Lectionary Calendar
Saturday, May 25th, 2024
the Week of Proper 2 / Ordinary 7
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Bible Commentaries
Esther 2

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - UnabridgedCommentary Critical Unabridged

Verse 1

After these things, when the wrath of king Ahasuerus was appeased, he remembered Vashti, and what After these things, when the wrath of king Ahasuerus was appeased, he remembered Vashti, and what she had done, and what was decreed against her.

After these things, when the wrath of king Ahasuerus was appeased. On recovering from the violent excitement of his revelry and rage, the king was pierced with poignant regret for the unmerited treatment he had given to his beautiful and dignified queen. But, according to the law, which made the word of a Persian king irrevocable, she could not be restored. His counselors, for their own sake, were solicitous to remove his disquietude, and hastened to recommend the adoption of all suitable means for gratifying their royal master with another consort of equal or superior attractions to those of his divorced queen.

The Persian monarch could legally choose a wife only from six noble ramifies (Herodotus, 3:, 84). But, of course, in the exercise of absolute power, he could break through this restriction; and in existing circumstances, irritable, and depressed by the disastrous issue of his expedition into Greece, he was urged by his politic counselors, who were desirous of diverting his mind from gloomy reflections, to search the kingdom for a queen.

In the despotic countries of the East the custom obtains that, when an order is sent to a family for a young damsel to repair to the royal palace, the parents, however unwilling, dare not refuse the honour for their daughter; and although they know that when she is once into the royal harem they will never see her again, they are obliged to yield a silent and passive compliance.

In some countries of the East, at the present day, the method adopted by the Persian counselors to procure a wife for their royal master continues to be pursued. From the 'Courier Russe,' June, 1868, copied into all the English newspapers, we learn that the young Emperor of China, having reached the age of 14, the time had come when a wife had to be chosen for him. One hundred and twenty young girls, from eleven to twelve years old, were admitted to the palace on an appointed evening (27th March), as candidates for the queenship. Seven were selected from the number who had to submit to an examination before the empress mother-whose business it is, in the court of Pekin, to make the choice. Letters from Pekin (2nd April) give the additional intelligence that the young lady upon whom the choice of the prince and his mother fell was born at Monkdon, in the province of Chiug-King, that she has attained her eleventh year, and that she was extremely beautiful.

On the occasion referred to in Shushan (Herodotus, b. 6:, 32), a general search was commanded to be made for the greatest beauties throughout the empire, in the hope that, from their ranks, the disconsolate monarch might select one for the honour of succeeding to the royal honours of Vashti. The damsels, on arrival at the palace, were brought to the "house of the women" [ beeyt (H1004) hanaashiym (H802)] - i:e., the harem, a portion of the palace constituting an entire and separate domicile, and furnished largely, as the 'Targum' says, with baths, unguents, and every material conducive to luxury, ornament, and cleanliness. They were placed under the custody of "Hege the king's chamberlain, keeper of the women" [cªriym], the chief eunuch-usually a repulsive old man, on whom the court ladies are very dependent, and whose favour they are always desirous to secure.

Verses 2-4

Then said the king's servants that ministered unto him, Let there be fair young virgins sought for the king: No JFB commentary on these verses.

Verse 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;

Now in Shushan the palace there was a certain Jew. Mordecai held some office about the court. Besides his ancestors as here mentioned, the Targum on Esther reckons Uzza, one of the sons of Ehud (1 Chronicles 8:7). But 'his sitting at the king's gate' (Esther 2:21) does not necessarily imply that he was in the humble condition of porter; because, according to an institute of Cyrus, all state officers were required to wait in the outer courts, until they were summoned into the presence-chamber. He might therefore have been a person of some official dignity (Shaw's 'Travels'). This man had an orphan niece, born during the exile, under his care, who, being distinguished by great personal beauty, was one of the young damsels taken into the royal harem on this occasion, and had the good fortune at once to gain the good-will of the chief eunuch. Her sweet and amiable appearance made her a favourite with all who looked on her (Esther 2:15, last clause). Her Hebrew name (Esther 2:7) was Hadassah [from hªdac (H1918), myrtle], which, on her introduction into the royal harem, was changed for Esther [ 'Ecteer (H635), Persian, the star Venus], indicating beauty and good fortune (Gesenius).

Verses 6-8

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.

No JFB commentary on these verses.

Verse 9

And the maiden pleased him, and she obtained kindness of him; and he speedily gave her her things for purification, with such things as belonged to her, and seven maidens, which were meet to be given her, out of the king's house: and he preferred her and her maids unto the best place of the house of the women.

He (Hegai) speedily gave her her things for purification, with such things as belonged to her (cf. Esther 2:12). The seven maidens, one for every day of the week, were appointed to attend her in rotation. Their names are mentioned in the Chaldee paraphrase, as well as the day of waiting for each.

