She is only mentioned briefly & when she is it’s usually with a tagline of disobedience. Her name: Vashti, the Queen of Persia, who ruled before Esther was ushered in to fulfill God’s agenda.
I can’t help but think Vashti fulfilled a plan, as well. Many do not take the time to go into original text or history when studying the Bible. Because of this surface type of study, or merely depending on a Sunday sermon only, we often times miss the broader picture to God’s idea or approach in/for the characters that are being revealed.
I have rarely found an individual that was named in the Word to be someone of no background or validity to the story in a deeper way. However, Vashti is often so misrepresented it makes my hair stand on end.
The Queen enters the Book of Esther in Chapter 1. Regardless what translation you study from, it’s highly recommended from me that you research your text in multiple views until you’re comfortable using commentaries & original text concordances; this is where you’ll find your truth & validity, as you’re being led by the Holy Spirit.
We meet the Queen of Persia, granddaughter of King Nebuchadnezzar:
Verses 1-8 give us our introduction. King Ahasuerus, Hebrew name for Xerxes, held a banquet for 7 days. And for the duration of those 7 days, he & the men drank copious amounts of wine. Verse 8 even states there were no restrictions on the amount. Long story short, these men were inebriated.
In the 9th verse we see at the time of the King’s Banquet, Vashti held a separate banquet for the women. All of the American translations are very kind when they describe Xerxe’s drunkenness in verse 10 as being “merry & high in spirits.” In his stupor he found it a great idea to bring the sexual link to the story. This is where Scripture is also very polite to go G rated & where you’ll miss the ‘aha’ moment if you’re satisfied with where her story is about to end.
The Queen was summoned to the male party. She was fetched by 7 men, eunuchs. (Eunuchs were men who primarily had been castrated or could not reproduce due to a birth defect.) She was requested to come so all of the men & princes could admire & gawk at her beauty; also requested she bring her crown. The part that was omitted here is the fact that she would be walking around completely nude. No clothes whatsoever. Her, the crown & her skin, parading around in a room full of men, who knows how many, that had been heavily drinking for 7 days. She would be THE only woman & she was considered, at that time, the most beautiful one around. She said, “No!” Can you blame a sister? Many modern day ladies love being a considered a ‘trophy wife’ or an object of man’s sexual desire, Vashti did not.
This obviously embarrassed & outraged the King & once he consulted the other offended men, he concluded that she should be stripped from her Queen-ship & banished from the kingdom. She struck their nerves so hard, that verse 17 mentions their fear the other women would hear her refusal & think this was appropriate & they too, would start to defy their husbands. No man was on board this boat, so there was a law written that went out through ALL the land stating women would be obedient to their husbands & he would be the master of the home & her rights, that would include also her sexual rights.
In the 4 years that passed, whenever the King would burn in anger over this incident, his servants would wring their hands until one day they decided, “Hey! Let’s cheer him up by bringing in tons of beautiful virgins & parade them around. Then he can decide who will take Vashti’s place.” There we find the intro to Esther & how her life was used to eventually save the Jewish nation & we all clap, hug & rejoice, but before we view this as such a triumphant book, can I get a witness how uncomfortable these 1st few chapters really are?
The villain in this story is the despicable Haman. He hated Esther’s primary caregiver & uncle, Mordecai & sought diligently to kill not only him, but the Jewish nation. Even the celebration of Purim is rooted from once what was a spiteful plot of casting lots to determine the date they’d all be destroyed. Yet, I don’t think I’ve ever heard a message spoken that didn’t place Vashti in the SAME category of disobedience, sin & defiance as Haman. I wince every single time I see these two paralleled. Am I the only one who sees her heroism? The only one who is proud she stood up for her body & her morals in a time period where doing so had to be terrifying?
I realize that God’s plan was to use Esther, a WOMAN, to save her nation. Let’s not overlook the girl power here, yes. But at the same time, I feel He also allowed Vashti’s story to be told, though briefly, not to be mistakenly pinpointed as a woman of rebellion, but an example alongside Esther of power & strength in the midst of a very sinful/demeaning situation. He provided both women a way out. Despite the decrees of man, He continued throughout the Old & the New Testaments to provide women a way out AND a way in; this has not stopped. These stories ARE God’s stories, but He divinely writes females directly into them with mercy’s pen.
