Vashti


Vashti

Vashti (ושתי) is mentioned in the Book of Esther, a book included in the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament). Vashti is also the name of one of the principal characters, in E. M. Forster's prophetic science fiction piece "The Machine Stops".

In the Book of Esther

In Esther, Vashti (Persian وَ شتی آ) is the wife of king Ahasuerus who is replaced by Esther. She is thus part of the story behind the Jewish holiday of Purim, one of Judaism's festivals.

According to the account, she refused to obey the King's request that she "show off her beauty" (which is interpreted to "appear naked" or, "dance") in the banquet hall of the palace of "Shushan" (Susa), leading to concerns that, if unpunished, her actions would inspire other wives to disobey their husbands, and ultimately to the decision that she must not remain Queen. (Although the Book of Esther only states that she ceased to be Queen, and was replaced, Jews believe that she was executed Fact|date=May 2008, while Biblical text states that Queen Vashti was never again to come before the King. Her refusal to obey her husband has helped to secure her stature as a folk hero of the modern feminist movement as well as a villain because of her disrespect for her husband.

In the Midrash

According to the Midrash, Vashti was the great-granddaughter of King Nebuchadnezzar II of Babylon, the granddaughter of King Amel-Marduk and the daughter of King Belshazzar.

Identification in history

In the past, attempts were made to identify Ahasuerus with Xerxes I of Persia. Herodotus relates a similar account regarding Xerxes and a wife named "Amestris." Identification of Vashti with Amestris is problematic, however, as Amestris remained in power well into the reign of her son Artaxerxes I.

Jacob Hoschander (The Book of Esther in the Light of History, Oxford University Press, 1923) identifies Ahasuerus with Artaxerxes II and Vashti with a wife named Stateira.

Meaning of the name

The meaning of the name "Vashti" is uncertain. If, as seems most likely, the name is indeed a genuine Persian name, it may be understood to be from (unattested) Old Persian *vaištī, related to the superlative adjective "vahišta-" "best, excellent" found in the Avesta, with the feminine termination -ī; hence "excellent woman, best of women".

Hitchcock' Bible Names Dictionary of the 19th century, attempting to interpret the name as Hebrew, suggested the meanings "that drinks" or "thread". Critics of the historicity of the book of Esther proposed that the name may have originated from a conjectured Elamite goddess whom they called "Mashti", a theoretical reconstructed name which remains unattested in any source.

"Vashti" is one of a very few proper names in the Tanakh that begins with the letter waw, and by far the most prominently mentioned of them. Hebrew names that begin with waw are rare because of the etymological tendency for word-initial waw to become yodh (e.g. Hebrew יין "yáyin" "wine" < Proto-Semitic "*wayn"). Hoschander proposed that it originated as a shortening of an unattested "vashtateira" which he proposed as the origin of the name "Stateira".Fact|date=October 2008

References

*"The Machine Stops, The Oxford and Cambridge Review (November 1909)
*"The Oxford Bible Commentary" (edited by John Barton and John Muddiman, NY: Oxford University Press, 2001, pages 326-327, written by Carol Meyers)
*"Asimov's Guide to the Bible", Random House, 1969


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  • VASHTI — (Heb. וַשְׁתִּי; perhaps beauty in Persian), queen of Persia and Media, wife of ahasuerus (Xerxes; 485–465 B.C.E.). When King Ahasuerus, in the third year of his reign, held a banquet for all the people that were found in Shushan in the king s… …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

  • Vashti — bezeichnet: Vasthi, auch Waschti, Wasti,Vasti, sagenhafte Königin aus dem biblischen Buch Esther Vashti Bunyan, (* 1945 in London), englische Folk Sängerin Vashti Murphy McKenzie, (* 28. Mai 1947) US amerikanische, methodistische Bischöfin der… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Vashti — [vash′tē, vash′tī΄] n. [Heb] Bible the queen of Ahasuerus of Persia, disowned by him when she slighted his command for her presence at a feast: Esth. 1 …   English World dictionary

  • Vashti — La reine Vashti est un personnage du Livre d Esther. Au début du récit, elle est l épouse du roi de Perse, Assuérus, avant d être répudiée pour avoir refusé de se présenter devant lui et ses convives lors d un festin. Pour la remplacer, les… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Vashti — /vash tee, tuy/, n. the queen of Ahasuerus who was banished for refusing to appear before the king s guests. Esther 1:9 22. * * * …   Universalium

  • Vashti — noun a) A queen of Persia. b) of biblical origin …   Wiktionary

  • Vashti —    Beautiful, the queen of Ahasuerus, who was deposed from her royal dignity because she refused to obey the king when he desired her to appear in the banqueting hall of Shushan the palace (Esther 1:10 12). (See Esther.) …   Easton's Bible Dictionary

  • vashṭi — वष्टि …   Indonesian dictionary

  • Vashti — /ˈvæʃtaɪ/ (say vashtuy) noun Old Testament the wife of Ahasuerus, the Persian King; deposed for refusing to display her beauty to the King s guests. Esther 1, 2. Also, Vasthi …   Australian English dictionary

  • Vashti — /vash tee, tuy/, n. the queen of Ahasuerus who was banished for refusing to appear before the king s guests. Esther 1:9 22 …   Useful english dictionary