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Bible Commentaries

Gary H. Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures

Esther 1

 

 

Verses 1-22

Esther 1:1-22 — The Rejection of Queen Vashti - Esther 1:1-22 records the story of King Ahasuerus rejecting Queen Vashti, setting the stage for Esther to become queen in her place.

The Need for Love and Respect in the Institution of Marriage- A man's desire for respect from his wife is clearly illustrated in the story of King Ahasuerus' rejection of Queen Vashti ( Esther 1:1-22). The opening story of the book of Esther is about a man's desire for respect from his wife. During a royal banquet, the king asked the queen to present herself before his peers in order to boast of her beauty. Because she refused, perhaps to avoid feeling humiliated before a group of vulgar, drunken, lustful men, the king rejected her as his queen. There is no love or romance involved in this decision. The king's decision was driven strictly by his desire for respect from a wife. Had the king loved the queen, he would have considered her feelings and emotions behind her decision. In contrast, God commands the husband to love his wife, a practice that encourages the wife to respect her husband ( Ephesians 5:33). She had great honor and respect in hosting the wives of the nation's leaders. Now, she was compelled to be displayed before a group of vulgar men who would look at her with envy and lust. Instead of obeying the king, the queen disrespected her husband because he disrespected her.

Ephesians 5:33, "Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband."

Esther 1:1 Now it came to pass in the days of Ahasuerus, (this is Ahasuerus which reigned, from India even unto Ethiopia, over an hundred and seven and twenty provinces:)

Esther 1:1 — "Now it came to pass" - Comments- A number of books in the Old Testament begins with the common Hebrew idiom "and it came to pass" ( וַיְהִי), made from the conjunction ( ו) "and" and the imperfect verb ( הָיָה) "to be." Douglas Stuart identifies the books that commence with this Hebrew construction as Joshua ,, Judges ,, 1 Samuel ,, Ruth ,, Esther ,, Jonah , and Lamentations (LXX). 7] This phrase is used at least three hundred eighty eight (388) times in the Old Testament to begin narrative stories, and to move the plot from one scene to another within the narrative material. Although some of the books listed above are a part of a collection of narratives that follow a chronological order, Stuart believes this opening phrase is intended to begin a new book.

7] Douglas Stuart, Hosea -, Jonah , in Word Biblical Commentary: 58 Volumes on CD- Romans , vol 31, eds. Bruce M. Metzger, David A. Hubbard and Glenn W. Barker (Dallas: Word Inc, 2002), in Libronix Digital Library System, v 21c [CD-ROM] (Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp, 2000-2004), "Introduction: Form/Structure/Setting."

Esther 1:1"in the days of Ahasuerus" - Comments- Scholars take two different approaches as to the meaning of the name Ahasuerus ( אֲחַשְׁוֵרֹושׁ) (H 325). It may be used as a Persian title or as a proper name.

1. The Name was used as a Title - Some scholars tell us that the word "Ahasuerus" was a title used for the kings of Persia. This view is supported by the fact that we find this same name used in Daniel 9:1 and in Ezra 4:6 and they probably refer to different kings that the one mentioned in the book of Esther. It is also supported by the fact that the Hebrew words ( אֲחַשְׁדַּרְפָּן) (H 323) used four times in the book of Esther for "lieutenants" and ( אֲחַשְׁדַּרְפָּן) (H 324) used nine times in the book of Daniel for "princes" are similar in their primitive roots to the Hebrew word "Ahasuerus." Thus, the primitive root for these three Hebrew words suggests it serves as a title of leadership.

King Ahasuerus in Esther probably refers to a king named Xerxes according to the testimony of ancient historical documents regarding the Persian kingdom. The name probably refers to the Persian king Xerxes I (486-465 B.C.) (HALOT).

2. The Name was a Hebrew corruption of a Persian Name- Some scholars suggest that the Persian name Xerxes is formed from the Hebrew name Ahasuerus and that the word Xerxes is simply a Greek corruption of the Persian word "Khshayarsha." Thus, the Hebrew name Ahasuerus may simply be a variant of the name Persian/Greek name Xerxes.

Scholars now generally agree that the name refers to Xerxes I, who ruled Persia from 485 to 465 B.C. He would have been the grandson of Cyrus the great (550-530 B.C.) and son of Darius I (520 to 486 B.C.). King Ahasuerus would have been the fourth king of the Persian Empire, but the first to bear the name Xerxes. 8]

8] Frederic Bush says, "…the author meant the first Persian king to bear that name, the fourth king of the Persian empire, Xerxes I, who ruled from 485 to 465 b.c." See Frederic W. Bush, Ruth , Esther, in Word Biblical Commentary: 58 Volumes on CD- Romans , vol 9, eds. Bruce M. Metzger, David A. Hubbard and Glenn W. Barker (Dallas: Word Inc, 2002), in Libronix Digital Library System, v 21c [CD-ROM] (Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp, 2000-2004), comments on Esther 1:1.

Esther 1:1 — "from India even unto Ethiopia" - Comments- BDB tells us the Hebrew word "India" "Hoduw" ( הֹדּוּ) (H 1912) refers to "the country surrounding the Indus, mentioned as the eastern border of the empire of Ahasuerus." The Enhanced Strong says that it is used twice in the Old Testament, being translated in the KJV as "India 2." This Hebrew word is only found in the book of Esther ( Esther 1:1; Esther 8:9).

Esther 1:3 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:

Esther 1:3 — "In the third year of his reign" - Comments- Historians say that King Ahasuerus is identified as Xerxes I, who reigned 485 to 464 B.C. His third year would be 482 B.C. 9]

9] R. F. Youngblood, F. F. Bruce, R. K. Harrison, and Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nelson"s New Illustrated Bible Dictionary, rev. ed. (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1995), in Libronix Digital Library System, v 21c [CD-ROM] (Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp, 2000-2004), "Ahasuerus."

