Esther 2:12
Now when every maid's turn was come to go in to king Ahasuerus, after that she had been twelve months, according to the manner of the women, (for so were the days of their purifications accomplished, to wit, six months with oil of myrrh, and six months with sweet odors, and with other things for the purifying of the women;)
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(12) Manner.—Translate, law or ordinance, as in Esther 1:8; Esther 1:15.

Esther 2:12. According to the manner of the women — Who were kept so long, partly for their better purification, as it here follows; partly out of state, as that which became so great a king; and partly that, being so long in safe custody, the king might be sure he was not imposed upon by a child begotten by another man. Six months with oil of myrrh, and six months with sweet odours — It is observed by Pliny, lib. 13, cap. 1, that ointments were first invented by the Persians. Oil of myrrh was used, not only on account of its fragrancy, but to make the skin soft and smooth, and to clear it from all manner of scurf; and the sweet odours were necessary, in those hot countries, to take away all ill scents, and, as some think, to enliven and invigorate the constitution.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.Mordecai occupied, apparently, a humble place in the royal household. He was probably one of the porters or doorkeepers at the main entrance to the palace Esther 2:21. 12. Now when every maid's turn was come to go in to king Ahasuerus—A whole year was spent in preparation for the intended honor. Considering that this took place in a palace, the long period prescribed, together with the profusion of costly and fragrant cosmetics employed, was probably required by state etiquette. According to the manner of the women; who were kept so long, partly, for their better purification, as it here follows; partly, out of state, as that which became so great a king; and partly, that being so long in safe custody, the king might be sure that the child begotten upon any of them was his own.

With oil of myrrh; which is useful both for making the skin exactly clean, and smooth, and solid, and for giving strength and rigour to the body.

With sweet odours; which was the more necessary, because the bodies of men and women in those hot countries did of themselves yield very ill scents, if not corrected and qualified by art. Now when every maid's turn was come to go in to King Ahasuerus, after that she had been twelve months, according to the manner of women,.... That were prepared in the house of the women to be presented to the king for his liking; for it seems that these virgins came in turns to him, according to the time they had been in the house; as did the wives of the kings of Persia, as Herodotus relates (p):

for so were the days of their purifications accomplished; that is, in the space of twelve months, which were thus divided: to wit:

six months with oil of myrrh; which Ben Melech interprets of musk:

and six month's with sweet odours; the former was used to make the skin smooth and soft, and these to remove all ill scents through sweat, or any other cause:

and with other things for the purifying of women: by bathing, rubbing, &c. and such a space of time was observed not only for the thorough purification of them, but partly was of state and grandeur, and partly that it might be a clear case they were not with child by another, before they came to the king.

(p) Thalia, sive, l. 3. c. 69.

Now when every maid's turn was come to go in to king Ahasuerus, after that she had been twelve months, according to the manner of the women, (for so were the days of their purifications accomplished, to wit, six months with oil of myrrh, and six months with sweet odours, and with other things for the purifying of the women;)
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
12. after that it had been done to her according to the law for the women, twelve months] More accurate than A.V. after that she had been twelve months, according to the manner of the women.

sweet odours] spices or balsam. The Hebrew and English words for myrrh (môr) and balsam (bôsem) are etymologically identical. These spices came to us from the East, and retained their Eastern names in European languages.

