A King’s Wife: the Emergence of Esther

Esther is a Prophetess and the Jewish wife of the Persian King Ahasuerus. Her story is related within the Megillah (meaning “scroll” or “book”, with the connotation of “a detailed account of events”), a book of the Tanakh (“The Book of Esther” in the Old Testament).

Esther is an orphan, raised by her counsin, the Prophet Mordecai. The book relates how she is found as a replacement for the King’s previous wife, Vashti. Vashti fell into disfavour with the King because she refused to appear to his guests at his request. At first Esther’s Jewish background is kept hidden from the King. Haman, the King’s evil prime minister, councils Ahasuerus to genocide of the Jews — essentially because Esther’s foster parent (her cousin Mordecai) refused to prostrate himself to Haman. An amusing twist to the story leads Haman to accidentally promote Mordecai to a prominent position in King’s court and condemn himself to the gallows. The Jews gain their eventual salvation (after a rather bloody kind of fashion).

The book is worth studying alone: after all, it is of Divine origin. But we make the following observations regarding its opening chapter, which describes the nature of how we got to where we are.

1. The King

The first thing we must understand about the King is that he is a Face, and nothing but a Face. He is a Face, a Mask, an archetypical crystallization, a galactic totem that emerges from the gaseous sign fragments of our broken cosmos. (Following Deleuze and Guattari, we could say black holes for eye — consuming and and producing –blank wall for skin, but via Issac Luria reintroduce a transcendentalism and sexuality into the immanent materialism.) Again following Deleuze and Guattari, as a Face, the King can assume different gazes, different roles, different voices: each determinining “who” he is. With one he constitutes the Zeir Anpin of the Self, reflecting the Greater Countenance of God. With another, when misunderstood (or, better, mispronounced), he is the Demiurge of the Gnostic Gospels, the malformed angry, violently jihadic god found in various religious practices, Samael, the Satanic partner of Lilith.

In and of himself, the King’s Face has no body, not in the biological sense. But he has both lands and a heart and is further contained within a court over which he has regency. He is a theatrical/poetic Image (accurate or otherwise) of the Face of God, commanding, governing, reigning over the court and lands of (the theatre/poetry/fallen state of) the Human Soul. A theatrical, dramatic reflection that is slow to react (and slow to anger, or rather, the slowness of Love’s transmission into the space of anger), in the sense that the Face is either 1) dormant, asleep, immobile in potential-to-act or else 2) reactive but dependent on the facilitation of others. Generally a stone bust, the King’s countenance will turn, at times, to fulfill a particular psychological/theophanic role — be whatever its beholder beholds.

… the seven princes of Persia and Media, who saw the king’s face, and sat the first in the kingdom … (Megillah 1:13)

The seven princes here being the facilitation functions that comprise this Face in Judaic cosmology, the micro-agencies (the DNA imprinted upon the Face crystallization’s individual fragments) by which the Face changes its dramatic posture: 1) Logic on the left, 2) Love on the right, 3) Prophecy to mediate and transmit in Intellect, 4) Martyrdom on the lower left, 5) Victory on the lower right, 6) Foundation as the self-referential function of this circuit’s transmisive capability, a self-reference that finds its actual symbolic realisation within the Kingdom of 7) Receptivity.

Esther, as the good King’s wife, is of course Shekhina, the archetype of the Bride, the Nukva to meet the King’s Zeir Anpin. The tranquility of God. But what does this mean? Who is Esther, really? What is Shekhina, actually? Why is her Judaism hidden from the King at the beginning? And why a second wife? She is the second wife, the substitution for Vashti, just as Eve was the substitution for Lilith, and Ismail’s wife was replaced by the Prophecy of Abraham in the Islamic narrations. What was so problematic with Vashti’s refusal to her husband’s (wine influenced) request? The answer to these questions is that Esther’s origins lie within the refusal, because that refusal results in the cosmic catastrophe which leads to Esther’s Prophecy. In a very Real sense, before Vashti refuses, there is no Judaism, there is no religion (Deen) at all …

2. Wine, compulsion and scattering

The banquet scene begins with consumption of wine:

Royal wine was in abundance as befitting the King. The drinking was by the law, without force, for so had the King ordered all the stewards of his household to comply with the will of each man and man (Megillah 1:7-8).

