On that day did the king Ahasuerus give the house of Haman the Jews' enemy unto Esther the queen. And Mordecai came before the king; for Esther had told what he was unto her.Esther 8:1. Did the king give the house of Haman unto Esther — That is, he bestowed upon her the whole estate belonging to his family, his lands, his goods, his servants, his cattle, with all the money he had treasured up. All this is included here in his house, which, being justly forfeited to the king, is no less justly bestowed by him upon the queen, to compensate, in some degree, the danger to which Haman had exposed her. And Mordecai came before the king — Was by the queen’s desire admitted into the king’s presence and family, and probably made one of the seven princes. For Esther had told what he was unto her — How nearly he was related to her, which till this time she had wisely concealed.
And the king took off his ring, which he had taken from Haman, and gave it unto Mordecai. And Esther set Mordecai over the house of Haman.Esther 8:2. The king took off his ring — That ring which he had formerly given to Haman, but had resumed, he now gives to Mordecai, in token of his favour, and with it that power whereof this ring was a sign, making him, as Haman had been, the keeper of his signet. And Esther set Mordecai over the house of Haman — Not over his family, for that was destroyed, but over his lands and goods, given her by the king: of which she made Mordecai her steward, to manage that great estate for her, as he thought fit. With what little pleasure, nay, with what constant vexation, would Haman have looked upon his estate, if he could have foreseen that Mordecai, the man he hated above all men in the world, should have rule over all that wherein he had laboured, and thought he showed himself so wise! See, then, the vanity of laying up treasure on earth; he that heapeth up riches knoweth not who shall gather them, Psalm 39:6; not only whether he shall be a wise man or a fool, (Ecclesiastes 2:19,) but whether he shall be a friend or an enemy. It is our interest, therefore, to make sure of those riches which will not be left behind, but will go with us to another world. Reader, attend to this, and lay not up for thy posterity, any more than for thyself treasures on earth.
And Esther spake yet again before the king, and fell down at his feet, and besought him with tears to put away the mischief of Haman the Agagite, and his device that he had devised against the Jews.Esther 8:3. Esther spake yet again before the king — Haman, the chief enemy of the Jews, was hanged, Esther and Mordecai, their chief friends, were sufficiently protected; but many others there were in the king’s dominions that hated the Jews, and desired their ruin, and to their rage and malice all the rest of that people lay exposed. For the edict against them was still in force, in pursuance of which their enemies, at the day appointed, would fall upon them, and they would be deemed rebels against the king and his government, if they should offer to resist, and take up arms in their own defence. To prevent this, the queen makes intercession with much affection and importunity. And fell down at his feet, and besought him with many tears — It was time to be earnest, when the church of God lay at stake. Let none be so great as to be unwilling to stoop, none so joyful as to be unwilling to weep, when thereby they may do any service to God’s church and people. Esther, though safe herself, here falls down and begs with tears for the deliverance of her people. To put away the mischief of Haman — To repeal that cruel and bloody decree which he had obtained from the king.
Then the king held out the golden sceptre toward Esther. So Esther arose, and stood before the king,Esther 8:4-6. Then the king held out the golden sceptre — Esther had presumed to come a second time into the king’s presence without being called: which he did not take ill, but by this token graciously invited her to approach him, indicating that he accepted her person. So Esther arose — Having before fallen at his feet; and stood before the king — As a petitioner for her people; and said, If it please the king, &c. — She uses various expressions, that she might confirm the king’s favour by such a full submission to his good pleasure. Even then, when we have ever so much reason and justice on our side, and have ever so clear a cause to plead, yet it becomes us to speak to our superiors with humility and modesty, and all possible expressions of respect. There is nothing lost by decency and good breeding. Let it be written to reverse the letters devised by Haman — She prudently takes off the hatefulness of the action from the king, and lays it upon Haman, who had for his own ends contrived the whole business, and circumvented the king in it. For how can I endure to see the destruction of my kindred? — My heart will sink under it, and I shall never be able to survive it. She does not urge the innocence of the Jews, but only pleads their affinity to her: probably she knew that this plea would have more weight with the king, even than one grounded on their innocence.
And said, If it please the king, and if I have found favour in his sight, and the thing seem right before the king, and I be pleasing in his eyes, let it be written to reverse the letters devised by Haman the son of Hammedatha the Agagite, which he wrote to destroy the Jews which are in all the king's provinces:
For how can I endure to see the evil that shall come unto my people? or how can I endure to see the destruction of my kindred?
