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Bible Commentaries

John Trapp Complete Commentary
Esther 7

 

 


Verse 1

Esther 7:1 So the king and Haman came to banquet with Esther the queen.

Ver. 1. So the king and Haman came to the banquet] Heb. To drink, for multorum vivere est bibere; of many, to live is to drink, and profane persons have a proverb, Bibere et sudare est vita Cardiaci. To drink and to sweat is the life of Cardiacus. Such are your chamber champions, whose teeth in a temperate air do beat in their heads at a cup of cold sack and sugar. Belshazzar’s feast days were called σακεαι ημεραι, because he was quaffing in the bowls of the sanctuary, to the honour of Shac or Bacchus (Greg. Posthum.). Little did either he or Haman think, that in the fulness of their sufficiency they should be in such straits, aud that every hand of the troublesome should come upon him; that when they were about to fill their bellies God should cast the fury of his wrath upon them, and rain it upon them while they were drinking, Job 20:22-23. But this is the portion of a wicked man from God, and the heritage appointed unto him by God, Job 20:29. Why, then, should any saint be sick of the fret, at the prosperity of the ungodly? Surely as fishes are taken in an evil net, and as birds are caught in a snare, so are such snared in an evil time, when it falleth suddenly upon them, Ecclesiastes 9:12. Of Esther’s invitation Haman might have said, as he did of the gifts one sent him,

Munera magna quidem mittit, sed mittit in hamo. (Martial.)

But he knew not yet what evil was toward him; though I doubt not but his conscience (if not altogether dead and dedolent) began by this time to stare him in the face; his friends having already read his destiny.


Verse 2

Esther 7:2 And the king said again unto Esther on the second day at the banquet of wine, What [is] thy petition, queen Esther? and it shall be granted thee: and what [is] thy request? and it shall be performed, [even] to the half of the kingdom.

Ver. 2. And the king said again unto Esther] He was very desirous to know what her suit was; and with thought thereof, as it may seem, could not rest the night before. He pursueth his desires, not a little edged by her delays; neither was he of those lusks, who

Remque aliquam exoptant, intahescuntque relieta.

His love to Esther made him ask again, What is thy petition, and what is thy request? &c. He presseth her to speak out; so doth God his suppliants: "Hitherto ye have asked nothing: ask, that your joy may be full." Pray, that ye may joy; ye are not straitened in me, but in your own bowels; as if no water come by the conduit, it is not because there is none in the spring, but because the pipes are broken. {See Trapp on "Esther 5:6"}


Verse 3

Esther 7:3 Then Esther the queen answered and said, If I have found favour in thy sight, O king, and if it please the king, let my life be given me at my petition, and my people at my request:

Ver. 3. Then Esther the queen, &c.] See Esther 5:7-8. As Abigail her family, and the woman of Abel the city, so doth Esther by her wisdom and humility deliver herself and her people, ducem sequens lucem fidei, a leader leading the light of faith, as one saith of her.

Let my life be given me at my petition] Heb. my soul. See how discreetly she marshalleth her words; setting these two great requests in the head of her petition, which is simplex et non fucata, plain and downright. Truth is like our first parents, most beautiful when naked. Our words in prayer must be neque lecta, neque neglecta, neither curious nor careless; but as the words of petitioners, plain and full and direct to the point. Esther reckoneth herself here among the rest of her poor countrymen, free among the dead, free of that company, and begs for her life and theirs together; because hers was even bound up in theirs. Mortis habet vices quae trahitur vita genuitibus; to live after their death would be a lifeless life; and hence her importunity for both together, since they were in her heart, ad commoriendum et convivendum, if they died she could not live. Good blood will not belie itself. Esther had not showed her kindred and people till now that she must appear for them. See the like in Moses, Hebrews 11:25; in Nicodemus, that night-bird; John 7:51, he speaks boldly, and silences the whole company; John 19:39, he boldly beggeth the body of Jesus; neither could he any longer conceal himself. Surely, as Solomon by trial found out the true harlot mother, so doth God by hard times discover the affections of his people. Then, as Joseph could not refrain tears, so nor they the exercise of their faith and charity.


Verse 4

Esther 7:4 For we are sold, I and my people, to be destroyed, to be slain, and to perish. But if we had been sold for bondmen and bondwomen, I had held my tongue, although the enemy could not countervail the king’s damage.

