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Bible Commentaries

Coke's Commentary on the Holy Bible

Esther 5



Esther presents herself before the king, whom she invites with Haman to a banquet. Haman, indignant that Mordecai refuses him respect, commands a gallows to be erected for him.

Before Christ 474.

Verse 2

Esther 5:2. The king held out to Esther the golden sceptre A sceptre was the ensign of the highest and most absolute authority; therefore some have observed, that when Mordecai was advanced to the greatest dignity, next the king, having the royal robes on, and other ensigns of regal dignity, no mention is made of any sceptre, for that was proper and peculiar to the king; and the queen's touching, or, as some say, kissing it, was a token of her subjection and thankfulness for his favour. Josephus has mightily improved upon this story, as the reader will see by referring to his Antiquities, lib. 11: cap. 6.

Verse 8

Esther 5:8. Let the king and Haman come to the banquet, &c.— Esther's intention, in desiring to entertain the king twice at her banquet before she made known her petition, was, that thereby she might the more endear herself to him, and the better dispose him to grant her request; for which reason she thought it a piece of no bad policy to invite his first favourite to come with him. But in the whole matter the singular providence of God is not a little conspicuous; which so disposed her mind, that the high honour which the king bestowed upon Mordecai the next day might fall out in the mean time, and so make way for her petition, which would come in very seasonably at the banquet of wine. For, as it was then most likely for the king to be in a pleasant humour, so also it was most usual for the Persians to enter upon business of state when they began to drink. See Prid. Connect. An. 453.

Verse 12

Esther 5:12. Haman said moreover, yea, Esther, &c.— Athenaeus mentions it as a peculiar honour, which no Grecian ever had before or after, that Artaxerxes vouchsafed to invite Timagoras the Cretan to dine even at the table where his relations ate, and to send sometimes a part of what was served up at his own; which some Persians looked upon as a diminution of his majesty, and a prostitution of their nation's honour. Plutarch, in his Life of Artaxerxes, tells us, that none but the king's mother and his real wife were permitted to sit at his table; and therefore he mentions it as a condescension in that prince that he sometimes invited his brothers; so that this particular favour was a matter which Haman had some reason to value himself upon.

Verse 14

Esther 5:14. The thing pleased Haman, and he caused the gallows to be made This gallows was to be fifty feet high, that men might at a greater distance see the object of Haman's indignation, to the increase of Mordecai's disgrace no doubt, as Haman and his friends thought, and that, struck with greater terror by the spectacle, none might dare for the future to despise or offend him. It may seem strange, that so proud a man as Haman was, should not be prompted immediately to revenge himself on Mordecai for his contemptuous usage of him; since, doubtless, he must have had people enough about him, who, upon the least intimation of his pleasure, would have done it; and since he, who had interest enough with his prince to procure a decree for the destruction of a whole nation, might have easily obtained a pardon for having killed one obscure member of it. But herein did the wise and powerful providence of God appear, in that he disposed Haman's heart, contrary to his own inclination and interest, to put fetters as it were upon his own hands, instead of employing his power against his enemy. There cannot be a more striking instance of the vanity of all human greatness, and its utter incapacity to procure a depraved mind repose, than this of Haman. Those who are in the most exalted stations are not always so happy as they seem, or as those beneath them are ready to suppose: they have generally some latent trouble which gnaws and devours them; indeed, a very little matter is sufficient to embitter all their prosperity: this is more particularly the case with the proud and ambitious. Their pride is their punishment; and the mortification of seeing themselves not honoured as they expect plunges them into the bitterness of malice and revenge. But let such consider, that when they seem to be most firmly rooted, and oppress good men without controul, their ruin may be nearest at hand; and they may fall, by the over-ruling direction of Providence, into the very mischiefs which they had prepared for others. They who would see this subject amply enlarged upon may consult Balguy's Sermons, vol. 1: and Wharton's, vol. 2:

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Bibliographical Information
Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Esther 5". Coke's Commentary on the Holy Bible. 1801-1803.