by Ken Cayce

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Esther Explained

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Book of Esther Explained

"Title": Esther serves as the title without variation through the ages. This book and the Book of Ruth are the only Old Testament books named after women. Like Song of Solomon, Obadiah, and Nahum, the New Testament does not quote or allude to Esther.

"Hadassah" (2:7), meaning "myrtle," was the Hebrew name of Esther, which came either from the Persian word "star" or possibly from the name of the Babylonian love goddess, Ishtar. As the orphaned daughter of her father Abihail, Esther grew up in Persia with her older cousin, Mordecai, who raised her as if she were his own daughter (2:7, 15).

"Authorship": The book gives no hint of who wrote it, but whoever it was knew the Persian culture well. The account has all the marks of a person who was there because he described the events as an eyewitness. And he was probably a Jew. Esther is another of the relatively rare instances where there is general agreement on the anonymity of the writing.

The author of the Book of Esther is unnamed, but given the details concerning both royal court life and the Jewish people and their customs, it must have been written by a well-placed Jew in Persia. Probably not long after the events themselves took place.

Many ancient, and even some more recent, commentators, have attributed the book to Mordecai on the basis of 9:20 and perhaps also 9:32. While this is not impossible, the most one could safely infer from these verses would be that Mordecai's writings and royal records were among the unknown author's sources (compare 10:2).

Some have suggested that Ezra or Nehemiah wrote the account, but no specific evidence supports that view. There is no good linguistic evidence in favor of such a stance, judging from the style or diction of Esther, Ezra, or Nehemiah.

The book as it stands could have been written sometime after 465 B.C. since (Esther 1:2), seems to imply that Xerxes' reign is finished. There is no need to suppose that a well-known person was the author.

"Historical Setting": The events of the book cover a 10-year portion (483-473 B.C.) of the reign of Xerxes I (486 - 465 B.C.). Ahasuerus is the Hebrew form of his name, equivalent to the Persian Khshayarsha and the Greek Xerxes. The events occurred between those recorded in the sixth and seventh chapters of Ezra.

Even though the name of God is nowhere mentioned in the book, His sovereignty and providence are evident throughout. Vashti's dismissal, Esther's regal position, Xerxes' indebtedness to Mordecai discovered during a sleepless night, and the miraculous deliverance of the Jews all demonstrate God's control and care for His people (Psalm 121:4). The book also explains the origin of the Feast of Purim (2 Maccabees 15:36), on the thirteenth and fourteenth days of Adar (Feb. / Mar.), when Jews celebrate the deliverance from Haman.

A third theme is evident, that of anti-Semitism. When fully developed, animosity toward Jews results in genocide: the attempt to exterminate a race. This satanic scheme is probably much older that the time of Haman. In Moses' day, Pharaoh attempted to exterminate the Hebrew slaves.

The Jewish tribes of Benjamin and Judah had been conquered and taken into captivity by Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon. Several decades later, the Medo-Persian Empire overwhelmed Babylon and inherited the Jewish captives who had assimilated into their Babylonian (now Persian), homeland. The Persian king allowed a large contingent of Jews to return to Jerusalem but many stayed in Persia. So it was that a Jewish man named Mordecai had worked his way into a low-level job in the king's court.

This life-and-death drama begins when an egomaniacal, high-ranking official in the royal court hatches a plan to exterminate the Jews. This official, Haman, is upset because Mordecai has failed to show him the subservience he demands. The events that unfold from this perceived insult are the stuff of great storytelling, and in this case, marvelous truth-telling about key events in Jewish history. There are political maneuverings, death threats, shocking plot twists, and a beauty contest of sorts that places Mordecai's young cousin, Esther, exactly where she needs to be at a crucial time for her people. Her story affirms that God is always present and active in the affairs of human history, even when He seems hidden.

Only God could raise Esther, this female Jewish exile, to a position of unusual authority in a culture that valued neither women nor Jews. What an unlikely conveyor of God's salvation for His people! And what a visual foreshadowing of the salvation that would be offered to all through the unlikely vessel of a child born in a cattle stall.

Serving a God who oversees the universe and "works all things according to the counsel of His will" (Eph. 1:11) does not give Christians a reason to sit idle. Mordecai and Esther exercised courage, took risks, employed wisdom, and were thoroughly engaged in the events of their day. Refusing to remain paralyzed by fear or lulled to sleep by indifference, they seized the opportunities that God provided them. Their responsiveness enabled them to be in the right place at the providential time, so that God's will could be accomplished for them and for the Jewish people.

"Background - Setting": Esther occurred during the Persian period of world history, ca 539 B.C. (Dan. 5:30-31), to ca. 331 B.C. (Dan. 8:1-27). Ahasuerus ruled from ca. 486 to 465 B.C.; Esther covers the 483-473 B.C. portion of his reign.

The events of Esther occurred during the wider time span between the first return of the Jews after the 70 years captivity in Babylon (Dan. 9:1-19), under Zerubbabel ca. 538 B.C. (Ezra chapters 1 - 6) and the second return led by Ezra ca 458 B.C. (Ezra chapters 7 - 10). Nehemiah's journey (the third return), from Susa to Jerusalem (Neh. Chapters 1 - 2), occurred later (ca. 445 B.C.).

Esther and Exodus both chronicle how vigorously foreign powers tried to eliminate the Jewish race and how God sovereignly preserved His people in accordance with His covenant promise to Abraham (ca. 2100-2075 B.C.; Gen. 12:1-3; 17:1-8). As a result of God's prevailing, Esther (chapters 9 and 10), records the beginning of Purim, a new annual festival in the 12 th month (Feb. / Mar.), to celebrate the nation's survival. Purim became one of two festivals given outside of the Mosaic legislation to still be celebrated in Israel (Hanukkah), or the Festival of Lights is the other (compare John 10:22).

The book of Esther relates an amazing chain of events that first threatened, and then safeguarded and established, the welfare of God's people in the mighty Persian Empire. It is at once a sweeping story of geopolitical intrigue and a highly personal account of two people caught up in those events. The faith and courage of young Queen Esther and her cousin Mordecai blends with the providential working of God behind the scenes to protect His people, creating a fast-paced narrative about a less familiar period of biblical history. Yet commentators through the years have noted one significant irony: the book of the Bible that most clearly demonstrates God's providence in the lives of individuals and nations never mentions Him by name.

Providence speaks of "prearrangement." In a biblical context, divine providence refers to a sovereign God orchestrating the affairs of humanity by direct and indirect intervention and arrangement. Although the hand of heaven is hidden throughout the Book of Esther, the way that people and affairs align to ensure the preservation of God's people is not coincidence. The unlikely event of a modest, young Jewess being appointed queen of the most powerful nation on earth for "such a time" (4:14), and purpose as Esther was, is a grand example of divine providence in action.

The story of Esther teaches us that God purposely guides His people's steps even when we are not aware of it, even when things don't make sense. But God has a purpose in what He does in the lives of those He loves. Every thread woven into the fabric of the Christian life is part of the ultimate tapestry that someday they will view in glory.

Even with God ordering a person's steps, that individual is still responsible to walk through the Lord's open doors (Prov. 16:9). Every time Mordecai and Esther had the opportunity to be promoted" or do the next right thing, they stepped forward in faith without regard for their own safety or reputation. Esther presents a balanced view of the interaction between the will of God and the responsibility of individuals.

So significant is the story of Esther to Jews that the book is read every year at the Jewish celebration of the festival called Purim. Hebrew Purim is the plural form of Pur, a word for lots - painted or carved stones or pieces of wood with markings (like our dice today), though not used for gambling. Lots were tossed, or "cast," as a decision-making tool, and in Esther, the Purim were cast to determine the day the Jews in Persia would be killed (3:7; 9:26). That never happened because Haman's diabolical scheme was discovered by Mordecai, who relayed the details to his young cousin, Persia's new queen.

Because events unfolded as they did, Haman's ploy was foiled, and he was hanged on the very gallows he had prepared for executing Mordecai; the king issued a decree that would protect the Jews from harm; and a great celebration was held throughout the vast Persian Empire "from India to Ethiopia" (8:9). In fact, "many of the people of the land became Jews, because fear of the Jews fell upon them" (8:17). And the Jews have celebrated their great deliverance ever since at the annual feast of Purim.

Yes, God is in control, but there are still kingdom victories to be won. And He intends to use our active steps of faith to accomplish those plans.

The book of Esther is a remarkably different biblical book because;

1. Neither the word for God nor the name Yahweh (Lord), occurs in the Hebrew text;

2. The scene is Shushan (Susa), the winter capital of Persia, not Israel;

3. The book concerns the marriage of its Jewish heroine with a Gentile king; and

4. It solves the problem of an incipient anti-Semitism by a bloody self-defense, which is even repeated on the following day by Esther's request!


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Esther 1 Esther 6
Esther 2 Esther 7
Esther 3 Esther 8
Esther 4 Esther 9
Esther 5 Esther 10

Esther 1

Esther Chapter 1

The book of Esther is an unusual book in that it seems to stand alone. It is not connected to historical chronology of the Hebrews. This is a beautiful story of how a young Jewish girl saves her people. It is unknown who penned the book of Esther. Many scholars do not like to include the book of Esther in the Bible, because it does not directly mention the name of God. In this book however, we see the hand of God at work to save his people in a foreign land. The setting for this is Persia. It happens during the years of captivity of the Israelites. One of the lessons to be learned in this is "you reap what you sow". The feast of Purim is instituted in this little book. In my opinion, this is a very spiritual book. It causes us to see God, even though it does not call His name. "Verses 1-2": "King Ahasuerus" of Persia reigned from (486 - 465 B.C.), as Persia's fifth king.

Ahasuerus is a title meaning "high father" or "venerable king" and was used to refer to all the Persian kings, much like the term Pharaoh was used to refer to Egyptian kings. This king's real name was Xerxes.

Esther 1:1 "Now it came to pass in the days of Ahasuerus, (this [is] Ahasuerus which reigned, from India even unto Ethiopia, [over] a hundred and seven and twenty provinces:)"

"Ahasuerus": In Greek his name is Xerxes; he is the Persian king mentioned (in Ezra 4:6), who reigned from (486 to 465 B.C.). He attacked the Greeks and was twice humiliated by them (in

481 and 479 B.C. at Salamis and Plataea). The "India" referred to was not peninsular India but the territory corresponding to the province of Punjab in West Pakistan today. "Ethiopia was the country south of Egypt, now part of the Northern Sudan, not modern Ethiopia. Darius had conquered it early in his reign (before 513 B.C.). The reference to "a hundred and seven and twenty provinces" was an attempt to make the domain of the king as impressive as possible, for the primary divisions of the empire were the satrapies, of which there where never more than 31. The word "provinces" refers to the smaller governmental units, such as that of Judah (Neh. 1:3), whereas the fifth satrapy included all of Phoenicia, Palestine, Syria, and Cyprus.

Ahasuerus or Xerxes I was a king of Persia and the husband of Esther, the Jewess. Ahasuerus succeeded his father, Darius Hystaspis (in 485 B.C.). The Book of Esther portrays the king as 1. Ruling a vast empire;

  1. Being very wealthy;
  2. Being sensual, continually giving feasts; and
  3. Being cruel and acutely lacking in foresight (verses 13-22).

Ahasuerus "Reigned ... over a hundred and seven and twenty provinces" The kingdom comprised 20 regions (3:12; 8:9; 9:3), which were further divided into provinces ruled over by governors (3:12).

"India even unto Ethiopia": Ethiopia, not Asia Minor, is mentioned as representing the western edge of the kingdom to avoid any remembrance of the king's previous defeat by the Greeks (ca. 481 - 479 B.C.; see verse 8:9). This description also avoided any confusion with the Ahasuerus (of Dan. 9:1).

Ahasuerus banished his queen, Vashti, taking two years to find a replacement. He finally chose Esther, after which the exciting events concerning her, Mordecai (Esther's guardian), and the wicked Haman took place. (In 465 B.C.), a courtier murdered Ahasuerus; his son, Artaxerxes I, Longimanus, succeeded him.

Ahasuerus is the same as Xerxes. A province at this time, was an area that had its own governor. We can see that this ruler had great world power. This would have included Judea.

Esther 1:2 "[That] in those days, when the king Ahasuerus sat on the throne of his kingdom, which [was] in Shushan the palace,"

"Shushan" (Susa). was the ancient capital of Elam (the southwestern area of modern Iran). The city reached its height of importance as the residence and especially as the winter capital of the kings of Persia. When Cyrus the Great (reigned 550 - 529 B.C.), established the Persian Empire, he made Shushan its capital. At Shushan, Darius the Great (ruled 521 - 485 B.C.), built his magnificent royal palace, which later figured prominently in the story of Esther. In fact, most of the events recorded in the Book of Esther took place in Shushan (verses 1:2-5; 2:3-8; 3:15; 4:816; 8:14-15; 9:6-18). The great prophet Daniel had his vision of the ram and the goat in Shushan (Dan. 8:2), and Nehemiah lived there in exile (Neh. 1:1).

"Which was in Shushan": Shushan or Susa, the winter residence, was one of 4 capital cities. The other 3 included Babylon, Ecbatana (Ezra 6:2), and Persepolis. Shushan (referred to as the citadel)," is referring to the fortified palace complex built about the city for protection.

Shushan, the palace, sat on a hill. It was in the area of Shushan the city, but was separate.

Verses 3-4: Feasting is a frequent theme in Esther. This 180 day "feast" was staged to present the king's wealth and present his people of his ability to carry out a campaign against Greece.

Success would make him the supreme ruler of the world of that day.

Esther 1:3 In the third year of his reign, he made a feast unto all his princes and his servants; the power of Persia and Media, the nobles and princes of the provinces, [being] before him:"

"The third year" (ca. 483 B.C.). This probably included the planning phase for Ahasuerus' later campaign against Greece in which the king suffered a humiliating defeat (ca. 481 - 479 B.C.).

"Persia and Media": Cyrus the Persian inherited Media and thus the name Media became just as prominent as Persia (550 B. C.).

This was like a diplomatic dinner. This dinner probably included as many as 15,000 people. The governors of the various provinces had gathered for this feast. It appears from the verse above, that his servants were included in this celebration. The nobles mentioned, were possibly some of the Medes who held high favor with Persia, even though they were a captured nation as well.

Verses 4-12: Herodotus refers to this as a time when Xerxes laid plans for the great invasion of Greece. Along with him were military and civil leaders during the "hundred and fourscore days" (180 days). At the conclusion, a seven-day drinking feast was held (verses 5, 7), with the queen,

"Vashti," holding a separate feast for the women guests (verse 9). On the last day of the feast, the drunken king (verse 10), summoned his queen, perhaps to make a lewd display of her before his guests, but she refused to obey (verse 12). The name "Vashti" is puzzling because according to Herodotus, the queen's name was Amestris, daughter of Otanes, who had supported Darius in his bid for the throne (in 522 B.C.). Possibly he had other queens, whose names have not come to light, or she had alternative names. Or there may be a linguistic link between the names "Vashti" and "Amestris".

Esther 1:4 "When he showed the riches of his glorious kingdom and the honor of his excellent majesty many days, [even] a hundred and fourscore days."

Xerxes was the fourth king of the Persian monarchy, and was "far richer than all" that went before him, all their riches coming into his hands (Dan. 11:2). And now that prophecy began to be fulfilled, "that by his strength, through his riches, he should stir up all against the realm of Grecia"; which he began to do in the third year of his reign. And for which these his nobles might be called together, as to have their advice. So to animate them to come in the more readily into the expedition, by showing them the riches he was possessed of; for to none of the kings of Persia does this largeness of riches better belong than to Xerxes.

"And the honor of his excellent majesty": The grandeur he lived in, the pomp and splendor of his court; he was the most grand and magnificent of all the kings of the Medes and Persians.

"And this he did many days, even a hundred and fourscore days": To which seven more being added, as in the following verse, it made one hundred and eighty seven, the space of full six months.

This 180 days is a lengthy time of festivity in their land. Possibly a few of the governors and nobles would come, and when they left, another group would come. We are not told for sure but 180 days is a long time for one party to last. He was showing off his wealth and power to the subordinate rulers of his provinces.

Esther 1:5 "And when these days were expired, the king made a feast unto all the people that were present in Shushan the palace, both unto great and small, seven days, in the court of the garden of the king's palace;"

The "citadel," or palace, was in "Shushan (Susa), and served as one of the king's lavish winter residences. It was also the site of one of Daniel's visions (Dan. 8:2). Remains of this palace have been discovered in the modern-day city of Shush, in Iran.

It was not unusual for a feast of this kind to last for 7 days. This court was estimated to be about 350 feet long by 250 feet wide. It seems, there was a building sitting in the middle of it. To accommodate the large numbers of people, it would have been necessary for it to be this large. This feast was for everyone. The servants of the king and all the people, small and great, joined in the feast.

Esther 1:6 "[Where were] white, green, and blue, [hangings], fastened with cords of fine linen and purple to silver rings and pillars of marble: the beds [were of] gold and silver, upon a pavement of red, and blue, and white, and black, marble."

The fashion, in the houses of the great, on festive occasions, was to decorate the chambers from the middle of the wall downward with damask or velvet hangings of variegated colors suspended on hooks, or taken down at pleasure.

"The beds were of gold and silver": That is, the couches on which, according to Oriental fashion, the guests reclined, and which were either formed entirely of gold and silver or inlaid with ornaments of those costly metals, stood on an elevated floor of parti-colored marble.

This court was magnificent. The hangings could have been used as a type of awning to shade the people from the heat, since the court probably had no roof. The beds mentioned, were actually couches where the people reclined. They were probably made of the precious metals, silver and gold, because there was so much wealth. The pillars of marble were possibly limestone blue. The floors were of the same material as the pillars, and some other colors that made a mosaic design. There were 4 different mosaics mixed and matched to make a beautiful floor.

Esther 1:7 "And they gave [them] drink in vessels of gold, (the vessels being diverse one from another,) and royal wine in abundance, according to the state of the king."

In the pattern and workmanship of them, though of the same metal, which diversity made the festival grander. Earthen cups, with the Persians, were reckoned very mean; when a king would disgrace a man, he obliged him to use earthen cups.

"And royal wine in abundance, according to the state of the king": Such as the king was able to give, the best he had, and that in great plenty. The wine the kings of Persia used to drink, as Strabo relates, was Chalybonian wine, or wine of Helbon, as it is called (see notes on Ezek. 27:18). But by the wine of the kingdom, as it may be rendered, is meant wine of the country; the wine of Schiras is reckoned the best in Persia.

The fact that the drinking cups were of gold, just showed the extreme wealth of the Persian king. It is interesting to me, that the cups were different. Perhaps it would have been easier for each one to keep up with his cup that way. It certainly would have been more expensive to make them different. This would have taken many barrels of wine to have enough to furnish so large a party.

Esther 1:8 "And the drinking [was] according to the law; none did compel: for so the king had appointed to all the officers of his house, that they should do according to every man's pleasure."

According to the law Ahasuerus gave to his officers next mentioned, which was not to oblige any man to drink more than he chose. The Targum is, "according to the custom of his body"; that is, as a man is able to bear it, so they drank. Some read it, "the drinking according to the law, let none exact"; or require it to be, according to the custom then in use in Persia.

"For so the king had appointed to all the officers of his house, that they should do according to every man's pleasure": To let them have what wine they would, but not force them to drink more than was agreeable to them.

It was usually understood that the officers must all drink. This generally led to many getting drunk. It is interesting to me, that the edict of the king here, allowed each person to decide for himself whether he would drink or not. It appears the king wanted to treat all of these people as guests, and not as his subjects.

