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Thursday, July 8, 2010

Queen Vashti: A Modest Woman

"On the seventh day, when King Xerxes was in high spirits from wine, he commanded the seven eunuchs who served him—Mehuman, Biztha, Harbona, Bigtha, Abagtha, Zethar and Carcas- to bring before him Queen Vashti, wearing her royal crown, in order to display her beauty to the people and nobles, for she was lovely to look at. But when the attendants delivered the king's command, Queen Vashti refused to come. Then the king became furious and burned with anger". -Esther 1:10-12

Queen Vashtti was the daughter of King Belshazzar of the great city of Babylon, and was also the great-granddaughter of King Nebuchadnezzar (the King who destroyed Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem). Queen Vashti was also the young wife of the prideful King Ahasuerus, written about in the book of Esther in the Old Testament.

After King Ahasuerus had defeated the Jewish people and reigned over 127 providences, he wanted a grand feast to celebrate his triumphancy. The first feast had lasted for exactly six months, and had included all the local royalty and nobles. The second feast however, was much intimate and included the King’s closer allies, lasting for only seven days.

During the feast, the king got drunk with wine and wanted to show off his trophy wife to all his close friends. He ordered seven eunuchs (go look it up in a dictionary) to go get Queen Vashanti and to tell her to dance for him and all of his friends in her royal crown, and only her royal crown. That’s right, butt naked. In ancient times, this would have not been an uncommon request for a courtesan, which is a fancy name for a high class prostitute, but this was certainly not behavior of a queen.

When the eunuchs came back and told the King that Queen Vashti said “no”, the King got angry. He consulted his friends, and asked what he should do with such an insolent wife. The King’s friends warned him that if she would say “no” to him, then all the wives in the kingdom may say no their husbands, and this was not something that could go unpunished. There have been a wide debate on the fate of Queen Vashti, but one thing is known: her position as Queen was forfeited. Many scholars believe that the Queen was executed for her blatant refusal to obey the king, this would send a clear message to all the message of the kingdom. Others believe that she was simply dismissed and exiled from the kingdom, not allowed to corrupt the other women in the kingdom.

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