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Bible Commentaries
Esther 4

Dr. Constable's Expository NotesConstable's Expository Notes

II. HAMAN’S PLOT 2:21-4:3

The writer next described a plot that one of the leading men of Persia devised to do away with the Jews.

Verses 1-3

C. Mordecai’s Reaction 4:1-3

We can understand why Mordecai reacted to Haman’s decree so strongly (Esther 4:1). Undoubtedly he felt personally responsible for this decree (cf. Esther 3:2-5). However, we should not interpret Mordecai’s actions in Esther 4:1 as a sign of great faith in God necessarily (cf. Mark 5:38; 1 Thessalonians 4:13). They were common expressions of personal grief (cf. Ezra 8:21; Ezra 8:23; Nehemiah 9:1; Lamentations 3:40-66).

The absence of any reference to prayer in Esther 4:3 may be significant. Prayer normally accompanied the other practices mentioned (cf. 2 Kings 19:1-4; Joel 1:14). Perhaps many of these exiled Jews had gotten so far away from God that they did not even pray in this crisis hour. However, the basis of this argument is silence, and arguments based on silence are never strong.

Verses 4-17

A. Mordecai’s Instruction 4:4-17

Mordecai’s mourning may have been the only thing that disturbed Esther. She may have known nothing about the decree. On the other hand, she may have known of both, and concluded that since the king did not know that she was a Jewess, she would be safe (Esther 4:13). However, Mordecai implied that Hathach knew she was a Jewess (Esther 4:13, cf. Esther 4:9), and probably others did as well.

Several students of Esther have pointed out that Mordecai does not come across in this book as a very "spiritual" person. [Note: E.g., Martin, p. 707.] In Esther 4:14, for example, he made no direct reference to God that would certainly have been natural (cf. Nehemiah’s frequent prayers). Nevertheless, he did believe that God would preserve His people and punish their enemies (Genesis 12:3). He also concluded that if Esther remained silent she would die. Mordecai saw God’s hand behind the human agent of her threatened destruction, who was probably the king (cf. Genesis 50:20).

Mordecai’s question in Esther 4:14 is the main basis for the view that the doctrine of providence is the key to understanding the Book of Esther.

"The book implies that even when God’s people are far from him and disobedient, they are still the object of his concern and love, and that he is working out his purposes through them . . ." [Note: Huey, p. 794.]

Mordecai perceived Esther’s moment of destiny.

"Mordecai is not postulating that deliverance will arise for the Jews from some mysterious, unexpressed source. Rather, by affirming that Esther is the only possible source of deliverance for the Jews, he is attempting to motivate her to act." [Note: Bush, p. 397.]

"The promises of God, the justice of God, and the providence of God shine brilliantly through the entire crisis, so that the mere omission of His name obscures nothing of His identity, attributes, and purposes for His chosen people and for the entire world of mankind." [Note: Whitcomb, p. 79.]

"Without explicitly spelling out in detail how he came to his convictions, Mordecai reveals that he believes in God, in God’s guidance of individual lives, and in God’s ordering of the world’s political events, irrespective of whether those who seem to have the power acknowledge him or not." [Note: Baldwin, p. 80.]

"Though God chooses to use people, He is by no means dependent on them. Many believers act as though they are indispensable to the Lord’s purposes, and if they refuse to do His bidding God’s work will grind to a halt. Mordecai’s challenge to Esther must be heard and heeded. Our sovereign God will accomplish all His objectives with or without us. He calls us not out of His need for us but for our need to find fulfillment in serving Him." [Note: Merrill, in The Old . . ., p. 370.]

Evidently there was a fairly large population of Jews in Susa (Esther 4:16; cf. Esther 9:15). Again there is no mention of prayer, though some of the Jews may have prayed because they faced serious danger. [Note: Baldwin, pp. 81-85, gave a helpful discussion of fasting.]

"Like all human beings, Esther was not without flaw; but certainly our heroine should be judged more by the brave act she performs than by the natural fears she had to fight against. The rash man acts without fear; the brave man, in spite of it." [Note: Moore, Esther, p. 53.]

Esther’s words, "If I perish, I perish," (Esther 4:16) seem more like words of courageous determination [Note: David J. A. Clines, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, p. 303; Bush, p. 400.] than an expression of resignation to the inevitable (cf. Genesis 43:14). [Note: Paton, p. 226.]

"Just as Esther’s fast and Jesus’ humiliation (tapeinosis, Philippians 2:8) commenced on the same date, so too Esther’s three-day period of fasting parallels the three-day period of Jesus’ death." [Note: Michael G. Wechsler, "Shadow and Fulfillment in the Book of Esther," Bibliotheca Sacra 154:615 (July-September 1997):281.]

If the Jews did indeed fast for three days, as Esther requested, they would not have been able to celebrate the Passover, which their Law commanded (Exodus 12), since their fasting would have begun on the eve of Passover. [Note: David J. A. Clines, The Esther Scroll: The Story of the Story, pp. 36-37.]

Verses 4-19


Haman’s plan to exterminate the Jews created a crisis, and now Esther’s intervention with Ahasuerus provided the solution.

Bibliographical Information
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Esther 4". "Dr. Constable's Expository Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/dcc/esther-4.html. 2012.
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