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Bible Commentaries
Esther 5

Old & New Testament Restoration CommentaryRestoration Commentary

Introduction

Esther Chapter 5

Esther 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." This was as dangerous for Esther, as it was for Daniel to walk into the lion’s den. Her life would be taken, or spared, with the wishes of her king and husband. The three days of fasting had taken place. She was assured the LORD was with her. She put on the garments of the queen to go to her king on his royal throne. She did not rush into the throne room unannounced. She waited outside, but in full view of the king. He was seated on his throne looking toward the very spot in the inner court where she was standing. She was beautiful and he was full of love for her, we must remember.

Esther 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." When he reached out his sceptre to her, it showed that he was not angry with her for coming to him unannounced. She was forgiven for any error on her part in coming. The king knew that Esther was not a selfish woman from past experience. He knew something of real importance was troubling her, or she would not have taken this chance. Her touch of the sceptre extended to her was her humbly thanking him for receiving her.

Esther 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." It was very obvious from this statement, that he had great love for Esther. In calling her his queen, he was saying he accepted her as his wife. He respected her, it was obvious. He would have to admire her courage, as well. This is a type and shadow of the Christians drawing near to the throne of God. He has reached out and invited us to come. It is important that we touch Him, as well. The king offered her anything she wanted unto the half of the kingdom. It is interesting, again, that the Christians will be jointheirs with Jesus. He has offered to share with us, as well.

Esther 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." We know that was not the real reason that she came. At the point of him offering her half of his kingdom, she could have asked for the life of the Jews. That would have gotten a yes, or a no, quickly, but Esther was smarter than that. There were many people still praying for her. She had the wisdom of God guiding her every word. It would have been unusual for her to ask the king to come to dinner, but it was extremely unusual for her to ask Haman to come, too. Men and women in Persia did not eat together, unless it was a private family affair. Haman thought of himself even more highly than before, after she made this request for him to come.

Esther 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." The king gave Haman permission to come. They came to the banquet as Esther had requested.

Esther 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." The king was aware that this banquet was not the request that Esther risked her life for. Again, he repeated that he would give her up to half of the kingdom, if that was her desire. We may assume that Esther still did not feel sure of herself in this matter, and that the LORD was leading her in every word she uttered.

Esther 5:7 "Then answered Esther, and said, My petition and my request [is];"

Esther 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." We cannot assume to guess why Esther put this off another day, except the Lord had her to do it. She knew she had found favor with the king, or he would not have offered her half the kingdom. She was saying, "give me one more day and I will tell you my request".

Esther 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." Haman was feeling really proud of himself for being invited to the queen’s banquet twice with the king. He still hated Mordecai. What did Mordecai have to lose? What more could Haman do to him than kill him? Haman was totally unaware that Esther was a Jew.

Esther 5:10 "Nevertheless Haman refrained himself: and when he came home, he sent and called for his friends, and Zeresh his wife."

Esther 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."

Esther 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." Haman had ten sons, and he was bragging to them, his wife, and friends of his great standing with the king and, now, with the queen.

Esther 5:13 "Yet all this availeth me nothing, so long as I see Mordecai the Jew sitting at the king’s gate." His hate for Mordecai was so great that he could not even enjoy the fact that the king and queen were his friends.

Esther 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." Since the king and queen thought so much of Haman, he should have no difficulty hanging one Jew. If fifty feet was the correct height here, it meant he wanted people all over town to see him hang Mordecai. He would be able to take revenge on him in that way. Haman was pleased with this idea, and he immediately had the gallows built. The lesson, here, is obvious. Whatever you reap, you sow. Hate destroys you, regardless of whom you hate. Haman would be destroyed for his great hate of Mordecai and the Jews.

