Vashti

VASHTI (văsh'tī, Heb. washtî, beautiful woman, from the Persian). Xerxes’ queen whom he divorced because of her refusal to show herself to the king’s guests at a feast. Her place was taken by Esther (Esth.1.11).


VASHTI văsh’ tî (וַשְׁתִּ֣י, LXX ̓Αστίν, possibly Pers. vashti, one who is desired, or beautiful woman). The Queen of Ahasuerus (Xerxes I, c. 485-465) (Esth 1:9-19; 2:1, 4, 17) who refused to exhibit her beauty to his lords on the seventh day of a feast. The king banished her and made an edict (Esth 1:22) that each man should be lord over his own house. Her deposition lead to the selection of Esther (q.v.) as Ahasuerus’ queen.

Herodotus (vii. 61; ix. 108-112) says Xerxes’ queen was Amestris (cf. SOTI, p. 404 and ATs, p. 516 for full discussion). Others attempt to equate Vashti with Stateira, the queen of Artaxerxes II (404-358), but this is not likely. Some think Vashti may have been an inferior wife or concubine.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)

The former queen of Xerxes, whom he divorced. On the 7th day of a great feast which the king was giving to the assembled nobles of the empire and others, he commanded the seven chamberlains who served in his presence to bring the queen into the assembly. We are told (Es 1:11) that his purpose was "to show the peoples and the princes her beauty; for she was fair to look on." The king’s command was met by Vashti with a mortifying refusal to obey. The reason which is sometimes assigned for her disobedience--that no man but the king was permitted to look upon the queen--is without foundation. Esther invites Haman on two occasions to accompany the king to a banquet at which she was present. Nor can it be said that there was any lack of recognition of Vashti’s high dignity; the seven highest officials of the palace were sent to escort her. The refusal had to be visited with a punishment severe enough to reestablish the supremacy which it threatened to overthrow. She was, accordingly, divorced and dethroned.

There is no known reference to Vashti outside of Esther. The suggestion has been made that Vashti was an inferior wife, or one of the royal concubines. There is nothing, however, to support it; and it is, besides, directly opposed to several statements in the narrative. She is always named "queen" (Es 1:9,11,12,15-18). It is only (Es 1:19) when the decree is proposed to repudiate and degrade her that she is called merely "Vashti." She also (Es 1:9) presides at the banquet for the women. It is evident, therefore, that in the palace of the women there was no higher personage than Vashti.