Once upon a time, there was a king who ruled over many provinces. His name was King Ahasuerus. While he was on his throne in the Citadel of Susa, he threw a tremendous party. The palace was decorated in marble, silver, various colors of stones and, of course, GOLD.
On the seventh day of the great banquet, in his state of mirth, he commanded his wife, Queen Vashti, to remove herself from her separate banquet and parade around his banquet full of men wearing her crown…
Probably ONLY her crown…
…Because, of course, he was king. And rich. And celebrated. Some would say a star, perhaps. And he could demand such exploitations.
Queen Vashti was fair to behold- possibly a “10.”
But Ahasuerus failed. Queen Vashti refused to become another prop in his life, to be objectified by not only her husband but the many men who may grope her as she paraded.
Ahasuerus was furious – an anger which raged inside of him. He successfully impressed his guests with all he had, like the marble and silver and gold. But his wife – his greatest “property” – he could not control.
Loopholes in laws were always to his benefit, and after consulting some wise men of his time, Ahasuerus deemed what Queen Vashti did to him as wrong.
Out of this great anger, this great male leader of the time then imposed more rules against women. All men were to be honored… or basically obeyed… by their wives.
What happened to Vashti? Well, she went away…disappeared. First wives can be sent away without a second thought…
Did he pay her off? Did he settle in some divorce? Or did he just throw her out on the street without a second thought and resources to help her survived?
Ahasuerus then decided to find a new wife… a brand new hot wife.
This wouldn’t be just any wife. She would be pure – A VIRGIN! A Jewish woman named Esther was one of these women. They would be gathered in the palace. I suppose you could say that she was considered another “10.” But the still they ordered her cosmetic treatments…
Because she couldn’t be truly beautiful to the powers that be without these procedures. Her authentic raw self wouldn’t work for someone like Ahasuerus who focused on women as his possessions to be admired…
She waited for him to call… he was the one who demanded her attention and not the other way around. She must wait for him – for his compassion, companionship and care.
Like with Vashti, Ahasuerus looked no further than her outer beauty – forgetting that she was a person of faith, a messy flawed amazing person and a woman determined to save the lives of many others.
Queen Vashti risked all she had to stand up against a demanding man in power. Queen Esther risked all she had to stand up to a system that was going to exterminate her family and friends. Vashti worked outside of the system and Esther worked inside.
That is how Esther survived… Giggle when he wants. Get touched and paraded when he wants. And she gets to thrive in his palace.
In reality, Esther and Vashti’s beauty came from their courage, their brave souls and the Spirit which worked within them. Too bad Ahasuerus missed all of this beauty as he gawked at their bodies and faces.
Funny how few faith leaders call out King Ahasuerus for what he was and what he did and how he objectified the women in his life. Funny how this patriarchal attitude becomes normal and expected in our realities today too. Funny how we allow the privileged male leaders in our society to treat women this way. Funny how these attitudes haven’t died in two or three thousand years. Funny how those who read this story honor courageous Queen Esther but forget about the bold Queen Vashti. Funny how many of our closed-minded clergy are not calling out King Ahasuerus of the Bible…
Or the King Ahasuerus of today.
While I am not explicitly political on this site, I felt the need to write this as a reflection of a Biblical story that always concerned me AND as a theological statement on some of the 2016 election players.