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Est 5:1 Now it came to pass on the third day, that Esther put on [her] royal [apparel], and stood in the inner court of the king’s house, over against the king’s house: and the king sat upon his royal throne in the royal house, over against the gate of the house.
Ver. 1. Now it came to pass on the third day ] That is, on the fifteenth day of the month Nisan, as the Hebrew annals say. Cum adhuc ferverent popularium suorum preces, whiles the prayers of her countrymen (like those of Cornelius, Act 10:4 ), were come up for a memorial before God, she takes her opportunity and speeds accordingly. She knew that sweet passage, Psalms 145:18 , "The Lord is nigh to all that call upon him, to all that call upon him in truth. He will fulfil the desire of them that fear him: he also will hear their cry, and will save them," &c. This she could afterwards seal to and say, This poor soul cried, and the Lord heard her, and saved her out of all her troubles, Psalms 34:6 . Luther’s widow confessed that she never understood many of David’s Psalms till she was in deep affliction.
That Esther put on her royal apparel ] She knew that
Hanc homines decorant, quam vestimenta decorant,
Men glorify her as than they glorify her clothes. People are usually regarded as they are habited, and good clothes conduce much to the setting forth of beauty to the best. Like a right daughter of Sarah, 1Pe 3:3 ; 1 Peter 3:5 , she knew that the outward adorning, by plaiting the hair, wearing of gold, and putting on of apparel, would not at all commend her to God (in obedience to whom she had wanzed her face with fasting, and trusted that he would put upon her his comeliness), but considering that the king, her husband, looked much at such things, she laid aside her fasting weeds, and put on her best. Induit se regno (so the original runs), she clothed herself in rich and royal array; as Queen Mary of England did on her coronation day: her head was so laden with precious stones, that she could hardly hold it up, saith the story; and all things else were according. Whether Esther came to the king, leaning upon one maid, and having another to hold up her train, as Josephus hath it, is uncertain. It is likely she left her attendants outside, lest she should draw them into danger; and contented herself (when she went in to the king) with those faithful companions, Faith, Hope, and Charity, who brought her off also with safety, according to Proverbs 18:10 ; Proverbs 14:26 .
And stood in the inner court of the king’s house] A bold adventure questionless, but the fruit of the prayer of faith; this was it that put spirit and mettle into her. What if she were queen? so had Vashti been, and yet discarded for her disobedience. Besides, how could she tell, either, what the king’s mind towards her was; (he had not seen her of a month, and if Haman knew her to be a Jewess, what would not he suggest against her?) or, what was the mind of God, till he had signified it by the event. It was therefore a heroical courage in Esther, proceeding from her faith, which, when it is driven to work alone without sense, then God thinks it lieth upon his credit to show mercy.
Over against the king’s house] Where she might see him, and be seen by him. This she did, Nec temere, nec timide, Neither rashly nor fearfully, which, saith one, is the Christian’s motto.
And the king sat upon his royal throne ] Royal indeed, as Athenaeus describeth it. But yet short of Solomon’s, 1 Kings 10:18 , much more of the Lord Christ’s, supported aud surrounded with an innumerable company of angels. It should be our earnest desire to see this King of glory upon his throne; to see him and enjoy him. Austin wished that he might have seen three things: 1. Romam in flore; 2. Paulum in ore; 3. Christum in corpore. Rome in the flourish, Paul in the pulpit, Christ in the flesh. Venerable Bode cometh after, and correcting this last wish, saith, Imo vero Christum in solio sedentem, Let me see Christ upon his throne royal rather. Isaiah saw him so, Isaiah 6:1 , and took far more delight therein than the merry Greeks did or could do at their Olympic games, celebrated at the same time, in 760-759 BC, 1590 years after the flood, in the 14th Jubilee, according to Ussher.
Est 5:2 And it was so, when the king saw Esther the queen standing in the court, [that] she obtained favour in his sight: and the king held out to Esther the golden sceptre that [was] in his hand. So Esther drew near, and touched the top of the sceptre.
Ver. 2. And it was so ] God, the great heart disposer, so ordered it.
