Esther 1:13-22 – The King Issues a Decree


Esther 1:13-22


After Queen Vashti refuses to come to the banquet of King Ahasuerus, he is consumed by rage. He consults his advisors, who tell him that the queen’s action could lead every woman in the empire to disobey their husbands. They urge the king to depose Queen Vashti, to find another woman to replace her as queen, and to issue a decree to the whole empire that “every man should be master in his own house” (1:22).


The character of the king is revealed right away in chapter 1. He is a lover of wine, gold, and beautiful women and he is easily manipulated by those around him. Rather than governing his empire, he holds a drunken feast for six months. He is a buffoon, but a buffoon with imperial power. That power is challenged by Queen Vashti, and the king and his advisors overreact, making a personal matter into a state crisis. They issue a decree that is farcical: “every man should be master in his own house.” That the king and his male advisors have to legislate male power might call into question whether they have such power themselves. In any case, this opening scene sets the tone for the rest of the story – a story of hyperbole, reversals, and humor.