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Bible Commentaries

Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Esther 10

Verse 1

Land. He conquered many countries on the continent, and several to which he could not come but by water, which the Jews call islands, whether they were surrounded on all sides by the sea or not. Hebrew has not the word all: but as the expressions are indefinite, they are usually taken in this sense. Yet we must not suppose, that the dominion of Assuerus extended over the whole world, no more than that of the Romans, who were styled masters of it. Before this king, the provinces had not paid tribute, but gave what they judged proper. But Darius laid a heavy tribute upon all, that, when half was afterwards remitted, they might esteem it a favour. The Persians hence looked upon him as a trafficker: Greek: kapelos. (Herodotus iii. 89., and iv. 44., and vi. 7., &c.) (Calmet) --- Providence punished them for thirsting after the possessions and blood of the Jews. (Tirinus)

Cleopatra. So the kings and queens of Egypt were styled after Lagus; whence we can only gather, that this translation was brought after the reign of Alexander, and most probably under Philometer, the sixth of his successors. He was a great admirer of the Jews, and employed one Dositheus as his general, who might be the priest here mentioned; as such an office was not incompatible with his character. (Tirinus) --- Usher is of this opinion. See Josephus, contra Apion ii. But would he then be mentioned as if he had been a person almost unknown? (Calmet) --- We may say that he only raised himself by merit, after this time. (Haydock) --- Philometer reigned 177 years, B.C.[before Christ]. The Septuagint (Calmet) who gave their version in the 7th year of Philadelphus, (St. Epiphanius) were not the authors of the Greek edition of Esther; (Calmet) or perhaps, they may have adopted this of Lysimachus, (Huet; Du Hamel) as far as it went; the letter of Purim being only the groundwork of this history. If they did, Lysimachus must have lived before the time of Philometer; or what seems as probable, (Haydock) that the celebrated version has been made by different authors, and at different times. (Hody.) --- Jerusalem. Here St. Jerome subjoins, "This beginning was also in the Vulgate edition, which does not occur in Hebrew or any interpreter," (Haydock) except the Septuagint. (Worthington) --- This must be referred to what follows.

At that time, is not in Greek. Capellus therefore argues in vain against the Greek author, as if this event took place in the 2d year. (Houbigant) --- The expression often occurs in Scripture, without determining the precise time. (Haydock)

"Hitherto," St. Jerome observes, "the preface extends. What follows, was placed in that part of the volume where it is written, And they, &c., (chap. iii. 13., where the edict should naturally appear. Calmet) which we have found only in the Vulgate edition." (Haydock) --- Josephus produces this edict at length, but with some variations, (Calmet) which are of no importance. (Haydock)

Fearing. Greek, "caught in the agony of death." The old Vulgate has many variations in this chapter. (Calmet) --- This prayer should be placed after that of Mardochai, at the end of chap. iv. (Menochius)

St. Jerome says, "These additions I also found in the Vulgate edition." (Haydock) --- This history is more succinctly related, chap. v. (Calmet) --- Her. Literally, "And he commanded her (no doubt Mardochai did Esther) to go," &c. The parenthesis was added by St. Jerome. (Haydock)

From India to Ethiopia. That is, who reigneth from India to Ethiopia. (Challoner) --- St. Jerome writes, "The copy of the letter of king Artaxerxes, which he wrote in favour of the Jews, to all the provinces of his kingdom, which also is not in the Hebrew volume." It should properly occur, chap viii. 13, as it does in Greek. The edict is well written in that language, which has induced a belief that it is not a translation. (Calmet) --- But that is no very strong argument. (Haydock)

Verse 2

Second year, the same when Darius gave an edict for building the temple, (1 Esdras iv.; Tirinus) and the year before the great feast, (chap. i. 3.) when the Jews little thought of such danger hanging over them. (Calmet) (Worthington) --- Benjamin. Chap. ii. 5., we read Jemini, which shews that they have the same import. (Tirinus)

When. Greek, "for he heart their deliberations." --- Told, by the mouth of Esther, chap. ii. 21. (Haydock)

