Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Esther 4:11

"All the king's servants and the people of the king's provinces know that for any man or woman who comes to the king to the inner court who is not summoned, he has but one law, that he be put to death, unless the king holds out to him the golden scepter so that he may live. And I have not been summoned to come to the king for these thirty days."
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Scepter (Sceptre);   Thompson Chain Reference - Nation, the;   Sceptres;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Gold;   Medo-Persian Kingdom;  
Dictionaries:
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Sceptre;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Pavilion;   Persia;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Access;   Esther;   Province;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Face;   House;   Sceptre;  
Encyclopedias:
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Sceptre;   The Jewish Encyclopedia - Esther, Apocryphal Book of;  
Devotionals:
Every Day Light - Devotion for July 6;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

Into the inner court - We have already seen that the Persian sovereigns affected the highest degree of majesty, even to the assuming of Divine honors. No man nor woman dared to appear unveiled before them, without hazarding their lives; into the inner chamber of the harem no person ever entered but the king, and the woman he had chosen to call thither. None even of his courtiers or ministers dared to appear there; nor the most beloved of his concubines, except led thither by himself, or ordered to come to him. Here was Esther's difficulty; and that difficulty was now increased by the circumstance of her not having been sent for to the king's bed for thirty days. In the last verse of the preceding chapter we find that the king and Haman sat down to drink. It is very likely that this wicked man had endeavored to draw the king's attention from the queen, that his affection might be lessened, as he must have known something of the relationship between her and Mordecai; and consequently viewed her as a person who, in all probability, might stand much in the way of the accomplishment of his designs. I cannot but think that he had been the cause why Esther had not seen the king for thirty days.

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Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Esther 4:11". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/esther-4.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

The golden scepter - In all the numerous representations of Persian kings at Persepolis the monarch holds a long tapering staff (probably the scepter of Esther) in his right hand. It was death to intrude on the privacy of the Persian king uninvited.

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Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Esther 4:11". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/esther-4.html. 1870.

The Biblical Illustrator

Esther 4:11

But I have not been called to come in unto the king these thirty days.

Providence tries faith

Thus it is that Providence sometimes frowns on the cause of His Church and people, by not only exposing them to imminent danger, but by shutting up all the ordinary avenues of escape, so that there appears no evasion for them. This proves a severe trial to their faith, but affords an opportunity for displaying His own wisdom and mercy in their ultimate deliverance. (T. McCrie.)

The darker aspect, of providence

We have here an illustration of what is not unfrequently observable in the arrangements of the Divine providence--that the affairs of God’s people assume a darker and darker aspect, just before a favourable interposition comes--in order, no doubt, to make the truth more palpable, that it is by His hand that their deliverance, is wrought out, and that therefore they should never distrust Him, nor think that He has forgotten to be gracious. (A. B. Davidson, D. D.)

Access to God without fear

It is indeed with the Great King you have to deal, and life and death are at His disposal; but you may go to Him without fear, if you go with a true heart. There was all the formality of priestly services under the law, between the worshippers and Jehovah, to make them feel that they could not come nigh personally; just as there were functionaries to prevent Esther from coming into the presence of the king, when she merely felt the wish to do so. Now, however, God invites us to come to Him at all times, and what prevents us from having full communion with Him is not our personal unworthiness, but our unbelief. (A. B. Davidson, D. D.)

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Bibliographical Information
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "Esther 4:11". The Biblical Illustrator. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tbi/esther-4.html. 1905-1909. New York.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

All the king's servants and the people of the king's provinces do know,.... Not only the princes and courtiers, but all the king's subjects, the meanest of them; there is scarce a person throughout the whole empire, to whom the following law is not known; this is said, to show how notorious it was:

that whosoever, whether man or woman, shall come unto the king into the inner court, who is not called, there is one law of his to put him to death; according to the former Targum, Human got this law to be made now, to prevent any application to the king about this affair; but then it would not have been so universally known as before declared; and it appears that there was such a law among the Medes, made by Dejoces, that none should go into the king's presence, but all should be done by messengersF2Herodot. Clio, sive, l. 1. c. 99. ; and this was altered among the Persians, for the seven princes that slew Smerdis made an agreement, that whoever of them was chosen king, the rest should have the liberty of going unto him when they pleased, without a messenger to introduce themF3Herodot. Thalia, sive, l. 3. c. 84. ; it seems by this account it was death to go into the inner parlour, where the king usually was, without leave, or being called; this was made both for the king's safety, and for awe and reverence of his majesty, and to prevent any insinuations into him by ill-designing persons:

except such to whom the king shall hold out the golden sceptre, that he may live; which, whether he would or not, was very precarious; so that a person ran a great risk to go in uncalled:

but I have not been called to go in unto the king these thirty days; which looked as if the king had not that fond affection for her he formerly had; and therefore there was greater danger in going in to him uncalled, and the less hope of success.