As we have written before, Wine is the Truth of the Metamodel, the 3rd river of paradise, higher-order Truths which (in our current lifelines) are collected by the ruh aspect of our souls as it passes from house to house, from framework to framework, from world to world, from universe to universe. Wine is the ruh. And (in the Metamodel of the Megillah), this Wine is in abudance, held by the vessels: contained within the signs/vessels, and served. It is served to comply to the law, the Jewish law, which dictates that more food should be eaten than wine drank, that the wine should be mixed with lower order matter, to comply with the will of each man (Mordecai) and each other man (Haman). Wine here is not enforced upon everyone, instead it “trickles down” through the “stewards of his household”, through the various soul paths (of reincarnation/influence/da’wah, etc).

It is like the Face of the King is the Household container of Wine — and one through which (by its component stewards) Wine flows downward, to comply with the Law, to intermix — with no compulsion — the Wine of Loving Truth with the objects of material existence. This ruh/Wine is in harmony with creation, a Metamodel entails a Model (Milk), and models entails systems (Water). The further down the chain we go, the “weaker” or more “scattered” the Wine becomes, finding its way into the lives of men as archetypes, as locked/containment fields, vessels and ayat of life to be read, unlocked, drank with — or rather, amidst, the food of the lower levels.

This harmony of object/type hierarchy is what is known as scattering, it is the nature of the Divine Law/Judgement/Deen when it says, self-referentially of itself

There is no compulsion in the Deen (Qur’an 2:256)

Which can be read as: “It is law that there is no compulsion to understand this sentence” or “Scattering of Law’s Truth is Law” — with the type hierarchy implied and grasped through understanding. (The obvious tafsir about not forcing people to convert also holds, but we must remember that it is stated as an offering of Wine from the court of the King, not as a statement of secular humanism and hence the implications are less about letting people go their own way but more a theatrical comfort to those of us who’d want the Truth known to all.) The identical principle is expounded within the Talmud’s commentary on the Megillah — dictating that the food consumed must exceed the wine libation drunk at the Altar. Similarly with respect to the True Echarist, before the moment of Transubstantiation: there is always an abundance of bread to be consumed, intermixed and scattered with Wine (subsequent transubstantiation being the understanding — emergence of Da’at — of the mystery of Echarist).

3. Appearance and speculation

We must remember that the King’s Face is a model itself, a form/archetype inscribed and experienced by us right now, as readers, at the level of Milk/Malakut/Yetzirah. It is a (Judaic) cosmology — but one that refers upward to its origin, refers downward to its existential implications. The Face apprehended by us right now is of Milk, but it allows us to grasp the Wine, flowing down through its own explanation of the catastrophe that lead to the Face’s formation in the first place. That is, the Face of the King as we read it did not exist before the catastrophe, so his banquet is a speculative fantasy, but a necessary speculation of our Genesis: in order to speak of what came before us, why we are here and where we will go, in order to offer Wine according to the will of man and man, in order to comprehend the scattering, we need crystallization of that which is scattered. And that crystallization is the King’s Face, made of Milk. This is why the King’s Face is an Earthly King, a King of a great Empire, with theophanic potential, great power but also possessing the host of Gnostic Demiurgic dangers.

All misunderstanding in religion — all forms of fundamentalism, all evil committed in the name of the Divine — stem from failure to differentiate between the King’s Face and the Greater Countenance in whose image the King’s Face was generated, by (again a necessarily speculative, sexualized) process of family resemblance.

And these failures are essentially the result of a disconnect between the King’s Face and the King’s Wife, as identified in the next portion of the Megillah.