Esther 5 Questions

1. When did Esther decide to go see the king?

2. How was she dressed?

3. Where did she stand?

4. Where was the king?

5. How dangerous was this for Esther?

6. What must we remember about the king’s feelings toward Esther?

7. What did the king do, when he saw Esther?

8. What did Esther do, as she drew near?

9. What did the king ask her?

10. What did he call her, when he asked?

11. What did the king offer her?

12. What is Esther 5:3 a type and shadow of?

13. What did Esther ask the king and Haman to do?

14. What was unusual about this?

15. Why did Esther not immediately ask for the Jews to be saved?

16. In Esther 5:5, what was necessary for the king to do, before Haman came?

17. What question did the king ask Esther at the banquet?

18. What did he offer her again?

19. In Esther 5:7-8, what was she really asking for?

20. How did Haman feel about being invited to the queen’s banquet with the king?

21. What spoiled it for him?

22. Who was Haman bragging to about his relationship with the king and queen?

23. What did his wife and friends suggest, that he do about Mordecai?

24. Haman was totally unaware that Esther was a _______.

25. How tall was the gallows said to be?

Verses 1-4

Est 5:1-4

Esther 4:1-4

HAMAN PREPARES TO EXECUTE MORDECAI AT ONCE

"Now it came to pass on the third day, that Esther put on her royal apparel, and stood in the inner court of the kinifs house, over against the kinifs house: and the king sat upon his royal throne in the royal house, over against the entrance of the king’s house. And it was so, when the king saw Esther the queen standing in the court, that she obtained favor 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. Then said the king unto her, What wilt thou queen Esther? and what is thy request? it shall be given thee even to the half of my kingdom. And Esther said, If it seem good unto the king, let the king and Haman come this day unto the banquet which I have prepared for him."

"On the third day ... Esther put on her royal apparel." (Esther 5:1). This was the third day of her fasting, during which she had not worn her royal apparel; perhaps she had even been clad in sackcloth.

"The king sat on his royal throne" (Esther 5:1). D. J. Wiseman tells us of, "A limestone palace relief recovered from Susa (which) shows Darius I sitting upon an elaborate throne, holding a long sceptre (five or six feet in length) in his hand."

"Esther the queen standing in the court" (Esther 5:2). This was the moment of truth for Esther. If the king had merely refrained from noticing her appearance, she would have been dragged out of the court and slaughtered. One can only imagine her excitement and fear, as she stood there, facing either her death or the king’s forgiveness of her intrusion, "Her thoughts wavering between hope and fear."

"Then said the king, What wilt thou, queen Esther?" (Esther 5:3). The king received her with honor. So far so good. The victory belonged to Esther and her people; but only IF (and what an IF that was!) Esther’s request, when made known to the king, would actually be granted.

"It shall be given thee, even to the half of my kingdom" (Esther 5:3). Such a kingly oath was hyperbole, of course; nevertheless it was a mighty promise indeed. See Mark 6:23 where such an oath resulted in the murder of John the Immerser.

"The Septuagint (LXX) has an addition to the scene described here. The king kissed his wife tenderly and restored her when she fainted through excitement."[3] In spite of the fact that the the Hebrew text of the O.T. omits that, there is certainly nothing unreasonable in what was stated. "The king must have known that she desperately wanted something, or else she would not have risked death by her appearance before him."

"Let the king and Haman come this day to the banquet I have prepared" (Esther 5:4). This is a surprise to the reader, who naturally might have expected an immediate petition from Esther for the salvation of the Jews. "But Esther was too cautious, too wary of the dangerous ground upon which she stood, to risk it all at once. She would wait; she would gain time; she would be sure that she had the king’s affection before she makes that appeal upon which all depended."

Here in the attitude of the king we find an example of of the great truth that, "The king’s heart is in the hand of Jehovah as the watercourses" (Proverbs 21:1). The fate of ancient Israel turned upon the whim of this all-powerful monarch, but that response, in this situation, moved in perfect harmony with God’s will.

E.M. Zerr:

Esther 5:1. Third day means the last day of the period of fasting that Esther had ordered. Laying aside whatever clothing she might have been wearing appropriate for the fast, she put on her royal garments. That was in due respect for the king into whose presence she was about to venture uninvited. The king was seated on his throne in the royal house. This is distinguished from the king’s house. That is because the palaces in ancient times were not always referred to in the same sense. Sometimes a king would maintain a house as his personal residence separate from the building he occupied as a king. Ahasuerus did this, and had his throne in the royal house which was near his personal residence.

Esther 5:2. The king saw Esther standing in the court. She had not been invited on that day, nor had she been called for 30 days. Her presence was a clear case of intrusion into the exclusive vicinity of the monarch of the great Persian Empire. By that act she exposed herself to the possibility of a sentence of death. Even though she was the queen, there was no provision made in the law for any personal exceptions. The only thing that could save her was the mercy of the king. Esther could justly have been thinking of the close attachment that existed between the king and herself, for a man with the emotional sentiments of Ahasuerus would doubtless have made them known to her in their previous intimate relations as husband and wife. But would even all that save her as she stood in the august presence of the great king whose established law she had violated? What a momentous crisis that was, both for Esther personally and for the Jewish people! It is significant to read that when the king saw Esther the queen . . . she obtained favor in his sight. As a cold, logical fact, we would know that it would be only after seeing her that he would have any occasion to act upon the situation. But the writer made the statement as emphasis on the power of her very appearance in his sight. The established signal of favor was displayed by extending toward Esther the golden scepter. With our mind’s eye we can see her as she modestly and respectfully approached toward the throne, coming just near enough to touch the top of the scepter, a gesture in recognition of his supreme authority.

