Esther 7:4
For we are sold, I and my people, to be destroyed, to be slain, and to perish. But if we had been sold for bondmen and bondwomen, I had held my tongue, although the enemy could not countervail the king's damage.
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(4) We are sold.—See above, Esther 3:9.

To be destroyed. . . .—Literally, to destroy and to kill, and to cause to perish. The identical words used in the king’s proclamation for the destruction of the Jews. Herein Esther at once makes confession of her nationality, and relying on the king’s still recent gratitude to one of the race, aided by his present cordiality to herself, she risks, as indeed she can no longer help doing, the fate of herself and her race on the momentary impulse of her fickle lord. Happily for her, God has willed that these, perhaps at any other time untrustworthy grounds of reliance, shall suffice. The “hearts of kings are in His rule and governance,” and now the heart of one is “disposed and turned, as it seemeth best to His godly wisdom.”

Although the enemy. . . .—The meaning of this clause is not quite clear. The literal translation is, although (or because) the enemy is not equal to (i.e., does not make up for) the king’s hurt. This may mean (a) that Haman, though willing to pay a large sum into the royal treasury, cannot thereby make up for the loss which the king must incur by wholesale massacre being carried on in his realm; or (b) “were we merely to be sold into slavery, instead of being killed outright, I should have said nothing, because the enemy was not one worth the king’s while to trouble himself about.” We prefer the former view. The word “enemy” is that translated adversary, in Esther 7:6, and properly means one who oppresses, afflicts, distresses. The word which is, literally, equal to, comparable with, has already occurred in Esther 3:8; Esther 5:13.

Esther 7:4. For we are sold, I and my people, to be destroyed, &c. — By the cruelty of that man, who offered a great sum to purchase our destruction. We have not forfeited our lives by any offence against the government, but are sold to gratify the pride and revenge of one man. If we had been sold for bond-men and bond-women — Sold merely into slavery; I had held my tongue — I would not have complained, for in time we might have been ransomed and delivered. But it is not our liberty only, but our lives that are sold. Although the enemy could not countervail the king’s damage — His ten thousand talents would not repair the king’s loss in the customs and tributes, which the king receives from the Jews within his dominions, nor the injury his kingdom would sustain, by the loss of so many industrious hands out of it. To persecute good people is as impolitic as it is impious, and a manifest wrong to the interests of princes and states, which are weakened and empoverished by it.

7:1-6 If the love of life causes earnest pleadings with those that can only kill the body, how fervent should our prayers be to Him, who is able to destroy both body and soul in hell! How should we pray for the salvation of our relatives, friends, and all around us! When we petition great men, we must be cautious not to give them offence; even just complaints must often be kept back. But when we approach the King of kings with reverence, we cannot ask or expect too much. Though nothing but wrath be our due, God is able and willing to do exceeding abundantly, even beyond all we can ask or think.The king now learned, perhaps for the first time, that his favorite was a Jewess.

Although the enemy ... - i. e. "although the enemy (Haman) would not (even in that case) compensate (by his payment to the treasury) for the king's loss of so many subjects."

4. we are sold, I and my people, to be destroyed—that is, by the cruel and perfidious scheme of that man, who offered an immense sum of money to purchase our extermination. Esther dwelt on his contemplated atrocity, in a variety of expressions, which both evinced the depth of her own emotions, and were intended to awaken similar feelings in the king's breast.

But if we had been sold for bondmen and bondwomen, I had held my tongue—Though a great calamity to the Jews, the enslavement of that people might have enriched the national treasury; and, at all events, the policy, if found from experience to be bad, could be altered. But the destruction of such a body of people would be an irreparable evil, and all the talents Haman might pour into the treasury could not compensate for the loss of their services.

We are sold by the craft and cruelty of that man, who offered a great sum of money to purchase our destruction.

I and my people; for we are all given up to his malice and rage, without any exception of my own person.