Esther 1:9 "Also Vashti the queen made a feast for the women [in] the royal house which [belonged] to king Ahasuerus."

"Vashti the queen": Greek literature records her name as Amestris. She gave birth (ca. 483 B.C.), to Ahasuerus' third son, Artaxerxes, who later succeeded his father Ahasuerus on the throne (Ezra 7:1).

This shows that the men and women had separate feasts. We mentioned before that the feast was like a diplomatic dinner. Vashti was the wife of the king. She was queen, because she was married to the king. It was in his royal house that Vashti held the feast for the women. "Vashti" means beautiful. This was probably a name the king gave her, after they were married. Many believe her real name was Amestris.

Verses 10-12: The king's "anger" was aroused, probably because of embarrassment. His guests were gathered to decide whether or not they were going to follow him into war against Greece, and he could not even control his own wife.

Esther 1:10 "On the seventh day, when the heart of the king was merry with wine, he commanded Mehuman, Biztha, Harbona, Bigtha, and Abagtha, Zethar, and Carcas, the seven chamberlains that served in the presence of Ahasuerus the king,"

Of the feast, the last day of it, which the Rabbins, as Jarchi observes, say was the Sabbath day, and so the Targum.

"When the heart of the king was merry with wine": When he was intoxicated with it, and knew not well what he said or did. And the discourse at table ran upon the beauty of women, as the latter Targum; when the king asserted there were no women so beautiful as those of Babylon, and, as a proof of it, ordered his queen to be brought in.

"He commanded Mehuman, Biztha, Harbona, Bigtha, and Abagtha, Zethar, and Carcas, the seven chamberlains, that served in the presence of Ahasuerus the king": Or "eunuchs", as the word is sometimes rendered; and such persons were made use of in the eastern countries to, wait upon women, and so were proper to be sent on the king's errand to the queen.

Esther 1:11 "To bring Vashti the queen before the king with the crown royal, to show the people and the princes her beauty: for she [was] fair to look on."

Not against her will, or by force; but they were sent to let her know it was the king's pleasure that she should come to him immediately.

"With the crown royal": That is, upon her head, to make her look the more grand and majestic. "To show the people and the princes her beauty": For she was fair to look upon; which was not wisely done, neither was it comely nor safe.

On the seventh day of the feast, it seems the king had too much to drink, and asked seven of his eunuchs to go and get the queen. He wanted to exhibit her before the men at his party to show her great beauty. We may assume that he wanted her to remove her veil of covering. He was very proud of all his possessions and he counted the queen as part of his possessions. To present the queen in such a manner as this was a breach in Persian etiquette.

Esther 1:12 "But the queen Vashti refused to come at the king's commandment by [his] chamberlains: therefore was the king very wroth, and his anger burned in him."

"Vashti refused": Her reason is not recorded, although suggestions have included that: 1. Her appearance would have involved lewd behavior before drunken men, or

  1. That she was still pregnant with Artaxerxes.

"Queen Vashti" was deposed at about the same time that she gave birth to a son, Artaxerxes (484 or 483 B.C.). Although her insubordination infuriated the king and cost her the kingdom, Vashti seems to have regained some of her influence when Artaxerxes ascended the throne (in 465 B.C. and until she died in 424 B.C.).

Vashti had to realize that it might cost her her life to refuse to obey the command of her king, who was also her husband. She, perhaps, would rather lose her life, than become shamed by such an exhibit. This was as if he were showing her off for the envy of the other men. Her refusal to come would greatly shame her husband before his subordinates. He would possibly not have asked such a thing, had he not been drinking. She would have to be severely punished, and it had to be known publicly for him to regain his self-respect. Most kings would have had her killed for such an act of disobedience.

Verses 13-20: King Ahasuerus liked to make decisions by committee, gathering together those he deemed "wise". In this case, he was advised by lawyers and astrologers. Like modern-day spin-doctors, they sought to help him out of an embarrassing political situation so that the people of Persia would know their king could command both his wife and his country.

Esther 1:13 "Then the king said to the wise men, which knew the times, (for so [was] the king's manner toward all that knew law and judgment:"

"The wise men, which knew the time" were a part of a traditional institution; they were consulted by Pharaoh (Gen 41:8), and were present in the Book of Daniel (Dan. 2:2). The "times" were strictly propitious occasions for action according to the stars, that is, astrologers.

Even in his heated anger, he did not act hastily. He left the judgement of what her punishment should be to the law of the land. The king wanted to do what was right in this case.

Esther 1:14 "And the next unto him [was] Carshena, Shethar, Admatha, Tarshish, Meres, Marsena, [and] Memucan, the seven princes of Persia and Media, which saw the king's face, [and] which sat the first in the kingdom;)"

"The seven princes": These high-ranking officials (compare Ezra 7:14), were perhaps equivalent to the magi (of Dan. 1:20).

Carshena and Shethar were his trusted advisers. Next to them, were the seven princes. All of them sat near the king at the table of the feast, and were treated with great respect. They had high offices directly under the king. We may assume that some of them were Medes, from the mention of "Persia and Media" here.

Esther 1:15 "What shall we do unto the queen Vashti according to law, because she hath not performed the commandment of the king Ahasuerus by the chamberlains?"

The king desired to know what law was provided in such a case as her's, and what to be done according to it.

"Because she hath not performed the commandment of the king by the chamberlains?" As this was the crime, disobedience to his commands, he would have those who had knowledge of the law consider what punishment was to be inflicted on her for it. According to former laws, usages, and customs, or as reason and justice required. And it being a festival, and they heated with wine, was no objection to a consultation on this head; for it was the manner of the Persians at festivals, and when inflamed with wine, to consult and determine about matters of the greatest moment.

Notice "we" in the verse above. The king did not want to make this decision himself in the heat of the moment of anger. Another thing that speaks highly of the king was that he wanted it to be according to the law.

Esther 1:16 "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 people that [are] in all the provinces of the king Ahasuerus."

Who was the last, and perhaps the least and the youngest of the counsellors. It being appointed by the king, according to the latter Targum that when his counsellors sat, the least should give their counsel first. Just as lessor ranking judges, and the youngest peers with us, give their opinion in a case first.

"Vashti the queen hath not done wrong to the king only, but also to all the princes, and to all the people that are in all the provinces of the King Ahasuerus": He means, by setting a bad example to their wives, as after explained. It is an exaggeration of her crime, and made with a design to incense the king the more against her.

The public shame that she had brought on the king would affect the entire kingdom. A king could not expect the people to do as he commanded, unless his queen set the example of obedience. The Persians had been so sure this would never happen, that there was no specific law against it. The advisers and the king would have to decide what would be appropriate punishment.

Esther 1:17 "For [this] deed of the queen shall come abroad unto all women, so that they shall despise their husbands in their eyes, when it shall be reported, The king Ahasuerus commanded Vashti the queen to be brought in before him, but she came not."

It will soon be spread all over the king's dominions, and reach the ears of the wives of all his subjects, and become their general talk everywhere.

"So that they shall despise their husbands in their eyes": Make light of their authority, refuse subjection to them, slight their commands. And neglect to yield obedience to them, and so not give them the honor that is due unto them.

"When it shall be reported, the King Ahasuerus commanded Vashti the queen to be brought in before him, and she came not": Was disobedient to his commands, refused to go along with the chamberlains sent by the king to fetch her.

The husband was the absolute ruler over his wife and children, in this heathen land. The queen's act might cause all of the women to rebel against their husbands.

Esther 1:18 "[Likewise] shall the ladies of Persia and Media say this day unto all the king's princes, which have heard of the deed of the queen. Thus [shall there arise] too much contempt and wrath."

From henceforward they will give a like answer to their husbands, when they lay their commands upon them, as Vashti has to the king. They will tell them to their faces they will not obey their orders.

Thus shall there arise too much contempt and wrath": There will be in wives a general contempt of their husbands, which will cause discord and strife, quarrels, wrath and anger. Contempt on one part, wrath on the other, and contention between both.

In Persia and Media, women were thought to be under the complete rule of their husbands. This act of Vashti's would affect not only the women of the ordinary citizens, but would affect the wives of the princes. They thought they might lose control of their family. The queen was an example for all of the women of the land for good, or evil. Whatever she did, the other women did too. A good lesson is to be learned here. We can see that our lives influence others by the actions we take.

Esther 1:19 "If it please the king, let there go a royal commandment from him, and let it be written among the laws of the Persians and the Medes, that it be not altered, That Vashti come no more before king Ahasuerus; and let the king give her royal estate unto another that is better than she."

"That it be not altered": The irrevocable nature of Persian law (Dan. 6:8, 12, 15), played an important role in how the rest of Esther concluded (compare 8:8).

Generally, the problems in the home between a husband and a wife would have been kept very secret. He would have put her away from him, but it would not have been known publicly. Since she had disgraced him before the entire land, this punishment must be public as well. We might say he divorced her, and threw her out. It was not enough to punish her. They wrote a law, so this would not happen again with any of their wives.

Esther 1:20 "And when the king's decree which he shall make shall be published throughout all his empire, (for it is great,) all the wives shall give to their husbands honor, both to great and small."

As it was proper it should, since the report of the queen's deed would be made everywhere.

"For it is great": The empire consisting of one hundred and twenty seven provinces (Esther 1:1). Aben Ezra and Abendana interpret it, "though" it is great, yet the decree should be published throughout. The latter observes, that this may respect the king's decree; and so the Targum is, "for his decree is great;" it respecting a matter of great importance, and relating to a great personage. And would have great effect on the minds of persons, when it was observed that one so great was treated in this manner. And therefore;

"All the wives shall give to their husbands honor, both to great and small": Speaking respectfully to them, yielding a ready and cheerful obedience to all their commands. Which would be done to princes and peasants, to high and low, to every rank of men.

They wanted this to strike fear into their wives, so that this would not happen again. This was not just for Persia, but for all the provinces, as well.

Verses 21-22: Memucan's appeal was to male self-interest. Note the whimsical way laws were made in a land where so much was made of law and judgment (verses 8, 13, 15, 19). The king dispatched his edict without so much as a further thought. There was something ludicrous about this decree that a husband was to take charge in his own household, for this was the standing rule in an oriental home. The law was not even enforceable. There is an ironic contrast between King

Ahasuerus at the beginning of the chapter, when he is the world's greatest monarch, rich and powerful, aloof yet generous. And that same king by the end of the chapter, where he attempts to maintain his dignity despite the defiance of his wife. The lawmaker of the Persians and Medes, whose law could not be altered, was prepared to pass an edict framed in a moment of pique, when he was not even sober. Such is the measure of the king who reigned over the world, and had the future of all in his power.

Esther 1:21 "And the saying pleased the king and the princes; and the king did according to the word of Memucan:"

The haste of impulse can make anyone "waste" his or her decisions. In a moment of weakness, the king was persuaded to declare a law that could not be broken, a law he would soon regret (2:1). The laws of the Persian and the Medes later figure prominently (8:8), in the story of Daniel (Dan. 6:8-12).

They all decided this was a good solution to a difficult problem. It would also, let all of the king's subjects know that the king did not let Vashti get away with this.

Esther 1:22 "For he sent letters into all the king's provinces, into every province according to the writing thereof, and to every people after their language, that every man should bear rule in his own house, and that [it] should be published according to the language of every people."

"Letters": The efficient Persian communication network (a rapid relay by horses), played an important role in speedily publishing kingdom edicts (3:12-14; 8:9-10, 14; 9:20, 30).

Persia was a country that lived by different rules than our country. The Bible teaches that the father should be the ruler of his own house. This does not mean that he is to be a tyrant, however. It also is speaking of the family unit. This is not something that should have been a law of the land. Morality cannot be legislated. The family unit, with the father as the head, is symbolic of our heavenly relationship with our Father.

Esther Chapter 1 Questions

  1. What is unusual about the book of Esther?
  2. What is the book about?
  3. Who was the penman?
  4. Why did some of the scholars not want this book in the Bible?
  5. The setting for this is ________.
  6. What feast is instituted in the book of Esther?
  7. What is a message for all of us in this book?
  8. The author believes this is a very __________ book.
  9. Where did Ahasuerus reign?
  10. Who was this Ahasuerus?
  11. What was a province at this time?
  12. Where was the palace of the king?
  13. What year of his reign did he have the great feast?
  14. Who were invited?
  15. This was like a _____________ dinner.
  16. How large were some of these celebrations?
  17. Who were the nobles mentioned, probably?
  18. There was festivity in the land for ________ days.
  19. How long did the actual feast last?
  20. How big was the court?
  21. What were the hangings, probably?
  22. The couches were made of what?
  23. The pillars were made of what?
  24. What made up the floor?
  25. They drank out of __________ ___ ________?
  26. What was unusual about them?
  27. What were they drinking?
  28. What was different about the drinking at this feast, than what usually happened?
  29. Who was the queen?
  30. What does her name mean?
  31. What could have been her real name?
  32. What did the king request Vashti to do?
  33. What answer did she give him?
  34. Who did the king consult about her punishment?
  35. Who would Vashti's disobedience of the king affect?
  36. What royal commandment went forth to all the lands the king ruled?
  37. How would this help the king?
  38. What punishment was inflicted upon Vashti?
  39. What was in the letter he sent to all the lands?
  40. ___________ cannot be legislated.

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Esther 2

Esther Chapter 2

Esther 2:1 "After these things, when the wrath of king Ahasuerus was appeased, he remembered Vashti, and what she had done, and what was decreed against her."

"After these things ... he remembered Vashti" suggests a lapse of time, and since verse 16 tells us that it was the seventh year of Ahasuerus before Esther went into the king's presence, probably the Greek war intervened before the king gave a thought to Vashti. Esther became queen in December 479 B.C. (verse 16), and more than a year must have elapsed between the decree of verse 3 (verse 12), and her marriage. The king may have first become attracted to Vashti while he was still waging his great campaigns against Greece.

Most likely during the latter portion of the king's ill-fated war with Greece (ca. 481-479 B.C.).

"He remembered Vashti': The king was legally unable to restore Vashti (compare 1:19-22), so the counselors proposed a new plan with promise.

Secular history reports that as many as four years passed between the events of (chapter 1 and 2:1), during which time "Ahasuerus" was at war. His realization that he had divorced the one person capable of cheering him up may have been heightened by his miserable defeat at the hand of the Romans, in which he lost more than one million men and his entire fleet.

The indication here, is that he was sorry he had listened to his advisors and put Vashti away. None of this would have happened, had he not been drinking. After he settled down and thought about what had happened, he had to realize that this was his fault and not hers. He cannot change her punishment however, because he had made it a law.

Verses 2-4: Realizing that the restoration of Vashti would spell doom for them, the princes abandoned the precedent of providing a queen from among their own daughters, and suggested that the king choose a new queen from among the most beautiful virgins in the empire. "Hege the king's chamberlain" was a eunuch in charge of the "house of the women," a most responsible post. The leaders were well aware of the weakness of Xerxes' character, and took full advantage of it for their own purposes.

Esther 2:2 "Then said the king's servants that ministered unto him, Let there be fair young virgins sought for the king:"

Fearing that, if Vashti should be restored, vengeance would be taken on them; or however to remove the grief and melancholy of the king, they gave the following advice.

"Let there be fair young virgins sought for the king": That he might enjoy them, and choose one of them, the most agreeable to him, and put her in the room of Vashti.

Esther 2:3 "And let the king appoint officers in all the provinces of his kingdom, that they may gather together all the fair young virgins unto Shushan the palace, to the house of the women, unto the custody of Hege the king's chamberlain, keeper of the women; and let their things for purification be given [them]:"

Who best knew where beautiful virgins might be found in their respective provinces, in which they dwelt.

"That they may gather together all the fair young virgins unto Shushan the palace": The metropolis of the kingdom, where the royal palace was.

"To the house of the women, unto the custody of Hege the king's chamberlain, the keeper of the women": In which house it seems were two apartments, one for the virgins before they were introduced to the king, the other for them when they were become his concubines, which had a keeper also. But this Hege seems to have been over the whole house (Esther 2:14). It was not only usual with the eastern people, as with the Turks now, for great personages to have keepers of their wives and concubines, but with the Romans also.

"And let their things for purification be given them": Such as oil of myrrh, spices, etc. to remove all impurity and ill scent from them, and make them look smooth and beautiful.

The king's servants had discovered the sadness of the king at the loss of his queen. In an oriental palace, there are separate apartments for the women away from the men. We saw that in the Palace of King David. These young, beautiful virgins were to be gathered from the many provinces that Xerxes ruled. They would be brought to the women's quarters at the palace, and prepared to meet the king. Most of these young women would not have fine clothes to wear, so they would be provided for them to wear before the king. Even though they were virgins, they would be purified in some way. This took approximately a year for the purification. This possibly meant that they were bathed and clothed in the garments provided. It also meant they were perfumed and rubbed with ointment in the purification.

Esther 2:4 "And let the maiden which pleaseth the king be queen instead of Vashti. And the thing pleased the king; and he did so."

Have the royal estate that was taken from Vashti, given to her, the crown royal set on her head, etc.

"And the thing pleased the king, and he did so": Appointed officers in all his provinces to seek out the most beautiful virgins, and bring them to his palace. So with the Chinese now, the king never marries with any of his kindred, though ever so remote. But there is sought throughout his kingdom a damsel of twelve or fourteen years, of perfect beauty, good natural parts, and well inclined to virtue. Whence, for the most part, the queen is the daughter of some artisan; and in their history, mention is made of one that was the daughter of a mason.

The king was lonesome, and by his own edict he could not get Vashti back, so he agreed to the suggestion. He sent for the maidens to be brought. In the next few verses, we can see that the hand of the LORD was in all that had happened.

Verses 5-7: Mordecai" was a name current in Babylon incorporating "Marduk," The name of the state god of Babylon. The names in his genealogy are well known from the family of King Saul: Kish" (1 Sam. 9:1; 14:51; 1 Chron. 8:33) and "Shimei" (2 Sam. 16:5). He had royal blood and was a member of God's chosen family who inherited the promises. The phrase "who had been carried away" most likely does not refer to Mordecai but involves a telescoping of generations (Gen. 46:27; Heb. 7:10). "Jeconiah," also known as Coniah (Jer. 22:24-30), and as Jehoiachin (2 Kings 24:6-17), was Judah's king (in 597 B.C.), and was deported by Nebuchadnezzar to Babylon (2 Kings 25:27-30). "Hadassah" is the Hebrew name of the heroine and means "Myrtle." In prophetic symbolism, the myrtle would replace the briers and thorns of the desert, so depicting the Lord's forgiveness and acceptance of His people (Isa. 41:19; 55:13; Zech. 1:8). Myrtle branches are still carried in procession at the Feast of Tabernacles, and signify peace and thanksgiving. "Esther" is the Persian word for "Star"; it picks up the sound of the Hebrew, and suggests the star-like flowers of the myrtle.

Esther 2:5 "[Now] in Shushan the palace there was a certain Jew, whose name [was] Mordecai, the son of Jair, the son of Shimei, the son of Kish, a Benjamite;"

"Mordecai" is the hero of the Book of Esther. He was a resident of Susa (Shushan), the Persian capital during the reign of Ahasuerus (Xerxes I), the king of Persia (ruled 485 - 465 B.C.). Mordecai took his orphaned cousin, Hadassah (Esther), into his home as her adoptive father (verse 7). Later, Mordecai uncovered a plot to murder the king and saved his life (verses 21-22). This good deed was recorded in the royal chronicles of Persia (verse 23). Mordecai refused to bow to Haman, and as a result, Haman introduced a plan to kill all the Jews in the Persian Empire (3:6). Mordecai then exhorted Queen Esther to approach the king and save her people (3:1 - 4:17). Haman was hanged on the very gallows that he had prepared for Mordecai (7:10), and Mordecai became second in command, succeeding Haman.