4. The primordial disconnect and consequent catastrophe

The banquet — the court, the Face of the King, the wine, the scattering — are a speculation, a potential, not yet a realisation. And here we come to the irony: their full realization (as a model-level, archetype crystallization of Truth) follows from the primordial failure of the banquet. These archetypes, the scattering of Truth within the appearance of the Megillah’s speculation: the paper Megillah we hold in our hands — they are the result of the catastrophe about to befall the King when he calls upon his wife.

The Face of the King is looking up and looking down: he has reigned 180 days.

And his days have come to an end:

And when these days came to an end, the king made a seven-day feast in the courtyard of the king’s palace garden, for all the people in Shushan the capital, nobleman and commoner alike. (Megillah 1:5)

That is, potential now must be released according to the theatre of the banquet (the theatre of the narration, the Divine speculation of the Megillah).

There are different Megillahs, depending on your perspective, on the King’s perspective. Looking up, the law of scattering, the type hierarchy, the consumption of wine, the King himself: these all have correlates that take place, are written, are dictated within the 4th level Megillah of Honey, Lahut/Atzilut, the Metametamodel, the Heavenly Court, within the pages of the Mother of Books, the Umm Kitab. The King’s Face, looking up, conceives himself here as a lower, 2nd level container cosmology, a heart/qalb that instantiates the Metamodel of Vine, into which Wine of the 3rd level Megillah flows. Its excessive flowing down to nobles and to common men, into Judaic object instance embodied practice, man-as-object and man-as-model (“… to comply with the will of each man and man”).

But looking down, the King’s anxiety increases exponentially into cosmic meltdown. He realises he does not exist yet, he is a word half spoken still, a potential without realisation, a fluctuation about to happen, not even a waveform. He cannot come into being, his influence cannot be realised, the beauty of his Kingdom will remain speculation without the beauty of his Wife. Without his Wife, there will be no consumption, there will be no reception: there will only be potential. And so Prophecy will not be realised, and the story will not be heard. Looking down, the King’s anxiety is the anxiety of the (earthly, 1st level) Megillah itself regarding its tenuous realisation as a book, a birth-pain its upper Mother Book, the Umm Kitab’s birthing of the Megillah crystallization within our (object level, water based) earthly signs.

Think of it this way. The banquet is like a cosmic Wine tasting, the wine being savored in the mouth of the Face, but not swallowed (in non-compulsory consumption). For consumption to occur, for scattering to be effectively realised, the cosmic savouring requires a Rainbow connection — to the Feminine (Nukva) of reception, for matter (of Her Earth) to be fully inscribed/married to the transcendental facts of Wine’s Truth. The connection is sevenfold: from Love, to Logic via Prophecy, messaging Victory in dialectic with Martyrdom, a Foundational transmission into the Feminine Kingdom. Hence a seven day feast (hence seven days of creation).

Thus the Face calls upon the Feminine, Vashti his Queen, to display her beauty to the others at the banquet: there is no indecency in his request, for the other guests are none other than himself, in various positions, in various modes of influence, in moments of savouring, of trickling down in silsilah (transmission).

In short, something needs to stick. So the Face of the King calls upon his wife, Vashti for that savouring, that trickling down, that silsilah of the soul (from ruh/breath to qalb/heart to nafs) to “stick” and for Wine to be (finally) realised as scattered upon the Earth of Feminine Receptivity (in marriage, love, not force).

But here we reach the catastrophe.

What is the catastrophe? It is the fitnah in which both the vessels containing the Wine and the Wine itself become shattered, scattered. The event by which the broken reality of our existence is realised.

Things go wrong, the seven days of the banquet become a DNA within multiplicities of languages and we are left with a dramaturgy instead of Names of God: we will have the crystallized Zeir Apin into the totem of the Nukva, the impossibility of meaning in place of an immediate Name dhikr. There is no longer a signified behind the signs, instead there is misprisonment within multiplicities of voices, of language games, of books: each (from the perspective of our Judaic totems) bearing the DNA of the Judaic genome, though it is obfuscated within the code of the Babylonian postmodernity that is existence.

