Esther 5

CHAPTER V

Esther presents herself before the king, and finds favour in his

sight, 1, 2.

He asks what her request is, and promises to grant it, 3.

She invites him and Haman to a banquet, which they accept, 4, 5.

He then desires to know her request; and she promises to make

it known on the morrow, if they will again come to her banquet,

6-8.

Haman, though overjoyed at the manner in which he was received

by the queen, is indignant at the indifference with which he

is treated by Mordecai, 9.

He goes home, and complains of this conduct to his friends, and

his wife Zeresh, 10-13.

They counsel him to make a gallows of fifty cubits high, and to

request the king that Mordecai may be hanged on it, which they

take for granted the king will not refuse; and the gallows is

made accordingly, 14.

NOTES ON CHAP. V

Verse 1. On the third day] Most probably the third day of the

fast which she has prescribed to Mordecai and the Jews.

Verse 2. She obtained favour in his sight] The Septuagint

represents "the king as being at first greatly enraged when he saw

Esther, because she had dared to appear before him unveiled, and

she, perceiving this, was so terrified that she fainted away; on

which the king, touched with tenderness, sprung from his throne,

took her up in his arms, laid the golden sceptre on her neck, and

spoke to her in the most endearing manner." This is more

circumstantial than the Hebrew, but is not contrary to it.

The golden sceptre that was in his hand.] That the kings of

Persia did wear a golden sceptre, we have the following proof in

Xenophon: οτιουτοδετοχρυσουνσκηπτροντοτηνβασιλειαν

διασωξονεστιναλλπιστοιφιλοισκηπτρονβασιλευσιναληθεστατον

καιασφαλεστατον. See Cyrop., lib. viii., p. 139, edit. Steph.

1581. It is not, said Cyrus to his son Cambyses, the GOLDEN

SCEPTRE that saves the kingdom; faithful friends are the truest

and safest sceptre of the empire.

Verse 4. Let the king and Haman come this day unto the banquet]

It was necessary to invite Haman to prevent his suspicion, and

that he might not take any hasty step which might have prevented

the execution of the great design.

Verse 6. The banquet of wine] At that part of the banquet when

the wine was introduced.

Verse 8. I will do to-morrow] She saw she was gaining on the

king's affections; but she was not yet sufficiently confident; and

therefore wished another interview, that she might ingratiate

herself more fully in the king's favour, and thus secure the

success of her design. But Providence disposed of things thus, to

give time for the important event mentioned in the succeeding

chapter.

Verse 9. That he stood not up, nor moved for him] This was

certainly carrying his integrity or inflexibility to the highest

pitch. But still we are left to conjecture that some reverence was

required, which Mordecai could not conscientiously pay.

Verse 11. The multitude of his children] The Asiatic sovereigns

delight in the number of their children; and this is one cause why

they take so many wives and concubines.

Verse 13. Yet all this availeth me nothing] Pride will ever

render its possessor unhappy. He has such a high opinion of his

own worth, that he conceives himself defrauded by every one who

does not pay him all the respect and homage which he conceives to

be his due.

The soul was made for God, and nothing but God can fill it and

make it happy. Angels could not be happy in glory, when they had

cast off their allegiance to their Maker. As soon as his heart had

departed from God, Adam would needs go to the forbidden fruit, to

satisfy a desire which was only an indication of his having been

unfaithful to his God. Solomon, in all his glory, possessing every

thing heart could wish, found all to be vanity and vexation of

spirit; because his soul had not God for its portion. Ahab, on the

throne of Israel, takes to his bed, and refuses to eat bread, not

merely because he cannot get the vineyard of Naboth, but because

he had not God in his heart, who could alone satisfy its desires.

Haman, on the same ground, though the prime favourite of the

king, is wretched because he cannot have a bow from that man whom

his heart even despised. O, how distressing are the inquietudes of

vanity. And how wretched is the man who has not the God of Jacob

for his help, and in whose heart Christ dwells not by faith!

Verse 14. Let a gallows be made of fifty cubits high] The word

ets, which we translate gallows, signifies simply wood, a

tree, or pole; and this was to be seventy-five feet high, that

he might suffer the greater ignominy, and be a more public

spectacle. I believe impaling is here also meant.

See Clarke on Es 2:23.

IN former times the Jews were accustomed to burn Haman in

effigy; and with him a wooden cross, which they pretended to be in

memory of that which he had erected for the suspension of

Mordecai; but which was, in fact, to deride the Christian

religion. The emperors, Justinian and Theodosius, abolished it

by their edicts; and the practice has ceased from that time,

though the principle from which it sprang still exists, with the

same virulence against Christianity and its glorious Author.

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