Lectionary Calendar
Thursday, May 30th, 2024
the Week of Proper 3 / Ordinary 8
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Bible Commentaries
Esther 3

Barnes' Notes on the Whole BibleBarnes' Notes

Verse 1

The name, Haman, is probably the same as the Classical Omanes, and in ancient Persian, “Umana”, an exact equivalent of the Greek “Eumenes.” Hammedatha is perhaps the same as “Madata” or “Mahadata”, an old Persian name signifying “given by (or to) the moon.”

The Agagite - The Jews generally understand by this expression “the descendant of Agag,” the Amalekite monarch of 1 Samuel 15:0. Haman, however, by his own name, and the names of his sons Esther 9:7-9 and his father, would seem to have been a genuine Persian.

The Classical writers make no mention of Haman’s advancement; but their notices of the reign of Xerxes after 479 B.C. are exceedingly scanty.

Verse 2

Mordecai probably refused the required prostration, usual though it was, on religious grounds. Hence, his opposition led on to his confession that he was a Jew Esther 3:4.

Verse 4

Whether Mordecai’s matters would stand - Rather, “whether Mordecai’s words would hold good” - whether, that is, his excuse, that he was a Jew, would be allowed as a valid reason for his refusal.

Verse 6

To destroy all the Jews - In the East massacres of a people, a race, a class, have at all times been among the incidents of history, and would naturally present themselves to the mind of a statesman. The Magophonia, or the great massacre of the Magi at the accession of Darius Hystaspis, was an event not then fifty years old, and was commemorated annually. A massacre of the Scythians had occurred about a century previously.

Verse 7

In the first month ... - i. e. in March or April of 474 B.C.

“Pur” is supposed to be an old Persian word etymologically connected with the Latin “pars”, and signifying “part” or “lot.” The practice of casting lots to obtain a lucky day still obtains in the East, and is probably extremely ancient. A lot seems to have been cast, or a throw of some kind made, for each day of the month and each month of the year. The day and month which obtained the best throws were then selected. Assyrian calendars note lucky and unlucky days as early as the eighth century B.C. Lots were in use both among the Oriental and the Classical nations from a remote antiquity.

“Adar,” the twelfth month, corresponds nearly to our March. It seems to have derived its name from “adar”, “splendor,” because of the brightness of the sun and the flowers at that time.

Verse 9

Ten thousand talents of silver - According to Herodotus, the regular revenue of the Persian king consisted of 14,560 silver talents; so that, if the same talent is intended, Haman’s offer would have exceeded two-thirds of one year’s revenue (or two and one-half million British pound sterling). Another Persian subject, Pythius, once offered to present Xerxes with four millions of gold darics, or about four and one-half pounds.

Verse 11

The silver is given to thee - Some understand this to mean that Xerxes refused the silver which Haman had offered to him; but the passage is better explained as a grant to him of all the property of such Jews as should be executed Esther 3:13.

Verse 12

On the thirteenth day - Haman had, apparently (compare Esther 3:7 with Esther 3:13), obtained by his use of the lot the 13th day of Adar as the lucky day for destroying the Jews. This may have caused him to fix on the 13th day of another month for the commencement of his enterprise. So, the Jews throughout the empire had from 9 to 11 months of warning of the peril which threatened them.

Verse 13

Present, the Jews keep three days - the 13th, the 14th, and the 15th of Adar - as connected with “the Feast of Purim;” but they make the 13th a fast, commemorative of the fast of Esther Esther 4:16, and keep the feast itself on the 14th and 15th of Adar.

Verse 15

Shushan was perplexed - Susa was now the capital of Persia, and the main residence of the Persians of high rank. These, being attached to the religion of Zoroaster, would naturally sympathize with the Jews, and be disturbed at their threatened destruction. Even apart from this bond of union, the decree was sufficiently strange and ominous to “perplex” thoughtful citizens.

Bibliographical Information
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Esther 3". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/bnb/esther-3.html. 1870.
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