Esther 1:1-22 . AHASUERUS MAKES ROYAL FEASTS.
7. they gave them drink in vessels of gold--There is reason to believe from this account, as well as from Esther 5:6 , Esther 7:2 Esther 7:7 Esther 7:8 , where the drinking of wine occupies by far the most prominent place in the description, that this was a banquet rather than a feast.
9. Also Vashti the queen made a feast for the women--The celebration was double; for, as according to the Oriental fashion, the sexes do not intermingle in society, the court ladies were entertained in a separate apartment by the queen.
10-12. On the seventh day, when the heart of the king was merry with wine--As the feast days advanced, the drinking was more freely indulged in, so that the close was usually marked by great excesses of revelry.
he commanded . . . the seven chamberlains--These were the eunuchs who had charge of the royal harem. The refusal of Vashti to obey an order which required her to make an indecent exposure of herself before a company of drunken revellers, was becoming both the modesty of her sex and her rank as queen; for, according to Persian customs, the queen, even more than the wives of other men, was secluded from the public gaze. Had not the king's blood been heated with wine, or his reason overpowered by force of offended pride, he would have perceived that his own honor, as well as hers, was consulted by her dignified conduct.
13-19. Then the king said to the wise men--These were probably the magi, without whose advice as to the proper time of doing a thing the Persian kings never did take any step whatever; and the persons named in Esther 1:14 were the "seven counsellors" (compare Ezra 7:14 ) who formed the state ministry. The combined wisdom of all, it seems, was enlisted to consult with the king what course should be taken after so unprecedented an occurrence as Vashti's disobedience of the royal summons. It is scarcely possible for us to imagine the astonishment produced by such a refusal in a country and a court where the will of the sovereign was absolute. The assembled grandees were petrified with horror at the daring affront. Alarm for the consequences that might ensue to each of them in his own household next seized on their minds; and the sounds of bacchanalian revelry were hushed into deep and anxious consultation what punishment to inflict on the refractory queen. But a purpose was to be served by the flattery of the king and the enslavement of all women. The counsellors were too intoxicated or obsequious to oppose the courtly advice of Memucan was unanimously resolved, with a wise regard to the public interests of the nation, that the punishment of Vashti could be nothing short of degradation from her royal dignity. The doom was accordingly pronounced and made known in all parts of the empire.