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Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary


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was the son of Jair, of the race of Saul, and a chief of the tribe of Benjamin. He was carried captive, to Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar, with Jehoiachin, or Jeconiah, king of Judah, A.M. 3405, Esther 2:5-6 . He settled at Shushan, and there lived to the first year of Cyrus, when it is thought he returned to Jerusalem, with several other captives; but he afterward returned to Shushan. There is great probability that Mordecai was very young when taken into captivity. The book of Esther gives the whole history of Mordecai's elevation, the punishment of Haman, and the wonderful deliverance of the Jews, in clear and regular narrative. But it may be asked, For what reason did Mordecai refuse to pay that respect to Haman, the neglect of which incensed him against the Jews? Esther 3:1-6 . Some think the reason was, because Haman was an Amalekite; a people whom the Israelites had been commissioned from God to destroy, because of the injuries they had formerly done them, Deuteronomy 25:17-19 . But this scarcely seems to be a sufficient account of Mordecai's refusing civil respect to Haman, who was first minister of state; especially when by so doing he exposed his whole nation to imminent danger. Beside, if nothing but civil respect had been intended to Haman, the king need not have enjoined it on his servants after he had made him his first minister and chief favourite, Esther 3:1-2 ; they would have been ready enough to show it on all occasions. Probably, therefore, the reverence ordered to be done to this great man was a kind of divine honour, such as was sometimes addressed to the Persian monarchs themselves; which, being a species of idolatry, Mordecai refused for the sake of a good conscience. And perhaps it was because Haman knew that his refusal was the result of his Jewish principles, that he determined to attempt the destruction of the Jews in general, knowing they were all of the same mind. As to another question, why Haman cast lots, in order to fix the day for the massacre of the Jews, Esther 3:7 ; from whence the feast of purim, which is a Persia word, and signifies lots, took its name, Esther 9:26 ; it was no doubt owing to the superstitious conceit which anciently prevailed, of some days being more fortunate than others for any undertaking; in short, he endeavoured to find out, by this way of divining, what month, or what day of the month, was most unfortunate to the Jews, and most fortunate for the success of his bloody design against them. It is very remarkable, that while Haman sought for direction in this affair from the Persian idols, the God of Israel so overruled the lot as to fix the intended massacre to almost a year's distance, from Nisan the first month to Adar the last of the year, in order to give time and opportunity to Mordecai and Esther to defeat the conspiracy.

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Bibliography Information
Watson, Richard. Entry for 'Mordecai'. Richard Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary. 1831-2.

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