After these things, when the wrath of king Ahasuerus was appeased, he remembered Vashti, and what she had done, and what was decreed against her.Esther 2:1. He remembered Vashti — With grief and shame, that in his wine and rage he had so severely punished, and so irrevocably rejected, so beautiful and desirable a person, and that for so small a provocation, to which she was easily led by the modesty of her sex and by the laws and customs of Persia.
Then said the king's servants that ministered unto him, Let there be fair young virgins sought for the king:Esther 2:2-3. Then said the king’s servants — Who, for their own interests, were obliged to quiet the king’s mind, and procure him another amiable consort. To the house of the women — Or rather, of the virgins; for the house of those who were wives or concubines was different from this, and under another governor. Keeper of the women — Of all the women, both virgins and concubines: only the virgins he himself took care of, as requiring more care and caution, and the concubines he committed to Shaashgaz, (Esther 2:14,) his deputy. Things for purification — That is, to cleanse them from all impurities, to perfume, and adorn, and every way prepare them for the king: for the legal purification of the Jews he never regarded.
And let the king appoint officers in all the provinces of his kingdom, that they may gather together all the fair young virgins unto Shushan the palace, to the house of the women, unto the custody of Hege the king's chamberlain, keeper of the women; and let their things for purification be given them:
And let the maiden which pleaseth the king be queen instead of Vashti. And the thing pleased the king; and he did so.
Now in Shushan the palace there was a certain Jew, whose name was Mordecai, the son of Jair, the son of Shimei, the son of Kish, a Benjamite;
Who had been carried away from Jerusalem with the captivity which had been carried away with Jeconiah king of Judah, whom Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon had carried away.Esther 2:6. Who had been carried away from Jerusalem — This may refer either to Kish, Mordecai’s grandfather, last mentioned, or to Mordecai himself, which, however, is not probable, as in that case he must have been a very old man, not less than a hundred and forty years of age.
And he brought up Hadassah, that is, Esther, his uncle's daughter: for she had neither father nor mother, and the maid was fair and beautiful; whom Mordecai, when her father and mother were dead, took for his own daughter.Esther 2:7-8. And he brought up Hadassah, that is, Esther — Hadassah was her Hebrew name, before her marriage; and she was called Esther by the king after it. Esther was brought also unto the king’s house — Or taken, and that by force, as the word תלקח, tillakach, often signifies: for so great was the power and tyranny of the Persian kings, that they could and did take what persons they liked to their own use.
So it came to pass, when the king's commandment and his decree was heard, and when many maidens were gathered together unto Shushan the palace, to the custody of Hegai, that Esther was brought also unto the king's house, to the custody of Hegai, keeper of the women.
And the maiden pleased him, and she obtained kindness of him; and he speedily gave her her things for purification, with such things as belonged to her, and seven maidens, which were meet to be given her, out of the king's house: and he preferred her and her maids unto the best place of the house of the women.Esther 2:9. The maiden pleased him — Because she was very beautiful, therefore he supposed she would be acceptable to the king; and by the divine power, which moveth the hearts of men which way he pleaseth.
Esther had not shewed her people nor her kindred: for Mordecai had charged her that she should not shew it.Esther 2:10. Mordecai had charged her that she should not show it — Lest the knowledge hereof should either make her contemptible, or bring some inconvenience to the whole nation: but there was also a hand of God in causing this to be concealed, for the better accomplishment of that which he designed, though Mordecai was ignorant of it. If Mordecai sought or desired that his niece should become either the king’s concubine or wife, he certainly acted contrary to the Jewish law, which forbid any marriage or communication of that sort with idolaters; but the circumstances of things, and perhaps the hopes he entertained of being able to do his nation great service thereby, may plead his excuse.
And Mordecai walked every day before the court of the women's house, to know how Esther did, and what should become of her.Esther 2:11. Mordecai walked every day, &c. — He might walk there without being suspected, because he belonged to the court, and was a man of some rank; for those that were carried away in Jeconiah’s captivity (as his ancestors were, Esther 2:6) were of the better sort, 2 Kings 24:14, &c.; Daniel 1:4. And Esther might find means, by some of those that attended her, to acquaint him with the state of her health and affairs.
Now when every maid's turn was come to go in to king Ahasuerus, after that she had been twelve months, according to the manner of the women, (for so were the days of their purifications accomplished, to wit, six months with oil of myrrh, and six months with sweet odours, and with other things for the purifying of the women;)Esther 2:12. According to the manner of the women — Who were kept so long, partly for their better purification, as it here follows; partly out of state, as that which became so great a king; and partly that, being so long in safe custody, the king might be sure he was not imposed upon by a child begotten by another man. Six months with oil of myrrh, and six months with sweet odours — It is observed by Pliny, lib. 13, cap. 1, that ointments were first invented by the Persians. Oil of myrrh was used, not only on account of its fragrancy, but to make the skin soft and smooth, and to clear it from all manner of scurf; and the sweet odours were necessary, in those hot countries, to take away all ill scents, and, as some think, to enliven and invigorate the constitution.
Then thus came every maiden unto the king; whatsoever she desired was given her to go with her out of the house of the women unto the king's house.Esther 2:13. Thus came every maiden unto the king — Thus purified and prepared, and thus furnished and attended, as it follows. Whatsoever she desired was given her — For ornament, or by way of attendance. And it should be observed, that every one whom the king took to his bed was his wife of a lower rank, as Hagar was Abraham’s; so that it would have been no sin or dishonour to Esther, though she had not been made queen.
