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Bible Commentaries

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

Esther 2

Introduction

A.M. 3486. B.C. 518.

The virgins of the kingdom are gathered together, Esther 2:1-4 ; and Esther with the rest, Esther 2:5-8 . She finds favour with the king’s chamberlain, Esther 2:9-11 . The manner of preparing the virgins, and bringing them to the king, Esther 2:12-14 . Esther pleases him, who makes her queen, Esther 2:15-20 . Mordecai discovers a conspiracy against the king, Esther 2:21-23 .

Verse 1

Esther 2:1. He remembered Vashti With grief and shame, that in his wine and rage he had so severely punished, and so irrevocably rejected, so beautiful and desirable a person, and that for so small a provocation, to which she was easily led by the modesty of her sex and by the laws and customs of Persia.

Verses 2-3

Esther 2:2-3. Then said the king’s servants Who, for their own interests, were obliged to quiet the king’s mind, and procure him another amiable consort. To the house of the women Or rather, of the virgins; for the house of those who were wives or concubines was different from this, and under another governor. Keeper of the women Of all the women, both virgins and concubines: only the virgins he himself took care of, as requiring more care and caution, and the concubines he committed to Shaashgaz, (Esther 2:14,) his deputy. Things for purification That is, to cleanse them from all impurities, to perfume, and adorn, and every way prepare them for the king: for the legal purification of the Jews he never regarded.

Verse 6

Esther 2:6. Who had been carried away from Jerusalem This may refer either to Kish, Mordecai’s grandfather, last mentioned, or to Mordecai himself, which, however, is not probable, as in that case he must have been a very old man, not less than a hundred and forty years of age.

Verses 7-8

Esther 2:7-8. And he brought up Hadassah, that is, Esther Hadassah was her Hebrew name, before her marriage; and she was called Esther by the king after it. Esther was brought also unto the king’s house Or taken, and that by force, as the word תלקח , tillakach, often signifies: for so great was the power and tyranny of the Persian kings, that they could and did take what persons they liked to their own use.

Verse 9

Esther 2:9 . The maiden pleased him Because she was very beautiful, therefore he supposed she would be acceptable to the king; and by the divine power, which moveth the hearts of men which way he pleaseth.

Verse 10

Esther 2:10. Mordecai had charged her that she should not show it Lest the knowledge hereof should either make her contemptible, or bring some inconvenience to the whole nation: but there was also a hand of God in causing this to be concealed, for the better accomplishment of that which he designed, though Mordecai was ignorant of it. If Mordecai sought or desired that his niece should become either the king’s concubine or wife, he certainly acted contrary to the Jewish law, which forbid any marriage or communication of that sort with idolaters; but the circumstances of things, and perhaps the hopes he entertained of being able to do his nation great service thereby, may plead his excuse.

Verse 11

Esther 2:11. Mordecai walked every day, &c. He might walk there without being suspected, because he belonged to the court, and was a man of some rank; for those that were carried away in Jeconiah’s captivity (as his ancestors were, Est 2:6 ) were of the better sort, 2 Kings 24:14, &c.; Daniel 1:4. And Esther might find means, by some of those that attended her, to acquaint him with the state of her health and affairs.

Verse 12

Esther 2:12. According to the manner of the women Who were kept so long, partly for their better purification, as it here follows; partly out of state, as that which became so great a king; and partly that, being so long in safe custody, the king might be sure he was not imposed upon by a child begotten by another man. Six months with oil of myrrh, and six months with sweet odours It is observed by Pliny, lib. 13, cap. 1, that ointments were first invented by the Persians. Oil of myrrh was used, not only on account of its fragrancy, but to make the skin soft and smooth, and to clear it from all manner of scurf; and the sweet odours were necessary, in those hot countries, to take away all ill scents, and, as some think, to enliven and invigorate the constitution.