Then the king Ahasuerus said unto Esther the queen and to Mordecai the Jew, Behold, I have given Esther the house of Haman, and him they have hanged upon the gallows, because he laid his hand upon the Jews.Esther 8:7. Him they have hanged, because he laid his hand upon the Jews — That is, intended to destroy them all. By what the king had done to show his resentment against Haman, they might easily believe he would deny them nothing for their preservation: as if he had said, You see how ready I have been to grant your requests, and I do not repent of my favour to you, and am ready to grant your further desires, as far as the law will permit.
Write ye also for the Jews, as it liketh you, in the king's name, and seal it with the king's ring: for the writing which is written in the king's name, and sealed with the king's ring, may no man reverse.Esther 8:8. Write ye also for the Jews — On their behalf, to the governors and commanders of the king’s forces, or to whom you please. In the king’s name, and seal it with the king’s ring — I offer you my authority and seal, to confirm whatsoever you shall think fit to write. The writing which is written in the king’s name, &c., may no man reverse — This reason may belong, either, 1st, To the writing of these present letters; and then the sense is, These letters will be most effectual, being no less irrevocable than the former, and, coming last, will repeal the former. Or, 2d, To the former letters, as a reason why he could not grant their desires in recalling them, because they were irrevocable by the laws of the Medes and Persians. And this sense, though rejected by many, seems to be the truest, because here is no mention of reversing Haman’s letters, which Esther had desired, Esther 8:5, and the king denied, for the reason here alleged; and because the following letter doth not contain one word about the reversing of the former, nor doth it take away that power which was given to all rulers to destroy all the Jews, Esther 3:12-13; but only gives the Jews power and authority to stand up in their own defence, Esther 8:11, which, all circumstances considered, was sufficient for their preservation. How much more prudent is our constitution than that of the Persians, that no law whatever can be so established as to be unrepealable. It is God’s prerogative not to repent, and to say what can never be altered.
Then were the king's scribes called at that time in the third month, that is, the month Sivan, on the three and twentieth day thereof; and it was written according to all that Mordecai commanded unto the Jews, and to the lieutenants, and the deputies and rulers of the provinces which are from India unto Ethiopia, an hundred twenty and seven provinces, unto every province according to the writing thereof, and unto every people after their language, and to the Jews according to their writing, and according to their language.Esther 8:9. On the three and twentieth day thereof — Which was above two months after the former decree. All which time God suffered the Jews to lie under the terror of this dreadful day, that they might be more thoroughly humbled for, and purged from, those many and great sins under which they lay, that they might be convinced of their great sin and folly, in neglecting the many offers and opportunities they had had of returning to their native country, and to the free and public exercise of the true religion, which could be had nowhere but in Jerusalem, by which means they, being now dispersed in the several parts of this vast dominion, must be a very easy prey to their enemies, whereas their brethren in Judea were in a better capacity to preserve themselves; that their most malicious and inveterate enemies might have an opportunity of discovering themselves to their ruin, as the event showed; and for the greater illustration of God’s glorious power, and wisdom, and goodness, in giving his people such an admirable and unexpected deliverance. And God so ordered things, that this letter should be sent in due time, before it was too late; for there were yet near nine months to come before that appointed day. And it was written unto the Jews — That they might understand their liberty, and be encouraged to use it for their own defence. And to the rulers of the provinces — That they should publish and disperse it into all parts, that both themselves and others might take notice of the king’s pleasure, and kindness to the Jews.
And he wrote in the king Ahasuerus' name, and sealed it with the king's ring, and sent letters by posts on horseback, and riders on mules, camels, and young dromedaries:Esther 8:10. And he wrote in King Ahasuerus’s name — Josephus has given us a true copy, as he says, of this decree; or, as he terms it, of the letters which Artaxerxes sent to all nations which lie between India and Ethiopia; wherein he represents the abuse which favourites are wont to make of their power and credit with their prince, by insulting their inferiors, by flying in the face of those who raised them, and, to gratify their resentments, calumniating the innocent, and putting honest men in danger of their lives, &c. And sent letters by posts, and riders on mules, &c. — Which were not employed in the sending of the former letters; but these, coming later, required more care and speed, that the Jews might be eased from their present fears, and have time to provide for their own defence.
