Esther Chapter One: The Set Up – Additional Notes
Chapter one is the set up for our story and here are a few more details for your study of Esther.
We meet King Ahaseurus, also known as King Xerxes. He is a lively character with a quirky personality.
If you have begun your list of character traits, share something you discovered about the king in the comments below; feel free to add your insights as well.
Chapter one is the set up for our story and here are a few more details for your study of Esther. Click To Tweet
The first scene opens at a lavish banquet.
Interesting note: There are ten banquets in the book of Esther. Take note of them in your Bible as you read. This lavish party lasts 180 days and is followed by a second one, lasting seven days.
Normally we think of a banquet as a bounty of food. Here a banquet means to drink – verse 8 says that guests could drink freely without restraint. Normally it was customary to drink according to the law, meaning, when the king drank you followed suit – like giving a toast at a wedding.
The description here takes away the restraint, allowing people to drink at will. This would be like having an open bar.
Calling Queen Vashti
The king is drunk and he sends for Queen Vashti. After showing off his wealth, power and possessions and he wants everyone to see her beauty.The king is drunk; he sends for Vashti. He shows off his wealth and wants everyone to see her beauty. Click To Tweet
Note: According to the Midrash (early Rabbinical texts), Queen Vashti is the great-granddaughter of King Nebuchadnezzar II of Babylon and the daughter of King Belshazzar.
Queen Vashti is giving a banquet in the women’s quarters. And when the seven eunuchs come for her, she refuses to go with them. A reason isn’t given for her refusal, so we can only speculate.
Note: The Midrash also gives the impression that the king expected Queen Vashti to appear in the nude, wearing just her crown.
To refuse the king’s summons means death. But I have to wonder whether this summons was from her husband or from her king. Either way, his anger burned. This is one of the glimpses we get into the king’s character. He is driven by his anger and quick responses to his emotions.
In verse 19, the king asks his advisors what to do about Queen Vashti
Memucan, suggests writing a decree to banish Vashti because there is a big concern that their wives will follow her example. Signing this decree seals Vashti’s fate—she will never enter the king’s presence again. We are not told if she was simply banished and exiled or whether she suffered execution. But we do know her absence leaves a gaping hole needing to be filled.
The Set Up
Next time, join me in chapter 2. Three years pass and the king is having regrets…
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Images courtesy of Morguefile.com