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Bible Commentaries

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

Esther 6

 

 

Verse 1

Esther 6:1. On that night could not the king sleep — How vain are all the contrivances of foolish man against the wise and omnipotent God, who hath the hearts and hands of kings and all men perfectly at his disposal, and can by such trivial accidents (as they are accounted) change their minds, and produce such terrible effects. He commanded to bring the book of records — His mind being troubled, he knew not how, nor why, he chooses this for a diversion, God putting this thought into him, for otherwise he might have diverted himself, as he used to do, with his wives or concubines, or voices and instruments of music, which were far more agreeable to his temper. “In these records of the Chronicles, which we now call journals, (wherein was set down what passed every day,) the manner of the Persians was to record the names of those who had done the king any signal services. Accordingly, Josephus informs us, that upon the secretary’s reading these journals, he took notice of such a person who had great honours and possessions given him as a reward for a glorious and remarkable action, and of such another who made his fortune by the bounties of his prince for his fidelity; but, that when he came to the particular story of the conspiracy of the two eunuchs against the person of the king, and of the discovery of this treason by Mordecai, the secretary read it over, and was passing forward to the next; when the king stopped him, and asked him if the person had had any reward given him for his service; which shows indeed a singular providence of God, that the secretary should read in that very part of the book wherein the service of Mordecai was recorded. Why Mordecai was not rewarded before, it is in vain to inquire. To account for the humour of princes, and their management of public affairs, is almost impossible. We see daily, even among us, that men are frequently unmindful of the highest services which are done them, and take no care to reward them, especially if the person be in himself obscure, and not supported by a proper recommendation; and therefore we are not to wonder, if a prince, who buried himself in indolence, and made it a part of his grandeur to live unacquainted and unconcerned with what passed in his dominions, (which was the custom of most of the eastern kings,) should overlook the service Mordecai had done him; or, if he ordered him a reward, that by the artifice of those at court, who were no well-wishers to the Jews, he should be disappointed of it. There seems, however, to have been a particular direction of Providence, in having his reward delayed till this time, when he and all his nation were appointed to destruction; when the remembrance of his services might be a means to recommend them to the king’s mercy, and the honours conferred on him a poignant mortification to his proud adversary.” — Dodd.


Verse 3-4

Esther 6:3-4. There is nothing done for him — He hath had no recompense for this great and good service. The king said, Who is in the court — It is likely it was now morning, when the courtiers used to be in waiting; and the king is so impatient to have Mordecai honoured, that he sends to know who was come, that was fit to be employed in the business. Now Haman was come — Early in the morning, because his malice would not suffer him to sleep; and he was impatient till he had executed his revenge; and was resolved to watch for the very first opportunity of speaking to the king, before he was engaged in other matters. Into the outward court — Where he waited; because it was dangerous to come into the inner court without special license, Esther 4:11. So that the king and his minister were equally impatient about this poor Jew Mordecai, the former to have him honoured, and the latter to have him hanged!


Verse 5-6

Esther 6:5-6. The king said, Let him come in — The king thought him the fittest man he had to be made use of, both in directing and in dispensing his favour, knowing nothing of any quarrel he had with Mordecai. So Haman came in — Proud of the honour done him, in being admitted into the king’s bed-chamber, before he was up; for it is likely the king only wished to give orders for the honouring of Mordecai, and then he would be easy in his mind, and try to sleep. Haman, however, thinks of finding the king alone, and unengaged, and that this was the fairest opportunity he could wish for, to solicit for Mordecai’s execution. And the king — Whose heart was as full as his, and who, as was fit, spoke first; said unto him, What shall be done unto the man whom the king delighteth to honour? — He names no one, because he would have the more impartial answer. It is a good property in kings and other superiors, to delight in bestowing rewards, and not to delight in punishing. Now Haman thought in his heart As he had great reason to do, because of the favour which the king had showed to him above all others; To whom would the king delight to do honour more than myself? — No one deserves to be honoured so much as I, nor stands so fair for it. See how men’s pride deceives them! The deceitfulness of our own hearts appears in nothing so much as in the good opinion we are wont to have of ourselves, and of our own performances, against which we should therefore constantly watch and pray. Haman thought the king loved and valued no one but himself, but he was deceived.


