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Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature


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(Heb. Vashti', וִשְׁתַּי , Pers. beautiful woman; Sept. Ἀστίν ; Josephus Ούσάτη ; Vulg. Vasthi), the "queen" (הִמִּלְכָּה ) of Ahasuerus (Xerxes), who, for refusing to show herself to the king's guests at the royal banquet, when sent for by the king, incurred his wrath, and was repudiated and deposed (Esther 1), when Esther was substituted in her place. B.C. 483. Many attempts shave been made to identify her with historical personages; as by Usher with Atossa, the wife of Darius Hystaspis, and by J. Capellus with Parysatis, the mother of Ochus; but, as was said of Esther (like the "threescore queens" in Song of Solomon 6:8-9; comp. Herod. 1, 135), it is far more probable that she was only one of the inferior wives, dignified with the title of queen, whose name has utterly disappeared from history. (See ESTHER). This view of Vashti's position seems further to tally exactly with the narrative of Ahasuerus's order, and Vashti's refusal, considered with reference to the national manners of the Persians. For. Plutarch (Conjug. Praecept. c. 16) tells us, in agreement with Herod. 5, 18, that the kings of Persia have their legitimate wives to sit at table with them at their banquets; but that, when they choose to riot and drink, they send their wives away and call in the concubines and singing-girls. Hence, when the heart of Ahasuerus "was merry with wine," he sent for Vashti, looking upon her only as a concubine; she, on the other hand, considering herself as one of the κουριδίαι γυναῖκες, or legitimate wives, refused to come. Josephus's statement (Ant. 11:6, 1) that it is contrary to the customs of the Persians for their wives to be seen by any men but their own husbands is evidently inaccurate, being equally contradicted by Herodotus (5, 18) and by the book of Esther itself (5, 4, 8, 12, etc.).

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Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Vashti'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

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