Now it came to pass on the third day, that Esther put on her royal apparel, and stood in the inner court of the king's house, over against the king's house: and the king sat upon his royal throne in the royal house, over against the gate of the house.Esther 5:1-2. It came to pass on the third day — Of which see the notes on Esther 4:16. Esther put on her royal apparel — That she might render herself as amiable in the king’s eyes as she could, and so obtain her request. The king sat upon his royal throne, over against the gate, &c. — So that he could see every one that came into the court. And the king held out to Esther the golden sceptre — In testimony that he pardoned her presumption, and was ready to grant her request, and therefore inviting her to approach. So Esther drew near and touched the top of the sceptre — In token of her thankful acceptance of the king’s favour, and of her reverence and submission: for, as the sceptre was the ensign of the highest and most absolute authority in the king, so the queen’s touching it, or, as some say, kissing it, was a token of her subjection and thankfulness for his favour.
And it was so, when the king saw Esther the queen standing in the court, that she obtained favour in his sight: and the king held out to Esther the golden sceptre that was in his hand. So Esther drew near, and touched the top of the sceptre.
Then said the king unto her, What wilt thou, queen Esther? and what is thy request? it shall be even given thee to the half of the kingdom.Esther 5:3. What is thy request? &c. — So far was the king from accounting her an offender, that he was glad to see her, and desirous to oblige her. Thus God, in his providence, often prevents the fears, and outdoes the hopes of his people. It shall be given thee to the half of the kingdom — A usual form of speech among kings, when their hearts are enlarged and overflow with affection to others, or when they give persons the freest liberty to ask what they please. The meaning is, Nothing in reason shall be denied thee.
And Esther answered, If it seem good unto the king, let the king and Haman come this day unto the banquet that I have prepared for him.Esther 5:4. Let the king and Haman come this day unto the banquet — She thought it prudent not to open her mind to him immediately, but first to try how he stood affected to her, and endeavour to endear herself more to him, that he might be the better disposed to grant her request. To accomplish which purpose still more effectually, she desired to entertain him at her banquet a second time, Esther 5:8. And she, each time, invited Haman, that by showing such respect to the king’s great favourite she might insinuate herself the more into the king’s affection; and that, if she saw fit, she might then present her request to the king.
Then the king said, Cause Haman to make haste, that he may do as Esther hath said. So the king and Haman came to the banquet that Esther had prepared.
And the king said unto Esther at the banquet of wine, What is thy petition? and it shall be granted thee: and what is thy request? even to the half of the kingdom it shall be performed.Esther 5:6. The banquet of wine — So called, because it consisted not of meats, which probably the king had plentifully eaten before, but of fruits and wines; which banquets were very frequent among the Persians, after they had done eating; for they did not drink wine, but water, with their victuals.
Then answered Esther, and said, My petition and my request is;
If I have found favour in the sight of the king, and if it please the king to grant my petition, and to perform my request, let the king and Haman come to the banquet that I shall prepare for them, and I will do to morrow as the king hath said.Esther 5:8. I will do to-morrow as the king hath said — I will acquaint thee with my humble request. She did not present her petition at this time, but delayed it till the next meeting; either, because she was a little daunted with the king’s presence, and had not yet courage to propose it; or, because she would further engage the king’s affection to her, by a second entertainment, and would also intimate to him, that her petition was of a more than ordinary nature: but principally by direction of the divine providence, which took away her courage of utterance for this time, that she might have a better opportunity to present her request the next time, by that great accident which happened before it. For the high honour which the king bestowed on Mordecai the next day made way for her petition, which came in very seasonably at the banquet of wine.
Then went Haman forth that day joyful and with a glad heart: but when Haman saw Mordecai in the king's gate, that he stood not up, nor moved for him, he was full of indignation against Mordecai.Esther 5:9. That he stood not up, nor moved to him — To show how little he feared him, and that he had a firm confidence in his God, that he would deliver him and his people in this great exigency.
Nevertheless Haman refrained himself: and when he came home, he sent and called for his friends, and Zeresh his wife.Esther 5:10. Nevertheless, Haman refrained himself — From taking present vengeance upon Mordecai, which he might easily have effected, either by his own, or any of his servants’ hands, without any fear of inconvenience to himself. But herein God’s wise and powerful providence appeared in disposing Haman’s heart, contrary to his own inclination, and making him, as it were, to put fetters upon his own hands.
And Haman told them of the glory of his riches, and the multitude of his children, and all the things wherein the king had promoted him, and how he had advanced him above the princes and servants of the king.Esther 5:11-12. Haman told them of the glory of his riches — Partly to gratify his own vain-glorious humour, and partly to aggravate Mordecai’s impudence in denying him reverence, and to alleviate his own vexation caused by it. And to-morrow am I invited unto her also with the king — Thus he makes that matter of glorying which was the occasion of his utter ruin. So ignorant are the wisest men, and subject to fatal mistakes, rejoicing when they have most cause of fear, and sorrowing for those things which tend to joy and comfort.
Haman said moreover, Yea, Esther the queen did let no man come in with the king unto the banquet that she had prepared but myself; and to morrow am I invited unto her also with the king.
Yet all this availeth me nothing, so long as I see Mordecai the Jew sitting at the king's gate.Esther 5:13. Yet this availeth me nothing — It gives me no content. Such torment did his envy and malice bring upon him. So long as I see Mordecai sitting at the king’s gate — Enjoying that honour and privilege without disturbance, and denying me the worship due to me by the king’s command. Thus though proud men have much to their mind, if they have not all, it is nothing. The thousandth part of what Haman had, would give a modest, humble man, as much happiness as he expects to receive from any thing under the sun. And Haman as passionately complains as if he was in the lowest depth of poverty.
Then said Zeresh his wife and all his friends unto him, Let a gallows be made of fifty cubits high, and to morrow speak thou unto the king that Mordecai may be hanged thereon: then go thou in merrily with the king unto the banquet. And the thing pleased Haman; and he caused the gallows to be made.Esther 5:14. Then said Zeresh his wife and all his friends — They saw how gladly he would dispense with his own resolution, of deferring the slaughter till the time determined by the lot, and therefore advise him to take an earnest of the satisfaction he then expected, in the speedy execution of Mordecai: Let a gallows be made — They advise him to have one made ready, that, as soon as he could get the warrant signed, there might be no delay of the execution, and to cause it to be made fifty cubits high, that it might be more conspicuous to all, and thereby be more disgraceful to Mordecai, and might strike all Haman’s enemies with the greater dread of despising or opposing him. And to-morrow speak thou unto the king — They advise him to go early in the morning to get an order from the king for hanging Mordecai, which they doubted not would be readily granted to one that was so much the king’s favourite, and who had so easily obtained an edict for the destruction of the whole nation of the Jews. Then go thou in merrily with the king unto the banquet — Having thus triumphed over thy implacable enemy, and got rid of all that vexes thee and imbitters thy prosperity and glory. And the thing pleased Haman — He approved of their advice, and caused the gallows to be erected accordingly. “And now,” says Henry, “we leave Haman to go to bed, pleased with the thoughts of seeing Mordecai hanged the next day, and then going merrily to the banquet, and not dreaming of handselling his own gallows.”