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Arno Clement Gaebelein

In the Public Domain

                            THE BOOK OF ESTHER


     The book of Esther is one of the five books which the Jews call
Megilloth (Rolls). They appear in the Hebrew Bible in the following order:

1. Canticles, that is, Solomon's Song, read in connection with Passover;

2. Ruth, read on the feast of weeks (Pentecost); 

3. Lamentations, used on the ninth day of the month Ab, commemorating the 
destruction of the temple, which happened twice on the same day, first by 
Nebuchadnezzar and then afterwards by the Romans;

4. Ecclesiastes, which is read during the celebration of the feast of 

5. The book of Esther, read on the feast of Purim.

The Jews hold this little book in the highest esteem; they call it "The 
Megillah" and thereby give it the place of pre-eminence among the other 
Megilloth. The ancient Rabbis give it a place next to the Torah, the law. 
Maimonides taught that when the Messiah comes every other book of the 
Jewish Scriptures will pass away, but the law and the book of Esther will 
remain forever.... Yet many objections have been made against this book. 
Its rightful place in the canon of the Old Testament has been hotly 
contested by Jews and Christians.

     We mention the two leading objections. The first objection is that 
the name of God does not appear in this book. Some ancient teachers have
tried to overcome this objection by the theory that the name of Jehovah 
is found a number of times in the initial letters of certain sentences, 
which letters spell the sacred name. Jehring, Bullinger and others have 
adopted this attempt to vindicate the book. But this is at best only a
fanciful endeavour to do away with this objection. We believe the Holy
Spirit is the author of the book of Esther and has given in it a correct
report of this remarkable episode in Jewish history. He does not conceal 
things and to use initial letters of certain words to produce another word 
is an extremely unsafe method of Bible study. The Spirit of God had a valid
reason why He omitted the name of God, which we state later.

     Some have suggested that inasmuch as Esther was to be used in 
connection with the feast of Purim (a feast of merrymaking) the name of
the Lord was omitted on purpose to avoid its irreverent use amid the 
scenes of feasting and drinking. Professor Cassel in his lengthy commentary 
on Esther states that the omission of the name of God was an act of 
prudence and caution from the side of the person who wrote this account. 
Others claim that the report was taken mostly from Persian records, which 
would explain the absence of the name.

     It is true the name of God is absent, but God is nevertheless present 
in this little book. We find Him revealed on every page, in His providence, 
in His overruling power, in the preservation and deliverance of His 
covenant people. God cared for His people and Watched over them, though 
they were unfaithful to Him. He frustrated the plan of the enemy. It is
true they did not call on Him, but nevertheless His sovereignty in grace 
is displayed towards them. God's government is therefore revealed in this 
book though His name is unmentioned.

     The second objection is that the canonicity of the book should be 
rejected because it is not quoted in the New Testament. But this objection 
also breaks down when we remember that seven other Old Testament books 
are unquoted in the New Testament Scriptures. Destructive criticism has 
made other objections of a minor character; we do not need to mention
these. Amongst those who had no use for this book is found Martin Luther, 
who went so far as to say that he wished the book might not exist at all. 
The evidence that the book is true, with its remarkable story of the great 
deliverance of a part of God's people, is found by the celebration of the 
feast of Purim by the Jews. If such a thing as the book of Esther records
had not occurred then the Purim feast could not be explained.

     The author of the book of Esther is unknown. Some think of Mordecai, 
others mention Ezra and Nehemiah as possible authors; but this is only
guesswork. It is certain that one person wrote the entire account with the
exception of chapter 9:20-32, which probably was added by another hand.
The style is extremely simple; the Hebrew used is much like that of Ezra
and Nehemiah. It contains some Persian words.

     The purpose of the book of Esther has admirably been stated by 
Professor Cassel: "It is a memoir written by a Jew to all his people who
are scattered in the extensive countries of Persia, in which are recorded 
the wonderful interpositions of Providence in their deliverance from
destruction, which appeared to be certain. It has no other purpose but to 
narrate this; it is not called upon to give information about other
matters; albeit it gives a picture of Persian court life, the like of
which is found nowhere else."

