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Bible Commentaries
Esther 4

Benson's Commentary of the Old and New TestamentsBenson's Commentary


A.M. 3494. B.C. 510.

The Jews fast and mourn, Esther 4:1-3 . Esther is informed of the design, Esther 4:4-9 . Mordecai presses her to intercede with the king, Esther 4:10-14 . She desires all the Jews to keep a solemn fast, Esther 4:15-17 .

Verse 1

Esther 4:1. And put on sackcloth with ashes That is, he put on a garment of sackcloth or hair, and sprinkled ashes upon his head. And cried with a loud and bitter cry To express his deep sense of the mischief coming upon his people. It was bravely done thus publicly to espouse what he knew to be a righteous cause, and the cause of God, even then when it seemed to be a sinking and desperate cause. The latter Targum upon the book of Esther gives us the following account of Mordecai’s behaviour upon this sad occasion: “He made his complaints in the midst of the streets, saying, ‘What a heavy decree is this, which the king and Haman have passed, not against a part of us, but against us all, to root us out of the earth!’ Whereupon all the Jews flocked about him, and, having caused the book of the law to be brought to the gate of Shushan, he, being covered with sackcloth, read the words of Deuteronomy 4:30-31, and then exhorted them to fasting, humiliation, and repentance, after the example of the Ninevites.”

Verse 2

Esther 4:2. And came even before the king’s gate That his cry might come to the ears of Esther: for none might enter into the king’s gate clothed with sackcloth He durst not take his place in the gate, nor sit there as he had hitherto done, because none that were in mourning might come thither, lest it should give the king any occasion of grief and trouble. But what availed to keep out the badges of sorrow, unless they could have kept out the causes of sorrow too? To forbid sackcloth to enter, unless they could likewise forbid sickness, and trouble, and death?

Verse 3

Esther 4:3. And many lay in sackcloth and ashes All day long they fasted, and wept, and lamented; and in the night many lay, not in their beds, but in sack or haircloth strewed with ashes.

Verse 4

Esther 4:4 . So Esther’s maids came and told it her Namely, that Mordecai appeared before the king’s gate in sackcloth. Then was the queen exceedingly grieved Imagining some mischief had befallen him, and not yet knowing what it was; and she sent raiment to clothe Mordecai That so he might be capable of returning to his former place, if not of coming to acquaint her with the cause of his sorrow. But he received it not Which, no doubt, very much increased her grief and surprise.

Verses 7-8

Esther 4:7-8. And of the sum of money, &c. Namely, the ten thousand talents he had offered to procure the king’s consent to their destruction. And to charge her, &c. Not only in his own name, to whom she had manifested singular respect, but also in the name of the great God.

Verse 11

Esther 4:11. Whosoever shall come into the inner court Within which the king’s residence and throne were; who is not called This was decreed to maintain both the majesty and the safety of the king’s person; and by the contrivance of the greater officers of state, that few or none might have access to the king but themselves and their friends. I have not been called, &c. Which gives me just cause to fear that the king’s affections are alienated from me, and that neither my person nor petition will be acceptable to him.

Verses 13-14

Esther 4:13-14. Think not with thyself Flatter not thyself with a vain hope, that because thou art in the king’s house, and an eminent member of his family, even the queen, that thou shalt be spared, or find any greater privilege in his house than the Jews do abroad. Thou art a Jew, and if the rest be cut off thou wilt not escape. For if thou holdest thy peace at this time If, through fear, thou decline the service; then shall deliverance arise to the Jews from another place From another hand, and by other means, which God can, and I am fully persuaded will, raise up. This was the language of strong faith, against hope believing in hope; but thou and thy father’s house shall be destroyed By the righteous judgment of God, punishing thy cowardice and self-seeking, and thy want of love to God, and to his and thy own people; and who knoweth whether thou art not come to the kingdom for such a time as this? It is probable God hath raised thee to this honour for this very season. We should every one of us consider for what end God has put us in the place where we are. And when an opportunity offers of serving God and our generation, we must take care not to let it slip.

Verse 16

Esther 4:16 . And fast ye for me And pray, which was the main business, to which fasting was only a help; and neither eat nor drink three days Namely, in such a manner as you used to do. Abstain from all set meals, and all pleasant food, and, as much as possible, from all food, for that space of time, in token of humiliation for sin, and a sense of our unworthiness of God’s mercies. I also and my maidens will fast likewise They were, doubtless, either of the Jewish nation or proselytes, and pious persons, who, she knew, would sincerely join with her in these holy duties. And so will I go in unto the king To intercede for my people. Which is not according to the law Namely, the king’s law, now mentioned, but it is according to God’s law, and therefore whatever comes of it, I will venture, and not count my life dear to myself, so I may serve God and his church. And if I perish, I perish Although my danger be great and evident, considering the expressness of that law, the uncertainty of the king’s mind, and that severity which he showed to my predecessor Vashti; yet, rather than neglect my duty to God and to his people, I will go to the king, and cast myself cheerfully and resolutely upon God’s providence for my safety and success. If I should be condemned to lose my life, I cannot lose it in a better cause.

Bibliographical Information
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Esther 4". Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/rbc/esther-4.html. 1857.
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