World. This is an exaggeration. Princes are flattered with high titles, but none more so than those of the East. (Calmet) --- Quietly. Literally, "in silence." Greek, "undisturbed by the stormy billows, ( Greek: akumantous ) at all times; and that the kingdom might be rendered quiet, and the roads unmolested, to the very extremities; that peace, which is desired by all men, may be renewed." How amiable are these dispositions, which ought to be cherished by all princes! We might then hope soon to see peace restored. (Haydock)

Ointments. Greek, "instead of the proud sweets, she filled her head with ashes and dust." Such as might be soon cleansed again. (Haydock) --- Torn. Greek, "curled hair," ( Greek: strapton trichon. Haydock) some of which she cut off. See Leviticus xix. 27., and xxi. 5. (Houbigant)

Remember. This is not here in Greek, but more regularly, chap. iv. 8. (Calmet)

Princes. Greek, "Beneficent," Luke xxii. 25. (Calmet) --- Greek, "Many of those who have been the most honoured by the kindness of the beneficent, have increased in folly, and not only endeavour to injure our subjects, but, unable to hear the weight of favours, devise schemes against their benefactors."

Verse 3

Seed. Benjamin (Itin.) informs us, that both he and the queen were buried in the chief city of the Medes, which he calls "the great Hamda;" perhaps the province Mardoch'e6a, (or Greek: Amordakai. Ptol. v. 20.) near the Persian gulf, may have been called after this statesman. (Tirinus)

Court, afterwards. (Calmet) --- He had a dream in the second year. (Houbigant)

After. Greek, "of all kingdoms as a reward, Aman shewed me," &c. Josephus, "the second after me, for his fidelity and confirmed good will." (Calmet) --- It is a great hurt for a king to be governed by one counsellor, Proverbs xv. 22. (Worthington)

Death. St. Jerome subjoins, I found there "also what follows."

Verse 4

Then Mardochai, &c. Here St. Jerome advertiseth the reader, that what follows is not in the Hebrew; but is found in the Septuagint Greek edition, which the 72 interpreters translated out of the Hebrew, or added by the inspiration of the Holy Ghost. (Challoner) --- He says, "What is extant in Hebrew I have faithfully translated. What follows I found in the Vulgate edition, contained in the Greek language and character: and in the mean time, or waving all dispute for the present, ( interim ) this little chapter was inserted at the end of the book, which, according to our custom, we have marked with an obel or spit." (Haydock) --- These fragments (Haydock) which the Septuagint might have in Hebrew or wrote by inspiration, (Worthington) are not in Chaldean or Syriac, and the old Latin version, taken from the Greek (Calmet) of Lysimachus, (chap. xi. 1.; Haydock) is inserted by St. Jerome. (Calmet) --- Things. He attributes the salvation of the Jews to God alone. (Haydock) --- Reflecting on the fall of Aman, (Tirinus) he recollects a dream which he had formerly had. (Haydock)

Juda. This has been noticed already, chap. ii. 5. But we need not be surprized at such repetitions. We find the like in the books of Moses, and 1 Kings xvi. 10., and xvii. 12., &c. (Haydock) --- St. Jerome says, "Librum Esther variis translatoribus constat esse vitiatum;" or, various historical documents may have been improperly inserted in the Greek, though they be true; and therefore St. Jerome has rightly removed the to the end. (Houbigant)

A people. Greek, "a certain perverse people, mixed with every tribe through," &c. --- New. Greek, "opposite to those of every nation, which always casteth aside the edicts of the kings, so that we cannot extend to them that upright and blameless dominion which we exercise over you."