Esther 5:3. The king was completely charmed by the influence of Esther’s presence. She had been his choice among the group of maidens of the realm who had been placed at his command. She was accepted because of his love for her, and that attachment was so strong that it overcame the fact that she had violated a fixed rule of the court. It went so far as to induce the king to commit himself to her wishes before he had the slightest idea of her purposes. He not only recognized her as the queen, but added the affectionate expression of her personal name, Queen Esther. When he told her she could have anything she wished, even to the half of the kingdom, he gave evidence of her complete influence over him. And this gives us further proof that God understood just what kind of person to bring into the plan predicted and set on foot at the battle of Rephidim. (See Exodus 17:1-8; Exodus 19:2; Numbers 33:14-15)

Esther 5:4. The king offered half of his kingdom to Esther if she desired it. Instead of that, she merely wished that he and Haman accept an invitation to a banquet that she had prepared. It is true that it would be a great honor to have a king of the Persian Empire, accompanied by his recently-promoted prince, attend a banquet in the home of the queen. However, that was apparently such a small favor compared with the one she could have received, that we are bound to be filled with surprise. That is, we would be entirely perplexed over it were we not already aware that a great drama was "now showing," in which the fate of God’s people and the fulfillment of a divine prediction were at stake. We may be assured that God was taking a hand in the affair and directing Esther, the wisdom of which will become evident later on.

Verses 5-8

Est 5:5-8

Esther 5:5-8

ESTHER DELAYS HER REQUEST UNTIL A SECOND BANQUET

"Then the king said, Cause Haman to make haste, that it may be done as Esther hath said. So the king and Haman came to the banquet that Esther had prepared. And the king said to Esther at the banquet of wine, What is thy petition, and it shall be granted thee: and what is thy request? and even to the half of the kingdom it shall be performed. Then answered Esther and said, My petition and my request is: If I have found favor 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 tomorrow as the king hath said."

Why was Esther so reluctant to make her request known? Matthew Henry suggested that it might have been due: (1) "To her prudence as she sought more time to ingratiate herself with the king; (2) or that her heart failed her as she did not find sufficient courage to make it known without further time for prayer; or (3) that it was due to God’s overruling providence which would use the intervening time prior to that second banquet to make the granting of Esther’s petition absolutely certain." It might very well have been a combination of all these things. "She wisely concluded that the king would understand that there was indeed a real petition in the background; which, of course, he did."

Joyce Baldwin thought that Esther’s intuition told her that the strategic moment had not yet come. "Although she could not have foreseen it, that second invitation played an essential part in bringing about her opportunity." "This, of course, was providential. The intervening events, as recorded in chapter 6, provided the necessary background for her accusation, and the king’s appropriate response to it."

"I will do tomorrow as the king hath said" (Esther 5:8). "This meant that, `Tomorrow, I will reveal my request.’"

E.M. Zerr:

Esther 5:5. The request of Esther needed to be authorized by the king regarding Haman. He was therefore called to prepare to attend the banquet, which he did with readiness, it being an unusual honor thus bestowed upon him. A banquet was a feast in which wine was used in large quantities. The word is used in connection with this feast in the next verse. An ordinary meal where the wine was not drunk might not have brought about the condition of mind on the part of her special guests that was desired. Hence Esther provided a feast where "imbibing" would be indulged in, and the king and Haman attended it.

Esther 5:6. When Esther appeared, uninvited, within the inner court, it was evident that she had some request to make. So there was a logical reason for the statement of the king at that time. There was nothing, though, in the mere fact of a gathering at a banquet that suggested any such motive on her part. But the king was under so great a "spell" in his devotion to this charming woman that he almost unconsciously invited her to make a further request.

Esther 5:7-8. The request that Esther made the second time was exactly like the one made in the first instance except as to date. The next banquet was to be on the morrow. It would have been natural not to repeat such an extensive occasion as a royal banquet the same day, for physical reasons at least. But there was a far more important reason than that for letting a night come and go between this feast and the next one. Certain things must take place, both on the part of the king and others, that would require some time, and especially the nighttime, for bringing them about. Esther therefore asked her royal guests to attend her banquet on the morrow. Will do tomorrow as the king hath said. This means the same as if she had said: "Tomorrow, at the banquet, I will do whatever the king asks me to do." She expected the proceeding to come to some form of climax at the second feast, and that the king would give some kind of directions to persons in his charge. The statement in italics means she would be ready for whatever came. We note that nothing is recorded as to the king’s accepting the invitation this time as was done at the first. That fact was to be taken for granted since the king had already fulfilled his promises.

