Esther Chapter 1
1 Now in the days of Ahasuerus (this is Ahasuerus who reigned from India even to Ethiopia, over one hundred and twenty-seven provinces),
2 in those days, when the King Ahasuerus sat on the throne of his kingdom, which was in Susa the palace,
3 in the third year of his reign, he made a feast for all his princes and his servants; the power of Persia and Media, the nobles and princes of the provinces, being before him.
4 He displayed the riches of his glorious kingdom and the honour of his excellent majesty many days, even one hundred and eighty days.
5 When these days were fulfilled, the king made a seven day feast for all the people who were present in Susa the palace, both great and small, in the court of the garden of the king's palace.
6 There were hangings of white and blue material, fastened with cords of fine linen and purple to silver rings and marble pillars. The couches were of gold and silver, on a pavement of red, white, yellow, and black marble.
7 They gave them drinks in golden vessels of various kinds, including royal wine in abundance, according to the bounty of the king.
8 In accordance with the law, the drinking was not compulsory; for so the king had instructed all the officials of his house, that they should do according to every man's pleasure.
9 Also Vashti the queen made a feast for the women in the royal house which belonged to King Ahasuerus.
10 On the seventh day, when the heart of the king was merry with wine, he commanded Mehuman, Biztha, Harbona, Bigtha, and Abagtha, Zethar, and Carcass, the seven eunuchs who served in the presence of Ahasuerus the king,
11 to bring Vashti the queen before the king with the royal crown, to show the people and the princes her beauty; for she was beautiful.
12 But the queen Vashti refused to come at the king's commandment by the eunuchs. Therefore the king was very angry, and his anger burnt in him.
13 Then the king said to the wise men, who knew the times (for it was the king's custom to consult those who knew law and judgement;
14 and the next to him were Carshena, Shethar, Admatha, Tarshish, Meres, Marsena, and Memucan, the seven princes of Persia and Media, who saw the king's face, and sat first in the kingdom),
15 "What shall we do to the queen Vashti according to law, because she has not done the bidding of the King Ahasuerus by the eunuchs?"
16 Memucan answered before the king and the princes, "Vashti the queen has not done wrong to just the king, but also to all the princes, and to all the people who are in all the provinces of the King Ahasuerus.
17 For this deed of the queen will become known to all women, causing them to show contempt for their husbands, when it is reported, 'King Ahasuerus commanded Vashti the queen to be brought in before him, but she didn't come.'
18 Today, the princesses of Persia and Media who have heard of the queen's deed will tell all the king's princes. This will cause much contempt and wrath.
19 "If it pleases the king, let a royal commandment go from him, and let it be written amongst the laws of the Persians and the Medes, so that it cannot be altered, that Vashti may never again come before King Ahasuerus; and let the king give her royal estate to another who is better than she.
20 When the king's decree which he shall make is published throughout all his kingdom (for it is great), all the wives will give their husbands honour, both great and small."
21 This advice pleased the king and the princes, and the king did according to the word of Memucan:
22 for he sent letters into all the king's provinces, into every province according to its writing, and to every people in their language, that every man should rule his own house, speaking in the language of his own people.
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Esther Chapter 1 Guide
The events recorded in the Book of Esther occurred between the completion of the Temple and the mission of Ezra (between Ezra 6:1-22; Ezra 7:1-28). In all likelihood the narrative, as we have it, was taken directly from the Persian records. It is a fragment of secular history taken for sacred purposes. The story reveals the same principle of the overruling of God on behalf of His people which marks all their history.
The first scene is a great feast in the palace of the king. It was characterized by all the gorgeousness peculiar to the East, and resolved itself into drunken revelry. In the midst of this, the king commanded Queen Vashti to appear before him and the assembled nobles. The one redeeming feature in the revelation of conditions at the court of Ahasuerus was Vashti's refusal to obey the king. She paid the price of her loyalty to her womanhood in being deposed. Incidentally, the story reveals the place which woman occupied outside the Covenant of the chosen people. She was at once the plaything and the slave of man.
From "An Exposition of the Whole Bible" by G. Campbell Morgan.
Esther Chapter 1 Commentary
- The royal feast of Ahasuerus. -- (1-9)
- Vashti's refusal to appear, The king's decree. -- (10-22)
The pride of Ahasuerus's heart rising with the grandeur of his kingdom, he made an extravagant feast. This was vain glory. Better is a dinner of herbs with quietness, than this banquet of wine, with all the noise and tumult that must have attended it. But except grace prevails in the heart, self-exaltation and self-indulgence, in one form or another, will be the ruling principle. Yet none did compel; so that if any drank to excess, it was their own fault. This caution of a heathen prince, even when he would show his generosity, may shame many called Christians, who, under pretence of sending the health round, send sin round, and death with it. There is a woe to them that do so; let them read it, and tremble, Hab 2:15, 16.
Ahasuerus's feast ended in heaviness, by his own folly. Seasons of peculiar festivity often end in vexation. 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. But whether the passion or the policy of the king was served by this decree, God's providence made way for Esther to the crown, and defeated Haman's wicked project, even before it had entered into his heart, and he arrived at his power. Let us rejoice that the Lord reigns, and will overrule the madness or folly of mankind to promote his own glory, and the safety and happiness of his people.
From the "Concise Commentary on the Bible" by Matthew Henry.