|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
3:1-6 Mordecai refused to reverence Haman. The religion of a Jew forbade him to give honours to any mortal man which savoured of idolatry, especially to so wicked a man as Haman. By nature all are idolaters; self is our favourite idol, we are pleased to be treated as if every thing were at our disposal. Though religion by no means destroys good manners, but teaches us to render honour to whom honour is due, yet by a citizen of Zion, not only in his heart, but in his eyes, such a vile person as Haman was, is contemned, Ps 15:4. The true believer cannot obey edicts, or conform to fashions, which break the law of God. He must obey God rather than man, and leave the consequences to him. Haman was full of wrath. His device was inspired by that wicked spirit, who has been a murderer from the beginning; whose enmity to Christ and his church, governs all his children.
Verse 2. - All the king's servants. Literally, "the king's slaves" - the lower officers of the court, porters and others, of about the same rank as Mordecai. Bowed and reverenced Haman. i.e. prostrated themselves before him in the usual Oriental fashion. For the king had so commanded. No reason is assigned for this order, which was certainly unusual, since the prostration of an inferior before a superior was a general rule (Herod., 1:134). Perhaps Haman had been elevated from a very low position, and the king therefore thought a special order requisite. Mordecai bowed not. Greeks occasionally refused to prostrate themselves before the Great King himself, saying that it was not their custom to worship men (Herod., 7:136; Plut., 'Vit. Artax.,' § 22; Arrian., 'Exp. Alex.,' 4:10-12, etc.). Mordecai seems to have had the same feeling. Prostration was, he thought, an act of worship, and it was not proper to worship any one excepting God (see Revelation 22:9).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And the king's servants that were in the king's gate,.... Or court, all his courtiers; for it cannot be thought they were all porters, or such only that
bowed and reverenced Haman; gave him divine honours, as to a deity; for such were given to the kings of Persia (k), and might be given to their favourites, and seems to be the case; for, though Haman might not erect a statue of himself, or have images painted on his clothes, as the Targum and Aben Ezra, for the Persians did not allow of statues and images (l); yet he might make himself a god, as Jarchi, and require divine worship, with leave of the king, which he had, yea, an order for it:
for the king had so commanded concerning him; which shows that it was not mere civil honour and respect, for that in course would have been given him as the king's favourite and prime minister by all his servants, without an express order for it; this, therefore, must be something uncommon and extraordinary:
but Mordecai bowed not, nor did him reverence; which is a further proof that it was not mere civil honour that was required and given; for that the Jews did not refuse to give, and that in the most humble and prostrate manner, and was admitted by them, 1 Samuel 24:8 1 Kings 1:16, nor can it be thought that Mordecai would refuse to give it from pride and sullenness, and thereby risk the king's displeasure, the loss of his office, and the ruin of his nation; but it was such kind of reverence to a man, and worship of him, which was contrary to his conscience, and the law of his God.
(k) Vid. Salden. Otia Theolog. l. 3. Exercitat. 1. sec. 4, 5. (l) Laert. Prooem. ad Vit. Philosoph. p. 5, 6.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
2. all the king's servants, that were in the king's gate, bowed, and reverenced Haman—Large mansions in the East are entered by a spacious vestibule, or gateway, along the sides of which visitors sit, and are received by the master of the house; for none, except the nearest relatives or special friends, are admitted farther. There the officers of the ancient king of Persia waited till they were called, and did obeisance to the all-powerful minister of the day.
But Mordecai bowed not, nor did him reverence—The obsequious homage of prostration not entirely foreign to the manners of the East, had not been claimed by former viziers; but this minion required that all subordinate officers of the court should bow before him with their faces to the earth. But to Mordecai, it seemed that such an attitude of profound reverence was due only to God. Haman being an Amalekite, one of a doomed and accursed race, was, doubtless, another element in the refusal; and on learning that the recusant was a Jew, whose nonconformity was grounded on religious scruples, the magnitude of the affront appeared so much the greater, as the example of Mordecai would be imitated by all his compatriots. Had the homage been a simple token of civil respect, Mordecai would not have refused it; but the Persian kings demanded a sort of adoration, which, it is well known, even the Greeks reckoned it degradation to express. As Xerxes, in the height of his favoritism, had commanded the same honors to be given to the minister as to himself, this was the ground of Mordecai's refusal.
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