Esther 3:4
Now it came to pass, when they spake daily unto him, and he hearkened not unto them, that they told Haman, to see whether Mordecai's matters would stand: for he had told them that he was a Jew.
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(4) Whether Mordecai’s matters would stand.—This should be, his words: whether his statement that he belonged to a nation who might only pay such reverence to God, would hold good.

Esther 3:4. To see whether Mordecai’s matters would stand — Whether he would persist in his refusal, and what the event of it would be; for he had told them that he was a Jew — And therefore did not deny this reverence to Haman out of pride, or any personal grudge against him, much less from a rebellious mind, and contempt of the king’s authority and command, but merely out of conscience, being obliged, as a Jew, to give such honour to God only.

3:1-6 Mordecai refused to reverence Haman. The religion of a Jew forbade him to give honours to any mortal man which savoured of idolatry, especially to so wicked a man as Haman. By nature all are idolaters; self is our favourite idol, we are pleased to be treated as if every thing were at our disposal. Though religion by no means destroys good manners, but teaches us to render honour to whom honour is due, yet by a citizen of Zion, not only in his heart, but in his eyes, such a vile person as Haman was, is contemned, Ps 15:4. The true believer cannot obey edicts, or conform to fashions, which break the law of God. He must obey God rather than man, and leave the consequences to him. Haman was full of wrath. His device was inspired by that wicked spirit, who has been a murderer from the beginning; whose enmity to Christ and his church, governs all his children.Whether Mordecai's matters would stand - Rather, "whether Mordecai's words would hold good" - whether, that is, his excuse, that he was a Jew, would be allowed as a valid reason for his refusal. 2. all the king's servants, that were in the king's gate, bowed, and reverenced Haman—Large mansions in the East are entered by a spacious vestibule, or gateway, along the sides of which visitors sit, and are received by the master of the house; for none, except the nearest relatives or special friends, are admitted farther. There the officers of the ancient king of Persia waited till they were called, and did obeisance to the all-powerful minister of the day.

But Mordecai bowed not, nor did him reverence—The obsequious homage of prostration not entirely foreign to the manners of the East, had not been claimed by former viziers; but this minion required that all subordinate officers of the court should bow before him with their faces to the earth. But to Mordecai, it seemed that such an attitude of profound reverence was due only to God. Haman being an Amalekite, one of a doomed and accursed race, was, doubtless, another element in the refusal; and on learning that the recusant was a Jew, whose nonconformity was grounded on religious scruples, the magnitude of the affront appeared so much the greater, as the example of Mordecai would be imitated by all his compatriots. Had the homage been a simple token of civil respect, Mordecai would not have refused it; but the Persian kings demanded a sort of adoration, which, it is well known, even the Greeks reckoned it degradation to express. As Xerxes, in the height of his favoritism, had commanded the same honors to be given to the minister as to himself, this was the ground of Mordecai's refusal.

Whether Mordecai’s matters would stand, i.e. whether he would persist in his refusal, and what the event of it would be.

He had told them that he was a Jew; and therefore did not deny this reverence to Haman out of pride, or any personal grudge against him, much less out of a rebellious mind and contempt of the king’s authority and command; but merely out of conscience, because he was a Jew, who was obliged to give this honour to none but to God only.

Now it came to pass, when they spake daily unto him,.... Putting him in mind of his duty to obey the king's command, suggesting to him the danger he exposed himself to, pressing him to give the reasons of his conduct:

and he hearkened not unto them; regarded not what they said, and continued disobedient to the king's order, and disrespectful to Haman

that they told Haman, to see whether Mordecai's matters would stand; they informed Haman that Mordecai refused to give him reverence as the king had ordered; this they did to try whether such a conduct would be suffered and bore with, and whether Mordecai would persevere in it when taken notice of:

for he had told them that he was a Jew; which was all the reason he gave why he would not reverence Haman; and a reason sufficient, because, by a fundamental law of his religion, he was not to worship mere man, but God only: and this confirms what has been before observed; for this would have been no reason for refusing civil respect and honour, but was a strong one for denying religious worship and reverence; and no wonder that the Jews should refuse it, when even the Grecians, though Heathens, refused to give the Persian kings the divine honours they required (m); yea, the Athenians put Timagoras to death for prostrating himself in such a manner to Darius (n); for the Persian kings were, as Aristotle says (o), called Lord and God, and said to hear and see all things.

(m) Herodot. Polymnia, sive, l. 7. c. 136. Justin e Trogo. l. 6. c. 2. Aelian. Var. Hist. l. 1. 21. (n) Plutarch. in Artaxerxe, Valer. Maxim. l. 6. c. 3.((o) De Mundo, c. 6.

Now it came to pass, when they spake daily unto him, and he hearkened not unto them, that they {b} told Haman, to see whether Mordecai's matters would stand: for he had told them that he was a Jew.

(b) Thus we see that there is no one so wicked but they have their flatterers to accuse the godly.

4. whether Mordecai’s matters would stand] The Heb. expression signifies either matters or words. They desired to know whether his refusal would pass with impunity. In their eyes it was not only a breach of custom but a piece of unwarrantable presumption.

for he had told them that he was a Jew] The point of this clause is not clear. It may mean that they desired to see whether his nationality would exempt him from prostration, or, on the other hand that they expected him, as belonging to a captive race, to be treated with special severity.

Esther 3:4When the other officials of the court asked him from day to day, why he transgressed the king's commandment, and he hearkened not unto them, i.e., gave no heed to their words, they told it to Haman, "to see whether Mordochai's words would stand; for he had told them that he was a Jew." It is obvious from this, that Mordochai had declared to those who asked him the reason why he did not fall down before Haman, that he could not do so because he was a Jew, - that as a Jew he could not show that honour to man which was due to God alone. Now the custom of falling down to the earth before an exalted personage, and especially before a king, was customary among Israelites; comp. 2 Samuel 14:4; 2 Samuel 18:28; 1 Kings 1:16. If, then, Mordochai refused to pay this honour to Haman, the reason of such refusal must be sought in the notions which the Persians were wont to combine with the action, i.e., in the circumstance that they regarded it as an act of homage performed to a king as a divine being, an incarnation of Oromasdes. This is testified by classical writers; comp. Plutarch, Themist. 27; Curtius, viii. 5. 5f., where the latter informs us that Alexander the Great imitated this custom on his march to India, and remarks, 11: Persas quidem non pie solum, sed etiam prudenter reges suos inter Deos colere; majestatem enim imperii salutis esse tutelam. Hence also the Spartans refused, as Herod. 7.136 relates, to fall down before King Xerxes, because it was not the custom of Greeks to honour mortals after this fashion. This homage, then, which was regarded as an act of reverence and worship to a god, was by the command of the king to be paid to Haman, as his representative, by the office-bearers of his court; and this Mordochai could not do without a denial of his religious faith.
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