Ver. 4. For we are sold] i.e. Given up wholly into the power of the enemy, as that which a man hath bought with his money, is his own to dispose of. She refers, doubtless, to the sum proffered by Haman, Esther 3:9, not fearing the face of so potent an enemy, nor going behind his back to set him out in his colours; yea, though her discourse could not but somewhat reflect upon the king, who had given Haman his consent.

I, and my people] She makes it a common cause, and saith to her countrymen, as once David did to Abiathar, 1 Samuel 22:23, or as Charles V said to Julius Pestugius, who complained that he had been much wronged by the duke of Saxony, Have a little patience, thy cause shall be my cause, neither will I sit down till I have seen you some way righted. See Esther 7:3.

To be destroyed, to be slain, and to perish] These were the very words of that bloody decree which she purposely maketh use of, that he might be sensible of what he had consented to, and might see that she complained not without cause. But what a case was Haman in at the hearing of this! and how did he now repent him, but too late, of ever having a hand in so bloody a business! His iniquity was now full, and the bottle of his wickedness, filled up to the brim with those bitter waters, was even about to sink to the bottom. His gallows was finished last night, and now it groaned hard for him, that he might be destroyed, slain, and made to perish.

- Neque enim lex iustior ulla est,

Quam necis artifices arte perire sua.

But if we had been sold for bondmen and bondwomen] Though it had been a hard and sad condition for a queen, especially (which yet was Hecuba’s case and Zenobia’s), yet it would not be grievous to them to sacrifice their liberty to the service of their life: the Gibeonites were glad they might live upon any terms, Joshua 9:24-25. Masters might slay their bondservants, but that was counted a cruelty, and when one did it at Rome, he was amerced by the censor; many times they were manumitted for their good service, and came to great estates.

I had held my tongue] Silence is in some cases a crying sin. Taciturnity, I confess, is sometimes a virtue, but not at all where it tends to the betraying of a good cause, or the detriment of the labouring Church. "For Zion’s sake will I not hold my peace, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not rest," &c., Isaiah 62:1. Terentius, that noble general, told Valens, the Arian emperor, that he had abandoned the victory and sent it to the enemy, by his persecuting God’s people, and favouring heretics (Niceph. 1. 11, c. 40). That was an excellent saying of Jerome to Vigilantius, Meam iniuriam patienter tul/i, &c., while the wrong thou didst reached only to myself I took it patiently, but thy wickedness against God I cannot bear with; so was that of Oecolampadius to Servetus (blaming him for his sharpness to the self-same purpose). And, lastly, that of Luther in a letter to his friend Staupicius, Inveniar sane superbus, &c., Let me be accounted proud, peremptory, passionate, or what men please, so that I be not found guilty of a sinful silence when called to speak for God.

Although the enemy could not countervail the king’s damage] q.d. It is not his ten thousand talents, Esther 3:9, nor all that he is worth, and ten more such as he is, that can make up the loss that the king is sure to sustain by the slaughter of the Jews, a people painful and prayerful (this Daxius made high account of, Ezra 6:16), useful and profitable, careful to maintain good works in St Paul’s sense, Titus 3:8, that is, such as were noted to exceed and excel others in witty inventions, to be their craftmasters, and faithtul to their trust. Besides, if they be taken away, great damage shall redound to the king’s revenue, by non-payment of toll, tribute, and custom, as those malignants could allege, Ezra 4:12, a thing that princes usually are very sensible Of. Or if there should be lucrum in arca, money in the box, yet there would be damnum in conscientia, damnation in the conscience, the foul blur of blood guiltiness would lie heavy, both upon the king’s conscience, and his name among all nations. The Vulgate rendereth this text thus, Nunc autem hostis noster est, cuius crudelitas reduadat in regem. And now he is our enemy, whose cruelty reflecteth upon the king. Tremellius thus, Sed non est hostis iste utilis, damnosus est regi; but now this enemy is no way profitable, but to the king disadvantageous. This the king considers not, and the enemy cares not, so that he may serve his own turn, and satisfy his murderous mind.


Verse 5

Esther 7:5 Then the king Ahasuerus answered and said unto Esther the queen, Who is he, and where is he, that durst presume in his heart to do so?

Ver. 5. Then the king Ahasuerus answered, &c.] It seems he did not yet, by all that Esther had said, understand whom she meant; so high an opinion he had of Haman his minion, the only ornament and bulwark of the empire, the greatest publicola, and most esteemed patriot. The king, therefore, as not thinking him so near at hand, hastily asketh, He said and said (so the Heb. hath it) to the queen.

