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This chapter is a continuation of the history, resulting from the former. Vashti the queen being deposed, Esther, a Jewish girl, is chosen. Mordecai her relation is enabled to make discovery of a treason meditated against the king.
(1) ¶ 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. (2) Then said the king's servants that ministered unto him, Let there be fair young virgins sought for the king: (3) And let the king appoint officers in all the provinces of his kingdom, that they may gather together all the fair young virgins unto Shushan the palace, to the house of the women, unto the custody of Hege the king's chamberlain, keeper of the women; and let their things for purification be given them: (4) And let the maiden which pleaseth the king be queen instead of Vashti. And the thing pleased the king; and he did so.
The most interesting remark, as it strikes me upon what is here said, is, to observe into what a degraded state our poor nature is fallen, when that which ariseth from the fall of our nature is made a pretence to the indulging of it. The union of Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden, the apostle tells us, was a mystery, intimating the resemblance between CHRIST and his church. But when the devil corrupted our nature to separate from GOD, the chastity of man's attachment to his partner was corrupted also. Ephesians 5:25-33 .
(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; (6) 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.
Most likely the whole cause for which the history of this transaction in the Persian court is recorded in the scriptures of GOD, is only to introduce certain great events belonging to the church. So that in fact the principal part of the history begins at this place. The Reader, therefore, will not fail to keep this as the grand point in view through the whole. And let him further observe, by what slender means the LORD is pleased to carry on his great designs concerning his church and people. When JESUS, our adorable Redeemer, came upon earth, in what an humble way and manner was he introduced. Who should have thought such vast and glorious designs as redemption hath produced; should have opened with so low a beginning?
(7) And he brought up Hadassah, that is, Esther, his uncle's daughter: for she had neither father nor mother, and the maid was fair and beautiful; whom Mordecai, when her father and mother were dead, took for his own daughter.
Though Esther makes in the after-part of this history so considerable a figure, yet her introduction is but humble.
(8) So it came to pass, when the king's commandment and his decree was heard, and when many maidens were gathered together unto Shushan the palace, to the custody of Hegai, that Esther was brought also unto the king's house, to the custody of Hegai, keeper of the women. (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. (10) Esther had not shewed her people nor her kindred: for Mordecai had charged her that she should not shew it. (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. (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;) (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. (14) 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. (15) Now when the turn of Esther, the daughter of Abihail the uncle of Mordecai, who had taken her for his daughter, was come to go in unto the king, she required nothing but what Hegai the king's chamberlain, the keeper of the women, appointed. And Esther obtained favour in the sight of all them that looked upon her. (16) So Esther was taken unto king Ahasuerus into his house royal in the tenth month, which is the month Tebeth, in the seventh year of his reign. (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 Vashti. (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. (19) And when the virgins were gathered together the second time, then Mordecai sat in the king's gate. (20) Esther had not yet shewed her kindred nor her people; as Mordecai had charged her: for Esther did the commandment of Mordecai, like as when she was brought up with him.
I do not think it necessary to interrupt the progress of this history through these verses with any remarks. The relation given of the events is in a beautiful style of simplicity. Esther is represented in a most amiable light, and with a mind, suited as it should seem, for any nation. We may and we ought indeed, to observe, in the wonderful transition of circumstances, from the condition of a poor Jewish orphan, apparently friendless, and unconnected with any that seemed likely to promote her advance in the world to that of the throne of Persia, what great events the LORD in his providence is pleased to accomplish, and it should direct our minds to look up, and contemplate a divine hand in every event. But Reader! I can tell you of a still more marvellous instance of Almighty power, namely, when a poor friendless sinner is taken from the prison and the tyranny of Satan, and regenerated by the HOLY GHOST, betrothed to JESUS, and made a child of GOD by adoption and by grace.
(21) ¶ 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. (22) And the thing was known to Mordecai, who told it unto Esther the queen; and Esther certified the king thereof in Mordecai's name. (23) And when inquisition was made of the matter, it was found out; therefore they were both hanged on a tree: and it was written in the book of the chronicles before the king.
I request the Reader not to lose sight of this transaction, particularly the part that Mordecai had in it; for it became a point of great importance in the sequel of Mordecai's life. This small event, as it should seem to have been respecting Mordecai, the LORD graciously overruled, when a deep and desperate attempt was made against the church in the after stages of cruelty intended to be exercised upon it, and by it accomplished the church's deliverance. By small means sometimes the LORD carrieth on the secret purposes of his holy will. It is beautiful to mark how the LORD doth this in all our own concerns. The Psalmist saith, that whoso is wise will ponder these things, they shall understand the loving-kindness of the LORD. Psalms 107:43 .
READER! let the view here afforded of the sad corruption and base lusts of our poor fallen nature, add one conviction more to all thou hast already received of the great necessity and immense blessing of the pure gospel of CHRIST. Well might the angels call it glad tidings of great joy, which should be to all people. For what tidings more glad, or what joy greater, than to tell a poor sinner, who feels a body of sin and death, of uncleanness and inordinate affection, that there is a fountain open to him for sin and uncleanness; that there is a spirit to mortify the deeds of the body, by which he may live. Oh! the unspeakable mercy folded up in this proclamation of liberty to poor captives. Captives to sin, to Satan, to divers lusts and pleasures, to the effect of anger, malice, hatred, variance, and all the works of the flesh. Yes! precious JESUS, thou hast brought deliverance in thy gospel from the vile passions of our nature in this life; and by thy great salvation deliverance from the wrath to come. Oh! LORD deliver me from myself, from my own corrupt nature; from a body of corruption under which I yet groan. Make me holy as thou art holy, and never, dearest LORD, suffer me upon any occasion, or from any cause, to be making provision for the flesh to fulfil the lusts thereof?
Reader! when you have gathered this instruction from the view of the ungoverned lusts of men, as read to us in this chapter; turn your thoughts and gather another sweet instruction, from the overruling providence of GOD, as sweetly taught us in this history in making the very corrupt passions of men, minister to his glory. Never doth the LORD manifest more strikingly his sovereignty and grace, than when he compels the very passions of bad men, to promote the sacred purposes of his holy will. The church of GOD was about to be brought into danger. How shall the LORD, without openly displaying his interposition, preserve it? Why thus. Ahasuerus turning off his queen Vashti to gratify his anger, shall be influenced to the choice of Esther, to supply her place. And Esther, unknown to him, being of the children of the captivity, shall be brought forward as the LORD'S instrument, to the preservation of his people. Neither is this all. For as a secondary aid to the accomplishment of this purpose, Mordecai shall be brought acquainted with a plot laid against the king's life, a record shall be made of his loyalty, which shall not immediately be rewarded, but brought forth in due season. Oh! how beautiful is it, to watch the ways and works of our wonder-working GOD. Justly is it said, that his way is in the sea, and his path in the great waters, and his footsteps are not known. Reader! make application of this blessed doctrine to your own person and circumstances, and depend upon it you will find continual opportunity, of proving the same thing. The eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show himself strong in behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him.
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Esther 2". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 19 / Ordinary 24