Lange Commentary on the Holy Scriptures
B.—HAMAN ATTAINS TO POWER AND DISTINCTION. HE DETERMINES UPON THE DESTRUCTION OF THE JEWS
1. Haman’s elevation. His resolve with reference to the Jews. Esther 3:1–7
1AFTER these things [words] did [the] king Ahasuerus promote [elevated] Haman the son of Hammedatha the Agagite, and advanced [make great] him, and set [put] his seat above all the princes that were with him. 2And all the king’s servants, that were in the king’s gate, bowed [were bending] and reverenced [bowing themselves to]1 Haman: for the king had so commanded concerning [enjoined for] him: but [and] Mordecai bowed not [would not bend] nor did him reverence [and 3would not bow himself]1. Then [And] the king’s servants, which were in the king’s gate, said unto Mordecai, Why transgressest THOU2 the king’s commandment? 4Now [And] it came to pass [was], when they spake daily unto him, and he hearkened not unto them, that [and] they told [it to] Haman, to see whether Mordecai’s matters [words] would stand: for he had told them that he was a Jew. 5And when Haman saw that Mordecai bowed not, nor did him reverence, then [and] was Haman full of wrath.3 6And he thought scorn [despised in his eyes] to lay hands [hand] on Mordecai alone; for they had showed [told] him the people of Mordecai; wherefore [and] Haman sought to destroy all the Jews that were throughout [in] the whole kingdom of Ahasuerus, even the people of Mordecai. 7In the first month, (that is the month Nisan,) in the twelfth year of king Ahasuerus, they cast4 Pur, that is, the lot, before Haman, from day to day, and from month to month, to the twelfth month, that is the month Adar.
2. With the permission of Ahasuerus Haman issues the decree to exterminate the Jews. Esther 3:8–15
8And Haman said unto king Ahasuerus, There is5 a certain [one] people scattered abroad and dispersed among the people [peoples] in all the provinces of thy kingdom; and their laws are diverse from all [every] people, neither keep they6 the king’s laws, therefore [and] it is not for the king’s profit [fit for the king] to suffer 9them [let them rest]. If it please the king, let it be written that they may be destroyed [to cause them to perish]; and I will pay ten thousand talents of silver to the hands of those that have the charge [the doers] of the business [work], to bring it into the king’s treasuries. 10And the king took his ring [signet] from [off] his hand, and gave it unto Haman the son of Hammedatha [the Medatha] the Agagite, the Jews’ enemy. 11And the king said unto Haman, The silver is given to thee, the people also [and the people], to do with them [it] as it seemeth good to thee [in 12thy eyes]. Then [And] were the king’s scribes called on the thirteenth day of the first month [in the first month in the thirteenth day in it], and there was written according to all that Haman had commanded, unto the king’s lieutenants [satraps], and to the governors [pashas] that were over every [each] province, and to the, rulers [princes] of every [each] people of every [each] province7 according to the writing thereof, and to every [each] people after their [its] language; in the name of [the] king Ahasuerus was it written, and sealed with the king’s ring [signet]. 13And the letters [books] were sent by posts [the hand of the runners] into all the king’s provinces, to destroy, to kill [smite], and to cause to perish all Jews, both young and old [from lad even to old man], little children8 and women, in one day, even upon the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, which is the month Adar, and to 14take the spoil of them for a prey. The copy of the writing, for a commandment [law] to be given in every province,9 was published unto all people [the peoples], 15that they should be [to be] ready against [for] that day. The posts [runners] went out, being hastened by the king’s commandment [word]; and the decree [law] was given in Shushan the palace [citadel]. And the king and Haman sat down to drink; but the city Shushan was perplexed.
TEXTUAL AND GRAMMATICAL
1 [Esther 3:2. The different degrees of deference are well expressed by these two terms, of which the first, כָּרַע, denotes a simple inclination of the body as to an equal in courtesy, and the latter, שָׁחָה a complete prostration in Oriental style of homage to a superior.—TR.]
2 [Esther 3:3. The pronoun is emphatic, being expressed.—TR.]
3 [Esther 3:5. חֵמָה, a more intense feeling than the ordinary אַף.—TR.]
4 [Esther 3:7. הִפִיל is impersonal, one caused to fall.—TR.]
5 [Esther 3:8. יֶשְׁנוֹ the נ is epenthetic for euphony between the verbal noun יֵשׁ and its suffix וֹ.—TR.]
6 [Esther 3:8. The original is emphatic, “And there is none of them doing.”—TR.]
7 [Esther 3:12. The true construction is “In province by [lit. and] province was it written,” etc.—TR.]
8 [Esther 3:13. טַף, a collective term for girls and boys.—TR.]
9 [Esther 3:14. The original is emphatic, “In every province, and province, i.e., severally.—TR.]
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
Esther 3:1–7. The author in very brief terms places the elevation of Haman, the Agagite; by the side of the exaltation of Esther, as shown in the previous chapter. Hence it is the more surprising that he adds what we would least expect upon the elevation of Esther, namely, that Haman, provoked by the apparent, irreverence shown to him by Mordecai, resolves to destroy the Jews.
