Study Notes

Esther 1:1-22


The book of Esther seems, at first glance, to simply be a story, a narrative. As stories go, it's an exciting one: Parties in the palace, love and romance, intrigue and deception, a hero, a villain, a king, and more than one queen. It is very surprising that this has not been turned into a movie!

The book takes about 30 minutes to read, and I highly recommend that you do in one sitting. The flow of the storyline is not something that can be communicated in our in-depth studies, as we will be stopping many times along the way to examine things.

One of the first things people notice when they read it through is that of all 66 books of the Bible, it is the only one not to mention the Lord! I will let you know in advance that the Lord can only be seen in this book through the eyes of faith - watching Him work in the background, demonstrating His faithfulness by arranging strange coincidences, and juggling circumstances.

Tonight, we will be looking at chapter one. No one prays in this chapter, and no one is godly. As a matter of fact, there are no believers in this chapter at all. But, according to the Apostle Paul,

Rom. 15:4 For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.

"Whatever was written in earlier times" includes the book of Esther. Through our study of it, we will gain perseverance, hope, and encouragement. How can we gain these things by studying the story of unbelievers? The book of Ecclesiastes says,

Eccl. 2:26 For to a person who is good in His sight He has given wisdom and knowledge and joy, while to the sinner He has given the task of gathering and collecting so that he may give to one who is good in God's sight...

In other words, these sinners have a place in our instruction because they have gathered and collected examples of what not to do! They gathered wisdom knowledge to give to us! And here it is, for the taking. Let's read...

1:1-2 Ahasuerus

"Akh-ash-vay-ROSH" is not this man's name, it is the title of all the kings of Persia. Many scholars believe that the king of Persia being spoken of is Xerxes, though this is doubted by some, who make very convincing historical arguments. (The writers of the NIV translation were so bold as to actually insert his name in the text! My belief is that when you do that, you're not translating, you're interpreting.)

Akh-ash-vay-ROSH ruled from Shoo-SHAN, the capital of Persia in those days. It was about 150 miles northwest of the tip of the Persian Gulf, in modern-day Iran. His kingdom covered a vast area of many peoples and languages, stretching eastward through Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India, and southward to Saudi Arabia and North Africa.

The time frame is right in line with where we've been in our studies of Ezra and Zechariah. As you recall, only several thousand of the Jews returned from the Babylonian Captivity when Cyrus, a previous king of Persia, decreed that they could return and rebuild the temple. Most of the Jews remained where they had been for the last seventy years.

1:3-4 A Six-Month Banquet

For six months, the king kept a party going so that all of the officials and rulers throughout his kingdom would come and admire his power and wealth. He was apparently very good at showing off.

1:5-6 A One-Week Banquet

After the six-month open house for the officials, he decided to open up the courtyard for a banquet for everyone in Shoo-SHAN. This was for anyone at all, rich or poor.

1:7-8 Drinking According To The Law

There was a lot of alcohol at this party the king threw. And the drinking was done according to the law. In other words,

Esth. 1:8 (NLT) The only restriction on the drinking was that no one should be compelled to take more than he wanted. But those who wished could have as much as they pleased, for the king had instructed his staff to let everyone decide this matter for himself.

This was an open bar - the king didn't want anyone presuming to say how much or how little someone else could drink.

This is the worst kind of leadership: the kind that says in a milquetoast manner, "Oh, I wouldn't dare presume to tell you right or wrong." Have you ever met a person whose parents said, "Find your own way. Experiment. I know you'll discover what's right for you"?

The fact is, getting drunk is wrong - it is a sin, and no good ever comes out of it.

Prov. 20:1 Wine is a mocker, strong drink a brawler, and whoever is intoxicated by it is not wise.

People in authority should not be drinking at all. The proverb says,

Prov. 31:4 ...It is not for kings to drink wine, or for rulers to desire strong drink,

Jesus warned,

Luke 21:34 "Be on guard, that your hearts may not be weighted down with dissipation and drunkenness..."

When the king - or any authority - refuses to take a stand on right and wrong, it is usually a good indication that they are guilty of the same thing.

1:9 Queen Vashti

Out in the courtyard, the men were getting bombed and blasted. Inside the palace, Queen Vash-TEE, Akh-ash-vay-ROSH's wife, was hosting the women's party.

1:10-11 Three Mistakes

The party had gone on for a week, and Akh-ash-vay-ROSH was drunk. He and all the men at the party knew that their wives were inside the palace. I don't know what the discussions were, but it is obvious that the appearance of women became a topic of conversation.

He told his seven eunuch servants, Meh-hoo-MAWN, Biz-THAW, Khar-bo-NAW, Big-THAW, Ab-ag-THAW, Zay-THAR, and Kar-KAS, to go in and get the queen. He wanted to show her off to the men of Shoo-SHAWN just as he had shown off his glorious and splendid riches to the princes, officers, and nobles.

