Xerxes’ Royal Feast
3 In the third year of his reign, Xerxes held a feast for all his officials and servants. The military leaders of Persia and Media were there, along with the nobles and princes of the provinces. 4 And for a full 180 days he displayed the glorious riches of his kingdom and the magnificent splendor of his greatness.
5 At the end of this time, in the garden court of the royal palace, the king held a seven-day feast for all the people in the citadel of Susa, from the least to the greatest. 6 Hangings of white and blue linen were fastened with cords of fine white and purple material to silver rings on the marble pillars. Gold and silver couches were arranged on a mosaic pavement of porphyry, marble, mother-of-pearl, and other costly stones.
7 Beverages were served in an array of goblets of gold, each with a different design, and the royal wine flowed freely, according to the king’s bounty. 8 By order of the king, no limit was placed on the drinking, and every official of his household was to serve each man whatever he desired.
Queen Vashti’s Refusal
9 Queen Vashti also gave a banquet for the women in the royal palace of King Xerxes.
10 On the seventh day, when the king’s heart was merry with wine, he ordered the seven eunuchs who served him—Mehuman, Biztha, Harbona, Bigtha, Abagtha, Zethar, and Carkas— 11 to bring Queen Vashti before him, wearing her royal crown, to display her beauty to the people and officials. For she was beautiful to behold.
12 Queen Vashti, however, refused to come at the king’s command brought by his eunuchs. And the king became furious, and his anger burned within him.
Queen Vashti Deposed
13 Then the king consulted the wise men who knew the times, for it was customary for him to confer with the experts in law and justice. 14 His closest advisors were Carshena, Shethar, Admatha, Tarshish, Meres, Marsena, and Memucan, the seven princes of Persia and Media who had personal access to the king and ranked highest in the kingdom.
15 “According to law,” he asked, “what should be done with Queen Vashti, since she refused to obey the command of King Xerxes delivered by the eunuchs?”
16 And in the presence of the king and his princes, Memucan replied, “Queen Vashti has wronged not only the king, but all the princes and the peoples in all the provinces of King Xerxes. 17 For the conduct of the queen will become known to all women, causing them to despise their husbands c and say, ‘King Xerxes ordered Queen Vashti to be brought before him, but she did not come.’
18 This very day the noble women of Persia and Media who have heard about the queen’s conduct will say the same thing to all the king’s officials, resulting in much contempt and wrath.
19 So if it pleases the king, let him issue a royal decree, and let it be recorded in the laws of Persia and Media so that it cannot be repealed, that Vashti shall never again enter the presence of King Xerxes, and that her royal position shall be given to a woman better than she. 20 The edict the king issues will be heard throughout his vast kingdom—and so all women, from the least to the greatest, will honor their husbands.”
21 The king and his princes were pleased with this counsel; so the king did as Memucan had advised. 22 He sent letters to all the provinces of the kingdom, to each province in its own script and to each people in their own language, proclaiming d that every man should be master of his own household.
1 a Hebrew Ahasuerus ; here and throughout Esther
1 b That is, the upper Nile region
17 c Or to disdain their husbands in their eyes
22 d Literally proclaiming in the language of his own people