Esther 3:15
The posts went out, being hastened by the king's commandment, and the decree was given in Shushan the palace. And the king and Haman sat down to drink; but the city Shushan was perplexed.
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(15) Perplexed.—The inhabitants of the capital were puzzled and alarmed, as well they might be, at so marvellously reckless an order. Their sympathies, too, were clearly with the Jews and against Haman. (See Esther 8:15.)

3:7-15 Without some acquaintance with the human heart, and the history of mankind, we should not think that any prince could consent to a dreadful proposal, so hurtful to himself. Let us be thankful for mild and just government. Haman inquires, according to his own superstitions, how to find a lucky day for the designed massacre! God's wisdom serves its own purposes by men's folly. Haman has appealed to the lot, and the lot, by delaying the execution, gives judgment against him. The event explains the doctrine of a particular providence over all the affairs of men, and the care of God over his church. Haman was afraid lest the king's conscience should smite him for what he had done; to prevent which, he kept him drinking. This cursed method many often take to drown convictions, and to harden their own hearts, and the hearts of others, in sin. All appeared in a favourable train to accomplish the project. But though sinners are permitted to proceed to the point they aim at, an unseen but almighty Power turns them back. How vain and contemptible are the strongest assaults against Jehovah! Had Haman obtained his wish, and the Jewish nation perished, what must have become of all the promises? How could the prophecies concerning the great Redeemer of the world have been fulfilled? Thus the everlasting covenant itself must have failed, before this diabolical project could take place.Shushan was perplexed - Susa was now the capital of Persia, and the main residence of the Persians of high rank. These, being attached to the religion of Zoroaster, would naturally sympathize with the Jews, and be disturbed at their threatened destruction. Even apart from this bond of union, the decree was sufficiently strange and ominous to "perplex" thoughtful citizens. 15. the king and Haman sat down to drink; but the city Shushan was perplexed—The completeness of the word-painting in this verse is exquisite. The historian, by a simple stroke, has drawn a graphic picture of an Oriental despot, wallowing with his favorite in sensual enjoyments, while his tyrannical cruelties were rending the hearts and homes of thousands of his subjects. By the king’s commandment; either by this decree made in the king’s name, or by some particular and succeeding command, which Haman could easily obtain from the king.

The city Shushan was perplexed; not only the Jews, but a great number of the citizens, either because they were related to them, or engaged with them in worldly concerns; or out of humanity and compassion towards so vast a number of innocent people, now appointed as sheep for the slaughter; or out of a fear either of some sedition and disturbance which might arise by this means; or of some damage which might accrue to themselves or friends, who haply under this pretence might be exposed to rapine or slaughter; or of a public judgment of God upon them all for so bloody a decree.

The post went out, being hastened by the king's command,.... Both to set out and make as much dispatch as possible:

and the decree was given in Shushan the palace; by the king, and with the advice of his courtiers:

and the king and Haman sat down to drink; at a banquet which perhaps Haman had prepared, in gratitude to the king for what he had granted him, both being highly delighted with what had been done:

but the city Shushan was perplexed; the court was agreed, but the city was divided, as the former Targum says, with the joy of strange nations, and the weeping of the people of Israel, there being many Jews in the city; with whom no doubt there were many in connection, through affinity or friendship, or commerce, that were concerned for them; or, however, were shocked at such a barbarous scheme; and which they knew not where it would end, and how far they themselves might be involved in it, when once a mob had such a power granted to them.

The posts went out, being hastened by the king's commandment, and the decree was given in Shushan the palace. And the king and Haman sat down to drink; but the {g} city Shushan was perplexed.

(g) That is, the Jews that were in Shushan.

15. went forth in haste] Haman fearing lest the king should change his mind and forbid the decree to be published.

the king and Haman sat down to drink] We are reminded of Gloucester’s words to Buckingham (Richard III. Act iii. Sc. 1, end),

“Come, let us sup betimes, that afterwards

We may digest our complots in some form.”

The writer of the Book of Esther has an eye for the literary effect of contrasts. The callousness of the Jew’s enemy is contrasted with the dismay which even the Gentile city of Susa felt at the prospect of bloodshed.

Verse 15. - The posts went out, being hastened. Though there was ample time, since the remotest part of the empire could be reached in a month, or two at the most, yet the posts were "hastened," Haman being impatient, lest the king should change his mind, and decline to publish the edict. The king may himself also have wished to have the matter settled past recall. The king sat down with Haman to drink. This touch seems intended to mark their hardness of heart. As Nero "fiddled while Rome was burning," so these two, having assigned a nation to destruction, proceeded to enjoy themselves at "a banquet of wine." But the city of Susa was perplexed. The Jews had enemies in Susa (Esther 9:12-15); but the bulk of the inhabitants being Persians, and so Zoroastrians, would be likely to sympathise with them. There might also be a widespread feeling among persons of other nationalities that the precedent now set was a dangerous one. Generally the people of the capital approved and applauded what. ever the great king did. Now they misdoubted the justice, and perhaps even the prudence, of what was resolved upon. The decree threw them into perplexity.

Esther 3:15The posts went forth hastening (דּחף like 2 Chronicles 26:20) at the king's commandment, and the decree was given (promulgated) in the citadel of Susa, - an explanatory clause; and the king and Haman sat down to drink while the messengers went forth with the decree, but the city of Susa, in which it was first published, was in perplexity (on נבוכה comp. Exodus 14:3; Joel 1:18). The cruel measure could not but fill all peace-loving citizens with horror and anxiety. - Here the question is forced upon us, why the decree should have been so prematurely published. The scribes were summoned to prepare it on the thirteenth day of the first month. For this purpose, even though many copies had to be made in different languages, no very long time would be required in a well-appointed government office. As soon as the scribes had finished their work, the decree was sent out by the posts into all quarters of the realm, and would arrive in even the most distant provinces in three weeks at furthest. This would place almost eleven, and in the remotest parts about ten months between the publication and execution of the decree. What then was the motive for such an interval? Certainly so long a time could not be required for preparing to carry it out, nor is this hinted at in the text, as Bertheau supposes. Nor could it be intended that the Jews should suffer a long period of anxiety. On the contrary, the motive seems to have been, as Clericus and others have already conjectured, to cause many Jews to leave their property and escape to other lands, for the sake of preserving their lives. Thus Haman would attain his object. He would be relieved of the presence of the Jews, and be able to enrich himself by the appropriation of their possessions. On the other hand, the providence of God overruling the event in the interest of the Jews, is unmistakeably evident both in Haman's haste to satisfy his desire for vengeance, and in the falling of the lot upon so distant a day. It was only because there was so long an interval between the publication of the decree and the day appointed by lot for its execution, that it was possible for the Jews to take means for averting the destruction with which they were threatened, as the further development of the history will show.
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