(2 Chronicles Chapter 36), reports three different deportations of Jews under King Nebuchadnezzar. Mordecai was living in Shushan because his ancestors, likely his great grandparents, had been deported in one of these waves (2 Kings Chapters 24 and 25).

"Kish": Mordecai's great grandfather who actually experienced the Babylonian deportation. After Babylon fell to Medo-Persia (ca. 539 B.C.), Jews were moved to other parts of the new kingdom. Kish represents a Benjamite family name that could be traced back (ca. 1100 B.C.), to Saul's father (1 Sam. (9:1).

During the Babylonian captivity, Mordecai had been taken to Shushan. This is the first mention of a Jew in this book. We read of a Mordecai in Ezra and in Nehemiah, it is probably not the same person. The Mordecai here, was a Benjamite.

Esther 2:6 "Who had been carried away from Jerusalem with the captivity which had been carried away with Jeconiah king of Judah, whom Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon had carried away."

"Jeconiah": Former king of Judah (also known as Jehoiachin and Coniah), who was deported (ca. 597 B.C.; 2 Kings 24:14-15; 2 Chron. 36:9-10). Due to his disobedience, the Lord removed his descendants from the line of David to Christ (Jer. 22:24-30). The family of Mordecai and Esther were part of the good figs (in Jer. 24:1-7).

There were a number of captivities that took place. This one seems to have been fairly early on. This was probably the second captivity, because of the capture of Jeconiah. Nebuchadnezzar was king of Babylon at the time.

Esther 2:7 "And he brought up Hadassah, that [is], Esther, his uncle's daughter: for she had neither father nor mother, and the maid [was] fair and beautiful; whom Mordecai, when her father and mother were dead, took for his own daughter."

Like Daniel and his friends (Dan. 1:7), "Hadassah" was probably given a new name by her captors. Most scholars believe that the name "Esther" originates from a Babylonian deity, Ishtar.

"Esther" was the Jewish queen of the Persian king, Ahasuerus (Xerxes). She saved her people, the Jews, from a plot to annihilate them. Esther was a daughter of Abihail (verse 15; 9:29), and a cousin of Mordecai (verses 7-15). After her mother and father died, Mordecai raised her as his own daughter. Her Jewish name was Hadassah, which means "Myrtle" (verse 7). The story of Esther's rise from an unknown Jewish girl to queen of a mighty empire illustrates how God uses events and people to fulfill His promise to His chosen people. Ahasuerus appointed Esther to replace Queen Vashti (verse 17). Esther exposed Haman's sinister plot to slay all the Jews. As a result, Ahasuerus granted the Jews the right to defend themselves and destroy their enemies. With ironic justice "they hanged Haman on the gallows that he had prepared for Mordecai (7:10).

Hadassah is another name for Esther. It appears, that her mother and father were dead, and Mordecai had raised her. It was Mordecai that brought Esther up to be shown to the king for a possible wife. She was a virgin, and she was very beautiful.

Esther 2:8 "So it came to pass, when the king's commandment and his decree was heard, and when many maidens were gathered together unto Shushan the palace, to the custody of Hegai, that Esther was brought also unto the king's house, to the custody of Hegai, keeper of the women."

"Esther was brought": It is impossible to tell if Esther went voluntarily or against her will.

It seems, that many beautiful maidens from throughout the provinces were brought to the women's apartments to be prepared to be viewed by the king. Hegai was the eunuch that was in charge of the women, who would be viewed by the king.

Esther 2:9 And the maiden pleased him, and she obtained kindness of him; and he speedily gave her her things for purification, with such things as belonged to her, and seven maidens, [which were] meet to be given her, out of the king's house: and he preferred her and her maids unto the best [place] of the house of the women."

"Pleased him": That she pleased Hegai points to God's providential control.

It seems, that when Hegai saw Esther, he was pleased with her, and he wanted every advantage shown her. He assigned 7 maidservants to her and gave her the nicest of the women's apartments. He saw that all of her needs were met, while she was waiting. We may safely assume that the LORD caused the king to be pleased with Esther.

Esther 2:10 "Esther had not showed her people nor her kindred: for Mordecai had charged her that she should not show [it]."

Perhaps Mordecai charged Esther "she should not show it", her heritage, to protect her from potential violence, in case the Persians had an aversion to the Jews. Possibly because of the hostile letter mentioned (in Ezra 4:6), or the anti-Semitic sentiments of Haman and other like-minded people.

This just means that she did not reveal to the king that she was a Hebrew. Mordecai did not even allow her to tell the king that he had raised her.

Esther 2:11 "And Mordecai walked every day before the court of the women's house, to know how Esther did, and what should become of her."

Being one of the court, and in a high post, as Aben Ezra thinks, he might walk there without being examined, and called to an account for it.

"To know how Esther did": To inquire of her health and prosperity, or peace. The word here used signifies, even all sorts of it.

"And what should become of her": Or was done to her, whether she was well used, or as yet introduced to the king, how it fared with her, and what befell her.

Mordecai was very interested in Esther, since she was like a daughter to him. He was allowed to walk before the court of the women, because he wanted to find out about Esther and what would become of her.

Verses 12-15: The women had "twelve months" of "Purifications" before their brief audience with the king. So much was at stake. Six months were spent with "oil of myrrh", which served a double purpose: it was fragrant and also believed to have purifying powers.

Each woman prepared herself for "twelve months", just for one night with the king (verse 12). These verses highlight the inhumanity of polygamy.

Esther 2:12 "Now when every maid's turn was come to go in to king Ahasuerus, after that she had been twelve months, according to the manner of the women, (for so were the days of their purifications accomplished, [to wit], six months with oil of myrrh, and six months with sweet odors, and with [other] things for the purifying of the women;)"

"Myrrh" was not only an ingredient in holy anointing oil (Exodus 30:22-33), it was also among the gifts presented by the Magi (Matt. 2:11), offered to Jesus as He hung on the cross (Mark 15:23), and used by Nicodemus to anoint Jesus' body for burial (John 19:39).

Some of them had probably been out in the sun, and rough skin would not be becoming to a queen. After the twelve months in the apartments of the women, they would appear before the king to be selected. This oil of myrrh was perfume that was generally for the wedding bed. This was something to make her smell nice. During this time, she would have her skin rubbed with oil so she would be soft to touch. She was groomed to appear as a queen. During this time she was probably taught the duties of the queen as well.

Esther 2:13 "Then thus came [every] maiden unto the king; whatsoever she desired was given her to go with her out of the house of the women unto the king's house."

When her twelve months were up, and she was purified in the manner before observed.

"Whatsoever she desired was given her to go with her out of the house of the women unto the king's house": Whatever she commanded the chamberlain was obliged to furnish her with, or grant it to her, whether for ornament, as jewels, rich apparel, etc. or for attendance. Whatever prince or peer she required to accompany her to the king, was to be obtained for her, as the Targum: and everything for mirth, all kinds of songs, or instruments of music, as Jarchi.

This is just saying, that every one of these maidens, individually, were given whatever clothes and ornaments they wanted to wear.

Esther 2:14 "In the evening she went, and on the morrow she returned into the second house of the women, to the custody of Shaashgaz, the king's chamberlain, which kept the concubines: she came in unto the king no more, except the king delighted in her, and that she were called by name."

"The second house of the women": The place of concubines.

The second house was for the king's concubines. It appears, that each of them stayed the night with the king and the next morning was carried to the house for his concubines. Shaashgaz was also a eunuch who took care of the king's concubines. They would never go again to the king, unless he called for them. If he called for one, she would be called by name, because he was pleased with her.

Verses 15-17: The king conducted the ungodly practice of choosing a queen by forcing hundreds of women to sleep with him. But God was not deterred. He silently worked through pagan people in a pagan culture to bring about His will and save His people from annihilation.

Esther 2:15 "Now when the turn of Esther, the daughter of Abihail the uncle of Mordecai, who had taken her for his daughter, was come to go in unto the king, she required nothing but what Hegai the king's chamberlain, the keeper of the women, appointed. And Esther obtained favor in the sight of all them that looked upon her."

"Obtained favor": According to the Lord's providential plan.

Esther's father was Mordecai's uncle. It seemed each of these maidens went to see the king, and spent the night with him. When Esther's turn came, it was interesting that she did not demand any ornaments, or extra clothes. She just took what Hegai, the king's chamberlain gave her. They all loved her, because this proved she was not greedy or demanding.

Esther 2:16 "So Esther was taken unto king Ahasuerus into his house royal in the tenth month, which [is] the month Tebeth, in the seventh year of his reign."

"Tebeth": The tenth month corresponding to Dec. / Jan.

"The seventh year": Ca. 479 - 478 B.C., Four years had elapsed since Vashti's fall from favor.

The month Tebeth is probably speaking of the month of January on our calendar. Four years had passed since Vashti had been put away for disobeying the king. Esther would be accepted or rejected, of the king on this night.

Esther 2:17 "And the king loved Esther above all the women, and she obtained grace and favor in his sight more than all the virgins; so that he set the royal crown upon her head, and made her queen instead of Vashti."

The virgins he made his concubines, as next explained. Though Jarchi interprets it of married women, for such he supposes were gathered and brought to him, as well as virgins.

"And she obtained grace and favor in his sight more than all the virgins": Who had been purified, and in their turns brought to him.

"So that he set the royal crown upon her head, and made her queen instead of Vashti": Declared her queen, and gave her all the ensigns of royalty. So it was usual with the eastern kings to put a crown or diadem on the heads of their wives at the time of marriage, and declare them queens.

The king loved Esther above all the other women. She was his choice of all the beautiful virgins of the provinces. He loved her so much, that he chose her to be his queen. He crowned her queen immediately.

Esther 2:18 "Then the king made a great feast unto all his princes and his servants, [even] Esther's feast; and he made a release to the provinces, and gave gifts, according to the state of the king."

Esther was not in any position to influence her success. It was God who quietly orchestrated her journey from obscurity to the second most powerful position in the entire kingdom. Every believer is in the process of God's will being worked out on his or her behalf.

"Made a release": Probably refers to a remission of taxes and/or release from military service.

All joyful occasions were accompanied by a feast. The king announced this feast to celebrate Esther's becoming queen. He sent gifts and released the provinces from taxes and fighting in war, for a time to celebrate his queen.

Verses 19-23: The "second time" evidently was another occasion when the king added to his harem, after Esther had been made queen. Mordecai's sitting "in the king's gate" may indicate that when Esther became queen, she had him appointed a magistrate or judge. He is now in a position to overhear what is being said by palace officials (verse 21), and to have access to the royal courts (verse 22). He is found sitting at the king's gate on a regular basis (2:21; 3:2; 5:9, 13; 6:10, 12). He actually foiled an assassination plot against the king, and the report of this service was duly recorded in the king's diary (6:1-2). Xerxes later lost his life through just such a plot.

Esther 2:19 "And when the virgins were gathered together the second time, then Mordecai sat in the king's gate."

"The second time": Perhaps the king intended to add the second best to his concubine collection.

These had to be the maidens that had been chosen from the provinces. Mordecai sitting in the king's gate, showed that he was one of the king's servants.

Esther 2:20 "Esther had not [yet] showed her kindred nor her people; as Mordecai had charged her: for Esther did the commandment of Mordecai, like as when she was brought up with him."

Esther had done everything that Mordecai advised to this point. This did not change once she became queen. In her continual heeding of Mordecai's godly counsel, she exemplifies true submission to the ultimate will of God.

Esther showed great respect to Mordecai, as she would a father. She had not told the king, or anyone else, that she was a Hebrew or that she was raised by Mordecai. Mordecai thought it best that she not tell, and she obeyed his wishes.

Esther 2:21 "In those days, while Mordecai sat in the king's gate, two of the king's chamberlains, Bigthan and Teresh, of those which kept the door, were wroth, and sought to lay hand on the king Ahasuerus."

"The king's gate": Indicates the strong possibility that Mordecai held a position of prominence (3:2; Dan. 2:4).

"Were wroth": Perhaps in revenge over the loss of Vashti.

These two men were highly regarded by the king. They were eunuchs that guarded the door to his sleeping chamber. They would have had an advantage, if they decided to kill the king, because they were trusted and could surprise him in his sleep.

Esther 2:22 "And the thing was known to Mordecai, who told [it] unto Esther the queen; and Esther certified the king [thereof] in Mordecai's name."

But by what means does not appear. The Jewish writers say, these two men were Tarsians, and spoke in the Tarsian language, which they thought Mordecai did not understand. But he, being skilled in languages, overheard them, and understood what they said. But, according to Josephus, it was discovered to him by Barnabazus, a servant of one of the chamberlains. The latter Targum says, it was showed unto him by the Holy Ghost.

"Who told it unto Esther, and Esther certified the king thereof in Mordecai's name": Whose name she mentioned, partly as a voucher of the truth of what she reported, and partly to ingratiate Mordecai to the king, that he might be still yet more promoted in due time.

Somehow Mordecai got word to Esther of their plan to kill the king. Esther told the king of their plot against his life. She also told him that it was Mordecai that sent the warning to him. She still did not reveal that she was related to Mordecai.

Esther 2:23 "And when inquisition was made of the matter, it was found out; therefore they were both hanged on a tree: and it was written in the book of the chronicles before the king."

"Hanged on a tree": The Persian execution consisted of being impaled (Ezra 6:11). It is likely that they were the inventors of crucifixion.

"Book of the chronicles": The king would 5 years later (Ahasuerus' twelfth year), read these Persian records as the turning point in Esther (6:1-2).

The king had this checked out and found it to be true. He had them both hung in punishment. This is a matter of historical record.

Esther Chapter 2 Questions

1. When the king got over his anger, he remembered ________.

2. None of this would have happened, had he not been ___________.

3. What did he realize about the whole thing, after he thought about it?

4. Why could he not change her punishment?

5. What did the king's servants say to him?

6. The apartments of the women were ___________ from the men's.

7. How long would they take for purification?

8. The maiden that pleased the king shall be _________.

9. Who was the Jew that was in the palace?

10. What tribe was he from?

11. Who had taken him captive?

12. What was another name for Esther?

13. What relation was she to Mordecai?

14. Why did Mordecai raise her?

15. Where was Esther brought?

16. Who was Hegai?

17. What special favor did the king show Esther, even before she became his queen?

18. What does verse 10 mean?

19. How did Mordecai check on Esther?

20. What was given to the maidens after the 12 months of grooming?

21. What was the second house they were taken to, after being with the king?

22. Who was Esther's father?

23. How did Esther find favor with those who had kept her, before she went to the king?

24. When was she taken to the king?

25. The king loved Esther _________ all the other women.

26. What was the name of the feast the king gave?

27. Esther treated Mordecai as a __________.

28. Who plotted to kill the king?

29. How was their plan stopped?

30. What happened to these two men?

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Esther 3

Esther Chapter 3

Esther 3:1 "After these things did king Ahasuerus promote Haman the son of

Hammedatha the Agagite, and advanced him, and set his seat above all the princes that [were] with him."

"After these things": Sometime between the seventh (2:16), and twelfth year (3:7), of the king's reign.

"The phrase "after these things" suggests that about four years had passed since Esther became queen.

The reference to the "Agagite" is reminiscent of the story (in 1 Samuel 15), when Saul is reprimanded for sparing King Agag. Later one of his descendants killed Saul (note Exodus 17:8-

16; Deut. 25:17-19; 1 Chron. 4:43). Haman was like his predecessors in that they "feared not God" (Deut. 25:18).

We do not know for sure exactly how much later this occurred. We can safely assume that it was several years however. There had been no mention of Haman, up until this time. There is nothing known about Agagites. For whatever reason, Haman had been elevated up to second in command under the king.

Esther 3:2 "And all the king's servants, that [were] in the king's gate, bowed, and reverenced Haman: for the king had so commanded concerning him. But Mordecai bowed not, nor did [him] reverence."

Jews customarily bowed before their kings (2 Sam. 14:4; 18:28; 1 Kings 1:16). But when Persians bowed before their kings, they paid homage as to a divine being. The Spartans refused to bow before Xerxes for this reason (Herodotus). As a faithful Jew, Mordecai could not give such honor (Deut. 6:13-14), he "bowed not" before "Haman", who expected to be revered. Daniel and his friends felt a similar conviction (Dan. Chapter 3). Mordechai is about to become the focus of anti-Semitism.

"Bowed not": There is a question as to whether Esther and Mordecai were inclined to obey the Mosaic Law. This refusal may be more likely grounded in the family feud between the Benjamites and the Agagite, than Mordecai's allegiance to the second commandment (Exodus 20:4-6).

It was an oriental custom to bow to the king. Perhaps Haman had been someone who had not been regarded highly, and the order to bow to him would give him some respect. All of the servants of the king, who were about the level of Mordecai in authority, bowed to Haman.

Mordecai refused to bow to him.

Esther 3:3 "Then the king's servants, which [were] in the king's gate, said unto Mordecai,

Why transgressest thou the king's commandment?"

Observing the behavior of Mordecai towards Haman from time to time.

"Said unto Mordecai, why transgressest thou the king's commandment?" Of giving reverence to Haman, which they knew he could not be ignorant of.

It appears the servants did not want Mordecai to get into trouble for not bowing to Haman. They asked him why he didn't just go ahead and bow, and keep down trouble.

Esther 3:4 "Now it came to pass, when they spake daily unto him, and he hearkened not unto them, that they told Haman, to see whether Mordecai's matters would stand: for he had told them that he [was] a Jew."

"He was a Jew": It seems evident from Haman's fury and attempted genocide, that there were strong anti-Semitic attitudes in Susa, which seems to explain Mordecai's reluctance to reveal his true ethnic background.

It appears that Mordecai had explained to them that he was a Hebrew, and they were forbidden by their God to bow to a man. When he paid no attention to their warning, they told Haman. They were probably afraid that if they did not, Haman would punish them. They did not know whether Haman would accept that as an excuse not to bow, or not.

Esther 3:5 "And when Haman saw that Mordecai bowed not, nor did him reverence, then was Haman full of wrath."

Josephus tells us, that Haman, taking notice of this behavior in Mordecai, asked him what countryman he was, and finding him to be a Jew, broke out into a violent exclamation at his insolence. And in his rage formed the desperate resolution, not only to be revenged on Mordecai, but to destroy the whole race of the Jews. Well remembering that his ancestors, the Amalekites, had been formerly driven out of their country, and almost exterminated by the Jews.

It is very apparent to me, that Haman never had much power before, and the power he had now as the number two man, made him excessively proud of himself.

Esther 3:6 "And he thought scorn to lay hands on Mordecai alone; for they had showed him the people of Mordecai: wherefore Haman sought to destroy all the Jews that [were] throughout the whole kingdom of Ahasuerus, [even] the people of Mordecai."

"The people of Mordecai": Haman was being satanically used to target the entire Jewish race in an unsuccessful attempt to change the course of redemptive history and God's plans for Israel.

Haman was a very evil man. He would like to destroy all of the Jews in the kingdom of Persia, instead of just killing Mordecai. In the process, Mordecai and all of his relatives would die.

Esther 3:7 "In the first month, that [is], the month Nisan, in the twelfth year of king Ahasuerus, they cast Pur, that [is], the lot, before Haman from day to day, and from month to month, [to] the twelfth [month], that [is], the month Adar ."