     It brings out the great fact that the Jewish people out of their own
land, and no longer in any outward relation to God, are nevertheless the 
objects of His gracious care. This broken relationship seems to be the
reason why the name of God is avoided in the book. In spite of their
unfaithfulness they are still His people, for God's gifts and calling are 
without repentance. He covers them with His protecting hand and
watches over them and in His own way and His own time acts in their behalf, 
delivering them from their enemies.

     Significant it is that the history in the book of Esther concludes 
the historical books of the Old Testament. The conditions described therein
continue during the times of the Gentiles till finally the great 
deliverance comes for the people Israel. Jewish expositors have compared
Esther to the dawn of the morning, that it is like the dawn which 
announces the end of the night.

     It is a prophetic forecast of their history and is especially typical
of the coming days of Jacob's trouble when they shall be delivered.

     The typical-dispensational application is of much interest, for it
illustrates some of the prophecies in a practical way. Vashti, the Gentile
wife, may be looked upon as Christendom, to be set aside for her 
disobedience, and Esther, the Jewess, takes her place. This reminds us of
the parable of the two olive trees in Romans 11 and the final execution of
the divine threat that the grafted in branches, Gentile Christendom, are
to be cut off and the broken off branches, Israel, put back upon their own 
olive tree.

     Haman, the wicked enemy of the Jews, a descendant of Agag, the first
enemy Israel met in the wilderness, is an illustration of the future
enemy Israel will face. He is called "Haman the wicked" (chapter 7:6). The
numerical value of the Hebrew letters composing the words "Haman the 
wicked" is exactly 666.

     Mordecai is a type of the Lord Jesus Christ in His coming glorious
exaltation. The complete triumph of the Jews over their enemies, the joy
and peace, recorded at the close of this book, are typical of the time
when Christ reigns on earth. We give at the close of each chapter hints on
the typical and dispensational application which can be made of this 

                         Analysis and Annotations


                                   CHAPTER 1

     1. The first feast of the king (1: 1-4)
     2. The king's feast unto all the people (1:5-8)
     3. The queen's feast for the women (1:9)
     4. The queen's refusal to appear at the king's feast (1:10-12)
     5. The queen put away (1:13-22)

     Verses 1-4. King Ahasuerus, one of the leading characters of this
book, is known in history as Xerxes I. The name Ahasuerus is an
appellative, which means the chief king, or the king of
all kings. Xerxes, the son of Darius Hystaspes, bore this title, king of 
kings. This title is also given to him in the cuneiform inscriptions. One
of these reads as follows: "I, the mighty king, king of kings, king of
populous countries, king of this great and mighty earth, far and near."
His dominion extended from East to West, even from India unto Ethiopia.
He had a universal kingdom. The capital of his empire was Shushan, which
had a beautiful situation surrounded by high mountains, traversed by
streams and abounding in a luxurious vegetation. Since the time of King
Darius it became the residence of the Persian kings. The word "palace" is
better translated by fortress or castle. And in the third year of his reign
he made the great feast unto all his princes, and his servants, and all
the nobles of Persia and Media were before him. He then showed the riches
of his glorious kingdom and entertained the nobles and princes for six

     Verses 5-8. This sumptuous feast was followed by a second banquet to
which all the inhabitants of the capital were invited. It was held in the 
garden of the palace and lasted for seven days. The decorations were in
white, green, blue, fastened with cords of fine linen and purple to rings of
silver and pillars of marble. Upon a pavement of red, white, blue, and 
black marble (a mosaic floor) stood the couches of gold and silver. The 
royal wine was served out of vessels of gold not two of which were alike.
The king displayed his enormous wealth and his abundant possessions. "And
the wine of the kingdom was in abundance, according to the
bounty of the king." And there was perfect freedom; each could drink to 
his heart's content. The king had instructed the officers "that they 
should do according to every man's pleasure."