To be destroyed, to be slain, and to perish: she useth variety of expressions to make the deeper impression upon the king’s mind.

I had held my tongue, because that calamity had neither been irrecoverable, nor intolerable, nor yet unprofitable to the king, for whose honour and service I should willingly have submitted myself and people to any kind of bondage.

The enemy could not countervail the king’s damage; his ten thousand talents, if paid into the king’s treasury, would not repair the king’s loss in the customs and tributes which the king receives from the Jews within his dominions.

For we are sold, I and my people, to be destroyed, to be slain, and to perish,.... She makes use of these several words, to express the utter destruction of her and her people, without any exception; not only the more to impress the king's mind with it, but she has respect to the precise words of the decree, Esther 3:13 as she has also to the 10,000 talents of silver Haman offered to pay the king for the grant of it, when she says, "we are sold", or delivered to be destroyed:

but if we had been sold for bondmen and bondwomen, I had held my tongue: should never have asked for deliverance from bondage, but have patiently submitted to it, however unreasonable, unjust, and afflictive it would have been; because it might have been borne, and there might be hope of deliverance from it at one time or another; though it is said, slaves with the Persians were never made free (g); but that being the case would not have been so great a loss to the king, who would have reaped some advantage by their servitude; whereas, by the death of them, he must sustain a loss which the enemy was not equal to, and which he could not compensate with all his riches; which, according to Ben Melech, is the sense of the next clause:

although the enemy could not countervail the king's damage; or, "for the enemy cannot", &c. the 10,000 talents offered by him, and all the riches that he has, are not an equivalent to the loss the king would sustain by the death of such a multitude of people, from whom he received so large a tribute; but this the enemy regarded not; and so Jarchi interprets it, the enemy took no care of, or was concerned about the king's damage; but there is another sense, which Aben Ezra mentions, and is followed by some learned men, who take the word for "enemy" to signify "distress", trouble, and anguish, as in Psalm 4:1 and read the words, "for this distress would not be reckoned the king's damage" (h), or loss; though it would have been a distress to the Jews to have been sold for slaves, yet the loss to the king would not be so great as their death, since he would receive benefit by their service.

(g) Alex. ab. Alex. Genial. Dier. l. 3. c. 20. (h) "adversitas", Drusius, De Dieu; "angustia", Cocc. Lexic. in rad.

For we are sold, I and my people, to be destroyed, to be slain, and to perish. But if we had been sold for bondmen and bondwomen, I had held my tongue, although the enemy could not {b} countervail the king's damage.

(b) Haman could not profit the king by his malice as much he would hinder him by the loss of the Jews and the tribute which he had from them.

4. we are sold] She refers to the bribe which Haman had offered the king for permission to destroy her people, and of which Mordecai had told her (Esther 3:9, Esther 4:7).

although the adversary could not have compensated for the king’s damage] The original text is obscure. The R.V. makes good sense, as meaning that Haman, by enslaving the Jews, would do the king an injury (by depriving him of the persons of so many of his subjects and of the revenues derived from them) for which it would be out of his power to make compensation. The fatal objection to this rendering is that it is impossible as a translation of the Heb. as it stands, inasmuch as the word rendered ‘although’ cannot have that sense, but must be rendered for, or because.

The margin of the R.V., retaining the Heb. consonants as they stand while slightly changing a vowel[74] (for our affliction is not to be compared with the king’s damage), means, ‘the suffering which would be inflicted on us is a trivial matter compared with the loss to the king.’

[74] Reading הַצַּר for הַצָּר.

Other translations are (a) (keeping the same change of vowel in the Heb.) ‘for such oppression would not be worth troubling the king about,’ or (b) (without the change of vowel) ‘for the adversary (Haman) is not worth troubling the king about.’ But we are not justified in forcing the word properly translated ‘damage’ to mean ‘annoyance.[75]’ The LXX. have ‘for the adversary is not worthy of the court of the king.’[76]

[75] It may be noted that the word is a ‘loan-word’ from Aramaic, and occurs in this passage only of the Bible.

