At that time, Ahasuerus ruled the kingdom from his royal throne in the fortified part of Susa.
3 In the third year of his rule he hosted a feast for all his officials and courtiers. The leaders of Persia and Media attended, along with his provincial officials and officers.
4 He showed off the awesome riches of his kingdom and beautiful treasures as mirrors of how very great he was. The event lasted a long time—six whole months, to be exact!
5 After that the king held a seven-day feast for everyone in the fortified part of Susa. Whether they were important people in the town or not, they all met in the walled garden of the royal palace.
6 White linen curtains and purple hangings were held up by shining white and red-purple ropes tied to silver rings and marble posts. Gold and silver couches sat on a mosaic floor made of gleaming purple crystal, marble, and mother-of-pearl.
7 They served the drinks in cups made of gold, and each cup was different. The king made sure there was plenty of royal wine.
8 The rule about the drinks was "No limits!" The king had ordered everyone serving wine in the palace to offer as much as each guest wanted.
9 At the same time, Queen Vashti held a feast for women in King Ahasuerus' palace.
10 On the seventh day, when wine had put the king in high spirits, he gave an order to Mehuman, Biztha, Harbona, Bigtha, Abagtha, Zethar, and Carcas, the seven eunuchs who served King Ahasuerus personally.
11 They were to bring Queen Vashti before him wearing the royal crown. She was gorgeous, and he wanted to show off her beauty both to the general public and to his important guests.
12 But Queen Vashti refused to come as the king had ordered through the eunuchs. The king was furious, his anger boiling inside.
13 Now, when a need arose, the king would often talk with certain very smart people about the best way to handle it. They were people who knew both the kingdom's written laws and what judges had decided about cases in the past.
14 The ones he talked with most often were Carshena, Shethar, Admatha, Tarshish, Meres, Marsena, and Memucan. They were seven very important people in Persia and Media who, as the kingdom's highest leaders, were in the king's inner circle. So the king said to them,
15 "According to the law, what should I do with Queen Vashti since she didn't do what King Ahasuerus ordered her through the eunuchs?"
16 Then Memucan spoke up in front of the king and the officials. "Queen Vashti," he said, "has done something wrong not just to the king himself. She has also done wrong to all the officials and the peoples in all the provinces of King Ahasuerus.
17 This is the reason: News of what the queen did will reach all women, making them look down on their husbands. They will say, ‘King Ahasuerus ordered servants to bring Queen Vashti before him, but she refused to come.'
18 This very day, the important women of Persia and Media who hear about the queen will tell the royal officials the same thing. There will be no end of put-downs and arguments.
19 Now, if the king wishes, let him send out a royal order and have it written into the laws of Persia and Media, laws no one can ever change. It should say that Vashti will never again come before King Ahasuerus. It should also say that the king will give her royal place to someone better than she.
20 When the order becomes public through the whole empire, vast as it is, all women will treat their husbands properly. The rule should touch everyone, whether from an important family or not."
21 The king liked the plan, as did the other men, and he did just what Memucan said.

Esther 1:1-21 Meaning and Commentary

INTRODUCTION TO THE BOOK OF ESTHER

This book has its name from the person who is the principal subject of it; it is by Clemens of Alexandria {a} called the Book of Mordecai also; it is commonly called, in the Hebrew copies, "Megillah Esther", the Volume of Esther; and sometimes in the Jewish writings only "Megillah", by way of eminency, "the Volume". It was written, according to the Talmudists {b}, by the men of the great synagogue, composed by Ezra; and some think it was written by Ezra himself {c}; but Aben Ezra is of opinion it was written by Mordecai, since he was concerned in, and had perfect knowledge of, all things related in it; which is rejected by Spinosa {d}, who conceits that this, and the books of Daniel, Ezra, and Nehemiah, were written by one and the same historian long after the times of Judas Maccabaeus: as to the canonical authority of it, it has been generally received by Jews and Christians; our wise men, says Maimonides {e}, openly and plainly affirm of the book of Esther, that it was dictated by the Holy Spirit; so Aben Ezra on Es 6:6, and he himself {f} affirms, that

``all the books of the prophets, and all the Hagiographa (or holy writings), shall cease in the days of the Messiah, except the volume of Esther; and, lo, that shall be as stable as the Pentateuch, and as the constitutions of the oral law, which shall never cease.''

Though the versions of other books of Scripture might not be read in the synagogues, versions of this book might to those who did not understand Hebrew {g}; and so Luther {h} says, the Jews more esteem the book of Esther than any of the prophets. Whence Mr. Baxter {i} had that notion, I can not devise, that the Jews used to cast to the ground the book of Esther before they read it, because the name of God was not in it: nor is that any objection to its authenticity, since the hand and providence of God may be most clearly seen in it; in raising Esther to such grandeur, and that for the deliverance of the people of the Jews, and in counter working and bringing to nought the plots of their enemies, and in saving them: nor that it is not quoted in the New Testament; it is sufficient there is no disagreement between them, yea, an entire agreement, particularly in the account of the captivity of Jeconiah, which is expressed almost in the same words in Es 2:6 as in Mt 1:11,12. It stands in Origen's catalogue {k} of the books of the Old Testament; nor is it any material objection that it appears not in the catalogue of Melito {l}, since in that list is comprehended under Ezra not Nehemiah only, but Esther also, which Jerom {m} mentions along with it. This book is not only of use to the Jews, as it shows the original and foundation of a feast of theirs, still kept up by them, the feast of Purim, and makes for the glory of their nation, and therefore it is no wonder it should be so highly esteemed by them; but serves to show the singular providence of God in taking care of his people in adversity, in humbling the proud, and exalting the lowly, and saving those that pray to him, and trust in him; it furnishes out various instructions in the conduct of the several persons herein mentioned; it is a history but of ten or eleven years at most, from the third of Ahasuerus, to the twelfth of his reign, Es 1:3, 3:7.

