Forty women: 37. Vashti
It’s been quite a party, all told. Six months worth of pomp and ceremony celebrating all 197 provinces from India to Ethiopia, culminating in seven days of solid feasting in Susa, the capital city. Ahasuerus is showing off, big style.
Because he is the most successful person to be the king of the biggest empire. No one’s ever been more successful than him. He’s showing off his huge financials. He’s making sure they all know that his IQ is one of the highest – they don’t need to feel stupid or insecure, it’s not their fault. Some people would say he’s very, very, very intelligent.
And he will be phenomenal to the women. I mean, he wants to help women. Of course, they all flirt with him – consciously or unconsciously. That’s to be expected. And you know, when guys tell him they want women of substance, not beautiful models, it just means they can’t get beautiful models. Ahasuerus can get the beautiful models.
He’s a winner, for sure.
It must be fabulous being married to a man like that.
While he’s having his feast for a week, his wife is hosting her own banquet for the women. But Ahasuerus is showing off. He wants to show everyone that he can get the beautiful models. So, “on the seventh day, when the heart of the king was merry with wine, he commanded Mehuman, Biztha, Harbona, Bigtha and Abagtha, Zethar and Carkas, the seven eunuchs who served in the presence of King Ahasuerus, to bring Queen Vashti before the king with her royal crown, in order to show the peoples and the princes her beauty, for she was lovely to look at.” (Esther 1:10-11)
Just what any woman would want: to be paraded in front of a hall full of drunken men, with your own drunken husband grabbing you by the pussy.
Vashti does the unthinkable.
Vashti says no.
Vashti knew her husband well enough to know what would happen, no doubt: “But Queen Vashti refused to come at the king’s command delivered by the eunuchs. At this the king became enraged, and his anger burned within him.” (Esther 1:12)
Let us be clear: if a woman cannot refuse her husband without provoking him to rage, that woman is in an abusive marriage.
He’s so enraged that not only is Vashti herself dismissed from the palace and stripped of her royal status, but a decree is issued ensuring that all women across the empire are compelled to obey their husbands. Every man is to be master in his own household. They are afraid that other women will follow Vashti’s example, because the royal household is the model for all households.
This isn’t godly sacrificial leadership of a husband for his wife, or godly sacrificial submission of a wife for her husband.
This is a license for domestic abuse.
It matters who our leaders are. It matters how they conduct their personal life. Modern politicians may not be literal emperors, but nonetheless they have influence through their example, as well as through their policy making. Let us be careful who we choose to be our exemplars.