According to many the subject of the origin of the Feast of Purim (lots), is the main theme of the book. (Early in April 474 B.C.), Haman had the astrologers and magicians cast the lot to determine which day of the year would bring destruction to Israel. Little did he realize that when "the lot is cast into the lap ... the whole disposing thereof is of the Lord" (Prov. 16:33). The lot fell on the "twelfth month" (February - March), which not only gave Haman time to prepare but also, in the overruling providence of God, gave the Jews time to thwart his plan.

"Nisan": The time period March / April. Ironically, the Jews should have been celebrating the Passover to remind them of a former deliverance. This was the first month in the Persian calendar. The Persians cast Pur ("the lot"), to determine the day on which to destroy the Jewish race.

"Twelfth year" (ca. 474 B.C.), "Pur ... lot". A lot would be like modern dice which were cast to determine future decisions (compare the Hebrew lot, 1 Chron. 26:14; Neh. 10:34; Jonah 1:7). (Proverbs 16:33), states that God providentially controlled the outcome of the lot.

"Adar": Feb. / Mar. There would have been an 11 month interval between Haman's decree and its expected fulfillment.

This first month was the same as Abib, or our April. Esther married the king on the seventh year, so it appears she had been married to him over 4 years when this happened. It appears that Haman cast lots (Pur), to see what day and month he would set the massacre of the Jews. Adar would have been the same as our March.

Verses 8-11: Haman is careful to ingratiate himself with the king by appearing to be motivated only by "the king's profit". In effect, he offers the king a bribe (verse 9), which he expected to raise by confiscating the property of the Jews, "the thousand talents of silver", or about 12 million ounces. The king was not even interested enough to inquire who the people were. So he gave Haman his signet "ring". With this seal of executive power, Haman would be able to send letters in the king's name (verse 12). Later the ring was given to Mordecai (8:2, 8). Possibly to avoid the appearance of greed, Xerxes offered money to Haman. The king's utter indifference to the fate of millions of his subjects has found modern parallels in Hitler, Stalin, and Khrushchev.

Esther 3:8 "And Haman said unto king Ahasuerus, There is a certain people scattered abroad and dispersed among the people in all the provinces of thy kingdom; and their laws [are] diverse from all people; neither keep they the king's laws: therefore it [is] not for the king's profit to suffer them."

"A certain people": Haman never divulged their identity.

There were probably a large number of Jews in this area at this time. Many of them had been allowed to go back to their homeland, but some, for one reason or another, had not gone back home. Haman was trying to stir the king up against them, by telling him they did not keep his laws. He was the same as accusing them of being traitors to the king.

Esther 3:9 "If it please the king, let it be written that they may be destroyed: and I will pay ten thousand talents of silver to the hands of those that have the charge of the business, to bring [it] into the king's treasuries."

"Ten thousand talents": The exact dollar amount is uncertain, but reportedly it would have weighed 375 tons and equaled almost 70% of the king's annual revenue. Since this sum would have been derived from the plunder of the Jews, it indicates that they had grown prosperous.

So when Haman promised the greedy, recently defeated King Ahasuerus that sum if he signed a proclamation to "destroy" (literally "wipe out"), the Jews, he was promising great wealth. No doubt the money would come from the confiscated goods of the victims.

The king had trusted Haman enough, that he made him the next in authority to him. He had no reason to doubt that what Haman said was not true. Haman was trying to prove his sincerity in protecting the king by offering to pay for the destruction of them.

Verses 10-11: The king would have easily been eager to eliminate any rebellion against his authority (3:8), although he did not seem to be interested in the money.

To sign official documents, ancient kings would press their "signet ring", imprinted with their distinctive royal symbol, into the soft wax placed on the document. By giving Haman this ring, the king also gave him his power.

Esther 3:10 "And the king took his ring from his hand, and gave it unto Haman the son of Hammedatha the Agagite, the Jews' enemy."

"The Jews' enemy" (compare 7:6; 8:1; 9:10, 24).

This is the signet ring of the king. Anything it was stamped on was an order of the king automatically. Haman hated the Jews.

Esther 3:11 "And the king said unto Haman, The silver [is] given to thee, the people also, to do with them as it seemeth good to thee."

With indifference which seems incredible, but which is quite in accordance with what we otherwise know of Xerxes. The king simply hands over to his minister the whole nation and their possessions to do with as he will. The king perhaps was glad to throw the cares of government on his minister, and was too lazy to form an opinion for himself, he was content to believe that the people (Jews), were a worthless, disloyal people.

"The silver is given thee, the people also": Not that "the silver which thou hast given me is given back to thee," for the 10,000 talents had not been given, but only offered. Rather, "the silver of the people is given thee, together with the people themselves, to do with both as it pleases thee." Confiscation always accompanies execution in the East, and the goods of those who are put to death naturally reverts their property to the crown, which either seizes them or makes a grant of them (compare 8:11). Where the property of those of the Jews who should suffer death is granted to those who should slay them.

Of course, the king would not allow Haman to use his own money for this purpose. Haman could have all the silver he found on these people for himself after he killed them. The king felt that he could trust Haman, and he told him to do whatever he felt was necessary.

Verses 12-15: The date (in verse 12), was memorable to any Jew because it was the day before the slaying of the Passover lamb (Exodus 12:6). Was God able to save His people now as He had done in the past?

Haman's plan was so carefully crafted and communicated that everyone in the kingdom knew what it meant: "all the Jews" were to be annihilated.

Esther 3:12 "Then were the king's scribes called on the thirteenth day of the first month, and there was written according to all that Haman had commanded unto the king's lieutenants, and to the governors that [were] over every province, and to the rulers of every people of every province according to the writing thereof, and [to] every people after their language; in the name of king Ahasuerus was it written, and sealed with the king's ring."

"Sealed ... king's ring": This would be equivalent to the king's signature. The date has been calculated by historians to be April 7, 474 B.C.

These scribes would draw up the edict that would be sealed with the king's signet ring. They were always handy, because the king would have them draw up edicts for himself. It seems in this case, the king did not even know what the wording of the edict was. He trusted Haman with all of that. This was sent to every province, so it had to be sent to Judah, as well.

Esther 3:13 "And the letters were sent by posts into all the king's provinces, to destroy, to kill, and to cause to perish, all Jews, both young and old, little children and women, in one day, [even] upon the thirteenth [day] of the twelfth month, which is the month Adar, and [to take] the spoil of them for a prey."

"To destroy": An ambitious plot to annihilate the Jews in just one day. The king had unwittingly approved this provision which would kill his own queen.

The letters were sent very much like our pony express worked. The letters were taken by horseback. They would be carried, until the horse and rider came to another station, and sent them by horseback from there. The contents of these edicts were that all of the Hebrew people should be killed, even the women and the children. They should be killed on March 13, which was several months away.

Esther 3:14 "The copy of the writing for a commandment to be given in every province was published unto all people, that they should be ready against that day."

"A commandment": It would be irrevocable (compare 1:19; 8:5-8).

Each province was to do their own killing on that particular day. It is difficult to understand why one person could have that much hate built up within him. He had planned to kill all the Jews. This reminds me of the hate that Hitler had.

Esther 3:15 "The posts went out, being hastened by the king's commandment, and the decree was given in Shushan the palace. And the king and Haman sat down to drink; but the city Shushan was perplexed."

"Was perplexed": No specific reason is stated. Most likely even this pagan population was puzzled at the extreme and deadly racism of the king and Haman.

There was no reason to rush to get the letters out, but Haman wanted to make sure everyone knew. The people of Shushan could not understand this. The Persians had been good to the Jews in the past. Probably the king was not informed of the exact content of the letters. At least, we have not seen a Scripture where he knew. Remember, he had given his signet to Haman. Haman did the preliminaries. It seemed that Haman and the king were drinking friends.

Esther Chapter 3 Questions

  1. Who did king Ahasuerus promote to second in command?
  2. Who bowed to him?
  3. Who was the exception to that?
  4. It was an ___________ custom to bow to the king.
  5. What question did the other servants ask Mordecai?
  6. Why was it so important to Haman that they bow to him?
  7. When did they tell Haman about Mordecai?
  8. How did Haman feel about Mordecai not bowing?
  9. Who did Haman really want to kill?
  10. What does "Pur" mean?
  11. What month is the same as the first month mentioned in verse 7?
  12. What lie did Haman tell the king?
  13. Did Haman tell him the people were the Jews?
  14. What did Haman suggest they do about this?
  15. What did the king give Haman to use, that was a symbol of his authority?
  16. What benefit does the king tell Haman will be his?
  17. When were the scribes called to write the edict?
  18. Who will the edicts be sent to?
  19. Why did the king not know what was in the edict?
  20. How were the letters sent?
  21. Who were to be killed?
  22. When was this to happen?
  23. After the edict went out, what did Haman and the king do?
  24. Why did the people of Shushan not understand this edict?
  25. How could the king, possibly, not know what the edict said?

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Esther 4

Esther Chapter 4

Verses 1-3: The "sackcloth" that Mordecai wore was likely made from the hair of goats or camels. It was uncomfortable to wear next to the skin, providing a physical reminder of his sorrow. This display of deep grief was something that Hebrew and Persian alike would have understood (Joshua 7:6; 2 Sam. 1:11; Jonah 3:5-6).

Mordecai "rent his clothes, and put on sackcloth with ashes": These customs were attested in widely separated Old Testament periods (Gen. 37:34; 2 Sam. 1:11; Isa. 3:24; Dan. 9:3), and were practiced by other nations (Isa. 15:3; Ezek. 27:30-33), as well as by Israel. The law against wearing sackcloth in the king's gate is not otherwise attested, but it is intrinsically credible (Neh. 2:2).

Esther 4:1 "When Mordecai perceived all that was done, Mordecai rent his clothes, and put on sackcloth with ashes, and went out into the midst of the city, and cried with a loud and a bitter cry;"

"Sackcloth with ashes": An outward sign of inward distress and humiliation (Jer. 6:26; Dan. 9:3; Matt. 11:21). Mordecai realized that he had prompted this genocidal retaliation by Haman.

Haman made sure that the king did not know what the edict said, until it was too late to stop it. Now, it seems to be common knowledge even to the Jews themselves. When Mordecai heard of this, he went out in the middle of the street so all could see, and rent his clothes, and threw ashes upon his head in mourning. Either thing that he had done would have revealed mourning, but this is a very deep type of mourning. He cried out with a loud voice as well, which drew the attention of the people to him. However he was crying to God as well.

Esther 4:2 "And came even before the king's gate: for none [might] enter into the king's gate clothed with sackcloth."

Or court, that Esther might if possible be made acquainted with this dreadful calamity coming upon her people.

"For none might enter into the king's gate clothed with sackcloth": Or appear in such a dress at court, where nothing was admitted to damp the pleasures of it.

He had possibly gone all over the town in this manner. He lived in the palace, so he had come back there still mourning. He might arouse the attention of Esther with his cries. No one could come inside the gate in mourning clothes, so he must stay outside the gate.

Verses 3-4: "In every province" in the kingdom, the "Jews" mourned. Mordecai's decision of "received it not": (meaning the clothes Esther sent), and that this was not just a moment of sorrow but a national calamity.

Esther 4:3 "And in every province, whithersoever the king's commandment and his decree came, [there was] great mourning among the Jews, and fasting, and weeping, and wailing; and many lay in sackcloth and ashes."

For destroying the Jews on such a day, in every place where they were to be found.

"There was great mourning among the Jews, and weeping, and wailing": Which continued all day.

"And many lay in sackcloth and ashes": All night; made use of no other bed to lie on, nor clothes to cover them with.

There was no way to stop this, but by God. They were fasting, praying, and mourning in hope the LORD would see their problem, and come to their rescue.

Esther 4:4 "So Esther's maids and her chamberlains came and told [it] her. Then was the queen exceedingly grieved; and she sent raiment to clothe Mordecai, and to take away his sackcloth from him: but he received [it] not."

"She sent raiment": Mordecai could then enter the king's gate (4:2), and talk with Esther directly (Neh. 2:2).

The chamberlains here, were the eunuchs who served Esther. The queen had many maids who helped her. One of the jobs the eunuchs did, was to keep Esther in touch with what was happening outside the palace walls. They ran errands for her, and did things that her maids could not do. One of them took clothing out to Mordecai for her. Mordecai was so grieved, he would not be comforted, or take the clothing.

Esther 4:5 "Then called Esther for Hatach, [one] of the king's chamberlains, whom he had appointed to attend upon her, and gave him a commandment to Mordecai, to know what it [was], and why it [was]."

"Hatach": A trusted eunuch who knew of Esther's Jewish background.

Esther wanted to hear from Mordecai exactly what this was all about, and how this edict was made.

Esther 4:6 "So Hatach went forth to Mordecai unto the street of the city, which [was] before the king's gate."

Where he was, in a public manner, expressing his grief and sorrow.

"Which was before the king's gate": That led to the royal palace.

Verses 7-8: That Mordecai possessed this specific knowledge and a copy of the edict further evidences his prominent position in Persia.

Esther 4:7 "And Mordecai told him of all that had happened unto him, and of the sum of the money that Haman had promised to pay to the king's treasuries for the Jews, to destroy them."

How that, for refusing to reverence Haman, he was incensed against him, and against all the Jews for his sake. And had vowed revenge on them, and had formed a scheme for the ruin of them.

"And of the sum of money that Haman had promised to pay to the king's treasuries for the Jews, to destroy them": The 10,000 talents of silver he proposed to pay into the king's treasury in lieu of the Jews' tribute. Which Mordecai observes, to show how bent he was upon the destruction of the Jews, and cared not what it cost him to gain his point. And perhaps Mordecai as yet might not know that the king had remitted it.

Mordecai did not know that Haman had tricked the king into this edict. The king had not written this, Haman had. The mistake the king had made was to let Haman use his signet ring.

Esther 4:8 "Also he gave him the copy of the writing of the decree that was given at Shushan to destroy them, to show [it] unto Esther, and to declare [it] unto her, and to charge her that she should go in unto the king, to make supplication unto him, and to make request before him for her people."

Which had now been published in the city; by which means Mordecai had had a sight of it, and had transcribed it (see Esther 3:14).

"To show it unto Esther, and to declare it unto her": What Haman intended against the people of the Jews; as the Targum adds.

"And to charge her; in his name": Whose charges she had always regarded, both before and since she was queen; or in the name of God.

"That she should go in unto the king to make supplication unto him, and to make request before him for her people": Signifying there was a necessity of doing it speedily, and of urging her request with great earnestness and importunity, since it was not the life of a single person, but the lives of a body of people, and her own, that lay at stake.

This was a big load to put on the head of Esther. If the edict was carried out, she would die the same as all of the other Jews. The king did not know that she was a Jew. Haman did not know that at this point either. Mordecai sent her a copy of the edict, so she would know in detail what it said. Mordecai knew that the king loved Esther. He felt if anyone could sway him to stop this senseless murder of the Jews, it would be Esther.

Verses 9-14: Access to the king was strictly limited, since he needed to be protected both from attempts on his life and from vexation with people's problems. Even his wife had no right to approach. That she had not been called for "thirty days" is just one more indication how abnormal life was in the palace at Susa. Mordecai's response put pressure on Esther, for he reminded her that she risked death whether she approached the king or not (verse 13). There are three lines to his argument:

  1. Esther herself will not be exempt from destruction under the edict;
  2. He reveals his own conviction that God will not permit the extinction of His people: If Esther fails, God will have another way of saving the Jews, since God's purposes are not thwarted by the failure on one individual to respond positively to His leading;
  3. The outcome of her decision is so far-reaching that, without exaggeration, she is now at the very moment when her life's purpose is at stake (verse 14).

Esther 4:9 "And Hatach came and told Esther the words of Mordecai."

Both the case of the Jews, and the cause of it, and what he would have her do at this critical juncture.

Hatach must have suspicioned that Esther too, was a Jew. He was her servant, so it was not likely he would tell anyone.

Esther 4:10 "Again Esther spake unto Hatach, and gave him commandment unto Mordecai;"

For there was no other way of corresponding and conversing but by a eunuch. The wives of kings being altogether under their watch and care.

"And gave him commandment unto Mordecai. To go unto him, and what he should say to him from her, which is as follows.

"Verses 11-14": Mordecai no doubt knew the infamous law of the Medes and Persians about approaching the king. He also knew the king could be persuaded, just as he had been when he made the law that brought Esther to the palace. So he urged Esther to take a risk, in case she had been providentially appointed "for such a time as this".

Esther 4:11 "All the king's servants, and the people of the king's provinces, do know, that whosoever, whether man or woman, shall come unto the king into the inner court, who is not called, [there is] one law of his to put [him] to death, except such to whom the king shall hold out the golden scepter, that he may live: but I have not been called to come in unto the king these thirty days."

"Golden scepter": In order to protect the king's life from would-be assassins, this practice prevailed. Seemingly, the king would extend the scepter (a sign of kingly authority), only to those whom he knew and from whom he welcomed a visit (5:2; 8:4).

"These thirty days": Perhaps Esther feared she had lost favor with the king since he had not summoned her recently.

Esther explained to Mordecai, that if she went in to the king, when he did not call for her, he would have the right to kill her. There was one exception to the rule. If the king reached out his scepter to her she could live and have audience with him. She knew if she went in, it could mean her death.

Esther 4:12 "And they told to Mordecai Esther's words."

The messengers she sent to him.

The messenger took the message to Mordecai and waited for his answer to take back to Esther.

Esther 4:13 "Then Mordecai commanded to answer Esther, Think not with thyself that thou shalt escape in the king's house, more than all the Jews."

Gave in charge to the messengers what they should say to Esther from him, by way of reply.

"Think not with thyself that thou shall escape in the king's house, more than all the Jews": Signifying that her being queen, and in the king's palace, would be no protection to her; and she would be no safer there than the Jews elsewhere. Since they had no greater enemies anywhere than in the king's court. And it was or would be known of what nation she was, and therefore must not expect to escape the fury of the enemy.

It would make no difference at all, that she was the queen. If they killed the rest of the Jews, they would kill her also. Someone would tell the king that she was a Jew and he would have to kill Esther along with all the rest, because it was the law.

Esther 4:14 "For if thou altogether holdest thy peace at this time, [then] shall there enlargement and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place; but thou and thy father's house shall be destroyed: and who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for [such] a time as this?"

"Enlargement and deliverance": Mordecai exhibited a healthy faith in God's sovereign power to preserve His people. He may have remembered the Lord's promise to Abraham (Gen. 12:3; 17:1-8).

"Shall be destroyed": Mordecai indicated that Esther would not escape the sentence or be overlooked because of her prominence (4:13).

"Such a time as this": Mordecai indirectly appealed to God's providential timing.

The word "providence" means "foreseeing" and suggests the idea of providing for the future. In theology, the term is used of God's continuous activity whereby He makes all events work out according to His purposes. Thus, the Scriptures teach that God rules over the physical universe (Psalm 103:19), animal life (Job 12:10), the nations of the earth (Job 12:23), and the affairs of individual lives (1 Sam. 16:1).

While the Book of Esther never records the name of God, the story is one of the fullest biblical illustrations of God's providence, in His use of a young woman to protect His people. As we confront situations in life, we should remember these come directly or indirectly from God. We should therefore seek to accomplish His will in every circumstance. (Gen. 24:27; Esther 4:14; Isa. 40:13).

Mordecai was sure that God would stop the murder of the Jews. If Esther did not do what she could, God would do it another way. There had been many people who had given their lives to save their fellowman. This was what Mordecai was asking Esther to do here. If it was the will of God for Esther to do this and she did not, God might destroy her himself. Mordecai now, believed that was why Esther was chosen by the king. He believed that God placed her there to help her people.