{a} Stromat. l. 1. p. 329. {b} T. Bava Bathra, fol. 15. 1. {c} August. de Civ. Dei, l. 18. c. 36. Isidor. Origin. l. 6. c. 2. {d} Tract. Theolog. Politic. c. 10. p. 189 {e} Moreh Nevochim, par. 2. c. 45. {f} Hilchot Megillah, c. 2. sect. 18. {g} Misn. Megillah, c. 2. sect. 1. T. Bab. Megillah, fol. 18. 1. {h} Mensal. Colloqu. c. 31. p. 358. {i} The Saints Everlasting Rest, part 4. c. 3. sect. 1. {k} Apud Euseb. Eccl. Hist. l. 6. c. 25. {l} Apud ib. l. 4. c. 26. {m} Ad Domnion. & Rogat. tom. 3. fol. 7. F.

\\INTRODUCTION TO ESTHER 1\\

This chapter relates, how that Ahasuerus, a great king of Persia, made a feast, first for the grandees of his kingdom, and then for his people, as his queen did for the women, Es 1:1-9, who being sent for by him, and she refusing to come, was, by the advice of one of his counsellors, divorced from him, and an order made and published throughout his dominions, that every man should bear rule in his own house, Es 1:10-22.

Esther 1:1-21 In-Context

1 This is what happened back when Ahasuerus lived, the very Ahasuerus who ruled from India to Cush—one hundred twenty-seven provinces in all.
2 At that time, Ahasuerus ruled the kingdom from his royal throne in the fortified part of Susa.
3 In the third year of his rule he hosted a feast for all his officials and courtiers. The leaders of Persia and Media attended, along with his provincial officials and officers.
4 He showed off the awesome riches of his kingdom and beautiful treasures as mirrors of how very great he was. The event lasted a long time—six whole months, to be exact!
5 After that the king held a seven-day feast for everyone in the fortified part of Susa. Whether they were important people in the town or not, they all met in the walled garden of the royal palace.
6 White linen curtains and purple hangings were held up by shining white and red-purple ropes tied to silver rings and marble posts. Gold and silver couches sat on a mosaic floor made of gleaming purple crystal, marble, and mother-of-pearl.
7 They served the drinks in cups made of gold, and each cup was different. The king made sure there was plenty of royal wine.
8 The rule about the drinks was "No limits!" The king had ordered everyone serving wine in the palace to offer as much as each guest wanted.
9 At the same time, Queen Vashti held a feast for women in King Ahasuerus' palace.
10 On the seventh day, when wine had put the king in high spirits, he gave an order to Mehuman, Biztha, Harbona, Bigtha, Abagtha, Zethar, and Carcas, the seven eunuchs who served King Ahasuerus personally.
11 They were to bring Queen Vashti before him wearing the royal crown. She was gorgeous, and he wanted to show off her beauty both to the general public and to his important guests.
12 But Queen Vashti refused to come as the king had ordered through the eunuchs. The king was furious, his anger boiling inside.
13 Now, when a need arose, the king would often talk with certain very smart people about the best way to handle it. They were people who knew both the kingdom's written laws and what judges had decided about cases in the past.
14 The ones he talked with most often were Carshena, Shethar, Admatha, Tarshish, Meres, Marsena, and Memucan. They were seven very important people in Persia and Media who, as the kingdom's highest leaders, were in the king's inner circle. So the king said to them,
15 "According to the law, what should I do with Queen Vashti since she didn't do what King Ahasuerus ordered her through the eunuchs?"
16 Then Memucan spoke up in front of the king and the officials. "Queen Vashti," he said, "has done something wrong not just to the king himself. She has also done wrong to all the officials and the peoples in all the provinces of King Ahasuerus.
17 This is the reason: News of what the queen did will reach all women, making them look down on their husbands. They will say, ‘King Ahasuerus ordered servants to bring Queen Vashti before him, but she refused to come.'
18 This very day, the important women of Persia and Media who hear about the queen will tell the royal officials the same thing. There will be no end of put-downs and arguments.
19 Now, if the king wishes, let him send out a royal order and have it written into the laws of Persia and Media, laws no one can ever change. It should say that Vashti will never again come before King Ahasuerus. It should also say that the king will give her royal place to someone better than she.
20 When the order becomes public through the whole empire, vast as it is, all women will treat their husbands properly. The rule should touch everyone, whether from an important family or not."
21 The king liked the plan, as did the other men, and he did just what Memucan said.
22 He sent written orders to all the king's provinces. Each province received it written in its own alphabet and each people received it in its own language. It said that each husband should rule over his own house.