Verse 7-8

Esther 6:7-8. Haman answered, Let the royal apparel, &c. — Concluding he himself was the favourite intended, he prescribes the highest instances of honour that could for once be bestowed upon a subject; nay, he names honours too great to be conferred on any subject. Which the king useth to wear, &c. — Namely, the king’s outward garment, which was made of purple, interwoven with gold, as Justin and Curtius relate. To form a notion of that height of pride and arrogance at which Haman, who thought all the honours he specified were designed for himself, was arrived, we may observe, that for any one to put on the royal robe without the privity and consent of the king was among the Persians accounted a capital crime. And the horse that the king rideth upon — Namely, usually; which was well known, both by his excellence, and especially by his peculiar trappings and ornaments. And the crown royal which is set upon his head — Upon the king’s head. Thus he wished him to appear in all the pomp and grandeur of the king himself, only not to carry the sceptre, the emblem of power.


Verse 9

Esther 6:9. And let this apparel, &c., be delivered to one of the king’s most noble princes — To be his attendant. And bring him on horseback through the city — That all the people may be made to take notice of him, and do him reverence. And proclaim before him, Thus shall it be done, &c. — For his honour, and the encouragement of all to seek the king’s favour.


Verse 10

Esther 6:10. The king said, Do even so to Mordecai the Jew — If the king had but said as Haman expected, Thou art the man, what a fair opportunity would be have had to perform the errand he came on, and to have requested, that, to grace the solemnity of his triumph, Mordecai, his sworn enemy, might be hanged at the same time; but how is he thunderstruck when the king bids him, not to order all this to be done, but to do it himself to Mordecai the Jew, the very man he hated above all men, and whose ruin he was seeking, and now came to solicit! He saw it was now to no purpose to think of moving any thing to the king against Mordecai, since he is the man whom the king delights to honour.


Verse 11-12

Esther 6:11-12. Then Haman took the apparel — The king’s words undoubtedly produced great commotion in his breast, but he durst not dispute, nor so much as seem to dislike the king’s order; but, though with the greatest regret and reluctance imaginable, brings the apparel, &c, to Mordecai, who, we may suppose, did no more cringe to Haman now than he did before, valuing his counterfeit respects no more than he had valued his concealed malice. And arrayed Mordecai, and brought him on horseback, &c. — It is hard to say which of the two put a greater force upon himself: proud Haman, in giving this honour to Mordecai, or humble Mordecai, in accepting it. Upon one account, no doubt, it was agreeable to Mordecai, as it was an indication of the king’s favour, and gave ground to hope that Esther would prevail for the reversing of the edict against the Jews. Mordecai came again to the king’s gate — To his former place, showing that, as he was not overwhelmed with Haman’s threats, so he was not puffed up with this honour. Besides, he came thither to attend the issue of the business he had most at heart, respecting the Jews; and to be at hand, if need were, to assist or encourage the queen, which he was now more capable of doing than heretofore he had been. Haman hasted to his house mourning, and having his head covered — In token of his shame and grief for his unexpected disappointment, and for the great honour done to his abhorred adversary, by his own hands, and with his own public disgrace.


Verse 13

Esther 6:13. Then said his wise men — The magicians, whom, after the Persian manner, he had called together, to consult upon this strange emergency. If Mordecai be of the seed of the Jews — Which they were told, and it was generally supposed he was, but of which they were not infallibly sure; before whom thou hast begun to fall — Though but in a point of honour; thou shalt not prevail against him — They had observed, it is probable, how the Jews had been wonderfully raised from under great oppressions, since the time of Cyrus, and in how many remarkable instances God had appeared for them, and against their enemies, in this very court and kingdom, and thence concluded there was a particular providence that took care of them. Or perhaps they only formed their judgment from the omen, in Haman having been obliged to pay such honours himself to one of that nation which he had purposed, and even got the king’s edict, entirely to destroy. But shalt surely fall before him — This they concluded, either, 1st, By rules of policy, because Haman’s reputation and interest were sinking, and Mordecai, whom they understood to be a man of great wisdom and courage, had now got into the king’s favour, and therefore was likely to gain an opportunity of moving him to a dislike, if not revocation, of his own bloody decree, and consequently to a detestation of that person who had procured it. Or, 2d, By an instinct or impression from God upon their minds, who might suggest this to them, as he did other things to other wicked men, for his own great glory, and the good of his people.


Verse 14

Esther 6:14. The king’s chamberlains hasted to bring Haman unto the banquet — Who was now slack to go thither, by reason of the great dejection of his own mind, and the fear of a worse entertainment from the king and queen than he had formerly received.

 


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Bibliography Information
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Esther 6:4". Joseph Benson's Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/esther-6.html. 1857.

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