[76] οὐ γὰρ ἅξιος ὁ διάβολος τῆς αὐλῆς (apparently reading הצר over again as חצר) τοῦ βασιλέως.

Verse 4. - For we are sold, I and my people. Haman has paid our price, has given ten thousand talents for us, and you, O king, have sold us to him. The reproach is covert, but clearly contained in the words; and so the king must have understood Esther. To be destroyed, to be slain, and to perish. The use of three synonyms for one and the same thing is not mere verbiage, but very expressive. "We are sold, all of us, to be overwhelmed in one universal, promiscuous, unsparing destruction." Although the enemy could not countervail the king's damage. "Although, even in that case, the enemy (Haman) could not (by the payment that he has made) compensate the king for the damage that he would suffer by losing so many subjects." So Gesenius, Rambach, Dathe, and others. But it is simpler, and Perhaps better, to understand the passage as Bertheau does: "for the enemy (Haman) is not worthy to vex the king," or "is not worth vexing the king about." Esther 7:4At this banquet of wine the king asked again on the second day, as he had done on the first (Esther 5:6): What is thy petition, Queen Esther, etc.? Esther then took courage to express her petition. After the usual introductory phrases (Esther 7:3 like Esther 5:8), she replied: "Let my life be given me at my petition, and my people at my request." For, she adds as a justification and reason for such a petition, "we are sold, I and my people, to be destroyed, to be slain, and to perish. And if we had been sold for bondmen and bondwomen, I had been silent, for the enemy is not worth the king's damage." In this request עמּי is a short expression for: the life of my people, and the preposition ב, the so-called בּ pretii. The request is conceived of as the price which she offers or presents for her life and that of her people. The expression נמכּרנוּ, we are sold, is used by Esther with reference to the offer of Haman to pay a large sum into the royal treasury for the extermination of the Jews, Esther 3:9; Esther 4:7. אלּוּ, contracted after Aramaean usage from לוּ אם, and occurring also Ecclesiastes 6:6, supposes a case, the realization of which is desired, but not to be expected, the matter being represented as already decided by the use of the perfect. The last clause, וגו הצּר אין כּי, is by most expositors understood as a reference, on the part of Esther, to the financial loss which the king would incur by the extermination of the Jews. Thus Rambach, e.g., following R. Sal. ben Melech, understands the meaning expressed to be: hostis nullo modo aequare, compensare, resarcire potest pecunia sua damnum, quod rex ex nostro excidio patitur. So also Cler. and others. The confirmatory clause would in this case refer not to החרשׁתּי, but to a negative notion needing completion: but I dare not be silent; and such completion is itself open to objection. To this must be added, that שׁוה in Kal constructed with בּ does not signify compensare, to equalize, to make equal, but to be equal; consequently the Piel should be found here to justify the explanation proposed. שׁוה in Kal constructed with בּ signifies to be of equal worth with something, to equal another thing in value. Hence Gesenius translates: the enemy does not equal the damage of the king, i.e., is not in a condition to compensate the damage. But neither when thus viewed does the sentence give any reason for Esther's statement, that she would have been silent, if the Jews had been sold for salves. Hence we are constrained, with Bertheau, to take a different view of the words, and to give up the reference to financial loss. נזק, in the Targums, means not merely financial, but also bodily, personal damage; e.g., Psalm 91:7; Genesis 26:11, to do harm, 1 Chronicles 16:22. Hence the phrase may be understood thus: For the enemy is not equal to, is not worth, the damage of the king, i.e., not worthy that I should annoy the king with my petition. Thus Esther says, Esther 7:4 : The enemy has determined upon the total destruction of my people. If he only intended to bring upon them grievous oppression, even that most grievous oppression of slavery, I would have been silent, for the enemy is not worthy that I should vex or annoy the king by my accusation.
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