Matthew Poole's Commentary
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.Haman is advanced by the king, Esther 3:1,2. Being despised by Mordecai, he seeketh to destroy all the Jews, Esther 3:2-6. He casteth lots, Esther 2:7; and accusing the Jews to the king, obtaineth a decree to put them to death, Esther 2:8-11. Letters issued out to destroy all the Jews, Esther 3:12-15.
The Agagite, i. e. an Amalekite of the royal seed of that nation, whose kings were commonly and successively called Agag, as hath been observed before. It is true, he is called a Macedonian in the apocryphal additions to this book; and so he might be by his birth or habitation in that place, though by his original he was of another people.
Set his seat above all the princes that were with him; gave him the first place and seat, which was next to the king. Compare 2 Kings 25:28.
And all the king's servants, that were in the king's gate, bowed, and reverenced Haman: for the king had so commanded concerning him. But Mordecai bowed not, nor did him reverence.The reason of which obstinate refusal was, either,
1. The quality of the person; that he was not only an infamously wicked man, and a heathen, but of that nation which God had obliged the Israelites to abhor and oppose from generation to generation; and therefore he durst not show outward respect to a man whom he did and ought inwardly to contemn. Or rather,
2. The nature of the thing; for the worship required was not only civil, but Divine; which as the kings of Persia did undoubtedly arrogate to themselves, and expect and receive from their subjects and others who came into their presence, as is affirmed by divers authors; so they did sometimes impart this honour to some of their chief favourites, that they should be adored in like manner. And that it was so here seems more than probable, because it was wholly superfluous, and almost ridiculous, to give an express and particular command to all the king’s servants that were in the king’ s gate, as here it was, to pay a civil respect to so great a prince, which of course they used and were ever obliged to do; and therefore a Divine honour must be here intended. And that a Jew should deny this honour, or the outward expressions of it, to such a person, is not strange, seeing the wise and sober Grecians did positively refuse to give this honour to the kings of Persia themselves, even when they were to make their addresses to them; and one Timocrates was put to death by the Athenians for worshipping Darius in that manner.
Then the king's servants, which were in the king's gate, said unto Mordecai, Why transgressest thou the king's commandment?No text from Poole on this verse.
Now it came to pass, when they spake daily unto him, and he hearkened not unto them, that they told Haman, to see whether Mordecai's matters would stand: for he had told them that he was a Jew.Whether Mordecai’s matters would stand, i.e. whether he would persist in his refusal, and what the event of it would be.
He had told them that he was a Jew; and therefore did not deny this reverence to Haman out of pride, or any personal grudge against him, much less out of a rebellious mind and contempt of the king’s authority and command; but merely out of conscience, because he was a Jew, who was obliged to give this honour to none but to God only.
And when Haman saw that Mordecai bowed not, nor did him reverence, then was Haman full of wrath.No text from Poole on this verse.
And he thought scorn to lay hands on Mordecai alone; for they had shewed him the people of Mordecai: wherefore Haman sought to destroy all the Jews that were throughout the whole kingdom of Ahasuerus, even the people of Mordecai.He thought scorn; he thought that particular vengeance was unsuitable to his quality, and to the greatness of the injury.
Haman sought to destroy all the Jews; which he attempted, partly, from that implacable hatred which, as an Amalekite, he had against them; partly, from his rage against Mordecai; and partly, from Mordecai’s reason of this contempt, because he was a Jew, which, as he truly judged, extended itself to all the Jews, and would equally engage them all in the same neglect and hatred of his person,
In the first month, that is, the month Nisan, in the twelfth year of king Ahasuerus, they cast 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.The diviners cast lots, according to the custom of those ancient and eastern people, what day and what month would be most lucky, not for his success with the king, (of whose compliance with his request he made no doubt,) but for the most effectual and universal extirpation of the Jews; wherein appears both his implacable malice, and unwearied diligence in seeking vengeance of them with so much and so long trouble to himself; and God’s singular providence in disposing the lot to that time, that so the Jews might have sufficient space of time to get the decree reversed, as they did.
