Chapter I
Chapter II
Chapter III
Chapter IV
Chapter V
Chapter VI
Chapter VII
Chapter VIII
Chapter IX
Chapter X

Both Jews and Christians have generally supposed Mordecai to be the writer of this book, which shews the care of God even over those Israelites, who were still scattered among the Heathens. It is the narrative of a plot to cut off all the Jews, disappointed by a wonderful concurrence of providences. The name of God is not found in this book: but the, finger of God is, directing so many minute events for the deliverance of his people. The particulars are very encouraging to God's people, in the most difficult and dangerous times. Here we are told how Esther came to be queen, and Mordecai to be great at court, chap. 1, 2. How Haman obtained an order for the destruction of the Jews, chap. 3. The distress of the Jews thereupon, chap. 4. The defeating of Haman's plot against Mordecai, chap. 5 - 7. The defeating of his plot against the Jews, chap. 8. The care taken to perpetuate the memory of this, chap. 9, 10.

Chapter I

Ahasuerus feasts his great men, ver. 1 - 9. Sends for his queen, who refuses to come, ver. 10, 11. He divorces her, ver. 12 - 22.

1 Ahasuerus - Many suppose this to be Darius Hystapas, for his kingdom was thus vast, and he subdued India, as Herodotus reports: and one of his wives was called Atossa, differing little from Hadassah, which is Esther's other name, Esth 2:7. Provinces - So seven new provinces were added to those hundred and twenty mentioned, Dan 6:1.
2 Sat - Was settled in the peaceable possession of it. Shushan - The chief or royal city. Shushan might be the proper name of the palace, which thence was given to the whole city. Here the kings of Persia used to keep their courts in winter, as at Exbatana in summer.
4 Many days - Making every day a magnificent feast, either for all his princes, or for some of them, who might come to the feast successively, as the king ordered them to do. The Persian feasts are much celebrated in authors, for their length and luxury.
6 Beds - For in those eastern countries, they did not then sit at tables as we do, but rested or leaned upon beds or couches.
8 The law - According to this law which the king had now made, that none should compel another to drink more than he pleased. How does this Heathen prince shame many, that are called Christians, who think they do not make their friends welcome, unless they make them drunk, and under pretence of sending the health round, send the sin round, and death with it!
9 Women - While the king entertained the men. For this was the common custom of the Persians, that men and women did not feast together.
12 Refused - Being favoured in this refusal by the law of Persia, which was to keep mens wives, and especially queens, from the view of other men.
13 The times - The histories of former times, what princes have done in such cases as this was.
14 Saw - Who had constant freedom of access to the king, and familiar converse with him: which is thus expressed, because the Persian kings were very seldom seen by their subjects. Sat - Who were his chief counsellors and officers.
18 Contempt - Contempt in the wives, and thereupon wrath in the husbands; and consequently strife in families.

Chapter II

The virgins of the kingdom are gathered together, ver. 1 - 4. And Esther with the rest, ver. 5 - 8. She finds favour with the king's chamberlain, ver. 9 - 11. The manner of preparing the virgins, and bringing them to the king, ver. 12 - 14. Esther pleases him, who makes her queen, ver. 15 - 20. Mordecai discovers a conspiracy against the king, ver. 21 - 23.

3 Keeper - Of all the women, both virgins and concubines: only the virgins he himself took care of, as requiring more care and caution, and the concubines be committed to Shaashgaz, ver.14, his deputy. Purification - That is, to cleanse them from all impurities, to perfume, and adorn, and every way prepare them for the king: for the legal purification of the Jews he never regarded.
7 Esther - Hadassah was her Hebrew name before her marriage; and she was called Esther by the king after it.
9 Pleased - Because she was very beautiful, therefore he supposed she would be acceptable to the king; and by the Divine power, which moveth the hearts of men which way he pleaseth.
10 Shew it - Lest the knowledge hereof should either make her contemptible, or bring some inconvenience to the whole nation; but there was also an hand of God in causing this to be concealed, for the better accomplishment of that which he designed, though Mordecai was ignorant of it.
13 Desired - For ornament, or by way of attendance. And it should be observed, that every one whom the king took to his bed, was his wife of a lower rank, as Hagar was Abraham's, so that it would have been no sin or dishonour to Esther, though she had not been made queen.
19 Sat - By office, as one of the king's guards or ministers; being advanced to this place by Esther's favour.

