Esther 2:1
After these things, when the wrath of king Ahasuerus was appeased, he remembered Vashti, and what she had done, and what was decreed against her.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
II.

(1) After these things.—We have seen that the great feast at Susa was in the year 483 B.C. , and that in the spring of 481 B.C. Xerxes set out for Greece. At some unspecified time, then, between these limits the proposal now started is to be placed. The marriage of Esther, however (Esther 2:16), did not come about till after the return from Greece, the king’s long absence explaining the otherwise curious delay, and moreover, even in this interval, he was entangled in more than one illicit connection.

Esther 2:1. He remembered Vashti — With grief and shame, that in his wine and rage he had so severely punished, and so irrevocably rejected, so beautiful and desirable a person, and that for so small a provocation, to which she was easily led by the modesty of her sex and by the laws and customs of Persia.2:1-20 We see to what absurd practices those came, who were destitute of Divine revelation, and what need there was of the gospel of Christ, to purify men from the lusts of the flesh, and to bring them back to the original institution of marriage. Esther was preferred as queen. Those who suggest that Esther committed sin to come at this dignity, do not consider the custom of those times and countries. Every one that the king took was married to him, and was his wife, though of a lower rank. But how low is human nature sunk, when such as these are the leading pursuits and highest worldly happiness of men! Disappointment and vexation must follow; and he most wisely consults his enjoyment, even in this present life, who most exactly obeys the precepts of the Divine law. But let us turn to consider the wise and merciful providence of God, carrying on his deep but holy designs in the midst of all this. And let no change in our condition be a pretext for forgetting our duties to parents, or the friends who have stood in their place.These events must belong to the time between the great assembly held at Susa in Xerxes' third year (483 B.C.), and the departure of the monarch on his expedition against Greece in his fifth year, 481 B.C. CHAPTER 2

Es 2:1-20. Esther Chosen to Be Queen.

1-3. After these things, when the wrath of king Ahasuerus was appeased—On recovering from the violent excitement of his revelry and rage, the king was pierced with poignant regret for the unmerited treatment he had given to his beautiful and dignified queen. But, according to the law, which made the word of a Persian king irrevocable, she could not be restored. His counsellors, for their own sake, were solicitous to remove his disquietude, and hastened to recommend the adoption of all suitable means for gratifying their royal master with another consort of equal or superior attractions to those of his divorced queen. In the despotic countries of the East the custom obtains that when an order is sent to a family for a young damsel to repair to the royal palace, the parents, however unwilling, dare not refuse the honor for their daughter; and although they know that when she is once in the royal harem, they will never see her again, they are obliged to yield a silent and passive compliance. On the occasion referred to, a general search was commanded to be made for the greatest beauties throughout the empire, in the hope that, from their ranks, the disconsolate monarch might select one for the honor of succeeding to the royal honors of Vashti. The damsels, on arrival at the palace, were placed under the custody of "Hege, the king's chamberlain, keeper of the women," that is, the chief eunuch, usually a repulsive old man, on whom the court ladies are very dependent, and whose favor they are always desirous to secure.The virgins of the kingdom being gathered together, a queen is to be chosen, Esther 2:1-4. Esther, nursed by Mordecai, is chosen to be one of the virgins, Esther 2:5-8; and preferred before the rest, Esther 2:9-11. The manner of her purification, Esther 2:12-14. She pleaseth the king, and is made queen, Esther 2:15-17. The king makes a feast for his princes and servants, Esther 2:18-20. Mordecai discovereth a treason against the king, Esther 2:21,22; which is recorded in their chronicles, Esther 2:23.

He remembered Vashti with grief and shame, that in his wine and rage he had so severely punished, and so irrevocably rejected, so beautiful and desirable a person, and that for so small a provocation, to which she was easily led by the modesty of her sex, and by the laws and customs of Persia.

After these things, when the wrath of King Ahasuerus was appeased,.... Which went off with his wine, and so was quickly after, a few days at most, unless this can be understood as after the expedition of Xerxes into Greece, from whence he returned to Shushan, in the seventh year of his reign; and if he is the Ahasuerus here meant, he married Esther that year, Esther 2:16 and it seems certain, that after his expedition he gave himself up to his amours, and in his way to Sardis he fell in love with his brother's wife, and then with his daughter (b):

he remembered Vashti; her beauty, and was grieved, as Jarchi observes, that she was removed from him; and so Josephus says (c), that he passionately loved her, and could not bear parting with her, and therefore was grieved that he had brought himself into such difficulties: the Targumists carry it further, and say that he was wroth with those that advised him to it, and ordered them to be put to death, and that they were:

and what she had done; that it was a trivial thing, and not deserving of such a sentence as he had passed upon her; that it was not done from contempt of him, but from modesty, and a strict regard to the laws of the Persians:

and what was decreed against her; that she should come no more before him, but be divorced from him; the thought of which gave him great pain and uneasiness.

(b) Herodot. Calliope, sive, l. 9. c. 107. (c) Antiqu. l. 11. c. 6. sect. 2.