That when the king saw Esther the queen, &c. ] Beautified by God in a special manner, as was Moses, αστειος τω θεω , Acts 7:20 , Stephen, Acts 6:15 , &c. And some faces we know do appear most orientally fair when they are most instamped with sorrow.
That she obtained favour in his sight ] Josephus saith, that at first the king frowned upon her, so that she fell into a swoon before him. Rex autem, voluntate arbitror Dei, mentem mutavit, i.e. but the king, as God would have it, changed his mind, and cheered her up. How true this is I know not; but this I know, that the wrath of a king is as the roaring of a lion, which is so terrible, that it astonieth all that hear it, and that omne trahit secum Caesaris ira malum. All drag the evil wrath with Caesar himself. Sir Christopher Hatton, being checked and threatened by Queen Elizabeth, died soon after; neither could the queen, having once cast him down with her word only, raise him up again, though she visited him, and comforted him. Esther here was soon raised and relieved.
Deiecit ut relevet, premit ut solaria praestet;
Enecat, ut possit vivificare Deus.
And the king held out to Esther the golden sceptre ] He did not kick her out of his presence, as some Cambyses would have done, neither did he command her to the block, as Henry VIII did his Anne Bullen upon a mere pretence of disloyalty; neither yet did he cashier her, as he had done Vashti for a less offence: but, by holding out his sceptre, shows his gracious respects unto her. This was the Lord’s own work, as was likewise that of old, that Laban should leave Jacob with a kiss, Gen 31:55 Esau meet him with a kiss, Genesis 33:4 , where the word kissed hath a prick over each letter in the original, to show the wonder of God’s work in changing Esau’s heart from his former hatred. Hebrew Text Note Let a man’s ways please the Lord, and men shall quickly befriend him. This is compendiosissima hominum gratiam consequendi via, saith Lavater here, the readiest way to win favour with all others. When David was once a man after God’s heart, whatsoever he did pleased the people.
So Esther drew near, and touched the top of his sceptre ] With her hand, saith the Chaldee; with her mouth, saith the Vulgate translation. This she did, either in token of submission, or for the avoiding of danger; for, as Josephus saith, He that touched the king’s sceptre was out of the reach of evil, O απτομενος, ακινδυνος . Wives should submit themselves to their own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord. Submission includeth reverence (in heart, speeches, gestures) and obedience to all their husband’s lawful commands and restraints. This is no more than is meet, saith the apostle, Colossians 3:19 .
Est 5:3 Then said the king unto her, What wilt thou, queen Esther? and what [is] thy request? it shall be even given thee to the half of the kingdom.
Ver. 3. Then said the king unto her ] He perceived both by this her bold adventure, and also by her countenance and habit, that she had some very great suit to him. He therefore accosteth her (as the Lord did the angel, Zec 1:13 ) with good words and comfortable words. And this way one man may be an angel, nay, a god, to another, Genesis 33:10 . Indeed, it is God that comforteth by the creature, as by a conduit-pipe. The air yieldeth light as an instrument; the water may heat, but not of itself. The Lord put it into the heart of Ahasuerus to cheer up Esther in this sort; wherein also he did but his duty, for no man ever yet hated his own flesh, but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the Church: so ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself, Ephesians 5:28-29 .
What wilt thou, queen Esther? ] That he called her by her name, and with such an honourable attribution, was a sign of no small favour. The hearts of Joseph’s brethren were so big swollen with spite and spleen, that they could not call him by his name, but said, "Behold, this dreamer," Genesis 37:19 . So the Pharisees called our Saviour, This fellow, Eκεινος , John 7:11 . And the Jews sought him at the feast, and said, Where is he? they could not find in their hearts to say, Where is Jesus? So Saul asked not for David, much less for his son-in-law David, but for the son of Jesse, by way of contempt. Christ tells his disciples that their enemies shall cast out their names for naught, Luke 6:22 , and chargeth them courteously to salute their enemies, calling them friendly by their names, Matthew 5:47 .
