Who was Queen Vashti in the Bible?Vashti is the Persian queen to King Ahasuerus mentioned in the first two chapters of the book of Esther. The Scripture records that "she was lovely to look at" (Esther 1:11). King Ahasuerus had just spent six months displaying "the riches of his royal glory and the splendor and pomp of his greatness" when he decided to end this exhibition with a seven-day feast (Esther 1:4). "On the seventh day, when the heart of the king was merry with wine," he commanded that Queen Vashti come "before the king with her royal crown, in order to show the peoples and princes her beauty" (Esther 1:10, 11). In his drunkenness, he summoned her to be displayed like his other possessions. "But Queen Vashti refused to come at the king's command" (Esther 1:12). So Vashti is remembered for her beauty and for defying the king.
Her reasons for defying King Ahasuerus's command are not addressed by Scripture, but there are a few theories. One theory is that the command to appear before the king "with her royal crown" may have meant the king requested that she wear only her royal crown and appear in the nude in front of the assembly of men. In that theory, Vashti refused in order to uphold her modesty and dignity. Scripture does record that "Queen Vashti also gave a feast for the women in the palace that belonged to King Ahasuerus" (Esther 1:9). So another theory is that she held to the standards of hospitality and could not bring herself to abandon her guests. Yet another theory is that this feast of military and political leaders was a planning session in preparation for Ahasuerus's invasion of Greece in 480 BC and that Vashti's entertaining of the wives was a political maneuver whereby she could hold them hostage if the leaders did not go along with the king's plan of attack. So perhaps she felt it too politically risky to leave the women and join her husband with the men in the other part of the palace grounds.
No matter her reasons, when Queen Vashti refused, "the king became enraged, and his anger burned within him" (Esther 1:12). He turned to his legal advisors to decide what should be done. Because she refused to come into his presence at the king's command, they decided a fitting punishment would be that she never again be permitted into the king's presence and that her royal title be stripped from her and given to a new queen. Thus, Queen Vashti was banished from the king's presence and deposed from her place of power and influence.
While it may seem unfair that Vashti lost her queenship over a drunken and impulsive request, her departure is what opened the opportunity for Jewish Queen Esther to rise to this vital place of influence in time to rescue her people from Haman's plot to kill them. While God's name is not directly mentioned in the book of Esther, it is clear that He was working in the background orchestrating a plan to save His people. Vashti's vacating the throne is just one example of how God can use humans' decisions to carry out His sovereign plan.
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