by Dr. Susan Block
Like many Jewish hedonists, my favorite Jewish holiday is Purim. Since it doesn't usually coincide with a comparable Christian holiday (as Hannukkah does with Christmas or Passover with Easter), not many gentiles know about Purim, which is sometimes called the Jewish Mardi Gras, or Halloween with Hamentashen. Sound exciting? It gets better. The Purim Story in the Book of Esther, also called the Megillah, is filled with sex, seduction, exhibitionism, sexual harassment, erotic teasing, decadent feasts, wild parties, political intrigue, lots of post-op transsexuals (otherwise known as eunuchs), the awful spectre of genocide, and Esther - a shrewdly seductive heroine who rescues her people from annhilation armed with nothing but her smarts and her sex appeal.
Though the Story of Esther is a fairly incredible tale, according to archaeological findings, it may also be a true story. Adding to its realism is the fact that, it is one of the only stories in the Bible in which God never appears. And it's an extremely relevant story in light of all the interracial, inter-religious violence going on in the Middle East and around the world today.
So, relax and read on for my erotic exotic version of the Purim Story, the Chronicle of Queen Esther, a sexy young woman who used the power of seduction to save her people from genocide. You might want to grab your Bible, so you can check out the source (the Book of Esther is right between Nehemiah and Job). You might also grab a glass of wine (Purim is a pretty Dionysian holiday). Grab your lover, if you have a lover. Grab your vibrator, if you have a vibrator. Grab yourself, if you like. Enjoy! Purim is a time to celebrate.
The Book of Esther begins with celebration: A great feast, the climactic week-long banquet in a festival that's lasted 180 days. That's 6 months of solid nonstop partying - and we think if we go all weekend, we're being decadent! King Ahasuerus, who rules 127 provinces from India to Ethiopia, is the man behind this Mother of All Parties, filled with lots of eating, drinking and carousing, as the very best Old Testament parties are.
And "on the 7th day," says the Bible, "the king, merry with wine" and wanting to impress his royal party animal drinking buddies, calls for his wife, Vashti, "with her royal crown, in order to show the people and the princes her beauty." Now, when I was a kid in Hebrew School, I learned that "with her royal crown" really meant "wearing nothing but her royal crown." See, I said this was a sexy story!
But Vashti is feeling prissy, or maybe she's on the rag. Or maybe she's a precursor to Catherine McKinnon-style feminism. Anyway, she refuses to parade her naked self before her horny old despot husband and his shnockered friends.. If she could have sued him for sexual harassment, she would have, but they didn't have lawsuits back then. They didn't even have lawyers, though they did, of course, have Judges.
So, the king kicks Vashti, the Mother of All Party-Poopers, out of the palace. Some interpretations say she's executed which, I always thought, was a rather drastic punishment for refusal to strip at a drunken party, and not just because I'm against capital punishment. But I must admit I never had much sympathy for Vashti, a sex-phobic prude with no zest for exhibitionism, one of my favorite fetishes.
Now, Ahasuerus needs a new queen. Naturally, being a Biblical King, he wants a virgin. They were into that then - the virgin fetish. A lot of guys are still into the virgin fetish, until they have to deal with a real virgin. My advice to Virgin Fetishists of all Faiths and Creeds: Get a nice experienced lover who likes to roleplay she's a virgin, and steer clear of the actual jailbait. But, Ahasuerus doesn't have me or anyone else as a sex therapist (they didn't have sex therapists back then either), and he wants a virgin. So he holds a Greater Persian Beauty Contest where all the hottest virgins in his kingdom compete to be queen. Can you picture it? Rows and rows of Biblical babes, all decked out and panting to be picked...
I remember getting all decked out to compete in a Queen Esther Contest, when I was a kid (and also, coincidentally, a virgin). Thanks to my Mom's costume-making talents and my already bottomless need for acclaim and bling, I won. Playing Esther in our Hebrew School play was the height of my prepubescent exhibitionism. Too bad the kid playing Ahasuerus was two years younger and three inches shorter than me. Well, that did make him easier to push around, which is, eventually, what Esther does...
But I'm getting ahead of myself. Back to the Bible, where we now meet Mordecai the Jew, who enters his beautiful teenage cousin Esther into Ahasuerus' virgin contest. Is Old Mordecai pimping his pretty young cuz? In a way, yes. Mordecai is the Original Righteous Pimp. Pimping to the max, he encourages Esther to bat her lovely virgin eyes, but keep a lid on her religion. See, back then in Ahaseurus' kingdom, it wasn't too cool to be Jewish. It's never totally cool to be Jewish; non-Jews are always suspicious of Jews. Actually, everybody's suspicious of somebody who doesn't adhere to the mythology that they believe is The Truth. It's a crazy, suspicious, superstitious, intolerant, hotheaded, racist, violent world we live in, especially nowadays. That's one reason I'm telling this story.