     Verse 9. Queen Vashti (Vashti means "beautiful woman") is now 
introduced. She made a separate feast for the women in the royal house
which belonged to her husband, the king. Such feasts were frequently 
given by royal women of the East. Nothing is said how long her feast

     Verses 10-12. The king's heart being merry with wine, he commanded
his seven chamberlains to bring Vashti in her royal apparel to the
feast, so that the peoples and the princes could admire her great beauty.
The seven chamberlains were eunuchs who held important offices.
Mehuman was the chief officer; Biztha, according to the meaning of his 
name, the treasurer; Harbona, the chief of the bodyguard; Bigath, who had
charge over the female apartments; Abagtha, the chief baker; Zethar, the 
chief butler, and Carcas, the chief commander of the castle. These 
dignitaries were sent to accompany the queen to the feast of Ahasuerus.
She refused to obey the king's command. Her refusal has been differently 
interpreted. According to Persian custom the Persian king held all for
slaves except the legitimate wife. Was it in defiance of the king's order 
or out of self respect? She may have refused to show that she could not
be dictated to by a drunken husband and that she was unwilling to show
herself in the midst of revelry. Perhaps she did not care to come because
she had a feast of her own. Then the king became extremely angry.

     Verses 13-22. At once the wise men were called, the astrologers, the 
magi and sorcerers (Dan 2:2). His privy council consisted of seven 
princes, the princes of Persia and Media, who were next to the king, sat 
with him and the wise men to take up this serious matter. The question is,
"What shall we do unto the Queen Vashti according to law, because she had
not done the bidding of the king Ahasuerus by the chamberlains?" The case
is thus turned over by the king into the hands of the wise men and the 
seven princes. These decide that Vashti has wronged the king and 
furthermore by her refusal had set a dangerous example to all the subjects 
of the king. Much contempt and wrath would follow throughout the empire.
They advise that Vashti is to lose her royal estate, that she be put away.
The king sanctions it and issued at the same time a decree to be published 
throughout his great kingdom that all wives should honor their husbands. 
The Persian kings were great autocrats and ruled with an iron hand. Their
laws were irrevocable. "It is certainly no fable which is told of Xerxes, 
viz., that when the inundation of the Hellespont had destroyed all 
bridges, he gave order that it should be beaten with rods for disobedience
(Herodotus 7:35). But it was more easy for him to beat the sea than to
obtain that which his edict demanded."

     The letters were dispatched by the excellent postal service, which 
according to the historian Herodotus, Persia possessed. Memucan had
brought about the downfall of the queen; she disappears completely. Jewish
tradition gives several reasons why Memucan was so hostile to Vashti. One 
is that his own wife had not been invited to Vashti's feast and another, 
because he wanted his own daughter promoted and become the queen.

                        Typical Application

     The Persian king claimed the title King of Kings, which belongs only 
to the Lord Himself. The great feast which he made reminds us of another 
feast which the Lord has spread. Ahasuerus' feast was on the third year 
of his reign and appointed to show the riches of his kingdom and the honor 
of his excellent majesty. The gospel feast to which God invites, is 
prepared in His Son, who died and was raised on the third day, and this 
feast shows forth exceeding riches of His grace in kindness towards us.
And those who accept become partakers of the heavenly calling, nobles and 
princes, who shall reign with Him in His coming kingdom. The invitation 
is, "Come for all things are now ready." There is enough for all; enough 
to fill to overflowing. The wine is the symbol of joy; it cheereth God and 
man (judges 9:13). As the king had his joy with his subjects in this 
earthly feast, so God rejoices in those who come to the table of His love, 
and those who accept His invitation rejoice in Him. The couches of gold
and silver at the King's feast were for rest. Gold and silver are 
symbolical of righteousness and redemption, and these are the couches, the 
resting places for the believer. And as Ahasuerus invited all to come to 
his feast, with no other conditions, but to come, so God wants all men
to be saved and offers the riches of His grace without money and without 
price. While the Persian king displayed the glories of his great kingdom, 
God displays the glory of His grace.

     In Vashti we see a type of the refusal of the invitation. She had
been invited to come and grace the feast with her presence; she would
not come. It reminds us of the parable of our Lord, in which He speaks
of the great supper, a symbol of the gospel, and the bidden guests who
made excuses for not coming. She had her own feast, which she probably
would not leave. How many there are who refuse the gospel invitation
because they love their own things best. And Vashti is banished. She is
put away. And this is the sinner's fate who refuses to obey the gospel
of Jesus Christ.

