Women at Belshazzar’s Feast

Taken from: http://biblehub.com/nasb/daniel/5-2.htm

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That the king and his princes, his wives, and his concubines, might drink  therein – Nothing is too sacred to be profaned when men are under the influence  of wine. They do not hesitate to desecrate the holiest things, and vessels taken  from the altar of God are regarded with as little reverence as any other. It  would seem that Nebuchadnezzar had some respect for these vessels, as having  been employed in the purposes of religion; at least so much respect as to lay  them up as trophies of victory, and that this respect had been shown for them  under the reign of his successors, until the exciting scenes of this “impious  feast” occurred, when all veneration for them vanished. It was not very common  for females in the East to be present at such festivals as this, but it would  seem that all the usual restraints of propriety and decency came to be  disregarded as the feast advanced. The “wives and concubines” were probably not  present when the feast began, for it was made for “his lords” Daniel 5:1; but when the scenes of revelry had  advanced so far that it was proposed to introduce the sacred vessels of the  temple, it would not be unnatural to propose also to introduce the females of  the court.

A similar instance is related in the book of Esther. In the feast which  Ahasuerus gave, it is said that “on the seventh day, when the heart of the king  was merry with wine, he commanded Mehuman, Biztha, etc., the seven chamberlains  that served in the presence of Ahasuerus the king, to bring Vashti the queen  before the king with the crown royal, to show the people and the princes her  beauty,” etc. Esther 1:10-11. Compare Joseph.  “Ant.” b. xi. ch. 6: Section 1. The females that were thus introduced to the  banquet were those of the harem, yet it would seem that she who was usually  called “the queen” by way of eminence, or the queen-mother (compare the note at Esther 5:10), was not among them at this time.  The females in the court of an Oriental monarch were divided into two classes;  those who were properly concubines, and who had none of the privileges of a  wife; and those of a higher class, and who were spoken of as wives, and to whom  pertained the privileges of that relation. Among the latter, also, in the court  of a king, it would seem that there was one to whom properly belonged the  appellation of “queen;” that is, probably, a favorite wife whose children were  heirs to the crown. See Bertholdt, in loc. Compare 2 Samuel 5:13; 1 Kings  11:3; Sol 6:8.

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