Dave Burnette's Commentary

Esther Chapter 1

Written By: God through Inspiration
Penned By: Mordecai
Date Penned: (470 BC)
Overview: God's Sovereignty and Power Through Esther's Life (c 1-10)
Theme: Esther Becomes Queen (c 1-2)
Message: Queen Vashti is Deposed (1-22)

Esther 1 Commentary 

(1:1) Queen Esther's Story Begins - Esther's story begins in 483 BC, halfway through Ezra's story. The events in this book occurred 103 years after Nebuchadnezzar took the Jews into captivity (2 Kings 25), 54 years after Zerubbabel led the first group of exiles back to Jerusalem (Ezra 1-2), and 25 years before Ezra led the second group to Jerusalem (Ezra 7). Esther lived in the kingdom of Persia, the dominant kingdom in the ancient Middle East after Babylon's fall in 539 BC. Esther's parents must have been among those exiles who chose not to return to Jerusalem, even though Cyrus, the Persian king, had issued a decree allowing them to do so. The Jewish exiles had great freedom in Persia, and many remained because they had established themselves there or were fearful of the dangerous journey back to their homeland. Lil Ahasuerus, also called Xerxes the Great, was Persia's fifth king (486-465 BC. He was proud and impulsive, as we see from the events in Esther 1. His winter palace was in Shushan, where he held the banquet described in

(1:3-8) Ahasuerus attacks Greece -  Persian kings often held great banquets before going to war. In 481, Ahasuerus launched an attack against Greece. After his fleet won a great victory at Thermopylae, he was defeated at Salamis in 480 and had to return to Persia. Esther became queen in 470 (1:4) The celebration lasted 180 days (about six months) because its real purpose was to plan the battle strategy for invading Greece and to demonstrate that the king had sufficient wealth to carry it out. Waging war was not only for survival; it was a means of acquiring more wealth, territory, and power.

(1:5:7) Persia Flaunts Their Wealth - Persia was a world power, and the king, as the center of that power, was one of the wealthiest people in the world. Persian kings loved to flaunt their wealth, even wearing precious gemstones in their beards. Jewelry was a sign of rank for Persian men. Even soldiers wore great amounts of gold jewelry into battle.

(1:9) Vashti is Removed as Queen - Ancient Greek documents call Ahasuerus's wife Amestris, probably a Greek form of the name Vashti. Vashti was deposed in 483 or 482 BC, but she is mentioned in ancient records as the queen mother during the reign of her son, Artaxerxes, who succeeded Ahasuerus. Toward the end of Ahasuerus's reign either Esther died or Vashti was able through her son to regain the influence she had lost.

(1:10-11) A Rash Decision - Ahasuerus made a rash, half-drunk decision based on impure and selfish desires and the supportive advice of his seven legal minions. His self-restraint and practical wisdom were weakened by too much wine. Poor decisions are made when people don't think clearly. Base your decisions on careful thinking, not on the emotions of the moment. Impulsive decision making can result in severe complications. In this case, however, God used this occasion to carry out his providential plan.

(1:10) Eunuchs - Some advisers and government officials were castrated in order to keep the harem safe and to prevent them from having children and then rebelling and trying to establish a dynasty of their own. A castrated official was called a eunuch.

(1:12) A Refusal to Obey - Queen Vashti refused to parade before the king's all-male party, possibly because it was against Persian custom for a woman to appear before a public gathering of men. This conflict between Persian custom and the king's command put her in a difficult situation, and she chose to refuse her half-drunk husband, hoping he would come to his senses later. Some have suggested that Vashti was pregnant with Artaxerxes, who was born in 483 BC, and that she did not want to be seen in public in that state. Whatever the reason, her action was a breach of protocol that also placed Ahasuerus in a difficult situation. Once he made the command, as a Persian king he could not reverse it (see the note on 1:19). While preparing to invade Greece, Ahasuerus had invited important officials from all over his land to see his power, wealth, and authority. If they perceived that he had no authority over even his own wife, it would damage his military credibility--the greatest criterion of success for an ancient king. In addition, King Ahasuerus was accustomed to getting what he wanted.

(1:13-15) Daniel Advises Ahasuerus - Ahasuerus, like most leaders past and present, kept a handful of advisers with whom he would consult on almost all matters. Often a king's success rose or fell on the wisdom of these men. Daniel was such an adviser under Darius and Cyrus (Daniel 6:28).

(1:15) A Distant Relationship - Ancient Middle Eastern kings often did not have close personal relationships with their wives. Ahasuerus demonstrates this because (1) he had a harem (2:3); (2) he showed no respect for Vashti's personhood (1:10-12); and (3) Esther, when she became queen, did not see him for long periods of time (4:11).

