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Ahasuerus lays a tribute upon his dominions. Mordecai's advancement under him.
Before Christ 468.
Esther 10:1. Ahasuerus laid a tribute upon the land, &c.— 1:e. He laid a tax upon every part of his dominions, both on the continent and in the islands over which his power extended. By the isles here mentioned, are meant those in the AEgean sea conquered by Darius Hystaspes. See Usher's Chron. and Calmet, who here goes on to comment on the remaining chapters of Esther, which may be found in the Apocrypha; but the Hebrew text concludes as in our Bibles. He observes, after Paul Lucas, that the tombs of Mordecai and Esther are still to be seen at Amadam, in the synagogue of the Jews, who are much more numerous in that place than in any other town in Persia.
REFLECTIONS.—We are here informed,
1. That Ahasuerus laid a general tribute on all his dominions. Either the tribute he had remitted, chap. Est 2:18 or if, as is supposed, this was Xerxes, his expensive expeditions made it necessary to replenish his treasury. In arbitrary governments, the king's will is law. Blessed be God for the secure enjoyment of liberty and property!
2. The greatness of this mighty monarch was at large recorded in the chronicles or records of his kingdom, where Mordecai's name also bore a distinguished place, and reflected honour upon the master to whom he owed his advancement.
3. Mordecai, good as he was great, endeared himself by every act of kindness and favour to his countrymen. His honours had not changed his manners; he was courteous and kind to all his brethren, and his desire to serve them seemed but to increase with his ability. Universally respected and beloved, his greatness caused no envy; while the multitude of his brethren were deeply sensible that for all their happiness and prosperity they were indebted to his kindness and protection under God. Note; He is truly great, whose power and dignity are employed for the public good.
We have now finished our comment on the historical books of the Old Testament. Of the period of history from the return of the Jews out of Babylon to the birth of our Saviour, having no inspired writings, the reader must endeavour to gain a knowledge from such apocryphal and profane historians as are extant. See 2 Chronicles 36:0. In some measure however to supply the deficiency, we here subjoin, from Dr. Taylor's Scripture Divinity, a brief account of the state of the Jews and of other nations from this period to the time when our Lord came into the world.
"After the Babylonish captivity," says he, "the Jews no more lapsed into idolatry, but remained steady in the acknowledgment and worship of the one living and true God. Even then they fell into new ways of perverting religion, and the wise and holy intentions of the divine law. I. By laying all the stress on the external and less momentous parts of it, while they neglected the weighty and substantial, true holiness of heart and life. Mankind are too easily drawn into this error. While they retain a sense of religion, they are too apt to listen to any methods by which it may be reduced to a consistency with the gratification of their passions, pride, and avarice. Thus, by placing religion in mere profession, or in the zealous observance of rites and ceremonies, instead of real piety, truth, purity, and goodness, they learn to be religious without virtue. II. By speculating and commenting upon the divine commands and institutions, till their force is quite enervated, and they are refined into a sense that will commodiously allow a slight regard instead of sincere obedience. III. By confirming and establishing the two former methods of corrupting religion, by tradition and the authority of learned rabbis; pretending, that there was a system of religious rules delivered by word of mouth from Moses, explanatory of the written law, known only to those rabbis; to whose judgment, therefore, and decision, all the people were to submit."
"This, in time, the space of 219 years, became the general state of religion among the Jews, after they had discarded idolatry. And this spirit prevailed among them for some ages, (290 years) before the coming of the Messiah. But, however, it did not interfere with the main system of Providence, or the introducing the knowledge of God among the nations, as they still continued steadfast in the worship of the true God, without danger of deviating from it. Besides, they were now, much more than formerly, exercised in reading, thinking, and reasoning, and were more capable, of themselves, of judging what was right, Luke 12:57. And several of them did so judge. Some of them were truly religious and virtuous; and all of them had strong expectation of the Messiah about the time of his appearance; and were sufficiently qualified to judge of religious matters, and of the evidences of his mission. Thus the Jews were prepared by the preceding dispensation for the reception of the Messiah, and the just notions of religion which he was sent to inculcate; insomuch that their guilt must be highly aggravated, if they rejected him and his instructions. It could not be for want of capacity, but of integrity, and must be assigned to wilful blindness and obduracy. Out of regard to temporal power, grandeur, and enjoyments, they loved darkness rather than light."
"In the mean time, the pagan nations had made great openings in wisdom and virtue. Those arts that began in Greece, had travelled into other lands; learning had got footing among the illiterate; and humanity and social affections among the barbarous; and many good and useful books, useful even to this day among christians, were written in ethics for the right conduct of life. The light of nature was carried high; or rather, the darkness of it was much enlightened. Such was, at length, the state of the Gentiles, God having still been pleased, from time to time, to raise up among them persons uncommonly endowed, for their instruction, and to fit them for the day when he should more explicitly reveal himself and his sacred will to them."
