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Book of Esther-Queen Vashti.


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Okay, I have a question and I am interested in seeing what people think.

In Esther, as we all know, King Ahasuerus' wife, Queen Vashti, during the feast the King throws for those in Shushan the palace, is called for, to bring the crown to the king, that he might show her beauty to those at the feast. Vashti is having a feast for the women, and when she is called, refuses to obey. Because of this, she is removed from being the queen, and as the story goes, Esther is chosen, and so on...

Now, I have heard it preached before that the reason Vashti refused, is because the king wanted her to come and dance naked before the feast attendees, and she, being a good and pure woman, would not do such a thing.  I don't agree with this interpretation, for a few reasons. But before I give my reasons, I want to see what others believe about this, and why.

Not looking to grind any axes, just curious, because this seems like a weird interpretation of the scripture, and I want to know why it might be believed.

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In Esther, as we all know, King Ahasuerus' wife, Queen Vashti, during the feast the King throws for those in Shushan the palace, is called for, to bring the crown to the king, that he might show her beauty to those at the feast. Vashti is having a feast for the women, and when she is called, refuses to obey. Because of this, she is removed from being the queen, and as the story goes, Esther is chosen, and so on...

Now, I have heard it preached before that the reason Vashti refused, is because the king wanted her to come and dance naked before the feast attendees, and she, being a good and pure woman, would not do such a thing.  I don't agree with this interpretation, for a few reasons. But before I give my reasons, I want to see what others believe about this, and why.

Not looking to grind any axes, just curious, because this seems like a weird interpretation of the scripture, and I want to know why it might be believed.

 

Mike,

I agree with you in that I do not believe it had anything to do with dancing naked.  The strict context of the passage is disobedience to the king and there is no moral application apart from civil obligation to a higher authority.  None-the-less as we read the rest of the book we are given a biblical illustration of how to make an  appeal that God approves.  The contrast is stark as it involves two approaches to authority the first is direct, defiant and driven by pride (my opinion) the second is meek, humble and driven by need and prayer.  Both involve the same king, and the same set counselors to the king and yet Esther shows there is a right way to make an appeal even amidst the difficulties of coming before the king.   

The idea that we should always stand our ground and say no to something we do not agree with does not mean we should not appeal to authority.  If we miss the contrast between Vashti's response and Esther's response to the king I believe we miss one of the great lessons of the book of Esther. 

I love the book and there are many lessons but this one stands out in my mind.  Good question and I hope I helped a bit.

 

Edited by Orval
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Never heard that. My pastor believes he wanted to come show off her beauty, but dressed in her best royal robes.

Pet peeve with this story: regardless of what she was wearing, the king essentially was asking that she, the queen, and a woman in a culture that (traditionally and to this day) does not see women mix socially with men outside the family, come and be ogled by a roomful of drunks. Not cool. I firmly believe she was within her right to refuse such a rude request, and if the king had been less drunk himself, he would never have made such a brash request.

And why is the action of a pagan absolute ruler considered to have such sway on the actions of Christian families today? It's just a record of what happened - not what should happen.

 

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Salyan, as you have kindly pointed out there are many ways to interpret what we read and I believe the Holy Spirit can illuminate truth as well as application through this story.  You are correct that she was asked to reveal her beauty to others but this does not indicate that there was anything immoral about the request, though it might very well have been immoral.  That she was within her rights to refuse is a reflection of the western mind and not necessarily the eastern mind set, none the less it once again brings us to the point I brought forward and that is how we appeal to authority.  Obviously there is a right way and a wrong way and after the right way has been exhausted then and only then we should be ready to take our stand and endure the consequences of our actions.  I believe in this case the circumstances of the request are secondary to the appeal process since the scripture clearly states there was a positive affection between the king and the queen then certainly there should have been a means to appeal the kings decision with out what seems to be defiance. 

As for Pagan culture impacting Christianity, there has always been a conflict between the world and true believers, it is the necessity of faith that we enter spiritual war.  We simply acknowledge the war and do our best to live for Christ in the midst of conflict.  I appreciate your thoughts on the topic. 

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22 hours ago, Ukulelemike said:

Now, I have heard it preached before that the reason Vashti refused, is because the king wanted her to come and dance naked before the feast attendees, and she, being a good and pure woman, would not do such a thing.  I don't agree with this interpretation, for a few reasons. But before I give my reasons, I want to see what others believe about this, and why.

I think that particular interpretation is deeply flawed for a couple reasons. First, in the immediate context of the three verses that discuss Vashti's disobedience/refusal, absolutely nothing is said about her motives. It is 100% speculation and a personal imposition on the Bible to assert anything about why she did or did not do something. Second, even within the context of the entire chapter, no mention is made regarding in what state of dress Vashti was to be in. It doesn't even say whether she was to be wearing or carrying the crown. It is also 100% speculation to say in what manner she was supposed to present herself other than in obedience.

The facts are as follows:

1 - The king called her into the party

2 - The king wanted to show off her beauty

3 - She refused

4 - The king got angry and removed/replaced her

Anything beyond those facts is pure speculative storytelling. We could all probably come up with a list of good and bad motives for both of them, but they would be opinions, not Scripture, and therefore not a valid source from which to draw timeless principles.

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