Yes i am talking of the same Ahasuerus, the Emperor of the Perses and the Medes, referred to in the Book of Esther in the Old Testament of the Bible.
I have been in the habit of reading the Bible for a very long time, but this verse cast a thunderbolt. It is the from the New King James’ Version (NKJV).
But before i excerpt from the NKJV, let me excerpt from the KJV (1611):
Esther 1: 22
For he sent letters into all the kings prouinces, into euery prouince, according to the writing thereof, and to euery people after their language, that euery man should beare rule in his owne house, and that it should be published according to the language of euerie people.
Into modern English it would read:
22 For he sent letters into all the king’s provinces, into every province according to the writing thereof, and to every people after their language, that every man should bear rule in his own house, and that it should be published according to the language of every people.
The meaning is very simple, there was only one Decree that was made by Emperor Ahaseurus that EVERY MAN SHOULD BEAR RULE IN HIS OWN HOUSE.
This was a decree passed after the Seven Wise men, who were in charge of the 127 provinces under Ahasuerus’ empire, were consulted by the Emperor and decreed, as the slights by wives on their husbands would engender ‘contempt & wrath’. The quoted version states that this decree should be published in the language of every people. That’s the doctrine of intelligible Notice.
I had read this passage many times and I’d even written a blog on one of those Wise Men named Memucan.
Curiosity sometimes leads one to strange versions of the Bible. There are so many versions that some of those translations, intended for use by certain ethnic groups, are positively abominable. Maybe those are versions like our meaningless nursery rhymes – where an intelligent kid may keep wondering throughout his primary school as to where to find Humpty Dumpty’s wife and kids!
Here is the excerpt of the same verse Esther 1:22 as per NKJV:
Here the decree consists of two portions:
1. Law declaring Man to be the master of his own house; &
2. That Man shall speak in the language of his own people.
The background of all this is that EmperorAhasuerus had a vast Empire consisting of various ethnic, linguistic and variegated cultural groups, but was ruled by a Persian. He could have declared and enforced the language of the Perses & Medes, probably Persian, as the only language through which official communications could be made to the Government in Sushan, otherwise their pleas would not be entertained. It would have been easy for Ahaseurus to unify the whole Empire, on the premise that Language was a unifying factor and as he himself was a Persian, propagating the Persian language could have been taken up on ideological grounds too. Yet he made a declaration which i think is laudable and Emperor Ahaseurus seems to have understood the pulse of the people, the cultural settings of each of the peoples of his Empire and their aspirations as well!
The Second Decree was:
“…..That Man shall speak in the language of his own people.”
What could be the meaning of ‘language of his own people’? I suppose the meaning would probably be that, not only that Man shall bear rule in his own house, but the language of the Man of the house should be the language of that family. A marriage brings two people together and they could be from different linguistic backgrounds, it would not be the choice of the couple to decide as to which language could be chosen as the language of the family, but the language of the linguistic group from which the Man comes from SHALL BE THE LANGUAGE OF THE FAMILY.
I think this was a decision very much ahead of Emperor Ahasuers’ Times. Paul, the Evangelist, has a logic that as woman was deceived by the Serpent, she should serve Man!
I Timothy 2
11 Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection.
12 But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.
13 For Adam was first formed, then Eve.
14 And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression.
If we succumb to this logic, then being deceived puts a person in a humbler position than being in transgression caused by the weakness for one’s spouse and disobeying the Commandment of God. Well there is the seniority of Adam, which could have carried the argument, but the second line of reasoning seems utterly dubious.
The following were the reasons given by God in Genesis 3:
16 Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.
17 And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life;
There was nothing said by God as to the reasons for inflicting the punishment on Women because of Eve’s transgression, much less the attribution of her having been deceived!
Seems as if the Christian doctrine, built on the Pauline epistles are falling apart, and socially the importance, efficiency and contribution of women have surely shaken the belief in these Pauline prescriptions. But at the same time, the society’s building blocks being FAMILIES, there has to be an established procedure for ascribing the linguistic lot that a family belonged to, in the eyes of the society and government at large, without getting into the peculiar arrangements of linguistic preferences arrived at by each family internally.
That Ahasuerus was able to think about it four to five centuries before the birth of Christ, only proved the point that our forebears were no fools and that there is safety in the number of advisors one has, especially a Ruler. Further, those advisors should be able to impress upon the Ruler that it is not HOMOGENEITY WHICH MAKES PEOPLE HAPPY, but when there is no governmental interference in certain matters – especially in linguistic matters, people would be happier and more productive. The preferences should be left to the ethnic lot from which that family head hails.
As regards the version NKJV is concerned, i am sure that the errors which had crept into the earlier translations, because of the limited availability of sources in the early 17th Century, are getting rectified.
We as readers of the religious texts should not be bound by earlier versions, instead, if the later versions cite reliable sources and is based on verified research, it should be reconciled with our existing beliefs – which is built anyway on the unshakable foundation laid by Jesus- and accepted. After all i believe that if we are going to be judged, we would be judged only by what was made available and which sounded reasonable to our ears!