Persian Family Values

We started reading the book of Esther last night for family devotions. Pulling this one together for the eight-and-under crowd should be quite interesting.

So, we bravely truck into Esther 1, where Queen Vashti is deposed and divorced for refusing to show up at King Xerxes’ drunken party. When someone asked why she refused to come, my daughter wondered out loud if Vashti was supposed to appear with insufficient clothing.

Oddly enough, she is probably not far from the truth. Jewish commentators suggest that she was supposed to appear naked (see Adam Clarke’s commentary on Esther 1:11). Even without this possibility, it would have been highly improper for her to come. Matthew Henry notes, ” It was against the custom of the Persians for the women to appear in public, and he [Xerxes] put a great hardship upon her when he did not court, but command her to do so uncouth a thing, and make her a show. If he had not been put out of the possession of himself by drinking to excess, he would not have done such a thing, but would have been angry at any one that should have mentioned it.”

So, now the king and his advisers need to decide what to do. One of them suggests that Vashti needs to be deposed. But, what are his reasons? “This very day the noble women of Persia and Media who have heard of the queen’s behavior will say the same to all the king’s officials, and there will be contempt and wrath in plenty….So when the decree made by the king is proclaimed throughout all his kingdom, for it is vast, all women will give honor to their husbands, high and low alike.” (Esther 1:18,20)

In other words, they need to protect family values. The king wants to turn his wife into a stripper (either literally or figuratively), and when she refuses, she is deposed to protect good old-fashioned family values.

That’s funny.


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