     Vashti too may be taken as a type of professing Christendom, those
who have the form of godliness and deny the power thereof, whose god is
their belly and who are the enemies of the cross, disobedient to God.
Some day Christendom will be disowned by the Lord; He will spew Laodicea
out of His mouth. Then the King of Kings will call another to take the
place of apostate Christendom.


                                  CHAPTER 2

     1. The suggestion (2:1-4)
     2. Mordecai and Esther introduced (2:5-7)
     3. Esther brought to the king's house (2:8-11)
     4. Esther chosen as queen (2:12-18)
     5.Mordecai's discovery and exposure of the plot (2:19-23)

     Verses 1-4. This probably did not happen immediately after the feast.
We learn this from verse 16 in this chapter. He took Esther in the place
of Vashti in the seventh year of his reign, but the feast described in
the opening chapter happened in the third year. About four years elapsed.
During these years, profane history tells us, Ahasuerus (Xerxes I),
undertook a campaign against Greece with which many misfortunes were
connected. He must have returned exhausted and unhappy. Then his
conscience spoke. He probably missed the companionship of Vashti and he
remembered her and what was decreed against her. But why did the monarch
not take Vashti back into favor and forgive her, if remorse troubled him?
As nothing more is said of Vashti it is more than probable that she was
put to death. Perhaps the unfortunate war, the great losses he had
sustained, were looked upon by the king as being the punishment for his
drunken wrath against the queen. Then the courtiers made their suggestions
which is in fullest keeping with the customs of Persia and still practised
by oriental sultans and shahs. Fair young virgins are to be brought to the
harem, the house of the women, under the custody of Hegai, the king's
chamberlain and keeper of the women. The king was well pleased with this

     "One cannot but admire the simple, quiet historical style of our
narrative. Laying aside all the reports which only would prolong our way
of coming to the essential part of the contents of the book, there is
nothing omitted which would contribute to the historical and psychological
introduction and illustration. How much is necessary to happen before
Israel could have ready help in time of need! What great things, according
to the external appearance, must precede, in order to make it possible
that a Jewish girl by the influence of her charms ascend the throne of the
Persian Empire! The great conference of all the officers of the state, the
dreadful war with Greece, and the unfortunate issue of the same, were they
not in the hands of Providence so many stepping stones in the path of
Esther's ascendancy? in order to replace the loss of Vashti, a woman of
equal endowments must be sought for the king, wherever and however it might
be! How many things must subserve to the frustration of Haman's wicked
plan! The wrath of Xerxes against Greece, and his wrath against his wife.
Court intrigues against
the powerful influences of a wife, and the vain conceit of offended
sovereignty? First drunkenness, then homicidal passion, then new excited
sensuality, were the sad instruments which preceded Israel's redemption.

     "When the people were delivered, they could well be penitent when they
considered the way in which Vashti--though not herself guiltless--was one 
of the main causes of their deliverance. And if deep penitence must have 
resulted from the reflection that a woman like Vashti had to die a violent 
death in order that the people of God should live,--what kind of penitence
must the thought call forth when we remember that Christ gave His Life in
order that Israel and the Gentiles might live" (Professor P. Cassel).

     Verses 5-7. These verses introduce us now to the leading actors in 
this book. Mordecai, the Jew, was the son of Jair, the son of Shimei, the
son of Kish, a Benjamite; who had been carried away from Jerusalem with
the captives which had been carried away with Jechoniah king of Judah,
whom Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon had carried away.