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The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855
Bibliographical Information
Gill, John. "Commentary on Esther 4:11". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/esther-4.html. 1999.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

whosoever, whether man or woman, shall come unto the king into the inner court, who is not called — The Persian kings surrounded themselves with an almost impassable circle of forms. The law alluded to was first enacted by Deioces, king of Media, and afterwards, when the empires were united, adopted by the Persians, that all business should be transacted and petitions transmitted to the king through his ministers. Although the restriction was not intended, of course, to apply to the queen, yet from the strict and inflexible character of the Persian laws and the extreme desire to exalt the majesty of the sovereign, even his favorite wife had not the privilege of entree, except by special favor and indulgence. Esther was suffering from the severity of this law; and as, from not being admitted for a whole month to the king‘s presence, she had reason to fear that the royal affections had become alienated from her, she had little hope of serving her country‘s cause in this awful emergency.

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This expanded edition of the Jameison-Faussett-Brown Commentary is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.
Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Esther 4:11". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/esther-4.html. 1871-8.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

All the king's servants, and the people of the king's provinces, do know, that whosoever, whether man or woman, shall come unto the king into the inner court, who is not called, there is one law of his to put him to death, except such to whom the king shall hold out the golden sceptre, that he may live: but I have not been called to come in unto the king these thirty days.

Inner court — Within which, the king's residence and throne was.

Not called — This was decreed, to maintain both the majesty, and the safety of the king's person; and by the contrivance of the greater officers of state, that few or none might have access to the king but themselves and their friends.

I have not been called, … — Which gives me just cause to fear that the king's affections are alienated from me, and that neither my person nor petition will be acceptable to him.

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These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.
Bibliographical Information
Wesley, John. "Commentary on Esther 4:11". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/esther-4.html. 1765.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Esther 4:11 All the king’s servants, and the people of the king’s provinces, do know, that whosoever, whether man or woman, shall come unto the king into the inner court, who is not called, [there is] one law of his to put [him] to death, except such to whom the king shall hold out the golden sceptre, that he may live: but I have not been called to come in unto the king these thirty days.

Ver. 11. All the king’s servants] His courtiers and counsellors, who haply were as very slaves to him, as now the greatest lords of the court are to the Great Turk; no man having any power over himself, much less is be master of the house wherein he dwelleth, or of the land which he tilleth, but is in danger of being whipped upon the least displeasure of the tyrant, especially if he be not a natural Turk born.

And the people of the king’s provinces, do know] i.e. All, both far and near: this shows that the law here mentioned was no new law procured by Haman, to prevent Jewish suppliants, as Lyra would have it, but long since made, and known to all the king’s subjects.

That whosoever, whether man or woman] Yea, though she be his dearest consort, who should cohabit with him, and not be sundered for a season but by consent, 1 Corinthians 7:5.

Shall come unto the king] The Persians usually hid their king, tanquam aliquod sacrum mysterium, as some precious business, and that for two reasons. First, for state and authority, lest familiarity with their subjects should breed contempt, and make them too cheap. Philip II, King of Spain, was of the same mind and practice. For, after that he had gotten into his hands the kingdom of Portugal, and therewith the wealth of the Indies, inclusit se in Curiali, he shut up and immured himself in his court, and was seldom seen of any, though never so great a man, but upon long suit, and as a singular favour. This made him to be adored as a demi-god. Secondly, for security and safety, lest, if all should be suffered to come that would, the king should be assassinated and made away, as Eglon was by Ehud; Ishbosheth, by Baanah and Rechab; Gedaliah, by Ishmael; and many kings of Israel and emperors of Rome were by their own servants. The Turks at this day allow no stranger to come into the presence of their emperor, but first they search him that he have no weapon; and so, clasping him by the arms, under colour of doing him honour, dissemblingly they bereave him of the use of his hands, lest he should offer him any violence; yet hath he alway, as he sitteth in his throne, lying at hand ready by him, a target, a scimitar, an iron mace, with bow and arrows.

- Sors ista tyrannis

Muniti ut gladiis vivant, cinctique venenis.

How much better Agesilaus, king of Spartans, who walked daily among his subjects, doing justice, and is, therefore, by Xenophon worthily preferred before this stately king of Persia! How much better Queen Elizabeth, who often showed herself to her people, and cheerfully received bouquets, flowers, rosemary, from lowly persons. She got the heart of her subjects (which Philip of Spain, her stately contemporary, never could do), by coupling mildness with majesty, and stooping, yet in a stately manner, to those of low condition. So reserved she was, that all about her stood in a reverent awe of her very presence and aspect, but much more of her least frown or check; wherewith some of them, who thought they might presume of her favour, have been so suddenly daunted and planet-stricken, {to strike as a malignant influence, to blast} that they could not lay down the grief thereof but in their graves (Speed, 1235).

