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Biographical sketch of Queen Vashti

by the editors of Torah from Dixie

Vashti was the daughter of King Belshazzar of Babylon and the great-granddaughter of King Nebuchadnezzar, the man who destroyed the first Temple in Jerusalem. The night her father was murdered (as predicted by the famous "writing on the wall"), there was much bloodshed and looting in the palace.

                                                                              

                                                                                                                      

Vashti was the daughter of King Belshazzar of Babylon and the great-granddaughter of King Nebuchadnezzar, the man who destroyed the first Temple in Jerusalem. The night her father was murdered (as predicted by the famous "writing on the wall"), there was much bloodshed and looting in the palace. Amidst the confusion, Vashti was unaware of the death of her father and ran to his quarters where she was captured by Darius, the succeeding king. Darius took pity on the young Vashti and gave her to his son Achashveirosh as a wife. When Achashveirosh became king over Persia, he and Vashti ruled over 127 provinces, the entire civilized world.

At a banquet celebrating the Jewish people's demise, described in the first chapter of Megillat Esther, Achashveirosh ordered Vashti to appear at the feast unclothed so that he could show off her beauty to his entire kingdom. In a classic demonstration of the divine midah k'neged midah (measure for measure) justice, Vashti was called to appear before the king naked on Shabbat, a punishment for her tradition of forcing Jewish girls to work before her on Shabbat stripped of their clothing. When she refused his command, Achashveirosh had her beheaded at the advice of his minister Memuchan (identified by one opinion in the Talmud as Haman), abruptly ending her relatively short life. Vashti's execution set the stage for Esther's appointment as queen, ultimately leading to the Jewish people's salvation from Haman's threat of annihilation in the Purim story.

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