And what is thy request? ] q.d. Fear not to utter it, I am very earnest to know it, and fully resolved to grant it. It was more troublesome to Severus the emperor to be asked nothing than to give much. When any of his courtiers had not made bold with him, he would call him and say, Quid est cur nihil petes? What meanest thou to ask me nothing? Hitherto ye have asked me nothing (saith the King of saints to his beloved Esther); ask, that your joy may be full, John 16:24 . He is worthily miserable that will not make himself happy by asking.
It shall be given thee to the half of the kingdom ] A proverbial rather than a prodigal speech, and much in this king’s mouth. If some ambitious Semiramis had had such an offer, what ill use might she soon have made of it! The dancing damsel made no good use of the like from Herod. But a bee can suck honey out of a flower, that a fly has not the skill to do. Esther prudently and modestly improveth the immoderate offer of the king, and conceiveth good hope. How much more may we (upon those exceeding great and precious promises given us by God) of an exuberancy of love, and a confluence of all comforts for this life and a better! especially since God doth not pay his promises with words, as Sertorius is said to have done; neither is he off and on with his people ( nec mutatur, nec mentitur ), but performeth all with the better, as Naaman pressed the prophet’s man to take two talents when he asked but one. The widow of Sarepta had more than she could tell what to do with; her cruse never ceased running till she had no room. The Shunammite would ask nothing of the prophet, nor make use of his offered courtesy. He sends for her again, and makes her a free promise of that which she most wanted and desired, a son, 2 Kings 4:16 . God’s kindness is beyond all this. He giveth his servants what they forget or presume to ask; and sends his Spirit to help them, and to form their prayers for them, and thereby to seal them up to the day of redemption, to assure them of the kingdom.
Est 5:4 And Esther answered, If [it seem] good unto the king, let the king and Haman come this day unto the banquet that I have prepared for him.
Ver. 4. And Esther answered ] She did not presently pour forth her whole heart into the king’s bosom, rail against Haman, beg for her people, &c., but prudently reserveth herself till a fitter opportunity. Unadvised open-heartedness is a fruit of fool-hardiness, Proverbs 29:11 : "A fool uttereth all his mind" (ye shall have it presently, so near his mouth doth it lie, that all will out suddenly): "but a wise man keepeth it in till afterwards," or, in an inner room ( in ulteriori animi recessu ), as the word may be rendered, till he see his time to produce it.
If it seem good to the king ] Princes must have silken words given them, as the mother of Artaxerxes (perhaps Esther) told one. The rule of old was η ηκιστα, η ηδιστα , short or sweet.
Let the king and Haman come this day to the banquet ] She knew that the king loved Haman’s company, and especially at a banquet. It was policy in Rebecca to provide such savoury meat as the old man loved; so here. Be wise as serpents. David is commended for his prudent (and thereby prosperous) deporting himself in Saul’s house, 1Sa 18:14 God gave Solomon politic wisdom exceeding much. Who is a faithful and a wise servant? saith our Saviour, &c., Matthew 24:45 . And "who is a wise man and endued with knowledge (saith St James) amongst you? let him show out of a good conversation his works, with meekness of wisdom," James 3:13 . But if it were policy in Esther to invite Haman, whom she hated, was it likewise piety? did she not dissemble? R. Solomon saith, she invited Haman alone with the king, that other courtiers might envy him, and so undermine him. But that is but a sorry excuse, neither doth Lyra’s allegation of her good intention much mend the matter. They answer better, who say, that she invited him, that she might accuse him to his face; and so cut off all matter of his excuse or escape. Hereby also she would show, saith Lavater, that she accused him, not out of wrath or revenge; but that she was drawn to it, and, as it were, driven by mere necessity.
Est 5:5 Then the king said, Cause Haman to make haste, that he may do as Esther hath said. So the king and Haman came to the banquet that Esther had prepared.
Ver. 5. Then the king said, Cause Haman to make haste ] Heb. Accelerate or hasten Haman, sc. to an ill bargain, as it proved the very next day. Look how thunder commonly happens when the sky seemeth most clear; so Haman saw himself enveloped with a storm in one of the fairest days of his fortune. Philosophers say, that before a snow the weather will be warmish; when the wind lies the great rain falls, and the air is most quiet when suddenly there will be an earthquake.
