Esther 1

1 Now it came to pass in the days of Ahasuerus (this is Ahasuerus who reigned from India even unto Ethiopia, over a hundred and seven and twenty provinces),
2 that in those days when the King Ahasuerus sat on the throne of his kingdom, which was in the palace in Shushan,
3 in the third year of his reign he made a feast unto all his princes and his servants. The power of Persia and Media, the nobles and princes of the provinces being before him,
4 he showed the riches of his glorious kingdom and the honor of his excellent majesty many days, even a hundred and fourscore days.
5 And when these days had passed, the king made a feast unto all the people who were present in the palace at Shushan, both unto great and small, for seven days in the court of the garden of the king's palace.
6 There were white, green, and blue hangings fastened with cords of fine linen and purple to silver rings, and pillars of marble. The beds were of gold and silver, upon a pavement of red and blue and white and black marble.
7 And they gave them drink in vessels of gold (the vessels being diverse one from another) and royal wine in abundance, according to the state of the king.
8 And the drinking was according to the law. None did compel, for so the king had appointed to all the officers of his house that they should do according to every man's pleasure.
9 Also, Vashti the queen made a feast for the women in the royal house which belonged to King Ahasuerus.
10 On the seventh day, when the heart of the king was merry with wine, he commanded Mehuman, Biztha, Harbona, Bigtha, and Abagtha, Zethar, and Carcas, the seven chamberlains who served in the presence of Ahasuerus the king,
11 to bring Vashti the queen before the king, with the crown royal, to show the people and the princes her beauty; for she was fair to look on.
12 But the queen, Vashti, refused to come at the king's commandment brought by his chamberlains. Therefore was the king very wroth, and his anger burned in him.
13 Then the king said to the wise men who knew the times (for so was the king's manner toward all who knew law and judgment;
14 and the next unto him were Carshena, Shethar, Admatha, Tarshish, Meres, Marsena, and Memucan, the seven princes of Persia and Media, who saw the king's face and who sat first in the kingdom):
15 "What shall we do unto Queen Vashti according to law, because she hath not performed the commandment of King Ahasuerus by the chamberlains?"
16 And Memucan answered before the king and the princes: "Vashti the queen hath not done wrong to the king only, but also to all the princes and to all the people who are in all the provinces of the King Ahasuerus.
17 For this deed of the queen shall come abroad unto all women, so that they shall despise their husbands in their eyes, when it shall be reported, `King Ahasuerus commanded Vashti the queen to be brought in before him, but she came not.'
18 Likewise shall the ladies of Persia and Media say this day unto all the king's princes, who have heard of the deed of the queen. Thus shall there arise too much contempt and wrath.
19 If it please the king, let there go a royal commandment from him, and let it be written among the laws of the Persians and the Medes, that it be not altered, that Vashti come no more before King Ahasuerus; and let the king give her royal estate unto another who is better than she.
20 And when the king's decree which he shall make shall be published throughout all his empire (for it is great), all the wives shall give to their husbands honor, both to great and small."
21 And the saying pleased the king and the princes, and the king did according to the word of Memucan.
22 For he sent letters into all the king's provinces, into every province according to the writing thereof, and to every people in their language, that every man should bear rule in his own house, and that it should be published according to the language of every people.

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.

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