Lange Commentary on the Holy Scriptures
B.—ESTHER IS GRACIOUSLY RECEIVED BY THE KING; BUT HAMAN, HIGHLY DISTINGUISHED BY THE QUEEN, RESOLVES, BECAUSE OF THE REFUSAL OF MORDECAI TO BOW THE KNEE BEFORE HIM, TO HAVE HIM HUNG
I. Esther finds favor with the King, and invites both him and Haman two separate times to a banquet prepared by herself. Esther 5:1–8
1Now [And] it came to pass [was] on the third day that [and] Esther put on her royal apparel, and stood in the inner court of the king’s house, over against the king’s house: and the king sat [was sitting] upon his royal throne in the royal house, over against the gate [opening] of the house. 2And it was so, when [as] the king saw Esther the queen standing in the court, that she obtained [received] favor in his sight [eyes]: and the king held out to Esther the golden sceptre that was in 3his hand. So [And] Esther drew near, and touched the top of the sceptre. Then [And] said the king unto her, What wilt thou [is to thee], queen Esther? and what is thy request? [ask, and] it shall be even given thee to the half of the kingdom. 4And Esther answered [said], If it seem good unto [upon] the king, let the king and Haman come this [to-] day unto the banquet that I have prepared [made] for him. 5Then [And] the king said, Cause Haman to make haste, that he may do [to do] as Esther hath said [the word of Esther]. So [And] the king and Haman came to the banquet that Esther had prepared [made]. 6And the king said unto Esther at the banquet of wine, What is thy petition? and it shall be granted thee: and what is thy request? even [ask, and] to the half of the kingdom 7it shall be performed [done]. Then [And] answered Esther, and said, My petition and my request is; 8If I have found favor in the sight [eyes] of the king, and if it please [seem good upon] the king to grant [give] my petition, and to perform [do] my request, let the king and Haman come to the banquet that I shall prepare [will make] for them, and I will do to-morrow as the king hath said [according to the mind of the king].
II. Haman, encouraged by the remarkable distinction extended to him, at once resolves upon the immediate destruction of Mordecai. Esther 5:9–14
9Then [And] went Haman forth [on] that day joyful and with a glad [good] heart: but [and] when [as] Haman saw Mordecai in the king’s gate that [and] he stood [rose] not up, nor moved [or trembled] for [on account of] him, [and, i. e. 10then] he [Haman] was full of indignation against Mordecai. Nevertheless [And], Haman refrained [restrained] himself: and when he came home [to his house], [and] he sent and called for [brought] his friends [lovers], and Zeresh his wife. 11And Haman told [recounted to] them of the glory of his riches, and the multitude of his children, and all the things wherein the king had promoted him [made him 12great], and how [that] he had advanced [raised] him above the princes and [the] servants of the king. [And] Haman said moreover, Yea, Esther the queen did let no man come in with the king unto the banquet that she had prepared [made] but myself; and to-morrow am I1 invited [called] unto her also2 with the king. 13Yet all this availeth me nothing, so long as [in all the time that] I see [am seeing] Mordecai the Jew sitting at [in] the king’s gate. 14Then [And] said Zeresh his wife and all his friends [lovers] unto him, Let a gallows be made [Let them make a tree] of fifty cubits high [in height], and to-morrow [in the morning] speak [say] thou unto the king that [and] Mordecai may be hanged [they will hang Mordecai] thereon: then [and] go thou in merrily [joyful] with the king unto the banquet. And the thing [word] pleased [was good before] Haman; and he caused the gallows to be made [made the tree].
TEXTUAL AND GRAMMATICAL
1 [Esther 5:12. The pronoun, being expressed, is emphatic.—TR.]
2 [Esther 5:12. The position of גַּם before לְמָחָר gives the latter emphasis; this was a fresh token of favor.—TR.]
