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Vashti -was she the first feminist?

When we look at the first chapter of Esther, we can find a lot of information about the richness and wealth, manipulation of the Persian King Xerxes and more. However, another way to look at this chapter is with a spot on the King’s wife- Vashti, as we can read in Esther 1:9-12-

“גַּם וַשְׁתִּי הַמַּלְכָּה, עָשְׂתָה מִשְׁתֵּה נָשִׁים–בֵּית, הַמַּלְכוּת, אֲשֶׁר, לַמֶּלֶךְ אֲחַשְׁוֵרוֹשׁ.  בַּיּוֹם, הַשְּׁבִיעִי, כְּטוֹב לֵב-הַמֶּלֶךְ, בַּיָּיִן–אָמַר לִמְהוּמָן בִּזְּתָא חַרְבוֹנָא בִּגְתָא וַאֲבַגְתָא, זֵתַר וְכַרְכַּס, שִׁבְעַת הַסָּרִיסִים, הַמְשָׁרְתִים אֶת-פְּנֵי הַמֶּלֶךְ אֲחַשְׁוֵרוֹשׁ.  לְהָבִיא אֶת-וַשְׁתִּי הַמַּלְכָּה, לִפְנֵי הַמֶּלֶךְ–בְּכֶתֶר מַלְכוּת:  לְהַרְאוֹת הָעַמִּים וְהַשָּׂרִים אֶת-יָפְיָהּ, כִּי-טוֹבַת מַרְאֶה הִיא.  וַתְּמָאֵן הַמַּלְכָּה וַשְׁתִּי, לָבוֹא בִּדְבַר הַמֶּלֶךְ, אֲשֶׁר, בְּיַד הַסָּרִיסִים; וַיִּקְצֹף הַמֶּלֶךְ מְאֹד, וַחֲמָתוֹ בָּעֲרָה בוֹ”

“Queen Vashti also gave a banquet for the women in the royal palace of King Xerxes. On the seventh day, when King Xerxes was in high spirits from wine, he commanded the seven eunuchs who served him—Mehuman, Biztha, Harbona, Bigtha, Abagtha, Zethar and Karkas—to bring before him Queen Vashti, wearing her royal crown, in order to display her beauty to the people and nobles, for she was lovely to look at. But when the attendants delivered the king’s command, Queen Vashti refused to come. Then the king became furious and burned with anger.”

Why did she refuse to come? If Xerxes was drunk and wanted only to show her beauty what was her problem?

Well, dear friends, in the Jewish tradition there are some answers to this question that I cannot agree with, because they are out of the context. Some says that Vashti was asked to come naked in front of all the nobles. Another answer is that she was leprous or that she had a tail due to a meeting with the Angel Gabriel.

For me, she didn’t want to be treated as an object. She wasn’t just the wife of Xerxes- she was an independent woman, as all of the women today should be.

Hebrew-Transcription-Translation

וַשְׁתִּי-vaštî-Vashti

הַמַּלְכָּה-hammlkāh-The queen

לְהַרְאוֹת-ləharôt-To display

מְאֹד-mə’ōd-Very

מִשְׁתֵּה-mištēh-Banquet

biblicalsocial@eteachergroup.com


2 Responses to Vashti -was she the first feminist?

  1. j yard says:

    it was that she showed contempt for her husband and her king, in front of all his guests, bringing great shame on him: it gives his guests, amongst whom there must surely be enemies and the envious, the opportubity to gloat over a disobedient wife and their king’s inability to command her.

  2. Stan Soboleski says:

    Vashti was a woman of some moral charactor; Vashti was feminine but not a Feminist.
    She refused to adorn herself in only her crown before the large numbers of men who were drunk and she was expected to excite the men. She was embarrassed, so she answered ‘NO.’
    She could not be leporous since she was beautiful to behold.
    Good conclusion: She was not ‘an object.’
    Stan Soboleski

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