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Bible Commentaries

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

Esther 6

 

 

Introduction

CHAP. VI.

Ahasuerus, reading in the chronicles of his kingdom, finds that Mordecai had not been rewarded for discovering the conspiracy of his chamberlains. He enquires of Haman, what should be done to the man whom the king desired to honour; and, upon his answering, commands him to give Mordecai those honours which Haman thought designed for himself.

Before Christ 474.


Verse 1

Esther 6:1. The book of records of the chronicles In these diaries, 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 history 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 whether that person had any reward given him for his service: which shews, indeed, a singular providence of God, that the secretary should read in that very part of the book wherein the service of Mor-decai was recorded. Why Mordecai was not rewarded before, it is in vain to enquire. We see daily, even among us, that great 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 eastern kings,) should overlook the service that Mordecai had done him; or, that if he ordered him a reward, yet by the artifice of those at court, who were no well-wishers to the Jews, Mordecai might 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 be a poignant mortification to his proud adversary.


Verse 8

Esther 6:8. Let the royal apparel be brought, &c.— To form a notion of that height of pride and arrogance at which Haman (who thought that 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. To this purpose Plutarch, in his Life of Artaxerxes, tells us, that one day when, in hunting, the king happened to tear his garment, and Tiribazus told him of it, the king asked him what he should do? "Put on another," said Tiribazus, "and give that to me;"—"That I will," replied the king, "but then I enjoin you not to wear it." Tiribazus, however, who was rather a weak man, ventured to put it on with all its splendid ornaments; and when some of the nobles began to resent it as a thing not lawful for any subject, "I allow him," said the king, laughing at the figure he made, "to wear the fine trinkets as a woman, and the robe as madman." There was a custom among the Hebrews, not unlike that of placing the Persian designed to be honoured on the king's horse, as appears from the history of Solomon, 1 Kings 1:33 the person declared to be successor to the crown being mounted on the king's horse on the day of his inauguration. Some have thought that the crown, כתר keter, denotes not the king's crown, nor the royal turban, which it was death for any one to put on without the king's order, but the ornament that the king's horse upon which he rode wore upon his head. It must be acknowledged, that this application of the thing agrees best with the signification and order of the Hebrew words with the following verses, wherein no mention is made of the כתר keter, but only of the robe and the horse to which this crown belonged; and with the custom of the Persians, who used to put a certain ornament, in Italian called fiocco, upon the head of that horse whereon the king was mounted. See Patrick, Le Clerc, and Houbigant.


Verse 11

Esther 6:11. Then took Haman the apparel and the horse, &c.— When I read Pitt's account of the cavalcade at Algiers upon a person's turning Mahommedan, and which is apparently designed to do him, as well as their law, honour, I cannot forbear thinking of the manner in which Haman proposed to do a person honour, and which Mordecai actually received. I will not repeat the passage, as the following extract from Pitt will bring it sufficiently to mind: "The apostate is to get on horseback on a stately steed, with a rich saddle and fine trappings: he is also richly habited, and hath a turban on his head; but nothing of this is to be called his own; only there is given to him about two or three yards of broad cloth, which is laid before him on the saddle. The horse, with him on his back, is led all around the city, which is several hours in doing. The apostate is attended with drums and other music, and twenty or thirty vekil harges, or stewards, who are under the Otho, Bashees, or serjeants. These march in order on each side of the horse, with naked swords in their hands. The cryer goes before with a loud voice, giving thanks to God for the proselyte that is made," &c. Strange as the method may appear to us, of honouring a person by putting vestments upon him above his degree, and which it is not designed he should keep, together with the carrying him thus equipped about a large town on horseback, attended by a cryer; yet Africans, we find, concur with Asiaticks in it. It is no wonder then to find Haman propose a thing of or sort, or that Ahasuerus easily assented to it. See Observations, p. 283.

REFLECTIONS.—1st, How vain are all human contrivances! How easily can God disappoint the devices of his enemies, to their confusion! He has access to the spirits of men; and by means unseen, but irresistible, can accomplish all his pleasure. Mordecai as little dreamt of the honour which was designed him, as of the destruction threatened him; and Haman as little suspected that his morning-visit to court would be attended with such consequences. We have here,

1. The king, restless on his bed; his sleep was fled; for he who seals up the eye-lids had forbidden his to close.

2. To amuse the tedious hour, and perhaps to try an expedient to lull his wakeful eyes to lost repose, he calls for the book of records; and God so ordained, that the portion fixed upon was the detection of that dangerous conspiracy to which Mordecai had been so instrumental. Note; The minutest circumstances may be pregnant with the greatest events; the opening at a particular leaf of this book conduced eminently to the preservation of the Jewish people, and, in them, of God's whole church in all future ages.

