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Bible Commentaries
Esther 1

Old & New Testament Restoration CommentaryRestoration Commentary

Introduction

Esther Chapter 1

The book of Esther is an unusual book in that it seems to stand alone. It is not connected to historical chronology of the Hebrews. This is a beautiful story of how a young Jewish girl saves her people. It is unknown who penned the book of Esther. Many scholars do not like to include the book of Esther in the Bible, because it does not directly mention the name of God. In this book, however, we see the hand of God at work to save his people in a foreign land. The setting for this is Persia. It happens during the years of captivity of the Israelites. One of the lessons to be learned in this is "you reap what you sow". The feast of Purim is instituted in this little book. In my opinion, this is a very spiritual book. It causes us to see God, even though it does not call His name.

Esther 1:1 "Now it came to pass in the days of Ahasuerus, (this [is] Ahasuerus which reigned, from India even unto Ethiopia, [over] an hundred and seven and twenty provinces:)" Ahasuerus is, possibly, the same as Xerxes. A province, at this time, was an area that had its own governor. We can see that this ruler had great world power. This would have included Judaea.

Esther 1:2 "[That] in those days, when the king Ahasuerus sat on the throne of his kingdom, which [was] in Shushan the palace," Shushan, the palace, sat on a hill. It was in the area of Shushan the city, but was separate.

Esther 1:3 “In the third year of his reign, he made a feast unto all his princes and his servants; the power of Persia and Media, the nobles and princes of the provinces, [being] before him:" This was like a diplomatic dinner. This dinner, probably, included as many as 15,000 people. The governors of the various provinces had gathered for this feast. It appears from the verse above, that his servants were included in this celebration. The nobles, mentioned, were, possibly, some of the Medes who held high favor with Persia, even though they were a captured nation, as well.

Esther 1:4 "When he shewed the riches of his glorious kingdom and the honour of his excellent majesty many days, [even] an hundred and fourscore days." This 180 days is a lengthy time of festivity in their land. Possibly, a few of the governors and nobles would come, and when they left, another group would come. We are not told for sure but 180 days is a long time for one party to last. He was showing off his wealth and power to the subordinate rulers of his provinces.

Esther 1:5 "And when these days were expired, the king made a feast unto all the people that were present in Shushan the palace, both unto great and small, seven days, in the court of the garden of the king’s palace;" It was not unusual for a feast of this kind to last for 7 days. This court was estimated to be about 350 feet long by 250 feet wide. It seems, there was a building setting in the middle of it. To accommodate the large numbers 125 of people, it would have been necessary for it to be this large. This feast was for everyone. The servants of the king and all the people, small and great, joined in the feast.

Esther 1:6 "[Where were] white, green, and blue, [hangings], fastened with cords of fine linen and purple to silver rings and pillars of marble: the beds [were of] gold and silver, upon a pavement of red, and blue, and white, and black, marble." This court was magnificent. The hangings could have been used as a type of awning to shade the people from the heat, since the court, probably, had no roof. The beds, mentioned, were actually couches where the people reclined. They were, probably, made of the precious metals, silver and gold, because there was so much wealth. The pillars of marble were, possibly, limestone blue. The floors were of the same material as the pillars, and some other colors that made a mosaic design. There were 4 different mosaics mixed and matched to make a beautiful floor.

Esther 1:7 "And they gave [them] drink in vessels of gold, (the vessels being diverse one from another,) and royal wine in abundance, according to the state of the king." The fact that the drinking cups were of gold, just showed the extreme wealth of the Persian king. It is interesting, to me, that the cups were different. Perhaps, it would have been easier for each one to keep up with his cup that way. It certainly would have been more expensive to make them different. This would have taken many barrels of wine to have enough to furnish so large a party.

Esther 1:8 "And the drinking [was] according to the law; none did compel: for so the king had appointed to all the officers of his house, that they should do according to every man’s pleasure." It was usually understood that the officers must all drink. This generally led to many getting drunk. It is interesting, to me, that the edict of the king, here, allowed each person to decide for himself whether he would drink, or not. It appears, the king wanted to treat all of these people as guests, and not as his subjects.

