Esther 10

CHAPTER X

Ahasuerus lays a tribute on his dominions, 1.

Mordecai's advancement under him, 2.

His character, 3.

NOTES ON CHAP. X

Verse 1. Laid a tribute upon the land] On the one hundred and

twenty-seven provinces of which we have already heard.

The isles of the sea.] Probably the isles of the AEgean sea,

which were conquered by Darius Hystaspes. Calmet supposes that

this Hystaspes is the Ahasuerus of Esther.

Verse 2. The book of the chronicles of Media and Persia?] The

Persians have ever been remarkable for keeping exact chronicles of

all public events. Their Tareekhs, which are compositions of this

kind, are still very numerous, and indeed very important.

Verse 3. Was next unto king Ahasuerus] He was his prime

minister; and, under him, was the governor of the whole empire.

The Targum is extravagant in its encomiums upon Mordecai: "All

the kings of the earth feared and trembled before him: he was as

resplendent as the evening star among the stars; and was as bright

as Aurora beaming forth in the morning; and he was chief of the

kings."

Seeking the wealth of his people] Studying to promote the Jewish

interest to the utmost of his power.

Speaking peace to all his seed.] Endeavouring to settle their

prosperity upon such a basis, that it might be for ever permanent.

Here the Hebrew text ends; but in the ancient Vulgate, and in the

Greek, ten verses are added to this chapter, and six whole

chapters besides, so that the number of chapters in Esther amounts

to sixteen. A translation of these may be found in the Apocrypha,

bound up with the sacred text, in most of our larger English

Bibles. On any part of this work it is not my province to add any

comment.

THIS is the last of the historical books of the Old Testament,

for from this time to the birth of Christ they had no inspired

writers; and the interval of their history must be sought among

the apocryphal writers and other historians who have written on

Jewish affairs. The most complete supplement to this history will

be found in that most excellent work of Dean Prideaux, entitled

The Old and New Testaments connected, in the History of the Jews

and Neighbouring Nations, from the Declension of the Kingdoms of

Israel and Judah to the time of CHRIST, 4 vols. 8vo. 1725. The

editions prior to this date are not so complete.

We have already seen what the Feast of PURIM means, and why it

was instituted; if the reader is desirous of farther information

on this subject, he may find it in the works of Buxtorf, Leusden,

Stehlin, and Calmet's Dictionary, article Pur.

MASORETIC NOTES ON THE BOOK OF ESTHER

Number of verses, 167. Middle verse, Es 5:7. Sections, 5.

The following excellent remarks on the history of the Jews from

the Babylonish captivity, I borrow from Dr. John Taylor's Scheme

of Scripture Divinity, and make no doubt I shall have the thanks

of every reader whose thanks are worth having.

"After the Babylonish captivity, the Jews no more lapsed into

idolatry, but remained steady in the acknowledgment and worship of

the one living and true God. Even then they fell into new ways of

perverting religion, and the wise and holy intentions of the

Divine law: 1. By laying all the stress on the external and less

momentous parts of it, while they neglected the weighty and

substantial, true holiness of heart and life. Mankind are too

easily drawn into this error; while they retain a sense of

religion, they are too apt to listen to any methods by which it

may be reduced to a consistency with the gratification of their

passions, pride, and avarice. Thus, by placing religion in mere

profession, or in the zealous observance of rites and ceremonies,

instead of real piety, truth, purity, and goodness, they learn to

be religious without virtue. 2. By speculating and commenting upon

the Divine commands and institutions till their force is quite

enervated, and they are refined into a sense that will

commodiously allow a slight regard instead of sincere obedience.

3. By confirming and establishing the two former methods of

corrupting religion by tradition, and the authority of learned

rabbins, pretending that there was a system of religious rules

delivered by word of mouth from Moses explanatory of the written

law, known only to those rabbins, to whose judgment and decision,

therefore, all the people were to submit.

"This in time (the space of two hundred and nineteen years)

became the general state of religion among the Jews, after they

had discarded idolatry: and this spirit prevailed among them for

some ages (two hundred and ninety years) before the coming of

Messiah; but, however, it did not interfere with the main system

of Providence, or the introducing the knowledge of God among the

nations, as they still continued steadfast in the worship of the

true God, without danger of deviating from it.

"Thus the Jews were prepared by the preceding dispensation for

the reception of the Messiah, and the just notions of religion

which he was sent to inculcate; insomuch that their guilt must be

highly aggravated if they rejected him and his instructions. It

could not be for want of capacity, but of integrity, and must be

assigned to wilful blindness and obduracy. Out of regard to

temporal power, grandeur, and enjoyments, they loved darkness

rather than light.

"For many ages the Jews had been well known in the Eastern

empire, among the Assyrians, Chaldeans, Medes, and Persians; but

till the time of Alexander the Great they had no communication

with the Grecians.

"About the year before Christ 332 Alexander built Alexandria in

Egypt; and to people his new city, removed thither many of the

Jews, allowing them the use of their own laws and religion, and

the same liberties with the Macedonians themselves. The

Macedonians, who spake the Greek language, and other Greeks, were

the principal inhabitants of Alexandria; from them the Jews learnt

to speak Greek, which was the common language of the city, and

which soon became the native language of the Jews that lived

there, who on that account were called Hellenists, or Greek Jews,

mentioned Ac 6:1, 9; 11:20. These Greek Jews had synagogues in

Alexandria, and for their benefit the Five Books of Moses, which

alone at first were publicly read, were translated into Greek, (by

whom is uncertain,) and were read in their synagogues every

Sabbath day; and in the time of Antiochus Epiphanes, about 168

years before Christ, the prophets were also translated into Greek

for the use of the Alexandrian Jews.