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
Esther 5:1–8. Mordecai’s opposition against Haman receives fresh support by the movements of Esther. But they have as a first result that Haman on his part also determines the utmost extreme against Mordecai. Hence the conflict against Mordecai is here also the chief feature, as was that of Mordecai against Haman in the previous chapter. Esther risks an unannounced entrance to the king—so it seems—only that she might together with him invite Haman to the banquet in order to distinguish the latter before all other officers. Thereby the arrogance of Haman is extraordinarily strengthened.
Esther 5:1. On the third day, viz., after her interview with Mordecai (comp. Esther 4:14 sqq), Esther put on (her) royal (apparel).—If we will not with Bertheau on Esther 6:8 and 8:15 sanction the rejection of לְבוּשׁ before מַלְכּוּת, then we must accept the fact that מַלְכּוּת in itself signifies royal dignity (comp. Esther 1:19), but also means royal apparel; or that it was usual in poetic language to say לָבַשׁ חוֹד וְהָדָר (comp. 4:1; Job 40:10), as also לָבַשׁ מַלְכּוּת. An accusative of limitation, “according to the king’s manner,” is highly improbable here. Esther posted herself—so here תַּעֲמֹד, according to 1 Kings 20:38; 1 Sam. 17:51; not: stood, remained standing,—in the inner court in such a position that the king, who sat upon his throne in the king’s house, could see her. He sat נֹכַח פֶּתַח הַבָּיִת, not: before, but opposite, over against the door of the house. Since נֹכַת may easily be rendered “before” in the sense of “opposite,” it is well so to translate it. Perhaps the king had selected this position in order the more easily to see what transpired in the court of the house. Perhaps also the throne was situated not far from the farthest wall, and nearer to the door.3
Esther 5:2. As his eyes fell on Esther she found grace in his sight, see Esther 2:9. As he extended the golden sceptre to her she touched its point, possibly, as is indicated by the Vulg., kissing it.
Esther 5:3. [What wilt thou? “Rather, ‘What ails thee?’ ”—Rawlinson.] He promised her: it shall be given thee to the half of the kingdom, viz., she might make bold request, and it should be granted her what she desired; similarly as in the case of Herod in Mark 6:23.4 Feuardent: “Observe, I pray you, the promise, so thoughtless, rash, and imprudent (a common fault among kings), which, without consideration, is here repeated for the third time (comp. chap. 6 and 7:2). So excessive and prodigal are princes as regards women, good-for-nothing, gluttons, sycophants, traitors, and such like.” But here it is in point to notice the greatness of that object which is capable of calling forth true love, and for it nothing is too great.
Esther 5:4. The first and simplest thing that Esther dared to request was to invite Haman and the king to dine with her. אִם טוֹב עַל, as in Esther 1:19. She would doubtless first convince herself whether the impression which she made on the king was deep enough to encourage her to express such a great request as she intended to present.5 She desired Haman to be present, in order, as Calov remarks, that “she might charge him by name in the presence of the king with the decree surreptitiously obtained against her people, and to his very face cut off every possibility of cavil;” perhaps also in order to make his confusion the more complete.
Esther 5:5. The king ordered Haman to be quickly called, and with him accepted the invitation of Esther. מַהֲרוּ, hastened, i. e., to cause to make haste, comp. 1 Kings 22:9; 2 Chron. 18:8. לַעַשׂוֹת, as an infin., may have Haman as its subject: “that he may do as Esther hath said.” This also would explain the phrase, in order that one do, i. e., the words of Esther.
Esther 5:6. At the banquet of wine (comp. Esther 7:2),—thus is indicated the more advanced stage of the banquet, where drinking was the chief thing, and where, in consequence, the most cheerful feeling prevailed (Bertheau), the king repeated his question and reasserted his promise.6וְתֵעָשׂ (Esther 7:2; 9:12), “and it shall be granted thee,” is the shortened form of the imperf., the so-called jussive future, instead of וְתֵעָשֶׂה.
