Esther 1:12
But the queen Vashti refused to come at the king's commandment by his chamberlains: therefore was the king very wroth, and his anger burned in him.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
Esther 1:12. The queen Vashti refused to come — Being favoured in this refusal by the law of Persia, which was, to keep men’s wives, and especially queens, from the view of other men. His anger burned in him — It was the more immoderate, because his blood was heated with wine, which made his passion too strong for his reason. Otherwise he would not have thought it decent for the queen, nor safe for himself, to have her beauty, which was very great, exposed in this unusual manner, and would have thought she had acted prudently in refusing.1:10-22 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.To bring Vashti the queen - This command, though contrary to Persian customs, is not out of harmony with the character of Xerxes; and is evidently related as something strange and unusual. Otherwise, the queen would not have refused to come. 10-12. On the seventh day, when the heart of the king was merry with wine—As the feast days advanced, the drinking was more freely indulged in, so that the close was usually marked by great excesses of revelry.

he commanded … the seven chamberlains—These were the eunuchs who had charge of the royal harem. The refusal of Vashti to obey an order which required her to make an indecent exposure of herself before a company of drunken revellers, was becoming both the modesty of her sex and her rank as queen; for, according to Persian customs, the queen, even more than the wives of other men, was secluded from the public gaze. Had not the king's blood been heated with wine, or his reason overpowered by force of offended pride, he would have perceived that his own honor, as well as hers, was consulted by her dignified conduct.

Vashti refused to come; being favoured in this refusal by the laws and customs of Persia, which was to keep men’s wives, and especially queens, as much as might be from the view of other men. But the queen refused to came at the king's commandment by his chamberlains,.... Even though he sent by them again, as the Targum; and so says Josephus (o); which might not purely arise from pride in her, and contempt of him, but because she might conclude he was drunk, and knew not well what he did; and therefore had she come at his command, when he was himself and sober, he might blame her for coming, nay, use her ill for it, and especially if she was to come naked, as say the Jews (p); and besides, it was contrary to the law of the Persians, as not only Josephus (q), but Plutarch (r) observes, which suffered not women to be seen in public; and particularly did not allow their wives to be with them at feasts, only their concubines and harlots, with whom they could behave with more indecency; as for their wives, they were kept out of sight, at home (s); and therefore Vashti might think it an indignity to be treated as an harlot or concubine:

therefore was the king very wroth, and his anger burned in him; which was the more fierce, as he was inflamed with wine.

(o) Antiqu. l. 11. c. 6. sect. 1.((p) Targum in loc. Midrash Esther, fol. 90. 1.((q) Antiqu. l. 11. c. 6. sect. 1.((r) In Themistoele. (s) Macrob. Saturnal. l. 7. c. 1.

But the queen Vashti refused to come at the king's commandment by his chamberlains: therefore was the king very wroth, and his anger burned in him.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
12. refused to come] as being aware of the insults likely to be put upon her in a scene of drunken revelry, and by a king so capricious and uncontrolled in temper.Verse 12. - But the queen Vashti refused. Vashti's refusal was morally quite justifiable. Neither a husband's nor a king's authority extends to the wanton requirement of acts that, if done, would disgrace the doer for life. Had Vashti complied, she would have lost the respect not only of the Persian nation, but of the king himself. Therefore was the king very wroth. Had Ahasuerus really loved his wife, or been a man of fair and equitable disposition, be would have excused her refusal, and felt that he had deserved the rebuff. But, not really loving her, and being of a hot and ungovernable temper, he was violently enraged with her, as he always was when anything fell out contrary to his wishes (see Herod., 7:11, 35, 39, etc.). "When he showed the glorious riches of his kingdom and the excellent honour of his greatness many days, one hundred and eighty days." This verse has been understood by most expositors as stating that the king magnificently and splendidly entertained all the grandees mentioned in Esther 1:3 for a full half-year, and gave them a banquet which lasted 180 days. Clericus supposes proceedings to have been so arranged, that the proceres omnium provinciarum were not entertained at one and the same time, but alii post alios, because all could not be absent together per sex menses a suis provinciis. Bertheau, however, thinks that the historian did not purpose to give an exact and graphic description of the proceeding, but only to excite astonishment, and that they who are astonished will not inquire as to the manner in which all took place. The text, however, does not say, that the feast lasted 180 days, and hence offers no occasion for such a view, which is founded on a mistaken comprehension of Esther 1:4, which combines וגו בּהראתו with משׁתּה עשׂה of Esther 1:3, while the whole of Esther 1:4 is but a further amplification of the circumstantial clause: when the forces, etc., were before him; the description of the banquet not following till Esther 1:5, where, however, it is joined to the concluding words of Esther 1:4 : "when these (180) days were full, the king made a feast to all the people that were found in the citadel of Susa, from great to small, seven days, in the court of the garden of the king's house." This verse is thus explained by Bertheau: after the soldiers, nobles, and princes of the district had been entertained for six months, all the male inhabitants of Susa were also entertained in a precinct of the palace garden, the women being feasted by Vashti the queen in the palace (Esther 1:9), It is, however, obvious, even from Esther 1:11, which says that on the seventh day of this banquet the king commanded the queen to appear "to show the people and the princes her beauty," that such a view of the occurrence is inadmissible. For this command presupposes, that the people and princes were assembled at the king's banquet; while, according to the view of Bertheau and older expositors, who insist on two banquets, one lasting 180 days, the other seven, the latter was given to the male inhabitants of Susa only. The princes and people of the whole kingdom did not, however, dwell in Susa. These princes and people, to whom the queen was to show her beauty, are undoubtedly the princes and servants of the king, the forces of Persia and Media, and the nobles and princes of the provinces enumerated in Esther 1:3. With this agrees also the description of the guests invited to the seven days feast. בּשׁוּשׁן הנּמצאים כּל־העם does not signify "all the inhabitants of Susa," but all then present, i.e., then assembled in the citadel of Susa. הנּמצאים used of persons means, those who for some purpose are found or present in any place, in distinction from its usual inhabitants; comp. 1 Chronicles 29:17; 2 Chronicles 34:32; Ezra 8:25; and העם does not here signify people in the sense of population, but people who are met in a certain place, and is used both here and Nehemiah 12:38 of an assembly of nobles and princes. קטן ועד למגּדול, moreover, does not mean old and young, but high and low, the greater and lesser servants (עבדים) of the king, and informs us that of those assembled at Susa, both princes and servants participated without exception in the banquet.

