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Bible Commentaries

Coke's Commentary on the Holy Bible

Esther 9

Introduction

CHAP. IX.

In the thirteenth day of the month Adar, the Jews destroy their enemies: the ten sons of Haman are hanged. The feast of Purim, or lots, is instituted, in memory of this event.

Before Christ 473.

Verse 13

Esther 9:13. Let Haman's ten sons be hanged upon the gallows it is not unlikely that many might be enraged at Haman's death, and his sons in particular might set themselves at the head of those who were bold enough to attempt the destruction of the Jews at Shushan, being resolved to revenge their father's death, though in so doing they were sure to meet their own. This seems to suggest one reason why Esther was so solicitous to have their dead bodies hung on the gallows, because they had shewn more malice and indignation against the Jews, and, on the day when the cruel edict came to take place, had made more desperate attacks upon them, than any others; though the reason of state, in this severity, might be, to expose the family to greater infamy, and to deter other counsellors at any time from abusing the king with false representations: for though the Jews suffered none to hang on the tree, as they called the gallows, longer than till the evening of the day whereon they were executed, yet other nations let them hang till they were consumed, (as appears from the history of the Gibeonites, 2 Samuel 21:9.) or devoured by crows, vultures, or other ravenous creatures. See Patrick and Poole.

Verses 20-32

Esther 9:20-32. And Mordecai wrote these things, &c.— See the introductory note to this book. It is from the 20th verse that some have supposed Mordecai to have been the author of it: but it is very evident, that these words relate not to the book itself, but to the circular letters which Mordecai sent to the Jews in all the provinces of the Persian empire; signifying what a mighty deliverance God had vouchsafed them, and appointing in commemoration thereof an annual festival to be observed for ever. This festival was called פורים Purim, (Esther 9:26.) or the feast of lots; Pur in the Persian language signifying a lot, from the event mentioned Est 9:24 and chap. Est 3:7 and it is to this very day celebrated by the Jews with some peculiar ceremonies; but most of them reducible to these three things, reading, resting, and feasting. Before the reading, which is performed in the synagogue, and begins in the evening as soon as the stars appear, they make use of three forms of prayer; in the first of these, they praise God for counting them worthy to attend this divine service; in the second, they thank him for the miraculous preservation of their ancestors; and in the third, they bless his holy name for having continued their lives for the celebration of another festival in commemoration of it. Then they read over the whole history of Haman from the beginning to the end; not out of any printed book, for that is not lawful, but out of a Hebrew manuscript written on parchment. There are five places in the text wherein the reader raises his voice with all his might: when he comes to the place that mentions the names of the ten sons of Haman, he repeats them very quick, to shew that they were all destroyed in a moment; and every time that the name of Haman is pronounced, the children with great fury strike against the benches of the synagogue with mallets brought for that purpose. After the reading is finished, they return home and have a supper, not of flesh, but of spoon-meat. Next morning they arise early, and return to the synagogue, where, after they have read that passage in Exodus which mentions the war of Amalek, they begin again to read the book of Esther, with the same ceremonies as before, and so conclude the services of the day with curses against Haman and his wife, with blessings upon Mordecai and Esther, and with praises to God for having preserved his people. Their resting on this day is observed so religiously, that they will not so much as set or sow any thing in their gardens, being fully persuaded that it would not come up if they did; and therefore they either play at chess or similar games, or spend their time in music or dancing, till it be proper to begin their feasting, wherein they indulge themselves to such an immoderate degree, that their feast of Purim has with great justice been called the bacchanals of the Jews. They allow themselves to drink wine to excess, nay even to such a pitch as not to be able to distinguish between the blessing of Mordecai and the curse of Haman, as they themselves speak. Among the other sports and diversions of the day, they used formerly to erect a gibbet, and burn upon it a man of straw, whom they called Haman; but it being surmised that they might have a design herein to insult the christians, Theodosius the second forbad them to use this ceremony under the penalty of forfeiting all their privileges. See Calmet. The most laudable particular in the feast of Purim is, the abundant alms, in money and food, which the rich bestow upon the poor, in order to put them in a capacity to celebrate the festival. Note; (1.) Past interpositions of God's providence in behalf of his people, should be an encouragement to them in every present distress. (2.) A holy feast must be kept in a holy manner. It is the scandal and reproach of every religion, to see excess consecrated as devotion: and what a shame to the name of christian, to have the birth of the holy Jesus, the sufferings of the immaculate Lamb of God, and the descent of the Holy Ghost, celebrated by bacchanalian entertainments; and those sacred seasons, when most peculiarly we are called to thankful adoration and holy joy, most peculiarly marked with lawless revelry, thoughtless dissipation, gaming, drunkenness, lewdness, and every abomination. Is this the feast which God hath chosen? pudet haec opprobria.

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Bibliographical Information
Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Esther 9". Coke's Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/tcc/esther-9.html. 1801-1803.