Hands; very imminent. I am ready to expose my life, Psalm cxviii. 109. (Calmet)

Day. Greek adds, "as she had finished her prayer." --- Wore. Literally, "of her ornament." But the Greek has properly, (Haydock) "of her mourning." (Menochius)

Neither. Greek, "And they not only take away gratitude from among men, but elated with good fortune, which they had not before experienced, they flatter themselves that they will escape the sentence of an all-seeing God, levelled against the wicked." (Haydock) --- Artaxerxes insists with reason on the ingratitude of Aman, as it was a crime punishable by their laws; (Cyrop. i.; Brisson ii. p. 250.) and the Persian kings were particularly careful to reward those who had done them good. (Calmet)

Verse 5

A dream. This dream was prophetical and extraordinary, otherwise the general rule is, not to observe them. (Challoner)

Palace, as an officer. --- Presents, of small value. (Calmet) --- The king had inquired, (Greek, chap. vi. 3.) "What glory or favour have we done to Mardochai? and the ministers replied: Thou hast done nothing to him," to honour him as he deserves.

Heard. Old Vulgate often repeats, "from the books of my fathers;" adducing the various instances of protection which God had shewn to his people, Noe, Abraham, Jonas, the three children, Daniel, Ezechias, and Anna: which intimates that Esther made the sacred books the subject of her frequent meditations, as good people ought to do. (Haydock)

Glittering. Greek, "and was resplendent after," &c.

And. Greek, "For oftentimes fair speeches, or (Haydock) revenge, ( Greek: paramuthia. Isaias i. 24. Calmet) has made several of those who have been in authority, and entrusted with the affairs of their friends, partakers in the spilling of innocent blood, and involved them in irremediable calamities, by the wicked craft of those who purposely lead astray the unsuspecting benevolence of governors." (Haydock) --- Josephus ([Antiquities?] xi. 3.) gives nearly the same sense: (Calmet) "For some of these, being placed in power by their friends, and bearing a private hatred towards some, have deluded their princes by false reasons, and by accusations have persuaded them to stir up the wrath of those who have done no wrong; on which account, they have been in danger of perishing." This author was not, therefore, unacquainted with the fragment, or part of the history, before us. (Haydock)

Verse 6

And was. Septuagint, "and there was light, and the sun and much water." The light enabled him to discern the progress of the little fountain. Yet it was not absurd that the water should appear luminous, like the sun, as it was intended to shew the wonderful exaltation of Esther. (Haydock) --- She extinguished a great fire, which threatened ruin. (Menochius)

Bugite, may refer to some town of Macedon, chap. iii. 1. --- Honour. Yet he might be still more exalted, after the conspiracy was detected; (Houbigant) as the king little suspected that he was concerned in it. (Haydock) --- Death. It is thought that they wished to place Aman, or some Macedonian, on the throne, chap. xvi. 12, 14. (Calmet) --- This reason for the malevolence of Aman, might be unknown to Mardochai, chap. xiii. 12. (Houbigant) --- The former was either a favourer of traitors, or perhaps of the same conspiracy. (Worthington)

ESTHER 13

CHAPTER XIII.

Second. Greek, "our second father." (Calmet) --- Complutensian , "the second after us, shall be all extirpated by," &c. (Haydock) --- This king is represented as very stupidly giving orders for the destruction of a nation which he never names; (Capellus) but he intimates that Aman would do it, in whom he placed the most unbounded confidence. (Haydock) --- If the latter had any suspicions of the queen's being of that nation, he might very prudently abstain from mentioning the Jews even to the king, contenting himself with describing them so that they would easily be known by his agents; and, in effect, the king sufficiently pointed out the Jews, by saying that they followed laws different from all the world. (Houbigant) --- Infidels generally represent them as a wicked race, enemies to all but their own nation. (Tacitus, &c.) --- We need not wonder if Catholics be painted in the same colours, as the devil is still the same. (Haydock) --- Fourteenth. Josephus has the same day, though the 13th is specified in Hebrew, &c., (chap. iii. 12.) and in the Greek and Vulgate, chap. xvi. 20. We must, therefore, allow that the Jews might be slaughtered on both days, or that the Greek is incorrect in this place. (Calmet) --- Salien thinks it would not be lawful to spare the Jews any longer than the 14th day; (Menochius) or the carnage was to cease on the 14th, as it did at Susa, chap. ix. 17, 19. (Tirinus)

As if. Greek, "as being delicate. But the other followed, holding up her garment. But she, blushing in the height of her beauty, with a cheerful and most lovely countenance, felt the pressure of fear on her heart."

