- The Ginzei HaMelech writes that Achashverosh did not ask for advice because he was never sure if Vashti’s refusal to obey him stemmed from her feeling disrespected by his use of chamberlains to retrieve her (Esther 1:10). This contrasts with our verse in which Achashverosh heard Haman directly.
- Ironically, in yet another example of mida kineged mida (“measure for measure”), Haman was the one (Esther 1:19) who gave the king authority to kill without consultation.
- Certainly, Esther had her own chamberlains. Maamar Mordechai writes that Esther used a chamberlain of the king’s so that no one would suspect a plot. A plot would require the plotter to keep plans away from king’s men.
- Another possibility is that the verse is hinting to the idea that this was Daniel, a true servant of the King of kings.
יח וְהַיּוֹם הַזֶּה תֹּאמַרְנָה ׀ שָׂרוֹת פָּרַס–וּמָדַי אֲשֶׁר שָׁמְעוּ אֶת–דְּבַר הַמַּלְכָּה לְכֹל שָׂרֵי הַמֶּלֶךְ וּכְדַי בִּזָּיוֹן וָקָצֶף
18. “And today, the female [wives of the] ministers of Persia and Medea who heard the word/ matter of the queen say [this] to all of the ministers of the king, causing disrespect and anger.”
According to the Malbim, the memory was still fresh for the witnesses. They could recount the minutest detail of Achashverosh’s disregard towards his new wife, from the heinous request itself to the sending of chamberlains in what should have been done through more official means.
The Malbim writes that Achashverosh was stressing to his advisers that he sent the message through chamberlains to give excuses for Vashti’s refusal to come. As mentioned in earlier blogs, it was degrading to send chamberlains to escort royalty. Furthermore, the verse here calls Achashverosh’s command a “ma’amar” instead of the usual “dibur.” The Chaye Adam explains that “dibur” is a tougher, more authoritative order, whereas a “ma’amar” can be interpreted almost as a suggestion. Again, the king is trying to devalue his original command in order to downgrade – or outright eliminate – Vashti’s punishment.
The Sfas Emes and Malbim both stress that Vashti’s being escorted by chamberlains was degrading. Chamberlains, after all, are not official ministers as would be more appropriate for summoning royalty. Rather, they are they servants responsible for caring for the king’s more personal, intimate physical needs (i.e. scratching his back, etc.).
Rabbi Dovid Feinstein notes that a queen is usually seen in her crown. It seems superfluous for Achashverosh to tell his chamberlains that Vashti should be in her accustomed garb. Rather, as the Talmud (Megillah 12b) explains, he intended for her to wear only the crown and be otherwise undressed. This would prove to all that she was naturally beautiful, and not attractive merely by means of royal dress and cosmetics.
יא לְהָבִיא אֶת–וַשְׁתִּי הַמַּלְכָּה לִפְנֵי הַמֶּלֶךְ בְּכֶתֶר מַלְכוּת לְהַרְאוֹת הָעַמִּים וְהַשָּׂרִים אֶת–יָפְיָהּ כִּי–טוֹבַת מַרְאֶה הִיא
11. To bring Vashti the Queen before the king in the crown of royalty to show the nations and the officers her beauty because she was good to look upon.
Logically, the verb, “bringing” must refer to an object. In the Torah, for instance, when Moshe is asked to bring his brother Aaron to a certain place, Rashi is quick to point out that he is to verbally convince him to come rather than physically put him somewhere (Vayikra 8:2) because it is not appropriate to speak of human beings as if they were objects to be taken from place to place. In stark contrast, as pointed out by class participant AG, Achashverosh intended for the chamberlains to treat Vashti as the vessel (the Talmud’s verbage) she was to him, and bring her – acording to the Maharal and Malbim – by force if necessary1.