The more I read the Esther and Queen Vashti story, the more I am appalled by what the church says with regards to submission as they quote Esther. My heart burns within me and I want to scream myself hoarse underwater or something!
So, the summary is this:
Queen Vashti is summoned by her drunk husband, the king, to parade her beauty before his drunken fellas. All leaders of his 127 provinces. These guys have been drinking for 7 days straight so u can imagine what state they are in. She refuses! Kudos to you QV! A drunken advisor tells king that this is nasty and advises him to get rid of her and the drunk king agrees so QV is disposed of. She disappears from the Biblical scene except for the time when the king remembers her with regret. Oh well. She was better off without him, says I. (if anyone has info on what happened to her apart from the Jewish versions that I am reading, I would love to get my hands on it. Thank you)
So, at the advise of these same “wisemen” they hold a beauty contest to find a replacement! Wow! It surely was not the Miss Zimbabwe (Lord, forbid it wasn’t as confused) nor was it like the Miss World one (no questions paused about passions etc or parading of stuff to the world either) This contest took months to plan and I understand that this king would “sample” whoever he thought was beautiful enough. (I am still researching more on this bit of info and I stand guided)
Please note: king had a harem (er, that is
women who were available for his sexual pleasure though they were not his wives…think of small houses, my Zimbabwean friends aka mistresses or concubines, or geishas something like that) So, he was looking for someone to be the queen.
Anyway, he is taken by Esther, as God intended, as the Bible and Jewish texts say. Now, here is where it gets interesting:
the church, some centuries beyond this era, take Esther to be this paragon of virtue and make out Vashti to be this witch and ungrateful, rude, headstrong woman. Oh well, it could have been worse for her, right? LOL
But, I want to submit some things:
1. Had Esther just walked in to the king’s chamber, she would have been KILLED!! yes, no one ever entered the king’s presence without being summoned in that time and place, not even his queen. Now, what kind of marriage is that? One where a wife has to try and grab her husband’s attention all the while fearing death. Why else did she have to call for God’s favour via the fast? This was no ordinary marriage and it would do well for the church to acknowledge this.
2. Are we vilifying Queen Vashti for wanting her dignity more than anything else? How many women does the church crucify for merely dressing “scantily”? and somehow, it should have been “agreeable” for a WHOLE QUEEN to prance about a jury of drunken “lords” displaying her beauty NAKED except a crown on her head??? We have a huge moral tangle when men go to strip clubs. We label women who “display” themselves loose and wanton and immoral yet, in the same breath, we vilify a queen for not wanting to do the same thing?
3. I am not too sure about this queen position that we all scream bloody murder about. Looking at this king Ahasuerus aka xerxes aka Achashveirosh, I do not see what there is in him to admire about being married to such a man! Really, I don’t.
The church has gone to celebrate Esther’s rise as if she was married to some great guy. What only made this guy “great” was his wealth, his empire and his title, in my view. Looking at him, he was a man of great temper. He was rash in making decisions. He made decisions under the influence of alcohol. He took advise from drunken men and implemented it! he seems to me like the good for nothing that we all hear the pastors preaching against at the pulpit. If we take away his title, his wealth (maybe we could leave him some) and his power and influence, no woman in her right mind would ever want to bring home such a man! Oops, I forget, she probably would, as she would be one up on a sister who is single, divorced or a single parent. “Better she is married than she be single” is what we have taught our girls. Shame!
4. The church uses Esther as an example of submission (the real reason that had me start this article, in the first place) as if Esther had a choice in the matter. She was married to a man as a REPLACEMENT to a woman who had probably been killed. So who would want to cross paths with such a man? I doubt she could even cough without first seeking permission from him! The church forgets that to see her own husband, she had to get the whole Jewish nation in Susa to fast with her! Surely, what kind of marriage is that? That was just something else BUT a marriage!! Who wants that??
5. Esther did not want to be married to this guy. She did not choose him but HE orchestrated events that would see her, a virgin among other virgins in the land, end up as his wife. at this point, I am sure that there would have been some virgins who ran off, anything but to be married to this horrible man. I do not see how they could have been happily taking part in this beauty contest that would result in them being married to such a man. Those who did not make it to be his wives, what became of them?
6. Esther had to HIDE her true identity from her husband!! What nonsense is this? This man was a piece of work, I tell you and I pity Esther more and applaud Vashti all the more for standing up to this man! Whilst we talk of respect and submission, if these are not earned, they are as worthless as the man who demands them from his wife.
Can the church stop perpetuating the idea that men are gods who must be worshiped and feared and start teaching the men and boys to love women? Looking at the story of Queen Vashti and Queen Esther, I see two women who had to do what must be done “in order to fulfill the prophecies” and none must be vilified or exalted because, on closer inspection, they lived terrible lives with this man. But such is many a woman’s story! It remains untold, unexplored and only the “suitable” bits are sifted through to give the “right/ suitable/ correct” picture.