Summary: We all know how heroic Esther was but we forget about the stand Vashti took
He was half in the bag when it all began. His name was Xerxes and he was the King of Persia. If we pull up a map here we discover that Persia is located in this area making it modern day Iran. However we are told that when this story happened Xerxes kingdom stretched from India, which is up here to Ethiopia which is down here. We are told that in the third year of his reign the King decided to hold a small party for some of his closest friends. Well maybe it wasn’t a small party for some of his closest friends. Instead it was a great big blow out for everybody who was anybody. The celebration went for six months and was capped off by a week of revelry at the palace itself. It is indicative of what type of party it was by the line in the story that said Esther 1:8 The only restriction on the drinking was that no one should be compelled to take more than he wanted. But those who wished could have as much as they pleased, for the king had instructed his staff to let everyone decide this matter for himself. While that may not mean much to us you have to understand the culture. Under Persian law guests of the King could only drink when he drank, but for this gathering anyway that restriction was lifted and people could drink as much as their little hearts desired.
Have you ever been to a gathering where the genders kind of divide and the guys end up in one part of the house and the girls end up in another part of the house? As a matter of fact that happens in a lot of gatherings. Here it was a little more formal, we are told the King was entertaining the men and Queen Vashti was entertaining the women in another part of the palace.
And he was half in the bag when it all began. There are probably politer ways to say it, in the New Living Translation it says “Xerxes was half drunk with wine.” In the New International version it says “When King Xerxes was in high spirits from wine” and the King James Version says “the heart of the king was merry with wine.” The truth was the guy was half in the bag, he was three sheets to the wind and polite words don’t disguise the fact that he was drunk. And had he not been drunk it wouldn’t have happened. Now here’s the time for personal opinion, if’n we took all the booze in Canada and dumped it into the ocean the positive impact would far outweigh the negative impact. And if your missing an occasional glass of wine was the price that had to be paid to rid Canada of all the pain, heartbreak and suffering caused by misuse of alcohol then it would probably be a small price to pay. But of course that’s just my own opinion. And the book of Proverbs does say Proverbs 20:1 Wine produces mockers; liquor leads to brawls. Whoever is led astray by drink cannot be wise.
It was Lady Nancy Astor who said “One reason I don’t drink is that I want to know when I am having a good time.”
Today we are looking at the book of Esther. Which is the 17th book of the Bible. The Author is unknown however it is clear from the language and details through the book that whoever wrote it was a devout Jew. It was written in Persia somewhere between 460 and 350 BC, Esther became the queen in 479 B.C.
Why was it written? As a history to record the events that led to the establishment of the Jewish feast Purim. And to assure the Jews of God’s protection.
It was written during the time the Jews were in Exile. You will recall that Jerusalem fell to Babylon around 586 BC and the residents of Jerusalem were taken to Babylon as slaves and how 50 years late Babylon was conquered by Persia. And it was under the rule of the Persians that the Jews were allowed to return home. Let’s pull up a map here. Here is Israel and here is what was then known as Babylon and here is what then was known as Persia. Iran and Iraq. And here is where our story takes place in the citadel of Susa which was a luxurious palace built as a winter residence by Darius when he was king.
Esther is a neat book to read but it has caused consternation through the years as well. More then a religious book Esther has very secular themes. The name of God is never mentioned in the book and neither are prayer or corporate worship. It is the only Old Testament book that didn’t have fragments included in the Dead Sea Scrolls and it is never quoted in the New Testament.