And the king Ahasuerus laid a tribute upon the land, and upon the isles of the sea.
Verse 1. - King Ahasuerus laid a tribute on the land. Darius, the son of Hystaspes, was the first to do this (Herod., 3:89); but, as the tribute had to be rearranged from time to time (ibid., 6:42), any subsequent Persian monarch who made a fresh arrangement might be said to "lay a tribute on the land." Xerxes is not unlikely to have done so after his return from Greece, as he had lost portions of his territories. And on the islands of the sea. The Hebrew expression translated by "islands of the sea" includes maritime tracts. Xerxes by the Greek expedition lost the islands of the AEgean, but still held certain tracts upon the coast of Europe, which were occupied for a considerable time by Persian garrisons (Herod., 7:106, 107). These would necessarily be included in any assessment that he may have made, and it is even not unlikely that Xerxes would lay his assessment on the AEgean islands, though he might not be able to collect it.
And all the acts of his power and of his might, and the declaration of the greatness of Mordecai, whereunto the king advanced him, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Media and Persia?
Verse 2. - All the acts of his power and of his might. These are unknown to us. After the failure of the Grecian expedition Xerxes attempted nothing further on that side of his empire, and the Greeks consequently record nothing more concerning him. He may have made expeditions in other directions. But the chief evidences that we have of his activity point to his having sought to gratify his ambition and give vent to his grand ideas by erecting magnificent buildings. The book of the chronicles. See Esther 2:23; Esther 6:1; Esther 9:32. The kings of Media and Persia. It is indicative of the intimate connection of the two Iranian empires that one "book" contained the records of both. The fact of the connection is fully established by profane history. Its exact nature is not perhaps even yet fully understood. "Media" seems to be placed before "Persia" in this place on chronological grounds, because the Median history preceded the Persian history, and was therefore recorded first in the "book."
For Mordecai the Jew was next unto king Ahasuerus, and great among the Jews, and accepted of the multitude of his brethren, seeking the wealth of his people, and speaking peace to all his seed.
Verse 3. - Next unto king Ahasuerus. Compare Genesis 41:40; Daniel 5:7; Daniel 6:3. Profane history neither confirms this nor contradicts it. We know almost nothing of Xerxes from profane sources after his return to Susa in B.C. 479. Accepted cf. Or, "beloved by." The wealth of his people. i.e. their welfare. Speaking peace to all his seed. It is generally allowed that by "his seed", we must understand those of the same stock with himself - "the seed of Israel." "Speaking peace" to them seems to mean "promoting their peace and safety" - insuring them, so long as he lived and ruled, a quiet and peaceful existence.