Who is he, and where is he] Who is that sirrah, he, and where is that sirrah, he? Quis hic ipse, et ubi hic ille? words of utmost indignation and readiness to be revenged; such as were those of Charles V emperor: If that villain were here (speaking of Farnesius, the pope’s general, who had ravished certain ladies) I would kill him with mine own hand; or those of fiery Friar, who, openly in the pulpit at Antwerp, preaching to the people, wished that Luther were there, that he might tear him with his teeth (Paraei Medul. Hist. profan. Erasm. Ephesians 1:16, ad obtrectat). But could this king possibly so soon forget what himself had not two months before granted to be done against Esther’s people (which was with his right hand to cut off his left)? or did he not all this while know what countrywoman his beloved Esther was? and might he not expect that the Hamanists should come and take her forcibly from him to execution, by virtue of his own edict, as Daniel’s adversaries had dealt by him, though Darius laboured till the going down of the sun to deliver him, but could not? Daniel 6:14; and as Stephen Gardiner and his complices attempted to do by Queen Catharine Parr, had not her husband, Henry VIII, rated them away, and graciously rescued her out of their bloody fingers?

That durst presume in his heart to do so?] Heb. Whose heart hath filled him to do so? Cuius cor persuasit ipsi, so Vatablus. Whose heart hath persuaded him thus to do. The devil had filled Haman’s heart, sitting abrood thereon, and hatching there this horrid plot, Acts 5:3. But (to do the devil right) Haman had suffered the sun (nay, many suns) to go down upon his wrath, and thereby given place to the devil, Ephesians 4:26-27. Nemo sibi de suo palpet (saith an ancient), quisque sibi Satan est; Let no man deceive his own heart, each man is a Satan to himself; and though men bless themselves from having to do with the devil, and spit at his very name, yet they fetch not up their spittle low enough; they spit him out of their mouths, but not out of their hearts, as "being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity," Romans 1:29. Haman’s heart thus stuffed might well have said to him at the gallows, as the heart of Apollodorus the tyrant seemed to say to him, who dreamed one night that he was flayed by the Scythians, and boiled in a cauldron, and that his heart spake to him out of the kettle, It is I that have drawn thee to all this. Eγω σοι τουτων αιτια. Those in hell cry so surely.


Verse 6

Esther 7:6 And Esther said, The adversary and enemy [is] this wicked Haman. Then Haman was afraid before the king and the queen.

Ver. 6. And Esther said] Now she found her time to strike while the iron was hot; she therefore layeth hold upon the opportunity that God had even thrust into her hand, and laying aside all base fear, pointeth out the enemy present, and painteth him out in his proper colours. A well chosen season, saith one, is the greatest advantage of any action; which as it is seldom found in haste, so it is too often lost in delay. It is not for Queen Esther now to drive off any longer. The negligent spirit cries, Cras, Domine. Tomorrow thou shalt pray for me, said Pharaoh to Moses. Fools are ever futuring, semper victuri, as Seneca hath it, but "a wise man’s heart discerneth both time and judgment," Ecclesiastes 8:5. The men of Issachar in David’s days were in great account, because they had understanding of the times to know what Israel ought to do, and when to do it, 1 Chronicles 12:32.

The adversary] Heb. The man adversary, the Lycanthropos, the man of might that distresseth us, angustiator, that is, our calamity; as the people of Rome once, by an elegant solecism, cried out, Calamitas nostra Magnus est Our distress is great, meaning of it Pompey, surnamed Magnus.

And enemy] That is, the utter enemy, that sworn swordman of Satan, the old manslayer, from whom Haman hath drawn this ancient enmity, Genesis 3:15.

