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Bible Commentaries
Esther 2

Everett's Study Notes on the Holy ScripturesEverett's Study Notes

Verses 1-23

Esther 2:5 Now in Shushan the palace there was a certain Jew, whose name was Mordecai, the son of Jair, the son of Shimei, the son of Kish, a Benjamite;

Esther 2:5 “whose name was Mordecai” Comments - The name Mordecai is considered of Babylonian origin, and not a Jewish name, just as Esther was also called by her Jewish name “Hadassah,” and as did Daniel and his three friends. Frederic Bush says, “With high probability the name is derived from the name Marduk, the chief god of the Babylonian pantheon.” [11]

[11] Bush, Frederic W., Ruth, Esther, in Word Biblical Commentary: 58 Volumes on CD-Rom, vol. 9, eds. Bruce M. Metzger, David A. Hubbard and Glenn W. Barker (Dallas: Word Inc., 2002), in Libronix Digital Library System, v. 3.0b [CD-ROM] (Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp., 2004), S. 362.

Esther 2:5 “the son of Jair, the son of Shimei, the son of Kish, a Benjamite” - Comments - Mordecai’s genealogy is intentionally traced back to King Saul, the son of Shimei (2 Samuel 16:5-13), the son of Kish (1 Samuel 9:1). His adversary Haman will have his genealogy traced back to King Agag (Esther 3:1). This narrative material clearly has the effect of building tension within the story, as any ancient Jew quickly remembers the story of Samuel instructing King Saul to destroy all remaining Amalekites. In Saul’s disobedience, he spared the life of King Agag (see 1 Samuel 15:1-35).

1 Samuel 9:1, “Now there was a man of Benjamin, whose name was Kish, the son of Abiel, the son of Zeror, the son of Bechorath, the son of Aphiah, a Benjamite, a mighty man of power.”

2 Samuel 16:5, “And when king David came to Bahurim, behold, thence came out a man of the family of the house of Saul, whose name was Shimei, the son of Gera: he came forth, and cursed still as he came.”

Esther 3:1, “After these things did king Ahasuerus promote Haman the son of Hammedatha the Agagite, and advanced him, and set his seat above all the princes that were with him.”

Esther 2:6 Who had been carried away from Jerusalem with the captivity which had been carried away with Jeconiah king of Judah, whom Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon had carried away.

Esther 2:6 Comments - Jeconiah (or Jehoiachin), the next to the last king of Judah, was exiled during the first Babylonian deportation of 597 B.C. (see 2 Kings 24:1-16, Jeremiah 24:1).

2 Kings 24:12, “And Jehoiachin the king of Judah went out to the king of Babylon, he, and his mother, and his servants, and his princes, and his officers: and the king of Babylon took him in the eighth year of his reign.”

Jeremiah 24:1, “The LORD shewed me, and, behold, two baskets of figs were set before the temple of the LORD, after that Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon had carried away captive Jeconiah the son of Jehoiakim king of Judah, and the princes of Judah, with the carpenters and smiths, from Jerusalem, and had brought them to Babylon.”

King Xerxes reigned from 485 to 465 B.C. [12] The story of Esther begins in this king’s third year of rule, which was around 482 B.C., which was one hundred and fifteen years after the first deportation of the Jews to Babylon. This calculation causes scholars a problem in identifying Mordecai with the first deportation of 597 B.C., making him well over one hundred and twenty years old, and Esther slightly younger. This age is impossible for Esther, and highly unlikely for Mordecai.

[12] R. F. Youngblood, F. F. Bruce, R. K. Harrison, and Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nelson's New Illustrated Bible Dictionary, rev. ed. (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1995), in Libronix Digital Library System, v. 2.1c [CD-ROM] (Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp., 2000-2004), “Ahasuerus.”

A second view that Xerxes in the book of Esther is referring to an earlier king, such as Cyaxares or Darius, has been proposed, but is rejected by most scholars. A third view is to interpret this verse to mean that one of Mordecai’s ancestors listed in the previous verse (Jair, Shimei, Kish) took part in the deportation. Bush believes the deportation mentioned in Esther 2:6 is referring to Kish, an immediate ancestor and the last person in this genealogy, or to Mordecai’s ancestors collectively as a part of this deportation. [13] However, the context of the book of Esther leads its readers to contrast King Saul with King Agag, so that Kish is understood as Saul’s father. Paton brings up the argument that the text does not read, “whose ancestors were carried captive,” but, “who was carried captive,” leading some scholars to discount this third view and conclude a fourth view that the author is in error. In my opinion, the most logical view is to understand the deportation to refer to Mordecai’s genealogy collective.

[13] Bush, Frederic W., Ruth, Esther, in Word Biblical Commentary: 58 Volumes on CD-Rom, vol. 9, eds. Bruce M. Metzger, David A. Hubbard and Glenn W. Barker (Dallas: Word Inc., 2002), in Libronix Digital Library System, v. 3.0b [CD-ROM] (Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp., 2004), S. 363.

Finally, it is possible that this individual is the same Mordecai who returned with Zerubbabel to rebuild Jerusalem in the second year of King Darius (c. 520 B.C.) (see Nehemiah 7:7).

Nehemiah 7:7, “Who came with Zerubbabel, Jeshua, Nehemiah, Azariah, Raamiah, Nahamani, Mordecai , Bilshan, Mispereth, Bigvai, Nehum, Baanah. The number, I say, of the men of the people of Israel was this;”

Esther 2:7 And he brought up Hadassah, that is, Esther, his uncle's daughter: for she had neither father nor mother, and the maid was fair and beautiful; whom Mordecai, when her father and mother were dead, took for his own daughter.

Esther 2:7 Word Study on “Hadassah” PTW says the Hebrew name “Hadassah” means, “myrtle.” Esther was her Persian name.

Esther 2:7 Word Study on “Esther” - PTW says the Persian name “Esther” means, “star,” and is derived from the pagan goddess Ishtar.

Esther 2:12 Now when every maid's turn was come to go in to king Ahasuerus, after that she had been twelve months, according to the manner of the women, (for so were the days of their purifications accomplished, to wit, six months with oil of myrrh, and six months with sweet odours, and with other things for the purifying of the women;)

Esther 2:12 Comments - Don Colbert says that the cells of the body renew themselves entirely within the period of one year. Although some cells, such as the nerve cells, live for a lifetime, most cells do have a short lifespan and must be renewed. [14] The fact that Esther prepared her body for one year meant that the people in this time understood the healthy and beautifying effects that could be made in a person’s body if given proper care for a period of one year.

[14] Don Colbert, (Longwood, Florida: Divine Health and Wellness), interviewed by Benny Hinn, This is Your Day (Irving, Texas), on Trinity Broadcasting Network (Santa Ana, California), television program.

Another aspect of these virgins spending one year to improve their beauty is that anyone of them having hidden diseases, such as sexually transmitted diseases (STD’s), would become apparent during the course of the year. Thus, it was a way that the king was protected from contagious diseases that are transmitted through sexual activity.

Bibliographical Information
Everett, Gary H. "Commentary on Esther 2". Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghe/esther-2.html. 2013.
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