Esther 3:1. After these things did king Ahasuerus—in Esther 3:7 we are in the twelfth year of the reign of Ahasuerus, five years after Esther 2:16, but here somewhat sooner—promote Haman the son of Hammedatha.—גִּרֵּל usually used in bringing up children, here means to make him a great man—and set his seat above all the princes that (were) with him,i.e. above all those princes who were in his immediate presence, above his chief officers. He made him, so to speak, his Grand Vizier. Haman from humajun=magnus, augustus, or according to Sanscrit somán, meaning a worshipper of Somar, was a Song of Solomon of Hammedatha, whose name is formed from haomo, soma, and signifies one given by the moon (Benfey, Monatsnamen, p. 199). Nowhere else do we find it Hammedatha, but rather Madathas (in Xenophon) or Madathes (in Curt. v. 3, 6). This form according to Pott (Zeitschr. der D. M. G., 1859, p. 424) has the same signification; and probably the ה is placed at the beginning on the ground that it may readily have fallen away, and thus is regarded as the article and so pointed. It is quite possible that the author knew the meaning of these names, and found them significant in what follows. Haman would accordingly be noted as a representative of heathendom.10 The epithet הָאֲגָגֽי leads us to this conclusion. One tiring is certain, that this designation with Jewish interpreters, as Josephus and the Targums, had in it a reminder of the Amalekitish king Agag in Saul’s time (1 Sam. 15:8, 33). But we have evidence more nearly at hand, since Esther and Mordecai in Esther 2:6 are traced back to a family that had to do with the Agag just mentioned. Haman may not have been an actual descendant of the Amalekitish king, nor yet have been known as such. But possibly our author desired to designate him as a spiritual offshoot of that race.11 Agag was a king, and hence also a representative of that people which had kept aloof from Israel from motives of bitterest enmity, and at decisive times had placed itself in the way in a very hateful manner (comp. Ex. 17:8 sqq. and my Comment. on Deut. 25:17), and against whom the Lord also declared an eternal war (Ex. 18:15; Num. 24:20). As an Amalekite, he formed, as is fully shown in the Targums, a link for Haman with the equally rejected and hateful rival people, the Edomites. Again, the author would seem to indicate that the flame of conflict, which soon broke out between Haman and Mordecai, inasmuch as it was originally war between heathendom and Judaism, had burned from ancient ages ; and when Mordecai so vigorously withstood his opponent, causing his fall and destruction, he thereby only paid off a debt which had remained due from the time of Saul upon the family of Kish, since Saul had neglected to manifest the proper zeal by destroying the banished king (Agag). In the second Targum (on Esther 4:13) Mordecai gives expression of this view to Esther, namely, that if Saul had obeyed and destroyed Agag, Haman would not have arisen and opposed the Jews. The author doubtless placed Haman in relation to Agag in particular, and not to the Amalekites in general, since he was a leader and prince, and not a common man of the people. The Arabs and even later Jews applied such genealogical distinctions to Greeks and Romans (comp. e. g. Abulfeda, Historia Anteislamica). In the Old Testament the word כּוּשׁ in Ps.7:1 offers only a doubtful analogy; but on the other hand in Judg. 18:30 the change of Mosheh into Menashsheh is a parallel case wherein the faithless Levite Jonathan comes into a spiritual connection with the godless king Manasseh.
Esther 3:2. All the servants of the king, who had their posts in the gate of the king, i.e., all royal court-officers, were obliged to bow the knee before Haman and to prostrate themselves; for the king had so commanded concerning him (לְ, as with אָמַר and similar verbs, comp. e. g.Gen. 20:13). It was a custom among the Persians to bow before the king, fall prostrate, and kiss the ground (Herodot. iii. 86; vii. 36; viii. 118; Xenophon, Cyrop. 5:3, 18; 8:3, 14), so also before the high officials and other distinguished men (Herodot. iii. 134). Mordecai, however, refused to do reverence to Haman. He did this not from stubbornness or personal enmity. It is clear from Esther 3:4 that it was because of his character as a Jew alone; otherwise that fact would not have been mentioned in this connection. Again the Jews could not have thought such ceremony under all circumstances unfitting or non-permissible, as did the Athenians, perhaps, who regarded its observance (before Darius) by Timagoras, as a crime worthy of death; or as did the Spartans (Herod. viii. 136), and later still the Macedonians, who would not fall down before Alexander the Great according to Persian custom. This mode of obeisance was established and sanctified for the Jews by the manifold examples of the fathers (comp. e.g.Gen. 23:12; 42:6; 48:12; 2 Sam. 14:4; 18:28; 1 Kings 1:16). Even the Alexandrine translators and the authors of the Targums, as also the majority of modern interpreters, agree that bowing the knee and prostration upon the face has here a religious significance. Persians regarded their king as a Divinity, and paid him divine honors, as is abundantly attested by classical authors. In Æschylus, Pers., 644 sqq., it is said: “Darius was called their Divine Counsellor, he was full of divine wisdom, so well did he, Persia’s Shu-shan-born god, lead the army.” Curtius says (8:5, 11): “The Persians not only out of devotion, but also from motives of policy, reverenced their kings as gods, for majesty is the safeguard of the empire.” Comp. also Plutarch Themist. 27. In Haman as the chief officer it was doubtless intended to manifest a reflection of the divine dignity of the king, which should have reverence paid to it. Mordecai, it is held, thought that bowing the knee before Haman would be idolatry, and contrary to the commandment: “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image or any likeness.” But this law in itself would hardly have restrained him therefrom. Against this speaks, not only. Esther 3:4, which does not make a reference to the word of his God, nor yet to his monotheism, but only to his general character as a Jew; this, however, might be explained from the very slight indication in the style of our author. But the greatest difficulty in the way of this view is the circumstance that from such a conviction in regard to the act of bowing the knee, he must also refuse its performance even before Ahasuerus. In that case a later more intimate relation could not have subsisted between them. Moreover the facts seem against this view, since such Jews as Ezra, and especially Nehemiah, pious and loyal to the Law, found no difficulty at all observing the usual customs in their relations with the Persian kings of their time. It must certainly have been in his mind that to him Haman was an Agagite and Amalekite, i.e. a man placed under the curse and bann of God. He regarded bowing the knee before him as idolatry, if at all such, for the reason that a distinction only belonging to the representative of God would here be shown to one cast out and banished by God. Brenz says correctly: “The apocryphal statement (in the Sept. version) that Mordecai is said to affirm, that he would adore none but God, although a pious remark, is nevertheless not appropriate to this place.… Mordecai had in view certain passages (Exod. 17:5 and 1 Sam. 15), from which he understood that the whole race of Amalek and all the posterity of Agag the king of the Amalekites, to which Haman belonged, were accursed and condemned by God. Therefore Mordecai, stirred by the Holy Spirit, confesses with magnanimous candor that he is a Jew, and is unwilling to bless by his veneration one whom God had cursed.” In this view of the case Feuardent and Rambach substantially concur. If, on the contrary, we hold that Haman was not really an Agagite, and that the Jews regarded him as such only because of his disposition, then, of course, we must suppose that it was Mordecai’s arbitrary will which regarded Haman as one rejected by God. Haman’s inimical disposition against the Jews would not in itself have given a valid ground to the enmity of Mordecai. On the contrary it would still have been his duty to honor him because of his office. But this objection rests upon a stand-point such as we cannot assign either to Mordecai nor yet to the author of our book. It would have been different had it only had reference to a common personal enmity of Haman against Mordecai. But as the enemy of the Jews, who hates and persecutes them in toto because of their laws and religion, every one thought it proper to count him among those transgressors for whose extermination nearly all the Psalmists had prayed, over whom they had already seen the curse of God suspended, before whom one was not to manifest reverence, but rather abhorrence. It is well to bear in mind that Haman is not an enemy of the Jews, such as were so many heathen kings and rulers before him, but that in him the hate specially against the Jewish law was perfected, whereas other heathen magnates had usually manifested great indifference towards it. Mordecai had certainly abundant opportunity to become informed as to the kind of enmity thus exhibited. The author has not given this point great prominence because in his usual manner he thought he had done enough if he designated him as the Agagite. If this assumption be correct, then the import of our book is somewhat more general than is usually held; it does not in that case signify that the people of God can as such refuse to pay homage to men in certain definite ways and modes, but rather that to certain persons, as those who are rejected of God, all honorable distinctions may be denied. But it at all events amounts to this, that God’s people may not lessen the reverence due to Him by doing reverence to others; for homage shown to those rejected of God would be against the honor of God, would be idolatry. In so far as Haman is an enemy of the Jews, who will not allow the observance of their law and religion, the final question would after all be whether the people of God, together with its law and religion, can be suppressed by heathendom, or whether it will have the victory. Comp. also Seiler on this chapter.
