Esther 1:6
Where were white, green, and blue, hangings, fastened with cords of fine linen and purple to silver rings and pillars of marble: the beds were of gold and silver, on a pavement of red, and blue, and white, and black, marble.
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(6) Where were white. . . .—This should be [hangings of] “white cotton and blue.” The word translated “cotton” (Heb., carpas) occurs only here. Canon Rawlinson remarks that “white and blue (or violet) were the royal colours of Persia.”

Linen.—White linen; so the word is used, e.g., in 2Chronicles 5:12.

Marble.—White marble, as in the last clause of the verse.

Beds.—That is, the couches. The gold is not to be referred simply to the gold- mbroidered coverings, but to the framework of the couch.

Red and blue . . .—These words are not names of colours, but of actual stones, although the meaning of most is doubtful enough. The first (bahat) is rendered by the LXX. as a stone of emerald colour, and may perhaps be malachite. The second (shesh) is white marble, the third (dar) is pearly, and the last (sokhereth) black.

Esther 1:6. Where were white, green, and blue hangings — Set up like tents. The beds were of gold and silver — On which they sat, or rather lay, at their meat. The beds themselves, it is probable, were of the softest wool; but the bedsteads were of gold and silver, that is, studded with gold and silver, or overlaid with plates of them, as the fashion then was. Upon a pavement of red, and blue, and white, and black marble — The Hebrew words babat and shesh, and dar, and sochereth, signify several sorts of marble, as Bochart hath proved beyond contradiction.1:1-9 The pride of Ahasuerus's heart rising with the grandeur of his kingdom, he made an extravagant feast. This was vain glory. Better is a dinner of herbs with quietness, than this banquet of wine, with all the noise and tumult that must have attended it. But except grace prevails in the heart, self-exaltation and self-indulgence, in one form or another, will be the ruling principle. Yet none did compel; so that if any drank to excess, it was their own fault. This caution of a heathen prince, even when he would show his generosity, may shame many called Christians, who, under pretence of sending the health round, send sin round, and death with it. There is a woe to them that do so; let them read it, and tremble, Hab 2:15,16.Rather, "where was an awning of fine white cotton and violet." White and blue (or violet) were the royal colors in Persia. Such awnings as are here described were very suitable to the pillared halls and porches of a Persian summer-palace, and especially to the situation of that of Susa.

The beds - Rather, "couches" or "sofas," on which the guests reclined at meals.

A pavement ... - See the margin. It is generally agreed that the four substances named are stones; but to identify the stones, or even their colors, is difficult.

6. Where were white, green, and blue hangings, &c.—The fashion, in the houses of the great, on festive occasions, was to decorate the chambers from the middle of the wall downward with damask or velvet hangings of variegated colors suspended on hooks, or taken down at pleasure.

the beds were of gold and silver—that is, the couches on which, according to Oriental fashion, the guests reclined, and which were either formed entirely of gold and silver or inlaid with ornaments of those costly metals, stood on an elevated floor of parti-colored marble.

The beds; for in those eastern countries and ancient times they did not sit at tables, as we do, but rested or leaned upon beds; of which we have many testimonies, both in Scripture, as Esther 7:8 Amos 2:8 6:4 John 13:23, and in all other authors. Where were white, green, and blue hangings,.... Or curtains of fine linen, as the Targum, which were of these several colours; the first letter of the word for "white" is larger than usual, to denote the exceeding whiteness of them. The next word is "carpas", which Ben Melech observes is a dyed colour, said to be green. Pausanias (q) makes mention of Carpasian linen, and which may be here meant; the last word used signifies blue, sky coloured, or hyacinth:

fastened with cords of fine linen and purple to silver rings, and pillars of marble; these pillars are said, in the Targum, to be of divers colours, red, green, and shining yellow and white, on which the silver rings were fixed, and into them were put linen strings of purple colour, which fastened the hangings to them, and so made an enclosure, within which the guests sat at the feast:

the beds were of gold and silver; the couches on which they sat, or rather reclined at eating, as was the manner of the eastern nations; these, according to the Targum, were of lambs' wool, the finest, and the softest, and the posts of them were of gold, and their feet of silver. Such luxury obtained among the Romans in later times (r):

these were placed in a pavement of red, and blue, and white, and black, marble; which, according to some, are the porphyrite, Parian, alabaster, and marble of various colours; the marble of the Persians is of four colours, white, black, red and black, and white and black (s); but others take them to be precious stones, as Jarchi and Aben Ezra; the first is by the Targum interpreted crystal, by others the emerald, one of which Theophrastus (t) speaks of as four cubits long, and three broad, which might be laid in a pavement; the third is, by Bochart (u), supposed to be the pearl; and in the Talmud (w) it is said to be of such a nature, that if placed in the middle of a dining room, will give light in it as at noonday, which seems to be what is called lychnites; to which Lucian (x) ascribes a like property: nor need all this seem strange, since great was the luxury of the eastern nations. Philostratus (y) speaks of a temple in India paved with pearls, and which he says all the Barbarians use in their temples; particularly it is said (z), that the roofs of the palaces of Shushan and Ecbatana, the palaces of the kings of Persia, shone with gold and silver, ivory, and amber; no wonder then that their pavements were of very valuable and precious stones: and from hence it appears, that the "lithostrata", the word here used by the Septuagint, or tesserated pavements, were in use four hundred years before the times of Sylla, where the beginning of them is placed by Pliny (a); there was a "lithostraton" in the second temple at Jerusalem, by us rendered the pavement, John 19:13, perhaps the same with the room Gazith, so called from its being laid with hewn stone. Aristeas (b), who lived in the times of Ptolemy Philadelphus, testifies that the whole floor of the temple was a "lithostraton", or was paved with stone: it is most likely therefore that these had their original in the eastern country, and not in Greece, as Pliny (c) supposed.

