Luke indicated that Jesus said to them that they should have their clothes dressed for action (Ἔστωσαν ὑμῶν αἱ ὀσφύες περιεζωσμέναι). They should have their lamps burning with light (καὶ οἱ λύχνοι καιόμενοι). There was something similar in Matthew chapter 25:1, about having lamps lit. There Jesus said that the kingdom of heaven would be like 10 bridesmaids, having lamps with them, waiting to meet the bridegroom. They were to be an escort in a procession to the bride’s house and then to the wedding banquet with their lit candles. However, there was nothing in Matthew about being dressed for action. Are you always dressed and ready for action?
This parable is unique to Matthew, but there is something similar in Luke, chapter 12:35-36, about having lamps lit. Jesus said that the kingdom of heaven would be like (ότε ὁμοιωθήσεται ἡ βασιλεία τῶν οὐρανῶν)10 bridesmaids, virgins, or unmarried maidens (δέκα παρθένοις) having lamps with them (αἵτινες λαβοῦσαι τὰς λαμπάδας ἑαυτῶν). They were waiting to go out to meet the bridegroom (ἐξῆλθον εἰς ὑπάντησιν τοῦ νυμφίου). The custom at that time was to have these virgin bridesmaids or unmarried maidens accompany the bridegroom from his house to the house of the bride before they would go to the wedding place. Thus, these bridesmaid virgins would act as an escort in a procession to the bride’s house and then to the wedding banquet place.
“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 men heard her words. They observed her face. She was in their eyes marvelously beautiful. They said to her.
‘You have saved your life by hurrying down to see our lord.
Go at once to his tent.
Some of us will escort you.
We will hand you over to him.
When you stand before him,
Have no fear in your heart.
Tell him what you have just said.
He will treat you well.’
They chose from their number a hundred men to accompany her and her maid. They brought them to the tent of General Holofernes.”
The Assyrian troops heard her words and say her face. They realized that she was beautiful. There was never a question of language or interpretation for they seem to be able to communicate with each other very easily. They told her that she had saved her life. They wanted to escort her to go to the general’s tent as 100 of the soldiers were to escort her and her maid. They told her not to fear the general because he would treat them correctly. She should just say what she had told them. So the 2 ladies set out with a 100 man escort to see General Holofernes.