Esther 1:20
And when the king's decree which he shall make shall be published throughout all his empire, (for it is great,) all the wives shall give to their husbands honour, both to great and small.
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Esther 1:20-21. All the wives shall give to their husbands honour, &c. — None will dare to disobey, when they hear that the greatness of the queen could not preserve her from such a heavy punishment. The saying pleased the king and the princes — Partly because their own authority and interest were concerned in it; and especially by the singular providence of God, who designed to bring about his own great work by this small occasion.

1:10-22 Ahasuerus's feast ended in heaviness, by his own folly. Seasons of peculiar festivity often end in vexation. Superiors should be careful not to command what may reasonably be disobeyed. But when wine is in, men's reason departs from them. He that had rule over 127 provinces, had no rule over his own spirit. But whether the passion or the policy of the king was served by this decree, God's providence made way for Esther to the crown, and defeated Haman's wicked project, even before it had entered into his heart, and he arrived at his power. Let us rejoice that the Lord reigns, and will overrule the madness or folly of mankind to promote his own glory, and the safety and happiness of his people.That it be not altered - Compare the margin reference. This was the theory. Practically, the monarch, if he chose, could always dispense with the law. It was therefore quite within his power to restore Vashti to her queenly dignity notwithstanding the present decree, if he so pleased. 13-19. Then the king said to the wise men—These were probably the magi, without whose advice as to the proper time of doing a thing the Persian kings never did take any step whatever; and the persons named in Es 1:14 were the "seven counsellors" (compare Ezr 7:14) who formed the state ministry. The combined wisdom of all, it seems, was enlisted to consult with the king what course should be taken after so unprecedented an occurrence as Vashti's disobedience of the royal summons. It is scarcely possible for us to imagine the astonishment produced by such a refusal in a country and a court where the will of the sovereign was absolute. The assembled grandees were petrified with horror at the daring affront. Alarm for the consequences that might ensue to each of them in his own household next seized on their minds; and the sounds of bacchanalian revelry were hushed into deep and anxious consultation what punishment to inflict on the refractory queen. But a purpose was to be served by the flattery of the king and the enslavement of all women. The counsellors were too intoxicated or obsequious to oppose the courtly advice of Memucan was unanimously resolved, with a wise regard to the public interests of the nation, that the punishment of Vashti could be nothing short of degradation from her royal dignity. The doom was accordingly pronounced and made known in all parts of the empire. No text from Poole on this verse.

And when the king's decree which he shall make shall be published throughout all his empire,.... As it was proper it should, since the report of the queen's deed would be made everywhere:

for it is great; the empire consisting of one hundred and twenty seven provinces, Esther 1:1, Aben Ezra and Abendana interpret it, "though" it is great, yet the decree should be published throughout; the latter observes, that this may respect the king's decree; and so the Targum is,"for his decree is great;''it respecting a matter of great importance, and relating to a great personage, and would have great effect on the minds of persons, when it was observed that one so great was treated in this manner: and therefore

all the wives shall give to their husbands honour, both to great and small; speaking respectfully to them, yielding a ready and cheerful obedience to all their commands; which would be done to princes and peasants, to high and low, to every rank of men.

And when the king's decree which he shall make shall be published throughout all his empire, (for it is {o} great,) all the wives shall give to their husbands honour, both to great and small.

(o) For he had under him a hundred and twenty-seven countries.

20. decree] Heb. pithgam, a loan-word from Old Persian patigâma (patigam, to come to, arrive). It occurs in its Aramaic form (pithgâmâ) in Ezra 4:17; Ezra 5:7; Ezra 5:11.

kingdom] The usual translation of the Heb. word. By rendering ‘empire’ (here only in O.T.) the A.V. introduces a distinction which does not exist in the original.

for it is great] In point of fact the Persian rule at this time extended over more than half of the known world. The LXX., however, do not appear to have found the words in their text.

Verse 20. - The king's decree. The "commandment" of the preceding verse is here given the formal name of pithgam, "decree," which is a Persian word, used also in Ezra (Ezra 4:17; Ezra 5:7, 11). For it is great. These words seem at first sight superfluous. Perhaps their force is this - Let a decree be made, and then, great as the empire is, the lesson will be taught to all: otherwise there will be many to whom it will never penetrate. Esther 1:20That Vashti come no more before king Ahasuerus; and let the king give her royal estate unto another that is better than she. After this argument on the queen's conduct, follows the proposal: "If it please the king (על טּוב like Nehemiah 2:5), let there go from him a word of the kingdom (i.e., a royal edict), and let it be written (entered) in the laws of the Persians and the Medes, and not pass away, that Vashti come no more before King Ahashverosh; and let the king give her queenship (her royal rank) to another who is better than she." An edict issued by the king, entered among the laws of the Persians and Medes, and sealed with the royal signet (Esther 8:8), does not pass away, i.e., remains in force, is irrevocable (comp. Daniel 6:9). The counsellors press for the issue of such an edict, for the purpose of making it impossible to the king to take Vashti again into favour, lest they should experience her vengeance on the restoration of her influence. רעוּתהּ, her companion, is any other woman, Vashti being here regarded merely as a woman. הטּובה includes both beauty and good behaviour (Berth.). By this means, add the counsellors in Esther 1:20, all the ill effects of Vashti's contumacy will be obviated. "And when the king's decree, which he shall make, is heard in his whole kingdom, for it is great, all wives shall give honour to their husbands, from great to small." פּתגּן is according to the Keri to be pointed as the constructive state, פּתגּם. The expression עשׂה פּתגּן is explained by the circumstance, that פתגם signifies not only edict, decree, but also thing (see on Daniel 3:16): to do a thing. In the present verse also it might be so understood: when the thing is heard which the king will do in his whole kingdom. The parenthetical clause, for it is great, is intended to flatter the king's vanity, and induce an inclination to agree to the proposal. "From great to small" signifies high and low, old and young.
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