Esther 1:9 (MEV): Additionally, Vashti the queen prepared a feast for the women in the royal house of King Ahasuerus.
We are now introduced to new people. The first is Vashti the queen. She, too, is hosting a reception for the women.
With this introduction, we will take a turn. A bit of the character of the king will be revealed. Remember the character traits here to see if they change later.
Esther 1:10–11 (MEV): On the seventh day, when the heart of the king was merry with wine, he commanded Mehuman, Biztha, Harbona, Bigtha, Abagtha, Zethar, and Karkas, the seven eunuchs attending to the needs of King Ahasuerus, to bring Queen Vashti before the king with the royal crown, to unveil her beauty to the people and the officials, for she was beautiful.
It may have been the merriness brought on by the wine, but here the king commanded Vashti be brought to him. It was without any care to her or what she was doing at the moment. He wished to show her off as another part of the splendor of his kingdom.
Many scholars think that king Xerxes called Vashti to make a lewd display of her beauty with the opulent turban. It would be in front of the other males at his feast. (The women were at her’s.)
This is just another in a series of bad decisions that serve as a foundation for the events that unfold in the book of Esther. The king was drunk. As customary, Persians often deliberated and decided important things while drunk. It seems to have happened here, too.
Esther 1:12 (MEV): But Queen Vashti refused to come at the king’s command delivered by his eunuchs. Therefore, the king grew very angry, and his wrath burned within him.
The queen refused the command. The king’s rash command resulted in his own anger. He failed to take into account the needs of others, perhaps because of the dissipation that alcohol brings. Maybe there was something more profound. One could speculate.
Nevertheless, his addled thinking led him to be embarrassed in front of his guests.
Esther 1:13–14 (MEV): Then the king spoke to the wise men, who understood the times (for in this way the king would speak before all who understood law and judgment). Those nearest him were Karshena, Shethar, Admatha, Tarshish, Meres, Marsena, and Memukan. They were the seven princes of Persia and Media and the king’s closest confidants who met with the king and held the highest rank in the kingdom.
We meet the king’s advisors. These are the ones that will counsel him. They will turn what happened as a result of his decision into a scandal and blame someone else.
Esther 1:15 (MEV): According to law, what should be done about Queen Vashti because she did not obey the command of King Ahasuerus when it was delivered by the eunuchs?”
Let’s see what the law has to say of the matter.
Esther 1:16–18 (MEV): And Memukan answered before the king and the princes, “Queen Vashti has wronged not only the king but also all the princes and all the people who are in all the provinces of King Ahasuerus. For should this matter of the queen spread to all wives, then they would look with contempt on their husbands when it is reported that, ‘King Ahasuerus commanded Queen Vashti to be brought before him, but she never came.’ This very day the noble ladies of Persia and Media, who hear of the queen’s act, will say the same thing to all the king’s princes. Then there will be more contempt and wrath.
There is nothing here that shows what ought be done to Vashti in the law. In the patriarchies of old, the queen’s behavior is scandalous. She embarrassed the king. Furthermore, such actions would also upset the male’s leadership in the home. How was a man to be king of his castle?
What is recorded here is a historical lesson that is to teach honor in marriage. Men are to love their wives with due consideration. Our spouses aren’t a possession to be commanded and ordered. We put their needs above ours.
The wrong perpetrated on the king was a result of his own bad decision. Yet… By his decisions a new law would be made.
Esther 1:19–20 (MEV): “If it pleases the king, let a royal decree be sent by him, and let it be written in the laws of the Persians and the Medes, that it may not be altered, that Vashti can never enter into the presence of King Ahasuerus, and that the king will give her royal position to another woman who is better than she. When the king’s decree that he shall make is proclaimed throughout all his empire (for it is vast), then all the wives shall give honor to their husbands, both the prominent and lowly.”
That ought to really fix things. Make it personal. Vashti would never be permitted to enter the presence of her husband. In other words, divorce for disobedience of a command was implemented.
It’s like the law for drinking, people are permitted licentious behavior. More license is added. Remember the laws of Persia cannot be rescinded not even be decree of the king.
Esther 1:21–22 (MEV): The suggestion pleased the king and the princes, so the king did according to the word of Memukan. He sent letters to all the king’s provinces, in the script of every province and in the language of every people group, bearing the message in the languages of his people that each man should rule over his own house.
The decrees of the king were promulgated throughout the kingdom. The kingdom was vast and the resources needed to govern were considerable. The decrees would be translated into the written language of every person. This method will be repeated in the book of Esther.
The law established the man as sovereign of the house.