"For many ages the Jews had been well known in the eastern empires, among the Assyrians, Chaldeans, Medes, and Persians; but, till the time of Alexander the Great, they had no communication with the Grecians. About the year before Christ 332, Alexander built Alexandria in Egypt; and, to people his new city, removed thither many of the Jews, allowing them the use of their own laws and religion, and the same liberties with the Macedonians themselves. The Macedonians, who spake the Greek language, and other Greeks, were the principal inhabitants of Alexandria. From them the Jews learned to speak Greek, which was the common language of the city, and which soon became the native language of the Jews that lived there; who, on that account, were called Hellenists, or Greek-Jews, mentioned Acts 6:1-9; Acts 11:20. These Greek-Jews had synagogues in Alexandria; and for their benefit the five books of Moses, which alone, at first, were publicly read, were translated into Greek, (by whom is uncertain) and read in their synagogues every sabbath-day. And in the time of Antiochus Epiphanes, about 168 years before Christ, when the prophets also began to be read in the synagogues of Judea, the prophets also were translated into Greek for the use of the Alexandrian Jews. This translation contributed much to the spreading of the knowledge of true religion among the nations in the western parts of the world."
"For the Jews, their synagogues and worship were, after Alexander's death, dispersed almost every where among the nations. Ptolemy, one of Alexander's successors, having reduced Jerusalem and all Judea, about 320 years before Christ, carried 100,000 Jews into Egypt, and there raised considerable numbers of them to places of trust and power; and several of them he placed in Cyrene and Lybia. Seleucus, another of Alexander's successors, about 300 years before Christ, built Antioch in Cilicia, and many other cities, in all thirty-five, and some of them capital cities in the greater and lesser Asia; in all which he planted the Jews, giving them equal privileges and immunities with the Greeks and Macedonians; especially at Antioch in Syria, where they settled in great numbers, and became almost as considerable a part of that city, as they were at Alexandria. See Dr. Prideaux's Con. Anno 293. Ptotemy Soter 12. On that memorable day of Pentecost, Acts 2:5; Acts 2:9; Act 2:11-12 were assembled in Jerusalem, Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven; namely, Parthians, Medes, and Persians, of the province of Elymais, inhabitants of Mesopotamia, Judea, Cappadocia, Pontus, Asia, Phrygia, Pamphylia, Egypt, Cyrene in Lybia, and Rome, Cretes, and Arabs, who were all either natural Jews, or devout men, 1:e. proselytes to the Jewish religion. And in every city of the Roman empire, where Paul preached, he found a body of his countrymen, the Jews; except in Athens, which was at that time, I suppose, a town of no considerable trade: which shews that the Jews and their synagogues, at the time of our Lord's appearance, were providentially scattered over all the Roman empire; and had in every place introduced, more or less, among the nations, the knowledge and worship of God; and so had prepared great numbers for the reception of the gospel."
"About the time that Alexander built Alexandria in Egypt, the use of the Papyrus, for writing, was first found out in that country. Dr. Prideaux's Con. Anno 332. Darius, 4: p. 706 vol. 2: This invention was so favourable to literature, that Ptolemy Soter, one of Alexander's successors, was thereby enabled to erect a museum, or library; which by his son and successor Philadelphus, who died 247 years before Christ, was augmented to 100,000 volumes; and by succeeding Ptolemies to 700,000. Part of this library, which was placed in a separate building from the other part, happened to be burnt when Julius Caesar laid siege to Alexandria; but after that loss, it was again much augmented, and soon grew up to be larger, and of more eminent note, than the former; and so it continued for many ages to be of great fame and use in those parts, till at length it was burnt and finally destroyed by the Saracens, in the year of our Lord 642. Dr. Prideaux's Con. vol. 3: p. 21, &c. anno 284. This plainly proves how much the invention of turning the Papyrus into paper, contributed to the increase of books, and the advancement of learning, for some ages before the coming of our Lord. For doubtless, by this means, private hands would also more easily be supplied with books than before."
"Add to all this, that the world, after many changes and revolutions, was, by God's all-ruling wisdom, thrown into that form of civil affairs which best suited with the great intended alteration. The many petty states and tyrannies, whose passions and bigotry might have run counter to the schemes of Providence, were all swallowed up in one great power, the Romans; to which all appeals lay; the seat of which, Rome, lay at a great distance from Jerusalem, the spring from whence the gospel was to arise, and flow to all nations. And therefore, as no material obstruction to the gospel could arise, but from that one quarter, none could suddenly arise from thence, but only in process of time, when the gospel was sufficiently spread and established, as it did not in the least interfere with the Roman polity or government. The gospel was first published in a time of general peace and tranquility throughout the whole world, which gave the preachers of it an opportunity of passing freely from one country to another, and the minds of men the advantage of attending calmly to it. Many savage nations were civilized by the Romans, and acquainted with the arts and virtues of their conquerors."
"Thus the darkest countries had their thoughts awakened, and were growing to a capacity of receiving, at the stated time, the knowledge of true religion. So that all things and circumstances conspired now with the views of heaven, and made this apparently the fulness of time, (Galatians 4:4.) or the fittest juncture for God to reveal himself to the Gentiles, and to put an end to idolatry throughout the earth. Now the minds of men were generally ripe for a purer and brighter dispensation, and the circumstances of the world were such as favoured the success and progress of it."
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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Esther 10". Coke's Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Week after Epiphany