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, upon 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. Esther 1:6"When he showed the glorious riches of his kingdom and the excellent honour of his greatness many days, one hundred and eighty days." This verse has been understood by most expositors as stating that the king magnificently and splendidly entertained all the grandees mentioned in Esther 1:3 for a full half-year, and gave them a banquet which lasted 180 days. Clericus supposes proceedings to have been so arranged, that the proceres omnium provinciarum were not entertained at one and the same time, but alii post alios, because all could not be absent together per sex menses a suis provinciis. Bertheau, however, thinks that the historian did not purpose to give an exact and graphic description of the proceeding, but only to excite astonishment, and that they who are astonished will not inquire as to the manner in which all took place. The text, however, does not say, that the feast lasted 180 days, and hence offers no occasion for such a view, which is founded on a mistaken comprehension of Esther 1:4, which combines וגו בּהראתו with משׁתּה עשׂה of Esther 1:3, while the whole of Esther 1:4 is but a further amplification of the circumstantial clause: when the forces, etc., were before him; the description of the banquet not following till Esther 1:5, where, however, it is joined to the concluding words of Esther 1:4 : "when these (180) days were full, the king made a feast to all the people that were found in the citadel of Susa, from great to small, seven days, in the court of the garden of the king's house." This verse is thus explained by Bertheau: after the soldiers, nobles, and princes of the district had been entertained for six months, all the male inhabitants of Susa were also entertained in a precinct of the palace garden, the women being feasted by Vashti the queen in the palace (Esther 1:9), It is, however, obvious, even from Esther 1:11, which says that on the seventh day of this banquet the king commanded the queen to appear "to show the people and the princes her beauty," that such a view of the occurrence is inadmissible. For this command presupposes, that the people and princes were assembled at the king's banquet; while, according to the view of Bertheau and older expositors, who insist on two banquets, one lasting 180 days, the other seven, the latter was given to the male inhabitants of Susa only. The princes and people of the whole kingdom did not, however, dwell in Susa. These princes and people, to whom the queen was to show her beauty, are undoubtedly the princes and servants of the king, the forces of Persia and Media, and the nobles and princes of the provinces enumerated in Esther 1:3. With this agrees also the description of the guests invited to the seven days feast. בּשׁוּשׁן הנּמצאים כּל־העם does not signify "all the inhabitants of Susa," but all then present, i.e., then assembled in the citadel of Susa. הנּמצאים used of persons means, those who for some purpose are found or present in any place, in distinction from its usual inhabitants; comp. 1 Chronicles 29:17; 2 Chronicles 34:32; Ezra 8:25; and העם does not here signify people in the sense of population, but people who are met in a certain place, and is used both here and Nehemiah 12:38 of an assembly of nobles and princes. קטן ועד למגּדול, moreover, does not mean old and young, but high and low, the greater and lesser servants (עבדים) of the king, and informs us that of those assembled at Susa, both princes and servants participated without exception in the banquet.

This view of Esther 1:3-5 is confirmed by the consideration, that if the seven days banquet were a different one from that mentioned in Esther 1:3, there could be no reason for naming the latter, which would then be not only entirely unconnected with the narrative, but for which no object at all would be stated; for בּהראתו cannot be translated, as in the Vulgate, by ut ostenderet, because, as Bertheau justly remarks, ב cannot indicate a purpose. From all these reasons it is obvious, that the feast of which further particulars are given in Esther 1:5-8 is the same משׁתּה which the king, according to Esther 1:3, gave to his שׂרים and עבדים, and that the text, rightly understood, says nothing of two consecutive banquets. The sense of Esther 1:3-5 is accordingly as follows: King Ahasuerus gave to his nobles and princes, when he had assembled them before him, and showed them the glorious riches of his kingdom and the magnificence of his greatness for 180 days, after these 180 days, to all assembled before him in the fortress of Susa, a banquet which lasted seven days. The connection of the more particular description of this banquet, by means of the words: when these (the previously named 180) days were over, following upon the accessory clause, Esther 1:4, is anacoluthistic, and the anacoluthon has given rise to the misconception, by which Esther 1:5 is understood to speak of a second banquet differing from the משׁתּה of Esther 1:3. The purpose for which the king assembled the grandees of his kingdom around him in Susa fore a whole half-year is not stated, because this has no connection with the special design of the present book. If, however, we compare the statement of Herod. vii. 8, that Xerxes, after the re-subjection of Egypt, summoned the chief men of his kingdom to Susa to take counsel with them concerning the campaign against Greece, it is obvious, that the assembly for 180 days in Susa, of the princes and nobles mentioned in the book of Esther, took place for the purpose of such consultation. When, too, we compare the statement of Herod. vii. 20, that Xerxes was four years preparing for this war, we receive also a corroboration of the particular mentioned in Esther 1:3, that he assembled his princes and nobles in the third year of his reign. In this view "the riches of his kingdom," etc., mentioned in Esther 1:4, must not be understood of the splendour and magnificence displayed in the entertainment of his guests, but referred to the greatness and resources of the realm, which Xerxes descanted on to his assembled magnates for the purpose of showing them the possibility of carrying into execution his contemplated campaign against Greece. The banquet given them after the 180 days of consultation, was held in the court of the garden of the royal palace. בּיתן is a later form of בּית, which occurs only here and Esther 7:7-8. חצר, court, is the space in the park of the royal castle which was prepared for the banquet. The fittings and furniture of this place are described in Esther 1:6. "White stuff, variegated and purple hangings, fastened with cords of byssus and purple to silver rings and marble pillars; couches of gold and silver upon a pavement of malachite and marble, mother-of-pearl and tortoise-shell." The description consists of mere allusions to, or exclamations at, the splendour of the preparations. In the first half of the verse the hangings of the room, in the second, the couches for the guests, are noticed. חוּר from חור means a white tissue of either linen or cotton. Bertheau supposes that the somewhat larger form of ch is intended to denote, even by the size of letter employed, the commencement of the description. כּרפּס, occurring in Sanscrit, Persian, Armenian, and Arabic, in Greek κάρπασος, means originally cotton, in Greek, according to later authorities, a kind of fine flax, here undoubtedly a cotton texture of various colours. תּכלת, deep blue, purple. The hangings of the space set apart were of these materials. Blue and white were, according to Curtius Esther 6:6, Esther 6:4, the royal colours of the Persians; comp. M. Duncker, Gesch. des Alterthums, ii. pp. 891 and 951 of the third edition, in which is described also the royal table, p. 952. The hangings were fastened (אחוּז) with cords of white byssus and purple to rings and pillars of white marble. מטּות, couches (divans) of gold and silver, i.e., covered with cloth woven of gold and silver thread, were prepared for the guests at the feast. These couches were placed upon a tesselated, mosaic-like floor; the tesselation being composed of stones of various colours. בּהט, in Arabic a mock stone, in lxx σμαραγδίτης, a spurious emerald, i.e., a green-coloured stone resembling the emerald, probably malachite or serpentine. שׁשׁ is white marble; דּר, Arabic darrun, darratun, pearl, lxx πίννινος λίθος, a pearl-like stone, perhaps mother-of-pearl. סחרת, a kind of dark-coloured stone (from סחר equals שׁחר, to be dark), black, black marble with shield-like spots (all three words occur only here).

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