Esther 1:9
Also Vashti the queen made a feast for the women in the royal house which belonged to king Ahasuerus.
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(9) Vashti.—According to Gesenius, the name Vashti means beautiful. Among the Persians it was customary that one wife of the sovereign should be supreme over the rest, and her we sometimes find exercising an authority which contrasts strangely with the degraded position of women generally. Such a one was Atossa, the mother of Xerxes. Vashti, too, before her deposition, was evidently the queen par excel. lence. We find, however, that the name given by the Greek writers to the queen of Xerxes was Amestris, of whose cruelty and dissolute life numerous details are given us by Herodotus and others. There seem good grounds for believing that she was the wife of Xerxes before he became king, which if established would of itself be sufficient to disprove the theory of some who would identify Esther and Amestris. Moreover, Herodotus tells us (7:61. 82) that Amestris was the cousin of Xerxes, the daughter of his father’s brother; and although we cannot view Esther as of a specially high type of womanhood, still it would be most unjust to identify her with one whose character is presented to us in most unlovely guise. Bishop Wordsworth suggests that Amestris was a wife who had great influence with Xerxes between the fall of Vashti and the rise of Esther. If, however, Amestris was really the chief wife before Xerxes came to the throne, this could hardly be, and the time allowed seems much too scanty, seeing that in it falls the invasion of Greece. Or, lastly, we may with Canon Rawlinson say that Vashti is Amestris (the two names being different reproductions of the Persian, or Vashti being a sort of title) and that the deposition was a temporary one.

The women.—There should be no article.

Esther 1:9. Also Vashti the queen made a feast for the women — While the king entertained the men. For this was the common custom of the Persians, that men and women did not feast together. In the royal house — Not in the open air, as the men were, but more privately, as was fit for women.

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.Vashti - If Ahasuerus is Xerxes, Vashti would be Amestris, whom the Greeks regarded as the only legitimate wife of that monarch, and who was certainly married to him before he ascended the throne. The name may be explained either as a corruption of Amestris, or as a title, vahishta, (Sanskrit: vasishtha, the superlative of vasu, "sweet"); and it may be supposed that the disgrace recorded (Esther 1:19-21, see the note) was only temporary; Amestris in the later part of Xerxes' reign recovering her former dignity. 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. Whilst the king entertained the men; for this was the common custom of the Persians, that men and women did not feast together, but in several places.

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.

Also Vashti the queen made a feast for the women in the royal house which belonged to king Ahasuerus.
9. Vashti the queen] If we identify Ahasuerus with Xerxes, the queen here mentioned must have been Amestris, his only wife known to secular history. She was daughter of Otanes (Herod. vii. 61), one of the seven who conspired against Pseudo-Smerdis (b.c. 522). The name Vashti has been explained as another form of Amestris, the letters m and v readily interchanging as labials. It may, however, be a modification of the Old Persian vahista, excellent.

made a feast for the women] The sexes were separated in the case of all public meals, although the Persian custom seems to have been that the queen was as a rule admitted to the king’s table.[60]

[60] See Herod. ix. 110, who tells us that at the annual banquet in celebration of the king’s birthday Amestris the queen ‘made request of Xerxes that he would please to give her as her present the wife of Masistes’ (the king’s brother) as it was her cruel desire to torture her.

in the royal house] The harem was probably on the south side of the above-mentioned hall of pillars.

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). Esther 1:9Vashti the queen also gave a banquet to the women in the royal house (palace) which belonged to King Ahashverosh, probably in the royal apartments of the palace, which were placed at her disposal for this great feast to be given to the women. The name Vashti may be compared with the Old-Persian vahista, i.e., optimus. In Persian šty, means a beautiful woman. This statement serves as an introduction to the scene which follows. Esther 1:10 and Esther 1:11. On the seventh, i.e., the last day of the banquet, when the king's heart was merry with wine, he commanded his seven chamberlains to bring Vashti the queen before him, with the royal crown, to show here beauty to the people and princes. וגו לב כּטוב, when the heart of the king was merry through wine, i.e., when the wine had made him merry, comp. 2 Samuel 13:28; Judges 16:25. It was the office of the seven eunuchs who served before the king (את־פּני משׁרת like 1 Samuel 2:18) to be the means of communication between him and the women, and to deliver to them messages on the part of the monarch. Their number, seven, was connected with that of the Amshaspands; see rem. on Esther 1:14. The attempts made to explain their several names are without adequate foundation; nor would much be gained thereby, the names being of no significance with respect to the matter in question. In the lxx the names vary to some extent. The queen was to appear with the crown on her head (כּתר, κίδαρις or κίταρις, a high turban terminating in a point), and, as is self-evident, otherwise royally apparelled. The queen was accustomed on ordinary occasions to take her meals at the king's table; comp. Herod. ix. 110. There is, however, an absence of historical proof, that she was present at great banquets. The notice quoted from Lucian in Brissonius, de regio Pers. princ. i. c. 103, is not sufficient for the purpose.
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