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Ester 1:16-22


1:16 Memucan then replied to the king and the officials, “The wrong of Queen Vashti is not against the king alone, but against all the officials and all the people who are throughout all the provinces of King Ahasuerus. 1:17 For the matter concerning the queen will spread to all the women, leading them to treat their husbands with contempt, saying, ‘When King Ahasuerus gave orders to bring Queen Vashti into his presence, she would not come.’ 1:18 And this very day the noble ladies of Persia and Media who have heard the matter concerning the queen will respond in the same way to all the royal officials, and there will be more than enough contempt and anger! 1:19 If the king is so inclined, 1  let a royal edict go forth from him, and let it be written in the laws of Persia and Media that cannot be repealed, 2  that Vashti 3  may not come into the presence of King Ahasuerus, and let the king convey her royalty to another 4  who is more deserving than she. 5  1:20 And let the king’s decision which he will enact be disseminated 6  throughout all his kingdom, vast though it is. 7  Then all the women will give honor to their husbands, from the most prominent to the lowly.”

1:21 The matter seemed appropriate to the king and the officials. So the king acted on the advice of Memucan. 1:22 He sent letters throughout all the royal provinces, to each province according to its own script and to each people according to its own language, 8  that every man should be ruling his family 9  and should be speaking the language of his own people. 10 

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[1:19]  1 sn Heb “If upon the king it is good”; KJV “If it please the king.” Deferential language was common in ancient Near Eastern court language addressing a despot; it occurs often in Esther.

[1:19]  2 sn Laws…that cannot be repealed. On the permanence of the laws of Media and Persia see also Esth 8:8 and Dan 6:8, 12, 15.

[1:19]  3 sn Previously in this chapter the word “queen” accompanies Vashti’s name (cf. vv. 9, 11, 12, 15, 16, 17). But here, in anticipation of her demotion, the title is dropped.

[1:19]  4 tn Heb “her neighbor”; NIV “someone else.”

[1:19]  5 tn Heb “who is better than she.” The reference is apparently to worthiness of the royal position as demonstrated by compliance with the king’s wishes, although the word טוֹב (tob, “good”) can also be used of physical beauty. Cf. NAB, NASB, NLT “more worthy than she.”

[1:20]  6 tn Heb “heard”; KJV, NAB, NLT “published”; NIV, NRSV “proclaimed.”

[1:20]  7 tc The phrase “vast though it is” is not included in the LXX, although it is retained by almost all English versions.

[1:22]  8 sn For purposes of diplomacy and governmental communication throughout the far-flung regions of the Persian empire the Aramaic language was normally used. Educated people throughout the kingdom could be expected to have competence in this language. But in the situation described in v. 22 a variety of local languages are to be used, and not just Aramaic, so as to make the king’s edict understandable to the largest possible number of people.

[1:22]  9 tn Heb “in his house”; NIV “over his own household.”

[1:22]  10 tc The final prepositional phrase is not included in the LXX, and this shorter reading is followed by a number of English versions (e.g., NAB, NRSV, NLT). Some scholars suggest the phrase may be the result of dittography from the earlier phrase “to each people according to its language,” but this is not a necessary conclusion. The edict was apparently intended to reassert male prerogative with regard to two things (and not just one): sovereign and unquestioned leadership within the family unit, and the right of deciding which language was to be used in the home when a bilingual situation existed.

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