Verse 7

Cry. While Aman was full of indignation against Mardochai, and the latter would not submit to adore him, the various nations of the empire were instigated to fall upon the Jews. (Haydock)

Hell. Protestants, "grave." The king only wanted to send them out of this world. At the end of this verse, St. Jerome says, "Hitherto is given the copy of the epistle. I found what follows after that place where we read, So Mardochai, &c., (chap. iv. 17.) yet it is not in Hebrew nor does it appear in any of the interpreters." (Haydock) --- He means, Aquila, &c. For he plainly asserts before, that it was in the Septuagint, which he calls the Vulgate; and all know that his version was taken from the Hebrew. The Church reads this prayer of Mardochai, (Tirinus) in the mass, against pagans, (Worthington) and 21st Sunday after Pentecost, &c., so that this is a part of Scripture which the Council of Trent will not suffer to be rejected. (Tirinus)

For. Greek, "since we have extolled," &c. Esther had not been guilty herself of this prevarication; but too many of the people had. (Haydock)

Proved. Greek, "may be seen, not so much from ancient histories, as we have observed, but more so, if ye examine what wicked things have been done recently, by the fault ( or cruelty) of those who have been unworthily in command: and if ye attend, in future, that we may without trouble settle our kingdom in peace for all men. For though we make some changes, yet we make a discernment of what falls under our inspection, and other things with more equity." He intimates that the former decree of Aman had been subreptitious.

Verse 8

But. Greek (Complutensian) , "Yea, thou hast placed (or rather as the Alexandrian manuscript reads, they have placed) their hands upon the hands of their idols, (Haydock; making league together. Calmet) to tear away the decree of thy mouth," (Haydock) and to put in execution the projects of (Menochius) the devil. (Haydock)

Verse 10

Lots. Alluding to the Purim of Aman; (Calmet; Capellus) or rather these are only mentioned, ver. 13. (Haydock) --- Greek, "He had therefore made two lots....and the two lots came to the hour and time and day of judgment before God, and for all nations." (Haydock)

Waters. Esther, by her tears, extinguished the rising flame. (Worthington)

Idols. Greek, "of the vain things, and to render wonderful for ever," &c.

Eyes. Greek adds, "with glory," with which he was surrounded. This made him at first resent the coming in of women uncalled, till her perceived Esther, and saw her fainting. (Haydock) --- Capellus would represent this conduct of the king as ridiculous, and contrary to the true history. But this is false: and he improperly renders Greek: agoniasas, regem concidisse & animo defecisse; as if the king had fallen down in a swoon; whereas it only means that he experienced those sentiments of anxiety which every good husband would do on the like occasion. (Houbigant) (Chap. v. 2.) --- Assuerus had at first only perceived the maid, who went before the queen, and the hall was very spacious. (Houbigant) --- Pale. Greek, "in a fainting-fit, and she leaned upon the head of her maid, (Abra.) who was going before."

Now. Greek, "For as Aman, of Amadathos, a Macedonian, a stranger to the real blood of the Persians, and of a very different character from our goodness, and who, though a stranger to us, partook of that philanthropy which we have for every nation, insomuch as to be styled," &c. (Haydock) --- At this time the Macedonians were hardly known. (Capellus) --- But this may be questioned, as their kingdom was of ancient date. (Houbigant) --- some think that the Asiatic Macedonians may be designated. (Hardouin.) (Pliny, [Natural History?] v. 30, 31.) --- These, however, may have been so called only after the conquests of Alexander. This king fought against the Greeks, of whom the Macedonians formed a part. (Tirinus) --- The name may here be placed only for a stranger. (Calmet) --- Staining. The faults of ministers often redound to the disgrace of those who employ them. (Menochius)