Esther 5:7, 8. Still Esther hesitates with her principal request. It is true she begins: My petition and my request (is); as if she would now express herself, but she breaks off as if courage failed her, or as if she reflected upon it; and she leaves it there, simply again inviting the king and Haman to another banquet, at which she obligates herself to make her petition known. She doubtless was not yet sure of the success of her undertaking.7
Esther 5:9–14. Haman, completely puffed up because of the distinction shown him on the part of the queen, felt all the more bitterly the apparent stubbornness of Mordecai, which still continued, and resolved, aided by the counsel of his friends and wife, on the following day to request his execution from the king.
Esther 5:9. On the same day he again met Mordecai in the gate of the king. It must needs be that on this very day Mordecai must provoke his anger to the highest degree, and thereby unconsciously assist in precipitating the inimical orders of Haman. The whole plan of the book is thus brought out in its correspondence to the conception and development of the present treatment. Mordecai could now again stand in the gate of the king. The garments of mourning which had prevented him from this, were doubtless laid aside when he assuredly knew that Esther would take the step promised to him, i. e., go to the king. Fasting no doubt also ceased at the same time. In consequence he was doubtless more than ever drawn to that position where he might first hope to hear of the success of Esther. To the expression: But when Haman saw Mordecai in the king’s gate, there is added the statement, that he stood not up, nor moved for him.—Such sentences of condition may be inserted without a copula (comp. Ewald, § 346). The וְ before לֹא־קָם, therefore, instead of being a copula, is a correlative to the following וְ before לא־זָע: so that we have an apposition, “neither”—“nor.” Still it is more common and natural to accept a connection by means of וְ, “and” (comp. Gen. 18:11; 24:21; Joshua 6:1). קָם and זָע are not participles—for then their subject would be made prominent—but they are third pers. præt. But זָע with מִן does not mean: neither did he even move from before him (Vulg. and most interpreters), but according to Dan. 5:9; 6:27: he trembled not, was not terrified before him, as he should have done had he violated the law of the king (Esther 3:2).
Esther 5:10. Haman controlled himself, but only to consult soon after with his friends and wife, i. e., those who he knew would sympathize with him, and who would restrain him from too great rashness in determining upon radical measures against Mordecai.8
Esther 5:11. The author, with great art of statement, gives Haman an opportunity to recount all that would make him great and happy, but yet so as to make him admit that there is one thing missing for the completion of his happiness, and this is indispensable, namely, the destruction of Mordecai. The higher the fortune and honor in which he rejoiced, the greater would be the fall, so soon to be realized; and the more impressive must be his history upon those who read it. Next to the glories of his riches he makes mention of the multitude of his children (sons). According to Esther 9:7–10 there were ten of them. Bertheau thinks these do not belong here, and he would change the reading. But Haman was obliged to mention them in honor of his wife. What indeed would his riches have been to him had he possessed it for himself only, or if he had not hoped to cause his sons to inherit after him, in whom, so to speak, he continued to live on? Not only among Persians, but also among Israelites, the happiness of parents depended largely upon the multitude of children; especially of sons. Likewise also the esteem in which they were held, particularly with the king, who sent presents annually to parents having the greatest number of children (comp. Herod. I. 136). Then also he recounted all wherein the king had promoted him, etc. אֲשֶׁר is here the second accus., depending on גִּדֵּל, and one of definition or of instrument.
Esther 5:12. As the highest point of his distinction, and the very latest, he mentions the circumstance that, above all others, he alone was invited to the banquet of the queen to be given the day following. This is the most direct proof that the author regarded these invitations as the very highest point of distinction. And he lays great stress thereon in order the more powerfully to show the overwhelming disaster that befel Haman, and also to prepare the reader for the climax of the story. אף, also, moreover, indicates in advance that what follows is a new ascending period. אֲנִי קָרוּא־לָהּ means she has invited me (see Ewald, § 295 c).
Esther 5:13. Yet all this—thus he himself must make prominent his folly and insatiableness, and at the same time pronounce his own sentence—availeth me nothing, is not satisfactory to me, so long as I see Mordecai the Jew sitting at the king’s gate.—בְּכָל־עֵת אֲשֶׁד may mean: at all times, every time, when I; so that the sense is that the feeling of dissatisfaction comes to the surface each time. But it may also mean: during the whole time when I, i. e., so long as I (comp. Job 27:3, according to Schlottmann and the older interpreters). The fact that such a Jew may defy him unpunished seems to be a counter-proof against his dignity and power.
