Esther 1:16
And Memucan answered before the king and the princes, Vashti the queen hath not done wrong to the king only, but also to all the princes, and to all the people that are in all the provinces of the king Ahasuerus.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(16) Answered before the king.—Memuean, like a true courtier, gives palatable advice to his master, by counsel which is the true echo of the king’s angry question.

Done wrong.—Literally, dealt unfairly.

Esther 1:16. Vashti the queen hath done wrong to all the princes, &c. — By giving their wives an example and encouragement to contemn and disobey their husbands. It is a crime of a high nature, and therefore deserves an exemplary punishment.

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.In Marsena we may perhaps recognize the famous Mardonius, and in Admatha, Xerxes' uncle, Artabanus.

The seven princes - There were seven families of the first rank in Persia, from which alone the king could take his wives. Their chiefs were entitled to have free access to the monarch's person. See the margin reference note.

13-19. Then the king said to the wise men—These were probably the magi, without whose advice as to the proper time of doing a thing the Persian kings never did take any step whatever; and the persons named in Es 1:14 were the "seven counsellors" (compare Ezr 7:14) who formed the state ministry. The combined wisdom of all, it seems, was enlisted to consult with the king what course should be taken after so unprecedented an occurrence as Vashti's disobedience of the royal summons. It is scarcely possible for us to imagine the astonishment produced by such a refusal in a country and a court where the will of the sovereign was absolute. The assembled grandees were petrified with horror at the daring affront. Alarm for the consequences that might ensue to each of them in his own household next seized on their minds; and the sounds of bacchanalian revelry were hushed into deep and anxious consultation what punishment to inflict on the refractory queen. But a purpose was to be served by the flattery of the king and the enslavement of all women. The counsellors were too intoxicated or obsequious to oppose the courtly advice of Memucan was unanimously resolved, with a wise regard to the public interests of the nation, that the punishment of Vashti could be nothing short of degradation from her royal dignity. The doom was accordingly pronounced and made known in all parts of the empire. Memucan, though last named, spake first, either because the king first asked him; or because he was the chief of them all, either in dignity or in reputation; or because it then was, as now it is in many places, the custom for the youngest counsellors or judges to deliver their opinion first.

To all the people; by giving them an example and encouragement to contemn and disobey their husbands. It is a crime of a high nature, and therefore deserves an exemplary punishment.

And Memucan answered before the king and the princes,.... Who was the last, and perhaps the least and the youngest of the counsellors; it being appointed by the king, according to the latter Targum that when his counsellors sat, the least should give their counsel first; just as puisne judges, and the youngest peers with us, give their opinion in a case first:

Vashti the queen hath not done wrong to the king only, but also to all the princes, and to all the people that are in all the provinces of the King Ahasuerus; he means, by setting a bad example to their wives, as after explained; it is an exaggeration of her crime, and made with a design to incense the king the more against her.

And Memucan answered before the king and the princes, Vashti the queen hath not done {k} wrong to the king only, but also to all the princes, and to all the people that are in all the provinces of the king Ahasuerus.

(k) By her disobedience she has given an example to all women to do the same to their husbands.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
16. And Memucan answered] From the terms of his answer it is evident that there was no existing law in Persia which would meet the case. Therefore, if it was to be dealt with, one must be enacted. In favour of passing such a law Memucan adduces two considerations; (a) that Vashti’s perversity constituted an offence against the whole of the king’s dominions, and (b) that it was inexpedient that such an offence should go unpunished, inasmuch as the natural consequence would be that this domestic insubordination would be widely imitated. Memucan thus shews the worst side of an Oriental courtier by the servility with which he overlooks the fact that it was the outrageous conduct of the king which brought about the difficulty, as well as by the somewhat Macchiavellian attempt to cloak the jealousy which he and his companions felt at the queen’s influence under the pretext of regard for social welfare throughout the Empire.

peoples] See note on Esther 1:11.

Verse 16. - And Memucan answered. We gather from Memucan's reply that the Persian law had provided no penalty for the case in hand - had, in fact, not contemplated it. He first argues the matter on general grounds of morality (ver. 16) and expediency (vers. 17, 18), and then proposes the enactment of a new law - a privilegium - assigning Vashti a special punishment for her contempt of the king's order. The "decree" (ver. 20) would not have been necessary had there already existed a law on the point. Vashti, the queen, hath not done wrong to the king only. With the servility to be expected in an Oriental and a courtier, Memucan throws himself wholly on the king's side - insinuates no word of blame against his royal master, on whom in justice the whole blame rested; but sets himself to make the worst he can of Vashti's conduct, which (he says) was a wrong not to Ahasuerus only, but to the whole male population of the empire, the princes included, who must expect their wives to throw off all subjection, in imitation of the queen's example, if her conduct were allowed to go unpunished. As such a condition of things would be intolerable, the king is urged to disgrace her publicly. Esther 1:16The counsel of the wise men. Esther 1:16. Memucan, who was the last mentioned in Esther 1:14, comes forward as spokesman for the rest, and declares before the king and the princes, i.e., in a solemn assembly, and evidently as the result of a previous joint consultation: Vashti the queen has not done wrong to the king alone, but also to all the princes and all the people, because the example of the queen will lead all the Median and Persian wives to despise their husbands. Therefore an irrevocable edict is to be published decreeing the divorce of Queen Vashti, and this law published throughout the whole realm, that all wives may show honour to their husbands. Vashti has not transgressed against the king alone (Esther 1:16), but against all the princes and people in all the provinces of King Ahashverosh (Esther 1:16). In what respect, then, is the latter assertion true? We are told Esther 1:17 and Esther 1:18. "For the deed of the queen will come abroad to (על for אל) all women, to bring their husbands into contempt in their eyes (the infin. להבזות stating the result), while they will say," etc. (the suffix of בּאמרם relates to the women, who will appeal to the disobedience of the queen). Esther 1:18. "And this day (i.e., already) the princesses of the Persians and Medians, who hear of the act of the queen (דּבר, not the word, but the thing, i.e., her rejection of her husband's command), will tell it to all the princes of the king, and (there will be) enough contempt and provocation. קצף is an outburst of anger; here, therefore, a provocation to wrath. Bertheau makes the words זק בז וּכדי the object of תּאמרנה, which, after the long parenthesis, is united to the copula by w, and for, "to speak contempt and wrath," reads: to speak contemptuously in wrath. But this change cannot be substantiated. The expression, to speak wrath, is indeed unexampled, but that is no reason for making קצף stand for בּקצף, the very adoption of such an ellipsis showing, that this explanation is inadmissible. The words must be taken alone, as an independent clause, which may be readily completed by יהיה: and contempt and wrath will be according to abundance. כּדי is a litotes for: more than enough. The object of תּאמרנה must be supplied from the context: it - that is, what the queen said to her husband. In the former verse Memucan was speaking of all women; here (Esther 1:18) he speaks only of the princesses of the Persians and Medes, because these are staying in the neighbourhood of the court, and will immediately hear of the matter, and "after the manner of the court ladies and associates of a queen will quickly follow, and appeal to her example" (Berth.).
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