So the king and Haman came to the banquet ] Who but the king and Haman? So Tiberius called Sejanus, My Sejanus, partaker of all my cares and counsels, &c., and made him his colleague in the empire, Sιανον τον εμον, κοινωνιον φροντιδων (Dio). But he soon cast him from supreme honour to extreme ignominy, so that the same senator who accompanied him to the senate conducted him to prison; they which sacrificed unto him as to their god, which kneeled down to him to adore him, scoffed at him, and loaded him with contempt and contumelies. So Caesar Borgia, that restless ambitionist, who, emulating Julius Caesar, would needs be aut Caesar, aut nullus, either Caesar or nothing, was shortly after et Caesar, et nullus, both Caesar and nothing, being slain in the kingdom of Navarre.
Est 5:6 And the king said unto Esther at the banquet of wine, What [is] thy petition? and it shall be granted thee: and what [is] thy request? even to the half of the kingdom it shall be performed.
Ver. 6. And the king said unto Esther at the banquet of wine ] Which seemeth to have been after the other banquet of dainties and sweetmeats, during which they drank water. Only the king had aurum potabile, a golden water prepared, which he and his eldest son alone might drink; and none else might taste of it on pain of death, των δε αλλων εαν τις πιη θανατον η ζημια (Athenaeus). At this latter banquet they drank wine freely one to another; and, inter poculorum laetitiam, as Josephus hath it, Eν τω πατω , Inter pocula, when his heart was now merry within him, after he had drunk wine abundantly, as the Latin hath it, the king said unto Esther,
What is thy petition? to the half of the kingdom ] The promise the king reneweth, as supposing that Esther durst not propose her request because of the greatness of the matter; and assuring her that she should have it, though never so great. And saith not the God of heaven as much to his servants and suppliants? Isa 45:11 Jeremiah 33:3 . Why, then, stand they off in a sinful shamefacedness, and improve not to the utmost this divine indulgence, this precious privilege? why say they not with Luther (who well understood the latitude of this royal charter), Fiat mea voluntas, Let my will be done: my will, I say, because the same with thine, Lord? why do they not grow upon God, and work upon his promise (which is so exceeding broad, Psa 119:96 ), as David did? 1 Chronicles 17:23-25 ; he goes over it again, and yet still encroacheth, 1 Chronicles 17:26 ; he presseth and oppresseth it, till he hath expressed the sweetness out of it, and so we have all good leave to do, Isaiah 66:11 , even to suck and be satisfied by those full-strutting breasts of divine consolation. But what mean those foul great babies, the Papists, to pray the Virgin Mary to exhibit unto them the breasts of her grace? &c. And what frontless blasphemers are they to say, that God the Father hath shared his kingdom with her; keeping his justice to himself, and giving his mercy to her to dispose of? And this, say they, that they may not seem to be mad without reason, was prefigured by Ahasuerus’s saying to Esther, I will grant thy request to the half of my kingdom.
Est 5:7 Then answered Esther, and said, My petition and my request [is];
Ver. 7. My petition and my request is ] She speaks to the king in his own very words: and so must we if we mean to speed in heaven. Take unto you words, and say, Take away all iniquity, and give good, &c. Produce God’s own words in prayer, and say, as she did to Judah, "Whose are these?" Genesis 38:25 . He loves to be set upon in his own words, to be pressed with his promise, to be sued upon his bond. This David knew, and therefore cries, Psalms 86:11 , "Unite my heart to fear thy name": it is as if he should say, Thou hast promised, Lord, to give me one heart, Ezekiel 11:19 ; behold, I find mine heart divided, my thoughts dissipated, and myself disabled for duty (for Anima dispersa fit minor ), Unite it, I beseech thee, &c. This is the way to make our prayers to be nigh the Lord day and night, as Solomon phraseth it, 1 Kings 8:59 .
Est 5:8 If I have found favour in the sight of the king, and if it please the king to grant my petition, and to perform my request, let the king and Haman come to the banquet that I shall prepare for them, and I will do to morrow as the king hath said.
