The Bible is full of sins and sinners, but few stories are more lustful than the untold story of Esther. The unfathomably powerful King Xerxes has set aside his last wife and is gathering up beautiful young virgins for his personal pleasure. Will Esther rise above them all to become queen, or will she merely be another concubine?
This is what happened - the true story, as near as I can tell.
The queen had dared to disobey him once, and only once - and that once cost her everything. By the time those of us in the general population of the kingdom heard reports, it wasn’t the news of merriment from King Xerxe’s seven-day day banquet that we expected; it was a decree stating that the king was no longer a married man, that Queen Vashti was no longer queen but merely Vashti. She was publicly shamed and humiliated as the decree read aloud in every corner of the kingdom gave the king’s reason for shutting Vashti out of the palace: her disobedience. He had summoned her to come show herself to his (mostly drunken) guests, and she had her handmaidens decline for her.
That is how it is. A man can ruin a woman’s life for one small refusal to bow to his wish. That’s the same outside of the palace as it is inside. The difference is, most women don’t suffer the shattering blow of going from being the most celebrated woman in the kingdom, the wealthiest, most petted, most beloved woman alive, to being a woman with nothing and no one. A woman no other man will ever touch because she is a woman who raised the ire of the most powerful man in existence. A woman who never even got to plead her own case with the man she had married before he sent messengers to announce that she would never see him again at all.
Now that I’m the one walking over marble floors to meet the king for the first time, Vashti is all I can think about. She was said to have been very beautiful, before it was criminal to speak of her so. She was said to be young and pleasant. She was from a wealthy family, who probably since disowned her out of respect for the king’s decree. She was more than I could ever hope to be.
And now, I am here for one night in a parade of women that has lasted for nearly two years. The most beautiful virgins in the kingdom have all been summoned to come and spend a year purifying themselves for one night of his pleasure, never to see him again if he doesn’t take the trouble to specifically request the pleasure of their company again. We all have to stay in his harem! None of us have free choice in this. We’re separated from the harem women until after our one night with the king, so there is no woman that can advise us based on experience - by the time we might see them, our night is over, and we are separated from the girls who remain virgins… for now. Tomorrow, I will be in the same part of the harem as the other women ruined by this man’s desire, less desirable to every man in the 127 provinces between India and Cush, because I am no longer a virgin.