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Bible Commentaries

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

Esther 10

Verse 1

And the king Ahasuerus laid a tribute upon the land, and upon the isles of the sea.

Ahasuerus laid a tribute upon the land, and upon the isles of the sea, [ wª'iyeey (H339) hayaam (H3220)]. This phrase was used specifically to designate known isles of the Mediterranean, the coasts of Greece, Italy, and Spain, with the western countries visited by the Phoenicians. In the crippled state of Persia, after the unfortunate expedition into Greece, Xerxes could not lay a tribute upon the nations of western Europe, and the phrase, therefore, must be considered as bearing a more restricted meaning, namely, the islands in the Persian Gulf, etc. The notice of this tribute is a natural and appropriate conclusion of the book of Esther; and without the mention of some such fact, there would have been a want in the filling up or completeness of this record, which would have detracted very much from its value as a historical document. It was with a view to defray the expenditure, to repair the ruin of his expedition into Greece, that he "laid a tribute upon the land, and upon the isles of the sea."

Thus between the first verse of this last chapter, and the narrative contained at the commencement of this book, there is one of those minute coincidences on which Paley, in his 'Horae Paulinae,' insists as affording that strong, because an undesigned, evidence of the truth and authenticity of the book-namely, that it is consistent with itself. Neither the nature nor the amount of the tax has been recorded, only it was not a local tribute, but one exacted from all parts of his vast empire.

Verse 2

And all the acts of his power and of his might, and the declaration of the greatness of Mordecai, whereunto the king advanced him, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Media and Persia?

The declaration of the greatness of Mordecai. The experience of this pious and excellent Jew verified the statement, "he that humbleth himself shall be exalted." From sitting contentedly at the kings gate, he was raised to the dignity of highest subject, the powerful ruler of the kingdom. Acting uniformly on the great principles of truth and righteousness, his greatness rated on a firm foundation. His faith was openly avowed, and his influence as a professor of the true religion was of the greatest usefulness for promoting the welfare of the Jewish people, as well as for advancing the glory of God.

Verse 3

For Mordecai the Jew was next unto king Ahasuerus, and great among the Jews, and accepted of the multitude of his brethren, seeking the wealth of his

Mordecia ... was next unto king Ahasuerus ... great among the Jews ... The elevation of this pious and patriotic Jew to the possession of the highest official power was of very great importance to the suffering church at that period, for it enabled him, who all along possessed the disposition, now to direct the royal influence and authority in promoting the interests and extending the privileges of his exiled countrymen. Viewed in this light, the providence of God is plainly traceable an all the steps that led to his unexpected advancement; and this providential interposition is all the more remarkable that, as in the analogous case of Joseph, it was displayed in making the ordinary and natural course of things lead to the most marvelous results. To use the pious words of an eminent prelate, 'Though in the whole of this episode there was no extraordinary manifestation of God's power, no particular cause or agent that was in its working advanced above the ordinary pitch of nature, yet the contrivance-and suiting these ordinary agents appointed by God-is in itself more admirable than if the same end had been effected by means that were truly miraculous.'

The sudden advancement of individuals from obscurity and neglect to the highest stations of power and influence is, in Eastern courts, no extraordinary nor unfrequent occurrence. The caprice, the weak partiality, of the reigning sovereign, or, it may be, his penetrating discernment in discovering latent energy and talent, has often "raised the beggar from the dunghill, and set him among princes." Some of the all-powerful viziers in modern Persia, and not a few of the beys in Egypt, have been elevated to their respective dignities in this manner. And therefore the advancement of 'Mordecai, who was next to Ahasuerus, and great among the Jews,' was in perfect accordance with the rapid revolution of 'the wheel of fortune' in that part of the world. But, considering all the circumstances of Mordecai's advancement, not only his gaining the favour of the king, but his being "accepted of the multitude of his brethren," it was beyond all controversy the doing of the Lord, and was truly marvelous in His people's eyes.

Accepted of the multitude of his brethren. Far from being envious of his grandeur, they blessed God for the elevation to official power of so good a man.

Speaking peace to all his seed. While his administration was conducted with a mild and impartial hand, he showed a peculiarly warm and friendly feeling to all his countrymen, when asked for his counsel or his aid.

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Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Esther 10". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jfu/esther-10.html. 1871-8.