Verse 10

Esther had not shewed her people nor her kindred: for Mordecai had charged her that she should not shew it.

No JFB commentary on this verse.

Verse 11

And Mordecai walked every day before the court of the women's house, to know how Esther did, and what should become of her.

Mordecai walked every day before the court of the women's house. The harem is an inviolable sanctuary, and what is transacted within its walls is as much a secret to these without as if they were thousands of miles away; but hints were given him through the eunuchs.

Verse 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;)

Now when every maid's turn was come to go in to king Ahasuerus. A whole year was spent in preparation for the intended honour. Considering that this took place in a palace, the long period prescribed, together with the profusion of costly and fragrant cosmetics employed, was probably required by state etiquette. At the same time, at is said that from the dirty and neglected way in which the girls of Georgia and Circassia are brought up in their humble homes, a long process of purification is absolutely necessary before these celebrated beauties are fit for being brought into the Turkish markets. Reasons of a similar kind may have originated the cleansing processes at Shushan. But fragrant perfumes were an indispensable a mark of royal gratification to the kings of Persia, that these were burnt before them whenever they went abroad; and it is most likely, therefore, that fondness for cosmetics led to the course described in this passage. In fact, perfumes were used profusely, without regard either to cost or to quality.

Verse 13

Then thus came every maiden unto the king; whatsoever she desired was given her to go with her out of the house of the women unto the king's house.

Then thus came every maiden unto the king. 'Gynaeceum, the women's apartment, was, in the Susa palace at any rate, building distinct from the general edifice, separated from "the king's house" by a court. It was itself composed of at least three sets of apartments, namely, apartments for the virgins, who had not yet gone into the king, apartments for the concubines, and apartments for the queen-consort and the other wives. These different portions were under the supervision of different persons. Two eunuchs of distinction had the charge respectively of the "first" and of "the second house of the women." The queen-consort was, at any rate nominally, paramount in the third, her authority extending over all its inmates, male and female' (Rawlinson's 'Ancient Monarchies,' 4:, p. 174).

Verses 14-16

In the evening she went, and on the morrow she returned into the second house of the women, to the custody of Shaashgaz, the king's chamberlain, which kept the concubines: she came in unto the king no more, except the king delighted in her, and that she were called by name.

No JFB commentary on these verses.

Verse 17

And the king loved Esther above all the women, and she obtained grace and favour in his sight more than all the virgins; so that he set the royal crown upon her head, and made her queen instead of than all the virgins; so that he set the royal crown upon her head, and made her queen instead of Vashti.

The king loved Esther above all the women. The choice fell on Esther, who found favour in the eyes of Ahasuerus, and elevated her to the dignity of chief wife or queen. The other competitors had apartments assigned them in the royal harem, and were retained in the rank of secondary wives, of whom Oriental princes have a great number.

He set the royal crown upon her head. This consisted only of a purple fillet, streaked with white, having the appearance of a crown of towers, bound round the forehead.

Verse 18

Then the king made a great feast unto all his princes and his servants, even Esther's feast; and he made a release to the provinces, and gave gifts, according to the state of the king.

The king made a great feast, [ waya`as (H6213) hamelek (H4428) mishteh (H4960) gaadowl (H1419); Septuagint, epoieese tous gamous] - made the marriage feast. The nuptials were celebrated by a magnificent entertainment; and, in honour of the auspicious occasion, "he made a release to the provinces, and gave gifts, according to the state of the king." The dotation of Persian queens consisted in consigning to them the revenue of certain cities, in various parts of the kingdom for defraying their personal and domestic expenditure: one city, for instance, to furnish head-dress, and ornaments for the face and neck, a second to provide sumptuous robes, and a city called Anthilla to supply embroidered shoes and sandals. Some of these imposts the king remitted or lessened at this time.

Verses 19-20

And when the virgins were gathered together the second time, then Mordecai sat in the king's gate.

No JFB commentary on these verses.

Verse 21

In those days, while Mordecai sat in the king's gate, two of the king's chamberlains, Bigthan and In those days, while Mordecai sat in the king's gate, two of the king's chamberlains, Bigthan and Teresh, of those which kept the door, were wroth, and sought to lay hand on the king Ahasuerus.

In those days ... two of the king's chamberlains ... were wroth ... This secret conspiracy against the king's life probably arose out of revenge for the divorce of Vashti, in whose interest, and at whose instigation, these eunuchs may have acted. Through the vigilance of Mordecai, whose fidelity, however, passed unnoticed, the design was frustrated, while the conspirators were condemned to be executed; and as the matter was recorded in the court annals, it became the occasion afterward of Mordecai's preferment to the place of power and influence for which, in furtherance of the national interests of the Jews, divine Providence intended him.

Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Esther 2". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jfu/esther-2.html. 1871-8.
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