Vashti and Esther

Posted on October 27, 2009



Tomb of Esther and Mordechai in Iran

One of the cool things I’ve discovered since becoming a librarian is the way a thousand year old text can be as fascinating as a supermarket tabloid. Case in point: the story of Esther.

My 6th graders came in today to watch part of “One Night with the King”. While I found the acting disappointingly wooden, I was captivated by the costumes and sets. And found myself paying attention, for the first time, to the story of Vashti.

Just who was Vashti? No historical counterpart for her has been found, as far as I could determine. Was she really beheaded for refusing to appear nude in front of her hubby’s drinking buddies? That certainly beats anything I’ve seen waiting in line at the supermarket.

And what about Esther? Did she like changing her name? I much prefer the name “Hadassah” myself. It has such a lovely sound, and even looks pretty. Esther always seems plain and frumpy to me. And was Mordechai her Uncle or her husband? Did she feel belittled when she joined the king’s harem? How did she feel about her life choices?

Maybe one day we’ll find a cunieform clay tablet that tells us more of these two powerful women. Until then, I can only marvel at the depth of material found in the Purim Story. And see the holiday a little differently than before.

Photo courtesy of:

Future Perfect at Sunrise (talk).
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Posted in: Purim Education