The fitnah from which the archetype of the Face of the King (and the archetypes of his first and second marriage, the banquet scenes etc) are actually formed, crystallized from the broken shards of the 7 days, the necessary failure of the banquet, the smashing of the vessels. It is from this fitnah, however, that our narrative — in its pre-semiotic anxiety — become released into a crystalline semiosis, the particular archetypical drama of the Megillah, the drama unfolding before us as readers. The vessels are broken, yet sign shards that contain trace amounts of Wine — their self-referential potential to realise Da’at and reconstitute, carry Truth back upward, from house to house, universe to universe, life to reincarnation, the ruh’s journey of tikkun/reassembly — reconstitution through recitation of these signs in Da’at. In particular, from these broken signs we have the dramatis personae of the Megillah itself, relating their genesis in ironic revelation.

Vashti refused to be seen — and so “Anger burns” within the King: when the inceptive circuit failed to immediately connect to the immanent plane of reception therein is generated the full cosmos of differentiated Judgement, Deen, fire, Logic realised. Thus is the passage of the Face of the King, from anxiety of its inception into realisation as an archetype, from a heart merry with Wine into a Shariah of fire (from right to left, from south to north)

The banquet scene thus ends in a primordial disconnect between the Little Face and the Feminine. Not so much a fall from Grace but, rather, a cosmic breaking of symmetry: a shift from the text’s/King’s fantasy of effective Face-to-Face transmission (mirroring, imagining the Mother-Father alignment experienced as absence/bestowal from the Greater Face of Allah) into our reality of the Fire of Logic, of differentiated, fragmented, broken space. Vashti’s refusal is the the primordial gesture of theophanic-psycho-sexual obfuscation, from which all refusals derive. Within this theatre, before Vashti refused, Man and Woman are Face-to-Face — after her gesture, there is obfuscation and transmission from Man to Woman is blocked.

And this is true over all systems, because systems (in plural) derive from this refusal:

And Memucan answered before the king and the princes: ‘Vashti the queen hath not done wrong to the king only, but also to all the princes, and to all the peoples, that are in all the provinces of the king Ahasuerus. For this deed of the queen will come abroad unto all women, to make their husbands contemptible in their eyes, when it will be said: The king Ahasuerus commanded Vashti the queen to be brought in before him, but she came not. (Megillah 1:16-17)

“This deed of the queen will come abroad unto all women”: the deed of the queen generates a rupture of the original pre-semiotic continuum of Face-to-Face transmission, in which there is one man and one woman (or Divine the primal scene image entailed by the Megillah’s genesis prologue) and generates a thousand parallel universes, parallel homes. The deed comes abroad, it creates an “abroad”. And the default switch in this fragmentation of reality is that the wife refuses the husband, that transmission is denied, that the dramatic position is Back-to-Back, rather than Face-to-Face.

The scattering’s realization is achieved by virtue of this broken symmetry, the multiplicity of tounges, of languages, of peoples.

5. Towers and tounges

Here we have an important cosmic correction , a movement from the epoch of Pharoah to Ahasuerus — the movement is invariant with respect to two constants 1) Haman and 2) the Good wife of the King — and these constants bring about an ultimate victory, the correction of the Face, its transformation/rehabilitation/reconstitution into the Zeir Apin.

The presence of Haman as a constant renders the Pharoah and King one and the same.
Haman’s nature is key to comprehending the significance of the story. His negative agency reveals something essential about the Reality of Time and Faciality (that the King’s Face can be simultaneously a comic player in the Persian events, the ironic story of its own Genesis including the construction of the Tower of Babel and, in tragedy, the story of Moses’ exodus).

These stories — as we confront them — are the scattered Truth of Reality, cured and dried for our consumption, for the correction of the Face, our Face. It is essential that we have a full the comprehension of way Time works, and how Haman’s influence runs as both a dramatic necessity and a potential danger through this Time.

