7.36 Esther -- Male Chauvinism
King Xerxes was obsessed with himself. The Book starts with him displaying his pomp and glory to his subjects for 180 days. He then followed that with a 7-day banquet, while his Queen, Vashti, hosted a similar celebration for the female nobility. But the king went too far -- he wanted to show off his wife to all his male guests. Why not? -- to him, she was merely another bauble to display his greatness. But Vashti refused to appear. We are not told why -- Scripture does not permit her to speak. Was it sedition, contempt, illness, modesty? To Xerxes, it did not matter -- all that counted was that he had been humiliated before his peeps.
Then the king became furious and burned with anger (Est 1:12).
Shades of Nebuchadnezzar: these emperors were always quick to fly off the handle at the slightest pricking of their vanity. A marital disagreement then mushroomed into a national crisis, as the king’s advisers interpreted Vashti’s refusal as a universal rejection of male authority. Solution? They told the king -- depose Vashti and humiliate her, so that
"all the women will respect their husbands, from the least to the greatest"...He sent dispatches to all parts of the kingdom, to each province in its own script and to each people in its own language, proclaiming in each people's tongue that every man should be ruler over his own household (Est 1:20-22).
Good luck with that idea! Bad ideas make worse laws, but the king bit anyway. As we will see, he tended to be a sucker for other people’s agendas.