And Haman said unto king Ahasuerus, There is a certain people scattered abroad and dispersed among the people in all the provinces of thy kingdom; and their laws are diverse from all people; neither keep they the king's laws: therefore it is not for the king's profit to suffer them.There is a certain people, mean and contemptible, not worthy to be named.
Dispersed among the people; who therefore, if tolerated, may poison all thy subjects with their pernicious principles; and whom thou mayst easily crush without any great noise or difficulty.
In all the provinces of thy kingdom; for though many of their brethren were returned to their own land, yet great numbers of them staid behind, either because they preferred their ease and worldly commodities before their spiritual advantages, or because they wanted conveniency or opportunity for a remove, which might happen from divers causes.
Their laws are diverse from all people; they have peculiar and fantastical rites, and customs, and religion; and therefore are justly offensive to all thy people, and may either infect them with their conceits, or occasion great dissensions and distractions among them.
Neither keep they the kings laws; as is manifest by Mordecai’s bold contempt of thy late edict concerning me, which being done by him as a Jew, the whole nation are involved in his crime, and are prepared to do so when they have occasion.
It is not for the king’s profit to suffer them to live in his kingdom. I do not seek herein so much my own revenge as thy service.
If it please the king, let it be written 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, to bring it into the king's treasuries.Let it be written; let there be a written edict from the king.
Ten thousand talents of silver; whether these were Hebrew, or Babylonish, or Grecian talents we cannot certainly know; but whichsoever they were, it was a vast sum to be paid out of his own estate, which he was willing to sacrifice to his revenge. The charge of the business; either,
1. Of this business, to wit, of destroying the Jews; which as soon as they have procured to be done, I will pay the money into their hands, that by them it may be paid into the king’s exchequer. Or rather,
2. Of the king’s business, or of the treasures, as is implied in the following words. I will pay it to the king’s receivers, that they may put it into the king’s treasures.
And the king took his ring from his hand, and gave it unto Haman the son of Hammedatha the Agagite, the Jews' enemy.Gave it unto Haman; that he might keep it as a badge of his supreme authority under the king, and that he might use it for the sealing of this decree which now he desired, or of any other, as hereafter he should see fit. Compare Esther 8:2,8 Ge 41:42.
The Jews’ enemy; so he was, both by inclination, as he was an Amalekite, and especially by this malicious and destructive design and resolution.
And the king said unto Haman, The silver is given to thee, the people also, to do with them as it seemeth good to thee.The silver is given to thee; keep it to thy own use, I do not desire it, I accept thy offer for the deed.
Then were the king's scribes called on the thirteenth day of the first month, and 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 according to the writing thereof, and to every people after their language; in the name of king Ahasuerus was it written, and sealed with the king's ring.Then were the king’s scribes called: this he did so speedily, though it was a year before the intended execution, lest the king should change his mind, either by his own clemency, or by the persuasion of others.
And the letters were sent by posts into all the king's provinces, to destroy, to kill, and to cause to perish, all Jews, both young and old, little children and women, in one day, even upon the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, which is the month Adar, and to take the spoil of them for a prey.Which was to oblige them to the greater severity and readiness, to execute this edict for their own advantage.
The copy of the writing for a commandment to be given in every province was published unto all people, that they should be ready against that day.No text from Poole on this verse.
The posts went out, being hastened by the king's commandment, and the decree was given in Shushan the palace. And the king and Haman sat down to drink; but the city Shushan was perplexed.By the king’s commandment; either by this decree made in the king’s name, or by some particular and succeeding command, which Haman could easily obtain from the king.
The city Shushan was perplexed; not only the Jews, but a great number of the citizens, either because they were related to them, or engaged with them in worldly concerns; or out of humanity and compassion towards so vast a number of innocent people, now appointed as sheep for the slaughter; or out of a fear either of some sedition and disturbance which might arise by this means; or of some damage which might accrue to themselves or friends, who haply under this pretence might be exposed to rapine or slaughter; or of a public judgment of God upon them all for so bloody a decree.