Verses 15-17: Esther's reply is also a confession of faith as she implies that she accepts the suggestion of Mordecai as her duty, but that she is full of apprehension at the thought of fulfilling it. Her statement "and if I perish, I perish" is not a blind fatalism or a hopeless resignation (Gen 43:14), but rather a confidence in God's will and wisdom (Job 13:15; Dan. 3:17-18).

Esther 4:15 "Then Esther bade [them] return Mordecai [this answer],"

Which follows, and was sent by the messengers she sent the above to him.

Esther 4:16 "Go, gather together all the Jews that are present in Shushan, and fast ye for me, and neither eat nor drink three days, night or day: I also and my maidens will fast likewise; and so will I go in unto the king, which [is] not according to the law: and if I perish, I perish."

"Fast ye": The text does not mention prayer being included such as was Daniel's practice (Dan. 9:3), thought it surely was.

"Perish": Esther's heroic willingness to die for the sake of her fellow Jews is commendable.

In a declaration of courage and faith, Esther states, "If I perish, I perish". Her words should echo in every Christian's heart, reminding them that survival is not the only concern. The most important matter is to cooperate with God wherever He places them. If Christians are walking in complete obedience to God's will, they can be confident nothing will happen to them that is outside of His sovereign control.

This short book describes 10 feasts, but this verse mentions a "fast" instead, prompted by great sorrow.

Esther had gathered up all the courage she had. She decided to go ahead and speak to the king, even if it meant her death. She did want them to fast and pray for her safety. She would do the same with her maids. It was almost as if she was saying I might perish either way, so what do I really have to lose. We are all going to die sometime. The important thing is to make our lives have a purpose. She had realized that the life of all the Jews was worth taking the risk.

Esther 4:17 "So Mordecai went his way, and did according to all that Esther had commanded him."

About the business he was directed to; the word used having sometimes the signification of passing over or transgressing. Jarchi interprets it of Mordecai's transgressing the command, by fasting on a festival. The letter being written on the thirteenth of Nisan (Esther 3:12), the next day was the Passover, on which he supposes the fast began. And the three days were, the fourteenth, fifteenth, and sixteenth of the month, and belonged to the feast of the Passover and of Unleavened Bread; so the Targum.

"And did according to all that Esther had commanded him": Got the Jews together, and kept a fast three days. According to the Midrash they were the thirteenth, fourteenth, and fifteenth of Nisan.

This was saying he gathered the Jews together and proclaimed a three day fast. Many of the Jews realized the seriousness of the edict, and they would have gladly fasted with him to try to get help from God.

Esther Chapter 4 Questions

  1. When Mordecai heard the edict, what did he do?
  2. Where did Mordecai do this?
  3. Why did he choose the place for this show of mourning?
  4. Why could he not enter the king's gate?
  5. Who was mourning, besides Mordecai?
  6. What was the Jew's only help?
  7. Who told Esther about Mordecai?
  8. What did she send to Mordecai?
  9. Would he take it?
  10. Who were the chamberlains, here?
  11. Who did she send to ask Mordecai, what the problem was?
  12. Who had promised to pay money to have the killing done?
  13. Mordecai did not know that Haman had _________ the king into getting this sealed with his ring.
  14. What did Mordecai give to Esther's chamberlain?
  15. What did Mordecai ask Esther to do to stop this?
  16. The king did not know that she was a ________.
  17. Why did Mordecai want Esther to speak to the king?
  18. What law did Esther remind Mordecai of?
  19. How is the only way she could keep from being killed?
  20. How long had it been, since she had been called to the king?
  21. What word did Mordecai send Esther in verse 13?
  22. What was Mordecai sure that God would do?
  23. Why did Mordecai believe that Esther had become queen?
  24. What did she insist Mordecai do, if she agreed to go in to the king unannounced?
  25. Who fasted with Esther?

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Esther 5

Esther Chapter 5

Esther 5:1 "Now it came to pass on the third day, that Esther put on [her] royal [apparel], and stood in the inner court of the king's house, over against the king's house: and the king sat upon his royal throne in the royal house, over against the gate of the house."

Of the fast; though the former, Targum paraphrases it the third day of the Passover, the sixteenth of Nisan (see Esther 4:17). Though it is probable this was nearer the time fixed for the destruction of the Jews (see Esther 8:9). Yet the Jews have fixed the fast of Esther on that very day, the thirteenth of Adar.

"That Esther put on her royal apparel": In order to go in to the king, and appear before him. Which to do in a mournful habit, such as she had on when fasting, was not proper. For then she put off her royal crown, as is intimated in the additions to the book of Esther. And upon the third day, when she had ended her prayers, she laid away her mourning garments, and put on her glorious apparel. This was usual for princes to do in times of mourning; but now she put it on, as both Ben Gorion and the latter Targum affirm.

"And stood in the inner court of the king's house, over against the king's house": Into which none might go but such as were called. Yet Esther being queen, the keepers of the door could not forbid her, as Aben Ezra observes.

"And the king sat upon his royal throne, in the royal house, over against the gate of the house": So that he could see whoever came in at it, into the inner court.

This was as dangerous for Esther, as it was for Daniel to walk into the lion's den. Her life would be taken, or spared, with the wishes of her king and husband. The three days of fasting had taken place. She was assured the LORD was with her. She put on the garments of the queen to go to her king on his royal throne. She did not rush into the throne room unannounced. She waited outside, but in full view of the king. He was seated on his throne looking toward the very spot in the inner court where she was standing. She was beautiful and he was full of love for her, we must remember.

Esther 5:2 "And it was so, when the king saw Esther the queen standing in the court, [that] she obtained favor in his sight: and the king held out to Esther the golden scepter that

[was] in his hand. So Esther drew near, and touched the top of the scepter."

"She obtained favor": This actually means that Esther first found favor with the God of Israel (Prov. 21:10).

The kings "Scepter" symbolized his power and his "favor". Here, it also meant that Esther would not be killed for entering his "inner-court" without invitation (4:11).

When he reached out his scepter to her, it showed that he was not angry with her for coming to him unannounced. She was forgiven for any error on her part in coming. The king knew that Esther was not a selfish woman from past experience. He knew something of real importance was troubling her, or she would not have taken this chance. Her touch of the scepter extended to her was her humbly thanking him for receiving her.

Verses 3-6: Even given thee to the half of the kingdom": Royal hyperbole that was not intended to be taken at face value (Mark 6:22-23).

Esther 5:3 "Then said the king unto her, What wilt thou, queen Esther? and what [is] thy request? it shall be even given thee to the half of the kingdom."

"What is thy request": Esther deferred her real wish until (7:2-3).

Esther's concern was so great that she willingly risked her life in order to have an audience with the king that day, a fact that did not escape Xerxes. When a person's course is righteous, God will reinforce his or her courage.

It was very obvious from this statement, that he had great love for Esther. In calling her his queen, he was saying he accepted her as his wife. He respected her, it was obvious. He would have to admire her courage as well. This is a type and shadow of the Christians drawing near to the throne of God. He has reached out and invited us to come. It is important that we touch Him, as well. The king offered her anything she wanted unto the half of the kingdom. It is interesting again, that the Christians will be joint-heirs with Jesus. He has offered to share with us as well.

Verses 4-8: It certainly was providential that Esther did not express her desire to the king at the first banquet, since the events (of chapter 6), transpired between the banquets, making it much easier for Esther to expose Haman at the second banquet.

Esther 5:4 "And Esther answered, If [it seem] good unto the king, let the king and Haman come this day unto the banquet that I have prepared for him."

"The banquet": The first of two (5:4-8; 6:14 - 7:1), that Esther prepared. God would providentially intervene between the two (6:1-2).

We know that was not the real reason that she came. At the point of him offering her half of his kingdom, she could have asked for the life of the Jews. That would have gotten a yes or a no quickly, but Esther was smarter than that. There were many people still praying for her. She had the wisdom of God guiding her every word. It would have been unusual for her to ask the king to come to dinner, but it was extremely unusual for her to ask Haman to come too. Men and women in Persia did not eat together, unless it was a private family affair. Haman thought of himself even more highly than before, after she made this request for him to come.

Esther 5:5 "Then the king said, Cause Haman to make haste, that he may do as Esther hath said. So the king and Haman came to the banquet that Esther had prepared."

That is, he ordered some of his servants to make haste and acquaint Haman with the queen's invitation. And to press him to make haste to comply with it.

"So the king and Haman came to the banquet that Esther had prepared": Which was wisely done, to prepare for what she had to say to the king, when cheerful with wine, and when she had her adversary with him alone.

The king gave Haman permission to come. They came to the banquet as Esther had requested.

Esther 5:6 "And the king said unto Esther at the banquet of wine, What [is] thy petition? and it shall be granted thee: and what [is] thy request? even to the half of the kingdom it shall be performed."

For such it seems the banquet was she prepared; it was not properly a meal, neither dinner nor supper, but a drinking bout. Or, however, it was at that part of the banquet in which wine was drank that the king accosted Esther, when he began to be cheerful with it. The Persians at their meals had two courses: the first consisted of meats, etc. at which they drank water, the other of fruits, when they drank wine. Aelianus says, the Persians, after they are filled with food, indulge themselves in drinking wine.

"What is thy petition? And it shall be granted thee: and what is thy request? Even to the half of the kingdom it shall be performed": By which it appears he retained the same affection for Esther, and the same disposition to show her kindness (see Esther 5:3).

The king was aware that this banquet was not the request that Esther risked her life for. Again he repeated that he would give her up to half of the kingdom, if that was her desire. We may assume that Esther still did not feel sure of herself in this matter, and that the LORD was leading her in every word she uttered.

Esther 5:7 "Then answered Esther, and said, My petition and my request [is];"

What she should for the present make; the principal one she had to ask. For wise reasons, she still deferred.

Esther 5:8 "If I have found favor in the sight of the king, and if it please the king to grant my petition, and to perform my request, let the king and Haman come to the banquet that

I shall prepare for them, and I will do tomorrow as the king hath said."

Why did Esther delay her request? Whatever the reason, God used the delay to further His purposes for Mordecai, Haman, and ultimately the Jewish people. While we are waiting, God is working.

We cannot assume to guess why Esther put this off another day, except the Lord had her to do it.

She knew she had found favor with the king, or he would not have offered her half the kingdom. She was saying, "give me one more day and I will tell you my request".

Verses 9-14: The word "gallows" haunts the book (6:4; 7:9-10; 8:7; 9:13, 25). The connection between murder and merriment ("then go thou in merrily with the king unto the banquet" ), and Haman's pleasure ("And the thing pleased Haman"), is ever more sinister than the gallows he had made.

Harman was so enraged at Mordecai's continued refusal to honor him that all the privileges he had been bestowed were as "nothing" (5:13). Selfishness and pride can quickly breed ingratitude, envy and even murderous hatred, as it did for Haman.

Esther 5:9 "Then went Haman forth that day joyful and with a glad heart: but when Haman saw Mordecai in the king's gate, that he stood not up, nor moved for him, he was full of indignation against Mordecai."

From court to his own house.

"But when Haman saw Mordecai in the king's gate, that he stood not up, nor moved for him": Did not show him the least degree of civil respect. Which he refused to do, partly lest it should be interpreted an adoration of him, and partly because it was well known to him he had formed a scheme for the destruction of him and all his people. And the rather he refused it to him, as Esther was about to make intercession with the king to revoke his decree. Of the success of which he had no doubt; and therefore, had nothing to fear from him, but treated him with the utmost contempt, as he deserved.

"He was full of wrath against Mordecai": It was a sad mortification to him, and a great allay of that joy and elation of mind on account of the favor he was in; not with the king only, but the queen also, as he imagined.

Haman was feeling really proud of himself for being invited to the queen's banquet twice with the king. He still hated Mordecai. What did Mordecai have to lose? What more could Haman do to him than kill him? Haman was totally unaware that Esther was a Jew.

Esther 5:10 "Nevertheless Haman refrained himself: and when he came home, he sent and called for his friends, and Zeresh his wife."

From showing any outward resentment to Mordecai, from laying hands upon him or taking revenge on him. As being too much below him to avenge himself on a single person. Especially when the whole body of the people Mordecai belonged to would shortly feel the power of his hand for such insolent treatment of him.

"And when he came home, he sent and called for his friends, and Zeresh his wife": Who, the Targum says, was the daughter of Tatnai, the governor on the other side the river (Ezra 5:3).

Esther 5:11 "And Haman told them of the glory of his riches, and the multitude of his children, and all [the things] wherein the king had promoted him, and how he had advanced him above the princes and servants of the king."

"The multitude of his children": At least 10 sons were fathered by Haman (9:13), who personified sinful pride (Prov. 16:18; 1 Cor. 10:12; Gal. 6:3).

Esther 5:12 "Haman said moreover, Yea, Esther the queen did let no man come in with the king unto the banquet that she had prepared but myself; and tomorrow am I invited unto her also with the king."

To all which he added, and what seemed to delight him most of all, or however was a new additional honor done him.

"Yea, Esther the queen did let no man come in with the king unto the banquet that she had prepared but myself": Which he judged was doing him singular honor. And, by the joint affection of the king and queen to him, he thought himself established in his dignity and grandeur.

"And tomorrow am I invited unto her also with the king": Had been invited, not by a messenger, but by the queen herself, which was a double honor.

Haman had ten sons, and he was bragging to them, his wife, and friends of his great standing with the king, and now with the queen.

Esther 5:13 "Yet all this availeth me nothing, so long as I see Mordecai the Jew sitting at the king's gate."

"Availeth me nothing": Harman expressed raging fixation on killing Mordecai.

His hate for Mordecai was so great that he could not even enjoy the fact that the king and queen were his friends.

Esther 5:14 "Then said Zeresh his wife and all his friends unto him, Let a gallows be made of fifty cubits high, and tomorrow speak thou unto the king that Mordecai may be hanged thereon: then go thou in merrily with the king unto the banquet. And the thing pleased Haman; and he caused the gallows to be made."

"Gallows": A stake on which a human would be impaled to death and/or displayed after death (2:23).

"Fifty cubits": Approximately 75 feet or almost 8 stories high. Perhaps the gallows involved displaying a shorter stake atop a building or wall to attain this height.

Since the king and queen thought so much of Haman, he should have no difficulty hanging one Jew. If fifty cubits or 75 feet was the correct height here, it meant he wanted people all over town to see him hang Mordecai. He would be able to take revenge on him in that way. Haman was pleased with this idea, and he immediately had the gallows built.

The lesson here is obvious. Whatever you reap, you sow. Hate destroys you, regardless of whom you hate. Haman would be destroyed for his great hate of Mordecai and the Jews.

Esther Chapter 5 Questions

  1. When did Esther decide to go see the king?
  2. How was she dressed?
  3. Where did she stand?
  4. Where was the king?
  5. How dangerous was this for Esther?
  6. What must we remember about the king's feelings toward Esther?
  7. What did the king do, when he saw Esther?
  8. What did Esther do, as she drew near?
  9. What did the king ask her?
  10. What did he call her, when he asked?
  11. What did the king offer her?
  12. What is verse 3 a type and shadow of?
  13. What did Esther ask the king and Haman to do?
  14. What was unusual about this?
  15. Why did Esther not immediately ask for the Jews to be saved?
  16. In verse 5, what was necessary for the king to do, before Haman came?
  17. What question did the king ask Esther at the banquet?
  18. What did he offer her again?
  19. In verse 7 and 8, what was she really asking for?
  20. How did Haman feel about being invited to the queen's banquet with the king?
  21. What spoiled it for him?
  22. Who was Haman bragging to about his relationship with the king and queen?
  23. What did his wife and friends suggest, that he do about Mordecai?
  24. Haman was totally unaware that Esther was a _______.
  25. How tall was the gallows said to be?

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Esther 6

Esther Chapter 6

Verses 1-3: "The book of records of the chronicles" was the source from which the king's honors list was drawn, and as a general rule, special services were promptly rewarded. Since Mordecai's good deed in saving the king's life had been overlooked something must be done and done quickly.

Esther 6:1 "On that night could not the king sleep, and he commanded to bring the book of records of the chronicles; and they were read before the king."

"The book": Five years (compare 2:16 with 3:7) had intervened since Mordecai's loyal, but as yet unrewarded, act (compare 2:23). At exactly the proper moment, God providentially intervened so that the king suffered insomnia, called for the book of records, read of Mordecai's unrewarded deeds 5 years past, and then desired to reward him (compare Dan. 6:18).

During a sleepless night, the king decided to use the time to review court business. The text here suggests there was an extended reading of "the book of records," and the passage about Mordecai was reached at daybreak, when Haman appeared in the outer court.

The prayers of those who had been fasting have been heard of God. This was the only explanation for the king to suddenly want to look at the book of records, because he could not sleep. The king had the historical record read to him.

Esther 6:2 "And it was found written, that Mordecai had told of Bigthana and Teresh, two of the king's chamberlains, the keepers of the door, who sought to lay hand on the king Ahasuerus."

Upon reading, and in which there was also a peculiar hand of Providence. Directing to the reading of that part of them in which the affair of Mordecai was registered.

"That Mordecai had told of Bigthana and Teresh, two of the king's chamberlains, the keepers of the door, who sought to lay hand on the King Ahasuerus" (see Esther 2:21). And it was usual in such diaries to record the names of persons, who, by any actions, had deserved well of the king, that they might be rewarded as there was an opportunity for it. And such, in the Persian language, were called Orosangae, as Herodotus relates.

Mordecai had saved the life of the king, when his two chamberlains who kept his bedroom door, had plotted to kill him.

Esther 6:3 "And the king said, What honor and dignity hath been done to Mordecai for this? Then said the king's servants that ministered unto him, There is nothing done for him."

He judged it an action worthy of regard, and what ought to be rewarded, as it was the saving of his life. But had forgot whether any royal favor had been shown to the person for it.

"Then said the king's servants that ministered unto him": The lords of his bedchamber then in waiting.

"There is nothing done for him": Not on that account, nothing more than what he had": He had an office at court before, but was not advanced to anything higher on this account.

The king would certainly want to reward the man, Mordecai, who had saved his life. He found no record where that had been done and after asking the reader of the record about it, he said nothing had been done to reward him.

Esther 6:4 "And the king said, Who [is] in the court? Now Haman was come into the outward court of the king's house, to speak unto the king to hang Mordecai on the gallows that he had prepared for him."

"Who is in court": The drama intensified as Haman arrived at just the wrong time and for just the wrong reason.

The timing of Haman's arrival at the palace is one of the story's wonderful ironies. The king had just been reminded of Mordecai's heroic deed and could not wait until morning to reward him. Haman could not wait until morning to get permission to kill him.

God has a sense of humor, as we will see in these next few verses. The intentions of Haman were to hang Mordecai, not to honor him. Haman was a friend of the king, and was in the palace at the time.

Esther 6:5 "And the king's servants said unto him, Behold, Haman standeth in the court. And the king said, Let him come in."

In the outward court; for into the inward court none might enter without being called, for which he was waiting.

"And the king said, let him come in": Into his bedchamber; and it was of God, no doubt, that Haman should be on the spot at this very time, when the king was of the mind to do honor to Mordecai, and by him.

The king brought Haman in for an entirely different reason than what Haman supposed.

Verses 6-7: Haman ironically defined the honor to be given to Mordecai at Haman's expense. To his potential wealth from the Jewish plunder, he thought public acclaim would be added.

Esther 6:6 "So Haman came in. And the king said unto him, What shall be done unto the man whom the king delighteth to honor? Now Haman thought in his heart, To whom would the king delight to do honor more than to myself?"

But was prevented from speaking with the king about the business he came with by the following speech of the king.

