Vashti is a female name found in the Bible. Its meaning is contested. Some sources say it means "thread" in Hebrew. Others say it comes from an Old Persian word meaning "beautiful," vashishta.
The most famous Vashti is Queen Vashti, mentioned in the beginning of the Book of Esther. She was the first wife of the Persian King Ahasuerus.
One day, the King ordered Vashti to come before him, "wearing her royal crown, in order to display her beauty to the people and nobles." (This "display her beauty" part may have meant he wanted her to appear in the nude.)
She refused to obey his request.
The king became angry. Not only had Vashti disobeyed him, but he thought other women in the kingdom might be influenced by her behavior and treat their husbands with similar disrespect.
So Vashti was banished for her disobedience. (She was soon replaced by the next queen, Esther.) The king also issued a kingdom-wide edict "proclaiming that every man should be ruler over his own household."
Today, people react various ways to the biblical Vashti. Most seem to ignore her and move on to Esther. Others, though, see her as an early symbol of feminism: a woman who refused to allow her husband to treat her as an object.
Her name, and other obscure biblical names, aren't commonly used nowadays. (They were more popular when the U.S was younger.) But they certainly aren't unheard of. Vashti hasn't been in the top 1,000 lately, but it's still given to dozens of baby girls every year:
- 2010: 29 baby girls named Vashti in the U.S.
- 2009: 24 baby girls named Vashti
- 2008: 20 baby girls named Vashti
- 2007: 21 baby girls named Vashti
- 2006: 19 baby girls named Vashti
- 2005: 22 baby girls named Vashti
- 2004: 23 baby girls named Vashti
- 2003: 23 baby girls named Vashti
- 2002: 19 baby girls named Vashti
- 2001: 27 baby girls named Vashti
- 2000: 25 baby girls named Vashti
Is Vashti ready for a comeback? What do you think?
[All quotes come from the New International Version translation of Esther 1.]