Esther 3:3 and 4. The other officers daily questioned Mordecai because of his refusal, and finally reported him to Haman to see whether Mordecai’s matters would stand (would withstand, succeed): for he had told them that he was a Jew.—By “his words,” we can only understand an assertion that, as a Jew, he was prevented from participating in the ceremony of doing homage to Haman.
Esther 3:5 and 6. Haman, when he had convinced himself of the conduct of Mordecai, regarded it lightly, and did not deem it sufficient to punish him alone; for the people to whom Mordecai belonged, had been told him, hence Haman knew that he belonged to the despised people of the Jews. But he rather strove to destroy all the Jews in the whole realm of Ahasuerus as being of the same mind with Mordecai.12
Esther 3:7. Haman reasoned that for such a difficult and great undertaking he must select an especially appropriate day, and for this purpose he caused lots to be cast day after day throughout the whole year, and stopped at every day to see whether it was the one most proper for the undertaking. It was in the first month, that is, the month Nisan, in the twelfth year of king Ahasuerus, when this was done. Since he found a suitable day only in the twelfth month, namely, the thirteenth day of the month, according to Esther 3:13, it is clear that he manifested much persistency and endurance. Possibly, what in itself is not of great moment, namely, the time in which he examined every single day, is here given, in order to give due prominence to the greatness of his zeal. Possibly another reason may have obtained in this designation of time. If the day of extermination was determined on already in the month of Nisan, and proclaimed on the thirteenth of that month (comp. Esther 3:12) then it is clear that the Jews were for a whole year harassed in their mind regarding their fate in view of the edict which was now no longer a secret to them. Especially, if those living in and around Shushan had already heard on the 14th or 15th Nisan what was determined relative to them, then the most sacred joy which came to them in the Paschal festival was turned into utter sorrow. That it was the Paschal month in which their destruction was determined on, is by our author not so clearly expressed, since he seems to omit what might be understood as self-evident, but deserves consideration here. It seemed as if the old Paschal celebration, which indicated the ancient redemption out of the slavery from the world, was now to be abolished; as if Israel was now again to be handed over into the despotism and cruelty of foreign rulers. Instead of partaking of a feast it was enjoined on Mordecai, Esther and her friends to fast, as is shown in the old Targums (comp. chap.4:1, 16). But the more the ancient deliverance from Egypt seemed to be divested of its import, the more the new deliverance from Persia must have risen in significance; the more doubtful the joy of the Paschal-feast became, the more was the rejoicing of the feast of Purim enhanced. The feast of Purim as the second celebration of deliverance was hence co-ordinate with the Paschal festival as being the first deliverance, but in such a manner that the former became a vital support to the latter.
We do not regard Haman as the subject (Bertheau) to be supplied with הִפִּיל פּוּר, as is generally assumed according to Esther 3:6, but an indefinite “he,” some one, i.e., “they.” The author seems to presume that casting of lots in such cases as the one in hand was not infrequent, and that some one had the office of casting the lots, so that the subject of הִפִּיל, may be implied as impersonal. If Haman himself had been the subject, then the words לִפְּנֵי הָמָן following הוּא הַגּוֹרָל would be remarkable, instead of which one would expect to find it לֶפָּנָיו. Bertheau connects this sentence with the explanatory phrase הוּא הַגּוֹרָל, as if the use of the foreign word פּוּר by the Jews did not mean every lot, but only that cast before Haman. But then the author would have expressed it more easily and shorter: This is the lot of Haman and not the lot before Haman. That פּוּר in the Old-Persian signified lot may not be doubted. Even in Modern-Persian it is behr and behre, “appointment, fate, portio, pars; so that a ground meaning, such as “lot,” is not improbable (comp. Zenker, Turkisch-arab.-pers. Handwörterbuch, p. 229). It lies still more natural to compare it with, para or pare= “piece,” morceau, pièce, originally perhaps also portio (ib. p. 162).13 The casting of lots in ancient times was very common (comp. Van Dale, Orac. ethn. c. 14; Potter’s Archæol. I. 730) and is especially mentioned of the Persians (comp. Herod. III. 128). The opinion, so closely connected with Astrology, that one day was favorable and another unfavorable for a certain undertaking, is met with also among other ancient peoples, and very extensively among the Persians. Indeed it obtains in those regions even to-day (comp. Rosenmüller, Morgenland, III., p. 302).14
The words: from day to day, and from month to month, are not to be understood as if the casting of lots had been continued from one day to another, etc., and thus repeated over and over, but, as is clear from Esther 3:13, the meaning is that, in the first month every day of the year one after the other was brought into question.15 It is noticeable that, in addition to the words: “from month to month,” the number of the chosen month is added, the twelfth. One would expect such a sentence as this to follow: “And the month was chosen, and then the number.” At least after the phrase, “from month to month,” it would have been added “up to the twelfth month.” Hence Bertheau concludes that the Sept. has given the words here: “And the lot fell upon the fourteenth day of the month, which is Adar,” because they found them in the text, and that the eye of the copyist slipped all between the first לְחֹדֶשׁ to the second, after which latter follow the designation of the day and its number. But since the Sept. also adds: “In order to destroy the people of Mordecai in one day,” it is plain that it supplemented our verse with the thirteenth verse ; and since it was not the fourteenth day, but the thirteenth (according to Esther 3:13; Esther 9:18, 19) that was designated, it is clear that the Sept. assumed to make changes arbitrarily. Probably the author in his customary short style spoke just as we read it. The use of the cardinal number instead of the ordinal made such a contraction possible; and the statement as to which day had been decided by the lot, might readily be wanting here.
