Esther 3:7
In the first month, that is, the month Nisan, in the twelfth year of king Ahasuerus, they cast Pur, that is, the lot, before Haman from day to day, and from month to month, to the twelfth month, that is, the month Adar.
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(7) In the first month . . . the twelfth year.—In the March or April of 474 B.C.

Nisan.—The later name of the month, known in the Pentateuch as Abib. In this month the Passover had been first instituted, when God smote the Egyptians with a terrible visitation, the death of the first-born, and bade the destroying angel spare the houses with the blood-besprinkled door-posts. It was in the same month that the Passover received its final fulfilment, when “Christ our Passover was sacrificed for us,” when no mere earthly Egypt was discomfited, but principalities and powers of evil.

Pur.—This is evidently a Persian word for “lot,” for both here and in Esther 9:24 the usual Hebrew word is added. It is doubtless connected with the Latin pars, portio. and the English part. The people who cast Pur were seeking for a lucky day, as indicated by the lots, for the purpose in hand. A lot was cast for each day of the month, and for each month in the year, and in some way or other one day and one mouth were indicated as the most favourable. The notion of lucky and unlucky days seems to have been prevalent in the East in early times. and iudeed has, to a certain extent. found credence in the West.

The twelfth month.—The lucky month is thus indicated, but not the day. The LXX. adds a clause saying that it was on the fourteenth day, doubtless an interpolation on the strength of Esther 3:13.

Adar.—The lunar month ending at the new moon in March. It was the twelfth month, so that nearly a year would intervene between the throwing of the lot and the carrying out of the scheme. Thus in God’s providence ample time was allowed for redressing matters.

Esther 3:7. They cast Pur, that is, the lot — “Haman, being determined to destroy Mordecai and the Jews, called together his diviners, to find out what day would be most lucky for his putting this design into execution. The way of divination, then in use among the eastern people, was by casting lots; and therefore having tried in this manner, first each month, and then each day in every month, they came to a determination at last, that the thirteenth day of the twelfth month would be most fortunate for the bloody execution. It was in the first month of the year when Haman began to cast lots, and the time for the execution of the Jews was by these lots delayed till the last month of the year; which plainly shows, that though the lot be cast into the lap, yet the whole disposing thereof is from the Lord, Proverbs 16:33. For hereby almost a whole year intervened between the design and its execution, which gave time for Mordecai to acquaint Queen Esther with it, and for her to intercede with the king for the revoking or suspending the decree, and thereby preventing the conspiracy. The reader will find this decree in Joseph. Antiq., lib. 11, cap. 6. Houbigant renders this verse, The lot, which is called Pur, was drawn before Haman from day to day, from month to month, for the twelfth month.” See Poole and Dodd.

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.In the first month ... - i. e. in March or April of 474 B.C.

"Pur" is supposed to be an old Persian word etymologically connected with the Latin "pars", and signifying "part" or "lot." The practice of casting lots to obtain a lucky day still obtains in the East, and is probably extremely ancient. A lot seems to have been cast, or a throw of some kind made, for each day of the month and each month of the year. The day and month which obtained the best throws were then selected. Assyrian calendars note lucky and unlucky days as early as the eighth century B.C. Lots were in use both among the Oriental and the Classical nations from a remote antiquity.

"Adar," the twelfth month, corresponds nearly to our March. It seems to have derived its name from "adar", "splendor," because of the brightness of the sun and the flowers at that time.

7. In the first month … they cast Pur, that is, the lot—In resorting to this method of ascertaining the most auspicious day for putting his atrocious scheme into execution, Haman acted as the kings and nobles of Persia have always done, never engaging in any enterprise without consulting the astrologers, and being satisfied as to the lucky hour. Vowing revenge but scorning to lay hands on a single victim, he meditated the extirpation of the whole Jewish race, who, he knew, were sworn enemies of his countrymen; and by artfully representing them as a people who were aliens in manners and habits, and enemies to the rest of his subjects, he procured the king's sanction of the intended massacre. One motive which he used in urging his point was addressed to the king's cupidity. Fearing lest his master might object that the extermination of a numerous body of his subjects would seriously depress the public revenue, Haman promised to make up the loss. The diviners cast lots, according to the custom of those ancient and eastern people, what day and what month would be most lucky, not for his success with the king, (of whose compliance with his request he made no doubt,) but for the most effectual and universal extirpation of the Jews; wherein appears both his implacable malice, and unwearied diligence in seeking vengeance of them with so much and so long trouble to himself; and God’s singular providence in disposing the lot to that time, that so the Jews might have sufficient space of time to get the decree reversed, as they did.