Is this wicked Haman] Pessimus iste, such a most wicked one, this homo hominum quantum est, pessimus, homo post homines natos nequissimus, as wicked a man as goes on two legs, Bipedum nequissimus, a merum scelus, a man made up of mischief, a very breathing devil. Cicero telleth of one Tubulus, who was praetor a little before his time, so wicked a wretch, ut eius nomen non hominis sed vitii esse videretur, that his name seemed to be, not the name of a man, but of vice itself. And Josephus saith of Antipater, that his life was a very mystery of iniquity, Kακιας μυστηριον. Think the same of Haman, so portentously, so peerlessly wicked and malicious, that Esther can find no word bad enough for him, unless it be Harang, that naughtiest of all naughts; as St Paul could call sin no worse than by its own name, sinful sin, exceeding sinful, Romans 7:13. Tiberius was rightly characterized by his tutor Theodorus Gadareus, dirt kned with blood. Pηλος αιματι πεφυραμενος. Haman was such another, if not worse, and now he hears of it; for never till now did the man adversary hear his true title. Before some had styled him noble, others great; some magnificent, and some perhaps virtuous; only Esther gives him his own, wicked Haman. Ill deserving greatness doth in vain promise to itself a perpetuity of applause. There will be those that will deal plainly, and call a spade a spade. Thus Jeremiah dealt with Jehoiakim, and Ezekiel with Zedekiah, whom he calleth naught and polluted. Go, tell that fox, saith our Saviour, concerning Herod; and God shall smite thee, thou whited wall, saith Paul to Ananias. But what a courage had Esther to speak thus to the king, and of his favourite, and before his face! This was the work of her faith, and the fruit of her prayer.

Then Haman was afraid before the king and the queen] He was amazed and amated, troubled and terrified.

Obstupuit, steteruntque comae, vox faucibus haesit (Virg.).

In the fulness of his sufficiency he fell into straits, Job 20:22. So that being convinced in his own conscience that the queen’s accusation was very true, and that the king knew it to be so, he had nothing to say for himself, he was even gagged, as it were, or muzzled, as Matthew 22:12-13, according to that of David, Psalms 63:11, "the mouth of them that speak lies shall be stopped." And again, Psalms 12:3, The Lord shall cut off lying lips, and the tongue that speaketh proud things. Here we see how suddenly wicked ones may be cast down upon the discovery of their wickedness, in the height of their pride, in the ruff of their jollity, as was Nebuchadnezzar, Belshazzar, Herod, Haman. Surely as thunder commonly is heard when the sky seemeth most clear; so this man saw himself enveloped in a storm in one of the fairest days that ever befell him.


Verse 7

Esther 7:7 And the king arising from the banquet of wine in his wrath [went] into the palace garden: and Haman stood up to make request for his life to Esther the queen; for he saw that there was evil determined against him by the king.

Ver. 7. And the king arising from the banquet of wine in his wrath] As not able to abide the sight of such a wretch, he flings away in a chafe. This wrath of the king was to Haman a messenger of death; and so he apprehended it, as appears by that which followeth. Ashamed the king was, and vexed, that his favour and power had been so much abused, to the hazarding of the queen’s life, and the taking away of the lives of so many innocents. It troubled him also to consider how he had lost his love upon so unworthy a wretch, and trusted him with his secrets whom now he findeth treacherous, and all for his own ends. This king should first have fallen out with himself for his rashness, and then have said, as Alphonsus, that renowned king, did in a speech to the pope’s ambassadors; he professed that he did not so much wonder at his courtiers’ ingratitude to him, who had raised sundry of them from mean to great estates, as at his own to God. This one consideration would have cooled him better than the repeating of the Greek alphabet, or his taking a turn in the palace garden, before he passed sentence upon the delinquent. Rex amici memor, paulisper cunctatur, deliberandique gratia modicum secessit, saith Severus; that is, the king, mindful of the friendship that had been between him and Haman, maketh a pause, and retireth for a while, that he may deliberate with himself what to do. If these were the reasons, it was a piece of prudence in the king, for anger is known to be an evil counsellor, and as smoke in a man’s eyes hindereth his sight, so doth rash anger the use of reason. Hence wise men have refrained the act when angry. Plutarch telleth of one Architas, that displeased with his servants for their sloth, he flung from them, saying, Valete, quoniam vobis irascor Farewell, for I am angry with you, and may not therefore meddle with you. Vapulares, nisi irascerer, I would pay thee, but that I am displeased at thee, said Plato to a servant of his. And of Alphonsus, king of Arragon, it is reported, that vexed at his cupbearer’s stubbornness, he drew his dagger and ran after him; but before he came at him he threw away his dagger, ne iam prehensum iratus feriret, lest he should catch him and kill him in the heat of his anger (Val. Max. Christ. 1. 5, c. 20). This was better than Saul’s casting a javelin at Jonathan, Alexander’s killing of his friend Clitus and others in his drink, Herod’s commanding the keepers of the prison to execution, Acts 12:19. Whether Ahasuerus went into the garden (as Jonathan took his weapons and went into the field) to divert and mitigate his anger is uncertain. Possibly he might do that to edge and increase it. Of Tiberius it is said, that the more he meditated revenge the more did time and delay sharpen it; and the farther off he threatened, the heavier the stroke fell: Lentus in meditando tristioribus dictis atrocia facta coniungebat (Tacit.). Most certain it is, that Haman got little by the king’s going into the garden; for upon his return he was the more enraged, Nempe impiis omnia ad malum cooperantur, saith Lavater, to the wicked all things work together for the worse.