Esther 5:14. Then said Zeresh his wife and all his friends.—Zeresh being first, and also the singular form of the verb, indicates that she led the counsel. Even kings as well as their chief officers doubtless often allowed themselves to be directed by their wives. Let a gallows be made, i. e., erected, of fifty cubits high.—The third person plural here, as also in what follows, again points to an indefinite “one,” “let one,” “let them.” The height of the gallows should intensify the disgrace of hanging, but should also serve to make manifest the dreadful punishment, and to terrify as many as possible from being discourteous to Haman. Feuardent well says: “But why make it so high (i. e. the tree, gallows)? In order that his disgrace might be plainly observable to the eyes of all, and the more striking. Wherefore should he be in such haste about it? Lest there should be danger in delay or procrastination. For what reason have it erected before his own house? So that he and all his family going in and out, seeing Mordecai hanging, might mock and feast their cruel eyes and minds with so miserable and foul a spectacle.” Speak thou unto the king that Mordecai be hanged thereon, i.e., speak, that they hang. תָּלָה as in Esther 2:23. These advisers take it for granted that the king will give his consent.9 Hence the gallows should be already prepared in order that the execution may come off that very morning. Then, of course, his joy can be unclouded for his noon meal.10
DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL
Esther 5:1–8. 1. The destiny of God’s people depended not only on the humors of this Persian king in general, but also upon the impression which a woman might make upon that monarch. This must appear as very peculiar and highly significant. Women have often exerted a decisive influence upon the destinies of nations. But here it seems as if this was not quite consonant with the dignity of the people of God, as they were still worthy of being called. It seems as if such a state of things could only be true of a degenerate cause. At present we have the view of Esther standing before the king, not as a wife before her husband, but as a petitioner before a sovereign, imploring protection, and anxiously waiting whether he would graciously reach out his sceptre to her. This truly represents the condition of dependence and lowliness of the Church of the Diaspora. In contrast with it Ahasuerus represents the dignity of the worldly power bearing rule over the people of God. For all this, however, every one feels that true dignity does not dwell with the former; he would else not have been taken captive by the charms of a woman, nor have made such unlimited promises, as he expressed. But true worth dwells with Esther, who, impelled by love for her people, risks even her life. Judgment concerning him would be vastly different if his liberality were to remind us that divine love above is prepared to give the better (godly) people all that is needed for its salvation and welfare. At any rate Esther here very well represents the better people. There are found in her beautiful countenance traces of the deep grief which fills her heart. She has become weakened by the fasting which she has imposed upon herself. She is pale in consequence of fear, which she cannot suppress. Hence her appearance is all the more noble and winsome to us. And if in Ahasuerus we regard the power which must be overcome, and in her the possibility of Israel’s power, then it can no more be doubtful, how great will be the victory of Israel.
BRENZ: “This is truly heroic magnanimity, by which Esther declares as great a faith towards God, as love towards His church. Her trust in Him is such that she incurs the peril of her life in obedience to His call. For though all the circumstances of the case threaten her destruction, still she hangs by faith upon the divine promises. For whom God calls and leads into danger, to him He has also promised preservation and deliverance in those dangers. To Abraham He said: ‘Get thee out of thy country and thy father’s house.’ This was a call to face danger. But He also added the promise: ‘I will make of thee a great nation.’ It is love alone that exposes itself in behalf of the church of God, and would rather risk its own life than leave the Church of God in danger. We may at the same time observe the modesty of Esther. Though elevated to regal majesty she does not disregard nor despise her relatives, even when most unfortunate and outcast; but condescends even to run the hazard of her life for them. How very far are some men, who have obtained a dignity beyond others, from exhibiting this modesty!”