Verse 11

Time. From all eternity (Tirinus) God had ordained to save his people; and this he declared to his servants, by shewing him two lots. (Haydock) --- This became more intelligible after the event, (Tirinus) like other predictions. (Haydock)

Rose up. A bright sun (Tirinus) represented God, (Calmet) or the king. (Grotius)

Not idols, as they are often here designated, (Calmet and 1 Corinthians viii.) being only the imaginations of men. (Worthington) --- Destroy. Greek, "Make an example of the man, who had begun (Haydock; evils. Calmet) against us." (Haydock) --- She throws the blame upon Aman, and not upon her husband. (Calmet)

All. Greek, "being in an agony, he," &c. --- Caressed. Greek, "comforted her with words of peace, and said to her, What," &c. (Haydock)

Verse 12

Mercy. Greek, "justified." But this often means, shewed mercy, Exodus xxxiv. 7. (Calmet) --- The book concludes in Greek with the first verse, which we have in the following chapter, though some editions seem (Haydock) to have had that remark (Du Hamel) of the Alexandrian Jews, (Calmet) at the head of the book. (Haydock)

ESTHER 11

CHAPTER XI.

Signify. He was convinced that it was from heaven. (Calmet)

ESTHER 12

CHAPTER XII.

Gods. Greek, "nations, and Lord of all power." (Haydock)

Brother; (united by the closest bands, Canticle of Canticles viii. 1.; Calmet) Greek, "Take courage, Thou," &c.

Life. This he might only suspect; (Calmet) or his machinations with the two porters, might be declared after his disgrace. (Haydock) --- Capellus thinks it improbable that Aman intended to murder the queen, as he was so much elated at being invited by her to a feast, &c. But his schemes were various: (Houbigant) and who can pretend to say what would have satisfied his cruelty and ambition? (Haydock)

Verse 13

Lion. This expression seems not sufficiently respectful. (Capellus) --- But why might not Esther use it with regard to one, who was raging against her people more than any lion, as St. Paul applies it to Nero, probably after her example? (Houbigant) (2 Timothy iv. 17.) --- David also thus styles Saul and his persecutors in general, Psalm vii. 3., &c. (Calmet)

Others, is not expressed; (Haydock) and Esther might well suppose that she was included, as she probably was, (chap. iv. 11.; Capellus) though the king now altered his mind. (Houbigant) --- Greek, "our decree is common," made for our subjects. According to the Roman law, the empress enjoyed the like privileges as her husband. (Calmet)

Verse 14

To a man; "as if," says Capellus, "the salutation and civil honour be not quite different from adoration and religious worship, which must be given to God alone. Neither did Haman demand religious adoration, but only salutation and civil honour.... To bend the knee is frequently used in civil honour, nor is it necessarily understood of religious worship." May our English Protestants deign to borrow this grain of common sense from one their foreign brethren, when they attempt to impugn the respect given by Catholics to the saints. (Haydock) --- "We grant that Aman did not require religious worship: but as the civil respect which he claimed, was to be performed in the same manner as the Jews worshipped God, Mardochai would not wound his own conscience, or that of his people." (Houbigant) --- Yet it is by no means clear that Aman did not insist on being worshipped as a god. It is evident that Mardochai understood him, at least, in that light, chap. iii. 2. (Haydock)

Then. Greek, "and taking the golden septre, he laid," &c.

Without. Greek, "abandoned." (Haydock) --- Macedonians; or to himself, who was of that nation. It was not necessary to call over forces, as Capellus would suppose.

