Esther 7:8
Then the king returned out of the palace garden into the place of the banquet of wine; and Haman was fallen on the bed where on Esther was. Then said the king, Will he force the queen also before me in the house? As the word went out of king's mouth, they covered Haman's face.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(8) The bedi.e., the couch on which she had been reclining at the banquet. This was the customary posture at meals, not only of the Persians, but also of the Greeks and Romans, and of the later Jews. The Last Supper was thus eaten. Haman had obviously thrown himself at the queen’s feet to ask for mercy. The king on his return was evidently full of wrath against Haman, and though he was for the time God’s instrument in averting Haman’s wicked design, his own base and worthless character is none the less conspicuous. The attempted massacre had been authorised with the full knowledge and consent of the king, who yet ignores utterly his own share of the responsibility. Great and noble ends are at times brought about by the instrumentality of unholy men, blind instruments in a purpose whose end they understand not. What greater blessing, for example, did God vouchsafe to England than the Reformation, whose foremost agent was a bloody and unholy king?

Will he force. . . .—Ahasuerus must have known perfectly well that Haman’s position was that of a suppliant; his words do but indicate his utter anger, as the attendants clearly perceive, for they immediately covered Haman’s face—he must not see the king’s face again. (See above, Esther 1:13.)

Esther 7:8. Then the king returned out of the palace garden — Yet more exasperated than when he went into it. The more he thought of Haman’s conduct, the more enraged he was against him. Haman was fallen upon the bed whereon Esther was — Or by, or beside the bed, on which the queen sat at meat, after the manner of those times and countries. For it was then a custom among the Persians, as well as many other nations, to sit, or rather lie, upon beds, when they ate or drank. And Haman, it seems, fell down as a supplicant at the feet of Esther, laying his hands upon her knees, and beseeching her to take pity upon him: for it is not improbable that it was the custom among the Persians, as it was among the Greeks and Romans, to embrace the knees of those whom they petitioned to be favourable to them. Then said the king — Finding him in this posture; Will he force the queen also before me in the house? — Will he attempt my queen’s chastity, as he hath already attempted her life, and that in my own presence and palace? His presumption and impudence, I see, will stick at nothing. He speaks not this out of real jealousy, for which there was no cause in those circumstances; but from an exasperated mind, which takes all occasions to vent itself against the person who gave the provocation, and puts the worst construction on all his words and actions. They covered Haman’s face — That the king might not be offended or grieved at the sight of a person whom he now detested; and because they looked upon him as a condemned person, for the faces of such used to be covered.7:7-10 The king was angry: those that do things with self-will, reflect upon them afterward with self-reproach. When angry, we should pause before we come to any resolution, and thus rule our own spirits, and show that we are governed by reason. Those that are most haughty and insolent when in power and prosperity, commonly, like Haman, are the most abject and poor-spirited when brought down. The day is coming when those that hate and persecute God's chosen ones, would gladly be beholden to them. The king returns yet more angry against Haman. Those about him were ready to put his wrath into execution. How little can proud men be sure of the interest they think they have! The enemies of God's church have often been thus taken in their own craftiness. The Lord is known by such judgments. Then was the king's wrath pacified, and not till then. And who pities Haman hanged on his own gallows? who does not rather rejoice in the Divine righteousness displayed in the destruction his own art brought upon him? Let the workers of iniquity tremble, turn to the Lord, and seek pardon through the blood of Jesus.Like the Greeks and Romans, the Persians reclined at their meals on sofas or couches. Haman, in the intensity of his supplication, had thrown himself upon the couch at Esther's feet.

They covered Haman's face - The Macedonians and the Romans are known to have commonly muffled the heads of prisoners before executing them. It may have also been a Persian custom.

8. Haman was fallen upon the bed whereon Esther was—We do not know the precise form of the couches on which the Persians reclined at table. But it is probable that they were not very different from those used by the Greeks and Romans. Haman, perhaps, at first stood up to beg pardon of Esther; but driven in his extremity to resort to an attitude of the most earnest supplication, he fell prostrate on the couch where the queen was recumbent. The king returning that instant was fired at what seemed an outrage on female modesty.

they covered Haman's face—The import of this striking action is, that a criminal is unworthy any longer to look on the face of the king, and hence, when malefactors are consigned to their doom in Persia, the first thing is to cover the face with a veil or napkin.

Upon the bed; or, by or beside the bed; on which the queen sat at meat, after the manner; where he was fallen upon his knees, and upon the ground, at her feet, as humble suppliants used to do, and as the queen did at the king’s feet, Esther 8:3.

