Matthew Poole's Commentary
After these things, when the wrath of king Ahasuerus was appeased, he remembered Vashti, and what she had done, and what was decreed against her.The virgins of the kingdom being gathered together, a queen is to be chosen, Esther 2:1-4. Esther, nursed by Mordecai, is chosen to be one of the virgins, Esther 2:5-8; and preferred before the rest, Esther 2:9-11. The manner of her purification, Esther 2:12-14. She pleaseth the king, and is made queen, Esther 2:15-17. The king makes a feast for his princes and servants, Esther 2:18-20. Mordecai discovereth a treason against the king, Esther 2:21,22; which is recorded in their chronicles, Esther 2:23.
He remembered Vashti with grief and shame, that in his wine and rage he had so severely punished, and so irrevocably rejected, so beautiful and desirable a person, and that for so small a provocation, to which she was easily led by the modesty of her sex, and by the laws and customs of Persia.
Then said the king's servants that ministered unto him, Let there be fair young virgins sought for the king:The king’s servants, for their own interests, were obliged to quiet the king’s mind, and procure him another amiable consort.
And let the king appoint officers in all the provinces of his kingdom, that they may gather together all the fair young virgins unto Shushan the palace, to the house of the women, unto the custody of Hege the king's chamberlain, keeper of the women; and let their things for purification be given them:Keeper of the women; either,
1. Of the virgins, who are oft called women, as here, Esther 2:11,12, and elsewhere. So it is a synecdoche. Or,
2. Of all the women, both virgins and concubines; only the virgins he himself took care of, as requiring more care and caution, and the concubines he committed to Shaashgaz, Esther 2:14, his deputy.
For purification, i.e. to cleanse them from all impurities and indecencies, to anoint, and perfume, and adorn, and every way prepare them for the king’s presence and service; for the legal purifications of the Jews he never regarded.
And let the maiden which pleaseth the king be queen instead of Vashti. And the thing pleased the king; and he did so.No text from Poole on this verse.
Now in Shushan the palace there was a certain Jew, whose name was Mordecai, the son of Jair, the son of Shimei, the son of Kish, a Benjamite;No text from Poole on this verse.
Who had been carried away from Jerusalem with the captivity which had been carried away with Jeconiah king of Judah, whom Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon had carried away.Who had been carried away: this may be referred either,
1. To Kish, Mordecai’s grandfather last mentioned; or,
2. To Mordecai, who was then carried away, either,
1. In the loins of his parents, in which sense Levi is said to be tithed in Abraham, Hebrews 7; and as those persons named Ezra 2 are said to have been carried away by Nebuchadnezzar, Ezra 2:1, which is not true of the most of them in their own persons, but only as in their fathers’ loins. Or,
2. In his own person; and then indeed he was a man of more than ordinary years. But of that See Poole "Esther 1:1".
And he brought up Hadassah, that is, Esther, his uncle's daughter: for she had neither father nor mother, and the maid was fair and beautiful; whom Mordecai, when her father and mother were dead, took for his own daughter.That is, Esther; Hadassah was her Hebrew name before her marriage, and she was called Esther by the king after it.
So it came to pass, when the king's commandment and his decree was heard, and when many maidens were gathered together unto Shushan the palace, to the custody of Hegai, that Esther was brought also unto the king's house, to the custody of Hegai, keeper of the women.Esther was brought, or taken, and that by force, as that word oft signifies. So great was the power and tyranny of the Persian kings, that they could and did take what persons they liked to their own use.
And the maiden pleased him, and she obtained kindness of him; and he speedily gave her her things for purification, with such things as belonged to her, and seven maidens, which were meet to be given her, out of the king's house: and he preferred her and her maids unto the best place of the house of the women.The maiden pleased him; partly because she was very beautiful, and therefore he supposed she would be very acceptable to the king, which would be his advantage; and partly by the Divine Power, which moveth the hearts of men which way he pleaseth.
Esther had not shewed her people nor her kindred: for Mordecai had charged her that she should not shew it.Lest the knowledge hereof should either make her contemptible or odious, or bring some inconvenience to the whole nation, as things might happen. But there was also a hand of God in causing this to be concealed, for the better accomplishment of that which he designed, though Mordecai was ignorant of it.
And Mordecai walked every day before the court of the women's house, to know how Esther did, and what should become of her.No text from Poole on this verse.
Now when every maid's turn was come to go in to king Ahasuerus, after that she had been twelve months, according to the manner of the women, (for so were the days of their purifications accomplished, to wit, six months with oil of myrrh, and six months with sweet odours, and with other things for the purifying of the women;)According to the manner of the women; who were kept so long, partly, for their better purification, as it here follows; partly, out of state, as that which became so great a king; and partly, that being so long in safe custody, the king might be sure that the child begotten upon any of them was his own.
