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THE MOURNING AND FASTING, Esther 4:1-17.
“The plot seemed perfect. Everything had been well considered and as well devised. Swift messengers had been sent to all the provinces, directing the slaughter of the Jews on a given day, and even the selection by lot of an auspicious day had not been overlooked. What was wanting? Nothing that human calculation could have provided. Yet when the Lord blew upon this grand contrivance, it became as the desert sand before the wind, and overwhelmed the contriver.” Kitto.
1. Mordecai rent his clothes The customary sign of bitter grief. See 2 Samuel 1:11, note. A like sign was also the putting on of sackcloth sad sitting in ashes, (Job 2:8; Jonah 3:6,) or sprinkling ashes upon the head. Mordecai also, in expression of his most intense agony, cried with a loud and a bitter cry. Compare Genesis 27:34. Similar exhibitions of grief were customary with the Persians. When tidings of Xerxes’ defeat at Salamis reached Shushan all the people “rent their garments and uttered unbounded shouts and lamentations.” Herod., 8:99.
2. None might enter… with sackcloth For that would bear the semblance of an evil omen to the king.
4. Told it her Told her of the grief of Mordecai and the Jews, but they seem not to have told her its cause.
Grieved She was grieved to learn of her cousin’s miserable appearance and bitter mourning.
She sent raiment Hoping to remove his sorrow, and to take away his reproach, for his sackcloth exposed him to the derision of the courtiers.
He received it not His sorrow was too deep to be thus removed.
5. What it was, and why it was Literally, what this, and why this? She had not been informed of the terrible decree.
6. The street of the city The broad open place before the palace. Compare Ezra 10:9; Ezra 7:1, notes.
7. The sum of the money Rather, a statement of the silver. The word here rendered sum is פרשׁת , and occurs again only at chap. Esther 10:2, where it is rendered declaration. It means a distinct or accurate statement. Mordecai told Hatach what had befallen him, and gave him also a statement of the silver Haman had promised to bring into the king’s treasury.
8. Charge her… to make supplication A perilous undertaking to urge upon her. But Mordecai’s faith already began to discern a divine reason for her elevation in the kingdom at that time. See Esther 4:14.
11. The inner court The court that faced the principal audience hall the throne chamber where alone it would be practicable for Esther to see the king on such a business. See on Esther 5:1.
There is one law of his to put him to death Literally, one is his law to put to death; that is, the king’s law or custom is one and unchangeable to put such intruders to death. This law receives confirmation from Herodotus, 3:84, 118.
Hold out the golden sceptre “In all the numerous representations of Persian kings at Persepolis, there is not one in which the monarch does not hold a long, tapering staff in his right hand.” Rawlinson. This was one of the emblems of royalty which he seems ever to have had about his person.
But I have not been called… these thirty days This was Esther’s greatest difficulty. At other times, when her intercourse with the king was frequent, she might have ventured, with little or no fear, unbidden into his presence. But not having been invited to go in to the king for a month, she had reason to fear that he did not wish to see her, and it would be specially perilous to approach him publicly in the great throne chamber.
We have here a glimpse of female life in the harem of a Persian king. Days and months might elapse, and a wife not see her lord. How could it well be otherwise, where wives and concubines were numbered by hundreds? Herodotus says (iii, 79) that the Persian wives visited their husbands by turns, but this rule was probably not regularly followed.
13. Think not… that thou shalt escape The fearful decree as surely included a Jewess in the royal harem, as a Jewish porter at the king’s gate.
14. Enlargement רוח , breathing room; freedom from restraint. Compare the kindred word rendered respite in Exodus 8:15.
Deliverance arise… another place Note the faith of Mordecai. He is confident his nation cannot perish. Help will come from some quarter.
Who knoweth? Mordecai discerns a divine providence in Esther’s attaining to the royal dignity. God had elevated her to a position in which she might be the principal agent in effecting the salvation of her people, and hence she is warned that if she fails in the duty of that hour, Divine vengeance will most surely fall on her and all her father’s house.
16. Fast ye… three days The perilous enterprise, in which she would be so liable to perish, was not to be undertaken without much fasting and prayer. Though prayer is not mentioned, it undoubtedly accompanied the fasting, as in the cases of Nehemiah (Nehemiah 1:4) and Daniel, (Daniel 9:3.)
Night or day Sometimes fasting was observed for many days, but intermitted at night. This special fast was to have no intermission.
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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Esther 4". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany