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Wednesday, June 12th, 2024
the Week of Proper 5 / Ordinary 10
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Bible Commentaries
Esther 4

Ellicott's Commentary for English ReadersEllicott's Commentary

Verse 1


(1) Mordecai rent his clothes.—This was a common sign of sorrow among Eastern nations generally. It will be noticed that the sorrow both of Mordecai and of the Jews generally (Esther 4:3) is described by external manifestations solely. There is rending of garments, putting on of sackcloth and ashes, fasting and weeping and wailing: there is nothing said of prayer and entreaty to the God of Israel, and strong crying to Him who is able to save. Daniel and Ezra and Nehemiah are all Jews, who, like Mordecai and Esther, have to submit to the rule of the alien, though, unlike them, they, when the danger threatened, besought, and not in vain, the help of their God. (See Daniel 6:10; Ezra 8:23; Nehemiah 1:4, &c.)

Verse 2

(2) None might enter . . .—That nothing sad or ill-omened might meet the monarch’s gaze, as though by shutting his eyes, as it were, to the presence of sorrow, or sickness, or death, he might suppose that he was successfully evading them.

Verse 4

(4) So Esther’s maids . . .—It is perhaps fair to infer from this, that Esther’s connection with Mordecai was known to those about her, though as yet not to the king.

Verse 6

(6) Street.—The square or wide open place. Heb., r’hob.)

Verse 10

(10) Again.—There is nothing for this in the original, and it would be better to put and, as the statement of Esther 4:10 is clearly continuous with Esther 4:9.

Verse 11

(11) There is one law of his . . .—Literally, one is his law, that is, there is one unvarying rule for such. No one who had not been summoned might enter the king’s presence under pain of death.

The golden sceptre—We are told that in the representations of Persian kings at Persepolis, in every case the monarch holds a long staff or sceptre in his right hand. How forcibly, after reading this verse, the contrast strikes us between the self-styled king of kings, to enter into whose presence even as a suppliant for help and protection was to risk death, and the King of Kings, who has Himself instructed man to say, “Let us go into His tabernacle and fall low on our knees before His footstool.”

Verse 14

(14) Enlargement.—Literally, a breathing-space.

From another place.—Although he does not explain his meaning, and, indeed, seems to be speaking with studied reserve, still we may suppose that Mordecai here refers to Divine help, which he asserts will be vouchsafed in this extremity. It does not necessarily follow that we are to see in this declaration a proof of the earnestness of Mordecai’s faith; probably had his faith been like that of many of his countrymen he would not have been in Persia at all, but with the struggling band in Judæa.

Thou and thy father’s house shall be destroyed.—That is, by the hand of God, who having raised thee to this pitch of glory and power will require it from thee, if thou fail in that which it plainly devolves upon thee to do. It is clear there is a good deal of force in these last words of Mordecai. Esther’s rise had been so marvellous that one might well see in it the hand of God, and if so there was clearly a very special object in view, which it must be her anxious care to work for. In the whole tone of the conversation, however, there seems a lack of higher and more noble feelings, an absence of any suggestion of turning for aid to God; and thus in return, when God carries out His purpose, and grants deliverance, it seems done indirectly, without the conferring of any special blessing on the human instruments.

Bibliographical Information
Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Esther 4". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ebc/esther-4.html. 1905.
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