Esther 3:8–11. In order to gain the king also over to his own murderous plan, and to obtain of him a legal edict, Haman said to the king: There is a certain people scattered abroad and dispersed among the people in all the provinces of thy kingdom.16—יֶשְׁנוֹ has the Nun inserted before the suffix as in 1 Sam. 14:39; 23:23; Deut. 29:14 (Ewald’s Lehrb., p. 262 e). אֶחָד is a numeral. He means: “Only one of the many peoples has dared to disobey the laws of the king.” This one, however, is so generally scattered and dispersed among the others that the evil example is of no small moment. It seems as if Haman here gave expression to a presentiment, whose fulfilment is declared by Seneca when he (De superstit. 3, p. 427) says: “Such power have the customs of this detestable people already gained that they are introduced into all lands; they the conquered have given laws to their conquerors.” Their laws (are) diverse from all (other) people, especially from the laws of this realm (comp. in Esther 3:1, “above all the princes”).17Therefore it (is) not for the king’s profit to suffer them.—שֹׁוֶה, as in Esther 3:8; 5:13, while in Esther 7:4 it has a somewhat different sense. לְהַנִּיחָם, to leave them in peace.
Esther 3:9. If it please the king let it be written = let it be commanded by a public announcement, which is as irrevocable as a formal edict of the empire (comp. Esther 1:19), 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.—Such a great sum (according to the Mosaic Shekel twenty-five million, and according to the common shekel, twelve and a half million thaiers; vide Zöckler on 1 Chron. 22:14) does he hope to bring in by the confiscation of the property of the Jews.18 “Those that have charge of the business,” in 2 Kings 12:11, designated builders (masons, etc.); but here and in Esther 9:3 are meant the officers of the treasury [“the collectors of the revenue.” Rawlinson].
Esther 3:10. The proposal of Haman seems to have pleased the king so much that he gave him his seal ring, and thus empowered him not only to cause the before-mentioned public proclamation to be made, but also to issue other suitable decrees, and by imprinting the royal signet to give them the authority of irrevocable commands (comp. Esther 8:8, 9). In private relations the present of a ring was the token of the most intimate friendship. Princes, however, thereby designated the one who held it as their empowered representative, (comp. Esther 8:2; Gen. 41:42; 1 Macc. 6:5; Curt., X. 5, 4; Aristoph., Eq. 947; Schulz, Leitungen, etc., iv. 218 sq.; Tournefort, R., II. 383)19 Sometimes successors to the crown were also thus appointed (comp. Josephus, Ant.XX. 2, 3). The significant designation of Haman as “the son of Hammedatha the Agagite, the Jews’ enemy,” points out how eventful this bestowal of authority upon Haman became to the Jews.
Esther 3:11. The prospect of the great treasure thus to be acquired must have had considerable weight with Ahasuerus, who needed much money. Still it must not assume the appearance as if covetousness had anything to do with it. Hence he left the money to be gained to Haman, for thus he would also be the more sure of him in possible and coming events. The silver (is) (let it be) given to thee, the people also, to do with them as it seemeth good to thee.—The participle נָתוּן is a short mode of expression appropriate to the king. The sense is: “It is,” or: “Let it be given.” So also לַעֲשׂות, “let it be,” or: “It must be done.”20
Esther 3:12–15. Haman at once caused the necessary proclamations to be prepared, and had them sent into all the provinces of the kingdom. Esther 3:12. [Then were the king’s scribes called.—“The ‘scribes’ of Xerxes are mentioned more than once by Herodotus (7:100; 8:90). They appear to have been in constant attendance on the monarch, ready to indite his edicts, or to note down any occurrences which he desired to have recorded.”—Rawlinson]. In the very same month in which he had the lot cast, and on the thirteenth day of the same (בּוֹ, in it, the said month). Perhaps it appeared that the thirteenth day of the first month was favorably indicated together with the thirteenth of the twelfth month.21And there was written according to all that Haman had commanded unto the king’s lieutenants, and to the governors that (were) over every province, and to the rulers of every people of every province.—אֲהַשְׁדַּדְפָּנִים and פָּהוֹת are here, as in Ezra 8:36, placed together, the satraps of the larger provinces and the rulers among the separate peoples of the provinces. The שָׂרִים are the native so-called born princes of the different peoples. Before the following מְדִינָה, and likewise before עם further on, it should really be repeated: to the satraps, etc. The sense is: “For the governors of each province according to their mode of writing (style), and to those of every people according to its language.” In the addition: “In the name of king Ahasuerus was it written, and sealed with the king’s ring,” the perfect tense only is fitting, and not the participle. And though נִכְתָּב may have a Kamets, to give it greater distinctiveness, still this is not true of נֶחְתַּם, though so given in several editions.
Esther 3:13. And the letters were sent by posts,etc.—,נִשְׁלוֹחַ, infin. abs. Niph., instead of the finite verb in vivid description (comp. Esther 6:9; 9:6, 12). Letters, without the article, for the thought is: “Letters whose contents are that.....should be destroyed.” By the runners, by whom they were sent, are meant the posts, the angari or pressmen, who were posted on the main roads of the empire at definite distances from each other, from four to seven parasangs, and who rapidly expedited the royal (mail) letters or commands (comp. Herodot. V. 14; VIII. 98; Brisson, De reg. Pers. princ. I. c. 238 sq.). To destroy, to kill, and to cause to perish, all Jews,etc.—The crowding of verbs impresses the murderous import. And to take the spoil of them—i.e., to thus obtain their property as spoils. Haman, of course, did not desire to come short in that which fell to him; but by giving the people the privilege of plundering, he desired to awaken their zeal the more. Thus they would either give him a share of the spoils, or else he hoped to obtain the sum before mentioned by the help of his servants or his coadjutors.22
Esther 3:14. The copy (contents) of the writing,etc.—The statements respecting the contents in Esther 3:13 are too indefinite. It was not yet ordered that the officers only should fall upon the Jews, but that the people themselves should do this. This is expressly made to appear here. With reference to פַּתְשֶׁגֶן, see Ezra 4:11. The substance does not there follow verbatim, but is indicated by the infinitive. For a commandment to be given in every province.—But the decree itself reads: Let it be published unto all people that they should be ready against that day.—What was to be published is also indicated, but briefly. Thus in the style of expression the details are noted as is common in edicts, with abbreviation of points referred to. Since דָּת is feminine, as is seen, for example, in Esther 3:8,15, we cannot render: “That they should publicly proclaim the edict—make it manifest to all.” Still less are we to understand it, as does Keil: “A copy of the writing of the substance that a law be given, and be declared to all peoples.” Instead of גָּלוּי this verb would then have to be in the perfect tense, and נִגְלָה does not mean, as Keil interprets, open or unsealed in its transmission; neither does it mean opened, revealed, made known. גָּלוּי is rather in the optative, the same as is גָּתוּן in Esther 3:11 (so also Bertheau).