And Haman stood up to make request for his life] See what a strange turn of things here was all upon the sudden. He that was bowed unto by all men, is now upon his knees before a woman. He that was erst the professed enemy of the Jews, is suppliant to a Jewess. He that had contrived the death of that whole people, is now begging for his own life. He that had provided a gallows for Mordecai, fears nothing more now than that himself shall be hanged on it.

Discite iustitiam moniti, et non temnere sanctos.

Haman hoped that Esther would have interceded for him to the king, but there was little reason for it: a drowning man will catch hold on any twig. Esther knew him too well to befriend him so far. Let him have judgment without mercy, thinks she, who showed no mercy.

Quisquam nec ipsum supplicem,

Quamvis iacentem sublevet. Psal. cix.

Let him lie for me, and die according to his deserts. "A man that doeth violence to the blood of any person shall flee to the pit; let no man stay him," Proverbs 28:17; to mediate for such a one is no mercy; neither is it any alms deed, as we say; for, save a rogue from the gallows, and he will cut your throat if he can, as the proverb hath it, and experience hath confirmed it. Magnentius slew Constans, the emperor, A. D. 337, who had formerly saved his life from the soldiers’ fury. Parry, the traitor, offered the like to Queen Elizabeth, who had pardoned him after that he had been condemned to die for burglary. Michael Balbus slew his master, Leo Armenius, the emperor, that same night that he had pardoned him, and released him out of prison. Those that are habituated and hardened in wickedness will not be mollified or mended by any kindness that is shown them.

For he saw that there was evil determined against him] Vidit quod completum esset malum, rem ad restim rediisse, he perceived himself to be altogether in as ill a condition as Judge Belknap in Richard II’s time, who said there wanted but a hurdle, a horse, and a halter to have him to the place where he might have his due; where he might wear a Tyburn-tippet, as father Latimer afterwards phraseth it.


Verse 8

Esther 7:8 Then the king returned out of the palace garden into the place of the banquet of wine; and Haman was fallen upon the bed whereon Esther [was]. Then said the king, Will he force the queen also before me in the house? As the word went out of the king’s mouth, they covered Haman’s face.

Ver. 8. Then the king returned out of the palace garden] Where he had either increased his choler, and cast on more fuel by plodding, or, as some think, strove to digest it, as horses do by biting on the bit.

Ut fragilis glacies occidit ira mora.

Unto the house of the banquet of wine] Called also by the Hebrew, Bethmittoth, the house of beds, triclinium; because at beds they used to sit, as we do at tables, to eat and drink. See Esther 1:6.

And Haman was fallen upon the bed whereon Esther was] He had stood up before (for he saw the queen took no felicity in his company) to make request for his life, which now was in suspense; here he falls down, either as swooning, or supplicating at the queen’s feet, to beg her favour. But she very well knew that there is both a cruel mercy and a pious cruelty, and that although the sword of justice should be furbished with the oil of mercy, yet there are cases (and this was one) wherein severity ought to cast the scale; when there is no hope of curing, men must fall to cutting, Immedicabile vulnus, &c.

Then said the king, Will he force the queen also] Haman had little mind of any such matter, as being now in the hands of the king of terrors, and ready to be devoured by the firstborn of death, as Bildad hath it, Job 18:13. But the angry king was willing to misinterpret him, and to take all things at the worst. It is an easy matter to find a club for a dog, to pick a quarrel where men intend a mischief. Ahasuerus was not unwilling to misconstrue the posture of Haman’s body, while prostrate, he spread his arms in a vehement imploration up to the queen’s bed. How oft might he have done so, and more, while he was in favour, uncensured? Actions are not the same when the man alters. Men either judge or not judge, as their passions and affections carry them. See this Acts 23:9. Before Paul had reveal himself to be a Pharisee, This man is not worthy to live, said they; but when he had cried out in the council, I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee, oh how finely do they mince the matter! Perhaps an angel hath revealed it to him, &c. Paul was an honest man then.