Chapter III

Haman offended at Mordecai, resolves to destroy all the Jews, ver. 1 - 6. He obtains an order from the king, to have them all slain on one day, ver. 7 - 11. This order is sent throughout the kingdom, ver. 12 - 15.

1 Agagite - An Amalekite of the royal seed of that nation, whose kings were successively called Agag. All the princes - Gave him the first place and seat, which was next to the king.
2 But, &c. - Probably the worship required was not only civil, but Divine: which as the kings of Persia arrogated to themselves, so they did sometimes impart this honour to some of their chief favourites, that they should be adored in like manner. And that it was so here, seems more than probable, because it was superfluous, to give an express command to all the kings servants, to pay a civil respect to so great a prince, which of course they used, and therefore a Divine honour must be here intended. And that a Jew should deny this honour, is not strange, seeing the wise Grecians did positively refuse to give this honour to the kings of Persia themselves, even when they were to make their addresses to them: and one Timocrates was put to death by the Athenians for worshipping Darius in that manner.
4 To see - What the event of it would be. For, &c. - And therefore did not deny this reverence out of pride, but merely out of conscience.
6 Scorn - He thought that vengeance was unsuitable to his quality. Destroy - Which he attempted, from that implacable hatred which, as an Amalekite, he had against them; from his rage against Mordecai; and from Mordecai's reason of this contempt, because he was a Jew, which as he truly judged, extended itself to all the Jews, and would equally engage them all in the same neglect. And doubtless Haman included those who were returned to their own land: for that was now a province of his kingdom.
7 They cast - The diviners cast lots, according to the custom of those people, what day, and what month would be most lucky, not for his success with the king (of which he made no doubt) but for the most effectual extirpation of the Jews. Wherein appears likewise both his implacable malice, and unwearied diligence in seeking vengeance of them with so much trouble to himself; and God's singular providence in disposing the lot to that time, that the Jews might have space to get the decree reversed.
11 The silver - Keep it to thy own use; I accept the offer for the deed.
15 The city - Not only the Jews, but a great number of the citizens, either because they were related to them, or engaged with them in worldly concerns; or out of humanity and compassion toward so vast a number of innocent people, appointed as sheep for the slaughter.

Chapter IV

The Jews fast and mourn, ver. 1 - 3. Esther is informed of the design, ver. 4 - 9, Mordecai presses her to intercede with the king, ver. 10 - 14. She desires all the Jews to keep a solemn fast, ver. 15 - 19.

1 Cry - To express his deep sense of the mischief coming upon his people. It was bravely done, thus publickly to espouse a just cause though it seemed to be a desperate one.
2 Sackcloth - Lest it should give the king any occasion of grief and trouble. But what availed, to keep out the badges of sorrow unless they could have kept out the causes of sorrow too? To forbid sackcloth to enter unless they could likewise forbid sickness, and trouble, and death?
4 To clothe - That so he might be capable of returning to his former place, if not of coming to her to acquaint her with the cause of his sorrow.
11 Inner court - Within which, the king's residence and throne was. Not called - This was decreed, to maintain both the majesty, and the safety of the king's person; and by the contrivance of the greater officers of state, that few or none might have access to the king but themselves and their friends. I have not been called, &c. - Which gives me just cause to fear that the king's affections are alienated from me, and that neither my person nor petition will be acceptable to him.
14 From another place - This was the language of strong faith, against hope believing in hope. Who knoweth - It is probable God hath raised thee to this honour for this very season. We should every one of us consider, for what end God has put us in the place where we are? And when an opportunity offers of serving God and our generation, we must take care not to let it slip.
16 Fast - And pray; so as you use to do, leave off your common dinners by day, and suppers at night, and eat and drink no more than mere necessity requires; that so you may give yourselves to constant and fervent prayers. Maidens - Which she had chosen to attend upon her person, and were doubtless either of the Jewish nation, or Proselytes. Which is not, &c. - Which may belong, either
  1. to the thing only, that as they did fast, so she would. Or, rather,
  2. to the time of three days and three nights; for so she might do, though she went to the king on the third day.
For the fast began at evening, and so she might continue her fast three whole nights, and two whole days, and the greatest part of the third; a part of a day being reputed a day in the account of scripture, and other authors: of which see on Matt 12:40. Yea, she might fast all that day too: for it is probable she went not to the king 'till he had dined; when she supposed she might find him in the most mild and pleasant humour, and then returned to her apartment, where she fasted 'till the evening.