Esther's Jewish, but she's no JAP. She's actually pretty down-to-earth. And she's hot, "comely" in Bible talk, and the king gets extremely horny just looking at her. He gives her a prime position in the royal harem, where she's "purified," that is, bathed and beautified with ointments and perfumes for 180 days. That's right, six months of beautification! When it came to extensive spa treatments, those ancient Persians out-Japped the JAPs.
Most of this beautifying was done by eunuchs, that is, Biblical post-op transsexuals. Essentially, these are guys who have been literally castrated for one reason or another. Their main job was to take care of the harem girls without impregnating them, which was the sole prerogative of the king. Aside from the humiliation factor, and the excruciating pain of having your penis and/or testicles removed (nonconsensually, for the most part), it wasn't such a bad little institution as Biblical institutions go, at least for the harem ladies, each of whom got her own human safe sex toy, her personal eunuch.
I would also imagine that Esther received some lessons in lovemaking during her six-month intensive, perhaps from some of the older, more experienced ladies of the harem, preparing her for that special moment when, after all those treatments and instructions, she "goes in unto" the king. That's the Bible's way of saying they have sex. Wherupon she gives him the best head he's ever had. Just kidding; the Bible doesn't say she gives him head; I'm doing a little interpretative extrapolation here. Ahasuerus is clearly a demanding hedonist, and he falls madly in love with Esther after just one night, so I figure it must have been a hot night.
Ahasuerus crowns Esther queen, and he holds another big bacchanalian bash. The Bible's pretty coy about exactly what Esther does there, but I would imagine that, at some point, she strips down to her crown. After all, that's the king's fetish, and Vashti's downfall..
I can just see Esther bellydancing naked on a pedestal above crowds of besotted princes drooling at her comeliness. Go Esther! Go Grrl! But make no mistake: Esther's go go, but she's no bimbo...She's about to get into some high stakes political action.
See, all this time, Esther's Pimpin' Cuz Mordecai has been hanging around outside the harem. While trolling The Street, he overhears a couple of disgruntled eunuchs plotting to kill the king. Mordecai tells Esther who tells Ahasuerus who has the eunuchs executed (they sure didn't have a lawyer). Then he has his royal scribe enter the event into his Royal Diary.
Then, the king promotes one of his princes, Haman the Agagite to be his right-hand man. All the people of Shushan, the capital of Ahasuerus' kingdom, bow down to Haman. The only exception, standing out like a sore thumb because he's hanging around the palace so much, is Mordecai who's Jewish and doesn't bow down to anybody except "God," and maybe his accountant, but certainly not this Haman character. . Haman's mad. He vows to kill not just Mordecai, but all the Jews, and all their accountants! And, since Haman is now the king's pet, he uses Ahasuerus' royal seal to issue an edict that all princes in all provinces must prepare "to destroy, to slay, to annihilate all Jews, young and old, women and children, in one day, the 13th day of Adar, and to plunder their goods." His reason? His own wounded pride, of course. But with the king, he plays the race card, saying "these people are different...so let them be destroyed." Haman picks the day by choosing lots, also called "Purim" - thus the name of the holiday. But the 8-letter word is "genocide". Oh, I know, this story isn't so sexy anymore. Well, life isn't just a barrel of orgasms...
So, Mordecai stages a dramatic protest outside the harem. He puts on "sackcloth and ashes" and roams by Esther's window wailing, "Oy gevalt! They're gonna kill us! Worse, they're gonna clean out our bank accounts!" One of Esther's eunuchs comes out to see what the racket's about. Mordecai gives him/her the bad news, and says to tell Esther that it's up to her to change the king's mind.
Esther is not at all happy to get her new assignment. Actually, she's scared to death. Because even though they didn't have lawyers then, they did have laws. And according to the law, anyone who approaches the king without being invited is executed on the spot, unless the king holds out his golden sceptor. Now, even though Esther's the queen, she's fairly new on the job, and the King hadn't invited her in to see him. So according to law, she could be killed - instantly. Considering what happened to Vashti, this wasn't just paranoia.