Impedit ira animum, ne possit cernere verum.

But though the king were unjust in judging thus amiss of Haman, yet God was righteous in measuring to him as he had meted to others, by belying and slandering so many innocents as he had designed to destruction. The devil was, and still is, first a liar, and then a murderer, he cannot murder without slandering first. But God loves to retaliate and proportion device to device, Micah 2:1; Micah 2:3, frowardness to frowardness, Psalms 18:26, spoiling to spoiling, Isaiah 33:1, tribulation to them that trouble his people, 2 Thessalonians 1:6.

As the word went out of the king’s mouth] Either the former words, or else some words of command not here related, such as are Corripite, velate vultum, Take him away, cover his face. And this word was to Haman the messenger of death, driving him from the light into darkness, and chasing him out of the world, Job 18:18. Nay, worse. That Book of Job elegantly sets forth the misery of a wicked man dying, under the notion of one not only driven out of the light by devils, where he shall see nothing but his tormentors, but also made to stand upon snares or gins with iron teeth, ready to strike up and grind him to pieces, having gall poured down to his belly, with an instrument raking in his bowels, and the pains of a travailing woman upon him, and a hideous noise of horror in his ears, and a great giant with a spear running upon his neck, and a flame burning upon him round about, &c., and yet all this to hell itself is but as a prick with a pin, or a flea biting, Job 18:18; Job 20:15; Job 20:24; Job 15:20-21; Job 15:26; Job 15:30.

They covered Haman’s face] In token of his irrevocable condition. See Job 9:24, Isaiah 22:17. The Turks cast a black gown upon such, as they sit at supper with the Great Turk, and presently strangle them. Many of their viziers or greatest favourites die in this sort, which makes them use this proverb, He that is greatest in office is but a statue of glass. Plutarch wittily compareth great men to counters, which now stand for a thousand pounds, and anon for a farthing. - Sic transit gloria mundi. so passes the glory of the world.

Quem dies veniens vidit superbum,

Hunc dies abiens vidit iacentem.

Haman, for instance, and so Sejanus; the same senators who accompanied him to the senate, conducted him to prison; they which sacrificed unto him as to their god, which kneeled down to adore him, scoffed at him, seeing him dragged from the temple to the jail, from supreme honour to extreme ignominy, Ludit in humanis divina potentia rebus (Pertinax Imp. fortunae pila dictus est). One reason why the king flung out of the room, and went into the palace garden, might be because he could not endure the sight of Haman any more. Wherefore upon his return they instantly covered his face. Some say the manner was, that when the king of Persia was most highly offended with any man, his face was immediately covered, to show that he was unworthy to see the sun, whom they counted their god; or to be an eye-sore to the displeased king, Tanquam indignus qui regem oculis usurparet just as great an indignity ro see the king with their eyes. (Drus.). Among the Romans it was, Maiestas laesa si exeunti Proconsuli meretrix non summovetur, high treason for any strumpet to stand in the proconsuls way, whenever he came abroad. The statues of the gods were transported or covered in those places where any punishment was inflicted. That in Cicero and Livy is well known, I lictor colliga manus, caput abnubito, arbori infelici suspendito, Go, hangman, bind his hands, cover his face, hang him on the gallow-tree. This was their condemnatory sentence.


Verse 9

Esther 7:9 And Harbonah, one of the chamberlains, said before the king, Behold also, the gallows fifty cubits high, which Haman had made for Mordecai, who had spoken good for the king, standeth in the house of Haman. Then the king said, Hang him thereon.

Ver. 9. And Harbonah, one of the king’s chamberlains, &c.] See Esther 6:14. {See Trapp on "Esther 6:14"}

Said before the king] Not a man opens his mouth to speak for Haman, but all against him. Had the cause been better, thus it would have been. Every cur is ready to fall upon the dog that he seeth worried; every man ready to pull a branch from the tree that is falling ( δρυος πεσουσης πας ανηρ ξυλευεται). Cromwell had experience of this when once he fell into displeasure, by speaking against the king’s match with Lady Catherine Howard, in defence of Queen Anne, of Cleve, and discharge of his conscience, for the which he suffered death, Stephen Gardiner being the chief engineer. Had Haman’s cause been like his, albeit he had found as few friends to intercede for him as Cromwell, yet he might have died with as much comfort as he did. But he died more like to the Lord Hungerford, of Hatesby, who was beheaded together with the noble Cromwell, but neither so Christianly suffering, nor so quietly dying for his offence committed against nature, viz. buggery. (sodemy?) Cromwell exhorted him to repent, and promised him mercy from God; but his heart was hardened, and so was this wicked Haman’s. God, therefore, justly set off all hearts from him in his greatest necessity; and now, to add to his misery, brings another of his foul sins to light, that he might the more condignly be cut off.

