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Queen Vashti refuses to be displayed by her drunken husband, King Xerxes.

This Week’s Story relives American history and the Bible through brief inspiring stories presented on mp3 audio recordings and text for reading.

I Refuse!

 “I refuse to come to the king’s party!”

“Queen Vashti, you do not have the right to defy the king.  King Xerxes has ordered that you come.  Today is the last and seventh day of the celebration.  He wants his guests to see how beautiful his queen is.  All the palace servants and officials are invited.

You will appear in the courtyard of the palace garden.  It is decorated lavishly with gorgeous hangings attached to silver rings in the marble pillars.  Guests will be reclining on gold and silver couches.  Royal wine will be abundant.  And… you will be a sensation!  You are to wear your crown.”

“The king is half-drunk.  He and his male staff have been partying for seven days.  Surely I have the right as queen to not be stared at by drunken men, just for their pleasure.”

“You do not have that right.”

“I still refuse to come.  You can inform the king of my decision.”

 The king was informed and he was furious.  He asked his seven highest officials, “What law and punishment do we have for a queen who disobeys the king’s orders?”

His officials were used to answering the king’s questions about Persian laws and customs.  One official, Memucan, explained why they believed a new law was necessary.

“King Xerxes, your wife has done wrong against you and every official and citizen in this empire that stretches from Ethiopia to India. If women hear that Vashti refused to obey her husband’s order to come to his party, they will disrespect their husbands.  Vashti must not be a role model for our wives.  Contempt will be in every home. We advise you to make a law that will affect every woman in this great and gigantic Medo-Persian empire.  Declare a law that cannot be revoked,  a law that banishes Queen Vashti from you, and states that you will choose another queen more worthy than she is.”

The king listened.  Yes, this would punish his ungrateful and disobedient wife.  All of the men around him nodded.  We agree. This would be a good law. The king worded it carefully. Not only would Vashti be banished and a new queen chosen, but a rule for every home would be declared.   Every man is to be the ruler of his home.  He is to receive honor in all matters.

Letters presenting the new law were sent to 127 provinces.  Persia had an excellent postal system, but it was complicated, because many languages were spoken in the empire.  So the king made sure that letters were written in all the principal languages of his kingdom.

Days and months passed and the king began to miss Queen Vashti.  He thought, “She should have come when I sent for her.  She made me look like a fool in front of my guests. Yes, I was drinking, but that is my business. I want her back, but the new law makes that impossible. What should I do?”

What happened to Vashti? Was she alive and proud that she had defended her dignity as a person?  As a woman she became a role model for the importance of respect for women, and men.  The book of Esther in the Bible does not record what happened to Vashti, but it records her courage in risking her crown for the right to have personal dignity.  May it be known that in the year 482 B.C. King Xerxes had a great party to which his queen refused to come, and presently we still have record of the courage of Queen Vashti.

This is Barbara Steiner, thankful for the worth of all human beings. Record of Vashti is in the book of Esther in the Bible.

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