|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
1:1-9 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.
Verse 9. - Vashti, the queen. The only wife of Xerxes known to the Greeks was Amestris, the daughter of Otanes, one of the seven conspirators (Herod., 7:61). Xerxes probably took her to wife as soon as he was of marriageable age, and before he ascended the throne had a son by her, who in his seventh year was grown up (ibid. 9:108). It would seem to be certain that if Ahasuerus is Xerxes, Vashti must be Amestris. The names themselves are not very remote, since will readily interchange with v; but Vashti might possibly represent not the real name of the queen, but a favourite epithet, such as vahista, "sweetest." Made a feast for the women. Men and women did not take their meals together in Persia unless in the privacy of domestic life (Brisson, 'De Regn. Pers.,' 2. pp. 273-276). If the women, therefore, were to partake in a festivity, it was necessary that they should be entertained separately. In the royal house. In the gynaeceum or harem, which was probably on the southern side of the great pillared hall at Susa (Fergusson).
CHAPTER 1:10-22 THE DISGRACE OF VASHTI (Esther 1:10-22). On the seventh day of the feast "to all in Shushan" (ver. 5), the king having excited himself with drink, took it into his head to send a message to Vashti, requiring her to make her appearance in the banquet of the men, since he desired to exhibit her beauty to the assembled guests, as "she was fair to look on" (ver. 11). His design must have been to present her unveiled to the coarse admiration of a multitude of semi-drunken revellers, in order that they might envy him the possession of so lovely a wife. Such a proceeding was a gross breach of Persian etiquette, and a cruel outrage upon one whom he above all men was bound to protect. Vashti, therefore, declined to obey (ver. 12). Preferring the risk of death to dishonour, she braved the anger of her despotic lord, and sent him back a message by his chamberlains that she would not come. We can well understand that to an absolute monarch such a rebuff, in the face of his whole court and of some hundreds or thousands of assembled guests, must have been exasperating in the extreme. At the moment when he had thought to glorify himself by a notable display of his omnipotence, he was foiled, defeated, made a laughing-stock to all Susa. "Therefore was the king very wroth, and his anger burned in him." It is to his credit that, being thus fiercely enraged, he did not proceed to violence, but so far restrained himself as to refer the matter to the judgment of others, and ask the "seven princes" the question, "What is to be done according to law unto queen Vashti, for not performing the commandment of the king?" (ver. 15). The advice of the princes, uttered by one of their body (vers. 16-20), and assented to by the remainder (ver. 21), was, that Yashti should be degraded from the position of queen, and her place given to another. This sentence was supported by specious arguments based upon expediency, and ignoring entirely the outrageous character of the king's command, which was of course the real, and sole, justification of Vashti's disobedience. It was treated as a simple question of the wife's duty to obey her husband, and the husband's right to enforce submission. Ahasuerus, as might be expected, received the decision of his obsequious counsellors with great satisfaction, and forthwith sent letters into all the provinces of his vast empire, announcing what had been done, and requiring wives everywhere to submit themselves unreservedly to the absolute rule of their lord (ver. 22).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Also Vashti the queen made a feast for the women.... For it was not customary with the Persians, nor other eastern nations, to admit of women to their festivals (m), but they feasted by themselves. Who Vashti was is not known with any certainty. Bishop Usher, who takes Ahasuerus to be Darius Hystaspis, thinks Vashti was Atossa, the daughter of Cyrus, whom he married. The Targumist says, she was the daughter of Evilmerodach, the son of Nebuchadnezzar. Her name seems to be the same with Vesta, a deity worshipped by the Persians, as Xenophon (n), and signifies vehement fire, which was in great veneration with them; and therefore this queen is most likely to be of Persian original: she kept her feast
in the royal house which belonged to Ahasuerus; her guests not being so many, there was room enough in the king's palace for them, and where it was more decent for them to be than in the open air in the garden, and exposed to the sight of men.
(m) Justin c Trogo, l. 41. c. 3.((n) Cyropaedia, l. 1. c. 23.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
9. Also Vashti the queen made a feast for the women—The celebration was double; for, as according to the Oriental fashion, the sexes do not intermingle in society, the court ladies were entertained in a separate apartment by the queen.
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