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Bible Commentaries

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible
Esther 8

 

 

Verse 1

MORDECAI’S PROMOTION, AND EDICT IN BEHALF OF THE JEWS, Esther 8:1-17.

1. On that day — The very day of Haman’s execution.

Give the house of Haman — By “the house of Haman” we are to understand not merely his residence, but all his property, including servants, attendants, and the various paraphernalia that pertained to a Persian noble. The confiscation of the property of one publicly executed followed as a matter of course. This was a universal custom in the East. And to whom could the goods of the Jews’ enemy be more appropriately transferred than unto Esther the queen? As yet the king did not know her relationship to Mordecai, but we naturally suppose that upon his giving her the house of Haman she made known to him that Mordecai was her cousin, and doubtless received his consent to consign her gift to his charge. See next verse.

Mordecai came before the king — He was summoned by the king himself, who at once resolved to advance him to Haman’s place in his court. Mordecai’s loyalty and past service were fresh in the king’s mind, and now when he learns his relationship to Esther, he feels that no better man can be found to stand in Haman’s place.


Verse 2

2. Took off his ring — See note on Esther 3:10.

Which he had taken from Haman — When Haman was led forth to execution he was, of course, stripped of all seals and emblems of his office and authority, and all such insignia returned to the king.

Gave it unto Mordecai — Thus transferring to a Jew the authority and emoluments lately enjoyed by the Agagite. It was no strange thing for eastern kings thus to honour foreigners.

And Esther set Mordecai — She felt she could make no better disposal of her present than to give it to the keeping and use of her venerated relative and friend.


Verse 3

3. Esther spake yet again — This was evidently on a subsequent day, and, as appears from the next verse, she again presented herself in the royal presence unsummoned, trusting to the favour of the king.

Fell down at his feet — Her manner now showed more anxiety and feeling than when she appeared the first time in the court. Compare Esther 5:1-2.

Besought him with tears — Literally, wept and made supplication to him. Before, she invited him to a private banquet to make her petition; now she makes it known publicly, and with crying and tears.

The mischief of Haman — The wicked devices of that enemy had not perished with his death. The decree for the destruction of the Jews remained still.


Verse 4

4. Held out the golden sceptre — We understand that the queen first came and fell weeping before the king, but said nothing until he held out the sceptre. Then she arose, and stood before him, and made the request of which a mere summary is given in the preceding verse. The language of her address is given in the two following verses.


Verse 5

5. And said — We do well to present Esther’s address here, as at Esther 7:3, in poetical form: —

If to the king it seem good,

And if I have found favour before him,

And the thing seem right before the king,

And I be good in his eyes,

Let it be written to return the letters,

The device of Haman, the son of Hammedatha, the Agagite,

Which he wrote to destroy the Jews,

Who are in all the provinces of the king.

For how can I see the evil that will find my people?

And how can I see the destruction of my kindred?

Perhaps Esther was not sufficiently acquainted with Persian law to know that no royal decree could be reversed.


Verse 7

7. Behold, I have given — The king, first of all, assures Esther and Mordecai of his kindly feeling towards the Jews, and points to the proofs of it. He felt, no doubt, that he was to blame for consenting to such a cruel edict, and now would convince Esther and her cousin that it sprang from no personal feelings of his own against the Jews.


Verse 8

8. Write ye… as it liketh you — He commits to them the task of devising some counter measure that will protect their people, and excuses himself from further action on the ground of the immutability of Persian law. No edict, however hasty and foolish, can be recalled, but there may be a most fearful conflict of laws. See note on Esther 1:19.


Verse 9

9. The third month… Sivan — Corresponding with our June: about two months after Haman’s letters had been sent.

It was written according to all that Mordecai commanded — How signally has Mordecai risen to the power so recently wielded against himself and his kindred. Compare the language of Esther 3:12.

Deputies — Prefects or governors.


Verse 10

10. Posts on horseback — See notes on Esther 1:22; Esther 3:13.

Riders on mules — Rather, on swift coursers. See note on 1 Kings 4:28. The word is here a collective.

Camels — The word אחשׁתרנים is of Persian origin, and means royal, or pertaining to the government. The most probable meaning is royal steeds. The word occurs only here and in Esther 8:14.