Wherein the king granted the Jews which were in every city to gather themselves together, and to stand for their life, to destroy, to slay, and to cause to perish, all the power of the people and province that would assault them, both little ones and women, and to take the spoil of them for a prey,Esther 8:11. To stand for their life — To fight for the defence of their lives, against all that should seek to destroy them. To cause to perish the power of the people, &c. — Either governors or governed, without any exception either of age, dignity, or sex. Both little ones and women — Which is here added, to strike the greater terror into their enemies; and according to the laws and customs of that kingdom, whereby children were punished for their parents’ offences: yet we read nothing, in the execution of this decree, of the slaughter of women or children; nor is it probable they would kill their innocent children, who were so indulgent to their families as not to meddle with the spoil.
Upon one day in all the provinces of king Ahasuerus, namely, upon the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, which is the month Adar.Esther 8:12-14. Upon one day, &c. — Which day was chosen and appointed by Haman for their destruction. That the Jews should be ready against that day — Should be furnished with arms, and all things necessary for their defence. Being hastened by the king’s commandment — By his particular and express command to that purpose.
The copy of the writing for a commandment to be given in every province was published unto all people, and that the Jews should be ready against that day to avenge themselves on their enemies.
So the posts that rode upon mules and camels went out, being hastened and pressed on by the king's commandment. And the decree was given at Shushan the palace.
And Mordecai went out from the presence of the king in royal apparel of blue and white, and with a great crown of gold, and with a garment of fine linen and purple: and the city of Shushan rejoiced and was glad.Esther 8:15. With a great crown of gold — Which the chief of the Persian princes were permitted to wear, but with sufficient distinction from the king’s crown. For it must be observed, that the word royal is not added here, as in chap. Esther 6:8, nor is the horse mentioned, as there, because no extraordinary honours are here spoken of, but only that honour, and that habit, which immediately belonged to the keeper of the royal signet. — Houb. The city of Shushan rejoiced — Not only Jews, but the greatest number of the citizens, who by the law of nature abhorred bloody counsels, and had a complacency in acts of mercy.
The Jews had light, and gladness, and joy, and honour.Esther 8:16. The Jews had light — Light is often put for gladness, as 2 Samuel 22:29, and Job 18:5-6, because it is pleasant, and disposeth a man to joy. And gladness, and joy — Here the sacred writer explains the former metaphor, by two words signifying the same thing, to denote the greatness of the joy. And honour — Instead of that contempt under which they had lain.
And in every province, and in every city, whithersoever the king's commandment and his decree came, the Jews had joy and gladness, a feast and a good day. And many of the people of the land became Jews; for the fear of the Jews fell upon them.Esther 8:17. A feast and a good day — That is, a time of feasting, rejoicing, and thanksgiving. Not only in Shushan, but in all other places where they resided, they entertained one another at their houses, and feasted together, being full of joy at this unexpected alteration of their affairs. For they doubted not that this new decree of the king would be observed by his people; and they were resolved to defend themselves against those that did not observe it, but attempted to destroy them. And many of the people of the land became Jews — Many of the Persians became proselytes to the Jewish religion, but that they were circumcised is not probable. It is likely, however, that they renounced idolatry, and became worshippers of the true God. Such proselytes there were in all times, especially in the days of David and Solomon, when the affairs of the Jews were very prosperous. Haman thought to extirpate the Jews: it proves, in the issue, that their numbers are greatly increased, and many added to their church. Observe, reader, when the Jews had joy and gladness, then many of the people of the land became Jews. The holy cheerfulness of those that profess religion is a great ornament to their profession, and will invite and encourage others to be religious. Another reason, however, is here given why so many became Jews at this time; for it is said, the fear of the Jews fell upon them. When they observed how wonderfully the divine providence had owned them, and wrought for them, in this critical juncture, they thought them great, and those happy that were among them, as was foretold Zechariah 8:23, We will go with you; for we have heard, we have seen, that God is with you. And they thought them formidable, and those miserable that were against them. They plainly saw, in Haman’s fate, that if any offered an injury to the Jews, it was at their peril; and, therefore, for their own security, they joined themselves to them. It is folly to think of contending with the God of Israel, and therefore it is wisdom to think of submitting to him.