Ver. 8. If I have found favour in the sight of the king ] As she had, not so much by her beauty and bravery (wherein Vashti perhaps might easily have compared with her), but by the finger of God, who tames for his elect the fiercest creatures (as he did the lions to Daniel, and other savage beasts to the martyrs, whom they would not meddle with), and turneth the king’s heart, as the rivers of water, into what channel soever he pleaseth to put it, Proverbs 21:1 , as the ploughman doth the watercourse with his paddle, or the gardener with his hand.
And if it please the king ] See Esther 5:4 , and submit to God, James 4:7 .
And I will do tomorrow as the king hath said ] She had learned to prefer opportunity before time. There might be some by at this first banquet whose company she liked not; or she might not yet have so clear an answer in her own heart to her former prayers, and therefore desireth some further time that night to seek God: whatever the reason of her putting it off till next day was, God’s holy hand was in it, that Mordecai might be first so greatly honoured, and Haman’s high gallows prepared: Ilium utique magis securum, Regem autem magis benevolum magisque fecit attentum, saith Rupertus. Hereby she made Haman more secure, and the king more kind and attentive.
Est 5:9 Then went Haman forth that day joyful and with a glad heart: but when Haman saw Mordecai in the king’s gate, that he stood not up, nor moved for him, he was full of indignation against Mordecai.
Ver. 9. Then went Haman forth that day joyful ] Saeculi laetitia est impunita nequitia, saith an ancient. He looked upon himself now as no less favoured by the queen than by the king, and was puffed up with this new honour, as a bubble is with a child’s blast in a walnut shell with a little soap, but it shortly after falls down again into his eyes and vexeth him.
And with a glad heart ] But he rejoiced, as many more do, in a thing of nought, Amos 6:13 . And the end of his mirth was heaviness, Proverbs 14:13 . It was risus Sardonius, mirth of Sardonius, like that of those, who being stung with the Tarantula (a viper in Italy), die laughing and capering. Or as the dolphin, that sporteth most before a storm. Or as the little fishes, that swimming merrily down the silver stream of Jordan, fall shortly after into the Dead Sea. Haman doubtless held himself now the happiest man alive; as having the royalty, not of the king’s ear only, but of the queen’s too, as he foolishly fancied. This wicked one boasted of his heart’s desire, and as for all his enemies, he puffed at them, Psalms 10:8 ; Psalms 10:5-6 . He said in his heart, I shall not be moved, I shall never be in adversity. Herodotus saith of Apryes, king of Egypt (Pharaoh-Hophrah, Jeremiah calleth him, Jer 43:9 ), that he conceited and bragged that his kingdom was better settled to him than that any, either God or man, could remove him; yet was he afterwards taken and hanged by his own subjects. Aelian tells us, that Dionysius, the tyrant, thought it impossible that he should have been cast out of Sicily, but it proved otherwise. How suddenly were Alexander, the great conqueror, and Julius Caesar, the perpetual dictator, cut off, and quenched, as the fire of thorns! Psalms 118:12 . Sic transit gloria mundi. So passes the glory of the world. The world’s greatest darlings are in no better condition than the bull that goes to be sacrificed with garlands on his head and music before him, but suddenly feels the stroke of the murdering axe.
But when Haman saw Mordecai in the king’s gate] There he sat, and would not stir an inch, for Haman’s greatness; as resolute he remained, notwithstanding the bloody edict now published, as was Rawlins White, the martyr, in Queen Mary’s days. The bishop of Llandaff pretended to pray for his conversion; after which he said, Now, Rawlins, how is it with thee? Wilt thou revoke thine opinions or no? Surely, said he, my lord, Rawlins you left me, and Rawlins you find me, and Rawlins, by God’s grace, I will continue. The heavens shall as soon fall, said another, as I will recant. This the mad world styles stiffness, self-willedness, fool-hardiness, &c., as was before noted; but the saints do it out of Christian courage, an invincible faith, and zeal for God’s cause and kingdom.
That he stood not up, nor moved for him ] No, not he, ne minimo quidem obsequiolo, he neither moved nor muted. For he looked upon him, first, as a vile person, and therefore fit to be slighted, Psalms 15:4 . Next, as an utter enemy to God and his people, a sworn swordman to the devil. Lastly, Mordecai herein showed himself constant to his principles, and to his former practice, which a good man may not easily alter, lest all be questioned. Besides, should he but have any whit yielded, Haman would have been thereby hardened, and his pride heightened. He therefore very honestly persisteth in his purpose, and giveth that wretch less respect than ever.
