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Bible Commentaries
Esther 1

Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New TestamentsSutcliffe's Commentary

Verses 1-22

Esther 1:1 . From India even to Ethiopia. Darius the Mede appointed one hundred and twenty governors. Hence it appears that this Ahasuérus, the Xerxes Longimanus of Herodotus, had enlarged his conquests, and made the Ganges and the Nile his boundaries.

Esther 1:2 . Sat on the throne. He seems to have been employed till now in some conquest, which made him the terror both of the Grecian and the eastern world. Consequently this was a grand coronation, or a military fĂȘte, which continued six months. Here he displayed all his wealth and spoil, which surpassed conception for abundance.

Esther 1:9 . Vashti. Perhaps a surname given her for her beauty, which was inferior to her virtue. The ladies about her were high in rank, but alas, in a moment their queen was thrown from her throne, without either help or hope.

Esther 1:10 . The seven chamberlains. The Chaldaic reads “satraps.” The Vulgate reads, “eunuchs.” They are all Persic names, though perhaps changed a little in the Hebrew.

Esther 1:12 . Vashti refused to come. She relied on the law of custom to hide herself from the eyes of men; so far she was virtuous. Yet the pleasure of the monarch was the greatest of all the Persian laws.

Esther 1:22 . That every man should bear rule in his own house. Very just; but he must not expose his wife, almost naked, to an intoxicated court. He becomes a tyrant who rules above the laws.


We now leave the land of Israel to tread on Persian ground, and to trace the hand of God among the heathen. The first object which presents itself is the king, seated on a high throne, with all his spoils and wealth displayed throughout his gardens, his temples, and treasuries. We next see all the princes and nobles of the east fall prostrate at his feet, and little less than worship him as a god: and it is probable that men of various rank and nations succeeded one another during the whole of that time. What a wearisome task! We see also that all excess of passion is attended with mortification and misery. This king, burthened, not blessed, by the homage of nations, sought at the end of one week relief in wine; and exhausted with boasting of his regal glory, he proceeded to boast of the incomparable beauty of his queen, and was resolved to expose her to the admiration of his princes. To this Vashti would not submit, nor did she stoop to put her refusal in the form of a request. So while the world bowed, a woman rebelled. The king was confounded before his nobles; his happiness vanished in a moment, and every indignant passion agitated his breast. How happy is the poor cottager, whose eyes, by the sight of a palace, were never tempted to think meanly of his family hut.

From Memucan’s advice we learn, that men in the most critical cases will advocate the cause of justice, when it associates with their interest. Vashti had indeed committed a fault, for the pleasure of her lord was to her a greater law than custom; but this counseller, seeking the ruin of an unsuspecting woman, never once tried the efforts of repentance and reconciliation; on the contrary, he recommended the severest justice, because it was consonant to the royal passion, and popular in the ears of the princes, who loved a domestic sovereignty. Had the king, after the storm of passion, become reconciled to the queen, Memucan, by his counsel, would have placed himself in a critical situation. But after the king had sent letters to the provinces, his sense of honour was stronger than his love for Vashti. How short and transient are the joys of the wicked: how many the calamities which find their way to palaces and courts! Let the christian wait in hope, and Christ will display a glory far superior to that of kings, and to any thing we can now conceive. He will call his servants to feast them at his court, and no unholy passions, no vain affections shall disturb their joy. The homage shall be divine, the peace permanent, and the glory everlasting. Wait awhile, oh my soul, and thine eyes shall see the king in his beauty, and thy heart shall love him for ever.

After all, there was one custom in Persian courts which should not pass without applause, being intimately connected with the morals of the christian world. The drinking was according to law, no one compelled another. If a christian dine with his friends, this law he has a full right to plead. It is in fact the law of nature and of conscience, and he cannot break it without honouring men more than God, and sinning against his own soul.

Bibliographical Information
Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Esther 1". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jsc/esther-1.html. 1835.
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