Queen Vashti and her banquet (Esth 1:9-1:11)

“Meanwhile, Queen Vashti also gave a drinking party for the women in the palace of King Artaxerxes. On the seventh day, when the king was in good humor, probably due to the wine, he told Haman, Bazan, Tharra, Boraze, Zastholtha, Abataza, and Tharaba, the seven eunuchs who served King Artaxerxes, to escort the queen to him in order to proclaim her as queen. He wanted to place the diadem on her head. He wanted to have her display her beauty to all the governors and the people of the various nations. She was indeed a beautiful woman.”

Apparently, there were separate drinking parties for men and women. Queen Vashti was giving a party for the women in another part of the palace. On the last day of the drinking festival, the king feeling his wine asked his 7 eunuchs to escort his queen to their party. She would be proclaimed queen with a tiara on her head. He wanted to show her off to the all the governors of the various countries that were there. After all, she was a very beautiful woman. The 7 eunuchs have different names in the Greek and Hebrew texts. Haman may be wrong since he was an official and not a eunuch. Once again, eunuchs were castrated men who were the personal servants of the king and his female companions.

The seven day feast of King Artaxerxes (Esth 1:5-1:8)

“At the end of the festivity, the king gave a drinking party for the people of the various nations who lived in the capital city of Susa, both great and small, a banquet lasting for seven days, in the garden courtyard of the royal king’s palace. The courtyard was adorned with white cotton curtains and blue hangings tied with cords of fine linen and purple to silver rings and marble pillars. Gold and silver couches were placed on a mosaic floor of emerald, mother-of-pearl, and marble. There were coverings of gauze, embroidered in various colors, with roses arranged around them. The cups were of gold and silver. A miniature cup made of ruby was on display, worth thirty thousand talents. There was abundant sweet wine, such as the king himself drank. The drinking was not according to a restrained fixed rule. The king wanted it this way. Thus he commanded his stewards to comply with his pleasure and that of his guests, as each one desired.

The first gathering was more official. This week long festival seems a little less organized. The participants seem to be local Susa folk who worked in the capitol. Persian kings supposedly gave great feasts. The setting is a beautiful outdoor royal courtyard that is adorned with white, blue, and purple linen cloths tied to marble pillars with silver rings. They had gold and silver couches on a mosaic marble floor, with roses all around. This would indicate a late spring, early summer time frame. They drank from gold and silver drinking cups. He had a miniature cup of ruby worth millions of USA dollars. Everyone got to drink the king’s wine as much as they wanted. The king had given the orders to his wine stewards. This seems like a very happy sumptuous gathering.