2. We may recognize the picture of a soul praying to God in the image of Esther standing with humble and imploring attitude before Ahasuerus. Sacred poetry, especially, has made use of single features or expressions of this history in this regard. So Dressler in his beautiful hymn: “My Jesus to whom seraphim,” etc., causes the pious supplicant to say: “Reach thy sceptre to my soul, which like an Esther bows to thee, and shows herself thy bride to thee. Speak: ‘Yea, thou art she whom I have chosen.’ ” The representative signification of the persons in this history have, as it were, brought with them their own recognition. The Christian may certainly employ them in this sense. So STARKE when he says: “If a heathen king can willingly grant such grace, how much more willing is the most faithful Lord to receive all poor destitute sinners coming to Him in faith, and in the good time to come to place them upon His throne.” Ahasuerus paid no regard to the fact that Esther had violated his commandment, but received her very graciously, although his irrevocable edict stood in the way of granting her petition. The father heart of God, although we violate all His laws, and though His unchangeable holiness be against the sinner, still yearns toward us in its great love and grace. But just as Esther came boldly and yet modestly, so we also must combine with true humility a true and elevated courage, a disheartened repentance together with confiding faith.
BRENZ: “Consider a moment the happy issue that these events take, which are undertaken with faith and pious prayer.… How did Esther extort this from so great a king? Certainly not by outcries, nor by contempt, nor by disdain, nor by quarrels, nor by contention, nor by dishonest means; for by these practices women are wont to get blows and wounds rather than power and control; but by piety toward God, by reverence toward her husband, by modesty and all other reputable virtues. For so by serving and being obedient women rule, which is their only legitimate mode of governing.”
STARKE: “The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord, as the rivers of water; He turneth it whithersoever He will (Prov. 21:1). My God reach Thy sceptre also to Thy bride now humbling herself before Thee.—To promise much is the universal custom of great men, but those keeping promises are few in number, (1 Macc. 11:53). It is far easier to obtain favors by an humble and modest behaviour than by sullenness and a boasting manner (Gen. 23:7 sqq.).”
Esther 5:9–14. 1. Our book is distinguished by showing us the greatest and most surprising changes of fortune of opposite character in a very small compass. Esther and Mordecai, after having the most pleasing prospects held out to them, are plunged in the greatest distress; indeed they are seized with the terrors of death, and fast in sackcloth and ashes. Then again they are lifted up to the highest pinnacle of human fortune. Haman, on the contrary, the most powerful favorite of Ahasuerus, can even think of exterminating a whole people in order to satisfy his desire for revenge. The king not only agrees to all that he undertakes, but the queen also distinguishes him before all other officers in the most flattering manner. This he himself regards as the very summit of his fortune and honor; and then his fall is so sudden and great, that he finds his end on the very accursed tree which but shortly before he caused to be erected for his mortal enemy. In this way our book strikingly illustrates the double truth, that, whomsoever the Lord would raise especially high, He often humbles very low; and, on the other hand, he whom He would suddenly overthrow, is often raised to great heights. In other words, it shows us in what wonderful ways the Lord leads His own children, as well as godless sinners. But it also gives a very definite reason why the one receives such exalted station and the other such great degradation. We must not therefore think of God in an anthropopathic, i.e., unholy manner, nor must we speak of “a freak of fortune.” The process of humbling brings forth quite a different result in the pious person than does elevation in an ungodly one. The humiliation of Mordecai causes him to enter upon most severe and long-continued exertion, instead of remaining in a state of inactivity and reserve. He begins to exert himself in a most persistent manner to do all in his power for the deliverance of his people, without regard to his own personal cost or comfort. He even puts at stake the welfare of his beloved Esther, for the good of all the people. He prevails upon Esther, and she is willing to endeavor to save her people, even at the risk of her own life. By means of their humiliation they both were elevated to a grand height of purpose, which they had not before known. But the matter chiefly interesting is, that they submit to this humbling process. This is shown by their fast. They become conscious that in them are many things that provoke the displeasure of God, and thus they are purified by means of their sorrows. There was doubtless not wanting in them the proverbial Jewish stiff-neckedness; and this had first to be broken, before they became fitted for the good days coming, especially in manifesting