Esther 1:9 "Also Vashti the queen made a feast for the women [in] the royal house which [belonged] to king Ahasuerus." This shows that the men and women had separate feasts. We mentioned before, that the feast was like a diplomatic dinner. Vashti was the wife of the king. She was queen, because she was married to the king. It was in his royal house that Vashti held the feast for the women. "Vashti" means beautiful. This was, probably, a name the king gave her, after they were married. Many believe her real name was Amestris.

Esther 1:10 "On the seventh day, when the heart of the king was merry with wine, he commanded Mehuman, Biztha, Harbona, Bigtha, and Abagtha, Zethar, and Carcas, the seven chamberlains that served in the presence of Ahasuerus the king,"

Esther 1:11 "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." On the seventh day of the feast, it seems the king had too much to drink, and asked seven of his eunuchs to go and get the queen. He wanted to exhibit her before the men at his party to show her great beauty. We may assume that he wanted her to remove her veil of covering. He was very proud of all his possessions and he counted the queen as part of his possessions. To present the queen in such a manner as this was a breach in Persian etiquette.

Esther 1:12 "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." Vashti had to realize that it might cost her her life to refuse to obey the command of her king, who was, also, her husband. She, perhaps, would rather lose her life, than become shamed by such an exhibit. This was as if he were showing her off for the envy of the other men. Her refusal to come would greatly shame her husband before his subordinates. He would, possibly, not have asked such a thing, had he not been drinking. She would have to be severely punished, and it had to be known publicly for him to regain his self-respect. Most kings would have had her killed for such an act of disobedience.

Esther 1:13 "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:" Even in his heated anger, he did not act hastily. He left the judgement of what her punishment should be to the law of the land. The king wanted to do what was right in this case.

Esther 1:14 "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;)" Carshena and Shethar were his trusted advisers. Next to them, were the seven princes. All of them sat near the king at the table of the feast, and were treated with great respect. They had high offices directly under the king. We may assume that some of them were Medes, from the mention of "Persia and Media" here.

Esther 1:15 "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?" Notice "we" in the verse above. The king did not want to make this decision himself in the heat of the moment of anger. Another thing that speaks highly of the king was that he wanted it to be according to the law.

Esther 1:16 "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." The public shame that she had brought on the king would affect the entire kingdom. A king could not expect the people to do as he commanded, unless his queen set the example of obedience. The Persians had been so sure this would never happen, that there was no specific law against it. The advisers and the king would have to decide what would be appropriate punishment.

Esther 1:17 "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." The husband was the absolute ruler over his wife and children, in this heathen land. The queen’s act might cause all of the women to rebel against their husbands.

Esther 1:18 "[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." In the Persia and Media, women were thought to be under the complete rule of their husbands. This act of Vashti’s would affect not only the women of the ordinary citizens, but would affect the wives of the princes. They thought they might lose control of their family. The queen was an example for all of the women of the land for good, or evil. Whatever she did, the other women did, too. A good lesson is to be learned here. We can see that our lives influence others by the actions we take.

Esther 1:19 "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." Generally, the problems in the home between a husband and a wife would have been kept very secret. He would have put her away from him, but it would not have been known publicly. Since she had disgraced him before the entire land, this punishment must be public, as well. We might say, he divorced her, and threw her out. It was not enough to punish her. They wrote a law, so this would not happen again with any of their wives.

Esther 1:20 "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." They wanted this to strike fear into their wives, so that this would not happen again. This was not just for Persia, but for all the provinces, as well.

Esther 1:21 "And the saying pleased the king and the princes; and the king did according to the word of Memucan:" They all decided this was a good solution to a difficult problem. It would, also, let all of the king’s subjects know that the king did not let Vashti get away with this.

Esther 1:22 "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." Persia was a country that lived by different rules than our country. The Bible teaches that the father should be the rule of his own house. This does not mean that he is to be a tyrant, however. It, also, is speaking of the family unit. This is not something that should have been a law of the land. Morality cannot be legislated. The family unit, with the father as the head, is symbolic of our heavenly relationship with our Father.