Verses 9-14

Est 5:9-14

Esther 5:9-14

HAMAN PREPARES FOR THE EXECUTION OF MORDECAI

"Then went Haman forth that day joyful and glad of heart; but when Haman saw Mordecai in the kinifs gate, that he stood not up, nor moved for him, he was filled with wrath against Mordecai. Nevertheless, Haman refrained himself, and went home; and he went and fetched his friends and Zeresh his wife. And Haman recounted unto them 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. Haman said moreover, Yea, Esther the queen did let no man come in with the king unto the banquet which she had prepared but myself; and tomorrow also am I invited by her together with the king. Yet all this availeth me nothing, so long as I see Mordecai the Jew sitting at the king’s gate. Then said Zeresh his wife and all his friends unto him, Let a gallows be made fifty cubits high, and in the morning 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 built."

The picture of Haman that emerges here is a good example of, "The deceived sinner, glorying in himself, hating God, and God’s people." "Although Esther’s maids and other attendants knew of her Jewish race, Haman obviously did not; and that ignorance was is undoing."

Some critics have found fault with the height of the gallows mentioned here, making it either imaginative, untrue, or ridiculous, but they overlook the key fact that the text does not say how high the gallows was. The text only states that Haman’s advisers recommended a gallows that high. As a matter of fact, the Hebrew here is not `gallows’ at all, but `tree.’ Crucifixion was the usual form of punishment in Persia. It was Zeresh, Haman’s wife, who mentioned that the gallows should be fifty cubits high (some eighty or ninety feet), but that was nothing more than such a remark as that once heard in the old west that, "So and so should be hanged as high as heaven"!

Archibald Duff has an excellent explanation of how this was probably done. "This stake would have been some ten feet high, but set aloft upon a citadel (or the city wall), as in the case of Nicanor (2 Maccabees 15:35)."

It is hard to understand why the mother of ten sons would have desired to see any man crucified; and her unwomanly suggestion found its terrible retribution when she saw her husband and ten sons all crucified on the same day.

"Although God’s name was not mentioned in Esther, probably because the narrative might have been copied from Persian court records; yet God’s providential care of his children is nowhere more visible than here."

The shameful character of Haman is featured in this verse. In spite of innumerable blessings and preferments above all others except the king, he was an egomaniac.

"He was a coarse, undisciplined man, little better than a savage; and yet he was the chief minister of the greatest monarch in the world at that time. Worldly prominence and power are no proof of goodness or greatness of soul."

"Haman’s unhappiness because of Mordecai’s refusal to honor him is true to the type; for it is lesser men who magnify and exaggerate slights; the great are able to overlook them."

E.M. Zerr:

Esther 5:9. "Every joy hath its sorrow," is an old saying, and it was certainly true with Haman. He departed from the feast full of pride over the distinguished honors placed upon him by the invitations from the queen. But that pride received a wound as he passed out at the gate. He probably had momentarily forgotten his feeling against Mordecai in the excitement of the banquet and its joyful social atmosphere. Now that the hated Jew was thrust upon his vision again, and that in an attitude of contempt, his rage almost knew no bounds.

Esther 5:10-12. Nevertheless, he restrained himself and rested on the hope of obtaining some consolation later in the midst of his home and friends. He went thither to report on his experiences of the day. Called for his friends, and Zeresh. We need not suppose that Haman’s wife lived apart from him, that he would need to call for her to come. The statement means that after he called for his friends to come, he spoke to them in the hearing of his wife. Much of the speech was for the information of friends since it pertained to his family circumstances, of which his wife would be aware already. But aside from those items, the conversation had to do with the honors just bestowed on him, all of which was news to the friends and his wife.

Esther 5:13. The very sight of the Jew at the king’s gate so irritated Haman that his enjoyment of the honors bestowed on him was lost. Mordecai was only one Jew, and the edict had already been started out to destroy the whole number of them throughout the realm. But that was not to take place until the 12th month, and this personal humiliation at the contemptuous attitude of Mordecai was constantly with him. Immediate relief from the distress against his pride was what he desired.

Esther 5:14. The suggestion to build a gallows for the hanging of Mordecai may have been from a personal impulse of Zeresh as far as her motive was concerned. But we should keep in mind the fact that God was in all this transaction, and was turning even the selfish motives of the enemies into usefulness for effecting the divine plans. This gallows will be needed in God’s service, and it was well that the personal motives of Haman and his wife be made use of.

Bibliographical Information
"Commentary on Esther 5". "Old & New Testament Restoration Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/onr/esther-5.html.
 
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