(q) Attica, sive, l. 1. p. 48. (r) Plin. Nat. Hist. l. 33. c. 11. Sueton. Vit. Caesar. c. 49. (s) Universal History, vol. 5. p. 87. (t) Apud Plin. l. 37. c. 5. (u) Hierozoic. par. 2. l. 5. c. 8. (w) T. Bab. Megillah, fol. 12. 1.((x) De Dea Syria. (y) Vit. Apollon. l. 2. c. 11. (z) Aristot. de Mundo, c. 6. Apuleius de Mundo. (a) Nat. Hist. l. 36. c. 25. (b) De 70 Interpret. p. 32. (c) Ut supra. (Nat. Hist. l. 36. c. 25.)

Where were white, green, and blue, hangings, fastened with cords of fine linen and purple to silver rings and pillars of marble: the {d} beds were of gold and silver, upon a pavement of red, and blue, and white, and black, marble.

(d) Which they used in those countries instead of tables.

6. there were hangings of white cloth, of green, and of blue] marg. fine cloth, white (or cotton) and blue. The word translated ‘green’ in the text is best rendered cotton, and is of Persian origin.[58] The cords, which by means of silver rings attached the hangings to the pillars, furnished a contrast of colour, viz. fine, white linen, mixed with a reddish purple.

[58] Karpas borrowed by the Greek in the form κάρπασος (Lat. carbasus).

pillars of marble] The remains of the pillars found at Susa are of a dark blue limestone, which the Heb. word may very well denote.

the couches were of gold and silver] i.e. with coverlets of gold and silver work, or possibly with a framework of these materials (so the Targum explains), like those which Herod. (ix. 82) tells us that Xerxes brought with him on his expedition against Greece.

of red, and white, and yellow, and black marble] marg. or, of porphyry, and white marble, and alabaster, and stone of blue colour. For the ‘white and yellow’ of R.V. A.V. had ‘blue and white.’ A mosaic pavement of various costly materials is apparently meant, but the precise meaning of the terms used is uncertain. Perhaps we may take it that each is the name of a material, not a colour, and render porphyry (or alabaster), marble, pearl-stone, and dark paving-stone. We should observe, however, that the second of these is the same word as that used in the description of the pillars (see note), and that the last may mean marble with dark spots or streaks. The LXX. adds that there were crystal couches scattered over with roses.Verse 6. - Where were white, green, and blue hangings. There is nothing in the original corresponding to "green." The "hangings," or rather awning, was of white cotton (karphas) and violet. Mr. Loftus supposes that it was carried across from the central pillared hall to the detached porticoes, thus shading the guests from the intense heat of the sun ('Chaldaea and Susiana,' p. 375). Fastened with cords of fine linen and purple. Very strong cords would be needed to support the awning if it was carried across as above suggested, over a space of nearly sixty feet. To rings of silver. The exact use of the rings is doubtful. Perhaps they were inserted into the stone work in order that the cords might be made fast to them. Pillars of marble. The pillars at Susa are not of marble, but of a dark-blue limestone. Perhaps the Hebrew shesh designated this stone rather than marble. The beds were of gold and silver. The couches on which the guests reclined are intended (comp. Esther 7:8). These were either covered with gold and silver cloth, or had their actual framework of the precious metals, like those which Xerxes took with him into Greece (see Herod., 9:82). Upon a pavement of red, and blue, and white, and black marble. The four words which follow "pavement" are not adjectives denoting colours, but the names of four different materials. One is shesh, the material of the pillars, which accords with the fact that such pavement slabs as have been found at Susa are, like the columns, of a blue limestone. The other materials are unknown to us, and we cannot say what the exact colours were; but no doubt the general result was a mosaic pavement of four different hues. Nehemiah concludes his work with a short summary of what he had effected for the community. "I cleansed them from all strangers" (comp. Nehemiah 13:23., Nehemiah 9:2; Nehemiah 13:1.), "and appointed the services for the priests and Levites, each in his business, and for the wood-offering at times appointed (Nehemiah 10:35), and for the first-fruits" (Nehemiah 10:36.). The suffix to וטהרתּים refers to the Jews. נכר, strange, means foreign heathen customs, and chiefly marriages with heathen women, Nehemiah 13:23., Nehemiah 9:2; Nehemiah 13:1. משׁמרות העמיד, properly to set a watch, here used in the more general sense of to appoint posts of service for the priests and Levites, i.e., to arrange for the attendance upon those offices which they had to perform at their posts in the temple, according to the law; comp. Nehemiah 10:37, Nehemiah 10:39; Nehemiah 12:44-46; Nehemiah 13:13. וּלקרבּן and ולבּכּוּרים, Nehemiah 13:31, still depend on משׁמרות ואעמידה: I appointed the attendance for the delivery of the wood for the altar at appointed times (comp. Nehemiah 10:35), and for the first-fruits, i.e., for bringing into the sanctuary the heave-offering for the priests. The בּכּוּרים are named as pars pro toto, instead of all the תרוּמות prescribed by the law. On the arrangements connected with these two subjects, viz., the purification from heathen practices, and the restoration of the regular performance of divine worship, was Nehemiah's whole energy concentrated, after the fortification of Jerusalem by a wall of circumvallation had been completed. He thus earned a lasting claim to the gratitude of the congregation of his fellow-countryman that returned from Babylon, and could conclude his narrative with the prayer that God would remember him for good. On this frequently-repeated supplication (comp. Nehemiah 13:14, Nehemiah 13:22, and Nehemiah 5:19) Rambach justly remarks: magnam Nehemiae pietatem spirat. This piety is, however - as we cannot fail also to perceive - strongly pervaded by the legal spirit of post-Babylonian Judaism.
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