This view of Esther 1:3-5 is confirmed by the consideration, that if the seven days banquet were a different one from that mentioned in Esther 1:3, there could be no reason for naming the latter, which would then be not only entirely unconnected with the narrative, but for which no object at all would be stated; for בּהראתו cannot be translated, as in the Vulgate, by ut ostenderet, because, as Bertheau justly remarks, ב cannot indicate a purpose. From all these reasons it is obvious, that the feast of which further particulars are given in Esther 1:5-8 is the same משׁתּה which the king, according to Esther 1:3, gave to his שׂרים and עבדים, and that the text, rightly understood, says nothing of two consecutive banquets. The sense of Esther 1:3-5 is accordingly as follows: King Ahasuerus gave to his nobles and princes, when he had assembled them before him, and showed them the glorious riches of his kingdom and the magnificence of his greatness for 180 days, after these 180 days, to all assembled before him in the fortress of Susa, a banquet which lasted seven days. The connection of the more particular description of this banquet, by means of the words: when these (the previously named 180) days were over, following upon the accessory clause, Esther 1:4, is anacoluthistic, and the anacoluthon has given rise to the misconception, by which Esther 1:5 is understood to speak of a second banquet differing from the משׁתּה of Esther 1:3. The purpose for which the king assembled the grandees of his kingdom around him in Susa fore a whole half-year is not stated, because this has no connection with the special design of the present book. If, however, we compare the statement of Herod. vii. 8, that Xerxes, after the re-subjection of Egypt, summoned the chief men of his kingdom to Susa to take counsel with them concerning the campaign against Greece, it is obvious, that the assembly for 180 days in Susa, of the princes and nobles mentioned in the book of Esther, took place for the purpose of such consultation. When, too, we compare the statement of Herod. vii. 20, that Xerxes was four years preparing for this war, we receive also a corroboration of the particular mentioned in Esther 1:3, that he assembled his princes and nobles in the third year of his reign. In this view "the riches of his kingdom," etc., mentioned in Esther 1:4, must not be understood of the splendour and magnificence displayed in the entertainment of his guests, but referred to the greatness and resources of the realm, which Xerxes descanted on to his assembled magnates for the purpose of showing them the possibility of carrying into execution his contemplated campaign against Greece. The banquet given them after the 180 days of consultation, was held in the court of the garden of the royal palace. בּיתן is a later form of בּית, which occurs only here and Esther 7:7-8. חצר, court, is the space in the park of the royal castle which was prepared for the banquet. The fittings and furniture of this place are described in Esther 1:6. "White stuff, variegated and purple hangings, fastened with cords of byssus and purple to silver rings and marble pillars; couches of gold and silver upon a pavement of malachite and marble, mother-of-pearl and tortoise-shell." The description consists of mere allusions to, or exclamations at, the splendour of the preparations. In the first half of the verse the hangings of the room, in the second, the couches for the guests, are noticed. חוּר from חור means a white tissue of either linen or cotton. Bertheau supposes that the somewhat larger form of ch is intended to denote, even by the size of letter employed, the commencement of the description. כּרפּס, occurring in Sanscrit, Persian, Armenian, and Arabic, in Greek κάρπασος, means originally cotton, in Greek, according to later authorities, a kind of fine flax, here undoubtedly a cotton texture of various colours. תּכלת, deep blue, purple. The hangings of the space set apart were of these materials. Blue and white were, according to Curtius Esther 6:6, Esther 6:4, the royal colours of the Persians; comp. M. Duncker, Gesch. des Alterthums, ii. pp. 891 and 951 of the third edition, in which is described also the royal table, p. 952. The hangings were fastened (אחוּז) with cords of white byssus and purple to rings and pillars of white marble. מטּות, couches (divans) of gold and silver, i.e., covered with cloth woven of gold and silver thread, were prepared for the guests at the feast. These couches were placed upon a tesselated, mosaic-like floor; the tesselation being composed of stones of various colours. בּהט, in Arabic a mock stone, in lxx σμαραγδίτης, a spurious emerald, i.e., a green-coloured stone resembling the emerald, probably malachite or serpentine. שׁשׁ is white marble; דּר, Arabic darrun, darratun, pearl, lxx πίννινος λίθος, a pearl-like stone, perhaps mother-of-pearl. סחרת, a kind of dark-coloured stone (from סחר equals שׁחר, to be dark), black, black marble with shield-like spots (all three words occur only here).

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