Esther 3:9
If it please the king, let it be written that they may be destroyed: and I will pay ten thousand talents of silver to the hands of those that have the charge of the business, to bring it into the king's treasuries.
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(9) Ten thousand talents of silver.—This would be about two and a half millions sterling, being indeed more than two-thirds of the whole annual revenue of the Empire (Herod. iii. 95). Haman may have been a man of excessive wealth (like the Pythius who offered Xerxes four millions of gold darics (Herod. vii. 28), or he probably may have hoped to draw the money from the spoils of the Jews.

Esther 3:9. Let it be written that they may be destroyed — Let a written edict from the king be published for that purpose; and I will pay ten thousand talents of silver — Whether these were Hebrew, or Babylonish, or Grecian talents, we cannot certainly know. But whichsoever they were, it was a vast sum to be paid by a private person, being probably above three millions sterling, and shows how outrageously he was bent on the destruction of the Jews. But undoubtedly Haman expected to get that sum, and much more, by seizing on all their effects. To the hands of those that have the charge of the business — Not of those who should have the charge to kill them, but of those that received the king’s money, as appears by the next words, to bring it into the king’s treasuries.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.Ten thousand talents of silver - According to Herodotus, the regular revenue of the Persian king consisted of 14,560 silver talents; so that, if the same talent is intended, Haman's offer would have exceeded two-thirds of one year's revenue (or two and one-half million British pound sterling). Another Persian subject, Pythius, once offered to present Xerxes with four millions of gold darics, or about four and one-half pounds. 9. I will pay ten thousand talents of silver … into the king's treasuries—This sum, reckoning by the Babylonish talent, will be about £2,119,000; but estimated according to the Jewish talent, it will considerably exceed £3,000,000, an immense contribution to be made out of a private fortune. But classic history makes mention of several persons whose resources seem almost incredible. Let it be written; let there be a written edict from the king.

Ten thousand talents of silver; whether these were Hebrew, or Babylonish, or Grecian talents we cannot certainly know; but whichsoever they were, it was a vast sum to be paid out of his own estate, which he was willing to sacrifice to his revenge. The charge of the business; either,

1. Of this business, to wit, of destroying the Jews; which as soon as they have procured to be done, I will pay the money into their hands, that by them it may be paid into the king’s exchequer. Or rather,

2. Of the king’s business, or of the treasures, as is implied in the following words. I will pay it to the king’s receivers, that they may put it into the king’s treasures. If it please the king, let it be written, that they may be destroyed,.... That is, a law made, signed and sealed, for their destruction, and letters written and sent everywhere, ordering it to be put in execution:

and I will pay ten thousand talents of silver to the hands of those who have the charge of the business, to bring it into the king's treasury; this he proposed, to prevent any objection that might be made from the loss of tribute paid by this people to the king; and this was a very large sum for him to pay out of his own estate, it being near four millions of our money; it is computed by Brerewood (x) at 3,750,000 pounds; for as to what is suggested by some, that he intended to repay himself out of the spoil of the Jews, it may be observed, that, according to the king's letter, they that were employed in destroying the Jews were to have the spoil for a prey or booty to themselves, Esther 3:13. Now this sum of money he proposed not to put into the hands of them that should slay the Jews, but into the hands of the king's receivers of the dues, that they might lay it up in the king's treasury or exchequer.

(x) De Pret. & Ponder. Vet. Num. c. 5.

If it please the king, let it be written that they may be destroyed: and I will pay ten thousand talents of silver to the hands of those that have the charge of the business, to bring it into the king's treasuries.
9. that they be destroyed] lit. to destroy them. Let an edict be issued for their destruction.

I will pay ten thousand talents of silver] about £3,750,000 sterling. Xerxes, unscrupulous though we know him to have been, might well be staggered by the request that he should direct this wholesale massacre on such slender grounds as had hitherto been adduced. Hence Haman at once supports his petition by the offer of enormous pecuniary gains to follow, meaning apparently that he will pay the amount, if he has leave to plunder the Jews. The king at an earlier period of his reign had declined a gift from a subject, the value of which was much beyond four and a half million pounds of our money[69] (Herod. vii. 28). His resources, however, had not then been exhausted by the war with Greece. The condition of the imperial treasury was doubtless now very different, and if any such offer as Haman’s was now made, so tempting a measure for replenishing it, and thus supplying Xerxes with the means of gratifying his love of ostentation and excess, might well prove irresistible.

[69] The offer was made by Pythius of Celaenae (see note on Esther 1:4) to Xerxes when visiting that town in connexion with his expedition against Greece. Rawlinson (Herod. vol. iv. 30) calculates the amount to have been “little short of five millions of our money (£4,827,144).” Grote, however (Hist. of Greece, Esther 3:36 note), considers the sum an incredible one.

those that have the charge of the king’s business] i.e. the royal treasurers. The A.V. ‘those that have the charge of the business’ would rather suggest the business of the massacre. But the word ‘king’s,’ though it is not indeed expressed, is implied in the Hebrew.Verse 9. - If it please the king, lot it be written that they may be destroyed, and I will pay, etc. This startling proposition, to which the king might well have demurred, for even Xerxes could scarcely have regarded such a massacre as a light matter, is followed immediately, and before the king has time to reflect, by the tempting offer of such a bribe as even a king could not view with indifference. Xerxes had once, if we may trust Herodotus, declined to accept from a subject a gift of money equal to about four and a half million of pounds sterling (Herod., 7:28); but this was early in his reign, when his treasury was full, and he had not exhausted his resources by the Greek war. Now, in his comparative poverty, a gift of from two to three millions had attractions for him which proved irresistible. To the hands of those that have the charge of the business. Not the business of the slaughter, but the business of receiving money for the king, i.e. the royal treasurers. To bring it. i.e. "for them to bring it," or pay it, "into the royal treasuries." On the multiplicity of the royal treasuries see the comment on Ezra 7:20. When 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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