But Cuz don't want to hear from no laws. He reminds Esther, "The lives of all Jews have been condemned. You might think that after all that beautifying, you're assimilated and can pass for Persian, but Haman's henchmen would not agree. Besides, perhaps you were blessed with your "comeliness" for a nobler purpose than just keeping a horny king happy and getting your feet rubbed by eunuchs." Talk about inflicting Jewish guilt; Pimpin' Cousin Mordecai does a number on our Esther. But guilt like that can do some good. Guilt over sex is usually dumb guilt. Guilt over not saving people's lives when you have an opportunity is generally good guilt...
So, shivering in her sandals, Esther goes to see Ahasuerus where he holds court. Upon spying her there without an invitation, the guards grab her and start to take her away for execution. But the king notices it's his favorite wife, his comely Esther, the one who not only makes him hot, but helped him avoid assassination. And, just in time, he holds out "his golden sceptor" and saves her life. I always considered this a very erotic, phallic image: the king saving Esther by holding out his long, hard sceptor for her. Now, don't get too excited; Esther doesn't deep-throat the thing. But the Bible does say, rather suggestively, that she "touches the tip of his scepter." Of course, the king gets very excited. He falls for Esther all over again. He just loves the way she touches that tip. Like many desperately horny men who will do anything for certain women, Ahasuerus proclaims that he'll give Esther whatever she wants. Pay dirt!
But Esther is cool. She's cunning. She doesn't spring the big request right away. She knows even a sex maniac like her husband can't be pushed beyond his limits, or the spell of seduction is broken. So, she invites the king and Haman to a private dinner. Ahasuerus is really excited now (besides being a horndog, he's also a foodie). He calls for Haman, who appears instantly, puffing with pride that he received an invitation to dine with the king and his favorite wife. Esther entertains like a great geisha, plying her king and his Prince with wine, sweetmeats and erotic treats (at least that's my interpretation of "private entertaining"). When the king is pleasantly drunk, well-fed, and well-shtupped, he asks Esther again: What does she want? He'll do anything! But Esther doesn't tell him what she wants. She teases him. She plays her potentate like an instrument. And she coyly asks him and Haman to come back the next night for another, even more elaborate and decadent dinner party.
Ahasuerus departs in a state of erotic agitation. He's got royal blue balls. He's bursting with the need to please his seductive new queen, and riddled with anxiety, not knowing what she wants.
Meanwhile, on his way home, Haman sees Pimpin' Mordecai who still won't bow down to his Royal Self. This makes Haman so mad that he can't wait until the 13th of Adar to kill Mordecai. He builds a gallows right in his own front yard, and he gets up early the next morning to see about obtaining Ahasuerus' okay to hang Mordecai that day. Of course, he has no idea that Mordecai is Queen Esther's cousin. He doesn't even know that the king's wife is Jewish.
Meanwhile, back at the palace, Ahasuerus, still in a tizzy over Esther's teasing, can't sleep. He can't turn on the TV (they had plenty of eunuchs back then, but no TV's). So he has one of his eunuchs read to him from his Royal Diary. Remember when the king made the entry about Mordecai turning in those other eunuchs and saving his life? Well, that's the entry he hears, and he decides he's got to honor this Mordecai fellow in some way. At this point, Haman strides into the palace, hell-bent on getting Ahasuerus to let him execute Mordecai NOW. But Ahasuerus, being king, speaks first: "What shall be done to the man whom the king delights to honor?" Haman stops mid-stride, assuming Ahasuerus is talking about him and suggests that "such a man" be given the king's robes to wear and the king's horse to ride while one of the king's princes rides before him through town proclaiming his honor to all. Ahasuerus loves the idea, and commands Haman to do just that...for Mordecai the Jew. Haman is in as much shock and pain as a freshly castrated eunuch! He's insulted. He's humiliated. But he obeys; he has to, he's a company man. Yet he's seething and more determined than ever to destroy Mordecai and all the Jews..
That night, Esther throws the dinner party of her life, with more wine and sex and sweetmeats, plus, I would imagine, a few of her harem sisters for extra spice. Her artful seduction has her king down on his royal knees again, like a submissive CEO with his Mistress-Domme, begging her to tell him what she wants. But she's a cool mistress, that Esther...