Esther 1 Questions

1. What is unusual about the book of Esther?

2. What is the book about?

3. Who was the penman?

4. Why did some of the scholars not want this book in the Bible?

5. The setting for this is ________.

6. What feast is instituted in the book of Esther?

7. What is a message for all of us in this book?

8. The author believes this is a very __________ book.

9. Where did Ahasuerus reign?

10. Who was this Ahasuerus?

11. What was a province at this time?

12. Where was the palace of the king?

13. What year of his reign did he have the great feast?

14. Who were invited?

15. This was like a _____________ dinner.

16. How large were some of these celebrations?

17. Who were the nobles mentioned, probably?

18. There was festivity in the land for ________ days.

19. How long did the actual feast last?

20. How big was the court?

21. What were the hangings, probably?

22. The couches were made of what?

23. The pillars were made of what?

24. What made up the floor?

25. They drank out of __________ __________?

26. What was unusual about them?

27. What were they drinking?

28. What was different about the drinking at this feast, than what usually happened?

29. Who was the queen?

30. What does her name mean?

31. What could have been her real name?

32. What did the king request Vashti to do?

33. What answer did she give him?

34. Who did the king consult about her punishment?

35. Who would Vashti’s disobedience of the king affect?

36. What royal commandment went forth to all the lands the king ruled?

37. How would this help the king?

38. What punishment was inflicted upon Vashti?

39. What was in the letter he sent to all the lands?

40. ___________ cannot be legislated.

Verses 1-8

Est 1:1-8

Esther 1:1-8

A HALF-DRUNKEN XERXES DEPOSES HIS QUEEN VASHTI (AMESTRIS);

XERXES MAKES PREPARATIONS TO INVADE GREECE

"Now it came to pass in the days of Ahashuerus (this is Ahashuerus who reigned from India even unto Ethiopia, over a hundred and twenty and seven provinces), that in those days when the king Ahashuerus sat on the throne of his kingdom, which was in Shushan the palace, in the third year of his reign, he made a feast unto all his princes and his servants; the power of Persia and of Media, the nobles and princes of the provinces, being before him; when he showed the riches of his glorious kingdom and the honor of his excellant majesty many days, even a hundred and fourscore days. And when these days were fulfilled, the king made a feast unto all the people that were present in Shushan the palace, both great and small, seven days, in the court of the garden of the king’s palace. There were hangings of white cloth, of green, and of blue, fastened with cords of fine linen and purple to silver rings and pillars of marble; the couches were of gold and silver, upon a pavement of red, and white, and yellow, and black marble. And they gave them drink in vessels of gold (the vessels being diverse one from another), and royal wine in abundance, according to the bounty of the king. And the drinking was according to the law; none could compel: for so the king had appointed to all the officers of his house, that they should do according to every man’s pleasure."

Although not apparent in our text, the very first words in the the Hebrew text of the O.T. (the Hebrew) are "and it came to pass," which is made the occasion by Duff to declare that, "The book of Esther is a truncated narrative," but Keil pointed out that no such conclusion is justified. Many of the Biblical books begin with the word and, indicating their connection with the rest of the canonical books of the Bible. "Joshua, Judges, Ruth, First Samuel, Second Samuel, Ezekiel, and Jonah all begin with the word `and’."

What is revealed here is a six-months interval of intense preparations by Xerxes for the invasion of Greece. It was terminated by a big banquet that lasted a week. During this period all of the mighty princes of his extensive dominion were summoned to appear, probably in successive assignments, to be entertained and to see the king’s exhibition of his power and riches, and also, most likely, to receive his assignment to them regarding the troops each would supply for that immense army which he gathered together for the invasion. Our text does not elaborate this; but we learn much about it from Herodotus

"This is Ahashuerus that reigned, ..." (Esther 1:1). In the time of these events, there were no less than three great men called Ahashuerus; the prophet Daniel mentioned one of them, but he was not a king; and there was another Ahashuerus (also a king, Xerxes II) mentioned by Ezra (Ezra 4:6). "Here the author of Esther, who probably knew of the others, distinguished this Ahashuerus from the one named in Daniel as `the Ahashuerus who reigns,’ and from the king mentioned in Ezra by the enormous size of his dominion."