There is one law of his] A wretched law it was, written not with black, but with blood, and condemned by very heathens for barbarous and pernicious to the public. For if the king may not be come at, but upon pain of death, what shall become of the poor oppressed? and how shall he ever hear of the rapines and other miscarriages of his favourites and junior officers, by whom he shall be even bought and sold, and himself never the wiser, as Aurelian, the emperor, complained. Orpheus, that oldest of poets, feigneth, that Litae (or petitions) are Jove’s daughters, and ever conversant about his throne. David heard the woman of Tekoa; Solomon the two harlots; and King Joram the affamished woman that called to him for justice with, Help, O king; Philip, of Macedon, righted the old wife that checked him for his neglect of her; and Trajan, the widow that would not be put off till another time (Plutarch). This was king-like; his office is to judge the people with righteousness, and the poor with judgment. He shall judge the poor of the people … and break in pieces the oppressor, Psalms 72:2; Psalms 72:4.

To put him to death] Yανατος η ζημια (Athenaeus). No such danger in approaching God’s presence: he soliciteth suitors, and seeketh such as may come before him, John 4:23. This was anciently figured by the door of the tabernacle, not made of any hard or debarring matter, but of a veil easily penetrable; which also now is rent, to show our easy access to him, who heareth prayers, and willeth that all flesh come unto him, lifting up in all places pure hands, without wrath, and without doubting, Psalms 65:2, 1 Timothy 2:8.

Except such to whom the king shall hold out the golden sceptre] In token that he called for them. Thus whom he would he slew, and whom he would he kept alive, as Daniel 5:19. But Esther should (as afterwards she did) have trusted God with her life; and with a Roman resolution have said, Necesse est ut eam, non ut vivam: It is necessary that I venture, not that I live. That she was fearful when her life lay upon it, we may impute to the weakness of her sex, or rather of her faith; against which sense fights sore when it is upon its own dunghill; I mean, in a sensible danger. Nature’s retraction of itself, from a visible fear, may cause the pulse of a Christian, that beats truly and strongly in the main point (the state of the soul), to intermit and falter at such a time. Abraham showed some trepidation, and Peter much more.

But I have not been called to come in to the king these thirty days] There was hot love the while; his concubines, perhaps, had engrossed him. Doves are said to draw the chariot of Venus; and those neither change their mates nor forsake their company. Haman was all the doer now about the king, as our King Richard II’s favourites, knights of Venus rather than Bellona, saith the chronicler, conversing with the king, not without suspicion of foul familiarity, as Walsingham writeth. Sodomitica labe infecti fere omnes, saith another (Speed. 746).

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Bibliographical Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Esther 4:11". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/esther-4.html. 1865-1868.

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

Esther 4:11. Whosoever, whether man or woman, shall come unto the king Ever since the reign of Dejoces king of Media, Herodotus informs us, for the preservation of royal majesty, it was enacted, that no one should be admitted into the king's presence; but that if he had any business with him, he should transact it through the medium of his ministers. The custom passed from the Medes to the Persians; and therefore we find in the same historian, lib. 3: that after the seven princes had killed the magician who had usurped the throne, they came to this agreement, that whoever should be elected king should allow the others to have at all times a ready access to his presence (which is an implication that they had it not before), except only when he was in company with any of his wives. This, therefore, was the ancient law of the country, and not procured by Haman, as some imagine: though it cannot be denied that the reason at first might be, not only the preservation of the king's person, but a contrivance likewise of the great officers of state, that they might engross the king to themselves, by allowing admittance to none but whom they should think proper to introduce. See Le Clerc.

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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Esther 4:11". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tcc/esther-4.html. 1801-1803.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

The king’s servants and the people do know, by common fame, of this received custom and law.

Into the inner court, within which the king’s residence and throne was.

There is one law of his to put him to death: this was decreed, partly to maintain both the majesty and the safety of the king’s person; and partly by the contrivance of the greater officers of state, that few or none might have access to the king but themselves and their friends. And many such severe laws there were in the Persian court, which profane historians relate, as that if any person looked upon one of the king’s concubines, or wore any of his own clothes, or drink of that water which he had appropriated to himself; and other such-like things, he was punished with death.

I have not been called to come in unto the king these thirty days; which gives me just cause to suspect and fear that the king’s affections are alienated from me, and therefore that neither my person nor petition will be acceptable to him.

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Esther 4:11". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/esther-4.html. 1685.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

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.

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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Esther 4:11". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/esther-4.html. 1874-1909.