Esther 3:15.The posts went out, being hastened,etc.—דָּחוּף, went speedily, in haste; in 2 Chron. 26:20 is the Niph. נִדְחַף. The additional clause: and the decree was given in Shushan the palace means to assert from whence they went out. But the remark: And the king and Haman sat down to drink; but the city of Shushan was perplexed reveals the terrible contrast between the gluttony of these men and the distress into which they plunged the land. It also indicates by what means Haman sought to draw the king away from the business of government. נָבוֹכָה primarily does not mean that it was distressed by terror or sorrow, but that it was perplexed, did not know what to think of such a terrible command (comp. Joel 1:18); in an external sense נָבוֹךְ means to have erred (Ex. 15:3).23
DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL
On Esther 3:1–7. 1. Mordecai’s meritorious act, though recorded, had not yet been rewarded. One would naturally think that at this period he would obtain the deserved honor. But instead it is expected of him on his part to do honor to a man such as Haman, who was the sworn enemy of his people and a bitter opponent of the Jewish law; who finally, as an Agagite, was under the curse of God. Esther, who no doubt was true to Judaism, although she had not yet openly professed it, was seated on the throne as the chosen queen. And now one would be led to expect—certainly the Jews hoped—that she would bring the people relief from oppression, and restore for them liberty which would secure them from injuries such as they had hitherto experienced, or at least had been threatened with. Instead of this, Haman, empowered with full authority, resolves to wholly exterminate the people; indeed he is in haste, although this exterminating process was to begin only after eleven months, to make the people acquainted with their fate long before the event comes to pass. Now it happens that Haman thereby utterly ruins their holiest joy, and the season of Paschal rejoicing is converted into a time of distress and grief. It seems by such notice as if the people could no more place any reliance in their God as their Saviour; as if their Lord, who had at one time chosen them as His peculiar people, and who, if He would, could even now deliver them from the distress of exile, was no more to be the source of their joy. But, however unexpectedly these turns in their affairs may seem to some, and however the question might be raised, which is so often mooted, why it must thus transpire, seemingly against all hope; still that which came to pass was not so very surprising, but quite natural. One would very naturally expect of a prince who, like Ahasuerus, did not live to perform his duties, but to indulge in sensual gratification,— who sought, not the welfare of his subjects, but their wealth, would leave the power and government in the hands of men who knew how to flatter his weaknesses and to gratify his desires.
But above all, we cannot but notice the sharp contrast between the heathen state, as such, and the people of God. It looks very much like a merely casual human command, when Ahasuerus decreed that every one should bow the knee to such a man as Haman, and as if this single instance called forth a conflict. But in reality there is expressed the unconditional subordination which the state, especially the heathen one, must insist upon in reference to its laws and regulations. So long as the latter have proceeded not from the Spirit of God, but from the unregenerate heathen heart, so long will they contain demands to which the people of God cannot subject themselves. So long as the State is not entirely irreligious, it will be even inclined to operate within the religious domain, and thus the conflict takes its rise immediately between it and the people of God. We may also expect that the state will avail itself of such instruments to carry out its orders as of themselves are little disposed to be friendly to God’s people; instruments who, because of that people’s peculiarities, look upon them as a disturbing element, and are little disposed to exercise forbearance and toleration towards them. The people of God, on the other hand, have their obligation to obey all authorities under whose dominion they may be placed, even to the extent that they must endure condemnation to death, and suffer execution (Rom. 13:1 sqq.). But they are equally obligated to give honor to God and not to man. They can only give honor to man in so far as God has so ordered it. They must refuse honor to those who are opposed to God, at the risk of provoking the most powerful and dangerous men of authority in the government. There is in short a great contrast between those who know nothing higher than the law of the state and state religion and those who look above and beyond these to the true and living God, and who supremely reverence His law. This contrast in later times gave rise to the wars of the Maccabees, and still later, though differently in form, to the war against the Romans; and it was this, too, which more especially brought on the persecutions of the Christians. In short, it is the contrast which in the history of mankind has asserted its power even at the cost of conflict for life or death. It is so irreconcilable and so powerful that it could not and can not be removed by any compromise whatever, but only unconditional subjection on the one part—namely, of the kingdom of the world—and by victory on the other—namely, of the kingdom of God. This contrast has always revived anew where the powers of the world have thrown off from themselves the bands of the Lord and His anointed.
BERLENBURG BIBLE: “That believers obey not the laws of the king has always been the chief complaint among the anti-Christian rabble, of which Haman furnishes a copy. The children of God, in their eyes, must ever be insurrectionists, disturbers of the peace, persons subject to no law or order, and by whom the public weal is endangered.” Thus we have expressed the view in which Christ and His apostles were regarded (Luke 23:2, 5). But this is the greatest of all falsehoods.”
2. It is not only offended ambition that incites Haman against Mordecai; it is also hate against Judaism. It offends him that it has privileges and laws so different from those of the other peoples in the empire (comp. Esther 3:8). Hence he is not content to lay hands on Mordecai alone, but he resolves also to exterminate all Jews. As his offended ambition strengthens his hate against Judaism, his hate receives fresh occasion from the offence to his ambitious designs on the part of Mordecai. The contrast between him and Mordecai has therefore a more general and deeper reason. Even Mordecai’s religion is endangered thereby. Haman demands the bowing of the knee, because according to the Persian notion, Deity is thereby honored in him. This is to him a religious rite. This is especially clear from the fact that he does not himself arbitrarily determine the day in which he will carry out his designs respecting the Jews, but he is rather dependent on the voice of Deity, as it is revealed to him by means of the casting of the lot. Nevertheless he gives religion a subordinate position in his thoughts, tendencies, desires and purposes,—so that the former really becomes merely a means to the latter. It is just the opposite with Mordecai. Had it lain in his power to determine, he would doubtless cheerfully have obeyed the king’s order to bow the knee before Haman. He no doubt comprehended the greatness of the danger that threatened him in case of refusal. He would perhaps the more easily have given in, since no doubt a voice often whispered in his ear that it might be very questionable whether or not he should view Haman as an Agagite, as one rejected of God. But the facts were too plain, and God’s Word required Mordecai to abominate instead of honoring Haman. This he must perform not only when it was most agreeable to his disposition, but also in the most opposite case. Viewed in this light Haman and Mordecai clearly indicate to us that the emphatic difference between heathen and Jew is true piety. The former serves when the worship of deity is only worship of self; in the lower plane it is only worship of nature and of the flesh; in the higher grades it has its basis in worship of human ideals. True piety, however, is a surrender to another will, to the will of the Holy God. Hence the former perfectly corresponds to the selfish manner of men, as they live at present, because of sin; the other opposes this in sharp contrast. But while the first is a flatterer, who, if any man will give heed, will deceive, the latter is a trusty friend who will lead upon a right way and toward salvation.