"Who reigned from India ... to Ethiopia" (Esther 1:1). "A foundation tablet has been recovered from Xerxes’ palace at Persepolis which lists both India and Ethiopia as provinces of Xerxes’ realm. Also Herodotus mentioned that both the Ethiopians and the Indians paid tribute to Xerxes."

"One hundred twenty and seven provinces" (Esther 1:1). We learned from Ezra and Nehemiah that there were 27 satrapies in the Perisan empire; but these divisions were different. "The satrapies were taxation districts; but these provinces were racial or national units in the vast empire."

"In those days when Ahashuerus sat on his throne" (Esther 1:2). It is strange that Persian kings almost constantly sat on their throne. "Herodotus wrote that Xerxes watched the battle of Thermopylae (480 B.C.) seated on a throne! And Plutarch wrote the same thing regarding the battle of Salamis, which came that same year."

"Upon his throne which was in Shushan the palace" (Esther 1:2). There were four capitals of Persia; and the king, at times, reigned in each of them. These were, "Shushan, Babylon, Ecbatana, and Persepolis."

"In the third year of his reign" (Esther 1:3). As Xerxes came to his throne in the year 486 B.C., this would have been 483, B.C.

The magnificent decorations, the luxurious surroundings and all the glory of the Persian palace are beautifully described in these verses. It is particularly interesting that drinking vessels of gold, each one of a different design, were features of that concluding banquet.

"And the drinking was according to the law" (Esther 1:8). It is amusing to us that some of the scholars declare that there was not any such law regarding drinking; but the text flatly says there was, and furthermore, it relates what the law was, "They should do according to every man’s desire" (Esther 1:8). This was the law, tailor-made for that occasion by the king himself! We appreciate Keil’s comment that, "While this law granted permission for any one to drink as little as he desired, it also allowed every one to drink as much as he desired! Drunkenness was almost a universal sin among the Gentiles. And rulers, especially, indulged in it. Even Alexander the Great drank himself to death. This great banquet given by Xerxes was by no means a beautiful party. It was an unqualified disaster.

E.M. Zerr:

General remarks: The reader is requested to make the following notation in the sixth column of the chart: "Josephus places the history of Esther in this reign." It is true that most secular authors place the story in the preceding reign. I have accepted the word of Josephus in preference to the others because of the fact that he was an educated Jew, and certainly had better opportunity for understanding such a subject than the others. And especially is that consideration worth much in view of the fact that he lived many centuries ago, when the materials for historic writing were more plentiful than at a later date. This book, like that of Ruth, contains a very interesting story of love and intrigue, that outshines any mere human composition. However, that was not the main purpose in giving us the book. Like the other book mentioned, it was composed to show .the fulfillment of a very important prophecy, all of which will be revealed in course of the story. We should bear in mind that it is an inset historically into the main history of the Persian Empire. But the motive in giving it to us is to show the fulfillment of a prediction that God made many centuries before. The circumstances of the times brought about the opportunity for that noted completion of God’s decree.

Esther 1:1. We have already seen in many instances that more than one man in olden times had the same name. This Ahasuerus is not the one in Ezra 4:6, but one who lived many years afterward. As shown in the chart, he was the man who was called Artaxerxes (Longimanus) in secular history. He was the one on the Persian throne at the time that Ezra and Nehemiah performed their wonderful works. This verse shows him to have been a powerful monarch, and held sway over a large territory.

Esther 1:2. Shushan is sometimes spelled Susa. It was the capital of the Persian Empire at the time covered by this book.

