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Midrash Esther Chapter Two: XII: Champion Drinker Print E-mail

Purim“And the Royal wine in abundance.” Elsewhere it says of Belshazzar, “And it drank wine before the thousand (Daniel 5:1).” Here, however, it is written, “And Royal wine in abundance, according to the bounty of the King.” This means according to the cups in the hand of the king.


Belshazzar did his best to out drink everyone else at his party put together. Achashveirosh on the other hand, shared whatever he drank with his guests.

Achashveirosh proved that he could drink more than anyone else. Achashveirosh wanted people to match him drink for drink. If he drank a glass of wine, every one of his guests had to drink one as well. He wanted them to see whether they could keep up with him. While they do were getting drunk and becoming sick, Achashveirosh maintained his steady spirit.

However, as we explained in the introduction to this chapter of the midrash, Achashveirosh was, “spending his spirit.” He lost his calm demeanor on the final day of the party when he summoned his queen Vashti. His world fell apart. He had lost control. He forfeit all of the great accomplishments he had attempted to prove to his subjects. The king who begins the story as one of immense wealth and great strength, finishes his party a humiliated man and a weakened King.

This would indicate that the great contest of all the women in Shushan was a way for Achashveirosh to reassert himself both as a man and as a king. His intention was to be with as many women as possible to prove his the virility.

This would mean that Esther's winning the spot as Queen would indicate that she was the King's match. We can now understand why the King allowed her to drag out her request for two parties and was desperate to find out what it was she wanted from him. Esther was truly his equal.

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