Chapter V

Esther finding favour with the king, invites him and Haman to a banquet, ver. 1 - 5. She invites them to a second, ver. 6 - 8. Haman makes a gallows for Mordecai, ver. 9 - 14.

2 Held out - In testimony that he pardoned her presumption, and was ready to grant her petition. Touched - In token of her thankful acceptance of the king's favour, and of her reverence and submission.
3 It shall be given - God in his providence often prevents the fears and outdoes the hopes of his servants. To the half of the kingdom - A proverbial expression: that is, nothing in reason shall be denied.
4 Haman - Whom she invited, that by shewing such respect to the king's great favourite, she might insinuate herself the more into the king's affection; and, that if she saw fit, she might then present her request to the king.
6 Of wine - So called, because it consisted not of meats, which probably the king had plentifully eaten before, but of fruits and wines; which banquets were very frequent among the Persians.
8 Tomorrow - I will acquaint thee with my humble request. She did not present her petition at this time, but delayed it 'till the next meeting; either because she was a little daunted with the king's presence, or, because she would farther engage the king's affection to her, and would also intimate to him that her petition was of a more than ordinary nature: but principally by direction of Divine providence, which took away her courage of utterance for this time, that she might have a better opportunity for it the next time, by that great accident which happened before it.
9 Nor moved - To shew how little he feared him, and that he had a firm confidence in his God, that he would deliver him and his people in this great exigency.
10 Refrained - From taking present vengeance upon Mordecai, which he might easily have effected, either by his own, or any of his servants hands, without any fear of inconveniency to himself. But herein God's wise and powerful providence appeared, in disposing Haman's heart, contrary to his own inclination, and making him, as it were, to put fetters upon his own hands.
12 Am I - Thus he makes that matter of glorying which was the occasion of his utter ruin. So ignorant are the wisest men, and subject to fatal mistakes, rejoicing when they have most cause of fear, and sorrowing for those things which tend to joy and comfort.
13 Availeth - Gives me no content. Such torment did his envy and malice bring upon him. Sitting - Enjoying that honour and privilege without disturbance, and denying me the worship due to me by the king's command. Thus tho' proud men have much to their mind, if they have not all to their mind, it is nothing. The thousandth part of what Haman had, would give a modest, humble man, as much happiness as he expects to receive from anything under the sun. And Haman as passionately complains, as if he was in the lowest depth of poverty!
14 Fifty cubits - That it may be more conspicuous to all, and thereby be more disgraceful to Mordecai, and strike all Haman's enemies with a greater dread of despising or opposing him.

Chapter VI

Providence recommends Mordecai to the king's favour, ver. 1 - 3. Haman is constrained publickly to honour him thro' the city, ver. 4 - 11. His friends foretell his doom, ver. 12, 13, He goes to the banquet, ver. 14.