Esther 1:3. Power is from a word that means strength and influence. The Phrase means that the princes and his servants represented the most powerful men in his kingdom, Persia and Media. The government that was in world power at the time of our story is known in history as the Medo-Persian Empire. A quotation from Smith’s Bible Dictionary will explain how the empire with its hyphened title originated: "Of all the ancient Oriental monarchies the Median was the shortest in duration. It was overthrown by the Persians under Cyrus, B. C. 558, who captured its king, Astyages. The treatment of the Medea by the victorious Persians was not that of an ordinary conquered nation. Medea were appointed to stations of high honor under Cyrus and his successors. The two nations seem blended into one, and we often find reference to this kingdom as that of the ’Medea and Persians.’ Daniel 5:28; Daniel 6:8; Daniel 6:12; Daniel 6:15." From this account we will understand why the two parts are in the name of the empire. The supremacy of the Persians over the Medea also can be understood, and will account for the fact that the monarchy is generally referred to simply as the Persian Empire. When the two names are used together, it is because that in point of date, the Medea were first, and hence the order in which the two parts are used. But the superiority as to power and extent was ascribed to the Persians. Not long after this powerful king came to the throne he made the banquet reported.

Esther 1:4. The festivities continued 180 days, during which the proud king exhibited his riches and other marks of glory. It was a season of pride and vanity, for the Persians generally were puffed up over the dignity of their authority.

Esther 1:5. The long feast recorded in the preceding verse was for the large gathering of notables out of the vast provinces of the king’s domain. Afterward he made another feast for the members of his immediate household, or close attendants of the palace. In this feast no distinction was made between the classes of attaches of the court. The feast was held in the garden (fenced court) of the palace and lasted 7 days.

Esther 1:6. The whole scene was one of splendor, and the appointments suggested a week of the most abandoned dissipation. The king had pillars of marble erected, on which were suspended luxurious drapes of brilliant hues. These hangings were tied with linen cords that were passed through rings of silver. As this banquet was to last a week, provision was made for sleeping by furnishing beds made of gold and silver. These beds rested on a pavement of black marble, inlaid with materials of red, blue and white, forming a beautiful mosaic surface.

Esther 1:7. For many years it was thought proper style to have the pieces in sets for the table in similar patterns. Later people thought it was an advancement to have a variety, but the Persians thought of that long before us. The wine was served to the guests at the banquet in vessels, no two of which were alike. Royal wine in abundance means there was no shortage of the servings because they were taken from the king’s own supply. His state of fortune was so great that the wine was unlimited.

Esther 1:8. None did compel. The law of the king was that each guest should be permitted to "take it or leave it" when the wine was offered. In that respect that heathen king manifested more decency than modern society leaders. At the present time it is regarded highly improper and offensive when a guest objects to drinking. It will be insisted that the guest "have a drink with me."

Verses 9-12

Est 1:9-12

Esther 1:9-12

VASHTI REFUSES TO HONOR THE KING’S CALL TO DISPLAY HER BEAUTY

"Also Vashti the queen made a feast for the women in the royal house which belonged to king Ahashuerus. On the seventh day, when the heart of the king was merry with wine, he commanded Mehuman, Biztha, Harbona, Bigtha, and Abagthar, Zethur, and Carcas, the seven chamberlains that ministered in the presence of Ahashuerus the king, to bring Vashti the queen before the king with the crown royal, to show the peoples and the princes) her beauty; for she was fair to look on. But the queen Vashti refused to come at the kinifs commandment by the chamberlains: therefore was the king very wroth, and his anger burned in him."

"When the heart of the king was merry with wine" (Esther 1:10). This appears to this writer as a euphemism with the meaning that the king was drunk. That this is true appears from the fact of the king’s unreasonable request.

"The seven chamberlains that ministered before the king" (Esther 1:10). The fact of these men having access to the king’s harem indicates that all of them were eunuchs. Scholars usually suggest that this request of the king was reasonable, but this writer cannot believe that it was reasonable, else Vashti, knowing the outrageous nature of the king’s ungovernable temper, would not have disobeyed him. She most certainly knew that death itself might be the penalty of her refusal.

"But the queen refused to come" (Esther 1:12). Scholars have suggested a number of possible reasons why Vashti would not obey the king, but in all likelihood, Vashti was pregnant with Artaxerxes I. John Bendor-Samuel writes that, "This banquet probably took place just before the birth of Artaxerxes"; and her natural modesty rebelled against making a display of herself before the king and his well drunken banqueteers.