Esther 1:3 — "the power of Persia and Media" - Comments- The ancient empire of Persia flourished from 539 to 331 B.C. At this time, Media was the most important province of Persia. 10]

10] R. F. Youngblood, F. F. Bruce, R. K. Harrison, and Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nelson"s New Illustrated Bible Dictionary, rev. ed. (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1995), in Libronix Digital Library System, v 21c [CD-ROM] (Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp, 2000-2004), "Persia," and "Media."

Esther 1:1-3Comments - The Times of the Gentiles- The times of the Gentiles ( Luke 21:24) was ushered into world history through the prophecies of Daniel , where Israel's dominance subsided and the Gentile nations of Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greek, and Roman empires would rise. This time began with the fall of Jerusalem by the Babylonians. Daniel 1:1 is the last biblical event in redemption history that is dated by the calendars of the kings of the nation of Israel. At this point forward, all redemptive events recorded in the Holy Scriptures will be dated around Gentile rules ( Daniel 2:1; Daniel 7:1; Daniel 8:1; Daniel 9:1; Daniel 10:1; Daniel 11:1, Ezra 1:1; Ezra 6:3; Ezra 7:1, Nehemiah 2:1, Esther 1:1-3, Luke 2:1-2; Luke 3:1-2). Even the book of Ezekiel seems to blend the Jewish calendar with the fall of Israel by the Babylonians in his collection of prophecies.

Luke 21:24, "And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled."

Esther 1:7 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.

Esther 1:7 — "according to the state of the king" - Comments- Or, "according to the generosity of the king" (NKJV).

BBE, "And they gave them drink in gold vessels, every vessel being different, and wine of the kingdom, freely given by the king."

Esther 1:7Comments- Figuratively speaking regarding Esther 1:7, our God has always been generous in pouring out His wine of the Holy Spirit in these last days.

Esther 1:10-13 — The Queen's Refusal to Obey the King - The plot of the book of Esther begins with the queen's refusal to come before the king. This event serves to foreshadow the climax of this story when Queen Esther will come before the king without being called.

Esther 1:10 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 that served in the presence of Ahasuerus the king,

Esther 1:10 — "On the seventh day" - Comments- That Isaiah , on the seventh and last day of the king's seven-day feast (see Esther 1:5).

Esther 1:10Word Study on "chamberlains" - Strong says the Hebrew word "chamberlains" ( סָרִיס) (H 5631) means, "a minister of state: chamberlain, eunuch, officer." The Enhanced Strong says it is used 42times in the Old Testament, being translated in the KJV as "eunuch 17, chamberlain 13, officer 12." Strong tells us that it comes from an unused Hebrew primitive root meaning, "to castrate," so that it would literally mean, "the castrated ones."

However, my observation is that this Hebrew word is similar to the Hebrew ( שַׂר) or ( סָרַר) (H 8269) used in Esther 1:14 for the word "princes" and very possibly coming from the same primitive root.

Esther 1:14 And the next unto him was Carshena, Shethar, Admatha, Tarshish, Meres, Marsena, and Memucan, the seven princes of Persia and Media, which saw the king"s face, and which sat the first in the kingdom;)

Esther 1:14Word Study on "princes" - Strong says the Hebrew word "princes" ( סָרַר) (H 8269) - This word means, "a head person (of any rank or class)." The Enhanced Strong says it is used 421times in the Old Testament, being translated in the KJV, "prince 208, captain 130, chief 33, ruler 33, governor 6, keeper 3, principal 2, general 1, lords 1, misc 4." Strong says this Hebrew title comes from the primitive root ( שָׂרַר) (H 8323), which means, "to have dominion."

Esther 1:13-14Comments- Seven Rulers - King Ahasuerus appointed seven leaders under him. This would be the equivalent to a presidential cabinet today. These leaders served also as his counsellors. Seven is a number of divine fulfilment, which symbolized this king's efforts to have perfect judgment and counsel in all matters. Esther 1:14 says these seven people were allowed to see the king's face. If this setting is a figurative of a type of setting by God in heaven, then these seven might represent the seven angels, which stood before God ( Revelation 8:2).

Esther 1:14, "And the next unto him was Carshena, Shethar, Admatha, Tarshish, Meres, Marsena, and Memucan, the seven princes of Persia and Media, which saw the king"s face, and which sat the first in the kingdom;)"

Revelation 8:2, "And I saw the seven angels which stood before God; and to them were given seven trumpets."

Esther 1:15-21The Advice Given to the King - In Esther 1:15-21 the king asks for advice, and one of seven gives him advice. Such advice is heeded by King Ahab in 2 Chronicles 18:19-21, which tells us that a spirit stands before the Lord in heaven and offers advice.

2 Chronicles 18:19-21, "And the LORD said, Who shall entice Ahab king of Israel, that he may go up and fall at Ramothgilead? And one spake saying after this manner, and another saying after that manner. Then there came out a spirit, and stood before the LORD, and said, I will entice him. And the LORD said unto him, Wherewith? And he said, I will go out, and be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets. And the LORD said, Thou shalt entice him, and thou shalt also prevail: go out, and do even so."

Esther 1:19 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 that is better than she.

Esther 1:19Comments- The first six times the name "Vashti" is used in the book of Esther , it is accompanied with the title of Queen. The last four uses of her name stand alone without a title because she has been stripped of being the queen.

 


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These files are copyrighted by the author, Gary Everett. Used by Permission.
No distribution beyond personal use without permission.

Bibliography Information
Everett, Gary H. "Commentary on Esther 1:4". Gary H. Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/ghe/esther-1.html. 2013.

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