Verse 13

Esther 2:13. Thus came every maiden unto the king Thus purified and prepared, and thus furnished and attended, as it follows. Whatsoever she desired was given her For ornament, or by way of attendance. And it should be observed, that every one whom the king took to his bed was his wife of a lower rank, as Hagar was Abraham’s; so that it would have been no sin or dishonour to Esther, though she had not been made queen.

Verse 15

Esther 2:15 . She required nothing Not being desirous to set herself off with artificial beauty, nor, probably, to please the king; having been brought to the king’s house without and against her own inclination and choice. But what Hegai, the king’s chamberlain, appointed Being covetous of nothing, she left it entirely to the king’s chamberlain to give her what he pleased, which was a mark of a modest and generous temper in her. And Esther obtained favour of all them that looked upon her All that beheld her admired her beauty, which needed no ornament; for the greatest ornaments of virgins are, modesty, silence, well-disciplined eyes, a serene countenance, without levity, and horror of all wantonness; which, all meeting in her, made her agreeable in the eyes of all that saw her.

Verse 16

Esther 2:16. So Esther was taken into his house-royal She was not sent back unto the second house of the women, as the rest were, but the king kept her in his own house. In the seventh year of his reign How it came to pass that it was so long before Esther was advanced to succeed Vashti, seems difficult to resolve. But we are to consider, that a great deal of time was spent in gathering the virgins together, and that it was a year after they were collected, before she was brought to the king; and besides, he took some time, it is likely, to try how he liked her wit, humour, and conversation.

Verse 18

Esther 2:18. And he made a release to the provinces According to Herodotus, it was customary for the Persian kings, upon their accession to the throne, to remit the tribute which was due to them from all their cities; and Ahasuerus, on this occasion, out of his abundant joy, remitted some tax, or part of a tax, then due, which he did that every body might rejoice with him.

Verse 19

Esther 2:19. When the virgins were gathered together the second time They in all probability were gathered together first in the provinces, and afterward in Susa, before they were taken into the house of the king’s chamberlain. The writer now goes back to what happened before Esther’s marriage. Then Mordecai sat in the king’s gate It was ordered by Cyrus, as Xenophon informs us, Cyropaæd., lib. 8, that all persons whatever, who had any employment at court, should attend at the palace gate, where there was doubtless a proper waiting-place for their reception, that they might be in readiness whenever they were wanted or called for; and that this custom was afterward continued, we may learn from Herodotus, lib. 3. cap. 120. See Le Clerc. Mordecai has been thought by some to have been one of the porters of the royal palace; but it is probable he was an officer of higher rank. Poole thinks he was one of the king’s guard, or ministers, and that he had been advanced to this place by Esther’s favour, though without any discovery of her relation to him.

Verse 20

Esther 2:20. Esther did the commandment of Mordecai, &c. A rare example of virtue, that she should be so observant of him when she was a queen: for most persons forget what they were when they are unexpectedly advanced to great honour, dignity, or riches.

Verse 21

Esther 2:21. Two of the king’s chamberlains “These were two great men, who perhaps kept the door of the king’s bed-chamber, and being either incensed at the divorce of Vashti, whose creatures they were, or at the advancement of Esther, who they thought would in all probability raise her kinsman Mordecai above them, took disgust thereat, and so resolved to avenge themselves on the king.” Dodd. See Prideaux, and Esther 6:2-3.

Verse 23

Esther 2:23. It was written in the book of the Chronicles A day-book, wherein all memorable things were recorded. Before the king This may refer either, 1st, To the writing of it, signifying that it was written in the king’s presence by scribes, who were continually with the king, to record all remarkable things which happened in the court from time to time: or, 2d, To the book, which was laid up before the king, that he might more easily and frequently peruse it for his own direction or amusement. Here we see the danger and infelicity of the greatest men, the life of a most potent monarch depending upon the fidelity of one single person, whose service was neglected by the court, though a memorial was made of it. Thus all masters of families are obnoxious to the perfidiousness, of those that wait upon them.

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Bibliographical Information
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Esther 2". Joseph Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/rbc/esther-2.html. 1857.