In the first month, that is the month Nisan,.... Which was the first month of the sacred year of the Jews, by divine appointment, Exodus 12:2, and there called Abib, and answers to part of February and part of March; from hence it is clear this book was written by a Jew, and very probably by Mordecai:

in the twelfth year of King Ahasuerus; four years and near two months after his marriage of Esther, Esther 2:16,

they cast Pur, that is, the lot, before Haman; being a Persian word, it is explained in Hebrew a lot, the word signifying "steel" in the Persian language. Reland (p) conjectures that this was that sort of lot called "sideromantia". Who cast this lot is not said; whether Haman himself, or one of his servants: perhaps a diviner. The latter Targum calls him Shimshai the scribe:

from day today, and from month to month, to the twelfth month, that is the month Adar; which answers to part of January and part of February; so that the lot was cast for every month and every day of the month throughout the year, to find out which was the most lucky month, and which the most lucky day in that month, to destroy the Jews in and none could be found till they came to the last month, and the thirteenth day of that month, Esther 3:13, the providence of God so overruling the lot, that there might be time enough for the Jews, through the mediation of Esther to the king, to prevent their destruction; so in other nations the Heathens had their lucky and unlucky days (q).

(p) Antiqu. Heb. par. 4. c. 12. sect. 1.((q) Vid. Macrob. Saturnal l. 1. c. 16. Alex. ab Alex. Genial. Dier. l. 4. c. 20.

In the first month, that is, the month {c} Nisan, in the twelfth year of king Ahasuerus, they cast Pur, that is, the lot, {d} before Haman from day to day, and from month to month, to the twelfth month, that is, the month {e} Adar.

(c) Which contains part of March and part of April.

(d) To know what month and day would be good to attempt this thing, that it might be successful: but God disappointed their lots and expectations.

(e) Containing part of February and part of March.

7–15. Haman’s scheme for the extermination of the Jews

7. In the first month, which is the month Nisan] the Hebraised form of the Babylonian Nisannu. It is the later substitute for the older Israelite name for the first month of the year, viz. Abib (see on Esther 2:16), and corresponds to the latter part of March and beginning of April. The meaning of the word Nisan is uncertain. Some make it denote fruitfulness, others, beginning or origin.

Attention has been drawn to the tragic significance of thus plotting the destruction of the Jews in the month of their memorable deliverance from Egypt (Exodus 13:4).

they cast Pur, that is, the lot] Pur is a word perhaps borrowed from the Persian pâre, a piece, fragment, and may be connected with the Latin pars, portio, or with Assyr. puru, or buru, a stone. But see further in Additional Note I, p. 67.

The custom of deciding by lot, by means of dice, or pieces of wood, or strips of paper or parchment, prevailed widely in the East, and was considered as a lawful means of committing the decision to Divine agency. Soothsayers and astrologers, who employed this among their methods of determining difficult questions, played an important part in Oriental society. The use of the lot among the Persians is mentioned by Herodotus (iii. 128) and by Xenophon (Cyrop. i. 6. 44, iv. 5. 55). For a parallel among the Jews see 1 Samuel 14:41 f. (cp. Proverbs 16:33). We may compare Acts 1:26.

from day to day, and from month to month] In order to ensure the success of the scheme Haman seems to have gone through the process of testing each day of the successive months until the twelfth month and its thirteenth day (see Esther 3:13) were reached, and declared favourable.

to the twelfth month] It would appear that by an error not uncommon among the copyists of manuscripts, the writer’s eye, owing to the repetition of the Hebrew for ‘month,’ passed over a clause, and that the original reading stood thus, and the lot fell upon the thirteenth day of the twelfth month. This correction is supported by the LXX., though it reads ‘fourteenth’ for thirteenth.

According to Jewish tradition (Megillah, 13 b) Haman tried month after month till he reached Adar. Moses died in that month. Hence Haman chose it, forgetting that in the same month Moses had also been born, and therefore from his (or rather, the Jewish) point of view it was likely to be as unfavourable to his purposes as any of the preceding. It should be added that the identity of the day of the month on which Moses was born with that on which he died is inferred by the Jewish commentator Rashi (Rabbi Solomon, son of Isaac, a.d. 1040–1105) from the words ‘I am an hundred and twenty years old this day,’ Deuteronomy 31:2, all that follows to the end of Deuteronomy 34:5 being assumed as included in the same day.

Adar] the Babylonian ad(d)âru, the meaning, however, being doubtful. As the last month of the year, it was followed by Nisan, the first of the next.