Young dromedaries — Hebrews sons of the rammachim. The word רמכים is found only here, and is of doubtful meaning. According to Gesenius and Furst, it means mares. But, as it has the masculine termination, others understand it to mean stallions. Rawlinson gives it the more general sense of highbred steeds. Perhaps the best version of all the words would be, riders of the swift coursers, the royal steeds, offspring of the thoroughbreds.


Verse 11

11. The king granted the Jews… to stand for their life — But would not the Jews have defended themselves without any such order from the king? They could expect nothing but death at the worst, and every human instinct would have prompted them to have fought with all energy for their lives and their families. True; but without special grant from the king they would not have been allowed to arm and prepare themselves for self-defence at all. Any movement looking to a general preparation to stand on the defensive would have been watched by the rulers of the provinces, and crushed at its very inception as an act of treason. A spasmodic defence with empty hands would have accomplished nothing; but the king’s decree gave the Jews authority to arm themselves with the sword. Esther 9:5. Observe, the Jews were not authorized by this second edict to take the offensive, and destroy whom they would, but only to defend themselves when any would assault them. There would be no slaughter at all if their enemies did not first attack the Jews. This again obviates the objection often urged against the credibility of this history, that no king would have authorized such a civil war throughout all his dominions. The probability was, that when the Jews were thus permitted to arm themselves and stand on the defensive, there would be no conflict at all. But the result showed that so bitter was the hatred of the heathen towards the Jews, that in many parts of the empire they endeavoured, in spite of all the danger, to destroy the Jewish population. The result was the slaughter of seventy-five thousand men, (Esther 9:16,) besides those that fell in Shushan. All arguments based on an assumption of what ordinary rulers would have done or would not have done are futile and foolish when dealing with such a king as Xerxes.

Little ones and women — These would hardly be expected to assault the Jews, but Mordecai would make his letters as broad and comprehensive as those of Haman. Compare Esther 3:13. This clause authorized the Jews to carry their vengeance to the wives and children of those who assaulted them, for their enemies would not spare the Jewish wife and child.


Verse 14

14. That rode upon mules and camels — Rather, riders of the swift coursers, the royal steeds. See note on Esther 8:10.

Being hastened — Though there were eight months yet before the month of Adar, it was important that this counter decree should be published throughout the empire as speedily as possible. Thus the enemies would be duly admonished not to attempt any assault, and the Jews would have time to prepare themselves for self-defence.


Verse 15

15. Mordecai went out from… the king — This verse relates back to Esther 8:1-2. Mordecai had been summoned into the royal presence, and there promoted to the high office made vacant by the fall of Haman.

Having been invested with the insignia of office, and clothed with authority as chief minister, he went forth to attend to the duties of his new position.

Royal apparel of blue and white — State garments, such as became the grand vizier; royal robes of royal colours. Compare note on Esther 1:6.

A great crown of gold — The word here rendered crown is עשׂרה, atarah, a coronet. Only a very exalted prince or courtier could go thus adorned. When Mordecai was honoured for his loyal service to the king, the horse on which he rode was decked with a royal crown. Note on Esther 6:7. Now Mordecai himself is made to wear a coronet.

A garment of fine linen — Or, a mantle of byssus.

Shushan rejoiced — As it had been previously “perplexed” and saddened. See Esther 3:15, note. It was now felt by the great majority of the people that a most wicked and pernicious edict was virtually frustrated.


Verse 16

16. The Jews had light — The light ( אורה) of hope and salvation broke in upon their dark prospects, filling them with gladness and joy, and securing them honour and respect from many of the heathen.


Verse 17

17. Many… became Jews — Divine Providence had so signally interposed that all thoughtful minds were profoundly impressed, and not a few became proselytes, and embraced Judaism as the true religion. Some of these proselytes may, perhaps, have been influenced more by the “fear of Mordecai,” (Esther 9:3,) than by profound religious convictions; but that a general fear of the Jews fell upon them is clearly stated. Many might naturally have feared that if they remained only ostensibly enemies of the Jews, the vengeance of the latter would be likely to come upon them. And so they thought to secure themselves by professing Judaism.

 


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Bibliography Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Esther 8:4". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/esther-8.html. 1874-1909.

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