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Scenes from the story of Esther

 
 
The book of Esther tells the story of Ahasuerus, king of Persia, that some identified with Xerxes I, whose disobedient wife Vashti is replaced by the Jewess Esther, cousin of Mordecai. Haman the Agagite, plots the death of Mordecai and all the Jews, but the post he hangs himself made draw, while Mordecai was elevated to prime minister and the Jews are saved.
               
“ Now in the days of A·has·u·e′rus, that is, the A·has·u·e′rus who ruled over 127 provinces from In′di·a to E·thi·o′pi·a in those days when King A·has·u·e′rus was sitting on his royal throne in Shu′shan the citadel, in the third year of his reign, he held a banquet for all his princes and his servants. The army of Persia  and Me′di·a, the nobles, and the princes of the provinces were before him, and he showed them the wealth of his glorious kingdom and the grandeur and the splendor of his magnificence for many days, 180 days. And when these days were completed, the king held a banquet for seven days for all the people present in Shu′shan the citadel, from the greatest to the least, in the courtyard of the garden of the king’s palace. There were linen, fine cotton, and blue material held fast in ropes of fine fabric, purple wool in silver rings, pillars of marble, and couches of gold and silver on a pavement of porphyry, marble, pearl, and black marble. ” - Esther 1: 1-6

The biblical book of Esther tells the story of Ahasuerus
which some identify with Xerxes

               
Three scenes from the story of Esther: RF 1972-1913. Filippino Lippi around 1470. Esther and her uncle Mordecai outside the Royal Palace; Esther asks her husband, the Persian king Ahasuerus to save the Jews of the kingdom; the Grand Vizier Haman his request in vain through Esther.
               
“ On the seventh day, when the king’s heart was in a cheerful mood because of the wine, he told Me·hu′man, Biz′tha, Har·bo′na, Big′tha, A·bag′tha, Ze′thar, and Car′kas, the seven court officials who were personal attendants to King A·has·u·e′rus, to bring before the king Queen Vash′ti, wearing the royal headdress, to show the peoples and the princes her beauty, for she was very beautiful. But Queen Vash′ti kept refusing to come at the king’s order that was conveyed through the court officials. At this the king became very angry, and his rage flared up within him. The king then spoke to the wise men who had insight with regard to precedents* (for in this way the king’s matter came before all those versed in law and legal cases, and those closest to him were Car·she′na, She′thar, Ad·ma′tha, Tar′shish, Me′res, Mar·se′na, and Me·mu′can, seven princes of Persia and Me′di·a, who had access to the king and who occupied the highest positions in the kingdom). The king asked: “According to law, what is to be done with Queen Vash′ti because she has not obeyed the order of King A·has·u·e′rus conveyed through the court officials?” To this Me·mu′can said in the presence of the king and the princes: “It is not against the king alone that Queen Vash′ti has done wrong, but against all the princes and against all the peoples in all the provinces of King A·has·u·e′rus. For what the queen did will become known by all the wives, and they will despise their husbands and say, ‘King A·has·u·e′rus said to bring in Queen Vash′ti before him, but she refused to come.’
               
 
 
Vashti

refusing the invitation of Ahasuerus


OA 5936

Wool and silk tapestry

 

detail >

 
Richelieu
1er étage
salle 6
               
This very day the princesses of Persia and Me′di·a who know about what the queen did will talk to all the princes of the king, resulting in much contempt and indignation. If it seems good to the king, let a royal decree be issued from him, and let it be written among the laws of Persia and Me′di·a, which cannot be repealed that Vash′ti may never again come in before King A·has·u·e′rus; and let the king confer her royal position on a woman who is better than she is. And when the decree of the king is heard in all his vast realm, all the wives will give honor to their husbands, from the greatest to the least.” This proposal pleased the king and the princes, and the king did what Me·mu′can said."- Esther 1: 10-21

The disobedient wife, Vashti, is replaced
by the Jewish woman Esther

“ There was a certain Jewish man
in Shu′shan(…) Mor′de·cai (…)
 He was the guardian
* of Ha·das′sah,* that is, Esther, the daughter of his father’s brother,+ for she had neither father nor mother. The young woman was beautifully formed and attractive
in appearance (…)
Each young woman had her turn
to go in to King A·has·u·e′rus after completing the 12-month treatment that was prescribed for the women” -
Esther 2: 7.12
Esther adorning themselves
to be presented to King Ahasuerus
RF 3900
 