BRENZ: “Satan, as Christ says, is a liar and a murderer. Hence he is ever busy in persecuting the church with his lying and murderous designs. You have heard before his lie: ‘The people are using new laws and ceremonies, and they despise the edicts of the king.’ Now hear his murderous words: ‘If it pleases thee, decree that this people be destroyed.’ ” FEUARDENT: “The sorrowful condition of the Jews becomes very apparent and plain as here revealed; likewise the just judgment of God is here fulfilled. He says: ‘They would not obey God in their own land, where they enjoyed such great freedom, but now they groan under the severe service that presses upon them, and they are brought into the risk of life itself. They refused to assemble in the sanctuaries of Jerusalem under their own kings, they ran after the golden calves, the sacred groves, and idols and superstitions of the heathen. Now they are placed and scattered under the most tyrannical form of government. They neither can nor dare congregate to offer a service of praise to God.” STARKE: “A man resigned to the will of God will disregard the laws of men, whenever these stand opposed to the will and laws of God, however much he may suffer thereby (Acts 5:19; Dan. 6:10 sq.). Although we should hold in honor those whom the higher authorities command to be honored, still such homage must not conflict with that due to God. When men disobey the laws of man and violate them, it is very soon taken notice of (Dan. 6:11–13); but if they violate the law of God, then no one seems to observe the fact. We should not make man our idol, nor make flesh our arm (Jer.17:5). Immoderate ambition generally breaks out into cruelty. The anger of great men is fierce (Prov. 16:14); hence one should have a care not to arouse the same against one’s self.”
On Esther 3:24. The people of God, in the conflict with their enemies, may rely on the protection of God, if they are morally in the right. Thus also the enemies of such people will be their own destroyers by virtue of their machinations. Such is the tenor of this whole book. But a more difficult question arises here, whether Mordecai, in refusing to bow the knee to Haman, and thereby bringing on the conflict, was really in the right. This question is the more grave, inasmuch as Haman could not properly be termed either an Agagite or an Amalekite; and all turned upon a form of homage proper and permissible in itself. The question would be more simple if Haman, as opposed to Mordecai, had been only a private individual. That in that case the latter’s conduct would have been right and proper, cannot be doubted. As the Lord sanctioned enmity against all that are like-minded to Amalek in the command: “Remember what Amalek did unto thee” (Deut. 25:17), David justifies himself before God in hating those that hate God, and is grieved at those who raise themselves against Him; indeed he hates them with perfect hatred (Ps. 139:21, 22). When he would recount the chief characteristics of a truly pious person in the church, he makes this trait prominent (Ps. 15:4). This, according to Luther, means that the just man is no respecter of persons; nor does he care how holy, learned, or powerful one be. If virtue be reflected from any one, the just man will honor him, though he were even a beggar. But if virtue be not found in him, then he will be esteemed as bad, and as nothing; the righteous man will tell him of it, and censure him. He will tell him, “Thou dost despise the Word of God, thou dost slander thy neighbor; therefore I desire no connection with thee.” The Christian must in like manner perform this duty. He must do it for the sake of mercy, if no other means will avail; or for the sake of truth, which pronounces evil to be evil, and censures it. He must hold up to reproof him who by a persistent immoral life brings disgrace upon the name of Jesus Christ, or even by his conduct manifests enmity against the same. This the Christian should do often, not only as respects the particular person, but also as respects his acts or disposition. In regard to this, Harless says very justly: “It were a gross error to think that the Christian should content himself with reproving simply the offence and its tendency, but that thereafter he could nevertheless maintain personal and external relations with such a person. On the contrary, the blessings of the Spirit of Christ given to His church, will materially depend upon the principle that in the selection of personal companionship the consciousness and true unity which should unite the church must be maintained by external separation. The Christian, in so far as it depends on his own selection and is consistent with his calling, should avoid the society of those whose disposition he has found to be reprobate. We cannot term it other than a lack of Christian consistency when such Christians call it Christian love to seek out society from all the world in an indiscriminate manner, and cultivate it, and that according to one’s own choice (comp. 1 Cor. 15:33, etc.)” (Christliche Ethik, § 47, p. 456, 7th ed.). But all this has reference primarily only to the relation of the common intercourse of neighbors. Haman was to Mordecai an official magisterial person. Besides, it was expressly commanded by the king that he should be thus honored by bowing the knee before him. Hence the command: “Honor thy father and mother,” and also the other that, “one should not revile the gods, nor curse the ruler of thy people” (Ex. 22:27), demanded respect. Neither was the precept to be forgotten: “My son, fear thou the Lord and the king” (Prov. 24:21). In the New Testament the two chief apostles exhort us to submission under authority: Paul in Rom. 13:1 sqq.; Peter in 1 Pet. 2:13 sqq. Peter closes the paragraph cited with the words: “Fear God. Honor the king.” If by the word honor we are to understand merely the rendering of obedience, as seems to be implied in verse 13, then it would not be doubtful as to its proper limits. The word of the apostle: “We ought to obey God rather than man” (Acts 5:29) is very conclusive and direct, and needs no further confirmation. The church-fathers of the first centuries, in treating of this point, strongly assert that we should honor the authorities in, and not as opposed to God. Comp. J. Gerhard, in De magistrate politico, § 474. Then when the stability of order within an organized community is attacked and overthrown in defiance of right,—and such was the situation in Persia when Haman in an inimical manner attacked the Jews, who up to this time had had the undisputed right to live according to their law and faith; when he became to them an Agagite and an Amalekite,—then resistance, and individual participation therein, is justified and commanded. This, of course, holds within the limits of the existing order of a people and of the individual calling. Stahl [Die Partheien in Staat u. Kirche, p. 288), as also Harless (Christl. Ethik, § 54), is very clear on this point that, “the doctrine of the blamableness of any active resistance, and the unconditioned obligation of passive obedience is opposed to the Christian’s sacred maintenance of right. So also is the assumption false that obedience must be rendered to authority because it is authority, even though it deny and disregard all right and law in the enforcement of its own claims to authority—an authority which it has not received for its own sake, but because of the right whose guardian and executor it is its calling to be” (Harless, as above, p. 541). Hoffmann (Schriftbeweiss, II., 2, p. 409) speaks from the same conviction: “It is certainly not morally permissible that one people rise against the righteous order in the existing government of another people, or of a foreign ruler. But it is a moral duty that it should not submit to be despoiled by a foreign power of that element, which, in God’s order, is essential to its existence and to its substantial peculiarity.” Experience has ever proved that resistance grounded upon a good conscience, and supported by so high and noble an enthusiasm, is indeed countenanced by God in so decided a manner, that no force, however great, can accomplish anything against it. It is worthy of notice that the command to honor the king and secular authority demands more than obedience, it embraces also regard and homage. Hence arises the question, whether or not we ought to meet certain persons with esteem and homage, to whom we must refuse obedience, indeed against whom—in contrast with Mordecai— we are compelled to offer resistance. There are doubtless many cases where these conditions obtain. Such a case would especially occur where the authorities think that right is on their side. When they proceed from a different view or conviction with reference to the case, they are by no means to be disregarded. The admonition in 1 Peter 2:18 is in place here: “Servants, be subject to your masters with all fear; not only to the good and gentle, but also to the froward.” Now if the authorities, as says Harless, really assume to disregard and deny right and law, in its claim of jurisdiction, which it can only have as the guardian and executor of justice, then practically it ceases to be authority. If it sanction oppression and pillage; if it touch the existing right, religion, and conscience, then it becomes a chief enemy of those who will not submit to the spoiling of these possessions—for so did Haman, nor otherwise could he justly be called an Agagite.
