Esther 1:1-3 “…the days of Ahasuerus…third year of his reign…”
Checked my study Bible for timeline specifics. Ahasuerus is the Hebrew name for Khshayarsh, king of Persia. Xerxes is the Greek name. He supposedly reigned from 486-464 B.C. Beginning with Cyrus, the kings of Persia during this time were Cyrus, Cambyses, Smerdis, Darius I, Ahasuerus, Artaxerxes I, and Darius II. According to Ezra, the command to return and rebuild the temple was issued by Cyrus, and some exiles returned with Zerubbabel. They stopped building due to opposition from various sources. Ezra mentions the opposition during the reign of Ahasuerus which will be covered here in Esther. Ezra and Nehemiah will come on the scene a few years after Esther during the reign of Artaxerxes. So, some of the Jews in other lands referred to in Esther are back in Israel.
3 “…made a feast for all his officials and servants…he showed the riches of his glorious kingdom and the splendor of his excellent majesty…”
Study Bible suggests , according to the historian Herodotus, that the feast was a planning time and prelude to a military campaign of Xerxes against Greece. Xerxes later lost the campaign and sought consolation with his harem. This would correspond with the incident which brings Esther into the picture. Apparently a few years pass between the time of the feast and the search for a new queen.
8 “…the drinking was not compulsory…they should do according to each man’s pleasure”
Found that interesting. Might expect the king to be full of himself and demand that all drink with him. But the banquet was apparently for the enjoyment of all, as they saw fit.
9 “Queen Vashti also made a feast for the women…”
Men and women weren’t partying together. Study Bible says this was customary for the time.
10-12 “…heart of the king was merry with wine…bring Queen Vashti before the king…Queen Vashti refused to come…”
Text doesn’t give the reason. However, two things are probable. First, the text mentions only her crown, not her royal robes, and that she was beautiful to behold. The king may have been demanding that she be paraded about in little to no clothing which would have been beneath the dignity of her as a woman and the queen. Second, the commentary mentions that according to Persian customs, the queen was secluded from public gaze. What he was suggesting was out of character and probably wouldn’t have been considered had he not been so intoxicated.
15 “…according to law…”
Similar phrasing comes up several times in dealing with the Medes and Persians. Apparently had some strong issues with the law. Once something was written down, it couldn’t be undone, could only be adjusted by issuing another law. Daniel ran into this with Darius and his decree which landed Daniel in the lion’s den. Will come up again in later chapters.
16 “…Queen Vashti has not only wronged the king, but also all the princes, and all the people who are in all the provinces of King Ahasuerus”
He was mistaken. Vashti had actually saved the king from making a drunken fool of himself and his reign. Sad that none of them could see it. Smart thing to do would have been to make some excuse to the other drunken nobles in attendance, then allow the king to sober up before having him make any decision. But with total control, the king wasn’t as interested in his reputation as in being able to instantly get what he demanded.
19 “…let it be recorded in the laws of the Persians and the Medes, so that it will not be altered…”
Another mention of their law system.
22 “…each man should be master in his own house…”
They were too blind to see they were creating the very problem they sought to prevent. Sovereigns already had absolute will, yet they were concerned that other women would refuse to obey. Tightening the reigns never reduces resentment, but that is the way the world thinks.
I hope you enjoy reading and studying His word. May it accomplish what He desires. Please feel free to comment or post questions. Thanks for reading!
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.