Queen Vashti Kept Her Crown On

You do not need to dishonor yourself to honor others.

Valentine Wiggin
3 min readSep 18, 2021


A woman with auburn wavy hair putting on a gold crown studded with turquoise
Photo by Jared Subia on Unsplash

If you were ever raised Christian, chances are you’ve heard about Queen Vashti. You may have been told that she was wicked or arrogant because of her refusal to show up at a party hosted by her husband, King Ahasuerus (Xerxes I of Persia). Her deposal (and likely death) led to the crowning of the celebrated new queen Esther, but reading further into the story actually shows that Queen Vashti wasn’t in the wrong at all.

In Esther 1, verses 7–8 make the presence of wine at this event very clear. At this feast, the king’s guests drank as they pleased and were free to do so for 180 days. To put that into perspective, King Ahasuerus (Xerxes I) had enough top-shelf wine to allow his guests to drink and party for almost half the year. While this took place, Queen Vashti hosted her own event for the palace’s women.

On the seventh day of the half-year-long festivities, Xerxes drunkenly ordered Vashti to appear at his event to show off her beauty. After refusing, she was deposed. While many people interpret Vashti’s refusal as simple disobedience, closer readings have led some to believe that Vashti’s deposal wasn’t due to insubordination. Instead, it was an act of self-preservation and sticking to her conscience.

Some Biblical commentators and scholars believe that Vashti was ordered to show up in only her crown and nothing else. Although it isn’t clear that this was the case, this speculation isn’t new. Josephus’s Antiquities even mentions that, if this were the case, that the king’s order may have been illegal under Persian law. If she had complied, Vashti may have been charged with a crime despite the fact that she had followed a direct order from her husband and the king.

Regardless of whatever else Vashti would have been ordered to wear, being paraded around as an ornament for drunk men to gawk at was dehumanizing. Her refusal to show up was her way of refusing to degrade herself in order to please some random people at a party. Vashti’s refusal to attend this feast was her way of reminding other women that honoring their husbands was not worth debasing themselves.

Additionally, Xerxes was under the influence of alcohol when he summoned Vashti. One can surmise, therefore, that his judgment was impaired when he gave this order. However, during this time, questioning the current political leader’s judgment was not as socially acceptable as it is today. With that in mind, it is likely that the officials under King Xerxes I decided that Vashti was in the wrong out of fear of what would happen to them if they showed that they thought otherwise.

Vashti’s refusal to show up sends a clear message: that no one needs to dishonor themselves to honor others. In an age where some men, especially those in positions of power, still feel that they are entitled to women’s bodies, one has to wonder how many Jewish and Christian women go their entire lives overlooking this lesson in intelligent disobedience.



Valentine Wiggin

Death-positive, sex-positive, and LGBTQ-affirming Christian. Gen Z. I hate onions. She/her