|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
2:1-20 We see to what absurd practices those came, who were destitute of Divine revelation, and what need there was of the gospel of Christ, to purify men from the lusts of the flesh, and to bring them back to the original institution of marriage. Esther was preferred as queen. Those who suggest that Esther committed sin to come at this dignity, do not consider the custom of those times and countries. Every one that the king took was married to him, and was his wife, though of a lower rank. But how low is human nature sunk, when such as these are the leading pursuits and highest worldly happiness of men! Disappointment and vexation must follow; and he most wisely consults his enjoyment, even in this present life, who most exactly obeys the precepts of the Divine law. But let us turn to consider the wise and merciful providence of God, carrying on his deep but holy designs in the midst of all this. And let no change in our condition be a pretext for forgetting our duties to parents, or the friends who have stood in their place.
Verse 18. - Then the king made a great feast. As Persian kings were in the habit of doing on every joyful occasion. Even Esther's feast. It seems to be meant that the feast was one which continued to be spoken about, and which was commonly known under this title. And he made a release to the provinces. As the Pseudo-Smerdis had done when he usurped the throne (Herod., 3:67). A "release" was an exemption from taxation, or from military service, or from both, for a specified period. And gave gifts, according to the state of the king. Literally, that is, "in right royal fashion" (see Esther 1:7). The practice of making presents, so common in the East at all times, was much in vogue among the Persians, and was practised especially by the monarchs (Herod., 1:136; 3:135; 7:26; Xen., 'Cyrop.,' 8:2, § 7, et seq.; 'Anab.,' 1:9, § 22, etc.).
CHAPTER 2:19-23 MORDECAI'S DISCOVERY OF A PLOT AGAINST AHASUERUS' LIFE (Esther 2:19-23). Some time after Esther had been made queen, there was a second collection of virgins at Susa (ver. 19), under circumstances which are not related, and which were probably of small importance. At this time (ver. 21) Mordecai, still serving in his humble office at the palace gate, from which he had not been advanced, since Esther had told no one that he was her relation (ver. 20), happened to detect a conspiracy against the king's life, which had been formed by two of the palace eunuchs, Bigthan and Tercsh, whom Ahasuerus had somehow offended (ver. 21). Being still in the habit of holding communication with Esther, Mordecai was able to make her acquainted with the facts, of which she then informed the king, telling him how she had obtained her knowledge (ver. 22). There was nothing surprising or suspicious in a eunuch of the palace having had speech with the queen, especially when he had intelligence of such importance to impart to her. On inquiry, the king found that Mordecai's information was correct; the conspiracy was laid bare, and the conspirators put to death (ver. 23) - the facts being, as was sure to be the case, entered in the court chronicle, a daily record of the life of the court, and of the circumstances that befell the king. It was to have been expected that Mordecai would have been rewarded for his zeal; but somehow or other it happened that his services were overlooked he was neither promoted from his humble office, nor did he receive any gift (Esther 6:3). This was quite contrary to ordinary Persian practice; but the court generally may have disliked Mordecai because he was a Jew.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Then the king made a great feast unto all his princes and servants, even Esther's feast,.... A feast to all his nobles, courtiers, and ministers of state, on account of his marriage with Esther; which, according to the Greek version, was held seven days; but, according to Josephus, it lasted a whole month (t):
and he made a release to the provinces; of taxes and tribute due to him, as was the custom of the kings of Persia when they came to the throne, as Herodotus (u) relates; so Smerdis the magus, that mounted the throne after Cambyses, pretending to be his brother, released them for three years to come (w); and Grotius says kings used to do it at their marriage, but gives no instance of it:
and gave gifts: according to the latter Targum, to the provinces, all of them, that he might be sure that the people of Esther shared his favours, who were as yet unknown; but rather these gifts were given to his nobles, or it may be to Esther; so the former Targum,"he gave to her a gift and portion:"
according to the state of the king; his royal ability and munificence, and suitable to his grandeur; and it was usual with the Persian kings to give to their wives whole cities for one thing or another, as for necklaces, hair laces, shoes, &c. (x); Socrates (y) speaks of a whole country in Persia called the "Queen's girdle", and another her "Headdress".
(t) Ut supra. (Antiqu. l. 11. c. 6. sect. 2.) (u) Erato, sive, l. 6. c. 59. (w) Thalia, sive, l. 3. c. 67. (x) Herodot. Euterpe, sive, l. 2. c. 98. Cicero in Verrem, l. 3. Orat. 8. (y) In Plat. Alcibiad.
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