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Bible Commentaries

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible
Esther 5

 

 

Verse 1

ESTHER’S RECEPTION AND THE BANQUET, Esther 5:1-8.

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1. On the third day — “The third day must be counted from the day of the transaction between the queen and Mordecai, (iv, 14,) the first day being that on which it took place. The fasting, then, would not begin till midday; and on the third day Esther went to the king to invite him on that day to a banquet, which would surely take place in the forenoon. Thus the three days’ fast would last from the afternoon of the first to the forenoon of the third day — from forty to forty-five hours.” — Keil.

Put on her royal apparel — Literally, put on royalty. She would appear in proper attire on this important occasion.

The inner court of the king’s house — This must have been situated directly in front of the royal audience chamber, or “throne room,” where the monarch was wont to sit when receiving ministers of state, and attending to the business of the empire. The annexed cut presents a restored plan (by Fergusson) of the Great Hall of Xerxes at Persepolis, which corresponds in all its main features with the palace of Shushan. The great central hall has thirty-six columns, and is surrounded on three sides by great porches, each two hundred feet wide by sixty-five feet deep, and each supported by twelve columns. These porches, says Fergusson, “were beyond doubt the great audience halls of the palace, and served the same purpose as the ‘house of the forest of Lebanon’ in Solomon’s palace, though its dimensions were somewhat different — one hundred and fifty feet by seventy-five. These porches were also identical, so far as use and arrangement go, with the throne rooms in the palaces of Delhi and Agra, or those which are used at this day in the palace of Ispahan. The western porch would be appropriate to morning ceremonials, the eastern to those of the afternoon. There was no porch, as we might expect in that climate, to the south, but the principal one, both at Susa and Persepolis, was that which faced the north, with a slight inclination to the east. It was the throne room, par excellence, of the palace, and an inspection of the plan will show how easily, by the arrangement of the stairs, a whole army of courtiers or of tribute bearers could file before the king without confusion or inconvenience.” The inner court, in front of this audience room, was probably so called in contradistinction to an outer court beyond it. These courts communicated with each other by means of the gate of the house, so called from being the main entrance from the north to the vast pile of buildings that constituted the king’s house. Thus as the king sat in this throne room of the northern porch, he could look right down from his elevated position across the inner court, and could see any one who stood there, or approached him by way of the gate, which was over against, or directly opposite, his royal throne.


Verse 3

3. The half of the kingdom — Compare Mark 6:23. Herodotus (ix, 109) relates that Xerxes, having fallen in love with a woman named Artayute, promised and swore to give her whatsoever she might ask of him.


Verse 4

4. The king and Haman — She would have Haman present with the king when she makes her accusation, that he may have no chance to turn the king’s mind from the view of his wicked plot which she proposes to present.

This day unto the banquet that I have prepared — Great was her prudence and caution in not making known her request publicly, and equal wisdom was evinced by having the banquet already prepared, that with the least possible delay she might thoroughly commit the king to her wishes. These measures rendered more probable the desired accomplishment of her plans.


Verse 6

6. At the banquet of wine — This probably followed a banquet of meats. The Persians, says Herodotus, (i, 133,) are very moderate at their meals, but eat of many after dishes, and are much addicted to wine. The king understood, or suspected, that Esther had some petition or request besides the mere coming to her banquet, and so when he began to be “merry with wine,” he again called upon her to make her desire known, and again renewed his pledge.


Verse 8

8. To-morrow — Her heart seems to fail her when the decisive moment comes. She hopes, by another day, to be better prepared to present her case successfully.

As the king hath said — That is, make known the request.


Verse 9

HAMAN’S INDIGNATION AT MORDECAI, Esther 5:9-14.

9. Joyful — At the thought of receiving such honour from the king and queen.

Mordecai… stood not up, nor moved — From this it seems that after Mordecai knew Haman’s wicked plans against the Jews he purposely refused him all signs of respect. His inmost soul despised Haman, and he took no pains to conceal his feeling, but seems rather to have intentionally offended him.

Full of indignation — A cloud suddenly covers his joy. The heart that is exceedingly proud and lifted up is easily offended, and he who “thought scorn to lay hands on Mordecai alone” (Esther 3:6) finds all his honour of no avail from the mere lack of respect shown him by this one man.


Verse 10

10. His friends — His intimate associates and companions — diviners and wise men (Esther 3:7; Esther 6:13) — with whom he met in councils and in festivities.


Verse 11

11. The glory of his riches — That is, the extent and abundance of his riches.

The multitude of his children — His ten sons are mentioned in Esther 9:10, and he had, probably, several grandsons. Herodotus says of the Persians, (i, 136,) “Next to bravery in battle, this is considered the greatest proof of manliness — to be able to exhibit many children; and to such as can exhibit the greatest number the king sends presents every year, for numbers are considered strength.”


Verse 14

14. Let a gallows — Hebrew, a tree, or wood: that is, a lofty beam or post for impalement; not a gallows, or gibbet, in the ordinary sense. Compare Genesis 40:19; Deuteronomy 21:22-23. Hanging with a rope by the neck seems not to have been a Persian mode of punishment, but impalement was common. See note on Esther 2:23. Haman’s wife and friends proposed to make the post of wood for Mordecai’s execution fifty cubits high — seventy-five feet — so as to make his impalement as conspicuous and as ignominious as possible.

 


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Bibliography Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Esther 5:4". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/esther-5.html. 1874-1909.

Lectionary Calendar
Monday, June 1st, 2020
the Week of Proper 4 / Ordinary 9
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