We use cookies to enhance your experience on our website. By continuing to use our website, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. You can change your cookie settings at any time. Find out more
Select Bible Use this Lookup to open a specific Bible and passage. Start here to select a Bible.
Make selected Bible the default for Lookup tool.
Book: Ch.V. Select book from A-Z list, enter chapter and verse number, and click "Go."
  • Previous Result
  • Results
  • Look It Up Highlight any word or phrase, then click the button to begin a new search.
  • Highlight On / Off
  • Next Result

Esther: Chapter 1

Jump to: Select book from A-Z list, enter chapter and verse number, and click "Go."
Text view alone

1It was after this that the following things happened in the days of Artaxerxes, the same Artaxerxes who ruled over one hundred twenty‐seven provinces from India to Ethiopia. b Gk Courage, brothers 2In those days, when King Artaxerxes was enthroned in the city of Susa, 3in the third year of his reign, he gave a banquet for his Friends and other persons of various nations, the Persians and Median nobles, and the governors of the provinces. 4After this, when he had displayed to them the riches of his kingdom and the splendor of his bountiful celebration during the course of one hundred eighty days, 5at the end of the festivity c Other ancient authorities lack Uzziah and (see verses 28 and 35 ) the king gave a drinking party for the people of various nations who lived in the city. This was held for six days in the courtyard of the royal palace, 6which was adorned with curtains of fine linen and cotton, held by cords of purple linen attached to gold and silver blocks on pillars of marble and other stones. Gold and silver couches were placed on a mosaic floor of emerald, mother‐of‐;pearl, and marble. There were coverings of gauze, embroidered in various colors, with roses arranged around them. 7The cups were of gold and silver, and a miniature cup was displayed, made of ruby, worth thirty thousand talents. There was abundant sweet wine, such as the king himself drank. 8The drinking was not according to a fixed rule; but the king wished to have it so, and he commanded his stewards to comply with his pleasure and with that of the guests.

9Meanwhile, Queen Vashti a Or above gave a drinking party for the women in the palace where King Artaxerxes was.

10On the seventh day, when the king was in good humor, he told Haman, Bazan, Tharra, Boraze, Zatholtha, Abataza, and Tharaba, the seven eunuchs who served King Artaxerxes, 11to escort the queen to him in order to proclaim her as queen and to place the diadem on her head, and to have her display her beauty to all the governors and the people of various nations, for she was indeed a beautiful woman. 12But Queen Vashti a Or above refused to obey him and would not come with the eunuchs. This offended the king and he became furious. 13He said to his Friends, “This is how Vashti a Or above has answered me. b Cn: Gk loosed her womb Give therefore your ruling and judgment on this matter.” 14Arkesaeus, Sarsathaeus, and Malesear, then the governors of the Persians and Medes who were closest to the king—Ar‐kesaeus, Sarsathaeus, and Malesear, who sat beside him in the chief seats—came to him 15and told him what must be done to Queen Vashti a Or above for not obeying the order that the king had sent her by the eunuchs. 16Then Muchaeus said to the king and the governors, “Queen Vashti a Or above has insulted not only the king but also all the king's governors and officials” 17(for he had reported to them what the queen had said and how she had defied the king). “And just as she defied King Artaxerxes, 18so now the other ladies who are wives of the Persian and Median governors, on hearing what she has said to the king, will likewise dare to insult their husbands. 19If therefore it pleases the king, let him issue a royal decree, inscribed in accordance with the laws of the Medes and Persians so that it may not be altered, that the queen may no longer come into his presence; but let the king give her royal rank to a woman better than she. 20Let whatever law the king enacts be proclaimed in his kingdom, and thus all women will give honor to their husbands, rich and poor alike.” 21This speech pleased the king and the governors, and the king did as Muchaeus had recommended. 22The king sent the decree into all his kingdom, to every province in its own language, so that in every house respect would be shown to every husband.


a Gk Courage, brothers

b Other ancient authorities lack Uzziah and (see verses 28 and 35 )

a Or above

a Cn: Gk loosed her womb

Text Commentary view alone

1.1–12 : Artaxerxes's banquet.

1 :

Ethiopia (Heb “Cush”), in the Bible this term refers to the territory of modern Sudan and modern Ethiopia.

3 :

Greek writers mention fabulous feasts given by Persian kings. Ahasuerus's banquet is the first of numerous banquets that occur at key points in the story ( 1.5,9; 2.18; 3.15; 5.7; 7.1; 9.17,19,22 ). Friends, a special class of courtiers.

5 :

Festivity, or marriage feast (see note c), which would clarify the behavior of the king and Vashti (see 1.11 ). Six days, 1.10 (and Heb 1.5,10 ) says the party lasted seven days.

6–7 :

The description is more extravagant than in the Heb version.

9 :

There are no ancient references to Vashti; Xerxes I's queen was Amestris (Herodotus 7.61 ). Although in 5.5 women and men of the Persian court banquet together, Queen Vashti gave a drinking party for the women emphasizes the separate worlds of king and queen, a factor in Esther's later bravery. It also sets the scene for a quasi‐comic contest of the sexes.

1.10–22 : The fall of Vashti and the king's first edict.

11 :

Proclaim her as queen, in contrast to the Heb, Vashti is summoned for her official coronation as well as for display.

12 :

An inversion of Vashti‐disobedience occurs when Esther, Vashti's replacement, dares to enter unbidden into his presence ( 4.11,16; 15 ).

13–14 :

Three governors rather than the seven sages named in the Heb.

16–18 :

The fear of a feminine insurrection against patriarchal order lies just below the surface of many ancient myths and legends. Contrary to Muchaeus's dire imaginings, the real threat to the king and Persia will come in the form of a conspiracy by two palace bodyguards ( 2.21 ).

19 :

There is no historical evidence that the laws of the Medes and Persians were unalterable (Esth 8.8; Dan 6.9,13 ). The phrase sets up a tension in the narrative between rigid legalism and the requirements of true justice.

20 :

By issuing an absurdly unenforceable decree, the king only succeeds in drawing attention to his own inability to rule his wife.

22 :

The first of several decrees in the book (see 2.8; 3.12; 13; 8.9–11; 9.20–22,29–32 ). Aramaic was the official language of Persian diplomacy, but the historical record attests to Persian imperial pronouncements issued in the languages of subject peoples (see Ezra 6.3–5 ).

  • Previous Result
  • Results
  • Look It Up Highlight any word or phrase, then click the button to begin a new search.
  • Highlight On / Off
  • Next Result
Oxford University Press

© 2020. All Rights Reserved. Cookie Policy | Privacy Policy | Legal Notice