Generally, the book of Esther is studied from the position of Esther, Queen Vashti, Mordecai, or the King. As major players in the story their positioning is crucial, but there are others who deserve attention. Specifically, the nameless women in Esther 1 who are impacted as a result of Vashti’s refusal to come to the King .
Context: The King hosted a party and called for Queen Vashti to come and display her beauty before the royal courts. Ultimately, the King wanted to brag and get cool points because of her beauty. However, Vashti refused to come when summoned. At her insubordination, the King became angry and consulted with the sages on the best form of punishment for her actions. The sages were legalistic men versed in the laws of the land. Though a private domestic dispute, the sages felt that it could turn into a national problem if other women heard about how Vashti disobeyed the King’s orders. Specifically, the sages didn’t want their women to be empowered. In fear the sages advised the King to issue a decree that not only removed Vashti from her position but also ensured that all the women of the land would honor their husbands.
Though the initial punishment was for Vashti, all of the women connected to her were punished. The wives of the land were not directly kin to her by birth, but as women they formed a collective identity. Therefore, when Vashti was replaced as a result of her disobedience, the other women in the land were punished through an enactment of a law. The new decree unseated Vashti as queen and legalized the subordination of women to their husbands.
Vashti’s actions, on the surface, only seemed to impact her, right? It was her body, her choice, her life, right? Wrong! While she was personally responsible for her actions, her disobedience sentenced other women.
I’ve always heard that my decisions, or lack thereof, are connected to other people. The majority of the time, the other people are persons that I haven’t met yet. Perhaps they are the women that I am destined to impact, help lead to Christ, or even minister to. They may be waiting in the place where I’m supposed to be. And, as a result of one “NO” to God, or dragging my feet to do something that he told me to do, I could miss them.
Sort of like waves of energy that have the potential to shift trajectories. Just like Vashti’s “NO” to the King removed her from queenship, our “NO” can do the same thing. How many people have you missed because you didn’t heed the decree of the Lord? How many souls are you willing to sacrifice because you aren’t willing to sacrifice? Who’s on the other side of your obedience? Who’s suffering because of your disobedience?
In the body of Christ, we are connected. All of our actions impact each other. So, I encourage you to remember that your actions are important to us all.
About the Author: Briana Whiteside is a Phd student and teacher in English at the University of Alabama. While her concentrated research largely focuses on literary texts, Briana realized that her walk with Christ largely informed the way she read literature. Concentrating on spirituality in the narratives of black women, this Chicago native realized the importance of personal spiritual growth, and has committed to positioning herself in a constant state of becoming. Moreover, Briana is devoted to serving as a role model advocating for women in to discover their identity in Christ. Her blog womenofroyaltyblog.wordpress.