Behold also the gallows, fifty cubits high] See Esther 5:14. This the queen knew not of when she petitioned against Haman. But now they all hear of it, for Haman’s utter confusion.

Which he had prepared for Mordecai] At a time when the king had done him greatest honour, as preserver and near ally by marriage, as now it appeared. This must needs reflect upon the king, and be a reproach to him. Besides, the king looked upon him as one that went about either to throttle the queen (as some understand the words, Esther 7:8), or to ravish her; and this was just upon him, say some interpreters, eo quo aliis virginibus et matronis vini intulisset, because it was common with him to ravish other maids and matrons, and hence the king’s suspicion and charge, whereof before.

Who had spoken good for the king] All is now for Mordecai, but not a word for Haman; the rising sun shall be sure to be adored. And the contrary, Sejanus’s friends showed themselves most passionate against him when once the emperor frowned upon him, saying, that if Caesar had clemency, he ought to reserve it for men, and not use it towards monsters. This is courtiers’ custom, ad quamlibet auram sese inclinare, to shift their sails to the sitting of every wind, to comply with the king which way soever he inclineth. It is better, therefore, to put trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man. It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in princes, Psalms 118:8-9. If Harbonah spake this out in hatred of Haman’s insolence, and in favour of Mordecai’s innocence and loyalty, he deserved commendation. However, God’s holy hand was in it for the good of his people and overthrow of their enemy; and little did this night-sprung-mushroom Haman (that sucked the earth’s fatness from far better plants than himself) take notice till now of the many hands ready to pluck him up by the roots, when the season should serve to clear the land of such weeds.

Standeth in the house of Haman] Or, by the house of Haman, that he might feed his eyes with that delightful sight, and cry out, as Hannibal did when he saw a ditch filled with man’s blood, O iucundum spectaculum, O pleasant spectacle. The story of that king of France is well known, who vowed to see a certain martyr executed; but before that could be done had his eye put out at a joust, whereof not long after also he died. And that of Sir Ralph Ellerker, governor of Calais in King Henry VIII’s time, who, at the death of Adam Damlip, martyr, called to the executioner, saying, Dispatch the knave, have done, I will not away before I see the traitor’s heart out. But shortly after, in a skirmish between the French and us at Bullen, this knight was not only slain among others, but stripped, dismembered, and his heart ripped out, and so left a terrible example, saith Mr Fox, of God’s justice to all bloody and merciless men. "Thou shouldest not have looked," &c., Obadiah 1:12. See the note there.

Then the king said, Hang him thereon] The kings of Persia had absolute and unquestionable power to do whatsoever they wished, Quicquid libuit, licuit. All their subjects, except their queens, were no better than their slaves: whom they would they slew, and whom they would they kept alive; whom they would they set up, and whom they would they put down, Daniel 5:19. Haman is here, without order of law, more than the king’s command, adjudged to be hanged. The truth is, it was a clear case, and the malefactor was self condemned; hang him, therefore, saith the king; a short and just sentence, and soon executed.


Verse 10

Esther 7:10 So they hanged Haman on the gallows that he had prepared for Mordecai. Then was the king’s wrath pacified.

10. So they hanged Haman on the gallows] Heb. tree. Neither hanged they him only to death; but crucified or nailed his dead body to the tree, for greater ignominy. So some gather from Esther 8:5. The Septuagint also render it, So they crucified him. And here hanged the greatness of Haman, who now is fallen from the palace to the gallows, from the highest stage of honour to the lowest stair of disgrace, and lies wrapped up in the sheet of perpetual infamy. "So let all thine enemies perish, O Lord," &c. A like end befell Bonosus, the drunken emperor; Amasis, that insolent king of Egypt; Joan, that libidinous queen of Naples; our Roger Mortimer, that troubler of the realm, hanged at Tyburn; Oliver, that proud prefect, advanced to highest honours and offices by Louis, king of France, but hanged up by his son and successor upon a new and large gallows, set up for the purpose, and not without his desert. High places are not more uneasy than slippery. Even height itself maketh men’s brains to swim, and when they fall they come down with a poise.