the things for the purifying] a general designation including the two items just mentioned. The A.V. less accurately has other things for the purifying.Verse 12. - After she had been twelve months, according to the manner of the women. Rather, "After she had been (in the palace), according to the law prescribed to the women, twelve months." A year's purification was considered necessary before any maiden could approach the king (see the comment on ver. 3). Six months with oil of myrrh. Myrrh was highly esteemed, both for its scent and for its purifying power, by the ancients. In Egypt it was employed largely in the preparation of mummies (Herod., 2:86). The Jews were directed to make it one of the chief ingredients in their "holy anointing oil" (Exodus 30:23-25). Dresses and beds were scented with it (Psalm 45:8; Proverbs 7:17). And six months with sweet odours. The word translated "sweet odours" seems to mean "spices" generally (comp. Song of Solomon 4:16). Before relating how this matter was carried into execution, the historian introduces us to the two persons who play the chief parts in the following narrative. Esther 2:5. There was (dwelt) in the citadel of Susa a Jew of the name of Mordochai (מרדּכי, in more correct editions מרדכי), the son of Jair, the son of Shimei, the son of Kish, a Benjamite (ימיני אישׁ like 1 Samuel 9:1). Jair, Shimei, and Kish can hardly mean the father, grandfather, and great-grandfather of Mordochai. On the contrary, if Jair were perhaps his father, Shimei and Kish may have been the names of renowned ancestors. Shimei was probably the son of Gera, well known to us from the history of David, 2 Samuel 16:5. and 1 Kings 2:8, 1 Kings 2:36., and Kish the father of Saul, 1 Chronicles 8:33; 1 Samuel 9:1; for in genealogical series only a few noted names are generally given; comp., e.g., 1 Chronicles 9:19; 1 Chronicles 6:24. Upon the ground of this explanation, Josephus (Ant. xi. 6) makes Esther of royal descent, viz., of the line of Saul, king of Israel; and the Targum regards Shimei as the Benjamite who cursed David. The name Mordochai occurs in Ezra 2:2 and Nehemiah 7:7 as that of some other individual among those who returned from captivity with Zerubbabel, but can hardly be connected with the Persian mrdky, little man. Aben Ezra, Lightfoot, and others, indeed, are of opinion that the Mordochai of the present book really came up with Zerubbabel, but subsequently returned to Babylon. Identity of name is not, however, a sufficient proof of identity of person. The chronological statement, Esther 2:6 : who had been carried away from Jerusalem with the captives who had been carried away with Jeconiah, king of Judah, etc., offers some difficulty. For from the captivity of Jeconiah in the year 599 to the beginning of the reign of Xerxes (in the year 486) is a period of 113 years; hence, if the אשׁר is referred to Mordochai, he would, even if carried into captivity as a child by then, have reached the age of from 120 to 130 years, and as Esther was not made queen till the seventh year of Xerxes (Esther 2:16), would have become prime minister of that monarch at about the age of 125. Rambach, indeed, does not find this age incredible, though we cannot regard it as probable that Mordochai should have become minister at so advanced an age.

(Note: Baumg. aptly remarks, l.c., p. 125: Etsi concedendum est, non esse contra naturam, si Mordechaeus ad illam aetatem pervenerit, et summa hac constitutus senectute gravissimis negotiis perficiendis par fuerit, tamen est hoc rarissimum et nisi accedit certum testimonium, difficile ad credendum.)

On this account Clericus, Baumgarten, and others refer the relative אשׁר to the last name, Kish, and understand that he was carried away with Jeconiah, while his great-grandson Mordochai was born in captivity. In this case Kish and Shimei must be regarded as the great-grandfather and grandfather of Mordochai. We grant the possibility of this view; nevertheless it is more in accordance with the Hebrew narrative style to refer אשׁר to the chief person of the sentence preceding it, viz., Mordochai, who also continues to be spoken of in Esther 2:7. Hence we prefer this reference, without, however, attributing to Mordochai more than 120 years of age. For the relative clause: who had been carried away, need not be so strictly understood as to assert that Mordochai himself was carried away; but the object being to give merely his origin and lineage, and not his history, it involves only the notion that he belonged to those Jews who were carried to Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar with Jeconiah, so that he, though born in captivity, was carried to Babylon in the persons of his forefathers. This view of the passage corresponds with that formerly presented by the list of the grandchildren and great-grandchildren of Jacob who went down with him to Egypt; see the explanation of the passage in question.

(Note: Baumgarten also considers this view admissible, rightly remarking, p. 127: Scriptoribus sacris admodum familiare est singulos homines non per se et sepositos spectare, sed familias et gentes ut corpora quasi individua complecti, ita ut posteri majorum personis quasi contenti et inclusi, majores vero in posteris ipsi subsistere et vivere existimentur. Ex hac ratione Mordechaeus captus esse dici potest, quamvis ipse satis diu post Jechoniae tempora ex iis, qui a Nebucadnezaro abducti sunt, natus fuerit.)

Esther 2:7. Mordochai was אמן, keeper, bringer up, i.e., foster-father, to Hadassh (אמן constructed as a participle with את). הדסּה means a myrtle (הדס in the Shemitish), like the Greek name Μυρτία, Μυῤῥίνη. "That is Esther," the queen known by the name of Esther. The name אסתּר is the Old-Persian stara with א prosthetic, and corresponds with the Greek ἀστήρ, star, in modern Persian sitareh. She was בּת־דּדו, daughter of his father's brother, and adopted by Mordochai after the death of her parents; we are told, moreover, that she had a fine figure and beautiful countenance. Her father, whose name, according to Esther 2:15, was Abihail, was uncle to Mordochai, and hence Esther was his cousin.

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