Queen Vashti and Queen Esther both showed strength in the Book of Esther. Both of these women were wives to King Xerxes. Vashti was Xerxes’ first wife, but after she disobeyed him and humiliated him in front of his guests (Esther 1:9-22), Xerxes sent his men to search for a new wife.
After Vashti refuses to come before Xerxes, Xerxes banishes Vashti. After guidance from his royal advisor, Memukan, Xerxes issues “a royal decree and let it be written in the laws of Persia and Media, which cannot be repealed, that Vashti is never again to enter the presence of King Xerxes. Also let the king give her royal position to someone else who is better than she” (Esther 1:19).
When one first reads the behavior of Vashti, one tends to side with King Xerxes; however, Queen Vashti shows great strength in her refusal to appear before King Xerxes. Likewise, Queen Esther shows an immense amount of strength during her life before she became queen and during her reign as queen.
Who Was Queen Vashti?
In the Book of Esther, we are told that Vashti refuses to come before the king when he summons her. We are not told specifically why she refuses to come before the king; however, some reasons have arisen.
A popular reason is that Queen Vashti refuses to come before the king because he commands Vashti to come down in her royal crown (Esther 1:11). Commentators believe this could mean for Vashti to come before the king and his guests wearing only her crown. It could be highly plausible that Queen Vashti refuses to come down because of her modesty and integrity.
Queen Vashti also shows her strength in being a mother to her son, Artaxerxes, who she would have given birth to the same year as her banishment from King Xerxes. Vashti would have had to raise her son away from his father and the kingdom due to the king’s decree against her.
Artaxerxes did grow to take his father’s seat on the throne as the king after Xerxes’ death. This would stand to reason that Vashti raised Artaxerxes properly as he governed the kingdom correctly when it was time for him to rise to power.
Vashti also showed the strength of being independent, headstrong, and courageous. People often believe Vashti to be rebellious and disobedient to Xerxes; however, she actually stood up for herself by not standing before Xerxes. It would have taken great courage to stand up to the king as he was the head of 127 provinces ranging from India to Cush (Esther 1:1).
Who Was Queen Esther?
Likewise, Queen Esther demonstrates immeasurable strength in the Book of Esther. Esther does not come from a place of prominence, yet she rises to become queen with her cousin, Mordecai’s, help. As previously mentioned, Xerxes banishes Vashti from his kingdom as well as divorces her.
At this point, Xerxes needs a new wife, in which he sends out his men to gather the most aspiring women. After much searching and undergoing beauty treatments, the king would pick his new queen (Esther 2:1-4). Esther is chosen to become queen because of her beauty.
Esther not only has beauty, but she is also strong, courageous, and loyal. Before Esther is taken for the royal treatments, Mordecai tells her not to reveal her Jewish heritage to the king or to the royal people to keep her and her people safe (Esther 2:10).
However, later in the Book of Esther, she has to reveal her Jewish heritage in order to save her people. She risks her own life to save her people. A wicked man named Haman has a plot against the Jewish people and he particularly hates Mordecai. Haman tries to get Mordecai killed by being impaled on a pole.
The obsession Haman has against Mordecai and his people only intensifies over time. Haman orders the mass slaughter of the Jewish people, and he convinces Xerxes that they are a problem to his kingdom (Esther 3:1-15). Esther has to demonstrate and cultivate great courage to stand before King Xerxes.
During the time of Xerxes, if anybody stood before the king without being summoned, the punishment was death (Esther 4:11). Despite this edict, Esther stayed strong and stood up for her people. This was not done on her own as she sought out guidance from Mordecai.
Mordecai is the person who urged her to stand before the king to save her people. Mordecai challenges Esther by saying, “For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14).
Esther agreed to stand before the king even though she might risk her life doing so. She also asks Mordecai to fast for her as well as the Jewish people. Esther herself also fasts from the royal food and wine of King Xerxes’ table. By fasting, they were praying for God’s help in deliverance.
Queen Esther does stand before the king, and she hosts two banquets in honor of Haman. Both of these banquets are put on as a ruse from Esther to trap Haman. Queen Esther is very bold to tell King Xerxes to his face that Haman is the one plotting to destroy her people — the Jews (Esther 7:5-6).
Xerxes is extremely angry and rises in rage to condemn Haman. Xerxes goes out to the palace garden and when he comes back, he sentences Haman to death (Esther 7:7-9). The pole built to kill Mordecai became the pole to impale the wicked man Haman (Esther 7:10).
Through all of these difficult seasons of life, Esther showed her great strength. She was obedient and loyal to Mordecai. Esther was an orphan, and it was under great kindness and love that Mordecai raised Esther as his own daughter.
Esther had a very fond relationship with Mordecai, and she deeply respected him. This led to her being extremely loyal and obedient. The overarching strength shown by Esther is her bravery. She willingly stands before the king to save her people even though it would be risking her life.
Queens Do Not Fight Alone
Queen Vashti and Queen Esther both showed great strength in their lives. Oftentimes Christians can overlook the impact these two women had on the Bible and in the world. Both of these women are a model to follow to be brave, bold, kind, and loyal and showing great integrity.
All Christians can grow in their strength by praying for God to help them through difficult seasons and trials in life. We often grow the most in our walk with Christ when we are going through difficult times in life. Just like Queen Vashti and Queen Esther, we can rise to the calling God has placed on our lives and possess true strength by following Him.
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Vivian Bricker loves Jesus, studying the Word of God, and helping others in their walk with Christ. She has earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Christian Ministry and is currently working toward her Master’s Degree. Her favorite things to do are spending time with her family and friends, reading, and spending time outside. When she is not writing, she is probably embarking on an adventure.