1 Sleep - How vain are all the contrivances of foolish man against the wise and omnipotent God, who hath the hearts and hands of kings and all men perfectly at his disposal, and can by such trivial accidents (as they are accounted) change their minds, and produce such terrible effects. Were read - His mind being troubled he knew not how, nor why, he chuses this for a diversion, God putting this thought into him, for otherwise he might have diverted himself, as he used to do, with his wives or concubines, or voices and instruments of musick, which were far more agreeable to his temper.
3 Nothing - He hath had no recompence for this great and good service. Which might either happen through the king's forgetfulness; or through the envy of the courtiers; or because he was a Jew, and therefore odious and contemptible.
4 Haman - Early in the morning, because his malice would not suffer him to sleep; and he was impatient 'till he had executed his revenge; and was resolved to watch for the very first opportunity of speaking to the king, before he was engaged in other matters. Outward court - Where he waited; because it was dangerous to come into the inner court without special license, chap.4:11.
6 Man - He names none, because he would have the more impartial answer. And probably knew nothing of the difference between Haman and Mordecai. Thought - As he had great reason to do, because of the favour which the king had shewed to him above all others.
8 Royal apparel - His outward garment, which was made of purple, interwoven with gold, as Justin and Cartius relate.
12 Gate - To his former place; shewing that as he was not overwhelmed by Haman's threats, so he was not puffed up with this honour. Cover'd - In token of his shame and grief for his unexpected disappointment, and for the great honour done to his abhorred adversary, by his own hands, and with his own public disgrace.
13 Wise men - The magicians, whom after the Persian manner he had called together to consult upon this strange emergency.
14 To bring - Who was now slack to go thither, by reason of the great dejection of his own mind.

Chapter VII

Esther petitions for her life, and the lives of her people, ver. 1 - 4. She tells the king that Haman is the man who designed her ruin, ver. 5, 6. By the king's order, he is hanged on the gallows he had prepared for Mordecai, ver. 7 - 10.

3 My life - It is my only request, that thou wouldst not give me up to the malice of that man who designs to take away my life. Even a stranger, a criminal, shall be permitted to petition for his life. But that a friend, a wife, a queen, should have occasion to make such a petition, was very affecting.
4 Sold - By the cruelty of that man who offered a great sum to purchase our destruction. Countervail - His ten thousand talents would not repair the king's loss, in the customs and tributes which the king receives from the Jews, within his dominions.
5 Who, &c. - The expressions are short and doubled, as proceeding from a discomposed and enraged mind. Durst - That is, to circumvent me, and procure a decree, whereby not only my estate should be so much impaired, and so many of my innocent subjects destroyed, but my queen also involved in the same destruction. We sometimes startle at that evil, which we ourselves are chargeable with. Ahasuerus is amazed at that wickedness, which he himself was guilty of. For he consented to the bloody edict. So that Esther might have said, Thou art the man!
6 Afraid - And it was time for him to fear, when the queen was his prosecutor, the king his judge, his own conscience a witness against him. And the surprising turns of providence that very morning, could not but increase his fear.
7 Went - As disdaining the company and sight of so audacious a person: to cool and allay his troubled and inflamed spirits, and to consider what punishment was fit to be inflicted upon him. He saw - By the violent commotion of the king's mind.
8 Bed - On which the queen sat at meat. Force - Will he attempt my queen's chastity, as he hath already attempted her life! He speaks not this out of real jealousy, but from an exasperated mind, which takes all occasions to vent itself against the person who gave the provocation. They - The king's and queen's chamberlains attending upon them. Covered - That the king might not be offended or grieved with the sight of a person whom he now loathed: and because they looked upon him as a condemned person; for the faces of such used to be covered.

Chapter VIII

The estate of Haman is given to Esther, ver. 1, 2. Esther petitions the king, to reverse the edict against the Jews, ver. 3 - 6. They are authorized to defend themselves, ver. 7 - 14. The Jews and their friends rejoice, ver. 15 - 17.

