Saturday, October 8, 2011

Views on Vashti

Banishment of Vashti by Paolo Veronese

It was ordered…
"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 upon."
Esther 1:11

Queen Vashti, the wife who was banished because she was not obedient to the whim of her husband the king... There are many views that have been maintained on this beautiful woman, most of them painting her in a negative light.

Vashti Deposed by Ernest Normand
I always had an impression of haughtiness regarding her character,
but is there more thoughts to ponder regarding this fearless female?

Some may say that she should have responded to the desire of her husband the king, but would that have been a modest display on her part? Is this story that cut and dry? One commentary declared her a "worldly woman" while another declared her as a "woman of great moral courage"...

Anguished Portrait of Vashti by Kirsten Coco
(The link above takes you to the website of the artist Kirsten Coco, with her own version of Vashti.)

It was ordered…
"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 upon."
Esther 1:11

I guess the important question would be, "just what exactly was the king asking of her" in his drunken state? Some opinions are that she was just to be on display for her beauty while others suggest that she was being asked to be viewed wearing only her crown royal… That would drastically change the nature of this story. Was this a situation of obeying God rather than man?

Could there be two heroines in the Book of Esther? 

What is your view on Vashti? Is she a "heroine of the faith"?

Please leave your views on Vashti in the comment box below. I am most anxious to hear your opinion on this delicate subject of submission… It would be interesting to hear from a variety of ages and stages of women. (I will be posting a follow up to what your opinions conclude if I get enough of a response so please share…)


  1. You've given me something on which to think. Thank you. I will think on Vashti, read, and return.

    (visiting from Raising Homemakers' Homemaking Link-Up)

  2. In other records, she was asked to display her beauty by dancing nude. That would have made her a heroine in my book! I think it is important to research to find the whole picture of the book of Esther, it is unbelievably rich in faith of G-d without truly ever mentioning Him. It is one of my favorite books! Great post!

  3. Yes, the Book of Esther is excellent. It is assumed that the reader of Esther is a believer in the one Living God and therefore makes no mention of Him. That worldview has since faded but standing up for your faith is still something we will all be confronting at one point or another.

  4. This sounds interesting, I will have to read through Esther again, thanks for pointing this out. ~April

  5. Really interesting - thanks for sharing your thoughts! Stopping by via the Raising Homemakers Link-Up. :-)

    Love and blessings,


  6. I always greatly dislike when man adds his fallible "research" to the truth of scripture. The view that she was asked to appear naked is not in scripture and therefore an addition to it that God did not include, nor then should we.

  7. THIS IS TRUE and I am probably the #1 critic on this, however, if we take this Scripture by it's word, she is LITERALLY being asked to go before the king WEARING HER CROWN ROYAL… That is interesting that they chose to include the information about the crown as if it may be ALL she was to wear (why mention it at all?). Would she jeopardize her standing with the king if she was only asked to make an appearance? This is the question that I am asking… since that would change the meaning of this story. Thanks for the your input!

  8. It's my opinion that there are two heroines in Esther.

    It seems to me that the King came to regret how he had treated Vashti in his anger. That occasion to regret his actions probably had a lot to do with the positive way he responded to Esther's brave but forbidden approach to his throne.

    Therefore, I infer that something of the way God protected and blessed Esther (and through her he protected His people) came through the human agency of the King's memory of Vashti.

    I think sometimes we are 'Vashti' -- we do the right thing, and are treated badly regardless.

    I think sometimes we are 'Esther' -- we are able to work alongside a man who will treat us well, because he already learned a lesson about treating women badly.

    When we are 'Esther' -- is with great dignity that we should thank the 'Vashtis' who went before us and made the way smoother for our gender.

    1. Vashti gets a bad rap. Many people use her example to encourage wives to submit to sin, foolishness, or destructive behavior. They place all of the responsibility to submit on the wife's shoulders. Yet, they place little to no responsibility on the husband to submit to God and love his wife like Christ loved the church and died for it.

      The idea of a wife submitting to her husband was not a new one. It had been taught from Genesis throughout the Bible. When Paul taught about a wife’s duty to submit to her husband, he was merely recapping an age old teaching. However, he had to spell it out for husbands. (Ephesians 5:25-32) This was a revolutionary concept for husbands. It had never been taught like that before. Some might say “love your neighbor as yourself” had been taught before (Luke 10:27). But that was the problem. Husbands were expressing love for their neighbors outside of the home, while regarding their wives as mere maids and sex objects.

      The king did this to Vashti. She refused to submit to his sexually immoral and drunken request. Jewish tradition says that he instructed her to appear nude. She valued modesty and would not promote lustfulness. She believed that a wife’s beauty should be reserved for her husband only. The king’s friends were angered by her refusal and encouraged the king to exile Vashti, and he did.

      This is a prime example of how many husbands use their position of power to abuse defenseless wives. It’s also an example of how many husbands express love for their neighbors and friends outside the home, while treating their wives with utter cruelty. This is a perfect example of why Paul needed to spell out (Ephesians 5:25-32) for husbands.

      Bathsheba - another woman who had been the victim of a king's abuse of power - gave Solomon this wise advice:

      It is not for kings, O Lemuel, to guzzle wine. Rulers should not crave alcohol. For if they drink, they may forget the law
      and not give justice to the oppressed.
      Pro 31:4-5

      That's exactly what happened between Vashti and the King. He got drunk and forgot his duty to love, honor, and protect his oppressed wife.

      As a result of Vashti's refusal, she was banished. Sometimes, bad things happen when you take a stand. Vashti's hardship is similar to that of Uriah. Uriah was a loyal military man. He refused to go home and sleep with his wife because of his commitment to his army. Uriah was actually more committed at that time than David because David took a day off to commit adultery. Although Uriah took an honorable stand, he was still killed. Although Uriah was killed, God still used the incident for his glory. Solomon became one of the wisest kings to ever live. This is no different from how the book of Esther unfolds. God uses an unfortunate tragedy to accomplish his plans.

      Like David, Ashasuerus had some redemptive qualities. That's why God used him and gave him a second chance. He was remorseful for the way he had treated Vashti. He learned from his mistakes and treated Esther better than he treated Vashti. He also made a decree with Haman to kill the Jews. When he realized how egregious that decree was, he rectified it. He did in that situation what he had failed to do concerning Vashti. This is an admirable quality. Ashasuerus learned from his past mistakes.

    2. We can spin the story any way we want to - in order for it to have it conform to our own preconceived desires and outcomes. One must realize however that King Ahasuerus went on to make his next wife a woman of the faith. If he had made immoral requests of Vashti - would he not have had the same for Esther? It is easy and convenient to add our own text to the story and make a heroine out of someone that may not be one. Go only with what's written in scripture.


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