humility, gratitude, and condescension towards others. Haman, on the contrary, as soon as he came from the banquet with Esther, gathers his friends and wife, boasting of his glorious riches, and the multitude of his sons, and his exalted dignity and honor, not in order to bring a thank-offering to his God, but only to impress upon them, to what recognition and distinctions of honor he can lay claim. The first and great mistake of the wicked is that all which they have accomplished and gained becomes a source of self-exaltation; the result is, that instead of finding their success more than great enough, they still find fault, indeed regard it as worthless, as nothing, so long as they have not yet attained the one thing, which now appears to them as chief. The effect is not that they reflect and become conscious of their internal want, but they accuse those circumstances that bring the want. Hence their third and most desperate mistake is, that they conceive the resolution, or are moved thereto by others, that, whatever be in their way, let it cost what it may, be it even an outrageous deed, they will remove it, so only they reach the longed-for object. If the antecedent humiliation is the proper beginning for the elevation of the pious, then the preceding elevation is already a beginning of divine judgment for the wicked. The words: “When thou dost humble me, thou dost make me great” (Ps. 18:36), which in the original reads: “Thy gentleness (condescension) hath made me great,” has its truth well expressed in Luther’s translation; and in so far he correctly interprets the text, since God condescends or humbles Himself only to those that are humbled. But the other: “Surely thou didst set them in slippery places” (namely the wicked), must mean that by simply permitting the success of their plans and their prosperity, the Lord places the feet of the wicked on ground which will turn to water under their feet (comp. Job 20:16).
BRENZ: “Remark in Haman the stupendous and wonderful judgment of God. For the impious Haman is most exultant and fearless as regards the preservation and augmentation of his dignity and power; and he is most certain also of the destruction of Mordecai, whom he prosecutes with hatred. But behold now the end of the thing. The impious and secure Haman shall perish with sudden destruction; while the pious and afflicted Mordecai is unexpectedly raised to the highest dignity.… Let us therefore cast away all impious security, and fear God; so that, walking according to the calling of God, you may be preserved though the sky fall and the earth be moved.”
FEUARDENT (from Rupert, De victoria verbi, VIII., 18): “ ‘In order that he may give over a huge wild beast, as a fierce bear, to destruction, he first draws him to his food; so that he may no sooner hear the report, than feel the pang; no sooner see the pit, than fall into it. The cautious hunter well knows that it is more convenient to overpower the entrapped beast, than to overtake it by a doubtful chase with the dogs when frightened and running through the woods. These things are evidently to be regarded as not merely a part of the prudence of Esther, but much more of Divine Providence, which directed the prudence of the queen.’—Surely Haman errs in that boasting, since he neither recognises God as the author and bestower of so many good things, nor gives Him thanks without contumely and the mark of a most ungrateful mind.… What could be more effeminate and miserable than such a spirit? Does he not seem like another Tantalus, catching at the streams that flee his lips? … So they who have not peace toward God and love toward their neighbor, cannot even have them toward themselves. ‘Peace to those who are near and to those that are afar off,’ says the Lord; ‘but the wicked are like the troubled sea, that cannot rest, whose waves cast up mire and dirt’ (Isa. 57:20).… Observe finally how false and vain is the confidence of impious and cruel men, who seek and hope to oppress and utterly destroy the servants of God. It is themselves that perish by the just judgment of God, and they are often caught by the very snares they lay for others; while God rescues His servants, and magnificently vindicates them. Goliath and Holofernes are slain with their own sword, and the saints triumph with their heads. The Babylonian satraps seemed to themselves secure, when the flames and the lions were about to devour Daniel and his companions; but the latter were gloriously preserved, and the former ignominiously perished by their own artifices and instruments. Pharaoh boasted,’ I will overtake (the Hebrews), I will divide the spoil’ (Exod. 15:9); but he immediately became food for the fishes, and a prey for the servants of the Lord. ‘The Lord knoweth the thoughts of man, that they are foolishness.’ ‘He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh at them.’ These are the effects of that judgment of which the Holy Spirit speaks by the prophets: ‘Evil-doers shall be cut off; but those that wait upon the Lord, they shall inherit the earth’ (Ps. 37:9). Let us therefore cast away impious security, contempt of God, and inhumanity towards others; but let us walk in the love and fear of the Lord, that at length we may come to His heavenly kingdom.”