"What shall be done unto the man whom the king delighteth to honor?" He mentions not the name of any man, that he might the more freely, and unbiasedly, and disinterestedly give his advice. Nor might the king know of any resentment of Haman to Mordecai.

"(Now Haman thought in his heart, to whom would the king delight to do honor more than to myself?)". Who had been advanced above all the princes and nobles of the realm, and was now in such high honor both with the king and queen, with whom he was to be at a banquet that day. And he might conclude, that by putting this question to him, he could have in view none but himself. Aben Ezra observes, as some from hence forth, that this book was written by the spirit of prophecy, because none could know the thoughts of the heart but God. But though he believes it to be written by the Holy Ghost, yet, as he observes, Haman might disclose this thought of his heart to his friends afterwards.

Haman was so self-centered that he never once thought that the man the king wanted to honor could be anyone, except himself.

Verses 7-10: Haman's response to the king was definitive, perhaps because he had frequently anticipated this moment. The "royal robe" was a sign of the king's special favor (1 Sam. 18:4), as was the "parade" on one of his decorated horses. So nothing could have been more distasteful to Haman than to publicly honor Mordecai in the way that he had hoped to be honored.

Esther 6:7 "And Haman answered the king, For the man whom the king delighteth to honor,"

At once, being very prompt to suggest the honors he hoped to have done to himself.

"For the man whom the king delighteth to honor": Let the following things be done.

Esther 6:8 "Let the royal apparel be brought which the king [useth] to wear, and the horse that the king rideth upon, and the crown royal which is set upon his head:"

"Royal apparel ... crown royal": An honor which involved being treated as though the recipient were the king himself (8:15). This is reminiscent of Joseph in Egypt (Gen. 41:39-45). History affirms that horses were adorned with the royal crown.

Haman really went to the extreme in the blessings he told the king to bestow upon this man, because he believed he was the man himself. He told the king to dress him as a king and put the king's crown upon his head, as if he were king. You can see from this, that Haman really wanted to be king himself.

Esther 6:9 "And let this apparel and horse be delivered to the hand of one of the king's most noble princes, that they may array the man [withal] whom the king delighteth to honor, and bring him on horseback through the street of the city, and proclaim before him, Thus shall it be done to the man whom the king delighteth to honor."

"Street of the city": Whereas Mordecai had been there the day before in sackcloth and ashes (4:1, 6), he arrived with royal honor.

Haman was so conceited, that he could see himself as king. For him to be led around town by a high official of the government, was the height of pride. He was about to fall to the lowest ebb of disgrace. The very man he wanted to hang was to be honored the way he wanted to be honored himself.

Esther 6:10 "Then the king said to Haman, Make haste, [and] take the apparel and the horse, as thou hast said, and do even so to Mordecai the Jew, that sitteth at the king's gate: let nothing fail of all that thou hast spoken."

"Mordecai the Jew" (compare 8:7; 9:29, 31; 10:3). Why the king did not remember Haman's edict against the Jews remains unknown.

Haman hated Mordecai. The king had waited too long already to honor Mordecai, so he told Haman to hurry. This proud Haman would have to lead the horse carrying his worst enemy.

Esther 6:11 "Then took Haman the apparel and the horse, and arrayed Mordecai, and brought him on horseback through the street of the city, and proclaimed before him, Thus shall it be done unto the man whom the king delighteth to honor."

The one out of the wardrobe, the other out of the stable, and the crown also no doubt, though no mention is made of it, since the king made no objection to it. And commanded that nothing fail of what had been spoken. But this was included in the pomp and state of the led horse: and brought him on horseback through the street of the city; the most grand and public part of it, thus arrayed, and in this state. "And proclaimed before him, "Thus shall it be done to the man whom the king delighteth to honor" (see Esther 6:9).

Haman had no choice in this. He had to do it because the king had commanded him to. This was the most humiliating thing that could possibly happen to him. He gave no reply to the king for fear of being demoted.

Esther 6:12 "And Mordecai came again to the king's gate. But Haman hasted to his house mourning, and having his head covered."

After such royal treatment, Mordecai simply "came again to the king's gate". His was a far different response from Haman's upon being invited to Esther's dinner party (in verse 5:12). Jesus sums up this matter (in Luke 14:11), when He states that people who exalt themselves will be humbled, but those who are humble will be exalted.

"Mourning": Deservedly, Haman has inherited Mordecai's distress (4:1-2). What a difference a day makes! His imagined honors had quickly turned to unimaginable humiliation.

"His head covered": An extreme sign of shame (2 Sam. 15:30; Jer. 14:3-4).

He had no sympathy when Mordecai had been mourning, now it was his turn. He hung his head in shame and went home.

Esther 6:13 "And Haman told Zeresh his wife and all his friends every [thing] that had befallen him. Then said his wise men and Zeresh his wife unto him, If Mordecai [be] of the seed of the Jews, before whom thou hast begun to fall, thou shalt not prevail against him, but shalt surely fall before him."

"Thou hast begun to fall": Neither divine prophecy (Exodus 17:14), or biblical history (1 Sam. 15:8-9) stood in Haman's favor. Haman's entourage seemed to have some knowledge of this biblical history.

His wife and his friends could see the hand of God in this. The wise men here are Magicians, or star gazers. They realized that Haman would not win this battle against the Jews. Mordecai was the friend of the king. If he was a Jew, the king would turn this edict back against Haman. He was doomed. Everyone who he thought would say something good to him, have said he would surely fall.

Esther 6:14 "And while they [were] yet talking with him, came the king's chamberlains, and hasted to bring Haman unto the banquet that Esther had prepared."

"Haman unto the banquet": Like a lamb led to slaughter, Haman was escorted off to his just due.

This was the second banquet that Haman and the king had been invited to attend by the queen. These chamberlains were working for Esther, and they came for Haman. Esther or the king, were not aware of the embarrassment that had befallen Haman.

Esther Chapter 6 Questions

  1. When the king could not sleep, what did he command to be done?
  2. What does the author believe the reason for him not being able to sleep was?
  3. What did he find in the records?
  4. Mordecai had saved the life of the ________.
  5. What question did the king ask his servants?
  6. What was the answer to the question?
  7. What makes the author believe that God has a sense of humor?
  8. Who did the king ask about what honor should be paid to Mordecai?
  9. Who did Haman think the king was trying to honor?
  10. What was Haman's suggestion for the king to do, to honor the man?
  11. What was Haman having the king to do, to this man that would make it appear that he was king?
  12. Who had to lead Mordecai around town and honor him?
  13. After Haman had led Mordecai through town what did he do?
  14. Who did Haman tell of his embarrassing situation?
  15. What was a Magician?
  16. What did Haman's family and friends and the Magicians tell Haman would happen to him?
  17. Who came to get Haman?
  18. Why did they come?
  19. ________ or the _________ are not aware of Haman's embarrassment.

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Esther 7

Esther Chapter 7

Verses 1-4: The "second day" is the second banquet of Esther, and she is asked a second time, "What is thy request"? (Compare 5:6). She asks to be spared along with her people, "for we are sold", I and my people". She finally identifies herself with the people of Israel who had been "sold," referring to the bribe of Haman (3:9; 4:7).

Esther 7:1 "So the king and Haman came to banquet with Esther the queen."

Or, "to drink with her", that is, wine; for in the next verse it is called a banquet of wine. So they did according to the invitation the queen had given them (Esther 5:8).

This was speaking of the second banquet. We saw in the last lesson, the humiliation of this self-centered Haman. He still was not aware that Esther was a Jew. The king had granted the queen both requests to come to her banquet, but he knew that was not really her request of him. He had already offered her half of the kingdom, if that was what she desired.

Verses 2-6: This is some of the most highly charged dialogue in the book. In reply to Esther's request that she and her people (the Jews), be spared from destruction, the outraged king asks two questions about the one behind the master plan: "Who is he?" and "Where is he?" Esther's response: "The adversary ... this wicked Haman!" Surprisingly, the king accepts the disclosure of Esther's ethnicity without comment.

Esther 7:2 "And the king said again unto Esther on the second day at the banquet of wine, What [is] thy petition, queen Esther? and it shall be granted thee: and what [is] thy request? and it shall be performed, [even] to the half of the kingdom."

"Second day": The first day reference point included the first banquet. This refers to the second banquet on the second day (compare 5:8).

"What is thy request": This was the third time that the king inquired (5:3, 6).

The king offered again to grant Esther's request. He loved her and he wanted her to be happy.

Esther 7:3 "Then Esther the queen answered and said, If I have found favor in thy sight, O king, and if it please the king, let my life be given me at my petition, and my people at my request:"

"My people": This plea paralleled God's message through Moses to Pharaoh, "Let My people go," almost 1,000 years earlier.

This had to be a shock to the king, that anyone would threaten the life of his queen. He did not know that Esther was Hebrew. She had never told him, and he had never asked, up until now. She first asked him to save her life, and then she asked for the lives of her people.

Esther 7:4 "For we are sold, I and my people, to be destroyed, to be slain, and to perish. But if we had been sold for bondmen and bondwomen, I had held my tongue, although the enemy could not countervail the king's damage."

"Sold": Refers back to Haman's bribe (compare 3:9; 4:7).

"Destroyed ... slain ... perish": Esther recounted the exact language of Haman's decree (3:13).

The king possibly, still had no idea of what she was speaking. He did not write the edict to kill all of the Jews. Haman had written the edict and sealed it with the king's signet ring. She actually believed the king had sold their lives to the wicked Haman. She said she would have understood, if he had people to take their place, but she did not understand the destruction with nothing to gain. She thought that Haman was going to pay the king for the Jews that were killed. She was saying he would not have near enough money to pay for the lives. "Countervail", in this instance, means equalize. The king would lose far more than Haman could pay.

Esther 7:5 "Then the king Ahasuerus answered and said unto Esther the queen, Who is he, and where is he, that durst presume in his heart to do so?"

The words in the original text are this, "and the King Ahasuerus said, and he said to Esther the queen"; which doubling of the word does not signify, as Jarchi suggests, that before he spoke to her by a messenger, or middle person. But, now he knew she was of a royal family, he spoke to her himself. But it is expressive of the ruffle of his mind, and the wrath and fury he was in, that he said it again and again, with a stern countenance and great vehemence of speech.

"Who is he? and where is he?" who is the man? And where does he live?

"That durst presume in his heart to do so": That has boldness, impudence, and courage enough to perpetrate so vile an action or "that has filled his heart". The devil no doubt filled his heart to do it (see Acts 5:3). But the king had either forgot the decree he had granted, and the countenance he had given him to execute it. Or, if he remembered it, he was now enraged that he should be drawn in to such an action by him. And perhaps till now was ignorant of Esther's descent, and knew not that she would be involved in the decree.

The king was still not aware that this was connected with the edict. He asked Esther who would dare to kill the queen?

Esther 7:6 "And Esther said, The adversary and enemy [is] this wicked Haman. Then Haman was afraid before the king and the queen."

"This wicked Haman": Similar to Nathan's famous accusation against King David, "You are the man" (2 Sam. 12:7). Haman's honor had quickly turned to humiliation, and then to horror.

The king had not even suspicioned Haman. Haman suddenly remembered what the wise men had told him would happen to him. Esther called Haman an adversary of the king.

Esther 7:7 "And the king arising from the banquet of wine in his wrath [went] into the palace garden: and Haman stood up to make request for his life to Esther the queen; for he saw that there was evil determined against him by the king."

Not being able to bear the sight of Haman, who had done such an injury both to himself and to the queen. As also that his wrath might subside, and become more composed and sedate, and be able coolly to deliberate what was fitting to be done in the present case.

"And Haman stood up to make request for his life to Esther the queen": Hoping that her tender heart might be wrought upon to show mercy to him. And be prevailed on to entreat the king to spare his life; and this request he made in the most submissive manner.

"For he saw that there was evil determined against him by the king": He perceived it both by the king's countenance and by the rage he went out in. And by the threatening words which he very probably uttered as he went out.

The king was not quick to kill someone. He walked into the garden, possibly to try to sort out this whole thing. He really wanted to kill Haman for trying to kill Esther. While the king was in the garden, Harman, realizing that the king would kill him if Esther did not stop him, began to plead for his life to be spared.

"Verses 8-10": They "covered Haman's face," as the ancients often did to those about to be executed. "Harbona" was one of the inner circle of seven (in 1:10). The irony (of verse 10), is spelled out (in Psalm 9:16b) "the wicked is snared in the work of his own hands" (Psalms 7:16; 94:23).

Esther 7:8 "Then the king returned out of the palace garden into the place of the banquet of wine; and Haman was fallen upon the bed whereon Esther [was]. Then said the king, Will he force the queen also before me in the house? As the word went out of the king's mouth, they covered Haman's face."

"Force the queen": blinded by anger, Ahasuerus interpreted Haman's plea to be an act of violence against Esther rather than a plea for mercy.

The couches for reclining were in the banqueting room, and it appeared that Esther had been reclining on one of them. Haman was so desperate for Esther to ask the king to spare his life that he fell upon the bed face down where Esther was. The king walked back into the room and was furious with Haman. He accused Haman of trying to rape Esther in his presence. It appears the attendants grabbed Haman and covered his head to take him to execute him.

Esther 7:9 "And Harbona, one of the chamberlains, said before the king, Behold also, the gallows fifty cubits high, which Haman had made for Mordecai, who had spoken good for the king, standeth in the house of Haman. Then the king said, Hang him thereon."

"Harbona" (compare 1:10).

"Behold": Because the place prepared by Haman for Mordecai's execution towered above the city, it became the obvious spot for Haman's death.

"Mordecai, who had spoken good": Haman heard the third capital offense charged against him. One, he manipulated the king in planning to kill the queen's people. Two, he was perceived to accost the queen. Three, he planned to execute a man whom the king had just greatly honored for extreme loyalty to the kingdom.

The very gallows that Haman had built to kill Mordecai on, would be where he would hang. Haman had sown the wind, and would now reap the whirlwind. Harbona reminded the king that Mordecai had saved his life, and this Haman had wanted to kill him. The prophecy of the wise men had come true.

Esther 7:10 "So they hanged Haman on the gallows that he had prepared for Mordecai. Then was the king's wrath pacified."

"They hanged Haman": The ultimate expression of justice (compare Psalm 9:15-16).

Haman's life had been wicked. He lived by violence, and he died by violence. He had wanted to be a famous man but died as an infamous man. Haman died on the gallows he built for Mordecai. The king's wrath subsided after Haman had paid for his crime with his life. This really did not save Esther's life or the Jews however. The edict still stood. We will see in the next lesson what was done about that.

Esther Chapter 7 Questions

  1. Who came to banquet with Esther the queen?
  2. In the last lesson, we saw the ______________ of this wicked Haman.
  3. He still was not aware that Esther was a ___________.
  4. What question did the king ask Esther at this banquet?
  5. What did he offer to give her?
  6. What did she say that was a shock to the king?
  7. What did she say had been done to them that she believed the king had done?
  8. Why did the king have no idea what she was speaking of?
  9. What does "countervail" mean here?
  10. What questions did Ahasuerus ask Esther in verse 5?
  11. What did she call Haman in verse 6?
  12. How did this affect Haman?
  13. Why did the king walk into the garden?
  14. Who did Haman ask to save him?
  15. Haman realized what about the king?
  16. When the king returned from the garden, where was Haman?
  17. What did the king say to him?
  18. What was the bed really?
  19. What was meant by them covering Haman's head?
  20. Who reminded the king that the gallows for Haman were already ready?
  21. When was the king's wrath pacified?

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Esther 8

Esther Chapter 8

Verses 1-2: According to the historians Herodotus and Josephus, the property of a traitor in Persia was confiscated by the state. In this case, Xerxes gave it "(the house of Haman"), to the queen, and passed on his royal "signet ring" to Mordecai as a gesture of favor and trust. Xerxes' gift officially signaled that Mordecai had replaced Haman's position in the kingdom.

Now that she had revealed her nationally to Xerxes (7:4), Esther was happy to present Mordecai to the king as her guardian and cousin. The word "house" refers to "all that he had" (as in Genesis 39:4), thus his total estate. Mordecai was given his "ring" (3:10; 8:8), and was appointed chief minister of the empire (as was Joseph in Genesis 41:42).

Esther 8:1 "On that day did the king Ahasuerus give the house of Haman the Jews' enemy unto Esther the queen. And Mordecai came before the king; for Esther had told what he [was] unto her."

"The house of Haman": Property of a traitor by Persian custom returned to the king. In this case, he gave it to his queen, Esther, who put Mordecai over it (8:2). The outcome for Haman's wife Zeresh and his wise men is unknown (5:14; 6:12-13). Haman's 10 sons later died (9:7-10).

The wicked Haman was dead. In Persia, when a man did what Haman had done, and was executed for his crimes, everything he possessed became property of the government. In this case, the king was the recipient. This day spoken of here, then, was the day of his execution. The king was very sorry for the trouble Haman had caused Esther, and he gave Haman's property to the queen. When Esther admitted that she was a Jew, she also revealed to the king that Mordecai had raised her as if he were her father. Mordecai had been greatly honored recently for saving the life of the king. It was a logical conclusion, that he would take Haman's place as number two man in the country.

Esther 8:2 "And the king took off his ring, which he had taken from Haman, and gave it unto Mordecai. And Esther set Mordecai over the house of Haman."

Which, with the Persians, was a token of the strongest affection and strictest friendship. The Targum calls it his signatory ring, that with which he signed laws, edicts, letter, patents, etc. And so hereby made him keeper of the seals.

"And Esther set Mordecai over the house of Haman": Appointed him her steward of the estate of Haman, the king had given her.

We have discussed how the signet ring was a sign of authority. The king took it from the finger of Haman, before he executed him. The king wore it himself, until he put it on the finger of Mordecai. This ring gave Mordecai the right to speak for the king. Mordecai was like a chief of staff. Esther did not give the house to Mordecai, because it was a gift to her from Ahasuerus. She let Mordecai live in the house.

Verses 3-6: In spite of Haman's death and Mordecai's exaltation, the Jews were still doomed to destruction by an irreversible decree.

Esther 8:3 "And Esther spake yet again before the king, and fell down at his feet, and besought him with tears to put away the mischief of Haman the Agagite, and his device that he had devised against the Jews."

Went into his presence, without being called for as before, with a new petition.

"And fell down at his feet, and besought him with tears": The more to work upon his affections, and move him to grant her request. Which she might be the more encouraged to hope for, through the success she already had.

"To put away the mischief of Haman the Agagite, and his device that he had devised against the Jews": To revoke, abolish, and make void a mischievous scheme Haman had devised against the Jews, to root out the whole nation of them in the Persian Empire.

Haman was dead, but his wicked edict was still in place. The terrible thing was it was sealed with the signet of the king. Esther went again without permission, to speak to the king. He held his scepter out to her again, and she fell at her king's feet. She was so troubled for her people that there were tears in her eyes. She did not blame the king, but knew that he was the only chance to save her people aside from God.

Esther 8:4 "Then the king held out the golden scepter toward Esther. So Esther arose, and stood before the king,"

As a token that she had not incurred his displeasure by coming into his presence without leave, and that she was admitted to speak and make her request (see Esther 5:3).

"So Esther arose, and stood before the king": She rose from the ground on which she lay prostrate, and stood upon her feet, in a humble manner, to make her speech, and present her petition to the king.

The king loved Esther so much that he did not like to see her cry. He, also, did not like to see his queen face first before him. He raised his scepter for her to stand.