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

Esther 4:11. Whosoever shall come into the inner court — Within which the king’s residence and throne were; who is not called — This was decreed to maintain both the majesty and the safety of the king’s person; and by the contrivance of the greater officers of state, that few or none might have access to the king but themselves and their friends. I have not been called, &c. — Which gives me just cause to fear that the king’s affections are alienated from me, and that neither my person nor petition will be acceptable to him.

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Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Esther 4:11". Joseph Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/esther-4.html. 1857.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Inner court, with regard to many others around, though there was one still more retired, (Tirinus) where the king alone could enter. This admitted the light only by the door, before which hung a curtain, so that the king could see (Calmet) who came into the hall of audience, (Haydock) without being seen. None durst come even to this antichamber, without being called. It was also death to appear with their hands out of their sleeves, (Cyrop. ii.) or to sit down, (Diod. xvii.) or look at any of the king's wives in the face, &c. (Plut. Artax.) --- This gloomy retirement was intended to keep up the idea of his majesty being something more than man. (Haydock) --- Apud Persas persona regis, sub specie majestatis, occulitur. (Justin. i.) --- The king's secret cabinet (Calmet) resembled, in magnificence (chap. xv. 9.) the description which Ovid has given us of the palace of the sun. (Tirinus) --- It was covered with gold and precious stones. Here he continued, almost inaccessible, and business was despatched slowly. (Calmet) --- Agesilaus, king of Sparta, shewed how ridiculous these customs were, by acting quite the reverse, appearing frequently among his subjects, and granting their just requests without delay. (Xenophon) --- Thirty. She might apprehend that the king's affection was beginning to cool. God was pleased thus to try her the more. (Haydock)

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Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Esther 4:11". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/esther-4.html. 1859.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

law = Imperial decree. Hebrew. dath. See note on Esther 1:8.

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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Esther 4:11". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/esther-4.html. 1909-1922.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

All the king's servants, and the people of the king's provinces, do know, that whosoever, whether man or woman, shall come unto the king into the inner court, who is not called, there is one law of his to put him to death, except such to whom the king shall hold out the golden sceptre, that he may live: but I have not been called to come in unto the king these thirty days.

Whosoever, whether man or woman, shall come unto the king into the inner court, who is not called. The Persian kings surrounded themselves with an almost impassable circle of forms. The law alluded to was first enacted by Deioces, king of Media, and afterward, when the empires were united, adopted by the Persians, that all business should be transacted and petitions transmitted to the king through his ministers; and although the restriction was not intended, of course, to apply to the queen, yet from the strict and inflexible character of the Persian laws, and the extreme desire to exalt the majesty of the sovereign, even his favourite wife had not the privilege of entree except by special favour and indulgence. Esther was suffering from the severity of this law; and as, from not being admitted for a whole month to the king's presence, she had reason to fear that the royal affections had become alienated from her, she had little hope of serving her country's cause in this awful emergency.

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Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Esther 4:11". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/esther-4.html. 1871-8.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(11) There is one law of his . . .—Literally, one is his law, that is, there is one unvarying rule for such. No one who had not been summoned might enter the king’s presence under pain of death.

The golden sceptre—We are told that in the representations of Persian kings at Persepolis, in every case the monarch holds a long staff or sceptre in his right hand. How forcibly, after reading this verse, the contrast strikes us between the self-styled king of kings, to enter into whose presence even as a suppliant for help and protection was to risk death, and the King of Kings, who has Himself instructed man to say, “Let us go into His tabernacle and fall low on our knees before His footstool.”

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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Esther 4:11". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/esther-4.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

All the king's servants, and the people of the king's provinces, do know, that whosoever, whether man or woman, shall come unto the king into the inner court, who is not called, there is one law of his to put him to death, except such to whom the king shall hold out the golden sceptre, that he may live: but I have not been called to come in unto the king these thirty days.
shall come
Herodotus informs us, that ever since the reign of Deioces, king of Media, for the security of the king's person, it was enacted that no one should be admitted into his presence; but that if any one had business with him, he should transact it through the medium of his ministers.
the inner court
5:1
one law
Daniel 2:9
the king shall
5:2; 8:4
the golden sceptre
That the kings of Persia carried a golden sceptre, we have the following proof in Xenophon: [Hoti ou tode to chrysoun skeptron to men basileian diasozon estin, all hoi pistoi philoi skeptron basileusin alethestaton kai asphalestaton.] "It is not (said Cyrus to his son Cambyses) the golden sceptre that saves the kingdom; but faithful friends are the truest and best sceptre of the kingdom."
but I
1:19; 2:14; 1 Peter 3:7
Reciprocal: Genesis 18:30 - General1 Chronicles 21:13 - I am in;  Nehemiah 2:20 - memorial;  Esther 6:4 - the outward;  Job 31:34 - that I;  Mark 8:35 - will save

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Esther 4:11". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/esther-4.html.