This nature is grasped when we remember Qur’an and Qur’an’s detractors in the occational claim that Muhammed misheard Tanakh and got his stories muddled. For in Qur’an there is another Haman, the councillor the Pharoah of Moses’ exodus. That Haman perishes in the sea along with Pharoah. He also constructs for Pharoah a tower that Pharoah might see God. A tower that has a resemblance to the Tower of Babel in Genesis. Why do both Pharoah and the King here have councillors called Haman? And why the resemblance of towers? The Tower of Babel is historically meant to have been centuries before both Pharoah and this King. Is it confusion of stories? These are not separate Hamans, nor is there a Qur’an confusion regarding the role of Haman in Tanakh, nor a Qur’anic correction to who Haman was in Tanakh. The Qur’an informs us that the same Haman is present, simultaneously, before both Kings. It is the same tower, simultaneously, being constructed. Or perhaps simultaneously is not quite right: it is a case of God creating one verse to replace it with a better — it is a case of cosmic rewriting, in which the same Haman exists across the timestream, but now one in which the Prophecy of Esther presents a correction of Pharoah into the King.

The King’s Face, his legislation to the men of different lands and languages corrects the previous, doubting gaze of the Pharoah, which in turn encompassed the dangers of the conniving hosts of Babel:

And they said one to another, Go to, let us make brick, and burn them thoroughly. And they had brick for stone, and slime had they for mortar. And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth (Genesis 11:3-4)

Pharaoh said: “Chiefs, I do not know for you any God but me. So Haman, kindle for me upon the clay, and make me a tower, that I may look upon the God of Moses. I think that he is of the liars.” (Qur’an 28:38)

It is important to note that Pharoah is not being sarcastic here: he is being doubleminded. His “hosts”, his chiefs are the Demiurgic hosts of the Gnostic scriptures, they are “contained” within his Face, they are his agents of movement and he does speak the truth from a certain perspective: for them, there is no other god but the Demiurge, as their nature is one of Demiurgic submission. And he is correct: he does not know of anything else. But he wishes to build a tower to look at the Greater Face, to be in that Face’s true image (the hypocritical demiurgic ambition always — one that both acknowledges God but also denies in its ambition).

And Haman constructs this tower: yes, it is the tower of babel. And Vashti is Haman’s construction. This is the point: Haman is present at the Banquet though he is not yet mentioned by name — his agency is apparent in Vashti’s denial, his agency is denial. The Qur’anic Haman, his Babel tower construction is identical to Vashti’s denial and leads to the breakage, the fragmentation into languages. But if language is a symbolic plane of receptivity to the Light of Prophecy, then this fragmentation yields logics of worlds, yields a multiplicity of women.

But the correction within the story is that Pharoah’s Face changes expression: into the King’s Face, one that is pleased with Esther (anticipating pleasure, anticipating Chapter 2 where she emerges in her own right and the story actually begins properly). Esther the Prophetess emerges from the fragmentation of languages, the multiplicity of logics, worlds, houses, women in accord with the Shariah dictated by the King’s Face, dictated by his change of expression: that (multiplicies of) men will speak their own language across (multiplicities) of women/immanent planes. A thousand plateaus, a thousand women, a thousand immanentizations of a thousand cosmologies spoken within a thousand houses:

He sent letters to all the king’s provinces–to each province in its script and to each nation in its language [saying] that every man shall be master in his home and that he speak the language of his nation. (Megillah, 1:22)

It is with this last line of the first chapter, it is here where the King, by the agencies of his seven component agencies, his component DNA names, it is from this line that Esther derives, where Judaism the religion, the Judaic code emerges. Because Esther is nothing but the Megillah herself, she is the detailed account to follow this prologue, she is the Judaic code, she is “the language of his nation”. It is not a question of the man being superior, it is a question of the transmission failing in the first, widest, cosmically uniform, single communication framework and transmission becoming fragmented and scattered all the way down to the level of ordinary existence, of multiplicities and languages so that it is now described here in a particular, non-uniform, one-of-many languages: that of the Judaic code. (And the description is ironic because that which was being transmitted itself was the communication of the fragmentation into multiplicities of languages — and the Judaic explanation that it is through the self-referential/aware encoding of the Male/transmission into the individuated linguistic house that we can reconstitute the Truth of our existence.)