With oil of myrrh; which is useful both for making the skin exactly clean, and smooth, and solid, and for giving strength and rigour to the body.
With sweet odours; which was the more necessary, because the bodies of men and women in those hot countries did of themselves yield very ill scents, if not corrected and qualified by art.
Then thus came every maiden unto the king; whatsoever she desired was given her to go with her out of the house of the women unto the king's house.Then thus; thus purified and prepared; and thus as it follows.
Whatsoever she desired, for ornament, or by way of attendance.
In the evening she went, and on the morrow she returned into the second house of the women, to the custody of Shaashgaz, the king's chamberlain, which kept the concubines: she came in unto the king no more, except the king delighted in her, and that she were called by name.Darius Nothus is reckoned to have had three hundred and sixty concubines.
Now when the turn of Esther, the daughter of Abihail the uncle of Mordecai, who had taken her for his daughter, was come to go in unto the king, she required nothing but what Hegai the king's chamberlain, the keeper of the women, appointed. And Esther obtained favour in the sight of all them that looked upon her.She required nothing, to show that she was not desirous to please the king, and that she was brought to the king without and against her own inclination and choice.
Esther obtained favour in the sight of all them that looked upon her, i.e. was admired by them for her beauty.
So Esther was taken unto king Ahasuerus into his house royal in the tenth month, which is the month Tebeth, in the seventh year of his reign.Into his house royal; and into his bed, as is implied; to which it is not strange if she, though a virtuous person, did in those circumstances yield, considering the infirmity of human nature, and of that sex, and the state of those times, when plurality of wives was permitted, and concubines were owned as wives; and these virgins were by this action made his wives or concubines. Besides, it is not known to us whether Mordecai and Esther had not direction or a dispensation from God in this matter; it being certain that God can dispense with his own positive laws.
And the king loved Esther above all the women, and she obtained grace and favour in his sight more than all the virgins; so that he set the royal crown upon her head, and made her queen instead of Vashti.No text from Poole on this verse.
Then the king made a great feast unto all his princes and his servants, even Esther's feast; and he made a release to the provinces, and gave gifts, according to the state of the king.He made a release to the provinces, i.e. he took off a good part of those heavy taxes which the Persian kings laid upon their people.
And when the virgins were gathered together the second time, then Mordecai sat in the king's gate.The second time; either,
1. When Esther, with others, were brought to the king’s house, as it was decreed above, Esther 2:2,3, which is called the second time, because they had taken this course once before, when Vashti was chosen queen. But there is no mention of any such former use; and by the manner of proposing it seems to have been a new project. Or,
2. Since Esther was declared queen; for though that point was determined, the king’s lust was not yet satisfied; and therefore being pleased with the former experiment, he desired another collection of virgins, whom he might make his concubines. And this seems best to agree with the following words. For it is not probable that Mordecai sat at the king’s gate till Esther was queen; for till then he only walked before the court of the women’s house, as is expressed, Esther 2:11.
Mordecai sat in the king’s gate; either,
1. Voluntarily, to learn the progress of affairs. Or rather,
2. By office, as one of the king’s guard or ministers; being advanced to this place by Esther’s favour, though without any discovery of her relation to him.
Esther had not yet shewed her kindred nor her people; as Mordecai had charged her: for Esther did the commandment of Mordecai, like as when she was brought up with him.No text from Poole on this verse.
In those days, while Mordecai sat in the king's gate, two of the king's chamberlains, Bigthan and Teresh, of those which kept the door, were wroth, and sought to lay hand on the king Ahasuerus.Which kept the door; either,
1. Of the king’s chamber. Or,
2. Of his court; and so they sat in the gate, as Mordecai did, who by that means contracting some familiar acquaintance with them, might make some discovery of their minds and design.
Sought to lay hand, i.e. violent hand; to kill him, as this phrase is used, Esther 3:6, and elsewhere.
And the thing was known to Mordecai, who told it unto Esther the queen; and Esther certified the king thereof in Mordecai's name.No text from Poole on this verse.
And when inquisition was made of the matter, it was found out; therefore they were both hanged on a tree: and it was written in the book of the chronicles before the king.This may be referred, either,
1. To the writing, to note that this was written in the king’s presence by scribes, who were continually present with the king to write all remarkable passages happening in the court from time to time. Or,
2. To the book, which was laid up before the king, that he might more easily and frequently peruse it for his own delight or direction.