After these things, when the wrath of king Ahasuerus was appeased, he {a} remembered Vashti, and what she had done, and what was decreed {b} against her.

(a) That is, he brought the matter again into discussion. {b} By the seven wise men of his counsel.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Chap. Esther 2:1-18. Esther’s elevation to be queen

1. After these things] Two years elapsed between the council of leading men held at Susa (see on Esther 1:1) and Xerxes’ actual departure on his expedition against Greece (b.c. 481). If we were to accept the historical character of the story, we should have to suppose that the search for an eligible consort would go on during his absence. But the writer in all probability does not contemplate any such interval, or recognise in his own mind the war of that date.

he remembered Vashti] This and the words which follow suggest that the king was inclined to relent if the decree had not been irrevocable. The LXX., he no longer remembered Vashti, has no claim to be regarded as the right reading.

III

SPECIMEN OF THE FIRST TARGUM ON ESTHER

(on chap. Esther 2:1 ff.).

[The following extracts may be of interest, as serving to exhibit the character of the paraphrastic translations of Old Testament Books into Aramaic. These Versions seem to have had their origin in a religious necessity, when the use of the Hebrew language was dying out as the speech of ordinary life. But the Targums on Esther and the other Megilloth (Rolls) are thought, unlike earlier ones, not to have been intended for public use. They were composed after the need for Aramaic translations had passed away, but, inasmuch as these came to be permanently cherished, the later ones were modelled upon them, and thus present us in the main with the same features.[89]]

[89] See further in Hastings’ Dict. of the Bible, Art. Targum.

After these things, when he had recovered and calmed down from his excessive potations, and when the violence of king Ahasuerus’s rage had abated, he began to remember Vashti. His great men answered him and spake thus, Art thou not he that passed sentence upon her, that she should die for what she did? The king said to them, I did not command that she should be put to death, but that she should present herself before me, and when she did not present herself, I commanded that she should be deprived of her queenly rank. They said to him, It is not so, but thou didst pronounce sentence of death upon her at the instance of the seven princes. Forthwith he was violently enraged, and ordered that the seven princes should be hung upon the gibbet. And the king’s young men who ministered to him said, Let there be sought out for the king’s needs young virgins, fair to look upon, and let the king appoint officers in every province of his kingdom, and let them assemble all young virgins that are fair to look upon unto Shushan the palace to the house of the women where there are baths and washing places, and where Hegai, the king’s chief eunuch, custodian of the women, holds office, and let it be decreed that unguents for their anointing be furnished to them, and let the young woman who finds favour in the eyes of the king be raised to the rank of queen in the place of Vashti. And the thing was pleasing in the king’s sight, and he did thus.The counsel of the wise men. Esther 1:16. Memucan, who was the last mentioned in Esther 1:14, comes forward as spokesman for the rest, and declares before the king and the princes, i.e., in a solemn assembly, and evidently as the result of a previous joint consultation: Vashti the queen has not done wrong to the king alone, but also to all the princes and all the people, because the example of the queen will lead all the Median and Persian wives to despise their husbands. Therefore an irrevocable edict is to be published decreeing the divorce of Queen Vashti, and this law published throughout the whole realm, that all wives may show honour to their husbands. Vashti has not transgressed against the king alone (Esther 1:16), but against all the princes and people in all the provinces of King Ahashverosh (Esther 1:16). In what respect, then, is the latter assertion true? We are told Esther 1:17 and Esther 1:18. "For the deed of the queen will come abroad to (על for אל) all women, to bring their husbands into contempt in their eyes (the infin. להבזות stating the result), while they will say," etc. (the suffix of בּאמרם relates to the women, who will appeal to the disobedience of the queen). Esther 1:18. "And this day (i.e., already) the princesses of the Persians and Medians, who hear of the act of the queen (דּבר, not the word, but the thing, i.e., her rejection of her husband's command), will tell it to all the princes of the king, and (there will be) enough contempt and provocation. קצף is an outburst of anger; here, therefore, a provocation to wrath. Bertheau makes the words זק בז וּכדי the object of תּאמרנה, which, after the long parenthesis, is united to the copula by w, and for, "to speak contempt and wrath," reads: to speak contemptuously in wrath. But this change cannot be substantiated. The expression, to speak wrath, is indeed unexampled, but that is no reason for making קצף stand for בּקצף, the very adoption of such an ellipsis showing, that this explanation is inadmissible. The words must be taken alone, as an independent clause, which may be readily completed by יהיה: and contempt and wrath will be according to abundance. כּדי is a litotes for: more than enough. The object of תּאמרנה must be supplied from the context: it - that is, what the queen said to her husband. In the former verse Memucan was speaking of all women; here (Esther 1:18) he speaks only of the princesses of the Persians and Medes, because these are staying in the neighbourhood of the court, and will immediately hear of the matter, and "after the manner of the court ladies and associates of a queen will quickly follow, and appeal to her example" (Berth.).
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