Introduction

\\INTRODUCTION TO THE BOOK OF ESTHER\\

This book has its name from the person who is the principal subject
of it; it is by Clemens of Alexandria {a} called the Book of Mordecai
also; it is commonly called, in the Hebrew copies, "Megillah Esther",
the Volume of Esther; and sometimes in the Jewish writings only
"Megillah", by way of eminency, "the Volume". It was written,
according to the Talmudists {b}, by the men of the great synagogue,
composed by Ezra; and some think it was written by Ezra himself {c};
but Aben Ezra is of opinion it was written by Mordecai, since he was
concerned in, and had perfect knowledge of, all things related in it;
which is rejected by Spinosa {d}, who conceits that this, and the
books of Daniel, Ezra, and Nehemiah, were written by one and the same
historian long after the times of Judas Maccabaeus: as to the
canonical authority of it, it has been generally received by Jews and
Christians; our wise men, says Maimonides {e}, openly and plainly
affirm of the book of Esther, that it was dictated by the Holy
Spirit; so Aben Ezra on \\#Es 6:6\\, and he himself {f} affirms, that

``all the books of the prophets, and all the Hagiographa (or
holy writings), shall cease in the days of the Messiah,
except the volume of Esther; and, lo, that shall be as stable
as the Pentateuch, and as the constitutions of the oral law,
which shall never cease.''

Though the versions of other books of Scripture might not be read in
the synagogues, versions of this book might to those who did not
understand Hebrew {g}; and so Luther {h} says, the Jews more esteem the
book of Esther than any of the prophets. Whence Mr. Baxter {i} had that
notion, I can not devise, that the Jews used to cast to the ground the
book of Esther before they read it, because the name of God was not in
it: nor is that any objection to its authenticity, since the hand and
providence of God may be most clearly seen in it; in raising Esther to
such grandeur, and that for the deliverance of the people of the Jews,
and in counter working and bringing to nought the plots of their
enemies, and in saving them: nor that it is not quoted in the New
Testament; it is sufficient there is no disagreement between them, yea,
an entire agreement, particularly in the account of the captivity of
Jeconiah, which is expressed almost in the same words in \\#Es 2:6\\ as in
\\#Mt 1:11,12\\. It stands in Origen's catalogue {k} of the books of the
Old Testament; nor is it any material objection that it appears not in
the catalogue of Melito {l}, since in that list is comprehended under
Ezra not Nehemiah only, but Esther also, which Jerom {m} mentions along
with it. This book is not only of use to the Jews, as it shows the
original and foundation of a feast of theirs, still kept up by them,
the feast of Purim, and makes for the glory of their nation, and
therefore it is no wonder it should be so highly esteemed by them; but
serves to show the singular providence of God in taking care of his
people in adversity, in humbling the proud, and exalting the lowly, and
saving those that pray to him, and trust in him; it furnishes out
various instructions in the conduct of the several persons herein
mentioned; it is a history but of ten or eleven years at most, from the
third of Ahasuerus, to the twelfth of his reign, \\#Es 1:3 3:7\\.

{a} Stromat. l. 1. p. 329.
{b} T. Bava Bathra, fol. 15. 1.
{c} August. de Civ. Dei, l. 18. c. 36. Isidor. Origin. l. 6. c. 2.
{d} Tract. Theolog. Politic. c. 10. p. 189
{e} Moreh Nevochim, par. 2. c. 45.
{f} Hilchot Megillah, c. 2. sect. 18.
{g} Misn. Megillah, c. 2. sect. 1. T. Bab. Megillah, fol. 18. 1.
{h} Mensal. Colloqu. c. 31. p. 358.
{i} The Saints Everlasting Rest, part 4. c. 3. sect. 1.
{k} Apud Euseb. Eccl. Hist. l. 6. c. 25.
{l} Apud ib. l. 4. c. 26.
{m} Ad Domnion. & Rogat. tom. 3. fol. 7. F.

\\INTRODUCTION TO ESTHER 1\\

This chapter relates, how that Ahasuerus, a great king of Persia,
made a feast, first for the grandees of his kingdom, and then for his
people, as his queen did for the women, \\#Es 1:1-9\\, who being sent
for by him, and she refusing to come, was, by the advice of one of
his counsellors, divorced from him, and an order made and published
throughout his dominions, that every man should bear rule in his own
house, \\#Es 1:10-22\\.