In the evening she went, and on the morrow she returned into the second house of the women, to the custody of Shaashgaz, the king's chamberlain, which kept the concubines: she came in unto the king no more, except the king delighted in her, and that she were called by name.
Now when the turn of Esther, the daughter of Abihail the uncle of Mordecai, who had taken her for his daughter, was come to go in unto the king, she required nothing but what Hegai the king's chamberlain, the keeper of the women, appointed. And Esther obtained favour in the sight of all them that looked upon her.Esther 2:15. She required nothing — Not being desirous to set herself off with artificial beauty, nor, probably, to please the king; having been brought to the king’s house without and against her own inclination and choice. But what Hegai, the king’s chamberlain, appointed — Being covetous of nothing, she left it entirely to the king’s chamberlain to give her what he pleased, which was a mark of a modest and generous temper in her. And Esther obtained favour of all them that looked upon her — All that beheld her admired her beauty, which needed no ornament; for the greatest ornaments of virgins are, modesty, silence, well-disciplined eyes, a serene countenance, without levity, and horror of all wantonness; which, all meeting in her, made her agreeable in the eyes of all that saw her.
So Esther was taken unto king Ahasuerus into his house royal in the tenth month, which is the month Tebeth, in the seventh year of his reign.Esther 2:16. So Esther was taken into his house-royal — She was not sent back unto the second house of the women, as the rest were, but the king kept her in his own house. In the seventh year of his reign — How it came to pass that it was so long before Esther was advanced to succeed Vashti, seems difficult to resolve. But we are to consider, that a great deal of time was spent in gathering the virgins together, and that it was a year after they were collected, before she was brought to the king; and besides, he took some time, it is likely, to try how he liked her wit, humour, and conversation.
And the king loved Esther above all the women, and she obtained grace and favour in his sight more than all the virgins; so that he set the royal crown upon her head, and made her queen instead of Vashti.
Then the king made a great feast unto all his princes and his servants, even Esther's feast; and he made a release to the provinces, and gave gifts, according to the state of the king.Esther 2:18. And he made a release to the provinces — According to Herodotus, it was customary for the Persian kings, upon their accession to the throne, to remit the tribute which was due to them from all their cities; and Ahasuerus, on this occasion, out of his abundant joy, remitted some tax, or part of a tax, then due, which he did that every body might rejoice with him.
And when the virgins were gathered together the second time, then Mordecai sat in the king's gate.Esther 2:19. When the virgins were gathered together the second time — They in all probability were gathered together first in the provinces, and afterward in Susa, before they were taken into the house of the king’s chamberlain. The writer now goes back to what happened before Esther’s marriage. Then Mordecai sat in the king’s gate — It was ordered by Cyrus, as Xenophon informs us, Cyropaæd., lib. 8, that all persons whatever, who had any employment at court, should attend at the palace gate, where there was doubtless a proper waiting-place for their reception, that they might be in readiness whenever they were wanted or called for; and that this custom was afterward continued, we may learn from Herodotus, lib. 3. cap. 120. See Le Clerc. Mordecai has been thought by some to have been one of the porters of the royal palace; but it is probable he was an officer of higher rank. Poole thinks he was one of the king’s guard, or ministers, and that he had been advanced to this place by Esther’s favour, though without any discovery of her relation to him.
Esther had not yet shewed her kindred nor her people; as Mordecai had charged her: for Esther did the commandment of Mordecai, like as when she was brought up with him.Esther 2:20. Esther did the commandment of Mordecai, &c. — A rare example of virtue, that she should be so observant of him when she was a queen: for most persons forget what they were when they are unexpectedly advanced to great honour, dignity, or riches.
In those days, while Mordecai sat in the king's gate, two of the king's chamberlains, Bigthan and Teresh, of those which kept the door, were wroth, and sought to lay hand on the king Ahasuerus.Esther 2:21. Two of the king’s chamberlains — “These were two great men, who perhaps kept the door of the king’s bed-chamber, and being either incensed at the divorce of Vashti, whose creatures they were, or at the advancement of Esther, who they thought would in all probability raise her kinsman Mordecai above them, took disgust thereat, and so resolved to avenge themselves on the king.” — Dodd. See Prideaux, and Esther 6:2-3.
And the thing was known to Mordecai, who told it unto Esther the queen; and Esther certified the king thereof in Mordecai's name.
And when inquisition was made of the matter, it was found out; therefore they were both hanged on a tree: and it was written in the book of the chronicles before the king.Esther 2:23. It was written in the book of the Chronicles — A day-book, wherein all memorable things were recorded. Before the king — This may refer either, 1st, To the writing of it, signifying that it was written in the king’s presence by scribes, who were continually with the king, to record all remarkable things which happened in the court from time to time: or, 2d, To the book, which was laid up before the king, that he might more easily and frequently peruse it for his own direction or amusement. Here we see the danger and infelicity of the greatest men, the life of a most potent monarch depending upon the fidelity of one single person, whose service was neglected by the court, though a memorial was made of it. Thus all masters of families are obnoxious to the perfidiousness, of those that wait upon them.