That he had prepared for Mordecai] Josephus hath here a very good note: Undo mihi contigit mirari nomen Dei, et sapientiam et iustitiam eius agnoscere, &c., I cannot but admire the Lord’s wisdom, and acknowledge his justice, in that he not only punished him for his malice to the Church, but by turning his own mischief upon himself, hath made him an example to all posterity, hanging him up in gibbets, that others may take warning. The like the Lord did by Adonibezek, Pharaoh, Goliath, Ahithophel, Absalom, Sennacherib, Maxentius, Valerianus, &c.

Quam bene dispositum terris, ut dignus iniqui

Fructus consilii primis authoribus instet, &c.

See those sacred similes to the same sense, Ecclesiastes 10:8-9 Proverbs 26:27 Psalms 7:16, &c., and beware of making a match with mischief, lest ye have your belly full thereof, ος εν αυτω κακα τευχει ανηρ αλλω κακα τευχων (Hesiod). He that conceiveth with guile, shall (though he grow never so big) bring forth nothing but vanity and worse, Job 15:35. As he hath sown the wind, so he shall reap the whirlwind, Hosea 8:6. {See Trapp on "Hosea 8:6"} Diaboli servus et satelles praecipuus erat Haman, Haman was a servant of the devil and an accomplice in particular, saith Rupertus. Haman was a main stickler for the devil, who had paid him accordingly: the wages of sin is death, and it may well be feared that Haman was killed with death, as Jezebel’s children were, Revelation 2:23. Fuit enim homo dinae feritatis planeque αθεος, for he was a most cruel wretch, and a plain atheist. I shall shut up the story of his life as Ambrose doth that of Ahab and Jezebel’s fearful end: Fuge ergo, dives eiusmodi exitum, &c. Tremble at such ends, and be careful to avoid them. Such ends ye shall easily avoid if ye carefully flee such like foul and flagitious practices.

Then was the king’s wrath pacified] Harbonah had helped to kindle it, Esther 7:9, and by executing Haman, whom he had accused, he now helpeth to quench it. For it was not unusual of old, that men of greatest rank and quality should execute malefactors; as Gideon did Zeba and Zalmunnah; as Samuel did Agag; as Benaiah did Adonijah, Joab, and Shimei, by the command of Solomon, Sententiam ocyus dicto exequuntur oculici (Merl.). The holy angels delight in such an office, as at Sodom, and in Sennacherib’s army; and how active shall they be at the last day, but chiefly against such as walk after the flesh in the lust of uncleanness, and despise government, 2 Peter 2:10. So shall God’s wrath be pacified, as once it was at the time when Phineas, the high priest, had done execution upon that unclean couple. The saints have another way of pacifying him, of preventing his judgments, and disarming his indignation; and that is by remembering their sins, and being confounded in his presence, never opening their mouths any more, Ezekiel 16:63, unless it be in a humble confession, which is the Christian’s best apology, as the apostle calleth it, 2 Corinthians 7:11. This will quiet God’s Spirit (as the phrase is, Zechariah 6:8), and cause him to say, as Job 33:24, I have found a reconciliation. Surely, if we judge ourselves, he will not judge us, 1 Corinthians 11:31. God shall be prevented, and the accuser of the brethren put out of office; our Hamans also shall be hanged up before the sun, our sturdy corruptions crucified, and the Lord shall as little repent him of any good he hath done us as Ahasuerus did of gratifying his wife Esther, and kinsman Mordecai; who were now all the doers, seeking the wealth of Israel, and speaking peace to that whole people, as appeareth in the following chapters. As for the king, he never so much as once lamented the loss of Haman, nor said se properantius quam prudentius egisse, that he had been more hasty than wise in doing him to death; but was very well pleased with what he had done; his wrath rested, saith the text, as the sea doth in a calm; it lay and slept, as the word signifieth; for anger is an eager desire of revenge, and rendereth a man restless till that be done, Ira est libido puniendi eius qui videtur laesisse iniuria (Cicero).

 


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Bibliography Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Esther 7:4". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/esther-7.html. 1865-1868.

Lectionary Calendar
Wednesday, August 5th, 2020
the Week of Proper 13 / Ordinary 18
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