Esther 8:5 "And said, If it please the king, and if I have found favor in his sight, and the thing [seem] right before the king, and I [be] pleasing in his eyes, let it be written to reverse the letters devised by Haman the son of Hammedatha the Agagite, which he wrote to destroy the Jews which [are] in all the king's provinces:"

"To reverse": This proved to be impossible in light of the inflexible nature of the king's edicts (1:19). However, a counter-decree was possible (compare 8:8; 11-12).

Notice, she mentioned twice, "if she had found favor in his eyes". What she was asking was impossible, because once the seal of the king was on the letters, they were law. She blamed the whole thing on Haman, and somehow believed the king could rescind the orders because they were given by Haman.

Esther 8:6 "For how can I endure to see the evil that shall come unto my people? or how can I endure to see the destruction of my kindred?"

I cannot bear it; it will break my heart. I shall die to see all my people massacred throughout the realm. The thought of it is shocking and shuddering; to see it, intolerable.

"Or how can I endure to see the destruction of my kindred?" The same thing in different words, and somewhat more expressive and explanative. She explains the evil coming upon her people of the utter destruction of them, not barely an oppression, but an extermination of them. And she makes use of a word expressive of their relation to her, as more endearing, being her kindred. She and they being, as it were, of the same family, and with whom she could not but sympathize in distress.

Nothing would please the king more than to reverse the letters, if it were possible. Because Esther was a Jew, it would be difficult for her to see her people die, even if the king could save her.

Esther 8:7 "Then the king Ahasuerus said unto Esther the queen and to Mordecai the Jew, Behold, I have given Esther the house of Haman, and him they have hanged upon the gallows, because he laid his hand upon the Jews."

Who was present at the same time, either at the desire of Esther, or by virtue of his office, being now one of those that saw the king's face (Esther 8:1).

"Behold, I have given Esther the house of Haman": (see Esther 8:1).

"And him they have hanged upon the gallows": Which he had prepared for Mordecai (Esther 7:10).

"Because he laid his hand upon the Jews": Intended to do so, and had prepared for it, and wrote letters, ordering their destruction on such a day. Now as the king had shown favor to Esther and Mordecai, and had punished Haman for contriving mischief against them and the Jews. Which was publicly known, the people would be fearful of doing anything against them, lest they should incur the king's displeasure. And therefore might make themselves easy about this matter; but, however, to give them all the satisfaction he could, he directs them to do as follows in 8:8.

Now we find the true reason for the king killing Haman. The king did not want the Jews killed either.

Esther 8:8 "Write ye also for the Jews, as it liketh you, in the king's name, and seal [it] with the king's ring: for the writing which is written in the king's name, and sealed with the king's ring, may no man reverse."

Whatever may be thought fit and proper for their safety and security.

"In the king's name, and seal it with the king's ring": As the former letters were.

"For the writing which is written in the king's name, and sealed with the king's ring, may no man reverse": Which is a reason both for the writing and sealing of the present letters in this manner, and why the former could not be reversed. Nor does it appear that they were, but that, in virtue of them, the people had power to rise and kill the Jews on the day appointed, if they dared, or were so disposed. And these empowered the Jews to rise in their own defense, and kill all that made any attempts upon them, for which they had the royal authority. And these letters coming after the other, though they did not formally reverse them, which might not be done, yet rendered them ineffectual.

The king could do nothing about the edict that went forth to kill the Jews, because it had the king's seal upon it. He was now telling Mordecai to do whatever he thought would help in this situation and put the seal of the king upon it. The king had no idea how to help the situation that Haman created, but gave Mordecai permission to do whatever he could.

Verses 9-13: Mordecai's counter decree was issued in June of 474 B.C., a little over two months after the first decree was issued, allowing more than eight months for the Jews to prepare their defenses (verse 9).

Esther 8:9 "Then were the king's scribes called at that time in the third month, that [is], the month Sivan, on the three and twentieth [day] thereof; and it was written according to all that Mordecai commanded unto the Jews, and to the lieutenants, and the deputies and rulers of the provinces which [are] from India unto Ethiopia, a hundred twenty and seven provinces, unto every province according to the writing thereof, and unto every people after their language, and to the Jews according to their writing, and according to their language."

"Sivan": Refers to the period of May / June. It had been two months and 10 days since Haman's decree (3:12); 8 months and 20 days remained until both decrees became simultaneously effective (3:13).

We can see from this that Haman wanted to annihilate the Jews. His hate for them was so great, he did not want any to live, even in Judah. The third month would be the same as our June. Sivan is a Babylonian name having to do with a false god, it is not Hebrew. Mordecai gathered the scribes and sent letters to each of the 127 provinces in their own language, a letter sealed with the king's signet. It was just as much law as the one Haman had sent.

Verses 10-17: In this time of rejoicing, many people of the land "became Jews". The Jews were also given permission to "gather ... and protect" themselves against attack. The response?

"Joy and stand ... in every province" (Psalms 97:11; 122:4).

Esther 8:10 "And he wrote in the king Ahasuerus' name, and sealed [it] with the king's ring, and sent letters by posts on horseback, [and] riders on mules, camels, [and] young dromedaries:"

Which gave the letters authority, and made them irreversible, and for this Mordecai had the king's order (Esther 8:8).

"And sent letters by post": By runners or couriers.

"On horseback": That rode on horses that were racers that ran swiftly.

"And riders on mules, camels, and young dromedaries": Which were all different creatures, and swift ones, according to our version, especially the latter (see Jer. 2:23), which were a kind of camels, but swifter, and would go more than one hundred miles a day.

We spoke earlier of how their mail system was very similar to our pony express.

Esther 8:11 "Wherein the king granted the Jews which [were] in every city to gather themselves together, and to stand for their life, to destroy, to slay, and to cause to perish, all the power of the people and province that would assault them, [both] little ones and women, and [to take] the spoil of them for a prey,"

"The king granted": Just as the king had permitted Haman, so he allowed the Jews to defend themselves and to plunder their spoil (9:10; 15-16).

All of the people of the provinces were actually controlled by the king of Persia. They did not have a right to bear arms. This edict would give them permission to fight back on the day that all the Jews were to be killed. They were to kill the ones who had intended to kill them in the same manner the first edict had prescribed. They could also take spoil of those they killed. This was now a law giving them the right to defend themselves.

Esther 8:12 "Upon one day in all the provinces of king Ahasuerus, [namely], upon the thirteenth [day] of the twelfth month, which [is] the month Adar."

The day appointed and fixed in the former letters for the destruction of the Jews (Esther 3:13).

The first edict had set this day as the day to kill the Jews. Now, the second edict gave the Jews permission to fight back. This would be a one day war, and then both edicts would not be the law any longer.

Esther 8:13 "The copy of the writing for a commandment to be given in every province [was] published unto all people, and that the Jews should be ready against that day to avenge themselves on their enemies."

A copy of the letters sent to the governors of provinces. The sum and substance of them was published by a herald, or fixed in public places, that all might know the contents thereof. And take care not to assault the Jews, as it would be to their peril.

"And that the Jews should be ready against that day to avenge themselves on their enemies". Abendana thinks this is to be restraining to those that were of the seed of Amalek, who were their principal enemies. But no doubt it includes all that should rise up against them.

Mordecai had it distributed locally as well. Anywhere there were Jews, there was also permission given for them to defend themselves.

Verses 14-17: The "post" were the couriers riding the mules and camels. "And many of the people of the land became Jews" is the only Old Testament reference to people of other races becoming Jews, though the New Testament bears ample witness to the process in the first century A.D. (Matt. 23:15; Acts 2:10; 6:5; 13:43).

Esther 8:14 "[So] the posts that rode upon mules [and] camels went out, being hastened and pressed on by the king's commandment. And the decree was given at Shushan the palace."

Or on the mules, which in the Persian language were called "ahashteranim" (see note on Esther 8:10).

"Being hastened and pressed on by the king's commandment": Who gave them a special order to make what haste they could, that the Jews might have time to prepare for their defense, and their enemies be the more intimidated.

"And the decree was given at Shushan the palace": The king's counsellors agreeing to it, and perhaps signing it, as they did the former (see note on Esther 3:15).

These letters were sent early, so there would be time for other communications, if necessary. These letters were even distributed in the palace.

Esther 8:15 "And Mordecai went out from the presence of the king in royal apparel of blue and white, and with a great crown of gold, and with a garment of fine linen and purple: and the city of Shushan rejoiced and was glad."

"Mordecai went out": This second reward exceeded the first (6:6-9). Blue and white were the royal colors of the Persian Empire.

This was a robe of royalty. It was interesting that the colors would be blue and white. White speaks of righteousness, and blue speaks of the heavenly. Purple speaks of royalty. The king was not aware of these meanings, but the LORD was. This just meant that he had on his robes of the second in command in the country. This great crown of gold was just a little shorter than the king's. This reminds me of the robes that Joseph was given, when he became second in command in Egypt. The people rejoiced. This was the answer the LORD gave to the prayers and fasting the people had done.

Esther 8:16 "The Jews had light, and gladness, and joy, and honor."

Prosperity, as opposed to the darkness of adversity in which they had been (see note on Isa. 8:22). Or lightsomeness and cheerfulness of spirit, as explained by the two next words.

"And gladness and joy": At the good news of their deliverance, so unexpected by them. Thus light is explained by gladness (Psalm 97:11).

"And honor" among men. From their neighbors, who before had held them in contempt, as a people doomed to destruction.

The Jews were no longer sad and living in the shadow of the death that Haman intended to bring. They had the light, and life of God renewed within them. This would bring joy unspeakable.

Esther 8:17 "And in every province, and in every city, whithersoever the king's commandment and his decree came, the Jews had joy and gladness, a feast and a good day. And many of the people of the land became Jews; for the fear of the Jews fell upon them."

"Many ... people ... Jews": The population realized that the God of the Jews greatly exceeded anything that the pantheon of Persian deities could offer (Exodus 15:14-16; Psalm 105:38; Acts 5:11), especially in contrast to their recent defeat by the Greeks.

It was very obvious that God was with them. Some of the Persians feared when that day came, that some of the Jews would kill them. They converted and became Jews themselves, to keep that from happening.

Esther Chapter 8 Questions

  1. Who did the king give Haman's house to?
  2. What day was spoken of in verse 1?
  3. When did Esther reveal to the king that she was related to Mordecai?
  4. Who would take Haman's place as number two under the king?
  5. Who did the king give his signet ring to?
  6. Esther set _________ over the house of Haman.
  7. The signet ring was a sign of ___________.
  8. Mordecai was like a ________ of ________.
  9. Haman was dead, but his wicked __________ was in place.
  10. When Esther went to the king unannounced, what did she do?
  11. Who was she blaming for the edict?
  12. How did the king show he accepted her?
  13. Why did the king want her to stand?
  14. What did Esther say twice in verse 5?
  15. Why was what she was asking impossible?
  16. What questions did she ask the king in verse 6?
  17. What reason did the king give for having executed Haman?
  18. Who could reverse an edict with the seal of the king on it?
  19. What did the king give Mordecai permission to do?
  20. Why had Haman sent this edict to all of the provinces?
  21. How many provinces were there?
  22. What did Mordecai do to stop the slaughter of the Jews?
  23. Why could the Jews not fight back, before the letter Mordecai sent?
  24. What did the new edict say?
  25. How long would the war last?
  26. How were the edicts sent to the provinces?
  27. How was Mordecai dressed now?
  28. How did the Jews celebrate?
  29. Who became Jews, because of the second edict?
  30. Where was all of this recorded?

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Esther 9

Esther Chapter 9

Verses 1-3: Although Haman's decree was written two months and 10 days before the decree written by Mordecai, both decrees went into effect on the same date: June 25, 474 B.C. In one day, everything that had been planned by the wicked Haman was totally reversed. Even the Gentile officials switched their loyalty to the Jews.

The fateful day was March 7, 473 B.C. "It was turned to the contrary" was an obvious reference to the providence of God, even though the name of God still does not appear!

Esther 9:1 "Now in the twelfth month, that [is], the month Adar, on the thirteenth day of the same, when the king's commandment and his decree drew near to be put in execution, in the day that the enemies of the Jews hoped to have power over them, (though it was turned to the contrary, that the Jews had rule over them that hated them;)"

"Twelfth month": During the period Feb./Mar. Here is a powerful statement with regard to God's providential preservation of the Jewish race in harmony with God's unconditional promise to Abraham (Gen. 17:1-8). This providential deliverance stands in contrast to God's miraculous deliverance of the Jews from Egypt; yet in both cases the same end had been accomplished by the supernatural power of God.

This was speaking of that specific day that Haman had set for them to kill all of the Jews. The Jews had permission, through Mordecai's edict, to fight and protect themselves.

Esther 9:2 "The Jews gathered themselves together in their cities throughout all the provinces of the king Ahasuerus, to lay hand on such as sought their hurt: and no man could withstand them; for the fear of them fell upon all people."

Wherever they lived.

"To lay hand on such as sought their hurt": Who not only threatened them what they would do on this day, but were risen up in arms in quest of them.

"And no man could withstand them, for the fear of them fell upon all people": When they understood that Haman was hanged, and Mordecai the Jew advanced. And that the queen herself was a Jew and that the Jews had the royal grant to act both defensively and offensively. And no doubt but the panic was of God.

This was not speaking of just the Jewish cities, but all of the cities where there were groups of Jews living. This second edict had frightened the people, so that they could not withstand the Jews.

Esther 9:3 "And all the rulers of the provinces, and the lieutenants, and the deputies, and officers of the king, helped the Jews; because the fear of Mordecai fell upon them."

"The fear of Mordecai": Pragmatically, the nation had a change of heart toward the Jews, knowing that the king, the queen, and Mordecai were the ranking royal officials of the land. To be pro-Jewish would put one in favor with the king and his court and put one on the side of God, the ultimate King (Rev. 19:16).

It was a fearful thing in all the provinces for the second in command to be a Jew himself. The lieutenants, deputies, and officers were afraid to fight against the Jews for fear of reprisal.

Esther 9:4 "For Mordecai [was] great in the king's house, and his fame went out throughout all the provinces: for this man Mordecai waxed greater and greater."

Not only over Esther's affairs, but was one of the king's counsellors, and was the chief minister of state.

"And his fame went out throughout all the provinces": What a favorite he was of the king, as well as a relation of the queen, and how wise and just his administrations were.

"For this man Mordecai waxed greater and greater": Was more and more in the king's favor. And had offices of honor and trust heaped upon him, and increased both in wealth and power.

It was almost as if Mordecai was leading the country himself. It appeared the king had turned much of his authority over to Mordecai. He was not only the second in command, but was the relative of the queen. He had power in Persia, as Joseph had in Egypt.

Verses 5-10: Nevertheless, many Persian citizens took full advantage of the first decree to attack their hated Jewish neighbors. The phrase "did what they would" (verse 5), indicates that the Jews were given a free hand without official interference.

"But on the spoil laid they not their hand" (verse 10; compare 3:13; 8:11; 9:15-16), indicates the purity of their motives, which thus is evident to all.

Esther 9:5 "Thus the Jews smote all their enemies with the stroke of the sword, and slaughter, and destruction, and did what they would unto those that hated them."

Some with swords, and others with clubs, and staves; as the Targum. And such like slaughtering weapons of destruction.

"And did what they would unto those that hated them": Being then entirely at their will, and under their power.

Verses 6-7: Five hundred men died in Susa.

Esther 9:6 "And in Shushan the palace the Jews slew and destroyed five hundred men."

Not in the royal palace, where it cannot be thought the Jews had so many enemies, or such a bloody slaughter of them should be made there. But in the city, where the palace was. And this may seem somewhat wonderful, that there should so many rise there against the Jews, so near the court, now altogether in the interest of the Jews. But these were men no doubt of Haman's faction, and enraged at his disgrace and death, and headed by his ten sons, who took the advantage of the decree to avenge his death. The Targum says, these were princes of the house of Amalek.

It appears that the Jews were not just killing at random, but were actually killing those who wanted to kill them. The palace area was about 100 acres, and this was where the 500 were killed. These were homes of prominent Persians. They possibly did not like the idea of a Jew taking Haman's place.

Verses 7-10: "Haman" and his "ten sons" were descendants of the Amalekites, who had attacked and killed many Israelites as they came out of Egypt (Exodus 17:8-16). God had promised His people that He would "blot out" the Amalekites (Deut. 25:17-19).

Esther 9:7-10 "And Parshandatha, and Dalphon, and Aspatha," "And Poratha, and Adalia, and Aridatha," And Parmashta, and Arisai, and Aridai, and Vajezatha," "The ten sons of Haman the son of Hammedatha, the enemy of the Jews, slew they; but on the spoil laid they not their hand."

The Jews slew the 10 sons along with the five hundred men, of which they were the head of.

Although the decree from the king allowed them to do so, the Jews "on the spoil laid they not their hand" from the enemies they killed, a point reiterated (in verses 15-16; 8:11). This decision stands in sharp contrast to Saul's decision to plunder the Amalekites despite being instructed not to do so (1 Sam 15:17-19). Unlike Saul, the Jews focused only on the mission at hand, i.e., to preserve the Jewish race (compare verses 15 and 16). Even though the king's edict permitted this (8:11).

The ten sons of Haman were probably still a threat to Mordecai and the Jews. The fact that the Jews did not take spoil from them showed this was not done for self-gain, but to stop an enemy.

Esther 9:11 "On that day the number of those that were slain in Shushan the palace was brought before the king."

Either by order of the king that he might know how many enemies the Jews had in the city, and how many of his subjects had been slain. Or officiously by others, with an intention to irritate the king against the Jews.

Esther 9:12 "And the king said unto Esther the queen, The Jews have slain and destroyed five hundred men in Shushan the palace, and the ten sons of Haman; what have they done in the rest of the king's provinces? now what [is] thy petition? and it shall be granted thee: or what [is] thy request further? and it shall be done."

"Thy request further?" Even this pagan king served the cause of utterly blotting out the Amalekites in accord with God's original decree (Exodus 17:14), by allowing for a second day of killing in Susa to eliminate all Jewish enemies.

This just meant that the leaders of the armies reported to the king the number that had been killed. The king had offered Esther up to half of the kingdom, so he told her of this great loss at the palace, explaining to her that the numbers in all of the provinces must be tremendous. He asked Esther if she was satisfied with this number, or what else did she want to satisfy herself and the Jews.

Esther 9:13 "Then said Esther, If it please the king, let it be granted to the Jews which [are] in Shushan to do tomorrow also according unto this day's decree, and let Haman's ten sons be hanged upon the gallows."

"Be hanged": I.e., be publicly displayed.

This seems a little bloodthirsty from such a beautiful queen. Why she wanted so many killed, I do not know. I can understand the hanging of the ten sons of Haman however.

Esther 9:14 "And the king commanded it so to be done: and the decree was given at Shushan; and they hanged Haman's ten sons."

That the Jews might have leave to seek out and slay the rest of their enemies in Shushan, on the fourteenth day, in like manner as they had on the thirteenth.

"And they hanged Haman's ten sons": On the same gallows, very probably, their father was hanged.

Verses 15-16: Over 1,500 years earlier God had promised to curse those who curse Abraham's descendants (Gen. 12:3).

Esther 9:15 "For the Jews that [were] in Shushan gathered themselves together on the fourteenth day also of the month Adar, and slew three hundred men at Shushan; but on the prey they laid not their hand."

"Fourteenth day": Another 300 men died the second day of killing in Susa, bringing the total dead in Susa to 810.

As they had on the thirteenth.

"And slew three hundred men at Shushan": The Targum adds, of the family of Amalek. But there is no reason to confine it to them; it respects all such as were the enemies of the Jews, and rose up against them. So that the whole number slain in Shushan were eight hundred persons, besides the sons of Haman.

"But on the prey they laid not their hand" (see Esther 9:7).

