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THE BOOK OF ESTHER
‘Now it came to pass in the days of Ahasuerus … that in those days … Esther arose, and stood before the king, and said, … how can I endure to see the evil that shall come unto my people? or how can I endure to see the destruction of my kindred?’
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 countrywomen 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 terrors, 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?’
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Nisbet, James. "Commentary on Esther 1". The Church Pulpit Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 15 / Ordinary 20