2nd, Probably, when the design of God's providence was answered; the king slept in peace; but no sooner awaked in the morning, than he is solicitous to honour the neglected Mordecai.

1. He makes inquiry who was in the court; and who should be there but Haman, early attending on the king, big with impatience to see Mordecai on the gallows, and not doubting to succeed easily in his petition: him the king commands to be introduced, little suspecting the design of his master, and probably counting it a happy circumstance that he was called for.

2. No sooner is Haman introduced, than the king proposes a question to him, which self-love strongly interpreted in his own favour; and therefore, he lavishly advises to heap the most signal distinctions on the man whom the king delighted to honour. Note; (1.) Pride and ambition are never satisfied with the most accumulated honours. (2.) Self-conceit, and a high opinion of ourselves, is a most dangerous rock, against which we cannot too carefully guard. (3.) It should be the delight of kings, and of all in authority, to bestow honour on the deserving, and to encourage those who do well.

3. The king expressed his approbation of the advice, and Haman expected with rapture the issue; but how astonished was he to hear the name of Mordecai as the honoured person, and himself fixed on to lead his horse, and proclaim his high deserts.

4. The mandate must be obeyed; and Haman, however stung with envy and grief, is obliged to comply. Mordecai is apparelled, his horse ready, and Haman the herald of his honour. If such be the dignity of him whom man will have exalted, what shall be their portion whom the eternal king delights to honour?


Verse 13

Esther 6:13. Then said his wise men, &c.— As Mordecai had declared himself a Jew, to satisfy the people at court that he could not with a good conscience comply with the king's command relating to the reverence which was to be paid to Haman; and as the interposition of Providence in behalf of the Jewish nation, even during their captivity, had been very conspicuous; the wise men about Haman might from experience form a conjecture, that if their God was become their friend, as seemed to be the case by this strange turn of affairs in favour of Mordecai, no weapon forged against them would prosper; because they had seen so many plots, which would have crushed any other nation, turn to their advancement as well as to their enemies' destruction. See Judith 5:20-21. Considering, then, that Mordecai was of the seed of the Jews, a people whom God had wonderfully raised from great oppressions, and that at this time there was a desperate design, by Haman's management, carrying on against them; his wise men might easily and without the spirit of prophesy divine, that as Mordecai, whom they knew to be a man of great courage and wisdom, was got into the king's favour, it would not be long before he would find an opportunity of applying to him for a revocation of Haman's bloody decree, and consequently his ruin in the king's good graces. The known instability of court favour, and the little quarter there given to rivals or enemies, made it no hard matter, from Mordecai's advancement, to read Haman's destiny. See Patrick and Poole.

REFLECTIONS.—With very different sensations these two returned; the one to his place at court, the other to his house in the city. Mordecai, thankful and comforted, receiving the favour done him as a token for good, that God would blast the designs of his inveterate enemy: Haman, covered with confusion, stung with envy, and mourning as under the bitterest affliction. Thus will God render tribulation to those who trouble his people; but, to us who are troubled, rest with him.

1. Haman unbosoms his griefs to his wife and friends. The communicating of our afflictions is usually a relief; here it tended to aggravate their burden. For,

2. They prove miserable comforters, and read his doom instead of soothing his complaints. They foresee the disappointment of all his schemes: Mordecai is of the seed of the Jews, and no weapon formed against them can prosper; they predict his own fall in the struggle, and heighten his distress into despair: what had happened was but the earnest of what would ensue. Note; (1.) It is vain fighting against those whom God protects. (2.) Falling favourites descend rapidly. (3.) Sad presages of approaching ruin often seize the sinner before destruction comes upon him to the uttermost.

3. Haman's grief probably made him dilatory, and he foreboded now no good from the banquet in which he had so lately gloried. The eunuchs are sent to hasten him, and he goes; where we shall find him, in the next chapter, receiving the judgment that he had so well deserved.

 


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Bibliography Information
Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Esther 6:4". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/tcc/esther-6.html. 1801-1803.

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