The king has made three terrible mistakes:

1) Getting drunk was his first;

2) Comparing his wife's beauty to other women was his second; and

3) Treating his wife like a trophy to be shown off was his third.

Guys, these are dangerous mistakes - mistakes that men make all the time. And they are mistakes that often end in divorce and destruction.


We've already talked about the foolishness of being intoxicated. Some people make the excuse, "Well, I'm not drinking to get drunk." But Peter said that the time is past for you to be drunk, or even to be at drinking parties (1Pet. 4:3-5). It isn't proper behavior, according to Paul (Rom 13:13-14).

Others protest, "Well, Jesus drank wine." You know what? I'm tired of hearing it. Jesus swore off of wine - He doesn't drink anymore, and that's a fact. He told the disciples,

Luke 22:18 ..."I will not drink of the fruit of the vine from now on until the kingdom of God comes."

So if we're really being like Jesus, we're not drinking, plain and simple. Drinking destroys relationships. I know that from the Word and I know it from personal experience, time and time again.

Comparing Beauty

Akh-ash-vay-ROSH's second mistake was comparing his wife's beauty to other women. This is the lie that all the men of the world have been fed: Get the best-looking wife you can get, and then spend the rest of your life watching all the ones who are prettier, regretting what you have. That is the lie we've been taught through tv, billboards, movies, and pornography.

The fact is, God has created your wife to be exactly what you need. He has given her to you as a gift: to fulfill you, to complete you, to be your perfect mate. When you are dissatisfied with God's gift, He is angered, and you're in trouble. Proverbs five says,

Prov. 5:15-23 Drink water from your own cistern, and fresh water from your own well. Should your springs be dispersed abroad, streams of water in the streets? Let them be yours alone, and not for strangers with you. Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice in the wife of your youth. As a loving hind and a graceful doe, let her breasts satisfy you at all times; Be exhilarated always with her love. For why should you, my son, be exhilarated with an adulteress, and embrace the bosom of a foreigner? For the ways of a man are before the eyes of the LORD, and He watches all his paths. His own iniquities will capture the wicked, and he will be held with the cords of his sin. He will die for lack of instruction, and in the greatness of his folly he will go astray.

Husbands, a wandering eye will make you die.

Showing Off His Trophy

Akh-ash-vay-ROSH's third mistake was treating his wife like an object instead of a person. It's surprising how many men treat their wives in a manner that, if someone were treating their mother or daughters that way, they would not tolerate it.

Peter said that husbands are to grant their wives...

1Pet. 3:7 ...honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life...

And if they don't the husband's prayers are hindered. Remember, Solomon called his wife, "my sister, my bride," five times in Song of Songs (4:9-5:1). She is a person, a Christian, a child of God first, then she is your wife.

Spiritual Husbands

Guys, maybe you've made some or all of these mistakes. Drinking may have caused tension or strife in your marriage. Maybe you've got a wandering eye, always looking at the better-looking woman, or treating your wife like an object instead of a person. And maybe you've tried to get a handle on these things, but you can't put the beer down, you can't seem to control your wandering eyes. Here's the answer:

The prophet Malachi said,

Mal. 2:14-15 "...the LORD has been a witness between you and the wife of your youth, against whom you have dealt treacherously, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant. But not one has done {so} who has a remnant of the Spirit. And what did {that} one {do} while he was seeking a godly offspring? Take heed then, to your spirit, and let no one deal treacherously against the wife of your youth."

It's all about walking in the Spirit.

Gal. 5:16 ...walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.

If you make sure that your relationship with God is loving and real, the relationship with your wife will become loving and real also.

1:12 Vashti Refuses

The king has messed up big time. He publicly called for his wife to come and display her beauty, but Vash-TEE refused. His response can be repentance or rage. He chose rage... fourth mistake. Making decisions in anger always leads to regret.

1:13-22 Put Away The Queen

Akh-ash-vay-ROSH called together his seven closest advisors: Kar-shen-AW, Shay-THAWR, Ad-maw-THAW, Tar-SHEESH, MEH-res, Mar-sen-AW, and Mem-oo-KAWN. They said, "If you don't deal with this harshly, then women everywhere are going to start disobeying their husbands."

And then they perpetrated the lie that continues to this day: "Get rid of your wife and find a better woman." Ladies and gentlemen, I give to you the American philosophy: "You deserve better. You oughta dump him. Get rid of her and find someone good. I know that God has someone better for you." All lies.

Mal. 2:16 "For I hate divorce," says the LORD, the God of Israel...

Paul told the Corinthians,

1Cor. 10:11 Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction...

Are we going to learn the lesson?

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