1 Now it came to pass in the days of Ahasuerus, (this is Ahasuerus which reigned, from India even unto Ethiopia, over an hundred and seven and twenty provinces:)
2 That in those days, when the king Ahasuerus sat on the throne of his kingdom, which was in Shushan the palace,
3 In the third year of his reign, he made a feast unto all his princes and his servants; the power of Persia and Media, the nobles and princes of the provinces, being before him:
4 When he shewed the riches of his glorious kingdom and the honour of his excellent majesty many days, even an hundred and fourscore days.
5 And when these days were expired, the king made a feast unto all the people that were present in Shushan the palace, both unto great and small, seven days, in the court of the garden of the king's palace;
6 Where were white, green, and blue, hangings, fastened with cords of fine linen and purple to silver rings and pillars of marble: the beds were of gold and silver, upon a pavement of red, and blue, and white, and black, marble.
7 And they gave them drink in vessels of gold, (the vessels being diverse one from another,) and royal wine in abundance, according to the state of the king.
8 And the drinking was according to the law; none did compel: for so the king had appointed to all the officers of his house, that they should do according to every man's pleasure.
9 Also Vashti the queen made a feast for the women in the royal house which belonged to king Ahasuerus.
10 On the seventh day, when the heart of the king was merry with wine, he commanded Mehuman, Biztha, Harbona, Bigtha, and Abagtha, Zethar, and Carcas, the seven chamberlains that served in the presence of Ahasuerus the king,
11 To bring Vashti the queen before the king with the crown royal, to shew the people and the princes her beauty: for she was fair to look on.
12 But the queen Vashti refused to come at the king's commandment by his chamberlains: therefore was the king very wroth, and his anger burned in him.
13 Then the king said to the wise men, which knew the times, (for so was the king's manner toward all that knew law and judgment:
14 And the next unto him was Carshena, Shethar, Admatha, Tarshish, Meres, Marsena, and Memucan, the seven princes of Persia and Media, which saw the king's face, and which sat the first in the kingdom;)
15 What shall we do unto the queen Vashti according to law, because she hath not performed the commandment of the king Ahasuerus by the chamberlains?
16 And Memucan answered before the king and the princes, Vashti the queen hath not done wrong to the king only, but also to all the princes, and to all the people that are in all the provinces of the king Ahasuerus.
17 For this deed of the queen shall come abroad unto all women, so that they shall despise their husbands in their eyes, when it shall be reported, The king Ahasuerus commanded Vashti the queen to be brought in before him, but she came not.
18 Likewise shall the ladies of Persia and Media say this day unto all the king's princes, which have heard of the deed of the queen. Thus shall there arise too much contempt and wrath.
19 If it please the king, let there go a royal commandment from him, and let it be written among the laws of the Persians and the Medes, that it be not altered, That Vashti come no more before king Ahasuerus; and let the king give her royal estate unto another that is better than she.
20 And when the king's decree which he shall make shall be published throughout all his empire, (for it is great,) all the wives shall give to their husbands honour, both to great and small.
21 And the saying pleased the king and the princes; and the king did according to the word of Memucan:
22 For he sent letters into all the king's provinces, into every province according to the writing thereof, and to every people after their language, that every man should bear rule in his own house, and that it should be published according to the language of every people.
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The first chapter of the Book of Esther in the King James Version (KJV) of the Holy Bible introduces us to the story of a young Jewish woman named Esther who becomes queen of Persia. This chapter sets the stage for the events that will unfold in the rest of the book, including the rise of Esther to power, the threat to the Jewish people, and the ultimate triumph of good over evil.
The story takes place in the Persian Empire during the reign of King Ahasuerus, also known as King Xerxes. The chapter begins with a description of a lavish banquet held by the king in his palace in the city of Shushan. The banquet lasts for 180 days and is attended by all the nobles and officials of the empire, as well as the king's army and navy. The purpose of the banquet is to display the wealth and power of the king and his empire.
On the seventh day of the banquet, King Ahasuerus commands his queen, Vashti, to come before him and his guests so that he can show off her beauty. However, Queen Vashti refuses to obey the king's command, which angers him greatly. The king consults with his advisors, who suggest that Vashti be deposed and a new queen be chosen to take her place.
The king's advisors suggest that a search be conducted throughout the empire to find the most beautiful young women to be presented to the king. The women will then undergo a year of beauty treatments before being presented to the king, who will choose one of them to be his new queen. The king agrees to this plan and a decree is issued throughout the empire.
Among the young women chosen to be presented to the king is a Jewish orphan named Esther, who is being raised by her cousin Mordecai. Esther is described as beautiful and wins the favor of the king's eunuch, who oversees the selection of the women. Esther is taken to the palace and begins her year of beauty treatments.
On the surface, the first chapter of the Book of Esther may seem like a simple introduction to the story. However, upon closer examination, we can see that there are several important themes and lessons that can be gleaned from this chapter.
The Dangers of Pride and Excess
The lavish banquet held by King Ahasuerus is a display of his wealth and power. However, it also reveals his pride and excess. The banquet lasts for 180 days, which is an excessive amount of time to be feasting and drinking. This excessive lifestyle is also reflected in the king's command for Queen Vashti to come before him and his guests so that he can show off her beauty. This pride and excess ultimately lead to the downfall of the king and his kingdom.
The Importance of Obedience
Queen Vashti's refusal to obey the king's command sets in motion a series of events that will ultimately lead to her being deposed as queen. This serves as a reminder of the importance of obedience, especially to those in positions of authority. It also foreshadows Esther's obedience to Mordecai and her willingness to risk her own life to save her people.
The Providence of God
Although the name of God is not mentioned in this chapter, we can see His hand at work in the events that unfold. The fact that Esther, a Jewish orphan, is chosen to be queen is no coincidence. It is a testament to God's providence and His plan for Esther to play a crucial role in the salvation of her people.
The Role of Women
The first chapter of Esther also highlights the role of women in society. Queen Vashti's refusal to obey the king's command may be seen as an act of defiance, but it also shows her strength and courage. Esther, on the other hand, is portrayed as obedient and submissive, yet she also displays bravery and intelligence in her interactions with the king and his advisors. This chapter challenges traditional gender roles and shows that women can play important and influential roles in society.
The Importance of Beauty
The selection of the most beautiful young women to be presented to the king highlights the importance of physical beauty in the ancient world. However, it also serves as a reminder that true beauty comes from within. Esther's inner beauty, her character and her faith, are what ultimately make her stand out and win the favor of those around her.
Although the events in the first chapter of Esther took place thousands of years ago, the themes and lessons are still relevant today. The dangers of pride and excess are still prevalent in our society, and the importance of obedience, the providence of God, and the role of women are still topics of discussion and debate. The Book of Esther serves as a reminder that these lessons are timeless and can still guide us in our lives today.
The first chapter of the Book of Esther sets the stage for the rest of the story, introducing us to the main characters and the events that will unfold. It also presents us with important themes and lessons, such as the dangers of pride and excess, the importance of obedience, and the providence of God. These lessons are still relevant today and serve as a reminder of the timeless wisdom found in the pages of the Holy Bible.