Esther 6

CHAPTER VI

That night the king, not being able to sleep, orders the

chronicles of the kingdom to be read to him; and finds there

the record concerning the discovery of the treason of the two

eunuchs, made by Mordecai, 1, 2.

He inquires whether Mordecai had been rewarded, and was answered

in the negative, 3.

At this time Haman arrives, in order to request the king's

permission to hang Mordecai; and being suddenly asked what

should be done to the man whom the king delighted to honour,

supposing that himself must be meant, presented the ceremonial,

4-9.

The king orders him to give Mordecai those honours; which he

performs, to his extreme mortification, 10, 11.

He informs his wife Zeresh of these transactions, who predicts

his downfall, 12-13.

He is hurried by the eunuchs to the queen's banquet, 14.

NOTES ON CHAP. VI

Verse 1. On that night could not the king sleep] The Targum says

the king had a dream, which was as follows:-"And the king sat one

in the similitude of a man who spoke these words to him: Haman

desireth to slay thee, and to make himself king in thy stead.

Behold, he will come unto thee early in the morning, to ask from

thee the man who rescued thee from death, that he may slay him:

but say thou unto Haman, What shall be done for the man whose

honour the king studieth? And thou wilt find that he will ask

nothing less from thee than the royal vestments, the regal crown,

and the horse on which the king is wont to ride."

The records of the chronicles] It may be well asked, Why should

the king, in such a perturbed state of mind, wish such a dry

detail, as chronicles afford, to be read to him? But the truth is,

as chronicles were composed among the Persians, he could not have

brought before him any work more instructive, and more

entertaining; because they were all written in verse, and were

generally the work of the most eminent poets in the empire. They

are written in this way to the present time; and the famous epic

poem of the finest Persian poet, Ferdusi, the Homer of India, is

nothing else than a collection of chronicles brought down from the

creation to the reign of Mohammed Ghezny, in the beginning of the

tenth century. After thirty years' labour, he finished this

poem, which contained one hundred and twenty thousand lines, and

presented it to the Sultan Mahmoud, who had promised to give him a

dinar (eight shillings and sixpence) for every line. The poem was

finished A.D. 984; and was formed out of compositions of a similar

nature made by former poets. This chronological poem is written in

all the harmony, strength, and elegance of the most beautiful and

harmonious language in the universe; and what adds greatly to its

worth is, that it has few Arabic words, with which the beautiful

Persian tongue was loaded, and in my opinion corrupted, after the

conquest of the major part of Asia by the Mohammedans. The pedants

of Hindoostan, whether they speak or write, in prose or in

verse, affect this commixture of Arabic words; which, though

they subjugate them to Persian rules, are producing a ruggedness

in a language, which in Ferdusi, flows deep and strong like a

river of oil over every kind of channel. Such, I suppose, was the

chronicle that was read to Ahasuerus, when his distractions

prevented his sleep, and his troubled mind required that soothing

repose which the gentle though powerful hand of poetry is alone,

in such circumstances, capable of affording. Even our rough

English ancestors had their poetic chronicles; and, among many,

the chronicle of Robert of Gloucester is proof in point. I need

not add, that all that is real in Ossian is of the same

complexion.

Verse 3. What honour and dignity hath been done to Mordecai] It

is certain he found nothing in the record; and had any thing been

done, that was the most likely place to find it.

Verse 4. Who is in the court?] This accords with the dream

mentioned by the Targum; and given above.

Now Haman was come] This must have been very early in the

morning. Haman's pride and revenge were both on the tenters to be

gratified.

Verse 6. The king said unto him] He did not give him time to

make his request; and put a question to him which, at the first

view, promised him all that his heart could wish.

Verse 8. Let the royal apparel be brought] Pride and folly

ever go hand in hand. What he asked would have been in any

ordinary case against his own life: but he wished to reach the

pinnacle of honour: never reflecting that the higher he rose, the

more terrible would be his fall. The royal apparel was never worn

but by the king: even when the king had lain them aside, it was

death to put them on. The Targum has purple robes.

And the horse-and the crown royal] Interpreters are greatly

divided whether what is called here the crown royal be not rather

an ornament worn on the head of the horse, than what may be called

the royal crown. The original may be understood both ways; and our

version seems to favour the former opinion; but I think it more

likely that the royal crown is meant; for why mention the ordinary

trappings of the royal steed?

Verse 9. One of the king's most noble princes] Alas, Poor Haman!

Never was the fable of the dog and shadow more literally

fulfilled. Thou didst gape at the shadow, and didst lose the

substance.

Verse 10. Make haste, and take the apparel-and do even so to

Mordecai] O mortifying reverse of human fortune! How could Haman

bear this? The Targumist might speak according to nature when he

said that "Haman besought the king to kill him rather than degrade

him so." How astonishing is the conduct of Divine providence in

all this business! From it we plainly see that there is neither

counsel nor wisdom against the Lord; and that he who digs a pit

for his neighbour, is sure to fall into it himself.

Verse 12. Mordecai came again to the king's gate] He resumed his

former humble state; while Haman, ashamed to look up, covered his

face, and ran home to hide himself in his own house. Covering the

head and face was a sign of shame and confusion, as well as of

grief, among most people of the earth.

Verse 13. But shalt surely fall before him.] The Septuagint

adds, οτιοθεοςοζωνμεταυτου, for the living God is with him.

But this is a sentiment that could scarcely be expected to proceed

from the mouth of heathens, such as these were.

Verse 14. Hasted to bring Haman] There was a dreadful banquet

before him, of which he knew nothing: and he could have little

appetite to enjoy that which he knew was prepared at the palace of

Esther.

ONE grand design of this history is, to show that he who lays a

snare for the life of his neighbour, is most likely to fall into

it himself: for, in the course of the Divine providence, men

generally meet with those evils in life which they have been the

means of inflicting on others: and this is exactly agreeable to

the saying of our Lord: "With what measure ye mete it shall be

measured to you withal."

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