|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 4. - When he showed the riches. Ostentation was a main feature in the character of Xerxes. The huge army with which he invaded Greece was more for display than for service. Vain parade is apparent at every step of his expedition (Herod., 7:31, 40, 41, 44, 59, etc.). He now exhibits "the riches of his kingdom" to his nobles and chief officers, showing them doubtless all the splendours of the palace, the walls draped with gold (AEschyl., 'Pers.,' 50:161), the marble pillars and rich hangings, the golden plane tree and the golden vine (Herod., 7:27), and perhaps the ingots of gold wherewith Darius had filled the treasury (ibid. 3:96). An hundred and fourscore days. We need not suppose that the same persons were enter. tained during the whole of this period. All the provincial governors could not quit their provinces at the same time, nor could any of them remain away very long. There was no doubt a succession of guests during the six months that the entertainment lasted.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
When he showed the riches of his glorious kingdom,.... Xerxes was the fourth king of the Persian monarchy, and was "far richer than all" that went before him, all their riches coming into his hands, Daniel 11:2, and now that prophecy began to be fulfilled, "that by his strength, through his riches, he should stir up all against the realm of Grecia"; which he began to do in the third year of his reign, and for which these his nobles might be called together, as to have their advice, so to animate them to come in the more readily into the expedition, by showing them the riches he was possessed of; for to none of the kings of Persia does this largeness of riches better belong than to Xerxes:
and the honour of his excellent majesty; the grandeur he lived in, the pomp and splendour of his court; he was the most grand and magnificent of all the kings of the Medes and Persians (i):
and this he did many days, even an hundred and fourscore days; to which seven more being added, as in the following verse, it made one hundred and eighty seven, the space of full six months; though some think the feast did not last so long, only seven days, and that the one hundred and eighty days were spent in preparing for it; but the Persian feasts were very long, large, and sumptuous. Dr. Frye (k) says, this custom of keeping an annual feast one hundred and eighty days still continues in Persia. Cheus (l), a Chinese emperor, used frequently to make a feast which lasted one hundred and twenty days; though it cannot be well thought that the same individual persons here were feasted so long, but, when one company was sufficiently treated, they removed and made way for another; and so it continued successively such a number of days as here related, which was six months, or half a year; a year then in use consisting of three hundred and sixty days, as was common with the Jews, and other nations, and so the Persians (m).
(i) Pausan. Laconica, sive, l. 3. p. 165. (k) Travels, p. 348. apud Patrick in loc. (l) In Martin. Sinic. Hist. l. 3. p. 78. (m) Prideaux's Connect. par. 1. p. 197.
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