Drinks in Golden Vessels
When Ahasuerus (also known as Xerxes I) held a banquet in Susa at the end of his military planning party, he served drinks in “golden vessels of various kinds” (Esther 1:7). Over the years, archaeologists have recovered a whole variety of these kinds of vessels from the royal palaces of Persia. Many of these drinking vessels, called “rhytons,” are fashioned in the shape of an animal, seamlessly attached to a flared drinking cup. The one shown in this photo is made of pure gold, as are many others known from this period. Other examples have been found that were made of silver, bronze, or even carved from stone. Each is a unique piece of artwork, fashioned individually by the hand of a Persian craftsman. No two are alike, illustrating the reference in Esther to golden drinking vessels “of various kinds.” The gold rhyton shown in this photo, like many others, is located today in the National Museum of Iran in Tehran. As queen of the Persian empire, there can be little doubt that Esther saw and perhaps used vessels of just this kind.
This Persian gold rhyton could not be set down without spilling. The person drinking from this vessel would have to keep it in hand at all times!
This one-of-a-kind rhyton is made of the semi-precious gemstone lapis-lazuli. As queen of the Persian empire, there can be little doubt that Esther saw and perhaps used vessels such as these.