Esther may have been a woman hero, but prior to her victory she too was an object of physical expectations. Kings like this one often saw women as objects to be displayed or servants to acquire while they succeeded. They missed the abundance of knowledge & strength that was tethered into who the women were created to be by God. But how many males in society, even the church still do this current day? We can celebrate womanhood & who we are in Christ, especially as women leaders, without emasculating men. A man should never feel dethroned when a woman rightfully leads by the hand of God. No man should feel inferior when a woman is gifted higher than he for a place or position. Sadly we find even as I type this, people are still battling the validity of females in the church & the world.
When the young, virgin named Hadassah, Hebrew for Esther, was brought to the kingdom she spent a year having “beauty treatments,” in order to participate in an Old Testament pageant. And just like pageants of beauty today, the prize was a crown. Despite her natural beauty, she had to undergo series of exhausting practices to be viewed better than she actually was, on top of that, she was also hiding who she really was by birth, a Jewish girl.
These virgins were given diets intended to beautify them from the inside out & baths in spices to purify from the outside in. Many would likely say that type of pampering would be a pleasure. However, this wasn’t a facial or pedicure for relaxing, this was to be judged on your worth based on your appearance. As far as we know, Esther the Queen wasn’t given the disrespectful expectations as her predecessor, Vashti. Maybe Xerxes had learned a lesson in loneliness when he found a void in many sexual concubines, while he really longed for a partner. I like to think God softened his heart in respect for his new queen, therefore allowing Esther to fulfill her call while not being used as a tool of perverse practice. This story writes a larger narrative so easily overlooked if you do not read with God eyes.
Esther, like Vashti, could consider herself disobedient too. After all she was not allowed by law, to approach the King on her own accord. Doing so could result in her death, but after prayer & fasting she decided losing her life for what was right meant more than sparing it for the wrong reason.
Vashti decided that keeping her clothes on & her head high for self respect, meant more than the humiliation of having her crown discarded. She didn’t trade her dignity for power. Neither woman allowed fear of their choices to override what was to be life changing events for themselves & others. Vashti may not be revered like Esther, but she absolutely should be to some degree, in my opinion. In a time of no value for females, another woman stepped on the page & said, “Not today.”
So I ask you women out there, “Where do you need to step out of fear & trust God in your moments of self respect? Where do you need to stop hiding your natural self behind beauty treatments & trophy expectations? How do you need to stand firm in your morals & keep your righteous robe covering yourself? And where does an entire legacy ahead of you depend on your ability to stop hiding who you were designed to be at birth & step out & take your ‘time is now’ moment?”
Regardless of the twist in His Word or the still misrepresentation of the Epistles written to direct churches, not an entire gender, WOMEN COUNT. Your words, your spiritual gifts, your leadership, your voice, your position- it’s all by God & for the glory of God.
Paul may have asked Timothy to silence the women from teaching in the church of Ephesus at that time. It was due to their illiteracy & not yet being trained up in the Word. They were trying to seek position & had not yet received the education or the anointing. This was not a letter to scorn women as a whole. I don’t care what denomination you are, this was not the point or the foundation of the letter, nor should it continue to be the dart thrown at women to keep them off God’s platform of leadership & teaching today. Who are people to argue with how the Spirit should use those God wants to designate as His mouthpiece? This is an absolute stifling of the Spirit & that is spoken against also.
This is a post to remind you of your worth where legalism may be trying to quiet you. Deborah was a warrior. Rahab & Ruth were the grandmother lineage that would birth David, ultimately Jesus. Esther saved a nation. Mary was the entryway for the Messiah. The bulk of Jesus ministry was based around females. Paul named a list of women to lead/teach the early church, even naming Phoebe as a deacon. Women were the last to leave the cross, the ones who cared for Jesus body before burial & it was a woman He appeared to 1st when He walked right out of death’s door. He exposed himself as Messiah to the promiscuous Samaritan well woman & she ran to announce He was there; because of her faith to speak many people believed. That’s quite a responsibility for someone & if it’s good enough for Jesus to use women to speak of Him then, it should be good enough for his churches today.
There will be plenty of people to hold you down when you decide to be obedient to the call on your life, even other women. Just because you may have been raised always being told it is a man’s “position” to only do this thing & that or this is a woman’s job, this isn’t, doesn’t mean what you’ve been told is correct. It very well may be your preference to hear a man speak on the platform or lead in a denominational position, but don’t confuse preference with the Gospel truths. Just because you have a strong opinion, does not mean you are right. No more than people of color were considered by many Christians to be an abomination & even MLK’s pastoral position was mocked as false teaching & dishonor to God & that was only 40+ years ago. Woman are not the weaker sex or the uncalled to church position either.
