Midrash Esther Chapter II-X: Serving Drinks
“And they gave them drink in vessels of gold.” The midrash wonders about the phrase “and they gave them drink,” as this is the only time this word appears in the entire Bible.
The midrash goes on to explain, that bad man gave to drink only in vessels of gold. An objection was raised from the verse, “And all King Solomon’s drinking vessels were of gold, and all the vessels of the house of the forest of Lebanon were of pure gold (I Kings 10:21).” This implies that only the King himself drank from golden vessels, and yet you are saying that Achashveirosh served all his guests in golden cups; was Achashveirosh wealthier than Solomon?
Rabbi Pinchas explained: Is it not naturally repulsive to a person to drink wine out of gold? Achashveirosh served the wine in vessels of finely cut crystal in which a person’s face is beautifully mirrored by the wine as in gold.
I believe that this is a continuation of the previous midrash (Midrash Esther Chapter II-IX: Love of Money) in which we described Achashveirosh and his guests walked on a floor with such valuable stones that everyone, including Achashveirosh, could have used to pay all their debts and achieve financial freedom.
Achashveirosh wasn’t simply showing off his great wealth; he was demonstrating that what others may consider a treasure was meaningless to him. He could throw away a treasure without thinking. A million dollars means far less to Bill Gates or Warren Buffet than it does to the rest of us. As we said, Achashveirosh was, “Spending his spirit.”
Achashveirsoh invited his guests to a drinking party. They were drunkenly guzzling the finest wines served in expensive crystal without any sense of the value of the wine or the goblets. He had his guests treating money as if it didn’t matter. He offered them a taste of how he experienced his wealth. Every guest would remember the experience of having so much that nothing mattered. Achashveirosh was tantalizing them with a taste of what would be possible if they cooperated with him.
This was a taste of what was to come when the King wanted to select a new Queen. He didn’t just search for the hundred most beautiful women in his kingdom, “The Miss Achashveirosh Contest,” he gathered all the beautiful women. He went through women the same way he went through precious stones, and had his guests go through priceless wines. He didn’t just celebrate when he chose Esther; he made another huge party, he gave out gifts on her honor, and he lowered taxes to celebrate his new Queen.
Achashveirosh has so much that he offers Esther, “Up to half my kingdom.”
The same man who can toss away priceless stones, the finest wines, and thousands of women, has no hesitation in tossing away Mordechai for Haman and then Haman for Mordechai. He doesn’t even think before tossing away an entire nation, the Jews, when they reject his ideas. He had so much of everything that nothing mattered. That is, except for Vashti and his honor…
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