QUEEN VASHTI IS DEPOSED AND DISPOSSESSED

What a heartless, evil wretch was Xerxes! "His design was to present Vashti unveiled before a multitude of semi-drunken revelers ... Xerxes’ behavior here was a cruel outrage upon one whom he, above all men, was bound to respect and protect." In a few days she would give birth to his son who would succeed him on the throne, but this half-drunken old fool had no honor or respect for anyone on earth except himself!

Some small measure of appreciation for Xerxes may be found in the fact that he did not at once order the death and dismemberment of Vashti, as he would later do for the oldest son of Pythius, for he restrained his anger sufficiently that he took the matter up with his counselors.

E.M. Zerr:

Esther 1:9. The dignity of the feast made by the queen differed from that of the king in that no authority was represented. But Vashti had the use of the royal apartments belonging to her husband. As the guests of Ahasuerus were men of his household, so the queen appropriately served her banquet to the women of honored rank.

Esther 1:10-11. After 7 days of drinking the king became merry with. wine. The first is from an original word with a variety of meanings. The connection here shows it means the king was "feeling good" as the saying often goes when speaking of one who has been "imbibing freely." It is characteristic of intoxication that it will intensify the coarser sentiments of the one indulging. Under the influence of the wine the king stooped to make a most disgraceful attempt upon his wife. He ordered her to come into the presence of his royal male guests to show her beauty. She is described in the text as being fair to look on. The key to the phrase is the third word. It is from an original that Strong defines, "a view (the act of seeing); also an appearance (the thing seen), whether (real) a shape (especially if handsome comeliness; often plural the looks) or (mental) a vision." It is easy to see in this definition that Vashti had a figure that was attractive, and one that would especially make an appeal to the opposite sex. There is a footnote in Josephus, taken from the writings of a Chaldean. This note states that Ahasuerus intended to show his wife to his male guests unclothed. This note is evidently correct, for the inspired writer tells us that she was fair to look on. That means she had a body that would attract the eye of a man. And it is said in direct connection with the other statement, that Ahasuerus wanted to show her beauty, for she was fair to look on.

Esther 1:12. Vashti refused to come at the king’s commandment. Considering the purpose of the king, we can only honor her for her refusal to submit to the indignity. It was not an entirely unusual thing for a Persian ruler to call for his wife (Esther 4:10-11), so Vashti had no reason to refuse to come at the mere fact that the king had called for her. Her refusal must therefore have been because she knew the purpose of the king in making the call. Every law of decency and self-respect would justify her action, and condemn the brutal and criminal attempt of the inhuman king. We would expect such a specimen of human flesh to become angry at the action of Vashti. He had been "stung" by his wife, the person whom he doubtless considered his personal property. Besides, it had been done to the knowledge of his royal guests, who evidently had been led to expect being gratified in their fiendish desire for immoral entertainment at the expense of this beautiful woman’s honor and modesty.

Verses 13-22

Est 1:13-22

Esther 1:13-22

"Then the king said to the wise men, who knew the times (for so was the king’s manner toward all that knew law and judgment; and next unto him were Carshena, Shethar, Admatha, Tarshish, Meshes, Marsena, and Memucan, the seven princes of Persia and Media, who saw the king’s face, and sat first in the kingdom), What shall we do unto the queen Vashti, according to law, because she hath not done the bidding of the king Ahashuerus 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 peoples that are in all the provinces of the king Ahashuerus. For this deed of the queen will come abroad unto all women, to make their husbands contemptible in their eyes, when it shall be reported, The king Ahashuerus commanded Vashti the queen to be brought in before him, but she came not. And this day will the princesses of Persia and Media who have heard of the deed of the queen say the like to all the king’s princes. So will there arise much contempt and wrath. If it please the king, let there go forth 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 the king Ahashuerus; 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 kingdom (for it is great), all the wives shall give to their husbands honor, 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 should speak according to the language of his people."

