Esther 4:16
Go, gather together all the Jews that are present in Shushan, and fast ye for me, and neither eat nor drink three days, night or day: I also and my maidens will fast likewise; and so will I go in unto the king, which is not according to the law: and if I perish, I perish.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
Esther 4:16. And fast ye for me — And pray, which was the main business, to which fasting was only a help; and neither eat nor drink three days — Namely, in such a manner as you used to do. Abstain from all set meals, and all pleasant food, and, as much as possible, from all food, for that space of time, in token of humiliation for sin, and a sense of our unworthiness of God’s mercies. I also and my maidens will fast likewise — They were, doubtless, either of the Jewish nation or proselytes, and pious persons, who, she knew, would sincerely join with her in these holy duties. And so will I go in unto the king — To intercede for my people. Which is not according to the law — Namely, the king’s law, now mentioned, but it is according to God’s law, and therefore whatever comes of it, I will venture, and not count my life dear to myself, so I may serve God and his church. And if I perish, I perish — Although my danger be great and evident, considering the expressness of that law, the uncertainty of the king’s mind, and that severity which he showed to my predecessor Vashti; yet, rather than neglect my duty to God and to his people, I will go to the king, and cast myself cheerfully and resolutely upon God’s providence for my safety and success. If I should be condemned to lose my life, I cannot lose it in a better cause.

4:5-17 We are prone to shrink from services that are attended with peril or loss. But when the cause of Christ and his people demand it, we must take up our cross, and follow him. When Christians are disposed to consult their own ease or safety, rather than the public good, they should be blamed. The law was express, all knew it. It is not thus in the court of the King of kings: to the footstool of his throne of grace we may always come boldly, and may be sure of an answer of peace to the prayer of faith. We are welcome, even into the holiest, through the blood of Jesus. Providence so ordered it, that, just then, the king's affections had cooled toward Esther; her faith and courage thereby were the more tried; and God's goodness in the favour she now found with the king, thereby shone the brighter. Haman no doubt did what he could to set the king against her. Mordecai suggests, that it was a cause which, one way or other, would certainly be carried, and which therefore she might safely venture in. This was the language of strong faith, which staggered not at the promise when the danger was most threatening, but against hope believed in hope. He that by sinful devices will save his life, and will not trust God with it in the way of duty, shall lose it in the way of sin. Divine Providence had regard to this matter, in bringing Esther to be queen. Therefore thou art bound in gratitude to do this service for God and his church, else thou dost not answer the end of thy being raised up. There is wise counsel and design in all the providences of God, which will prove that they are all intended for the good of the church. We should, every one, consider for what end God has put us in the place where we are, and study to answer that end: and take care that we do not let it slip. Having solemnly commended our souls and our cause to God, we may venture upon his service. All dangers are trifling compared with the danger of losing our souls. But the trembling sinner is often as much afraid of casting himself, without reserve, upon the Lord's free mercy, as Esther was of coming before the king. Let him venture, as she did, with earnest prayer and supplication, and he shall fare as well and better than she did. The cause of God must prevail: we are safe in being united to it.Again the religious element shows itself. Esther's fast could have no object but to obtain God's favor and protection in the dangerous course on which she was about to enter. 16. so will I go in unto the king, which is not according to the law—The appeal of Mordecai was irresistible. Having appointed a solemn fast of three days, she expressed her firm resolution to make an appeal to the king, though she should perish in the attempt.

I … and my maidens—It is probable that she had surrounded herself with Jewish maidens, or women who were proselytes to that religion.

Fast ye, and pray; which was the main business, to which fasting was only a help and a handmaid.

Neither eat nor drink, to wit, so as you use to do, either deliciously or plentifully. Leave off your common meals, dinners by day, and suppers at night, and eat and drink no more than mere necessity requires; that so you may give yourselves to constant and fervent prayers, for which your ordinary repasts will unfit you. For it is not likely that she would impose the burden of absolute fasting so long upon all the Jews, which very few of them were able to endure. And so the like phrase is taken Acts 27:33, where he saith, This is the fourteenth day that ye have continued fasting, having taking nothing.

I also and my maidens; which she had chosen to attend upon her person, and were doubtless either of the Jewish nation, or proselyted by hers or others’ means to that religion.

Will fast likewise; which may belong, either,

1. To the thing only, that as they did first, so she would. Or rather,

2. To the time of three days and three nights; for so she might do, though she went to the king on the third day. For the fast began at evening; and so she might continue her fast three whole nights, and two, whole days, and the greatest part of the third; a part of a day being reputed a day in the account of Scripture, and other authors; of which See Poole "Matthew 12:40". Yea, she might fast all that day too; for it is probable she went not to the king till he had dined, when she supposed she might find him in the most mild and pleasant humour, and then returned to her apartment, where she fasted till the evening.

Which is not according to the law; which is against the law now mentioned.

