This may be a long post as I will explain to you what I intend to do with my weekly Blogging Through the Bible post and the post in general. I plan to follow the plan and every Wednesday post about what stood out to me,(Its my sisters birthday tomorrow so you can have this one early) it maybe a particular part of scripture, or something that grabbed my attention, it may even be a little background to the book itself.
Disclaimer – I am not a theology student I highly recommend you reading the Bible for yourself and with the Holy Spirit’s guidance coming to your own conclusions or insights. I simply am passionate about what God’s Word can do in our lives and share in encouraging you with your own study. For my own study I use the Complete Jewish Bible with side by side reference of the NIV. On with the post …
The book of Esther is set 483 – 473BC, by now many of the Diaspora had returned to Yerushalayim/Jerusalem to begin rebuilding the temple . Most captives however had chosen not to return as they should have done Isaiah 48:20, Jeremiah 50:8, Jeremiah 51:6. By not returning Adonai could not bless them as stated in Deuteronomy 28. So as we begin to study Esther we known that Hadassah/Esther and Mordekhai/Mordecai have not heeded God’s command to return to the promise land. Esther is the only book in the bible not to mention Adonai, the book is not referenced in the New Testament, the scripture is not found amongst the Dead Sea Scrolls, and nowhere does it mention law, offerings or sacrifices command by God. In short it represents how the Israelites were living in the Persian Empire – separate from Adonai. There is no mention of prayer in the book of Esther however they do fast, Could Esther and Mordecai believe they will not be saved by God?
With all that information you could run a number of tangents and compose several posts on the subject but I want to settle on the first chapter. In Chapter One we meet King Achashverosh/King Xerxes in the third year of his reign as he hosts a banquet lasting seven days just shortly after his 180 day stint of displaying the wealth of his kingdom
“He displayed the dazzling wealth of his Kingdom and his great splendour for a long time 180 days. At the end of that time he gave a 7 day banquet” Esther 1:4
I think we can skim over the Bible, so lets just soak that number in 180 days! 6 months! HALF A YEAR of massaging the King’s ego of all his wealth and military might. Scholars suggest this was likely before his planned invasion of Greece, so he had motive to indulge his military leaders. King Achashverosh/ Xerxes clearly hadn’t shown off enough as he gave a 7 day binge party where you could drink to your hearts content, don’t worry he was picking up the tab.
It’s at the end of the 7 day banquet where we meet Queen Vashti the meaning of her name is the once desired and the beloved, with a name like that we can elaborate on the comment in verse 11 “she was a indeed a good looking woman” The King wanted to show off all his dominion and that included his wife, however she had other ideas, she wasn’t that keen on joining thousands of lager louts at the end of their 7 day binge and refused the King’s order.
On a personal note I can’t say I blame her, as a woman alone who would really subject themselves to that? Also there is no historical evidence of a Queen Vashti, scholars propose this could be Queen Amestris who happened to be six months pregnant at the time, even more reason of her wanting to protect herself.
Clearly influenced by his heavy consumption the King lost the plot and agreed by his “wise sages” to banish the Queen and so he did. I think as wife’s we can really look at this one chapter of scripture and glean a useful message to help us in our marriages.
King Achashverosh/Xerxes had immense wealth, his kingdom stretched from Ethiopia to India, he had immense military power, his palace in Iran was covered in precious stones – marble and mother of pearl. He had everything, well everything that is except the respect of his wife.
“When the edict made by the king is proclaimed throughout the length and breadth of the kingdom, then all the wives will honour their husbands, whether great or small” Esther 1:20
Its a well known saying that “women want to be loved and men want to be respected” Now your husband might not be a King of several Continents, wanting you to parade in front of his courtiers, however he still deserves your respect in your covenant relationship. I am as guilty as the next person of not thinking before I speak and a tendency to overshare, sometimes that could be to my husbands detriment.
Queen Vashti had an audience (the kingdom) and it was her example of dishonouring her husband which had the sages in a panic, if even the Queen refused to honour the most powerful husband in the kingdom what would it be like for other marriages.
As Christians we are a witness also to our friends, family, neighbours and co-workers about the power of God in our lives, this includes our marriage. Luke and I spoke even before our marriage on how we would deal with conflict – we made it an in-house rule, no talking about our disagreements to others. (If we are together we can joke about our misfortunes and share our failures to encourage other couples) When you open your mouth and blab to a friend about how annoying it is that your husband doesn’t pick up his socks or that your wife is a nag , you are giving that friend carte blanche to say whatever they like about your spouse. You have already criticized them so why can’t they join in?
To put this into practice, when I worked in retail a number of co-workers would talk about the negatives of their boyfriends/husbands, one day a colleague chipped in and say “Kiri it’s ok for you, Luke is perfect” Well we are all far from perfect, but why did this person say my husband was? because they never heard a criticism about him from me. I am his biggest cheerleader, as a wife I am called to be my husband’s helper Genesis 2:18. We have enough people in the world tearing us down and our spouse does not need to be one of them.
I would encourage you today to place honouring your husband high on your list of priorities, if you have misspoken (I have definitely done this) go to them humbly and ask for forgiveness, if you have been wronged take the first step of faith. Your marriage is so important, when we dishonour one another we can quickly build walls around ourselves and like Queen Vashti banish ourselves from the glory of the kingdom.