He was full of indignation against Mordecai ] Full, as heart could hold, of hot wrath; so that he gloweth like a fire coal, Et fere crepat medius. So unsatisfiable is ambition, so restless, and so vindictive.
Est 5:10 Nevertheless Haman refrained himself: and when he came home, he sent and called for his friends, and Zeresh his wife.
Ver. 10. Nevertheless Haman refrained himself ] Much ado he had to forbear mischieving him; he was fain to force himself thereunto, as the word signifieth; for his fingers even itched to be having him by the ears, or to be bathing in his blood. This he did not, haply because he dared not, because Mordecai was the king’s servant, his doorkeeper, as it is thought, and so went under his protection. It would therefore have reflected upon the king himself, if he should lay violent hands on him. Most sure it is, that God held his hands, and preserved Mordecai for further good to his Church. Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints; neither will he send them to bed till they have done their work.
And when he came home, he sent and called for his friends ] This had been a wise man’s part, if he had done it for any good purpose. But as he was in an ill case to consult, as being full of rage, so he minded nothing but revenge, and therefore advised with none but such as would say with him, and thereby hasten his downfall.
And Zeresh his wife ] Ut consiliariornm primam et praecipuam. That she was wise above her sex, see Esther 6:13 . But had she been as wise as Pilate’s wife was she would not have given here such pestilent counsel, but have warned her husband of meddling with just men. Have these workers of iniquity no knowledge, that they eat up God’s people as they eat bread? that they make account to make but a breakfast of them? Psalms 14:4 .
Est 5:11 And Haman told them of the glory of his riches, and the multitude of his children, and all [the things] wherein the king had promoted him, and how he had advanced him above the princes and servants of the king.
Ver. 11. And Haman told them of the glory of his riches ] Favourites, observing their mollissima fandi tempora, get many times much wealth under princes; as did Sejanus under Tiberius; Seneca under Nero; that rich and wretched Cardinal, Henry Beaufort, bishop of Winchester, and chancellor of England, in the reign of Henry VI; Cardinal Wolsey, under Henry VIII. That Haman had feathered his nest well appears by his large offer to the king of ten thousand talents of silver, &c. Now riches render a man glorious in the world’s eye; hence they go coupled together, Proverbs 3:16 ; Proverbs 8:18 . Hence that of Laban’s grumbling sons, Genesis 31:1 , "Jacob hath taken away all that was our father’s" (nay, not all, but as avarice made Sejanus think all which he acquired not, to be lost, Quicquid non acquiritur damnum est (Sen.), so did these lowlies): "and of that which was our father’s hath he gotten all this glory." But what were all this glory of his riches if, for want of children Haman should leave it to those, Quos vel nescit vel nolit, as Austin hath it, to strangers or enemies? He tells them, therefore,
Of the multitude of his children ] His sons and his successors like to be. I say, likely to be, not sure to be, for
Omnia sunt hominum tenui pendentia filo.
God gave Leda, Luctuosam faecunditatem, as Jerome saith of her, a sorrowful fruitfulness, because she lived to bury her many children. There were twenty-two children and children’s children of the house of Portugal, between Philip II of Spain and that crown; and yet he outlived them all, as histories show, and his successors held that kingdom till within these few years. It is but a vain thing, therefore, for a man to boast of the multitude of children, since he may either lose them, or live to wish, as Augustus the emperor did, Oh that I had either lived a bachelor or died childless! Utinam aut caelebs vixissem, aut orbus perissem.
