WHICH WOMAN OF THE BIBLE REFUSED TO SUBMIT TO UNGODLY GENDER AUTHORITY?
Queen Vashti. A woman who responded in the way those who reject gender authority approve and champion! But the book is named after Esther, who submitted to both godly and ungodly gender authority!
Why are Ruth and Esther never mentioned in the debate about gender authority?
Read the following passages, and you will understand why... these books affirm the practice of gender authority as strongly or stronger than any other books of the Bible! In fact, if gender authority does not exist, I don’t think Ruth could be a glorious book of the Bible, carrying a picture of Christ and the Church. I also think in all fairness, the book of Esther should have been named after the first queen, Vashti!
Ruth 3:1-13 (NIV) One day Naomi her mother-in-law said to her, "My daughter, should I not try to find a home for you, where you will be well provided for?  Is not Boaz, with whose servant girls you have been, a kinsman of ours? Tonight he will be winnowing barley on the threshing floor.  Wash and perfume yourself, and put on your best clothes. Then go down to the threshing floor, but don't let him know you are there until he has finished eating and drinking.  When he lies down, note the place where he is lying. Then go and uncover his feet and lie down. He will tell you what to do."
 "I will do whatever you say," Ruth answered.  So she went down to the threshing floor and did everything her mother-in-law told her to do.
 When Boaz had finished eating and drinking and was in good spirits, he went over to lie down at the far end of the grain pile. Ruth approached quietly, uncovered his feet and lay down.  In the middle of the night something startled the man, and he turned and discovered a woman lying at his feet.
 "Who are you?" he asked.
"I am your servant Ruth," she said. "Spread the corner of your garment over me, since you are a kinsman-redeemer."
 "The Lord bless you, my daughter," he replied. "This kindness is greater than that which you showed earlier: You have not run after the younger men, whether rich or poor.  And now, my daughter, don't be afraid. I will do for you all you ask. All my fellow townsmen know that you are a woman of noble character.  Although it is true that I am near of kin, there is a kinsman-redeemer nearer than I.  Stay here for the night, and in the morning if he wants to redeem, good; let him redeem. But if he is not willing, as surely as the Lord lives I will do it. Lie here until morning."
The submission of Ruth to a foreign mother-in-law, after the death of her husband is a additional picture of the importance of authority. Her posture of submission to Boaz is certainly a example of positive, powerful and protective gender authority. The position of the appropriate male being a provider and protector of a woman is consistent in both Old and New Testaments and even in cultures throughout history.
Esther 1:10-22 (NIV) On the seventh day, when King Xerxes was in high spirits from wine, he commanded the seven eunuchs who served him--Mehuman, Biztha, Harbona, Bigtha, Abagtha, Zethar and Carcas--  to bring before him Queen Vashti, wearing her royal crown, in order to display her beauty to the people and nobles, for she was lovely to look at.  But when the attendants delivered the king's command, Queen Vashti refused to come. Then the king became furious and burned with anger.
 Since it was customary for the king to consult experts in matters of law and justice, he spoke with the wise men who understood the times  and were closest to the king--Carshena, Shethar, Admatha, Tarshish, Meres, Marsena and Memucan, the seven nobles of Persia and Media who had special access to the king and were highest in the kingdom.
 "According to law, what must be done to Queen Vashti?" he asked. "She has not obeyed the command of King Xerxes that the eunuchs have taken to her."
 Then Memucan replied in the presence of the king and the nobles, "Queen Vashti has done wrong, not only against the king but also against all the nobles and the peoples of all the provinces of King Xerxes.  For the queen's conduct will become known to all the women, and so they will despise their husbands and say, 'King Xerxes commanded Queen Vashti to be brought before him, but she would not come.'  This very day the Persian and Median women of the nobility who have heard about the queen's conduct will respond to all the king's nobles in the same way. There will be no end of disrespect and discord.
 "Therefore, if it pleases the king, let him issue a royal decree and let it be written in the laws of Persia and Media, which cannot be repealed, that Vashti is never again to enter the presence of King Xerxes. Also let the king give her royal position to someone else who is better than she.  Then when the king's edict is proclaimed throughout all his vast realm, all the women will respect their husbands, from the least to the greatest."
 The king and his nobles were pleased with this advice, so the king did as Memucan proposed.  He sent dispatches to all parts of the kingdom, to each province in its own script and to each people in its own language, proclaiming in each people's tongue that every man should be ruler over his own household.
