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. When, after these things, the wrath of King Ahashverosh was laid (שׁך, from שׁכך, to be sunk, spoken of wrath to be laid), he remembered Vashti and what she had done, and what was decreed against her (גּזר, to determine, to decree irrevocably; comp. גּזרה, Daniel 4:14); a desire for reunion with her evidently making itself felt, accompanied perhaps by the thought that she might have been too harshly treated. To prevent, then, a return of affection for his rejected wife ensuing, - a circumstance which might greatly endanger all who had concurred in effecting her repudiation, - the servants of the king, i.e., the court officials who were about him, said: "Let there be young maidens, virgins fair to look on, sought for the king." בּתוּלות, virgins, is added to נערות, the latter word signifying merely young women of marriageable age. Esther 2:3. "And let the king appoint (ויפקד is the continuation of יבקּשׁוּ) officers in all the provinces of his kingdom, that they may gather together every virgin who is fair to look on to the citadel of Susa, to the house of the women, unto the hand of Hega the king's eunuch, the keeper of the women, and let them appoint their things for purification; and let the maiden which pleaseth the king be queen instead of Vashti." To the hand of Hega, i.e., to his care and superintendence, under which, as appears from Esther 2:12, every maiden received into the house of the women had to pass a year before she was brought before the king. Hega (called Hegai, Esther 2:8 and Esther 2:15) was an eunuch, the keeper of the women, i.e., superintendent of the royal harem. ונתון is the infin. abs., used instead of the verb. fin. to give prominence to the matter: let them appoint. תּמרקום, from מרק, to rub, to polish, signifies purification and adornment with all kind of precious ointments; comp. Esther 2:12. This speech pleased the king, and he acted accordingly.
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