Friday, November 19, 2010

Esther, Chapter 1: Biblical Strippers

Joe Francis Ahasuerus tries to turn his wife into a stripper! Whoo-hoo! Let's get it on!

So Joe Francis Ahasuerus is the king of everything from India to Ethiopia. In the third year of his reign, he decides to throw a giant 6-month-long party to show how rich he is, although his decorating sense white, green, and blue, hangings, fastened with cords of fine linen and purple to silver rings and pillars of marble: the beds were of gold and silver, upon a pavement of red, and blue, and white, and black, marble (v. 6) is that of a colour-blind 12 year old girl.

At some point, he goes on a 7-day bender with his closest advisors and gets the brilliant idea that they should all look at his wife, Vashti. I'm going to interpret this as a would-be 'Girls Gone Wild' moment. Some pedants will insist that this episode has nothing to do with sex, and that all Joe Ahasuerus wanted his wife to do was show her face. The point, however, is not what he wanted her to do, but that he wanted her to do it at all. She was doomed from the moment he made the decision. Poor Vashti refuses to let her husband objectify her, even for a t-shirt, thus causing his entourage to decide she's a 'frigid bitch' and decide to make an example of her before any other wives get the idea that they don't have to strip for their husbands' friends. Of course, had she done whatever he wanted, whether it was poke her head in to say 'hi' or let his friends eat sushi off her naked body, he would have decided she was a 'slut' and had to be punished to make an example for the other wives.

See, this is where I actually like the bible: when it's showing us that really, truly, nothing ever changes. Too bad it spends so much time talking about building temples and massacring enemies.

Joe Francis Ahasuerus decides that her punishment will be banishment from his sight and replacement by a younger, hotter, Stepford model. The apparent effect of this will be that all the wives shall give to their husbands honour, both to great and small (v. 20) because every man should bear rule in his own house (v. 22). Or, you know, it will make marital rape legal for the next two thousand-odd years.

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