The Book of Esther, According to Queen Vashti


            First of all, the king was drunk.  “Drinking was by flagons, without restraint . . . [and] the king was merry with wine.”  That’s where it all started.  Why do men get drunk?  The girls and I were in my quarters having dinner, and we didn’t get drunk, so why did the men?

            The guys were getting drunk and my husband did what men do when they get drunk:  he got lustful.  He also got boastful and proud, the combination of which resulted in him sending for me to come parade in front of the guys in my crown.  Hah!  Fat chance!  There was no way I was going to let a bunch of drunks ogle me.

            As husbands go, my husband was not necessarily a bad man.  Most of the time, he treated me with respect, so if he sent for me in order to pay honorable tribute, or because he was sick, or just because he was lonely, then I would have gone.  I love my husband and I stand by him—but he was drunk and wanted to show me off.  He wanted to flaunt what he had and they didn’t.  That wasn’t going to happen because I respect myself too much to be used that way.  So I refused to go, and the king did what drunks do when their lustful desires are thwarted.  He got angry.

            He would have gotten over it except that he was king, which meant that he was surrounded by people who wanted to help him think he was a wonderful person.  There was no one who would speak truth to power, so nobody said, “King, when you’re drunk, you make decisions that turn out badly.”  Nobody said, “Um, King, why don’t you give it a rest?  Just let it go, sleep on it, and think about this when you’ve had some time to calm down.”

            Instead, his “sage” Memucan puts it into the king’s head that just because I refused the order of a man made foolish by drink, women all over the country are going to view their husbands with contempt.  Leave it to a man to dream up an illogical scenario like that.  He only did it so that the king would feel justified in what he had done to me.  A wiser man would have taken the king aside and said, “Go apologize to Vashti.  You blew it.”

Anyway, a woman will do what a woman will do based on how her husband behaves, not on what some other woman says.  Women will follow their men before they’ll follow another woman.  My niece has a lout for a husband and I keep telling her to shut him out of her bedroom but she doesn’t because she says he’s a good father and she wants to keep him.  I posed no threat to the kingdom; Memucan was kissing up to the king.

            Memucan then comes up with another piece of male illogic.  He tells the king to send an order throughout the land declaring that I am no longer queen, and I am to be replaced because, according to Memucan’s reasoning, this will cause all women to honor their husbands.  No, Memucan, all it will do is make women fear their husbands.  Honor is earned; fear is ordered.  Memucan is a fool if he thinks that he can maintain order in the home the same way he can keep order in the ranks.  The dynamics of the relationship between men and women are entirely different from the dynamics between men and men.

            Memucan made my husband a double fool, consequently he sent out a declaration that “every man should be master in his own house”—as if a declaration will do it.  Mastery is freely given to the man who treats his wife right.  I have watched the Jews.  Their men serve God, and their God has set the rules for how a man treats a woman, consequently, their women are happy.  A woman should obey a man—but only if the man obeys God.  Man, in and of himself, without supreme direction, is not smart enough to direct a duck to water, let alone direct a woman in anything.  This brings us to Esther, my husband’s trophy wife.

            My husband gathered “all the beautiful young virgins” in order to chose a new queen, and that gathering included Esther.  Esther was raised by her cousin Mordecai, who was the great-grandson of a Jerusalem Jew.  I guess that without Jerusalem, the Jews got stupid.  Mordecai told Esther to hide the fact that she was Jewish.  This, I don’t understand.  If you and your God have a loving relationship, why do you hide it?  If you trust your God to take care of you, why do you deny your religion?  Is appeasing your neighbors more important than acknowledging your true God?  And don’t the Jews have all these commandments, some of which have to do with telling the truth?

What I do understand is that Esther, like a good girl, did what her adopted father told her to do.  She lied.  Like I said, women obey men—but was Mordecai obeying God?  There is not one whit of evidence that the man ever went to any temple or said his daily prayers.  Personally, I don’t think he was a Jew; he was just descended from a Jew.  He was a blood Jew, not a practicing Jew, and therein was the problem.  I don’t think he was listening to God.  He certainly wasn’t listening to Nehemiah, who heard “God’s law, which was given by Moses,” and said, “We will not give our daughters to the peoples of the land or take their daughters for our sons.”  Mordecai gave Esther to the king in clear violation of the law.

About annecwoodlen

I am a tenth generation American, descended from a family that has been working a farm that was deeded to us by William Penn. The country has changed around us but we have held true. I stand in my grandmother’s kitchen, look down the valley to her brother’s farm and see my great-great-great-great-great-grandmother Hannah standing on the porch. She is holding the baby, surrounded by four other children, and saying goodbye to her husband and oldest son who are going off to fight in the Revolutionary War. The war is twenty miles away and her husband will die fighting. We are not the Daughters of the American Revolution; we were its mothers. My father, Milton C. Woodlen, got his doctorate from Temple University in the 1940’s when—in his words—“a doctorate still meant something.” He became an education professor at West Chester State Teachers College, where my mother, Elizabeth Hope Copeland, had graduated. My mother raised four girls and one boy, of which I am the middle child. My parents are deceased and my siblings are estranged. My fiancé, Robert H. Dobrow, was a fighter pilot in the Marine Corps. In 1974, his plane crashed, his parachute did not open, and we buried him in a cemetery on Long Island. I could say a great deal about him, or nothing; there is no middle ground. I have loved other men; Bob was my soul mate. The single greatest determinate of who I am and what my life has been is that I inherited my father’s gene for bipolar disorder, type II. Associated with all bipolar disorders is executive dysfunction, a learning disability that interferes with the ability to sort and organize. Despite an I.Q. of 139, I failed twelve subjects and got expelled from high school and prep school. I attended Syracuse University and Onondaga Community College and got an associate’s degree after twenty-five years. I am nothing if not tenacious. Gifted with intelligence, constrained by disability, and compromised by depression, my employment was limited to entry level jobs. Being female in the 1960’s meant that I did office work—billing at the university library, calling out telegrams at Western Union, and filing papers at a law firm. During one decade, I worked at about a hundred different places as a temporary secretary. I worked for hospitals, banks, manufacturers and others, including the county government. I quit the District Attorney’s Office to manage a gas station; it was more honest work. After Bob’s death, I started taking antidepressants. Following doctor’s orders, I took them every day for twenty-six years. During that time, I attempted%2
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