Vashti, Revisited


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My morning devotional was from the book of Esther. Esther, hero of the faith, champion of justice.


According to Esther 1, King Xerxes had a 6-month long banquet for all his nobles and officials. Then he had a week long banquet for all his house. The queen, Vashti, held a banquet for the women as well. This is where it gets interesting:

 On the seventh day of the feast, when King Xerxes was in high spirits because of the wine, he told the seven eunuchs who attended him—Mehuman, Biztha, Harbona, Bigtha, Abagtha, Zethar, and Carcas— to bring Queen Vashti to him with the royal crown on her head. He wanted the nobles and all the other men to gaze on her beauty, for she was a very beautiful woman.  But when they conveyed the king’s order to Queen Vashti, she refused to come. This made the king furious, and he burned with anger. – Esther 1:10-12

Vashti refused to come. Probably she had her own safety in mind. These men had been drinking nonstop for at least 7 days. What would she be asked – or forced – to do?! It speaks volumes to the relationship between Vashti and Xerxes that she didn’t feel safe, that her husband and king wouldn’t protect her.

King X consulted his trusted advisors. They said Queen V set a bad precedent. “All the wives in the kingdom will rebel if you let her get away with this!” they trumpeted. So the king banished Vashti. Then the post-Exilic Miss Universe pageant began.

What happened to Vashti? Where did she go? Did she remain a shamed woman for the rest of her days? The narrative stops following her after her eviction. But didn’t she do a brave thing? I had never considered this point of view before. From the pulpit, the focus has always been on her lack of submission. She didn’t come when her husband called. While submission and headship have their place, this story brings out another theme: when standing on your convictions costs you. Later on, Esther faces the same issue. She has to go into the king’s throne room without a summons. She risks death for her presumption. But she does it anyway, and the rest is a happy ending.

Sometimes, doing what we know to be right costs us. But I have to believe God knew the outcome before we ever opened our mouths, or refused to walk into a room with rowdy drunks. He still holds the future.  I like to think even Vashti found peace.