Pastor John W. Brown
Calvary Chapel Central Phoenix
RESPECT ME OR ELSE!
As we begin the book of Esther, it is
appropriate to “set it up” by way of little history.
The book was written approximately 465 years
before the birth of Christ!
That would put the events of the book somewhere
between chapters 6 and 7 of the book of Ezra.
By way of reminder, at that point in Ezra, King
Darius has just made a search of the archives in Babylon and discovered that
His predecessor, King Cyrus has issued a decree for the Temple to be rebuilt
and paid for out of the royal treasury!
And so it was! Thousands Jews went back to their homeland in
great celebration under the leadership of Ezra!
But, there were many, many more Jews who had
grown comfortable in the prosperous kingdom of the Kings of Persia.
They did not return. The book of Esther deals with this group.
And the events take place over a 10 year time
We do not know who wrote the book of Esther.
We do however know that he was a Jew by
nationality and very personally acquainted with the reign of King Ahasuerus,
the Persian Empire, and the palace in Shushan!
The book of Esther is different than most of the
books of the Bible because the name of God is not even mentioned throughout the
But as you will see, God’s sovereignty and
providence is evident all the way through.
We will see God arrange everything necessary to
keep His people, the Jews, from mass murder by the hand of a principle
character named HAMAN.
So, Let’s get started!
Esth 1:1 (NKJV)
Now it came to pass in the days of Ahasuerus (this [was] the Ahasuerus who
reigned over one hundred and twenty-seven provinces, from India to Ethiopia),
Ahasuerus was the Hebrew name given to the king!
His real Persian name was Khshayarsha and the
Greeks called him Xerxes!
Bible scholars believe this is the same king
referred to in Daniel 11:2 as the 4th and richest of the Persian
Esth 1:2 (NKJV)
in those days when King Ahasuerus sat on the throne of his kingdom, which [was]
in Shushan the citadel,
It is interesting to note that the city of
Shushan (or Susa in Greek), was visited by Daniel in 551 B.C. in a vision
according to (Dan 8:1-8). That was 86
years prior to the writing of this book!
In that vision he saw the rapid rise of the
Medo-Persian Empire beginning with Cyrus - which, by the way, began 1 year
after his vision!!
Something else worth mentioning, about 20 years after
the events of the book of Esther, we find a guy by the name of Nehemiah serving
in Susa (Hebrew = Shushan), as cupbearer to king Artaxerxes.
So, these events occur before our last
study of the book of Nehemiah.
And we will see how the hand of God was working
in a pagan society to prepare it for Nehemiah!
Esth 1:3 (NKJV) in
the third year of his reign he made a feast for all his officials and
servants--the powers of Persia and Media, the nobles, and the princes of the
provinces [being] before him—
The Hebrew word for “feast” here means literally
“a drinking feast.”
Dr. J. Vernon McGee estimates that there were
between 2 and 3 thousand guests at this party and that the cost was in the
millions of dollars.
Esth 1:4 (NKJV)
when he showed the riches of his glorious kingdom and the splendor of his
excellent majesty for many days, one hundred and eighty days [in] [all].
So, for 180 days (6 months) he “puts on the feed
bag” for a couple thousand people!
What’s his motive?
He is about to launch a military campaign to
capture Greece and make himself supreme ruler of the world and he wants their
He wants them to know that he has the finances
to support such a war and that they can count on victory.
There is only one problem. God is against him! He cannot and does not succeed.
Esth 1: 5 (NKJV)
And when these days were completed, the king made a feast lasting seven days
for all the people who were present in Shushan the citadel, from great to
small, in the court of the garden of the king's palace.
When he was done with the guests, the last 7
days of the banquet he brings in thousands of the citizens of Shushan!
Esth 1:6-7 (NKJV)
[There] [were] white and blue linen [curtains] fastened with cords of fine
linen and purple on silver rods and marble pillars; [and] [the] couches [were]
of gold and silver on a [mosaic] pavement of alabaster, turquoise, and white
and black marble. 7 And they served drinks in
golden vessels, each vessel being different from the other, with royal wine in
abundance, according to the generosity of the king.
Archaeological digs of these palaces have proven
the riches and opulence of this empire!
Xerxes proved his point. He DID have the money to pull off the war!
On a much smaller scale we see the same thing
today in business!
Companies go to tremendous extremes to “wine and
dine” those that have influence.
Esth 1:8 (NKJV)
In accordance with the law, the drinking was not compulsory; for so the king
had ordered all the officers of his household, that they should do according to
each man's pleasure.
Evidently there was a law that did not require
people to drink at this royal function!
Unlike the more “civilized” bosses of today who
will sometimes even fire someone for not participating in their drunken orgies.
