Now it came to pass in the days of Ahasuerus, (this is Ahasuerus which reigned, from India even unto Ethiopia, over an hundred and seven and twenty provinces:)
Esther 1:1-3; Esther 8:4-6
I. Let us observe the outward stage of these events. In the books of Ezra and Nehemiah, the Persian court forms, as it were, the background of all the transactions of the history. Cyrus, Darius, Artaxerxes, figure as the deliverers and protectors of the returning Israelites. The scene of the book of Esther is laid in Shushan, or Susa, the capital of Persia. There we see Ahasuerus, "the great king," as he was called by the Greeks, the same, it is believed, as Xerxes. These Gentile monarchs, this Asiatic kingdom, are made to occupy this prominent place in the Bible in order to remind us that beyond the limits of the chosen people, beyond the limits of Jewry or of Christendom, there are kingdoms and races of men who claim, as well as we, a share in the compassion and justice of the all-merciful, all-holy God.
II. That which gives to the book of Esther an enduring spiritual value is the noble, patriotic spirit of the Jewish race in the presence of the Gentiles amongst whom they sojourned, that passionate love of country and home, that generous pride in the independence of their race and creed, which kindled the song of Deborah, which continued to burn in the hearts of her countrymen and country women after the lapse of a thousand years, and broke forth in the pathetic wail, in the courageous defiance, of the Jewish maiden, who, unseduced by the splendours, undaunted by the terror, of the Persian court, exclaimed, with the heroic determination, if need be, to sacrifice her life for her country, "If I perish, I perish! How can I endure to see the evil that shall come unto my people?"
A. P. Stanley, Catholic Sermons, vol. i., p. 75.
Esther 1:1-9(with Php 4:5)
I. The book of Esther is to be held in everlasting remembrance, if only as showing to all ages and to all peoples how much the heavenly love and care concern themselves with those who themselves have no care to keep God's commandments, and no thought of the care and love that are concerned about them. The shepherd watches and seeks the sheep, and throws around them, unseen, protections all through the wilderness where they wander.
II. The feast of Ahasuerus was a wonderful scene. There is nothing morally great about it. There never can be about mere feasting, and splendour, and eating and drinking, and outward show. Neither, so far as we can see, is there anything morally wrong in this, at least when kept in due moderation. It was kept in moderation in this instance. There is the most prodigal abundance, and yet there is a royal wisdom in the dispensation of it. For we read that "the drinking was according to the law," and that law means "no compulsion." If we embody, the principle of moderation in our life, and walk by faith, and not by sight, then, and only then, we surmount the poor pageant in which outwardly we are moving figures; then, and only then, we cast anchor within the veil, and lay up treasure where it can never be lost.
A. Raleigh, Penny Pulpit, No. 614.
References: Esther 1:1-10.—A. Raleigh, Book of Esther, p. 1. Esther 1:1-12.—A. D. Davidson, Lectures on Esther, p. 9. Esther 1:10.—A. Raleigh, Book of Esther, p. 24. Esther 1:13-22.—A. D. Davidson, Lectures on Esther, p. 29. Esther 2:1-4.—Ibid., p. 49. Esther 2:1-20.—A. Raleigh, Book of Esther, p. 48. Esther 2:5-20.—A. D. Davidson, Lectures on Esther, p. 67. Esther 2:21-23 -iii. 1-5.—Ibid., p. 89. Esther 3:6-11.—Ibid., p. 108. Esther 3:12-15 -iv. 1-9.—Ibid., p. 128. 3—A. Raleigh, Book of Esther, p. 69. Esther 4:10-17.—A. D. Davidson, Lectures on Esther, p. 149. Esther 4:13-14—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxx, No. 1777. Esther 4:14.—Bishop Woodford, Occasional Sermons, vol. ii., p. 55; G. Brooks, Outlines of Sermons, p. 285; E. Monro, Practical Sermons, vol. iii., p. 245. 4—A. Raleigh, Book of Esther, p. 88. Esther 5:1-8.—A. D. Davidson, Lectures on Esther, p. 171. Esther 5:6.—J. Jackson Wray, Light from the Old Lamp, p. 160. Esther 5:9-14.—A. D. Davidson, Lectures on Esther, p. 192. Esther 5:13.—Preacher's Monthly, vol. v., p. 369; M. Nicholson, Communion with Heaven, p. 242. 5—A. Raleigh, Booh of Esther, p. 106.
That in those days, when the king Ahasuerus sat on the throne of his kingdom, which was in Shushan the palace,
In the third year of his reign, he made a feast unto all his princes and his servants; the power of Persia and Media, the nobles and princes of the provinces, being before him:
When he shewed the riches of his glorious kingdom and the honour of his excellent majesty many days, even an hundred and fourscore days.
And when these days were expired, the king made a feast unto all the people that were present in Shushan the palace, both unto great and small, seven days, in the court of the garden of the king's palace;
Where were white, green, and blue, hangings, fastened with cords of fine linen and purple to silver rings and pillars of marble: the beds were of gold and silver, upon a pavement of red, and blue, and white, and black, marble.
And they gave them drink in vessels of gold, (the vessels being diverse one from another,) and royal wine in abundance, according to the state of the king.
And the drinking was according to the law; none did compel: for so the king had appointed to all the officers of his house, that they should do according to every man's pleasure.
Also Vashti the queen made a feast for the women in the royal house which belonged to king Ahasuerus.
On the seventh day, when the heart of the king was merry with wine, he commanded Mehuman, Biztha, Harbona, Bigtha, and Abagtha, Zethar, and Carcas, the seven chamberlains that served in the presence of Ahasuerus the king,
To bring Vashti the queen before the king with the crown royal, to shew the people and the princes her beauty: for she was fair to look on.
But the queen Vashti refused to come at the king's commandment by his chamberlains: therefore was the king very wroth, and his anger burned in him.
Then the king said to the wise men, which knew the times, (for so was the king's manner toward all that knew law and judgment:
And the next unto him was Carshena, Shethar, Admatha, Tarshish, Meres, Marsena, and Memucan, the seven princes of Persia and Media, which saw the king's face, and which sat the first in the kingdom;)
What shall we do unto the queen Vashti according to law, because she hath not performed the commandment of the king Ahasuerus by the chamberlains?
And Memucan answered before the king and the princes, Vashti the queen hath not done wrong to the king only, but also to all the princes, and to all the people that are in all the provinces of the king Ahasuerus.
For this deed of the queen shall come abroad unto all women, so that they shall despise their husbands in their eyes, when it shall be reported, The king Ahasuerus commanded Vashti the queen to be brought in before him, but she came not.
Likewise shall the ladies of Persia and Media say this day unto all the king's princes, which have heard of the deed of the queen. Thus shall there arise too much contempt and wrath.
If it please the king, let there go a royal commandment from him, and let it be written among the laws of the Persians and the Medes, that it be not altered, That Vashti come no more before king Ahasuerus; and let the king give her royal estate unto another that is better than she.
And when the king's decree which he shall make shall be published throughout all his empire, (for it is great,) all the wives shall give to their husbands honour, both to great and small.
And the saying pleased the king and the princes; and the king did according to the word of Memucan:
For he sent letters into all the king's provinces, into every province according to the writing thereof, and to every people after their language, that every man should bear rule in his own house, and that it should be published according to the language of every people.