And in every province, wherever the king's commandment and his decree came, there was great mourning among the Jews, and fasting, and weeping, and wailing; and many lay in sackcloth and ashes.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Esther 4:3. And many lay in sackcloth and ashes — All day long they fasted, and wept, and lamented; and in the night many lay, not in their beds, but in sack or haircloth strewed with ashes.
Es 4:1-14. Mordecai and the Jews Mourn.
1, 2. When Mordecai perceived all that was done—Relying on the irrevocable nature of a Persian monarch's decree (Da 6:15), Hamman made it known as soon as the royal sanction had been obtained; and Mordecai was, doubtless, among the first to hear of it. On his own account, as well as on that of his countrymen, this astounding decree must have been indescribably distressing. The acts described in this passage are, according to the Oriental fashion, expressive of the most poignant sorrow; and his approach to the gate of the palace, under the impulse of irrepressible emotions, was to make an earnest though vain appeal to the royal mercy. Access, however, to the king's presence was, to a person in his disfigured state, impossible: "for none might enter into the king's gate clothed with sackcloth." But he found means of conveying intelligence of the horrid plot to Queen Esther.
there was great mourning among the Jews, and weeping, and wailing; which continued all day:And in every province, whithersoever the king's commandment and his decree came, there was great mourning among the Jews, and fasting, and weeping, and wailing; and many lay in sackcloth and ashes.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)3. many lay in sackcloth and ashes] lit. sackcloth and ashes were spread under many.Verse 3. - And in every province. As fast as the news spread, as province after province received the decree, the Jews spontaneously did as Mordecai had done - everywhere there was great sorrow, shown commonly by fasting, weeping, and wailing, while in numerous instances the mourners even went the length of putting on sackcloth and ashes. Thus an ever-increasing cloud of grief overshadowed the land. GRIEF OF ESTHER. HER COMMUNICATIONS WITH MORDECAI. SHE CONSENTS TO RISK MAKING AN APPEAL TO THE KING (Esther 4:4-17). Esther, in the seclusion of the harem, knew nothing of what the king and Haman had determined on. No one in the palace suspected how vitally she was concerned in the matter, since none knew that she was a Jewess, and state affairs are not commonly discussed between an Oriental monarch and a young wife. It was known, however, that she took an interest in Mordecai; and when that official was seen outside the palace gate in his mourning garb, it was reported to the queen. Not being aware why he grieved, but thinking that perhaps it was some light matter which he took too much to heart, she sent him a change of raiment, and requested him to put off his sackcloth. But Mordecai, without assigning any reason, refused (ver. 4). Esther upon this caused inquiry to be made of Mordecai concerning the reason of his mourning, and in this way became acquainted with what had happened (vers. 5-9). At the same time she found herself called on by Mordecai to incur a great danger, since he requested her to go at once to the king, and to intercede with him for her people (ver. 8). In reply, the queen pointed out the extreme risk which she would run in entering the royal presence uninvited, and the little chance that there was of her receiving a summons, since she had not had one for thirty days (ver. 11). Mordecai, however, was inexorable. He reminded Esther that she herself was threatened by the decree, and was not more likely to escape than any other Jew or Jewess; declared his belief that, if she withheld her aid, deliverance would arise from some other quarter; warned her that neglect of duty was apt to provoke a heavy retribution, and suggested that she might have been raised to her queenly dignity for the express purpose of her being thus able to save her nation (vers. 13, 14). The dutiful daughter, the true Jewess, could resist no longer; she only asked that Mordecai and the other Jews in Susa would fast for her three days, while she and her maidens also fasted, and then she would take her life in her hand, and enter the royal presence uninvited, though it was contrary to the law; the risk should be run, and then, as she said with a simple pathos never excelled, "if I perish, I perish" (ver. 16). Satisfied with this reply, Mordecai "went his way," and held the three days' fast which Esther had requested (ver. 17). Esther 3:12. "Then were called the king's scribes in the first month, on the thirteenth day of it (בּו, in it, in the said month); and there was written according to all that Haman commanded, to the satraps of the king, and to the governors who (were placed) over every province, and to the rulers of every people, to each several province according to its writing, and to each different people according to their language (comp. rem. on Esther 1:22); in the name of King Ahashverosh was it written, and sealed with the king's seal." אחשׁדּרפּנים and פּחות placed in juxtaposition, as in Ezra 8:36, are the imperial officials. Beside these are also named the שׂרים of every people, the native princes of the different races. The writing was finished on the thirteenth day of the month, because this day of the month had been fixed upon as propitious by the lot.
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