"This translation contributed much to the spreading the

knowledge of true religion among the nations in the western parts

of the world.

"For the Jews, their synagogues and worship there, after

Alexander's death, dispersed almost everywhere among the nations.

Ptolemy, one of Alexander's successors, having reduced Jerusalem

and all Judea about 320 years before Christ, carried one hundred

thousand Jews into Egypt, and there raised considerable numbers of

them to places of trust and power, and several of them he placed

in Cyrene and Libya. Seleucus, another of Alexander's

successors, about 300 years before Christ, built Antioch in

Cilicia, and many other cities, in all thirty-five, and some of

the capital cities in the Greater and Lesser Asia, in all which he

planted the Jews, giving them equal privileges and immunities with

the Greeks and Macedonians, especially at Antioch in Syria, where

they settled in great numbers, and became almost as considerable a

part of that city as they were at Alexandria. On that memorable

day of Pentecost (Ac 2:5, 9, 11, 12) were assembled in Jerusalem,

Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven, namely,

Parthians, Medes, and Persians, of the province of Elymais,

inhabitants of Mesopotamia, Judea, Cappadocia, Pontus, Asia,

Phrygia, Pamphylia, Egypt, Cyrene in Libya, and Rome, Cretes, and

Arabs, who were all either Jews natural, or devout men, i.e.,

proselytes to the Jewish religion. And in every city of the

Roman empire where Paul preached, he found a body of his

countrymen the Jews, except in Athens, which was at that time, I

suppose, a town of no considerable trade, which shows that the

Jews and their synagogues, at the time of our Lord's appearance,

were providentially scattered over all the Roman empire, and had

in every place introduced more or less, among the nations the

knowledge and worship of God; and so had prepared great numbers

for the reception of the Gospel.

"About the time that Alexander built Alexandria in Egypt, the

use of the papyrus for writing was found out in that country. This

invention was so favourable to literature, that Ptolemy Soter was

thereby enabled to erect a museum or library, which, by his son

and successor, Philadelphus, who died two hundred and forty-seven

years before Christ, was augmented to seven hundred thousand

volumes. Part of this library happened to be burnt when Julius

Caesar laid siege to Alexandria; but after that loss it was again

much augmented, and soon grew up to be larger, and of more eminent

note, than the former; till at length it was burnt and finally

destroyed by the Saracens, in the year of our Lord 642. This

plainly proves how much the invention of turning the papyrus into

paper contributed to the increase of books, and the advancement

of learning, for some ages before the coming of our Lord. Add to

all this, that the world, after many changes and revolutions, was,

by God's all-ruling wisdom, thrown into that form of civil affairs

which best suited with the great intended alteration. The many

petty states and tyrannies, whose passions and bigotry might have

run counter to the schemes of Providence, were all swallowed up in

one great power, the ROMAN, to which all appeals lay; the seat of

which, Rome, lay at a great distance from Jerusalem, the spring

from which the Gospel was to rise and flow to all nations; and

therefore as no material obstruction to the Gospel could come but

from one quarter, none could suddenly arise from thence, but only

in process of time, when the Gospel was sufficiently opened and

established, as it did not in the least interfere with the Roman

polity and government.

"The Gospel was first published in a time of general peace and

tranquillity throughout the whole world, which gave the

preachers of it an opportunity of passing freely from one country

to another, and the minds of men the advantage of attending calmly

to it.

"Many savage nations were civilized by the Romans, and became

acquainted with the arts and virtues of their conquerors. Thus the

darkest countries had their thoughts awakened, and were growing to

a capacity of receiving, at the stated time, the knowledge of true

religion; so that all things and circumstances conspired now with

the views of heaven, and made this apparently the fullness of

time, (Ga 4:4,) or the

fittest juncture for God to reveal himself to the Gentiles, and

to put an end to idolatry throughout the earth. Now the minds of

men were generally ripe for a purer and brighter dispensation; and

the circumstances of the world were such as favoured the progress

of it."-P. 368.

Hated and despised as the Jews were among the proud Romans, and

the still more proud and supercilious Greeks, their sojourning

among them, and their Greek version of the Scriptures, commonly

called the Septuagint, were the means of furnishing them with

truer notions, and a more distinct knowledge of vice and virtue,

than they ever had before. And on examination we shall find that,

from the time of Alexander's conquest of Judea, a little more than

three hundred years before our Lord, both Greeks and Romans became

more correct in their theological opinions; and the sect of

eclectic philosophers, whose aim was to select from all

preceding sects what was most consistent with reason and truth,

were not a little indebted to the progress which the light of God,

dispensed by means of the Septuagint, had made in the heathen

world. And let it be remembered, that for Jews, who were settled

in Grecian countries, this version was made, and by those Jews it

was carried through all the places of their dispersion.

To this version Christianity, under God, owes much. To this

version we are indebted for such a knowledge of the Hebrew

originals of the Old Testament, as we could never have had without

it, the pure Hebrew having ceased to be vernacular after the

Babylonish captivity; and Jesus Christ and his apostles have

stamped an infinite value upon it by the general use they have

made of it in the New Testament; perhaps never once quoting,

directly, the Hebrew text, or using any other version than some

copy of the Septuagint. By this version, though prophecy had

ceased from the times of Ezra, Daniel, and Malachi, yet the law

and the prophets were continued down to the time of Christ; and

this was the grand medium by which this conveyance was made. And

why is this version neglected? I hesitate not to assert that no

man can ever gain a thorough knowledge of the phraseology of the

New Testament writers, who is unacquainted with this version, or

has not profited by such writers as derived their knowledge from

it.

A. CLARKE.

Millbrook, February 3, 1820.

Finished the correction of this volume, Oct. 16, 1828.-A. CLARKE.

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