1 The house - With all his goods and estate, which being justly forfeited to the king, he no less justly bestows it upon the queen, to compensate the danger to which Haman had exposed her. Came - Was by the queen's desire admitted into the king's presence, and family, and, as it seems, made one of the seven princes. Had told - How nearly he was related to her: which 'till this time she had wisely concealed.
2 Ring - That ring which he had formerly given to Haman he now gives to Mordecai, and with it that power whereof this ring was a sign, making him, as Haman had been, the keeper of his signet. Set - As her steward, to manage that great estate for her as he thought fittest.
3 To put - To repeal that cruel decree.
5 If &c. - She uses various expressions, that she might confirm the king's favour, by such a full submission to his good pleasure. Haman - She prudently takes off the hatefulness of the action from the king, and lay's it upon Haman, who had for his own ends contrived the whole business, and circumvented the king in it.
8 Reverse - For this reason he could not recall the former letters, because they were irrevocable by the law of the Medes and Persians. How much more prudent is our constitution, that no law whatever can be established as to be unrepealable? It is God's prerogative, not to repent, and to say what can never be altered.
9 Then - Which was above two months after the former decree. All which time God suffered the Jews to lie under the error of this dreadful day, that they might be more throughly humbled for, and purged from those many and great sins under which they lay; that they might be convinced of their great sin and folly in the many offers they had had of returning to their native country, by which means being dispersed in the several parts of this vast dominion, they were like to be a very easy prey to their enemies, whereas their brethren in Judea were in a better capacity to preserve themselves: and for the greater illustration of God's glorious power, and wisdom, and goodness, in giving his people such an admirable and unexpected deliverance.
10 Riders - Which were not employed in sending the former letter: but this coming later required more care and speed, that the Jews might be eased from their present fears, and have time to provide for their own defence.
11 To stand - To fight for the defence of their lives against all that should seek to destroy them. The power - Either governors or governed, without any exception either of age, dignity, or sex, Both little ones and women - Which is here added, to strike the greater terror into their enemies; and according to the laws and customs of this kingdom; whereby children were punished for their parents offences: yet we read nothing in the execution of this decree of the slaughter of women or children, nor is it probable, they would kill their innocent children, who were so indulgent to their families, as not to meddle with the spoil.
15 Great crown - Which the chief of the Persian princes were permitted to wear but with sufficient distinction from the king's crown. The city - Not only Jews, but the greatest number of the citizens, who by the law of nature abhorred bloody counsels, and had a complacency in acts of mercy.
16 Joy - This explains the former metaphor by two words expressing the same thing, to denote the greatness of the joy. Honour - Instead of that contempt under which they had lain.

Chapter IX

The Jews slay their enemies, ver. 1 - 11. A second day is granted them, ver. 12 - 19. A yearly feast is instituted, in memory of this great deliverance, ver. 20 - 32

2 No man - Their enemies, though they did take up arms against them, yet were easily conquered and destroyed by them.
6 Shushan - In the city so called. Slew - Whom they knew to be such as would watch all opportunities to destroy them; which also they might possibly now attempt to do.
10 But, &c. - Because they would leave it to their children, that it might appear what they did was not done out of malice, or covetousness, but out of mere necessity, and by that great law of self - preservation.
12 What - In which doubtless many more were slain. So that I have fully granted thy petition. And yet, if thou hast any thing farther to ask, I am ready to grant it.
13 Let it, &c. - To kill their implacable enemies. For it is not improbable that the greatest and worst of them had hidden themselves for that day; after which, the commission granted to the Jews being expired, they confidently returned to their homes. Hanged - They were slain before; now let their bodies be hanged on their father's gallows, for their greater infamy, and the terror of all others who shall presume to abuse the king in like manner, or to persuade him to execute such cruelties upon his subjects.
26 Pur - This Persian word signifies a lot, because Haman had by lot determined this time to be the time of the Jews destruction.
27 As joined - Gentile Proselytes; who were obliged to submit to other of the Jewish laws, and therefore to this also; the rather because they enjoyed the benefit of this day's deliverance; without which the Jewish nation and religion had been in a great measure, if not wholly, extinct. According - According to that writing which was drawn up by Mordecai, and afterwards confirmed by the consent of the Jews.
29 Wrote - The former letter, ver.20, did only recommend but this enjoins the observation of this solemnity: because this was not only Mordecai's act, but the act of all the Jews, binding themselves and posterity.
30 Peace - With peace, friendship and kindness to his brethren, and truth, sincerity.
31 Cry - For those great calamities which were decreed to all the Jews, and for the removing of which, not only Esther, and the Jews in Shushan, but all other Jews in all places, did doubtless fly to God by fasting, and strong cries.
32 Either - Who had received authority from the king. The book - In the records which the Jews kept of their most memorable passages.

Chapter X

The greatness of Ahasuerus, and of Mordecai, ver. 1 - 3.

2 Chronicles, &c. - These are lost long since, and buried in oblivion, while the sacred writings remain throughout the world. When the kingdoms of men, monarchs and their monarchies are destroyed, and their memorial is perished with them, the kingdom of God among men, and the records of that kingdom, shall remain as the days of heaven.

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