A few weeks ago the Pastor at our church gave the sermon from the book of Esther. This sparked some old WT memories. I looked through my old bound volumes and found this gem of misguided scholarship from the writing department. I dont want to quote at length from either the WT or the Bible account so here is the relevant part of the story in a nutshell. The King of Persia is throwing this gigantic party that goes on for 180 days. Meanwhile his queen Vashti, is throwing a party for all the women. The Persians are noted for their drinking, this is what the Bible (NIV) says about this party " 7 Wine was served in goblets of gold, each one different from the other, and the royal wine was abundant, in keeping with the king's liberality. 8 By the king's command each guest was allowed to drink in his own way, for the king instructed all the wine stewards to serve each man what he wished."
A few verses later we find this " 10 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- 11 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. 12 But when the attendants delivered the king's command, Queen Vashti refused to come. Then the king became furious and burned with anger."
As a result Vashti gets kicked out as queen because the Kings advisors fear that all the women will stop obeying their husbands.
Article: "A Discreet Woman displays Her Unselfishness" WT 3/15/79
First what the Watchtower says about the drinking "At this banquet wine is being drunk from golden vessels of various kinds. The Persians are noted for their drinking. But the custom of obligating quests to drink a specific amount is not being followed at this banquet."
The NWT translation of the verses in question is "As regards the time of drinking according to the law, there was no one compelling for that was the way the King had arranged for every great man of his household, to do the liking of each and every one."
In other words, unlike every other Bible and commentary around, the WT is trying to insist these guys arent drunk. This is nonsense, this is a culture where your ability to drink is a direct reflection of your manhood. The King is running an open bar, what condition do you think they are in?
The WT then goes on to comment on Vashtis disobedience to her husband, and that as a result she looses a great honor, opening the way for meek little Esther to become the Kings favorite.
Heres what sparked my interest in this. Our Pastor said that a careful reading of the Hebrew reveals that the command the King sent to Vashti was "come up here wearing the crown and nothing else." Vashti rebelled at the idea of parading herself naked in front of her husbands drunken friends, and lost her position because she did the RIGHT thing.
I found this interesting because I think it illustrates two problems with the Watchtowers view of the Bible. One, their desire to make it say what they want it to say, coupled with a lack of knowledge of the original languages of the Bible causes them to miss major points. In this case they totally missed what was going on with the drinking and the subtleties in the Kings command to Vashti, because the were more interesting in making a point they like to beat home every chance they get: the subjugation of women.