My husband may physically be stronger than me. I may the only one who can birth babies around here, but he does not have authority over me any more than I have over him. We have great shared responsibilities in the marriage & home. I have a place to respect my husband & make decisions with him. I am not called by God to follow the lead or example of yours or anyone else’s husband. If my spouse were given the gift to teach God’s Word, like I have been, he has no greater place on a platform than me. Even though I often prefer teaching & ministering to women, I am not limited to only teaching them. Neither are you. And if seminaries are taking female money & training them up in classes alongside males, they should be offered the same opportunities. Both are called by God. BOTH are created in His Spirit image.
The church speaks of many things worldly that divide them & highly overlook the division that comes from the choices within the walls. Always praying & looking for answers while too much prayer is being wasted on answers that are already sitting right there. It’s easier to blame Satan for the crumbling in attendance & broken hearts of those who left, rather than sit down before the mercy seat & admit wrongs & make them right under the obedience of God.
Think this isn’t an issue at your place of worship? When’s the last time your church invited a woman to speak on Sunday? The last time a woman spoke when the pastor was on vacation? When have women been designated to teach a class where men/women are blended? Are women part of your financial or leadership panels? Do you have women as youth leaders? Do you only seek out women to do nursery duty, potluck dinners, & organize or clean your church or answer the phone?
If you are a man or a woman who stands on the idea that man is in authority over a woman & you pick out verses like 1 Corinthians 11:3 to stand on, then I will assume your family will also be honoring verses 4-16. The women folk should look nice in church this weekend with their head coverings & only long hair when they walk through the doors. And men you better keep it short. No longer hair for you!
Trying to stand on 1 verse & not the entire context shows a void in how we live & believe God’s word. “But Jada, the head covering isn’t literal for us today, it was a part of their cultural context back then.” Yes, and so was verse 3. The one I hear men & some women regurgitate throughout my entire life.
You see, the church of Corinth had 2 cultural backgrounds colliding. Jewish women always covered their heads in worship & to uncover showed a sign of loose morals. Greek women, Gentiles, worshiped without. Paul’s specification regards honoring the things that were respectful for that time period & that culture.
In today’s society a man, in many ethnicities with long hair is considered masculine & the look is very appropriate. However, at that time in Corinth male prostitution was on the rise in pagan temples. To be a man with long hair suggested that he was a male prostitute. For any woman to have short hair suggested that she too, was to be labeled a prostitute. These verses as a WHOLE point out to our current day church, you cannot stand on one & not stand on ALL. What’s it going to be? I’d love to pop some corn & watch you cover your teenage daughter’s heads before youth group next week.
Paul also suggests in the same Epistle those unmarried or widowed should remain single unless you burn with lust (1 Cor. 7:8-9) & in verse 12 & 25 of that same chapter, he states that he is speaking on his own accord & NOT a direct command from the Lord. In 1 Corinthians 9:18 he states preaching for free & sharing the Good News without charging anyone… WHOA, that changes things for modern day ministry, huh?
If you are woman who is called to something & you’re in a church or a place that limits that or stands between your rights & God’s voice, I pray that you will ask Him to either lead you to where you should go or to provide the hardened hearts to be softened to the TRUTH of the Holy Spirit.
We should have leaders in Godly positions that are educated in facts & not opinion. The false teachers & ‘prophets’ of today are very unrecognizable because their flocks trust too much in their words & spend no time researching the actual Word through the Spirit’s guidance. How can you recognize a lie being preached in Scripture when you can’t decipher one verse to the next on your own?
When you stand before God & He asks why you stood as a stumbling block in someone’s way or why didn’t you receive in truth what He provided, how is “I don’t know or I didn’t have time” going to be sufficient to the Ancient of Days? If you tell a police officer, “I’m sorry, I didn’t know the law,” he will tell you, “Ignorance of the law is no excuse.”
It’s exactly the same with the Bible.
To decide one verse applies to an entire gender & turn around to say the following 2 sentences afterward do not apply, is a complete farce where an intelligent approach to Godly wisdom in studying originality in the Bible is concerned.
Women teaching, preaching & leading is not a ‘new wave religious act,’ anymore than not owning slaves anymore is- culture shifts, changes occur/update & it’s time to wake up & blow the dust off this. I am growing tired & exhausted bringing it up. Not everything is a defiance against the Word. It’s ignorance against it.
God created the lines of His authority to run so we would be connected with unique strengths. These are not lines of superiority that should be used in any way to weaken or limit others. We may have differing characteristics as male & female, but we have the SAME Jesus- the SAME Spirit. It’s time to step up & understand this wedge destroys oneness & it cripples what & who He intended to be used for Kingdom glory!