2. The previous chapter has shown of what exertions and self-denial Mordecai and Esther were capable in their conflict with Haman, since the salvation of their people was at stake; the present chapter shows us the extent of the evil mind of Haman, since he was only concerned for himself. It was not enough for him to have procured an edict commanding the universal destruction of the Jews. It seemed too long a time before this should be accomplished. Neither in his eyes should Mordecai perish in the manner of the rest of the Jews. He made it a point not only to destroy Mordecai, but to expose him to public shame. So instead of abiding by the lot, the voice of his divinity, which had imposed patience on him, he took counsel with his wife and friends. Thus he reached a point in his madness of impatience and insecurity which in itself is the best proof that such a one is not far from self-destruction.
STARKE: “An envious man cannot peacefully enjoy the benefits which God gives him. Go not after thine lusts, but refrain thyself from thine appetites (Sir. 18:30).—It is very grievous of wives to urge their husbands to do wickedly (1 Kings 21:7; Sir. 28:15, 16).—He who digs a pit for others will fall in himself (Sir. 25:11, 20).—We must not of ourselves revenge ourselves on our enemy, but first bring him before the proper tribunal (Rom. 12:19).—When the wicked are busy to remove from their path what will mar their earthly joy, then, on the other hand, the godly should be diligent to remove that which will embitter their spiritual and heavenly joy.”
[Esther 5:12. The pronoun, being expressed, is emphatic.—TR.]
[Esther 5:12. The position of גַּם before לְמָחָר gives the latter emphasis; this was a fresh token of favor.—TR.]
[“This is the usual situation of the throne in the ‘throne-room’ of an Oriental palace. The monarch, from his raised position, can see into the court through the doorway opposite him, which is kept open.”—RAWLINSON.—TR.]
[“According to Herodotus (IX. 109), Xerxes, on another occasion, when pleased with one of his wives, offered to grant her any request whatever, without limitation.”—RAWLINSON.—TR.]
[“Esther seems to have been afraid to make her real request of Xerxes too abruptly, and to have wished to impress him favorably before doing so. She concluded that the king would understand that she had a real petition in the background, and would recur to it, as in fact he did (Esther 5:6, and Esther 7:2).”—RAWLINSON.—TR.]
[“After the meats were removed, it was customary in Persia to continue the banquet for a considerable time with fruits and wine (Herod. I., 133). During this part of the feast the king renewed his offer.”—RAWLINSON.—TR.]
[“Esther still cannot bring herself to make the request on which so much depends, and craves another day’s respite. She will soften the king’s heart by a second banquet, and then she will submit her petition to him. There is something extremely natural in this hesitation.”—RAWLINSON.—TR.]
[“The name Zeresh is probably connected with the zered zara, ‘gold.’ Compare the Greek Chrysis.” RAWLINSON.—TR.]
[“A gallows, in the ordinary sense, is scarcely intended, since hanging was not a Persian punishment. The intention, no doubt, was to crucify or impale Mordecai; and the pale or cross was to be seventy-five feet high, to make the punishment more conspicuous. On the use of impalement among the Persians, see the note on Esther 2:23.” RAWLINSON.—TR.]
[“As Ahasuerus had already consented to a general massacre of the Jews within a few months, it seemed probable that he would readily allow the immediate execution of one of them. Requests for leave to put persons to death were often made to Persian kings by their near relatives (Herod. IX. 110; Plutarch, Artax. 14, 15, 17, 23, etc.), but only rarely by others.” RAWLINSON.—TR.]
Now it came to pass on the third day, that Esther put on her royal apparel, and stood in the inner court of the king's house, over against the king's house: and the king sat upon his royal throne in the royal house, over against the gate of the house.