Esther is a Judaic code, literally, encoded, hidden as such from the King. She is obfuscated at the beginning. Why? Because the fall into languages, into multiplicities and logics and worlds: this fall is one into lightness and darkness, into veils of flesh. Into code that can be read according to the season’s of a woman. Cycles of congress/reading/pleasure, cycles of absence, of adha . Her seasons of reading, of obfuscation and revelation, of adha and pleasure: these derive from the cosmic refusal of her predecessor. Because there was a refusal, there is a shattering, so there is light and dark, reading and abstinence.

Esther is thus a particular house, a particular earthly language. But as she is Holy, she is also a Shekhina manifest and hidden: a particular immanentization out of the multiplicity. The 4th level Megillah thus descends into our earthly, 1st level Judaic Megillah: and her name is Esther. Esther is the Megillah, the detailed account. She is the words of Prophecy — but also a Prophetess herself because her words themselves walk and act to bring about the correction. She, via her parental linage, has the Masculine (transcendental) encoded within her and so she is like a kind of computer virus that infiltrates the King’s court, breathing life back into the King’s Face to turn it back into a Man, mastering the House — a virus that allows Mordecai to “hack” the system and reboot the liberation of the “people” (the souls of their linage, their silsilah-in-tikkun.)

Esther would not divulge her ancestry or race, as Mordechai had instructed her. Indeed, Esther followed Mordechai’s instructions just as she had done while under his care. (Megillah 2:20)

This is why she prepares for 12 months: it is 12 lines of transmission that constitute the permutations of transmission across the circuit of the King’s (dormant) Face

Now when each girl’s turn came to go to King Achashverosh, after undergoing the prescribed twelve-month care for women –for only then would their period of beauty-care be completed. (Megillah 2:12)

The 12 are the full Holy permutation of the 7 agencies within his Face, they constitute all the lines that make up a Man:

Then she is taken in the 10th month in the seventh year of the King’s reign (Megillah 2:16), meaning full transmission of all lines of Prophecy (all the way up to family resemblance to the 8th and 9th primal agencies of the mother/father and the 10th of Love itself).

And the correction that results? “The King loved.”

And the king loved Esther more than all the women and she won his favor and kindness more than all the virgins; he placed the royal crown on her head and made her queen in Vashti’s stead. (Megillah 2:17)

Her (masculinely encoded, 12fold prophetic) correction is a virus that infiltrates the network of the King’s Face and its change of expression: from Pharoah to Ahasuerus, from hypocrisy to Love and, ultimately, into justice. So this story is a correction to the Demiurge of Pharoah: the Face shifts from anger, to love, to a dormant position, to justice.

We ask again, who is Esther? She is the Megillah. A Prophetess (by 12fold encoding) and the King’s good wife. But if the King was once Pharoah, then we can also say that Esther and Asiya, Pharoah’s wife, are one and the same woman. Asiya has Esther’s soul, she is the reincarnation Esther (going backward in time): and hence Esther is the salvation of the Jews just as her pregenitor suckled their previous salvation.

Narrated Abu Musa : Allah’s Messenger said, “Many amongst men reached perfection but none amongst the women reached this level except Assiyya – Pharaoh’s wife, and Mary – the daughter of Imran. And no doubt, the superiority of Aisha to other women is like the superiority of Tharid (i.e. a meat and bread dish) to other meals.” (Sahih Al-Bukhari, Vol. 4, Hadith No. 623).

And the wife of Pharoah said: “[The baby Moses will be] A comfort of the eye for me and for you. Kill him not, perhaps he may be of benefit to us, or we may adopt him as a son.” And they perceive not. (Surah 28:7-9)

But while the story of Exodus is tragedy for the King (his body, after all, remains to this day as a sign to all), here it is redemption: by the agency of Esther, that encoded Jewish soul, obfuscated and revealed — she is the means by which the King’s ironic misprison is corrected into a Divinity circuit.

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