Will he force the queen also? will he now attempt my queen’s chastity, as he hath already attempted her life? His presumption and impudence I see will stick at nothing. He speaks not this out of a real jealousy, for which there was no cause in those circumstances; but from an exasperated mind, which takes all occasions to vent itself against the person who gave the provocation, and makes the worst construction of all His words and actions.

Before me in the house; in my own presence and palace.

They, i.e. the king’s and queen’s chamberlains then attending upon them, covered Haman’s face; partly that the king might not be offended or grieved with the sight of a person whom he now loathed; and partly because they looked upon him as a condemned person, for the faces of such used to be covered. Then the king returned out of the palace garden into the place of the banquet of wine,.... Being a little cooler, and more composed in his mind, see See Gill on Esther 1:5.

and Haman was fallen upon the bed whereon Esther was; not the bed she lay on to sleep in the night, (for it cannot be thought that it was a bedchamber in which the banquet was,) but on the bed or couch on which she sat or reclined at the banquet, as was the custom in the eastern countries; now, "by", or "near" this, as the word may be rendered, Haman fell down, even at the feet of the queen, begging for mercy; and some think he might embrace her feet or knees, as was the custom of the Greeks and Romans as they were supplicating (k); and so it seems to have been with the Jews, see 2 Kings 4:27, and being in this posture, it might appear the more indecent, and give the king an opportunity to say as follows:

then said the king, will he force the queen also before me in the house?, that is, ravish her; not that he really thought so; it was not a time nor place for such an action; nor can it be thought that Haman, in such terror and confusion he was in, could be so disposed; and besides there were others present, as the next clause shows: but this he said, putting the worst construction on his actions, and plainly declaring his opinion of him, that he thought him a man capable of committing the vilest of crimes, and that his supplications were not to be regarded:

as the word went out of the king's mouth, they covered Haman's face; the servants present, as a man unworthy to see the light; and they took what the king said to amount to a sentence of condemnation, and that it was his will he should die; and they covered his face, as condemned malefactors used to be; which was a custom among the Greeks and Romans, of which many instances may be given (l); though Aben Ezra says it was the custom of the kings of Persia, that their servants covered the face of him the king was angry with, that he might not see his face any more, which was well known in the Persian writings.

(k) "Genibusque suas", &c. Claudian. de Raptu Proserpin l. 1. ver. 50. & Barthius in ib. Vid. Homer. Iliad. 21. l. 75. Plin. l. 1. Ep. 18. (l) "Caput obnubito", &c. Ciceron. Orat. 18. "pro Rabirio", Liv. Hist. l. 1. p. 15. Curt. Hist. l. 6. c. 11. Vid. Solerium de Pileo, sect. 2. p. 20. & Lipsii not. in lib. 1. c. 1. de Cruce, p. 203, 204.

Then the king returned out of the palace garden into the place of the banquet of wine; and Haman was {d} fallen upon the bed whereon Esther was. Then said the king, Will he force the queen also before me in the house? As the word went out of the king's mouth, they {e} covered Haman's face.

(d) He fell down at the couch on which she sat and made request for his life.

(e) This was the manner of the Persians, when one was out of favour with the king.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
8. the word] This seems to refer to the speech just preceding. It was clear to the attendants, without any more specific utterance on the king’s part, that Haman was doomed to death.

they covered Haman’s face] Curtius in his history of Alexander the Great (vi. 8) speaks of this as done to Philotas, who had served with distinction under that monarch, when, on a confession of treason having been wrung from him by torture, he was about to be stoned to death. Livy also (i. 26) mentions it as a Roman custom. We have no authority beyond this passage for its practice among the Persians, and it is possible that, with a slight change in the Heb. word rendered ‘they covered,’ we should translate, his face became flushed (with dismay and shame). Cp. LXX. ‘he was utterly perturbed (confounded) in countenance.’[77]

[77] διετράπη τῷ προσώπῳ.

9 Harbonah] mentioned in the list of Esther 1:10.

Behold also] by a fortunate coincidence. Harbonah’s words indicate a malicious joy at the downfall of the favourite.

Esther 8:1. the house of Haman] his goods. See on Esther 3:11. For the confiscation of the property of a condemned criminal in Persia see Herod. iii. 129, where, after a description of the death sentence carried out in the case of Oroetes, a Persian, for murder and other misdeeds, the historian mentions as a matter of course that ‘the treasures of Oroetes’ were conveyed to Sardis.

Esther had told what he was unto her] There was no longer any motive for concealing the relationship, Mordecai being now secure in the king’s favour. Her own Jewish origin she had been obliged to disclose already (Esther 7:4).At 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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