(1:6-21) A Lack of Respect - Perhaps the men's thinking had been clouded by drinking. Obviously this law would not cause the women of the country to respect their husbands. Memucan's counsel reflected the repressive attitude that many in ancient societies had toward women. Respect between men and women comes from mutual regard and appreciation for each other as people created in God's image, not from legal pronouncements or orders. Many societies and cultures still do not recognize this today. Forced obedience does not encourage the love and respect wives and husbands should have for each other.

(1:19) The Persian King - A Persian king was thought to be a god by many of his people; therefore, when he issued a law or command, it stood forever (see the notes on 8:8 and Daniel 6:8-9). Such a law could never be canceled, even if it was ill-advised; however, if necessary, a new law could be issued to neutralize the effects of the old law.


Dave Burnette's Life Application

The Hand of God

Each day we walk through the Bible chapter by chapter making an application of our text to help us grow in the Lord. Many applications can be made from each day's text. Today we start in the book of Esther with Chapter 1 and in our text today we see Queen Vashti is disposed of which makes way for Esther in tomorrows text. What catches my eye in the book of Esther is that even those Jews who were scattered in the province of the heathen, they were taken care of, and were wonderfully preserved, when threatened with destruction. In making application we see the Hand of God protecting us in the midst of a chaotic and ungodly world. As Christians we need that we are in the Hand of God and he will protect and deliver us when surrounded by the enemy. How about you? Are you worried in these ungodly last days? Let us learn from our text today and the book of Esther to remember as a saved Christian we are in the hand of God even though our surroundings are very ungodly. 


Esther 1

Esther 1

 1Now it came to pass in the days of Ahasuerus, (this is Ahasuerus which reigned, from India even unto Ethiopia, over an hundred and seven and twenty provinces:)

 2That in those days, when the king Ahasuerus sat on the throne of his kingdom, which was in Shushan the palace,

 3In the third year of his reign, he made a feast unto all his princes and his servants; the power of Persia and Media, the nobles and princes of the provinces, being before him:

 4When he shewed the riches of his glorious kingdom and the honour of his excellent majesty many days, even an hundred and fourscore days.

 5And when these days were expired, the king made a feast unto all the people that were present in Shushan the palace, both unto great and small, seven days, in the court of the garden of the king's palace;

 6Where were white, green, and blue, hangings, fastened with cords of fine linen and purple to silver rings and pillars of marble: the beds were of gold and silver, upon a pavement of red, and blue, and white, and black, marble.

 7And they gave them drink in vessels of gold, (the vessels being diverse one from another,) and royal wine in abundance, according to the state of the king.

 8And the drinking was according to the law; none did compel: for so the king had appointed to all the officers of his house, that they should do according to every man's pleasure.

 9Also Vashti the queen made a feast for the women in the royal house which belonged to king Ahasuerus.

 10On the seventh day, when the heart of the king was merry with wine, he commanded Mehuman, Biztha, Harbona, Bigtha, and Abagtha, Zethar, and Carcas, the seven chamberlains that served in the presence of Ahasuerus the king,

 11To bring Vashti the queen before the king with the crown royal, to shew the people and the princes her beauty: for she was fair to look on.

 12But the queen Vashti refused to come at the king's commandment by his chamberlains: therefore was the king very wroth, and his anger burned in him.

 13Then the king said to the wise men, which knew the times, (for so was the king's manner toward all that knew law and judgment:

 14And the next unto him was Carshena, Shethar, Admatha, Tarshish, Meres, Marsena, and Memucan, the seven princes of Persia and Media, which saw the king's face, and which sat the first in the kingdom;)

 15What shall we do unto the queen Vashti according to law, because she hath not performed the commandment of the king Ahasuerus by the chamberlains?

 16And Memucan answered before the king and the princes, Vashti the queen hath not done wrong to the king only, but also to all the princes, and to all the people that are in all the provinces of the king Ahasuerus.

 17For this deed of the queen shall come abroad unto all women, so that they shall despise their husbands in their eyes, when it shall be reported, The king Ahasuerus commanded Vashti the queen to be brought in before him, but she came not.

 18Likewise shall the ladies of Persia and Media say this day unto all the king's princes, which have heard of the deed of the queen. Thus shall there arise too much contempt and wrath.

 19If it please the king, let there go a royal commandment from him, and let it be written among the laws of the Persians and the Medes, that it be not altered, That Vashti come no more before king Ahasuerus; and let the king give her royal estate unto another that is better than she.

 20And when the king's decree which he shall make shall be published throughout all his empire, (for it is great,) all the wives shall give to their husbands honour, both to great and small.

 21And the saying pleased the king and the princes; and the king did according to the word of Memucan:

 22For he sent letters into all the king's provinces, into every province according to the writing thereof, and to every people after their language, that every man should bear rule in his own house, and that it should be published according to the language of every people.