Vashti

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Vashti: [1]

Under the influence of a large consumption of wine, the king commanded his advisors to bring his wife Vashti, into the men’s area of the feast, wearing [just] her crown in order to show her beauty to the public. She refused to obey such orders and caused the wrath of the king to flare. Upon advising with his ministers the verdict was given [that Vashti would be put to death] and a proclamation sent out to the public that each man will rule his home.

 

Q&A

Who was Vashti?[2]

Vashti was the daughter of king Belshatzar, the son of Nebuchadnezzar. On the night of the assassination of her father Belshatzar, unaware of what was happening, she entered into the area of the castle that was already taken over by Daryaveish. Upon him setting his eyes on her, he took pity for her and gave her to his son Achashveirosh as a wife.

 

Was Vashti beautiful?

According to some opinions Vashti was one of the four most beautiful women in the world, together with Sarah, Rachav and Avigail.[3]

 

On what day was Vashti requested to appear before the men’s feast?[4]

This occurred on the seventh day of the feast, which was on Shabbos.

 

Why did Hashem punish Vashti?[5]

Vashti persecuted Jewish women by making them work without clothing on Shabbos.[6] For this reason she was equally punished to be forced to appear without clothing on Shabbos.

 

Why did Achashveirosh request from Vashti to appear before the men?[7]

The guests were having an argument over which locality of women are the most beautiful. Each guest praised the women of his region. Achashveirosh the fool said that in truth the most beautiful woman is a Kasdian, and I’ll prove it to you. The guests agreed but asked that she appear in the nude.

 

Why did Vashti refuse to appear before the king?[8]

Vashti in truth had full intentions to perform acts of immorality and promiscuity just like her husband Achashveirosh. However Hashem made a miracle and caused her body to spread with leprosy. Others say that the angel Gavriel made her grow a tail.

 

Why did Achashveirosh become so infuriated with Vashti’s refusal?

Vashti sent back a derogatory remark to Achashveirosh. She told him: “You, the guard of the horse stable of my father, my father used to drink a lot more wine then you and he kept his cool, however you have a few drinks and you lose your mind”.[9] She also told him:[10] “Insane fool, this is what occurs to you after you drink? You should know that I am the daughter of King Belshazzar the son of Nebuchadnezzar. If my father were alive you would not merit to even run before his chariot, and certainly you would not have been given to me for marriage, and now you want me to appear in the nude?” Some[11] say that the above was told to Achashveirosh in a secret language shared between him and Vashti and her reply was not at first understood by others.

 

Who did Achashveirosh seek advice from?[12]

He first asked advice from the Jewish Sages. They wisely replied that since the destruction of the Temple they lost ability to judge capital offenses and sent him to ask the Sages of Amon and Moav.[13] The final advice was given by Memuchan[14], who was Haman, [and hence in retrospect it was Haman that set up his own downfall, as it was due to this advice that Achashveirosh eventually married Esther]. The Midrash[15] states that the advice to kill Vashti was given by the seven advisors of Media and Persia.

 

Why did Achashveirosh need to seek legal advice in whether Vashti was liable for capital punishment?[16]

Although Vashti refused the King’s command, which automatically made her liable for capital punishment, nevertheless Achashveirosh wanted to discuss the legal aspects with his advisors, being that this feast was established in a way that the requests and wish of each person were respected and fulfilled. Hence perhaps Vashti was justified for refusing the King’s command, as the King himself established the feast under the pretense that no man or woman will be forced to do anything contrary to their desire.

 

What happened to Vashti?

Vashti was executed that day.[17] However the Iyun Yaakov[18] explains that Vashti was not executed but was merely demoted from her position as queen. This is implied from the fact the verse does not mention anything of her execution. Vashti was eventually taken by Haman as a maid to serve him, without the knowledge of Achashveirosh. This is why Achashveirosh became exceedingly infuriated with Haman at the feast as it was then revealed to him by Esther the true whereabouts of Vashti.

 

The next day:[19]

The next day, upon the king becoming sober from his drunken state, he did not recall any of the events of the previous day. He asked for his wife Vashti to appear. They told him that he killed her. He asked what she had done and who gave him this advice. They replied that the seven princes of Media and Persia advised her death. Achashveirosh responded by punishing these princes. Some say they were killed.

 

Achashveirosh appears like a fool:[20]

Upon receiving the royal decree that each man is to rule in his home the people felt that the King is a real fool, as what person already doesn’t rule in his home. This actually helped save the Jews, as when the decree came to annihilate the Jews the people did not take it very seriously, and hence did not try to harm the Jews prior to the given date.

 


[1] 1/10-22

[2] Yalkut Shimoni 1049

[3] Megillah 15a

[4] Megillah 12b; See Sichas Purim 1970

[5] Megillah 12b; Yalkut Shimoni 1049

[6] Those women that refused to work on Shabbos were killed by Vashti. [Iyun Yaakov ibid]

[7] Megillah 12b; Yalkut Shimoni 1049

[8] Megillah 12a; Yalkut Shimoni 1049

[9] Megillah 12b; Yalkut Shimoni 1049

[10] Yalkut Shimoni 1049

[11] Iyun Yaakov Megillah ibid

[12] Megillah 12b

[13] This was done as a pretense to avoid them from needing to give an answer, as whatever answer they would have replied to Achashveirosh would have eventually been held against them. If they said not to kill her it would appear a belittlement to the king. If they said to kill her then when he becomes sober he may regret killing her. [ibid]

[14] So is implied from the simple reading of the verses that he also advised the death of Vashti, however in truth the Midrash states that it was the seven advisors of Media and Persia.

[15] Yalkut Shimoni 1051

[16] Likkutei Sichos 36/161

[17] Yalkut Shimoni 1051; Rashi 1/18 and almost all Mefarshim and Midrashim state that she was killed.

[18] Megillah 13b

[19] Yalkut Shimoni 1051

[20] Megillah 12b and Rashi ibid

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