The Jews killed another 300 in Shushan, but they did not take their valuables. Again, this was the killing of the people who hated the Jews. The Jews were not killing them to get their possessions.

Esther 9:16 "But the other Jews that [were] in the king's provinces gathered themselves together, and stood for their lives, and had rest from their enemies, and slew of their foes seventy and five thousand, but they laid not their hands on the prey,"

"Slew": Outside of Susa, only one day of killing occurred in which 75,000 enemies died.

It appears that the war in the provinces lasted for just the one day. It was almost as if they were punishing those who had hated the Jews. The one day they killed 75,000, but they did not do it to get their possessions either. The Jews did not take their possessions.

Verses 17-19: Jews in the provinces celebrated their victory on the fourteenth day of Adar, while Jews in Susa waited until the fifteenth (because of the events of verse 15). Eventually Mordecai ordered that both days should be observed annually as the Feast of Purim (verses 26-28).

Esther 9:17 "On the thirteenth day of the month Adar; and on the fourteenth day of the same rested they, and made it a day of feasting and gladness."

This belongs to the preceding verse; and the meaning is, that on this day the Jews gathered together and slew so many thousands of their enemies as before related.

"And on the fourteenth day of the same rested they, and made it a feast of gladness": Rejoicing that they were delivered out of the hand of their enemies, who hoped and expected on that day to have made an utter end of them. According to the Jewish canons, mourning and fasting on this day were forbidden, but feasting and gladness were to be multiplied.

Immediately after their great victory, there was a time of celebration. They rested and rejoiced in the fact that the LORD had delivered their enemies into their hands. It was obvious that this was not the work of man, but of God.

Verses 18-19: The final feast described in the book is that of Purim (sometimes called the Feast of Esther), and is still celebrated by Jews today to commemorate the deliverance of God's people at the hands of Esther and Mordecai. At last the Jews knew rest and gladness (Duet. 25:19).

This section recounted why Purim would be celebrated for two days rather than one.

Esther 9:18 "But the Jews that [were] at Shushan assembled together on the thirteenth [day] thereof, and on the fourteenth thereof; and on the fifteenth [day] of the same they rested, and made it a day of feasting and gladness."

Of the month Adar; that is, they gathered together to defend themselves, and destroy their enemies, on both these days. Having the decree renewed for the fourteenth as they had for the thirteenth.

"And on the fifteenth day of the same they rested, and made it a day of feasting and gladness": As the Jews in the provinces did on the fourteenth.

The Jews in Shushan waited one more day to celebrate because the killing of their enemies had lasted one more day. The feasting and gladness was for the fact that those who hated the Jews were no more.

Esther 9:19 "Therefore the Jews of the villages, that dwelt in the unwalled towns, made the fourteenth day of the month Adar [a day of] gladness and feasting, and a good day, and of sending portions one to another."

Jarchi observes that those in the villages, they that do not dwell in walled towns, observed the fourteenth, and they in towns surrounded with walls the fifteenth, as Shushan. And this circumvallation, he says, must be what was from the days of Joshua. According to the Jewish canons, every place that was walled from the days of Joshua the son of Nun, whether in the land of Israel or out of it. Though not now walled they read (i.e. the book of Esther), on the fifteenth of Adar, and this is called a walled town. But a place which was not walled in the days of Joshua, though now walled, they read in the fourteenth. And this is called a city; but the city Shushan, though it was not walled in the days of Joshua, they read on the fifteenth. Because in it was done a miracle and each of these was kept as a day of public rejoicing for their great deliverance and freedom from their enemies.

"And a good day: as the Jews usually call the several days of the Passover, Pentecost, and Tabernacles.

"And of sending portions one to another": Expressive of mutual joy, and congratulating one another upon the happiness they shared in (see Rev. 11:10). And particularly this may respect sending gifts to the poor, who had not that to rejoice and make merry with, others had (see Neh. 8:10). Though these seem to be distinct from them (Esther 9:22).

This time that was set aside for celebration from year to year is still recognized by the Jews today. The 14th day Adar is about the same as our March.

Verses 20-25: A brief summary of God's providential intervention on behalf of the Jews.

Esther 9:20 "And Mordecai wrote these things, and sent letters unto all the Jews that [were] in all the provinces of the king Ahasuerus, [both] nigh and far,"

The transactions of those two days, and the causes of them, as well as the following letter. Some conclude from hence that he was the penman of the book; and so he might be, but it does not necessarily follow from here.

"And sent letters unto all the Jews that were in all the provinces of the King Ahasuerus, both nigh and far": Such as were near the city Shushan, and those that were at the greatest distance from it. These were more especially the things he wrote.

Esther 9:21 "To stablish [this] among them, that they should keep the fourteenth day of the month Adar, and the fifteenth day of the same, yearly,"

That it might be a settled thing, and annually observed in all future generations, what they had now done.

"That they should keep the fourteenth day of the month Adar, and the fifteenth day of the same, yearly": As the former had been observed by the Jews in the provinces, and both by those in Shushan (Esther 9:17), as festivals in commemoration of their great deliverance. Hence the fourteenth of Adar is called the day of Mordecai, being established by him. "And they ordained all with a common decree in no case to let that day pass without solemnity, but to celebrate the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, which in the Syrian tongue is called Adar, the day before Mardocheus' day."

Esther 9:22 "As the days wherein the Jews rested from their enemies, and the month which was turned unto them from sorrow to joy, and from mourning into a good day: that they should make them days of feasting and joy, and of sending portions one to another, and gifts to the poor."

Having slain all those that rose up against them, and assaulted them.

"And the month which was turned unto them from sorrow to joy, and from mourning unto a good day": For in this month Adar, on the thirteenth day of it, they expected to have been all destroyed, which had occasioned great sorrow and mourning in them. But beyond their expectation, in the same month, and on the selfsame day of the month, they had deliverance and freedom from their enemies. Which was matter of joy, and made this day a good day to them.

"That they should make them days of feasting and joy": Keep both the fourteenth and fifteenth days of the month as festivals. Eating and drinking, and making all tokens of joy and gladness. Though not in the Bacchanalian way in which they now observe them. For they say, a man is bound at the feast of Purim to exhilarate or inebriate himself until he does not know the difference between "cursed be Haman" and "blessed be Mordecai".

"And of sending portions one to another; and these now consist of eatables and drinkables": And according to the Jewish canons, a man must send two gifts to his friend, at least; and they that multiply them are most commendable. And those are sent by men to men, and by women to women, and not the contrary.

"And gifts to the poor": Alms money, as the Targum, to purchase food and drink with. Nor may they use it to any other purpose, though some say they may do what they will with it. And a man must not give less than two gifts to the poor; these are called the monies of Purim.

These two days would be established as a day of festivity and giving of gifts to the poor forever. Mordecai sent letters to the Jews in all the provinces, so that they would keep these days each year in memory of this event. This would be a time set aside for unselfish giving to the poor, and a time of festivity throughout the land. God had seen their terrible plight, and turned their sorrow into joy. We must continue to remember, that the Jews had gone into sackcloth and ashes, and tore their clothes in mourning. They prayed and fasted. It was the answer to these prayers that brought all of this about.

Verses 23-28: These verses contain the third account of the institution of the feast and explain how it got its name, Purim.

Esther 9:23 "And the Jews undertook to do as they had begun, and as Mordecai had written unto them;"

They engaged to keep these two days as festivals annually, as they had at this time done. Not in a religious but in a civil way, not as parts of religious worship, or as additions to and innovations of the law, but by way of commemoration of a civil benefit which they had received. And yet we find in later times that this was scrupled by some as an innovation. For we are told that there were eighty five elders, and more than thirty of them prophets, who were distressed about this matter, fearing it was an innovation.

Esther 9:24 "Because Haman the son of Hammedatha, the Agagite, the enemy of all the Jews, had devised against the Jews to destroy them, and had cast Pur, that [is], the lot, to consume them, and to destroy them;"

Had formed a design to exterminate them from the whole Persian Empire in one day.

"And had cast Pur, (that is, the lot), to consume them, and to destroy them. Had cast lots to find out what would be the luckiest day in the year for him to do it on, and the most unlucky and unfortunate to the Jews. And, according to the lot, the thirteenth of Adar was pitched upon. This and the following verse give the reasons for observing the above two days as festivals.

"Pur" we remember was lots. This was established as a Jewish holiday forever. It was called Purim.

Esther 9:25 "But when [Esther] came before the king, he commanded by letters that his wicked device, which he devised against the Jews, should return upon his own head, and that he and his sons should be hanged on the gallows."

To request of him her life, and the life of her people.

"He commanded by letters, that his wicked device, which he devised against the Jews, should return upon his own head": That whereas his wicked scheme was to destroy all the Jews. The king, by his second letter, gave orders that the Jews should have liberty to defend themselves and destroy their enemies which rose up against them. And the friends and party of Haman were entirely cut off.

"And that he and his sons should be hanged on the gallows": Which he had prepared for Mordecai. Not that they were ordered to be hanged together, nor were they. Haman was hanged before on the twenty third day of the month, but his sons not till the fourteenth day of the twelfth month (Esther 7:10).

This was speaking of Haman's wicked device. He and his ten sons were hanged for this evil they had tried to do.

Esther 9:26 "Wherefore they called these days Purim after the name of Pur. Therefore for all the words of this letter, and [of that] which they had seen concerning this matter, and which had come unto them,"

"Purim": The first and last biblically revealed, non-Mosaic festival with perpetual significance.

The Book of Esther (also called the Megillah), is still read aloud during "Purim", and the congregation shouts and boos whenever Haman is mentioned in order to drown out his name. Feasting and gift-giving are part of the ceremony, as is dressing in masks or costumes. Purim is preceded by the fast of Esther, a one-day fast to commemorate the three-day fast (recorded in 4:16).

Pur is the Persian name of the lots Haman had used. It is interesting that a Jewish holiday would start with a Persian word. The "im" on the end of the word is a Hebrew ending. They did not want to forget the happenings here.

Esther 9:27 "The Jews ordained, and took upon them, and upon their seed, and upon all such as joined themselves unto them, so as it should not fail, that they would keep these two days according to their writing, and according to their [appointed] time every year;"

Who became proselytes to their religion. That is, they appointed the above two days as festivals, and engaged for themselves, for their children, and all proselytes, to observe them as such. And one of their canons runs thus: "all are obliged to read the Megillah (the book of Esther, which they always read on those days), Priests, Levites, Nethinim, Israelites, men, women, and proselytes, and servants made free, and they train up little ones to read it:"

"So as it should not fail": Of being observed, so as no man should transgress it, or pass it over.

"That they should keep these two days": The fourteenth and fifteenth of the month Adar or February.

"According to their writing": In this book, the book of Esther. Which was to be read, as Aben Ezra; written in the Hebrew character, as the Targum; that is, in the Assyrian character, as Jarchi; the square character, as they call it.

"And according to their appointed time every year": Whether simple or intercalated, as Aben Ezra observes. In an intercalary year the Jews have two Adars. And, though they keep the feast of Purim on the fourteenth of the first Adar, yet not with so much mirth, and call it the lesser Purim. But in the second Adar they observe it with all its ceremonies. So, in their canon, they do not keep Purim but in Adar that is next to Nisan or March, that redemption might be near redemption. The redemption of Mordecai near the redemption of Moses.

Esther 9:28 "And [that] these days [should be] remembered and kept throughout every generation, every family, every province, and every city; and [that] these days of Purim should not fail from among the Jews, nor the memorial of them perish from their seed."

And accordingly, these days are commemorated by them now, and by all their families, and all in their families capable of it. And these words, "every province", and "every city", are used, as Aben Ezra observes. Lest a man should think he was not bound to keep this feast where there were no Jews; for, let him be where he may, he is obliged to keep it.

"And that these days of Purim should not fail among the Jews": Or the observance of them be neglected and cease.

"Nor the memorial of them perish from their seed": Neither the memorial of them, nor of the reason of keeping them. Wherefore on those days they read the whole book of Esther, fairly written on a roll of parchment, and are careful that none omit the reading of it. Rather, they say, the reading and learning the law should be omitted, and all commands and service, than the reading this volume. That so all might be acquainted with this wonderful deliverance, and keep it in mind.

It appears that this was not an optional celebration. It was required of all Jews for all generations. The day before Purim was a day of fasting to celebrate the fact of Esther's fast. The book of Esther was read at these celebrations.

Verses 29-32: Even in their new position of authority, Esther and Mordecai continued to work together to bring "words of peace and truth" to the Jews. They never forgot where they came from or God's purpose in bringing them into power (Rom. 8:28).

Esther 9:29 "Then Esther the queen, the daughter of Abihail, and Mordecai the Jew, wrote with all authority, to confirm this second letter of Purim."

"Second letter": An additional letter (compare verse 20 for the first letter), which added "fasting" and "lamentations" to the prescribed activity of Purim.

Perhaps, the reason that Esther mentioned that she was the daughter of Abihail, was so that all of the people would realize that she was Hebrew also. She might be the queen of Persia, but she was Jew by birth. It was unusual for a queen to be involved in such a letter, but her authority as queen added to the authority of Mordecai as second in command.

Esther 9:30 "And he sent the letters unto all the Jews, to the hundred twenty and seven provinces of the kingdom of Ahasuerus, [with] words of peace and truth,"

That is, Mordecai did, signed in the queen's name, and his own.

"To the hundred twenty and seven provinces of the kingdom of Ahasuerus": Among which was Judea that had become a province. First of the Chaldean, now of the Persian Empire (see Ezra 5:8). To whom also these letters were sent, directing and ordering the Jews there to observe these days, who were also concerned in the deliverance wrought.

"With words of peace and truth exhorting them to live in peace with one another, and their neighbors, and to constancy in the true religion": Or wishing them all peace and prosperity in the most loving and sincere manner.

The Jews were scattered in those days. They had not all come back to their homeland when they had been given that option. The fact that they were in a foreign land did not give them the right to overlook Purim. Mordecai and Esther wanted them to know there would be peace for them during the reign of Xerxes and Esther.

Esther 9:31 "To confirm these days of Purim in their times [appointed], according as Mordecai the Jew and Esther the queen had enjoined them, and as they had decreed for themselves and for their seed, the matters of the fastings and their cry."

The fourteenth and fifteenth of Adar.

"According as Mordecai the Jew and Esther the queen had enjoined them": In the letters written and signed by them both.

"And as they had decreed for themselves, and for their seed" (see Esther 9:27).

"The matters of their fastings and their cry": In commemoration of their deliverance from those distresses and calamities which occasioned fastings and prayers during the time of them. And to this sense is the former Targum. Though it is certain the Jews observe the thirteenth day, the day before the two days, as a fast, and which they call the fast of Esther, and have prayers on the festival days peculiar to them. But the sense Aben Ezra gives seems best, that as the Jews had decreed to keep the fasts, mentioned in (Zech. 7:5), so they now decreed to rejoice in the days of Purim.

Mordecai and Esther set the example by agreeing to keep the feast of Purim themselves and for their descendants.

Esther 9:32 "And the decree of Esther confirmed these matters of Purim; and it was written in the book."

"Written in the book": This could be the chronicle referred to (in 10:3), or another archival type document. It certainly does not hint that Esther wrote this canonical book.

This was written in the record book to make sure that it would always be remembered. The book spoken of is the book of the chronicles.

Esther Chapter 9 Questions

  1. What was their 12th month?
  2. What did the Jews do on the day Haman had planned for the Jews to be killed?
  3. How did the Jews get permission to protect themselves?
  4. Why could the people not withstand the Jews?
  5. Why did the officers help the Jews?
  6. What happened to Mordecai, after he took office?
  7. Mordecai's power in Persia was compared to Joseph's power in ___________.
  8. Who did the Jews kill?
  9. How many were killed at Shushan?
  10. How large was the palace area?
  11. Who were the sons of Haman, who were killed?
  12. Why do you suppose they did not take the spoil?
  13. When the king heard the number killed at Shushan, what did he ask Esther?
  14. What answer did she give the king?
  15. How were Haman's sons killed?
  16. How many more were killed in Shushan on the second day?
  17. How many were killed in the provinces?
  18. When did the Jews in the province begin to celebrate?
  19. Who suggested this as a celebration for forever?
  20. Who wrote letters to the provinces for this to be a celebration every year?
  21. What does "Pur" mean?
  22. What would the festival be named?
  23. Who wrote with Mordecai to the provinces the second time?
  24. Why did Esther speak of herself as the daughter of Abihail?
  25. Where was all of this recorded?

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Esther 10

Esther Chapter 10

Verses 1-3: In this apparent postscript, we learn that Mordecai became "second" in the kingdom, much like Joseph in Egypt and Daniel in Babylon. Not only did his obedience gain him the favor of God and man, but he spent his years doing what every leader should do: "seeking the wealth of his people, and speaking peace to all his seed (Psalm 122:8-9).

Mordecai held the office of first minister no longer than eight years. Secular history records that another man was in that office (in 465 B.C.).

10:1 "And the king Ahasuerus laid a tribute upon the land, and [upon] the isles of the sea."

Which include all his dominions, both on the continent, and on the sea, the Aegean Sea. Though Aben Ezra thinks it regards such as were not under his government, but stood in fear of him, of whom he demanded tribute. Though some understand this of his renewing the taxes and tribute, which he remitted upon his marriage with Esther (Esther 2:18).

Possibly, this was a re-assessing of the tribute, which today is called taxes. The king of Persia had lost part of his territory in a battle with Greece. This perhaps, is to re-adjust the tribute to a fairer amount.

Esther 10:2 "And all the acts of his power and of his might, and the declaration of the greatness of Mordecai, whereunto the king advanced him, [are] they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Media and Persia?"

As Xerxes was a very mighty and powerful king.

"And the declaration of the greatness of Mordecai, whereunto the king advanced him": The history of that, and which tended not a little to the greatness, dignity and prosperity of the king himself, and his whole kingdom.

"Are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Media and Persia?" To which the reader is referred by the writer of this book, which were in being in his times, but now lost. Had they been preserved, they might have been of great use to lead into the history of the Medes and Persians, which for want of them is very dark and intricate. The writer of this book having nothing further to do with it, than as it related to the affairs of the Jews.

It appears, that Mordecai became a very powerful second in command. The record book for Persia, also contains the events of Media. This explains that Mordecai found favor with the king. The only way the king could advance him was in the money he made and in his authority. Since he was second in command, the only office left if he were promoted would have been king.

Esther 10:3 "For Mordecai the Jew [was] next unto king Ahasuerus, and great among the Jews, and accepted of the multitude of his brethren, seeking the wealth of his people, and speaking peace to all his seed."

"Mordecai ... was next": Mordecai joined the top echelon of Jewish international statesman like Joseph, who ranked second in the Egyptian dynasty (Gen. 41:37-45), and Daniel, who succeeded in both the Babylonian (Dan. 2:46-49; 5;29), and Medo-Persian Empires (Dan. 6:28).

"Seeking the wealth of his people": Less than 10 years later (ca. 465 B.C.), Ahasuerus was assassinated. There are no further details concerning Esther and Mordecai. What Mordecai did for less than a decade on behalf of Israel, Jesus Christ will do for all eternity as the Prince of Peace (Isa. 9:6-7; Zech. 9:9-10).

Mordecai in Persia was much like Joseph in Egypt. As long as he lived, he helped his people.

Esther Chapter 10 Questions

  1. What is a tribute?
  2. Who was second highest in Command?
  3. What happened to Ahasuerus?
  4. When did this happen?
  5. How long was Mordecai in Power?
  6. Mordecai in Persia was much like ___________ in Egypt.
  7. Where was all of this recorded?

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