Esther 1

1 This happened in the days of Ahasuerus, the same Ahasuerus who ruled over one hundred twenty-seven provinces from India to Ethiopia. [a]
2 In those days when King Ahasuerus sat on his royal throne in the citadel of Susa,
3 in the third year of his reign, he gave a banquet for all his officials and ministers. The army of Persia and Media and the nobles and governors of the provinces were present,
4 while he displayed the great wealth of his kingdom and the splendor and pomp of his majesty for many days, one hundred eighty days in all.
5 When these days were completed, the king gave for all the people present in the citadel of Susa, both great and small, a banquet lasting for seven days, in the court of the garden of the king's palace.
6 There were white cotton curtains and blue hangings tied with cords of fine linen and purple to silver rings [b] and marble pillars. There were couches of gold and silver on a mosaic pavement of porphyry, marble, mother-of-pearl, and colored stones.
7 Drinks were served in golden goblets, goblets of different kinds, and the royal wine was lavished according to the bounty of the king.
8 Drinking was by flagons, without restraint; for the king had given orders to all the officials of his palace to do as each one desired.
9 Furthermore, Queen Vashti gave a banquet for the women in the palace of King Ahasuerus.
10 On the seventh day, when the king was merry with wine, he commanded Mehuman, Biztha, Harbona, Bigtha and Abagtha, Zethar and Carkas, the seven eunuchs who attended him,
11 to bring Queen Vashti before the king, wearing the royal crown, in order to show the peoples and the officials her beauty; for she was fair to behold.
12 But Queen Vashti refused to come at the king's command conveyed by the eunuchs. At this the king was enraged, and his anger burned within him.
13 Then the king consulted the sages who knew the laws [c] (for this was the king's procedure toward all who were versed in law and custom,
14 and those next to him were Carshena, Shethar, Admatha, Tarshish, Meres, Marsena, and Memucan, the seven officials of Persia and Media, who had access to the king, and sat first in the kingdom):
15 "According to the law, what is to be done to Queen Vashti because she has not performed the command of King Ahasuerus conveyed by the eunuchs?"
16 Then Memucan said in the presence of the king and the officials, "Not only has Queen Vashti done wrong to the king, but also to all the officials and all the peoples who are in all the provinces of King Ahasuerus.
17 For this deed of the queen will be made known to all women, causing them to look with contempt on their husbands, since they will say, "King Ahasuerus commanded Queen Vashti to be brought before him, and she did not come.'
18 This very day the noble ladies of Persia and Media who have heard of the queen's behavior will rebel against [d] the king's officials, and there will be no end of contempt and wrath!
19 If it pleases the king, let a royal order go out from him, and let it be written among the laws of the Persians and the Medes so that it may not be altered, that Vashti is never again to come before King Ahasuerus; and let the king give her royal position to another who is better than she.
20 So when the decree made by the king is proclaimed throughout all his kingdom, vast as it is, all women will give honor to their husbands, high and low alike."
21 This advice pleased the king and the officials, and the king did as Memucan proposed;
22 he sent letters to all the royal provinces, to every province in its own script and to every people in its own language, declaring that every man should be master in his own house. [e]

Esther 1 Commentary

Chapter 1

We find in this book, that even those Jews who were scattered in the province of the heathen, were taken care of, and were wonderfully preserved, when threatened with destruction. Though the name of God be not in this book, the finger of God is shown by minute events for the bringing about his people's deliverance. This history comes in between (Ezra 6 and Ezra 7 ) .

The royal feast of Ahasuerus. (1-9) Vashti's refusal to appear, The king's decree. (10-22)

Verses 1-9 The pride of Ahasuerus's heart rising with the grandeur of his kingdom, he made an extravagant feast. This was vain glory. Better is a dinner of herbs with quietness, than this banquet of wine, with all the noise and tumult that must have attended it. But except grace prevails in the heart, self-exaltation and self-indulgence, in one form or another, will be the ruling principle. Yet none did compel; so that if any drank to excess, it was their own fault. This caution of a heathen prince, even when he would show his generosity, may shame many called Christians, who, under pretence of sending the health round, send sin round, and death with it. There is a woe to them that do so; let them read it, and tremble, ( habakkuk 2:15 habakkuk 2:16 ) .

Verses 10-22 Ahasuerus's feast ended in heaviness, by his own folly. Seasons of peculiar festivity often end in vexation. Superiors should be careful not to command what may reasonably be disobeyed. But when wine is in, men's reason departs from them. He that had rule over 127 provinces, had no rule over his own spirit. But whether the passion or the policy of the king was served by this decree, God's providence made way for Esther to the crown, and defeated Haman's wicked project, even before it had entered into his heart, and he arrived at his power. Let us rejoice that the Lord reigns, and will overrule the madness or folly of mankind to promote his own glory, and the safety and happiness of his people.

Footnotes 5

  • [a]. Or [Nubia]; Heb [Cush]
  • [b]. Or [rods]
  • [c]. Cn: Heb [times]
  • [d]. Cn: Heb [will tell]
  • [e]. Heb adds [and speak according to the language of his people]

Chapter Summary

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.

Esther 1 Commentaries