Verse 15

Stranger. Only those near Chanaan were forbidden to marry; and St. Paul commends Eunice, who had espoused an infidel. (Capellus) --- But this was not the reason of his commendation; for he ordains, Bear not the yoke with infidels. A pious woman might, therefore, very well refrain from such contracts, to which the Jews, at this time, were in a manner forced. Still Esther might have a conjugal love for her husband, (Houbigant) though she would have preferred to marry one poorer of her own religion; and here she only submitted to the designs of God, in raising her to such an elevated station. (Menochius)

Why. Greek, "speak to me; and she said to him." (Haydock)

Verse 16

Sign. The diadem. It was no sin to wear it. (Capellus) --- What then? May not a pious prince despise such ornaments, raising his mind above them? (Houbigant) --- Silence, when I am alone. Nothing could give us a higher idea of Esther's virtue and greatness of soul, as her elevation did not make her forget herself. (Calmet)

Angel. The Chaldeans had the same notion as the Jews about angels; and the latter never shewed more devotion towards them than after the captivity, when the Scriptures speak more plainly on this subject. Jacob compares his brother Esau to an angel, (Calmet) or to God, Genesis xxxiii. 10. See also 1 Kings xxix. 9., and 2 Kings xiv. 17. (Haydock)

God. Cyrus had styled him, "the God of heaven." (Houbigant) (1 Esdras i.) (Haydock) --- But Darius embraced the true religion, and adored God. (Tirinus) --- Fathers. "Hystaspes was not a descendant of Cyrus, but he was of the same royal stock." (Just. i.) (Herodotus iii. 85.) --- And is. Greek, "by the best disposition. You will therefore do well not to make use of the letter, sent by Aman." The edict could not be repealed; (Capellus; Houbigant) though this seems doubtful, when it was manifestly subreptitious, (Menochius) unjust, and not sealed by the nobles. (Calmet)

Verse 17

Inheritance. Literally, "line," (Haydock) as it was usual to measure land with lines. (Menochius)

ESTHER 14

CHAPTER XIV.

Me. Ought she to have been thus affected towards her husband? (Capellus) --- Undoubtedly: as the meats and the wine had been offered to idols. (Houbigant)

ESTHER 15

CHAPTER XV.

Verse 18

Almost. Literally, "almost dead." Greek, "she fell in a fainting fit."

ESTHER 16

CHAPTER XVI.

Gibbets. Aman was thus treated, several months before his ten sons, chap. vii. 10., and ix. 6. Yet all the family might still be seen hanging, when this edict was dispatched. Houbigant suspects that this and the following verses properly belong to the letter written by Esther and Mardochai. The arguments are not very cogent. (Haydock)

Verse 19

Laws. This was privilege often desired. (Josephus, [Antiquities?] xiii.4.)

Verse 20

Kill. Greek, "take revenge on those who in the day of distress shall fall upon them, on the 13th."

Verse 21

Sadness. Greek, "destruction of his chosen race, into," &c. (Haydock)

Verse 22

Days. A festival was kept in memory of the destruction of the maji, in which this king was a principal actor. (Herodotus iii. 79.) --- The Persians were ordered to keep the 13th of Adar, on account of the preservation of the royal family, and the ruin of a great enemy. (Calmet)

Verse 23

All. Greek, "Salvation is to us, and to all well-affected Persians: but a memorial of destruction to all who are traitors to us."

Verse 24

And. Greek, "But every country or city throughout the kingdom, which shall not comply, shall be consumed with the spear and fire in wrath." --- Beasts. Greek adds hyperbolically, "and birds, and also be accounted most abominable for ever." (Haydock) --- Similar expressions occur in the prophets, to denote an entire destruction, Jeremias ix. 10., &c. Mardochai and Esther have left us in this work the most perfect example of virtue. The latter is given us a pattern of Christian sovereigns, and a figure of the Church. (St. Jerome ad Paulin. (Calmet) and prol. in Sophonias) --- Like Judith, she proved the salvation of her people, and the ruin of their adversaries. Nothing could be more striking, (Worthington) or visible, than the hand of God in these transactions. (Haydock) --- Esther was also a type of the blessed Virgin [Mary], by whose intercession the head of the serpent is crushed, and letters of grace succeed to the hand-writing that stood against us. (St. Thomas Aquinas, prol. in ep. Cath.) (Worthington)

Verse 31

CHAPTER X.

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Bibliographical Information
Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Esther 10". "Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/hcc/esther-10.html. 1859.