Nothing could demonstrate more forcefully the low estate of women in the ancient world than the brutal facts of this outrage against Vashti. In all the societies of mankind where women are unprotected by the teachings of the Son of God, women have invariably been reduced to the status so clearly visible in this chapter. Only in Jesus Christ are women elevated to the respected and honored status they deserve; and the great pity of our generation is that women are being wooed and persuaded by political promises of all kinds to give up their worship of the Christ. They are promised "equality" with men; but it is a specious `equality,’ like that which the women of Russsia got when they gave up even an imperfect Christianity for communism. It turned out to be "equality" to carry the bricks, sweep the streets, and work till they dropped dead in the fields. Let the women of America beware!

The seven princes of Persia and Media (Esther 1:14). In the book of Daniel, one finds the expression, "The law of the Medes and the Persians"; but a little later in this chapter, it reads, "The law of the Persians and the Medes." Why the difference? In Daniel’s day, the king was a Mede (Darius); so the Medes were mentioned first, but now Xerxes, a Persian, was the ruler; so the Persians came first! The Medes and the Persians were the two principal races that formed the Medo-Persian Empire, but it was never two empires - only one.

It is of interest that Xerxes’ letter to all the 127 ethnic groups in his empire was addressed to each one of the groups in their native language. Also, there was added that provision that every man should use only his native language in his own house, which certainly presented a problem in homes where there were mixed marriages with the races. Such a law was unenforceable. But as Keil noted, "Xerxes was the author of many strange facts besides this."

Halley and others held the opinion that one of the last actions of Xerxes before he left on that four-year campaign against Greece was the deposition of Vashti, and that, "He did not marry Esther until four years later in 478 B.C., after he returned from the Grecian campaign." This accounts for the four-year gap between this chapter and the next one. This conclusion is fully supported by the writings of Herodotus.

E.M. Zerr:

Esther 1:13-15. Something must be done, the king thought, to cover the shame that had been heaped upon him by the disobedience of his wife. It was his practice to consult his men which knew the times. That means men among the sages who were supposed to give good counsel on the affairs of state. They were to advise what the law would authorize to be done to a queen who refused to obey her king.

Esther 1:16-18. Memucan was spokesman for the 7 wise men. He told the king that the action of Vashti had wronged him. But it would not stop there, for the report would reach the ears of the women of Persia and Media, and all over the country. When they would hear of the action of Vashti, and if she were allowed to "get by" with it, they would be encouraged to despise (belittle) their own husbands. If a queen can act thus against the king, then surely no other woman need obey her husband.

Esther 1:19. The whole proposition may be considered as a "face-saving" gesture. There would really be no need for a royal commandment that the queen come no more before the king. Under the rules already in force (Esther 4:10-11), all that would have been necessary would be not to call for her. The action therefore was to create an appearance of authority over the queen. Give her royal estate unto another meant to demote her so that she would feel the humiliation as a penalty. Moreover, the decree was to be incorporated into the regular laws of the Persians and Medes. The object of that was to be sure that neither the king nor anyone else could revoke it. There was a foolish notion among those people that man could make a law that was so completely right that it could not be improved. If this decree of the king became a part of the regular statutes, the fate of Vashti’s honor would be fixed. That is the significance of the words that it be not altered.

Esther 1:20. The preceding verse revealed the motive of the proposed decree as it would affect the king and queen directly. This one shows the other motive to have been concerned over the dignity of the men in general throughout the empire. When the decree became a part of the unchangeable law, it was then to be published to all the citizens. Such a serious action would certainly have a profound effect on all the wives with regard to their own husbands. Fearing a similar treatment for themselves, they would be induced to yield obedience to their lords.

Esther 1:21-22. The king was pleased with the suggestion of Memucan. He doubtless was still smarting under the injury to his pride, and was in a mind to do anything that would seem to be in the nature of revenge. He later would have recalled the vicious edict had he the power to do so. But he sent letters into all the provinces of his mighty empire. They included so much territory that not all the people spoke the same language. The decree was therefore translated into the speech of each province. We have no information on the effect it had on the various people, when they received the hasty action of the haughty monarch. But the publishing of it was evidently a solace to the wounded pride of the king, and also must have given some satisfaction to the princes who had become uneasy over their own authority.

Bibliographical Information
"Commentary on Esther 1". "Old & New Testament Restoration Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/onr/esther-1.html.
 
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