And all the things wherein the king had promoted him ] Wherein, but wherefore he showeth not. Dignity should wait upon desert; but many times we see it otherwise, and it was of old complained of, Psalms 12:8 . He telleth what the king had done for him, but not a tittle what God. God was not in all his thoughts. He might justly have been twitted, as once that pope was pithily, when he had engraven upon the gates of his newly built college: Utrecht (where he was born) planted me; Lovain (where he was bred) watered me; but Caesar (who had promoted him to the popedom) gave increase: a merry passenger wrote below, Hic Deus nihil fecit, Here God did nothing. God had done much for him, but for a mischief to him; as he once gave the Israelites quails to choke them, and a king to vex them; as Saul gave Michal to David to be a snare to him; and as our Saviour gave Judas the bag, to discover the rottenness of his heart. This Bernard calleth, Misericordiam omni indignatione crudeliorem. God gives outward blessings to wicked persons to furnish their indictment out of them; as Joseph put a cup into his brethren’s sack to pick a quarrel with them, and lay theft to their charge.
And how he had advanced him above the princes ] What an impudent Thraso was this Haman! this odious bragging of his Gregory referreth to that third kind of pride, such as God’s soul abhorreth, and surely punisheth; as he did in the prince of Tyre, Nebuchadnezzar, Antiochus, Herod, whose hearts were lifted up with their estates, as a boat, that riseth with the rising of the water; whose bloods and goods rose together.
Corde stat inflato pauper honore dato.
But as the peacock so delighteth to be seen, and to behold his own tail, that he exposes his filthy parts behind, so do vain-glorious braggards. It is, therefore, very good counsel that a grave divine giveth to such as are advanced above others. Carry humble hearts, and add grace and virtue to your places, else they shall prove but as a high gibbet to bring you to more disgrace in this world, and torment in the next (Whateley’s Archetype). That of the poet also is very savoury and sovereign,
Desinat elatis quisquam confidere rebus:
Magna repente ruunt, summa cadunt subito. (Claudian.)
Est 5:12 Haman said moreover, Yea, Esther the queen did let no man come in with the king unto the banquet that she had prepared but myself; and to morrow am I invited unto her also with the king.
Ver. 12. Haman said moreover ] He makes no end of vaunting and vapouring; and all to aggravate the indignity done him by Mordecai, in not stooping to so great a personage.
Yea, Esther the queen did let no man come in … but myself] This he mistaketh for a special favour, when as Esther’s banquet proved no better to him than Semiramis’s tomb did to them that rifled it; they expected to find treasure, but met with a deadly poison.
And tomorrow am I invited, &c. ] Where thou shalt (as hypocrites do at the Lord’s table) eat thy bane, and drink thy poison; yet art thou over joyed as if highly favoured. A temporary may receive both the word audible and the word visible (the sacrament) with much seeming joy; which yet is but only as the commotion of the affections in a dream: it fareth with such in the end as with one that, sleeping on the top of a steep rock, dreameth of great matters befallen him, but, starting suddenly through joy thereof, tumbleth headlong into the sea, and breaketh his neck at the bottom.
Est 5:13 Yet all this availeth me nothing, so long as I see Mordecai the Jew sitting at the king’s gate.
Ver. 13. Yet all this availeth me nothing ] It is seldom seen, saith a right reverend interpreter here, that God allows unto the greatest darlings of the world a perfect contentment. Something they must have to complain of that shall give an unsavoury verdure to their sweetest morsels, and make their felicity miserable. Totum hoc non est utile mihi, I enjoy nothing of all this. No more did Ahab, when sick of Naboth’s vineyard, 1 Kings 21:4 . His heart did more afflict and vex itself with greedy longing for that bit of earth than the vast and spacious compass of a kingdom could counter comfort.
So long as I see Mordecai the Jew sitting at the king’s gate] So full of torment is envy, if it cannot come at another man’s harm, it will feed upon its own. Who would ever set by the profits, pleasures, and preferments of this present life, that yield so little sound and sincere contentment to those that have most of them? In the very pursuit of them is much anguish, many grievances, fears, jealousies, disgraces, interruptions, &c., and after the unsanctifed enjoyment of them (if any such thing there be, for even in laughter the heart is sorrowful, Proverbs 14:13 , and there is a snare, or a cord, in the sin of the wicked, Proverbs 29:6 , to strangle their joy with) followeth the sting of conscience, that will inexpressibly torment the soul throughout all eternity; besides the vexation of it, to see such as Mordecai, the Jew, whom they once would not have set with the dogs of their flocks, sitting, not at the king’s gate, but on Christ’s own throne, Revelation 3:21 , as partakers of all his glory.
