|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
1:1-9 The pride of Ahasuerus's heart rising with the grandeur of his kingdom, he made an extravagant feast. This was vain glory. Better is a dinner of herbs with quietness, than this banquet of wine, with all the noise and tumult that must have attended it. But except grace prevails in the heart, self-exaltation and self-indulgence, in one form or another, will be the ruling principle. Yet none did compel; so that if any drank to excess, it was their own fault. This caution of a heathen prince, even when he would show his generosity, may shame many called Christians, who, under pretence of sending the health round, send sin round, and death with it. There is a woe to them that do so; let them read it, and tremble, Hab 2:15,16.
Verse 3. - In the third year of his reign. In B.C. 483, probably in the early spring, when the court, having spent the winter at Babylon (Xenophon), returned to Susa to enjoy the most charming season of the year. He made a feast unto all his princes and his servants. Persian kings, according to Ctesias and Duris, ordinarily entertained at their table 15,000 persons! This is of course an exaggeration; but there can be no doubt that their hospitality was on a scale unexampled in modern times. The vast pillared halls of the Persepelitan and Susan palaces could accommodate many hundreds, if not thousands. The power of Persia and Media. The empire of the Achaemenian kings was Perso-Medic rather than simply Persian. The Medes were not only the most favoured of the conquered nations, but were really placed nearly on a par with their conquerors. Many of the highest offices were conferred on them, and they formed no doubt a considerable section of the courtiers. The nobles. Literally, "the first men," ha-partemim. The word used is a Persian term Hebraised. It occurs only in this place. And princes of the provinces. i.e. satraps. The presence of such persons at the great gathering at Susa preparatory to the Grecian war is witnessed to by Herodotus (7:19).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
In the third year of his reign he made a feast unto all his princes, and his servants,.... The nobles and officers in his court; on what account this was cannot be said with certainty, whether the first day of it was his birthday, or the day of his coming to the throne, on which day Xerxes used to make a feast annually, as Herodotus relates (f):
the power of Persia and Media; the mighty men therein, the potentates thereof; or the "army", the principal officers of it:
the nobles and princes of the provinces being with him. The first word Aben Ezra declares his ignorance of, whether it is Hebrew or Persian; Jarchi interprets it governors; and the persons intended by both seem to be the deputy governors of the one hundred and twenty seven provinces who were present at this feast. Xerxes, having reduced Egypt, meditated a war with Greece, to which he was pressed by Mardonius, a relation of his; upon which he summoned the chief men of his kingdom, to have their advice about it (g), which perhaps was taken at this time; for it was in the third year of his reign he resolved upon the war, and began to make preparations for it; and it was usual, at banquets and feasts, that the Persians debated their most important affairs (h).
(f) lb. (Herodot.) Calliope, sive, l. 9. c. 109. (g) Ib. l. 7. c. 8. (h) lb. Clio, sive, l. 1. c. 133.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
3. made a feast unto all his princes and his servants—Banquets on so grand a scale, and extending over so great a period, have been frequently provided by the luxurious monarchs of Eastern countries, both in ancient and modern times. The early portion of this festive season, however, seems to have been dedicated to amusement, particularly an exhibition of the magnificence and treasures of the court, and it was closed by a special feast of seven days' continuance, given within the gardens of the royal palace. The ancient palace of Susa has been recently disinterred from an incumbent mass of earth and ruins; and in that palace, which is, beyond all doubt, the actual edifice referred to in this passage, there is a great hall of marble pillars. "The position of the great colonnade corresponds with the account here given. It stands on an elevation in the center of the mound, the remainder of which we may well imagine to have been occupied, after the Persian fashion, with a garden and fountains. Thus the colonnade would represent the 'court of the garden of the king's palace' with its 'pillars of marble.' I am even inclined to believe the expression, 'Shushan the palace,' applies especially to this portion of the existing ruins, in contradistinction to the citadel and the city of Shushan" [Loftus, Chaldaea and Susiana].
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