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The Hidden Heroism of Queen Vashti

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Esther is one of the most beloved Biblical heroines, a woman who became queen under extraordinary circumstances and saved her people from destruction through her faith and courage. But what of the queen she replaced? Relegated to a few lines of text, Queen Vashti is often framed in a negative light or forgotten. However, if we take a closer look, her story can be a powerful example of remaining true to your principles and standing firm against opposition.

The 180-Day Feast

The Book of Esther begins with a feast, held by King Ahasuerus of Persia. For 180 days, the noble men of the kingdom experience “the riches of his glorious kingdom.” As a conclusion to the festivities, King Ahasuerus holds a final seven-day event, with “royal wine in abundance.” Queen Vashti, in another of the royal house, held a similar feast for the women.

On the seventh day and final day, the Book of Esther tells us that the king was “merry with wine” and sent seven princes to Queen Vashti’s feast. They were commanded to “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.”

Queen Vashti Refuses the King

Queen Vashti “refused to come at the king’s commandment by his chamberlains.” We are given no reason or motive behind the decision, but there is little doubt that she knew what was at stake by refusing the king, just as Esther did.

King Ahasuerus became angry and counseled with the princes on how to punish the queen. A prince named Memucan claims that her act of defiance will cause all women in the kingdom to “despise their husbands in their eyes” once the story gets out. He suggests that Queen Vashti be banished and stripped of her title and the order is enacted.

Biblical scholars and religious leaders don’t have a consensus on the story of Queen Vashti. Some traditions hold she was a vain and wonton woman with no shame. Some state that she refused the king because the request included her appearing naked before the men. Generally, most conclude that Queen Vashti refused to appear before the drunk men to preserve her dignity.

What Can We Learn from Queen Vashti?

Queen Vashti can teach us about standing up for our beliefs and our own worth in the face of opposition. She remained true to herself knowing the cost would likely be severe. Her story especially becomes poignant for women who face pressure from the evil intentions of men. By saying no, she lost everything. Ultimately, just as Esther, Vashti played a role in God’s larger plan and did what she could to remain true to herself.

What have you learned from the story of Queen Vashti?

Featured Image Art by Edwin Long
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Aleah Ingram
Aleah Ingram
Aleah is a graduate of Southern Virginia University, where she studied English, Creative Writing, and Dance. She now works full time as a marketing and product manager, writer, and editor. Aleah served a mission in California and loves baking, Lang Leav poetry, Gaynor Minden pointe shoes, and Bollywood movies.

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