Hence homage can only be denied to the magisterial office where the bearer of the name is regarded as unworthy of the position he occupies. An external homage, in connection with which one must manifest hostility, would then become hypocrisy, and the more so since instead of giving the honor due from a sincere heart, we can only despise and execrate. To refuse it is only to act honestly, though it often requires courage. This is the more necessary since the opposition is grounded upon and confined to what is permitted according to right and calling. As was the case with Mordecai, we should take an early opportunity to manifest our determination to refuse homage to authority, since its false ways cannot be too severely condemned.
On Esther 3:8–15. 1. So long as Israel possessed a political independence the chief support of its religion had been the State. The State had jurisdiction over its own laws and those of religion. Now, however, the State takes an opposite stand to its religion. The complaint of Human was, that this people had different laws from those of the other peoples of the kingdom, and hence did not obey those of the king (which was correct as regarded the laws that were opposed to its own). For this reason also, Ahasuerus permitted the decree for the extermination of Israel. The State, even at this period, could not avoid demanding decided submission; and where it encountered insuperable obstinacy it adopted extreme measures, even banishment and extermination. But it would have been better had it been tolerant to the last degree. All the means of might were at its command, by which to carry out its will. All the offices and organizations which the State had established for the weal of its subjects, as is indicated in Esther 3:12 and 15, could have been employed in their subjection. One might feel inclined to ask whether, in view of all these things, there remained any hope for Mordecai; whether his opposition did not, at the very beginning, promise to be futile. Doubtless his hope was in Him for whose honor he was jealous; namely, in the living God. That Being now desires to make manifest for all ages by a striking example, that He can sustain His people, not only without the aid of any civil power, but also in opposition to a foreign State. Indeed He can preserve it even amid the heathen, in spite of all distracting elements. Hence the church need not fear, be the relation of the State what it may. The Lord knows how to make even the most unfavorable circumstances serviceable and useful to the church.
2. If now we inquire upon what natural basis Mordecai could establish his hope, then we observe that truth was on his side. That which is rejected of God, instead of being honored, is to be abhorred. Hence for him who believed in the true God, no doubt existed but that this truth would eventually obtain a more general recognition. But in order to this, a still longer development was needed. Heathendom must first become conscious of itself, i.e., of its own weakness and impotence, which were a part of its existence in spite of all external power; then only can it learn to know the true God. For the present, it was the weakness and failing, which attached to the leaders of heathenism, that offered resting-places for the helping hand of God. Whether these were already well known to Mordecai is doubtful; but to our eyes they are already manifest in this chapter. Haman would not venture to come before Ahasuerus and exhibit his wounded vanity and spirit of revenge; and Ahasuerus does not desire to reveal the fact that he is anxious to possess the money of the Jews. However, with the former vanity, and with the latter an inordinate desire for money, plays the chief part. They would have it appear as if their acts were done under the impulse of right and duty. They would kill off the people of God with proper decency. They dissemble; but they thereby gain only a self-condemnation of their own evil motives. An official who is guilty of dissembling, is in danger of being unmasked; and a prince who is so weak as to be led by a motive of which he must needs be ashamed, especially in such a grave and extraordinary occurrence, easily exposes also other weaknesses. Hence it would not be difficult for others likewise to gain the ascendency over him, who could easily dissuade him from a purpose, even after the same had become an irrevocable edict. The remark at the close of the chapter is also very significant and characteristic. A prince and an officer who at the time when the inhabitants of their chief city are in the greatest consternation, when above all an entire people is thrown into mortal fear of their life, can sit down to eat and drink, manifest either an inhumanity, which would easily arouse a general revolt, or an evil conscience which already foretells the failure of their plans. If we ask respecting the natural foundations upon which the expectation of an eventual victory of Christianity is based, in the face of all the assaults and dangers to which it is exposed, then the power of truth, as it breaks its way and compels universal recognition, would emphatically answer the question, and be the main point of reliance. The experience of centuries teaches one fact definitely and variously, that there is salvation in no other, and that no other name is given to men whereby they may be saved, than the name of Jesus Christ. But the weaknesses of those who deem themselves strong will over be a matter of observation. Christians should be better informed than they often are, of the impotency and nothingness of those in opposition to them. They have a clear right to the question: What can men do to us? Even their opponents must acknowledge, if they are not too much blinded, that in those nations among which the pure faith reigns supreme, there is a different type of fidelity, conscientiousness, devotion, and readiness to make sacrifices than among those who have been dried up by the sun of false enlightenment. The course of events will soon compel them to see their mistake.
BRENZ: “This is plainly what Christ afterwards said to His little church; that is, His disciples: ‘Verily, verily I say unto you, ye shall weep and lament, but the world shall rejoice: and ye shall be sorrowful, but your sorrow shall be turned into joy.’ For as in the passion of Christ the chief priests triumphed, and the soldiers mocked, but Christ hung on the cross and was afflicted with exceeding misery, so the joy of the wicked will be at its highest over the sorrow of the godly.… But that is most true which we read: ‘The triumphing of the wicked (is) short, and the joy of the hypocrite (but) for a moment. Though his excellency mount up to the heavens and his head reach unto the clouds; (yet) he shall perish for ever like his own dang: they which have seen him shall say, Where (is) he?’ ” FEUARDENT: “Observe now how active everything is in this matter, and how all conspires for the extermination of the people of God. The terrible sentence is defined and described in as many languages and modes as there are peoples in the empire.....But while the godly are in great distress, as they anticipate the fatal day of the cruel execution, the king and Haman indulge in drunkenness and lust and joy. So perisheth the righteous, and no man layeth it to heart (Isa. 57:1). So the servants of God are oppressed by the agents of the Devil. So cruelty triumphs.....But it is well. There is a God in the heavens.” STARKE: “When wicked men cannot otherwise persecute the pious, then his religion and laws must furnish them with a cause and a covering for their evil intentions (Acts 16:21, 22). In important matters it is not good to render a hasty judgment, it is better to reflect (Isa. 28:7). God permits the wicked to have success beyond their own expectation at times, but afterward destruction will come all the more unexpectedly. (Ps. 37:35, 36; Job 10:45.”)
