Esther 2:7
And he brought up Hadassah, that is, Esther, his uncle's daughter: for she had neither father nor mother, and the maid was fair and beautiful; whom Mordecai, when her father and mother were dead, took for his own daughter.
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(7) Hadassah.—This is evidently formed from the Hebrew hadas, the myrtle: Esther is generally assumed to be a Persian name, meaning a star. Unless we assume that this latter name was given afterwards, and is here used by anticipation, we have here an early case of the common Jewish practice of using two names, a Hebrew and a Gentile one—e.g., Saul, Paul; John, Mark; Joses, Justus, &c.

Uncle.—Abihail (see Esther 2:15).

Esther 2:7-8. And he brought up Hadassah, that is, Esther — Hadassah was her Hebrew name, before her marriage; and she was called Esther by the king after it. Esther was brought also unto the king’s house — Or taken, and that by force, as the word תלקח, tillakach, often signifies: for so great was the power and tyranny of the Persian kings, that they could and did take what persons they liked to their own use.

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.Hadassah, הדסה hădassâh from הדס hădas ("myrtle") would seem to have been the Hebrew, and Esther the Persian, name of the damsel. Esther is thought to be connected through the Zend with ἀστήρ astēr, "star." But there is not at present any positive evidence of the existence in Old Persian of a kindred word. 5. Now in Shushan the palace there was a certain Jew—Mordecai held some office about the court. But his "sitting at the king's gate" (Es 2:21) does not necessarily imply that he was in the humble condition of a porter; for, according to an institute of Cyrus, all state officers were required to wait in the outer courts till they were summoned into the presence chamber. He might, therefore, have been a person of some official dignity. This man had an orphan cousin, born during the exile, under his care, who being distinguished by great personal beauty, was one of the young damsels taken into the royal harem on this occasion. She had the good fortune at once to gain the good will of the chief eunuch [Es 2:9]. Her sweet and amiable appearance made her a favorite with all who looked upon her (Es 2:15, last clause). Her Hebrew name (Es 2:7) was Hadassah, that is, "myrtle," which, on her introduction into the royal harem, was changed to Esther, that is, the star Venus, indicating beauty and good fortune [Gesenius]. That is, Esther; Hadassah was her Hebrew name before her marriage, and she was called Esther by the king after it.

And he brought up Hadassah (that is Esther) his uncle's daughter,.... Her Hebrew name was Hadassah, which signifies a myrtle, to which the Israelites, and good men among them, are sometimes compared, Zechariah 1:8. Her Persian name was Esther, which some derive from "satar", to hide, because hidden in the house of Mordecai, so the former Targum, and by his advice concealed her kindred: or rather she was so called by Ahasuerus, when married to him, this word signifying in the Persian language a "star" (h) and so the latter Targum says she was called by the name of the star of Venus, which in Greek is though it is said (i), that the myrtle, which is called "hadassah" in Hebrew, is in the Syriac language "esta"; so "asa" in the Talmud (k) signifies a myrtle; and, according to Hillerus (l), "esther" signifies the black myrtle, which is reckoned the most excellent; and so "amestris", according to him, signifies the sole myrtle, the incomparable one. Xerxes had a wife, whose name was Amestris, which Scaliger thinks is as if it was , and the same with Esther; but to this are objected, that her father's name was Otanes, and her cruelty in the mutilation of the wife of Masistis, her husband's brother, and burning alive fourteen children of the best families of the Persians, as a sacrifice to the infernal gods; and besides, Xerxes had a son by her marriageable, in the seventh year of this reign (m), the year of Ahasuerus, in which he married Esther: but it is observed by some, that these things are confounded with the destruction of Haman's family, or told by the Persians to obliterate the memory of Esther, from whom they passed to the Greek historians:

for she had neither father nor mother; according to the former Targum, her father died and left her mother with child of her, and her mother died as soon as she was delivered of her:

and the maid was fair and beautiful; which was both the reason why she was taken and brought into the king's house, and why Mordecai took so much care of her:

whom Mordecai, when her father and mother were dead, took for his own daughter; loved her, and brought her up as if she had been his daughter, and called her so, as the Targum. The Rabbins, as Jarchi and Aben Ezra observe, say, he took her in order to make her his wife; and so the Septuagint render it; though perhaps no more may be intended by that version than that he brought her up to woman's estate. Josephus (n) calls him her uncle; and so the Vulgate Latin version, his brother's daughter; but both are mistaken.

(h) Castell. Lex. Persic. Latin. col. 329. Vid. Pfeiffer. difficil. Script. cent. 3. loc. 28. (i) Caphtor Uperah, fol. 60. 2.((k) T. Bab. Sanhedrin, fol. 44. 1.((l) Onomastic. Sacr. p. 621, 622. (m) Herodot. Calliope, sive, l. 9. c. 107. 111. & Polymnia, sive, l. 7. c. 61. 114. (n) Ut supra. (Antiqu. l. 11. c. 6. sect. 2.)

And he brought up Hadassah, that is, Esther, his uncle's daughter: for she had neither father nor mother, and the maid was fair and beautiful; whom Mordecai, when her father and mother were dead, took for his own daughter.
7. brought up] Heb. was foster-father to Hadassah. The word is rendered ‘nursing-father’ in Numbers 11:12; Isaiah 49:23.

Hadassah, that is, Esther] Hadassah, from the Heb. hădas, ‘myrtle.[66]’ For this was substituted, either on her becoming queen or earlier, the name Esther, from the Persian Sitareh, a star, or from Istar, the Assyrio-Babylonian equivalent of Ashtoreth. For the attempt to identify her with Amestris, the wife of Xerxes, see Introduction, p. xiv. The fact that Mordecai took Esther to be as his own daughter is given as accounting for the familiarity between them.

[66] Cp. the Greek names Μυρτία, Μυῤῥίνη, Μύρτις.

The Targum Shçnî expounds, from the Jewish point of view, the significance of the name Hadassah. She was so called “because as the myrtle spreads fragrance in the world, so did she spread good works. And for this cause she was called in the Hebrew language Hadassah, because the righteous are likened to myrtle.” The same commentary adds, “She was also called Hadassah because, as the myrtle does not dry up either in summer or in winter, so the righteous have a share in this world and in the world to come.” (Cassel, Comm. pp. 299 f.)

his uncle’s daughter] The Heb. which properly means uncle, viz. a father’s brother, has also sometimes a wider sense, beloved one, friend. We gather from the story that the writer considered Esther to be much younger than her cousin Mordecai.

Verse 7. - He brought up Hadassah, that is, Esther. "Hadassah" has been compared with "Atossa," and "Esther" with "Amestris;" but there is probably no more ground for the one identification than the other. Mordecai's cousin received originally the Hebrew name of "Hadassah," a derivative of hadas "myrtle" (compare "Susannah" from shushan, "lily"); but was subsequently called by the Persians "Esther," which may either be Ishtar, "Venus," or an equivalent of the Zend ctare, Mod. Pers. sitareh, Greek ἀστήρ, Engl. "star," etc. His uncle's daughter. Therefore his own first cousin, but probably much younger than himself. Whom Mordecai... took for his own daughter. Not perhaps By a formal adoption, but by taking her to live with him, and treating her as if she had been his own child. This fact is related to account for the terms of familiarity between the two, which form an essential part of the later narrative. It introduces Mordecai to the reader under a favourable aspect, as kindly and benevolent. Esther 2:7Before 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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