You would think that corporate executives would
want non-drinking people running their business.
Esth 1:9-11 (NKJV)
Queen Vashti also made a feast for the women [in] the royal palace which
[belonged] to King Ahasuerus. 10 On the seventh
day, when the heart of the king was merry with wine, he commanded Mehuman,
Biztha, Harbona, Bigtha, Abagtha, Zethar, and Carcas, seven eunuchs who served
in the presence of King Ahasuerus, 11 to bring
Queen Vashti before the king, [wearing] her royal crown, in order to show her
beauty to the people and the officials, for she [was] beautiful to behold.
While the party was going on for the men,
Vashti, the queen was hold one of her own for the women.
The king has displayed his opulence and his
power, now in a drunken stupor, he wants to bring in his beautiful wife to
display her like some kind of trophy!
But he gets a surprise!
Esth 1:12 (NKJV)
But Queen Vashti refused to come at the king's command [brought] by [his]
eunuchs; therefore the king was furious, and his anger burned within him.
Whether she was afraid to be in the presence of
all these drunken men, or she simply had enough pride and dignity to not be
treated like “property” we are not told.
But she refused to show up!
Imagine the insult to the king’s power in front
of all these people he was trying to impress!
Don’t you imagine that the men were saying,
“What kind of military leader can he be if he can’t even control the Queen?”
On one hand you have to give this woman credit
for standing up for what was right!
On the other hand, she gave little thought to
the possible failure of this military campaign as a result of her actions!
Esth 1:13-15 (NKJV)
Then the king said to the wise men who understood the times (for this [was] the
king's manner toward all who knew law and justice, 14 those
closest to him [being] Carshena, Shethar, Admatha, Tarshish, Meres, Marsena,
and Memucan, the seven princes of Persia and Media, who had access to the
king's presence, [and] who ranked highest in the kingdom): 15 "What [shall] [we] do to Queen Vashti,
according to law, because she did not obey the command of King Ahasuerus
[brought] [to] [her] by the eunuchs?"
It is hard for us to understand this today, but
the queen’s actions required an emergency cabinet meeting of the men closest to
She had refused to obey a direct command of the
This was a serious issue but it seems that there
was no precedence so there was no law they could exact for punishment!
They needed to come up with one fast!
Esth 1:16-19 (NKJV)
And Memucan answered before the king and the princes: "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. 17 "For
the queen's behavior will become known to all women, so that they will despise
their husbands in their eyes, when they report, `King Ahasuerus commanded Queen
Vashti to be brought in before him, but she did not come.' 18 "This very day the [noble] ladies of Persia
and Media will say to all the king's officials that they have heard of the
behavior of the queen. Thus [there] [will] [be] excessive contempt and wrath. 19 "If it
pleases the king, let a royal decree go out from him, and let it be recorded in
the laws of the Persians and the Medes, so that it will not be altered, that
Vashti shall come no more before King Ahasuerus; and let the king give her royal
position to another who is better than she.
Memucan, the chauvinist (and probably the most
insecure) of the bunch, spoke first!
“She didn’t just insult you king. She insulted your whole kingdom!”
“If we let her get by with this, it will spread
to all the women and we will have revolt on our hands!”
“We won’t get them to do anything we tell them
Notice his proposal!
"When the king's decree which he will make is proclaimed throughout all
his empire (for it is great), all wives will honor their husbands, both
great and small." 21 And the reply
pleased the king and the princes, and the king did according to the word of
Memucan. 22 Then he sent letters to all the
king's provinces, to each province in its own script, and to every people in
their own language, that each man should be master in his own house, and speak
in the language of his own people.
For this one act of rebellion, Vashti lost her
royalty! She was queen no more and never
allowed into the presence of the king again!
I’m sure that women all over the kingdom,
secretly praised her for her strength and courage. But what a price to pay!
As the story unfolds, you will see the hand of
God more clearly in this forfeiture!
Notice that Memucan’s proposal “pleased the
This gives us an idea of the moral character of
Please keep in mind that this new law has
nothing to do with God’s spiritual laws.
This was a pagan king in a pagan society who
just enacted a pagan law to appease his pagan pride!
It is now LAW in the Persian Empire - that wives
MUST respect their husbands!
But, God is still at work even in this situation.
By the way, in God’s economy, it is still
advisable for a wife to respect her husband.
Only now, as Christians, a husband shares that
Ephe 5:33 (NKJV) Nevertheless let each one of
you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife [see] that
she respects [her] husband.
And for the husband to love his wife!
Eph 5:25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ
also loved the church and gave Himself for her..
You can’t “legislate” love and respect!