If I perish, I perish: although my danger be great and evident, considering the expressness of that law, and the uncertainty of the king’s mind, and that severity which he showed to my predecessor Vashti; yet rather than neglect my duty to God, and to his people, I will go to the king, and cast myself cheerfully and resolutely upon God’s providence for my safety and success.

Go, gather together all the Jews that are present in Shushan,.... To acquaint them with what follows; but not to continue in a body together, which might cause suspicion of an ill design in them; according to the latter Targum, 12,000 chosen priests were found in it; but that must be an exaggeration of their number; it can hardly be thought there were so many Jews in all there:

and fast ye for me; that is, pray for her, that she might have courage to go in to the king, and meet with success; for prayer was the principal thing, fasting only an accessory to it, and as fitting for it, and expressive of affliction and humiliation of soul:

and neither eat nor drink three days, night nor day; it was to be a continued fast unto the third day; as Aben Ezra interprets it, they were not to eat at evening, but fast two whole days, and two whole nights, until the third day came, on which Esther went in to the king, Esther 5:1.

I also and my maidens will fast likewise; in the same manner and as long; these maids of honour were either proselytes, perhaps of her making, or Jewish ladies, she being allowed by the king to choose whom she pleased:

and so will I go in unto the king, which is not according to the law; or "afterwards", or "and then" (d) when they, and she and her maids, had fasted and prayed so long, then she was determined in the strength of the Lord to go into the king's presence with her petition, though it was contrary to law:

and if I perish, I perish; signifying, that she readily and cheerfully risked her life for the good of her people; and if such was the pleasure of God, that she should lose it, she was content, and acquiesced in his will, leaving herself entirely in his hands, to dispose of her as he thought fit.

(d) "et postea", Noldius, p. 198. No. 899. so the Targum, Sept. "et tune", V. L. Pagninus, Montanus; "tum", Tigurine version.

Go, gather together all the Jews that are present in Shushan, and fast ye for me, and neither eat nor drink three days, night or day: I also and my maidens will fast likewise; and so will I go in unto the king, which is not according to the law: and if I perish, {d} I perish.

(d) I will put my life in danger and refer the success to God, seeing it is for his glory and the deliverance of his Church.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
16. all the Jews that are present in Shushan] We are to suppose them to be a considerable number, if they were subsequently able to dispose of three hundred of their foes (Esther 9:15).

fast ye for me] in connexion with intercession on my behalf. Prayer and fasting went together in time of sorrow or anxiety or penitence. So David (2 Samuel 12:16), Ahab (1 Kings 21:27), Daniel (Daniel 9:3).

neither eat nor drink three days, night or day] This sounds a very explicit direction to abstain from all food for seventy-two hours. It is, however, possible that for the general body of the Jews here referred to it may not have really meant more than two nights and the intervening day, a part of the twenty-four hour day being for certain purposes reckoned as a whole one. Cp. Matthew 12:40 with Matthew 28:1. Nevertheless to fast for the longer period is not beyond the limits of Oriental abstemiousness.

I also and my maidens will fast in like manner] Esther herself cannot have carried out this abstinence in its most rigid form. The appearance which she must in that case have presented before the king would have militated strongly against her chances of success, slender as those chances were in any case.

if I perish, I perish] She accepts the risk, acknowledging the necessity. For form of expression cp. Jacob’s words in Genesis 43:14.

Esther 4:16This pressing monition produced its result. Esther returned answer to Mordochai: "Go, gather together all the Jews that are found in Susa, and fast ye for me: I also and my maidens will fast; and so will I go to the king against the law; and if I perish, I perish." Esther resolves to go to the king unsummoned, but begs Mordochai and all the Jews to unite in a three days' fast, during which she and her maidens will also fast, to seek by earnest humiliation God's gracious assistance in the step she proposes to take, for the purpose of averting the threatened destruction of her people. "Though 'God' and 'prayer' are not here mentioned, it is yet obviously assumed that it was before God that the Jews were to humble themselves, to seek His help, and to induce Him to grant it. 1 Kings 21:27-29; Joel 1:14; Jonah 3:5." (Berth.). To designate the strictness of this fasting, the words: "neither eat nor drink," are added. The "three days, night and day," are not to be reckoned as three times twenty-four hours, but to be understood of a fast which lasts till the third day after that on which it begins; for according to Esther 5:1, Esther goes to the king on the third day. Comp. the similar definition of time, Jonah 2:1. The addition "day and night" declares that the fast was not to be intermitted. וּבכן, and in thus, i.e., in this state of fasting. כּדּת לא אשׁר: which is not according to law. לא אשׁר is used, like the Aramaean form לא דּי, in the sense of without (comp. Ewald, 222, c): without according to law equals contrary to law. The last words: "if I perish, I perish," etc., are the expression not of despair, but of resignation, or perfect submission to the providence of God; comp. Genesis 43:14.
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