Monday 30th August
Esther 1: 13 – 22
Then the king consulted the sages who knew the laws (for this was the king’s procedure towards all who were versed in law and custom, and those next to him were Carshena, Shethar, Admatha, Tarshish, Meres, Marsena, and Memucan, the seven officials of Persia and Media, who had access to the king, and sat first in the kingdom): ‘According to the law, what is to be done to Queen Vashti because she has not performed the command of King Ahasuerus conveyed by the eunuchs?’ Then Memucan said in the presence of the king and the officials, ‘Not only has Queen Vashti done wrong to the king, but also to all the officials and all the peoples who are in all the provinces of King Ahasuerus. For this deed of the queen will be made known to all women, causing them to look with contempt on their husbands, since they will say, “King Ahasuerus commanded Queen Vashti to be brought before him, and she did not come.” This very day the noble ladies of Persia and Media who have heard of the queen’s behaviour will rebel against the king’s officials, and there will be no end of contempt and wrath! If it pleases the king, let a royal order go out from him, and let it be written among the laws of the Persians and the Medes so that it may not be altered, that Vashti is never again to come before King Ahasuerus; and let the king give her royal position to another who is better than she. So when the decree made by the king is proclaimed throughout all his kingdom, vast as it is, all women will give honour to their husbands, high and low alike.’
This advice pleased the king and the officials, and the king did as Memucan proposed; he sent letters to all the royal provinces, to every province in its own script and to every people in its own language, declaring that every man should be master in his own house.
Over the past eighteen months or so we have all become accustomed to seeing various experts and government advisors on the television news. We also see government ministers and other politicians. There can sometimes be some disagreement between the advisors and it is the job of the politicians to make decisions.
Here we have a king asking his advisors for what the law said about the fact that his wife, Queen Vashti, refused to dress up and let him show her off to his guests. The fear of the sages seems to be that she could set a bad example to all other wives in the kingdom. Today we would praise her for taking a stance against oppression.
We can think of examples of women leaders, Constance Coltman, who paved the way for other female ministers by being ordained in 1917. Marie Curie was the first woman to receive a Nobel prize in 1903. She is still the only person to have received two Nobel Prizes in different disciplines, Physics in 1903 and Chemistry in 1911. Angela Merkel will be the first European politician to visit President Joe Biden in The White House. I am sure they would not have achieved anything like that without women such as Queen Vashti setting a good example.
What can we learn from this passage that does not mention God? We can learn to listen to wise advice and more importantly to learn to know what advice is wise. Unlike King Ahasuerus, we can learn to accept that not everyone will agree with us. We have an advantage over King Ahasuerus and his sages, as we have The Holy Spirit to guide and advise us.
We thank you that we can ask you to guide us,
We thank you for your Holy Spirit,
We thank you for the way your Holy Spirit guides us.
We thank you for moves towards equality.
We pray for our politicians as they seek guidance,
We pray for those advising our politicians,
We ask that you will direct and guide them all.
We pray for those in countries without much freedom,
We ask that oppressive or dictatorial leaders will release their hold and move towards freedom.
We ask you to lead us all in your world.
in Jesus name