[Esther 3:2. The different degrees of deference are well expressed by these two terms, of which the first, כָּרַע, denotes a simple inclination of the body as to an equal in courtesy, and the latter, שָׁחָה a complete prostration in Oriental style of homage to a superior.—TR.]
[Esther 3:3. The pronoun is emphatic, being expressed.—TR.]
[Esther 3:5. חֵמָה, a more intense feeling than the ordinary אַף.—TR.]
[Esther 3:7. הִפִיל is impersonal, one caused to fall.—TR.]
[Esther 3:8. יֶשְׁנוֹ the נ is epenthetic for euphony between the verbal noun יֵשׁ and its suffix וֹ.—TR.]
[Esther 3:8. The original is emphatic, “And there is none of them doing.”—TR.]
[Esther 3:12. The true construction is “In province by [lit. and] province was it written,” etc.—TR.]
[Esther 3:13. טַף, a collective term for girls and boys.—TR.]
[Esther 3:14. The original is emphatic, “In every province, and province, i.e., severally.—TR.]
[“The name Haman is probably the same which is found in the classical writers under the form of Omanes, and which in ancient Persian would have been Umana or Umanish, an exact equivalent of the Greek Eumenes. Hammedatha is perhaps the same as Madata or Mahadata (‘Madatos’ of Q. Curtius), an old Persian name signifying “given by (or to) the moon.” RAWLINSON.—TR.]
[“It is certainly difficult to assign any other meaning to the word; but on the other hand it seems unlikely that Agag’s children, if he had any, would have been spared at the time of the great destruction of Amalek, without some distinct notice being taken of it. Haman, moreover, by his own name, and the names of his sons (Esther 9:7–9), and of his father, would seem to have been a genuine Persian.” RAWLINSON.—We may therefore conclude that the epithet “Agagite” is here used symbolically of a heathen enemy of the Jews.—TR.]
[“In the West such an idea as this would never have occurred to a revengeful man; but in the East it is different. The massacres of a people, a race, a class, have at all times been among the incidents of history, and would naturally present themselves to the mind of a statesman. The Magophonia, or a great massacre of the Magi at the accession of Darius Hystaspis, was an event not fifty years old in the twelfth year of Xerxes, and was commemorated annually. A massacre of the Scythians had occurred about a century previously.” Raw linson.—TR.]
[“Pur is supposed to be an Old-Persian word etymologically connected with the Latin pars, and signifying “part or “lot.” In modern Persian pareh has that meaning. The recovered fragments of the old language have not, however, yielded any similar root.” RAWLINSON.—TR.]
[“The practice of casting lots to obtain a lucky day continues still in the East, and is probably extremely ancient. Assyrian calendars note lucky and unlucky days as early as the eighth century B. C. Lots were in use both among the Oriental and the classical nations from a remote antiquity.” RAWLINSON.—TR.]
[“A lot seems to have been cast, or a throw of some kind made, for each day of the month and each month of the year. The day and month which obtained the best throws were then selected.” RAWLINSON.—TR.]
[“Although a part of the Jewish nation had returned to Jerusalem with Zerubbabel, the greater portion was still despised among the provinces, in Babylonia, Mesopotamia, and elsewhere (see Ezra 7:6; 8:17 ; Neh. 1:1, 2, etc.).” RAWLINSON.—TR.]
[“Compare the charges made against the Jews by Rehum and Shimshai (Ezra. 4:13–16).” RAWLINSON.–TR.]
[“According to Herodotus (III. 95), 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 a year’s revenue (or two and a half millions sterling). With respect to the ability of Persian subjects to make presents to this amount, it is enough to quote the offer of Pythius (Herod. VII. 28) to present this same monarch with four millions of gold darics, or about four and a half millions of our money, and the further statement of the same writer (Herod. I. 192), that a certain satrap of Babylon had a revenue of nearly two bushels of silver daily.” RAWLINSON.—TR.]
[“The signets of Persian monarchs were sometimes rings, sometimes cylinders, the latter probably suspended by a string round the wrist. The expression here used might apply to either kind of signet.” RAWLINSON.—TR]
[“Some understand this to mean that Xerxes refused the silver which Haman had offered to him; but the passage is better explained as a grant to him of all the property of such Jews as should be executed. In the East confiscation follows necessarily upon public execution, the goods of criminals escheating to the crown, which does with them as it chooses (comp. Esther 3:13 ad fin., and Esther 8:1, and 11 AD FIN.). RAWLINSON.— TR.]
[“Haman had apparently (comp. Esther 3:7 with Esther 3:13) obtained by his use of the lot the 13th day of Adar as the lucky day for destroying the Jews. This may have caused him to fix on the 13th of another month for the commencement of his enterprise.” RAWLINSON.—TR.]
[“By the issue of the decree at this time (‘the first month’) the Jews throughout the empire had from nine to eleven months’ warning of the peril which threatened them. So long a notice is thought to be ‘incredible’ (Davidson), and the question is asked, ‘Why did they not then quit the kingdom?’ In reply we may say—(1) that many of them may have quitted the kingdom ; and (2) that those who remained may have believed, with Mordecai (Esther 4:14), that enlargement and deliverance would arise from some quarter or other. As to its being improbable that Haman should give such long notice, we may remark that Haman only wished to be quit of Mordecai, and that the flight of the Jews would have served his purpose quite as well as their massacre.” RAWLINSON.—TR.]
[“The remark that ‘Shushan was perplexed’ has been attributed to ‘Jewish conceit,’ but without reason. Susa was now the capital of Persia, and the main residence of the Persians of high rank. These, being attached to the religion of Zoroaster, would naturally sympathize with the Jews, and be disturbed at their threatened destruction. Nay even apart from this bond of union, the decree was sufficiently strange and ominous to ‘perplex’ thoughtful citizens.” RAWLINSON.—TR.]
After these things did king Ahasuerus promote Haman the son of Hammedatha the Agagite, and advanced him, and set his seat above all the princes that were with him.