Memucan – Staying On The “KIng’s Highway” (Part 2)

19 For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.
20 Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?
21 For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. 1 Corinthians 1:19-21

So what is it about this Biblical prince, Memucan, that is so admirable?

After Queen Vashti developed ‘progressive’ ideas and refused to obey the king’s command to go show her sweet face to his guests, the king’s anger was kindled and he sought from his princes and advisers what he should do about the situation. It was so embarrassing for him as king to have his wife refuse to obey his command!

Memucan it was who provided the king with an answer that was deemed appropriate not only by all the other princes, but by King Ahasuerus himself.

Let us take time to read the entire account.

“10 On the seventh day, when the heart of the king was merry with wine, he commanded Mehuman, Biztha, Harbona, Bigtha, and Abagtha, Zethar, and Carcas, the seven chamberlains that served in the presence of Ahasuerus the king, 11 To bring Vashti the queen before the king with the crown royal, to shew the people and the princes her beauty: for she was fair to look on. 12 But the queen Vashti refused to come at the king’s commandment by his chamberlains: therefore was the king very wroth, and his anger burned in him. 13 Then the king said to the wise men, which knew the times, (for so was the king’s manner toward all that knew law and judgment: 14 And the next unto him was Carshena, Shethar, Admatha, Tarshish, Meres, Marsena, and Memucan, the seven princes of Persia and Media, which saw the king’s face, and which sat the first in the kingdom;) 15 What shall we do unto the queen Vashti according to law, because she hath not performed the commandment of the king Ahasuerus by the chamberlains? 16 And Memucan answered before the king and the princes, Vashti the queen hath not done wrong to the king only, but also to all the princes, and to all the people that are in all the provinces of the king Ahasuerus. 17 For this deed of the queen shall come abroad unto all women, so that they shall despise their husbands in their eyes, when it shall be reported, The king Ahasuerus commanded Vashti the queen to be brought in before him, but she came not. 18 Likewise shall the ladies of Persia and Media say this day unto all the king’s princes, which have heard of the deed of the queen. Thus shall there arise too much contempt and wrath. 19 If it please the king, let there go a royal commandment from him, and let it be written among the laws of the Persians and the Medes, that it be not altered, That Vashti come no more before king Ahasuerus; and let the king give her royal estate unto another that is better than she. 20 And when the king’s decree which he shall make shall be published throughout all his empire, (for it is great,) all the wives shall give to their husbands honour, both to great and small. 21 And the saying pleased the king and the princes; and the king did according to the word of Memucan: 22 For he sent letters into all the king’s provinces, into every province according to the writing thereof, and to every people after their language, that every man should bear rule in his own house, and that it should be published according to the language of every people.” Est. 1:10-22

Some biblical scholars have declared the king’s decree “silly” and Vashti has been exalted as a “bold” woman.

But King Ahasuerus is a type of the authority of God. We cannot bring in irreverent ideas like, “Oh, y’know, this man was drunk, and he had no right to dishonor an honorable woman!” I don’t even know whether he was drunk. The fact that he was the king, however, supersedes all else. (My dad used to be a drunk, and he never ceased to be my dad because of that!)

With man it might appear as if the king was dishonoring his queen, but with God, it was the king exercising his authority – and honoring his wife’s beauty.

I don’t see any indication in the least that King Ahasuerus lost anything after the saga had ultimately played out. Not his honor, nor his power, nor anything. If anything, the king gained – vastly – by marrying Esther. And throughout the Book of Esther, King Ahasuerus stands tall to the end, a shining example of God’s authority and the defender of God’s people.

Actually it was Queen Vashti who lost out. She lost her position as queen and became a commoner.

God is still on His throne. He is still the King of kings and Lord of lords. Human wisdom will never remove him from that position. On the contrary, human wisdom will only lead man to sin against God, as we see it happened with Adam and Eve – and Vashti.

And when we sin, as we just saw, we lose. But Memucan helped the nation to stay on the King’s highway!

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5 thoughts on “Memucan – Staying On The “KIng’s Highway” (Part 2)

  1. well I am coming back to read this later – but wanted to let you know that from my reader I enjoyed the 1 Cor. passage immensely – be back later….
    🙂

  2. The King is in power at the will of God, so Paul explains. So I do not see him as a metaphor of God in authority. His behaviour was questionable. I see in the story that as King he had the right to order Queen Vashti to come, “wearing her crown” which means she was called as the queen, not a toy or slave. Her refusal meant that SHE refused to act the role of royalty, and so Memucan’s advice refers to deposing her as queen. Was it also a divorce? That is not clear, even if we assume it. We know that women in Persian society held much influence socially and economically, so I have trouble connecting this story to any modern social movement. That other women would become disobedient simply reinforces the high position women held, for it was possible! Memucan is the voice of social stability, for we know God opposes rebels against divine authority. So, does Esther become queen only, or wife and queen, and this is not a glib question? I am one of those that sees something of the Joseph story here, where giftedness, a backer and natural beauty help place God’s person in the right place at the right time. Esther becomes the honourable woman/queen while Vashti plays the role of dishonourable (meaning putting social peace at risk). Memucan becomes the wise voice finding a way to resolve a difficult cultural dilemma WITHOUT violence, within the legal limits of the time.
    Sorry, I’ll quit; you really got me thinking and I haven’t looked this deeply into Esther 1-2 for years. Thanks!
    Peace

    • Your dilemma, David, is one that a very large majority of the church today is facing and, unfortunately, I have to say it is all a result of allowing human wisdom to take the place of the pure faith we were handed by Christ at the first.

      • I actually didn’t have a dilemma. This came from the many theories around whether Vashti is a hero or a villain, and the Bible story and its context has something to say about that. Faith does not have to be void of scholarship. I see a great deal of scholarship and profound knowledge displayed by Paul, whose writings show God used his advanced education at times to reach certain people.
        Peace

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