- The story of Esther begins during the reign of Xerxes in Susa.
- Susa is located about 150 miles north of the Persian Gulf in
- In Xerxes' third year, he through a large party and many dignitaries
were present. (v. 3)
- The celebration lasted for 6 months, as Xerxes showed off all his
stuff. (v. 4)
- Xerxes had spent the beginning of his reign suppressing revolts in
Egypt and Babylon. The display of his acquired wealth probably served
several purposes - a reward for his military commanders, an opportunity
to plan future military action, and a display of his wealth and power
intended to impress allies and intimidate foes.
- Having the celebration last so long would have allowed for successive
roles of Persian officials to come in from the outlying provinces.
- When the six months was over, King Xerxes threw another banquet. This
banquet lasted seven days. (v. 5)
- The decoration was very well done. (v. 6)
- The wine flowed freely. (v. 7-8)
- What did it mean to "drink in his own way" (v. 8)? According to Persian
law, guests at the king's table could drink only when he drank. Xerxes
set aside that law, giving permission for his guests to drink as much
as they liked. This indicates both the extravagance and the revelry of
Xerxes' banquet. (Quest Study Bible)
- While the king was throwing his party, Queen Vashti also threw a party
for the women. (v. 9)
- It was the custom of Oriental society at this time for the men and women
to not mix socially.
- On the last day of the party, when the king was somewhat drunk, he
demanded that Queen Vashti be brought to him so that he could display
her great beauty. (v. 10-11)
- According to Jewish historians, Vashti was to appear wearing only her
crown. This may explain why she was reluctant to appear. The prospect
of being naked on display before a crowd of drunken men would not have
been a pleasant thought for Queen Vashti.
- "Superiors should be careful not to command what may reasonably be
disobeyed. But when wine is in, men's reason departs from them. He that
had rule over 127 provinces, had no rule over his own spirit." (Matthew
- Queen Vashti refused to come. This greatly angered the king. (v. 12)
- Vashti's refusal to appear in an indecent fashion before a group of
drunken revelers speaks well of her modesty both as a woman and as the
queen. Had the king not been intoxicated, or had he not allowed his anger
to get the better of him, he would have realized that the queen was not
only preserving her dignity, but also the dignity of the king.
- King Xerxes wondered what he should do about Vashti's refusal to obey. He
consulted with his advisors who were experts in matters of law and justice.
- One of the advisors declared that Queen Vashti had done wrong - not only
against the king, but also against all of the nobles. He feared that if
the queen's actions were heard about throughout the land, women in the
kingdom would start to be defiant. The thinking was that if not even the
king could not control his own woman, any of the women could have courage
to stand up to their men. They feared that there would be no end of the
disrespect and discord that Vashti's defiance would cause. (v. 16-18)
- The advisor suggested that the king expel Queen Vashti and choose a new
wife. The advisor suggested that when the people saw how the king punished
the disrespect of Queen Vashti, they would realize that the king was in
control and the women would not be tempted to become defiant. (v. 19-20)
- The king thought that was a great idea and did it. (v. 21-22)
- Pay attention to how laws are made and enforced in the book of Esther. We
will see several decrees during our study.