Verse 7. - In the first month, the month Nisan. See the comment on Nehemiah 2:1. This name was first given to the month by the Jews after the return from the captivity. It was the Babylonian name of the first month of the year, and superseded the old Jewish name, Abib. The twelfth year of... Ahasuerus - B.C. 474, if Ahasuerus be Xerxes. They cast Pur, that is, the lot. The superstitious use of lots has always been prevalent in the East, and continues to the present day. Lots were drawn, or thrown, m various ways: sometimes by means of dice, sometimes by slips of wood, or strips of parchment or paper, and also in other manners. Even the Jews supposed a special Providence to preside over the casting of lots (Proverbs 16:33), and thought that matters decided in this way were decided by God. Haman appears to have cast lots, first, as to the day of the month which he should fix for the massacre, and secondly as to the month in which it should take place. Apparently the lot fell out for the thirteenth day (ver. 13), and for the twelfth month, the last month in the year. The word "Pur" is not Hebrew it is supposed to be Old Persian, and to be connected with Mod. Pers. pareh, Lat. pars, Greek μέρος μοῖρα. To the twelfth month, that is, the month Adar. Adar is, like Nisan, a Babylonian word, perhaps connected with edder, "splendour." The month so named corresponded nearly with March, when the sun begins to have great power in Western Asia. HAMAN PERSUADES AHASUERUS TO PUBLISH A DECREE COMMANDING THE DESTRUCTION OF ALL THE JEWS IN HIS KINGDOM ON THE ENSUING THIRTEENTH DAY OF ADAR (Esther 3:8-15). Having formed his own resolve, it remained for Haman to bring his proposal before Ahasuerus in such a shape as should secure his acquiescence in it. For this purpose he thought it best, first, to raise a prejudice against the Jews by representing them as bad subjects, causing trouble through the peculiarity of their own laws, and still more through their unwillingness to render obedience to the Persian laws (ver. 8). In support of this last statement he would no doubt, if questioned, have adduced the conduct of Mordecai, who persisted in "transgressing the king's commandment," and gave as his only reason that he was a Jew, and therefore could not obey it (ver. 4). As, however, he doubted the effect of this reasoning on his royal master, he held in reserve an argument of another kind, an appeal to the king's cupidity, which constituted his main reliance. If the king gave his consent to the destruction of the Jewish nation, Haman undertook to pay into the royal treasuries, out of his private means, a sum which cannot be estimated at much less than two millions and a quarter of pounds sterling, and which may have amounted to a much higher figure (ver. 9). The effect of this argument upon Ahasuerus was decisive; he at once took his signet-ring from his finger, and made it over to his minister (ver. 10), thus enabling him to promulgate any decree that he pleased, and he openly declared that he gave over the Jewish nation, their lives and properties, into Haman's hands (ver. 11). Haman "struck while the iron was hot." The king's scribes were put in requisition - a decree was composed, numerous copies of it made, the royal seal am,ca to each (ver. 12), and a copy despatched forthwith to each governor of a province by the royal post, ordering the complete destruction of the Jews within his province, young and old, men, women, and children, on the thirteenth day of the month Adar, and the confiscation of their property (ver. 13). The posts started off with all speed, "being hastened by the king's commandment" (ver. 15); and the two men who had plotted a nation's extermination, as if they had done a good day's work, and deserved refreshment, "sat down to drink." But the Persians generally were less satisfied with the decree than their monarch and his minister; it surprised and startled them; "the city Shushan was perplexed." Esther 3:7To ensure the success of this great undertaking, viz., the extermination of all the Jews in the kingdom, Haman had recourse to the lot, that he might thus fix on a propitious day for the execution of his project. Astrology plays an important part among all ancient nations, nothing of any magnitude being undertaken without first consulting its professors concerning a favourable time and opportunity; comp. rem. on Ezekiel 21:26.

Esther 3:7

"In the first month, i.e., Nisan, in the twelfth year of King Ahashverosh, they cast Pur, i.e., the lot, before Haman from day to day, and from month to the twelfth month, i.e., the month Adar." The subject of הפּיל is left indefinite, because it is self-evident that this was done by some astrologer or magician who was versed in such matters. Bertheau tries unnaturally to make Haman the subject, and to combine the subsequent המן לפני with הגּורל: "Haman cast Pur, i.e., the lot, before Haman," which makes Pur signify: the lot before Haman. המן לפני means in the presence of Haman, so that he also might see how the lot fell. פּוּר is an Old-Persian word meaning lot (sors); in modern Persian, bâra signifies time, case (fois, cas), pâra or pâre, piece (morceau, pice), and behr, behre, and behre, lot, share, fate; comp. Zenker, Turco-Arabic and Persian Lexicon, pp. 162 and 229. The words "from day to day, from month to the twelfth month," must not be understood to say, that lots were cast day by day and month by month till the twelfth; but that in the first month lots were at once cast, one after the other, for all the days and months of the year, that a favourable day might be obtained. We do not know the manner in which this was done, "the way of casting lots being unknown to us." The words: from month to the twelfth month, are remarkable; we should expect from month to month till the twelfth month. Bertheau supposes that the words לחדשׁ ויּ פּל הגּורל על יום שׁלשׁה עשׂר were omitted after וּמחדשׁ through the eye of the transcriber passing on from the first לחדשׁ to the second. The text of the lxx actually contains such words, and the possibility of such an oversight on the part of a transcriber must certainly be admitted. In the book of Esther, however, the lxx translation is no critical authority, and it is just as possible that the author of the Hebrew book here expresses himself briefly and indefinitively, because he was now only concerned to state the month determined by lot for the undertaking, and intended to mention the day subsequently.

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