Queen Vashti is an unsung heroine in the struggle against man’s political Authority.
In the first chapter of the Book of Esther, we have the picture of a monarch who has assumed Total Authority over property, bodies, lives, and thoughts. That is to say, in terms one might recognize from the Declaration of Independence, he had no respect for Life, Liberty, or Property: As Bastiat warned, without property, there can be no liberty in thought, speech, or action).
We read that the king uses his subjects’ property for his pleasure. He mutilated some of his subjects’ bodies so that he could keep them as eunuchs. And he believed he could control the thoughts of the women in his kingdom by making an example of his wife. He assumed he had power to enforce his will on people’s wealth (property), bodies (property), and minds (property): this is monarchy grown despotic, just one more iteration of Totalitarianism.
All the kingdom heard about Vashti’s refusal to come before the king. It’s the “No” that is still heard ‘round the world even though we never hear her voice. It is the stage for the drama of Purim. The idea of natural rights existed in the kingdom. Totalitarianism lost the war by telling the kingdom about the battle.
What happened to Vashti once she was dethroned? Some sources say she was killed, a likely result. A government keen on enforcing its authority over the minds, bodies, and property of its subjects is endangered by the idea of natural rights. Whether she lived or died, Vashti gained something precious when she lost her title and position: Freedom.
Happy Purim, Vashti. You have been called a rebel and an enemy of the State, but you are a heroine of individual liberty in a time of oppression, a defender of your own right to your own mind and body, and you are an inspiration to all who would later defend themselves and others against force used to plunder life, liberty, and property.