In the royal court.
Ahasuerus is usually identified with Xerxes 1 (486–465 BCE). “Satrapies” is the more usual description of Persian administrative units than provinces. One hundred twenty-seven does not correspond to any reckoning known outside the Bible.
Susa, at the foot of the Zagros mountains, was one of three royal residences. It consisted of a citadel, or fortified city (enclosed with gates), and an unfortified lower city.
Media was a large province of the Achaemenid Persian empire.
The extended period of banqueting, as well as the extensive list of furnishings, paints a picture of a lavish, extravagant
Vashti is not mentioned in Persian literature. Although the Greek historian Herodotus reports that Persian men and women banqueted
together, Vashti's separate banquet explains to the reader why she must be summoned, and the heavy drinking of the all-male
audience may suggest the danger Vashti faced in appearing before them.
Throughout the book, eunuchs (royal servants, often castrated) bridge gaps between men and women, royals and commoners, insiders and outsiders.
The author gives neither the reason for Vashti's refusal nor a judgment on her decision. The king was enraged: Ahauserus (and later Haman) has a quick temper.
The importance and permanence of Persian laws are themes of the book. As elsewhere, the king does not make his own decisions but defers to advisers and documents. Memucan the eunuch, not the king, makes the Vashti affair into a forum on women's subordination.
While biblical tradition indicates that Persian law could not be altered (Dan 6.8
), such a strategy would have been impractical.
In its own language: The Persians generally accepted the ethnic diversity of their kingdom.
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