Theodore CHASSÉRIAU about 1841
Sully 2nd Floor Room 63

Sinuosity of the naked body
recalls Ingres, but bare
with
sensual forms
characterizes
female type
invented
by the artist
               
“ After this King A·has·u·e′rus promoted Ha′man the son of Ham·me·da′tha the Ag′ag·ite and exalted him by putting his throne above all the other princes who were with him. And all the king’s servants who were in the king’s gate would bow low and prostrate themselves to Ha′man, for this is what the king had commanded respecting him. But Mor′de·cai refused to bow low or prostrate himself. So the king’s servants who were in the king’s gate said to Mor′de·cai: “Why are you ignoring the king’s commandment?” Day after day they would ask him, but he would not listen to them. Then they told Ha′man to see whether Mor′de·cai’s conduct would be tolerated; for he had told them that he was a Jew.” - Esther 3: 1-4
               
 

The Disdain Mordecai

to Aman    inv 8214
 

Jean-François de TROY
1740
Sully 1 st floor room 74

At the sight of Aman
at the threshold of the palace servants flex knees sign of allegiance to the king's favorite.
Mordecai, right, refuses to bow,
triggering hatred of Haman
to the Jewish people.
               
"On the third day Esther put on her royal robes and stood in the inner courtyard of the king’s house, opposite the king’s house, while the king was sitting on his royal throne in the royal house opposite the entrance. As soon as the king saw Queen Esther standing in the courtyard, she gained his favor, and the king held out to Esther the golden scepter that was in his hand. Esther then approached and touched the top of the scepter." - Esther 5: 1-2
               

The Esther Fainting

inv 8216

Jean-François de TROY 1737
Sully 1 st floor room 74

It is seeking to intervene with Ahasuerus to save
Jews from extermination Esther, violating the prohibition to enter the palace without authorization, vanishes. King raises his scepter on the neck of his wife as a sign of absolution (Additions to the Book of Esther, XV).
 
 
               
"So the king said to his men: “Tell Ha′man to come quickly, as Esther requests.” So the king and Ha′man went to the banquet that Esther had prepared. During the banquet of wine, the king said to Esther: “What is your petition? It will be granted you! And what is your request? Even to the half of my kingdom, it will be done!” - Esther 5: 5-6
               

 The Feast of Esther

DL 1997-1
 
Francisco GUTIERREZ
 
vers 1666
Denon 1st floor room 30

This table favoring
the architecture is inspired
by thepassage from the Old Testament in which Esther
had prepared a feast for
the king Ahasuerus.
 
She managed to save
the Jewish people from persecution had projected
the third guest,
the vizier Haman.
 
 

The Feast of Esther

"That night the king could not sleep So he said to bring the book of the historical records of the times, and it was read to the king. There it was found written what Morde·cai had reported concerning Big·thana and Teresh, two court officials of the king, doorkeepers, who had plotted to do away with King A·has·u·erus. The king asked: “What honor and recognition has been given to Morde·cai for this?” To this the king’s personal attendants said: “Nothing has been done for him.” (…) So Haman said to the king: “For the man whom the king wishes to honor, let them bring royal attire that the king wears and a horse on which the king rides, with the royal headdress on its head. Then let the attire and the horse be put into the charge of one of the king’s noble princes, and they should clothe the man whom the king wishes to honor and have him ride on the horse in the public square of the city. They should call out before him: ‘This is what is done for the man whom the king wishes to honor!’ “ - Esther 6: 1-3; 7-9
               
 
The Triumph of Mordecai inv 8219. Jean-François de TROY, around 1739. A horse and clothed in royal robes, Mordecai, who had once saved Ahasuerus a fatal conspiracy was led in triumph by his enemy Haman. It is Haman himself, believing that the tribute was for him, had prepared this glorious scene setting.

The Triumph of Mordecai

"King A·has·u·e′rus imposed forced labor on the land and the islands of the sea. And all his powerful and mighty accomplishments, as well as the detailed account of Mor′de·cai’s greatness to which the king exalted him, are they not written in the book of the history of the times of the kings of Me′di·a and Persia? For Mor′de·cai the Jew was second only to King A·has·u·e′rus. He was great among the Jews and respected by the multitude of his brothers, working for the good of his people and advocating the welfare of all their descendants " - Esther 10: 1-3
               
               
               
               
               
               
               
               
               
               
               
               
               
               
               
               
               
               
               

 





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