Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers
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.V.
(1) The third day.—That is, of the fast. (See above, Esther 4:16.)
Royal apparel.—Literally, royalty.
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.(3) To the half of the kingdom.—This tremendous offer occurs in further promises of Ahasuerus (Esther 5:6; Esther 7:2). The same reckless promise is made by Herod Antipas to the daughter of Herodias (Mark 6:23).
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.(4) Let the king and Haman come this day unto the banquet.—It was natural enough that, with so much depending on her request, the queen should show some hesitation: if anything took an untoward turn (for, in spite of the king’s promise, she evidently felt uneasy) it might mean total ruin. She therefore temporises; she at any rate gains time, she secures a specially favourable opportunity for bringing forward the request, and the king clearly sees that she has kept her real petition in reserve by himself again raising the question. It will be noticed that so long as Esther is working her way up to the due vantage-ground, the king is addressed in the third person, let the king come,” but when she makes the decisive appeal, in the second, “in thy sight, O king.”
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.(6) The banquet of wine.—The continuation of the banquet of Esther 5:5 : the dessert, so to speak.
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.(9) He stood not up.—In Esther 3:2 we saw that Mordecai refused to bow or prostrate himself to Haman, here he refuses even the slightest sign of respect. The honourable independence of the former case here becomes indefensible rudeness.
Nevertheless Haman refrained himself: and when he came home, he sent and called for his friends, and Zeresh his wife.(10) Zeresh.—A name probably derived from an old Persian word for “gold.” According to the Targum she was the daughter of Tatnai, “the governour on this side the river,” i.e., of that part of the Persian Empire which lay beyond the Euphrates ( Ezra 5:3).
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.(11) Told them . . .—As all this was of necessity sufficiently well known to his hearers, this was simply a piece of vain-glorious boasting, the pride that “goeth before destruction.”
The multitude of his children.—He had ten sons (Esther 9:10).
Yet all this availeth me nothing, so long as I see Mordecai the Jew sitting at the king's gate.(13) Availeth me nothing.—Better, suiteth, contenteth me not.
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.(14) Gallows.—Literally, tree; the Hebrew word, as well as the corresponding Greek word used by the LXX., standing both for the living tree and the artificial structure. Doubtless the punishment intended for Mordecai was crucifixion, for hanging, in the common sense of the term, does not seem to have been in use among the Persians. The same Hebrew word occurring above (Esther 2:23) is rendered tree. The Greek word employed is the same as that used in the New Testament for our Saviour’s cross (Acts 5:30; Acts 10:39, &c). The Latin Vulgate here actually renders the word on its last occurrence by crucem.
Fifty cubits high.—That is, about seventy-five feet; the great height being to call as much attention as possible to the execution, that thereby Haman’s glory might be proportionately increased.