I remember the night I first told the Story of Esther to Max. I was telling it in bed, in an even sexier way than I'm telling it now. And at this point, with the king down on his knees begging Esther to tell him what she wants, Max got down on his knees begging me to let him go down on me. I was on my period at the time, but I ain't no Vashti, and neither Biblical prohibition nor bodily squeamishness stopped my Max. He dove for it, smearing his face with the blood of my affliction and the juice of my affection... I tried to continue my Bible-reading: "Okay... Lessee... the king... mmm... that feels good... the king asks Esther what she wants...oooh...that's soo nice...she wants...oh Goooddd...she wants him to suck her clit--"
"No," Max said, "that's not in in the Bible."
"True...But something tells me the king is not giving Esther head while she tells him what she wants."
"I don't know about that. She's a powerful sexual woman. She could tell a man to do anything anytime." Then he went back to licking me, slowly, sensually, then passionately. I felt a conflict of Biblical proportions raging in my loins, the armies of menstrual pain battling the forces of sexual pleasure for control of the temple, my body. It was close, but pleasure overtook pain, and I relaxed into Max's mouth.
I picked up the Bible in an erotic trance. No one was there but the two of us, yet I felt as if the king's great feast was going on all around us. All the princes were watching as I lay in the royal bed, two eunuchs holding my legs apart for my hungry king to devour me and my sacred sacrifical blood. All the princes stroked their sceptors, as I writhed and recited the story:
"What is your petition, Queen Esther?" begs the king, "It shall be granted you. What is your request? Even to the half of my kingdom, it shall be fulfilled."
At this point, when Esther knows she's got him by his royal cajones - when she knows he'd buy out Neiman's for her, if there had been a Persian Neiman's - our gal lays her cards on the table: "I ask for my life," she says, "and the life of my people," Simple and straightforward. After all that teasing, she zeros in for the win..
And the king doesn't miss a beat. "Consider it done, Esther my love." He may be a drunk, but he's not a skunk. So, just like that: Genocide reversed.. Such is the power of a sexual woman. But the story continues. Now that she's stated her desire, and he's granted her request, the king gets curious. WHO would destroy his Esther and her "people," he demands to know. Uh oh...Haman's in deep doodoo now.
Slowly, dramatically, Esther points to Haman. The king's in shock; Haman's his main man. He steps outside to think. Haman's freaked. He gets down on his knees to beg forgiveness from Esther. What a woman, that Esther, royal goyim on their knees before her, one after the other. Haman's literally falling all over Esther's lap when the king walks back in and assumes the worst. "Will he even assault the queen in my presence?" he bellows. And within moments - no lawyers, no trial, no questions - Haman the Aggravating Agagite, is taken away by eunuchs who execute him on the very gallows he prepared for Mordecai. Then the king gives Haman's property to Esther, makes Mordecai his new main man, revokes the Jewish genocide edict, and the 13th day of Adar becomes a day of "gladness, feasting and holiday-making," eating hamantaschen (fruit-filled tarts shaped like Haman's three-corner hat), and getting royally drunk Ahaseurus-style. This is the joyous, sexy holiday of Purim.
But the story isn't quite over, and it's grand finale is, by no means, just a barrel of orgasms. Though it pains me to say it about a tale that is, for the most part, such an inspiration, I must admit there is a very dark side to Purim's *happy ending.* That is, after the king revokes the genocide edict, Mordecai becomes, to some degree, what Haman used to be, and our beloved Esther helps him. They get Ahaseurus to give his royal permission for gangs of Jewish swordsmen to kill thousands of their "enemies," including Haman's 10 sons. Of course, according to the Bible, this orgy of bloody revenge is all part of the "gladness, feasting and holiday-making."
For a peacnik like me who so appreciates Esther's ability to seduce her king away from killing her peeps, it makes me want to toss my hamantashen and cry in my wine. Must the oppressed become the oppressor? Must the cycle of violence go on?
Not that I'm surprised. The Biblical and real histories of Judaism, like its offspring Christianity and Islam, are covered with the dead victims of God-loving, righteous, racist mass murder. Check out it, it's all right there in your Bible.
And so, much as I adore the character of Esther, the teenage beauty queen who uses her powers of seduction to save her people from genocide, and her Pimpin' Cousin Mordecai, they both disappoint me in the end with their fall into vicious bloodthirsty revenge. Thus I'm not devout about Purim or any other religious holiday. I just want to offer up my rather personal, exotic, erotic interpretation of Esther's Story, and I hope that it inspires you to find ways to use your own sexual power to create peace in your life and our world. I also hope it warns you against taking yourself (Haman) or any religion (Mordecai) so seriously that it leads you into killing other human beings who don't bow down to you or your God. But please don't let me get grandiose about a story, even a sexy Bible story. I just hope you enjoyed it. L'chaim!
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