Est 5:14 Then said Zeresh his wife and all his friends unto him, Let a gallows be made of fifty cubits high, and to morrow speak thou unto the king that Mordecai may be hanged thereon: then go thou in merrily with the king unto the banquet. And the thing pleased Haman; and he caused the gallows to be made.
Ver. 14. Then said Zeresh his wife ] Thrasos shall never want for Gnathos. Such as have first flattered themselves shall have others enough to soothe them, and to say with them. Zeresh sets the motion of revenge on foot, she was a fit helve for such a hatchet, wittily wicked. The wit of women hath wont to be noted for more sudden and more shrewd.
And all his friends unto him ] Indeed, no friends, because flatterers and furtherers in evil Sed divitibus ideo amicus deest, quia nihil deest. The rich hath many friends, saith Solomon, seeming friends, but true enemies, parasites, brokers coal carters, good to scour a hot oven with. Such a one was that Adullamite to Judah, Genesis 38:20 ; Jonadab to Amnon, 2 Samuel 13:3 ; 2 Samuel 13:8 ; those green headed counsellors to Rehoboam, &c. Haman should have made a better choice, and have come more calm to counsel. It is not good sowing in a tempest, nor taking medicine in a fit. These friends of Haman deserved to speed as ill as those of Sejanus did, who were executed with him, because they served his lust, and added fuel to his flame.
Let a gallows be made of fifty cubits high ] A cubit was half a yard at least. In those parts they had trees very tall, or they might piece one to another. But why so high a gallows, but for the greater disgrace to Mordecai, and terror to all that should slight the king’s favourite? So Canute, the first Danish king of England, caused the false Edric’s head to be set upon the highest part of the Tower of London. And our gunpowder traitors were served in like manner.
And tomorrow ] But why so soon, since in case of life, Nulla cunctatio satis diuturna esse possit? were it not fit that he were tried first? Haman’s malice will bear no delays, he is in pain till the business be despatched; he cannot sleep till he have caused this innocent man to fall, Proverbs 4:16 , though he fall with him, as the dragon doth with the elephant, whose blood he sucketh out, and perisheth by his falling weight (Philippians 1:0 . viii. c. 12).
Speak thou unto the king ] It will be but dictum, factum, said and done, he will lightly say as Zedekiah did to his princes, requiring Jeremiah to the stocks. The king is not he that can deny you anything. How much better that Roman emperor, who being to subscribe a warrant for execution of a certain malefactor, cried out, Non nisi coactus, full sore against my will! and another, Utinam literas nescirem, I would I could not write my name. So when one Joan Butcher was to be burned for her deserts, all the Council could not prevail with our Edward VI for a long time to set to his hand. But these wicked friends of Haman question not the king’s readiness to gratify him, though they could not but know that Mordecai had once at least saved the king’s life, Esther 2:21-23 , and what could they tell, but the king might now remember it? Sed Deus quem destruit dementat, when God has a mind to undo a man, he first infatuateth him.
That Mordecai may be hanged thereon ] And that before Haman’s door, that he may feed his eyes on that sweet spectacle, and say as that bloody Prince Charles IX of France did, when he saw the noble admiral’s carcass hanging and stinking upon the gallows, Quam suaviter olet cadaver inimici! How sweetly smelleth the dead body of an enemy!
Then go thou in merrily with the king, &c. ] They knew that he could not be heartily merry till then, and forced smiles are but as counterfeit complexion, the hypocrisy of mirth. So Richard III would not sit down to dinner till the Lord Hastings were beheaded; nor Stephen Gardiner, till he had the news brought him that the bishops were burnt at Oxford. Oh that we could be as restless till the hindrances of our true spiritual joy were removed, I mean those stubborn corruptions that will not stoop to the power of grace.
And the thing pleased Haman ] As being agreeable to his malicious humour, and that which he doubted not to be able to effect. Man purposeth, but God disposeth.
And he caused the gallows to be made ] Little thought he for whom. Aequum est ut faber quas fecit compedes ipse gestet. So let thine enemies perish, O Lord.
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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Esther 5". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29