Esther 2:1-4 (NIV) Later when the anger of King Xerxes had subsided, he remembered Vashti and what she had done and what he had decreed about her.  Then the king's personal attendants proposed, "Let a search be made for beautiful young virgins for the king.  Let the king appoint commissioners in every province of his realm to bring all these beautiful girls into the harem at the citadel of Susa. Let them be placed under the care of Hegai, the king's eunuch, who is in charge of the women; and let beauty treatments be given to them.  Then let the girl who pleases the king be queen instead of Vashti." This advice appealed to the king, and he followed it.
Esther 2:5-11 (NIV) Now there was in the citadel of Susa a Jew of the tribe of Benjamin, named Mordecai son of Jair, the son of Shimei, the son of Kish,  who had been carried into exile from Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, among those taken captive with Jehoiachin king of Judah.  Mordecai had a cousin named Hadassah, whom he had brought up because she had neither father nor mother. This girl, who was also known as Esther, was lovely in form and features, and Mordecai had taken her as his own daughter when her father and mother died.
 When the king's order and edict had been proclaimed, many girls were brought to the citadel of Susa and put under the care of Hegai. Esther also was taken to the king's palace and entrusted to Hegai, who had charge of the harem.  The girl pleased him and won his favor. Immediately he provided her with her beauty treatments and special food. He assigned to her seven maids selected from the king's palace and moved her and her maids into the best place in the harem.
 Esther had not revealed her nationality and family background, because Mordecai had forbidden her to do so.  Every day he walked back and forth near the courtyard of the harem to find out how Esther was and what was happening to her.
Esther 2:17-18 (NIV) Now the king was attracted to Esther more than to any of the other women, and she won his favor and approval more than any of the other virgins. So he set a royal crown on her head and made her queen instead of Vashti.  And the king gave a great banquet, Esther's banquet, for all his nobles and officials. He proclaimed a holiday throughout the provinces and distributed gifts with royal liberality.
Esther 10:3 (NIV) Mordecai the Jew was second in rank to King Xerxes, preeminent among the Jews, and held in high esteem by his many fellow Jews, because he worked for the good of his people and spoke up for the welfare of all the Jews.
The example of God working through Esther submitting to the gender authority of both her cousin even after becoming a queen (A godly man, but not immediate family non-the-less.), and a very ungodly king challenges our understanding of the whole principle of authority! Adding Haman to the situation only makes it more pronounced. As a whole, the book underscores the importance of authority, even in the face of sinfulness, extreme cruelty and injustice in male leadership. When you preface that with the removal of Queen Vashti for the reason stated, there is a clear and powerful condemnation of modern reasoning and the rejection of gender authority.
In both Ruth and Esther you find a extremely strong and clear sense of male gender authority and God’s ability to work through it. Gender authority was used by God and embraced by these godly women. More surprising? In Ruth, the authority is benevolent. In Esther however, it is at the hands of what the Bible records, and secular history echoes, a very evil King. Esther and Mordecai not only submit, but Mordecai even protects that abusive authority against assassination!
I will include Abigail in this chapter, because sometimes questions are raised about her situation.
The story of Abigail is recorded in I Samuel chapter 25. The summery of it is this; Abigail was the intelligent and beautiful wife of Nabal, a harsh and evil man. David has his men watch Nabal’s sheep herd, protecting them from thieves and wild animals. When the season is over, Nabal refuses to reward David. David then prepares to kill Nabal and his male servants, but Abigail intercedes with gifts of food and a plea. David accepts the response and turns back. When Nabal finds out, he has what appears to be a heart attack and dies within ten days. David then offers to marry Abigail, who becomes his third wife after Michal (Who King Saul has given to another man.), and Ahinoam.
In II Samuel 3:3 Abigail is listed as the second of six wives of David. She bears his second-born son, Chileab (“everything of the Father”). His birth is also recorded in I Chronicles 3:1, where his name is listed as Daniel (“God is my judge”). He does not succeed Absalom to the throne as would be expected. There is no other record of his life in the Bible, and it is unknown what became of him.
1. Whether you agree with gender authority or not, going behind your mate’s back is wrong. Nor is it even a picture of mutual submission. Giving your husband a heart attack by doing so also has serious implications. Sarah is commended and remembered
for submission to Abraham’s questionable commands. Abigail quickly fades into obscurity.
2. Becoming a wife out of sympathy is not what most women dream of. Nor is being one wife of many. Having a son who does not receive the position he is due, and is never spoken of again also causes questions.
3. The question has been raised, if David had the guilt of Nabal’s death on his mind (As Abigail warned he would if he killed him.), would he have killed Bathsheba’s husband?
I cannot argue with the fact that David accepts Abigail’s plea as wise and godly. I agree that it would have been wrong for David to avenge himself. However, I deeply struggle with how Abigail went about her intervention. I also find her immediate fading to the background and the disappearance of her son a cause for caution and question.