     Here we face one of the inconsistencies charged by higher criticism.
But their mistake is quite apparent. They claim that Mordecai belonged to
the captives carried away by Nebuchadnezzar. Then they say, that being the
case Mordecai must have been over 130 years old and Esther at least 70 
years. But does it say that Mordecai was carried away at the time of
King Jechoniah? It was not Mordecai who was carried away but his
great-grandfather Kish. "The clear and instructive intentions of the
historian in this genealogical passage are evident. He points out, through
the enumeration of the four generations from Kish to Mordecai, the time
which elapsed since the banishment of Jechoniah, which took place before
the destruction of the temple. The period of about 120 or more years which
since then elapsed to the sixth year of Xerxes are exactly expressed by
the four generations. We have also some intimation concerning the period
of the narrative, which is assigned to the reign of Xerxes I. That Kish
was a Benjamite, is only told for the purpose of distinguishing him from 
other men with the same name who belonged to the tribe of Levi. One might
have thought it impossible that Biblical expositors should commit the
mistake of making the information concerning the exile of Jechoniah refer
to Mordecai himself--an idea for which there is neither textual nor
historical foundation, but rather both against it" (Professor Cassel).
Mordecai had brought up Hadassah. She was an orphan, fair of form and good
of countenance, his uncle's daughter. Mordecai had adopted her. Hadassah
means "myrtle" and Esther "star." Critics have identified the name Esther
with Babylonian goddess Isthar (similar to Ashtoreth), and they also claim
that Hadassah was the Babylonian title for the same goddess. But such
statements are mere inventions.

     Verses 8-11. Esther on account of her great beauty was taken with the
many other virgins in obedience to the King's command. Jewish tradition
informs us that Mordecai, her guardian and second father, had kept her 
concealed, in order not to be obliged to deliver her to the royal agents,
but people who knew her,
and who had not seen her for some time drew the attention of the agents to
the concealment. She with the others is placed in charge of Hegai the
keeper of women. In all we see the hand of the Lord preparing step by step
the help needed for the preservation and deliverance of His people during
the approaching crisis. And Esther pleased Hegai; he showed her kindness.
This kindness was expressed in furnishing her the means of improving her
appearance, such as cosmetics and perfumes, according to Oriental customs.
Then she received no doubt beautiful garments and jewelry to enhance her
person still more. Then the best place in the house of the women was given
to her and the seven maids who waited on her. (Very interesting and curious
is the Jewish tradition concerning these seven servants. This tradition as
preserved in the Targumim makes their names to correspond with the work of
the six days of creation. Thus the fourth maid-servant's name was 
"Starlight" because on the fourth day the heavenly bodies came into view.
Remarkable is the name of the maid who attended her on the sixth 
day--Friday; her name was "Lamb." On the seventh day, the Sabbath, the 
servant's name, who waited on her was "Rest"' she reminded Esther of the
Sabbath. And the Servant who attended her on the day after the Sabbath
(Our Lord's day) bore the name of the mystical bird Phoenix, the symbol
of light, rising out of the fire and out of death. It is certainly
interesting, to say the least, to find such traditional statements.)

     And Esther had not showed her people and her kindred. This was done
on the advice of Mordecai. This has been characterized as deception, 
extraordinary adroitness, and cowardice. It was neither. Divine Providence
ordered it thus. Inasmuch as Esther's parents were dead such concealment
of nationality was not difficult; had her parents lived it would have been
next to impossible. Had it been known that she belonged to the alien race, 
intrigues for her destruction would have soon been set afoot. Haman's
wicked endeavour may even then have been in process of planning. Mordecai 
walking daily before the court of the women's house, proves his great
concern for his adopted daughter.

     Verses 12-18. The description of verses 12-14 is a perfect picture of
Persian customs and the licentiousness of Persian and other Oriental rulers.
In due time Esther's turn came to be presented to the king. "She required
nothing." Professor Cassel in his exposition gives the best exposition of
this statement. The other women could not find enough artificial means
with which to make an impression upon the king. But Esther cared nothing
about these things. She had no such ambitious desires. Her heart did not
burn to become something illustrious, yet unbecoming to a Jewess.
Reluctantly she must have left her home, and reluctantly she must have put
on the ornaments. She was wanted, and was ordered to appear, and therefore
she obeyed Hegai and allowed herself to be prepared for the occasion. She
was compelled to be there, while no doubt in heart she detested the whole

     She was brought in to the king. Attracted by her beauty he set the 
royal crown upon her head and the Jewish maiden became queen in the place of
Vashti. This took place in the month Tebeth in the seventh year of the
reign of Ahasuerus.

     Then a great feast was made, even Esther's feast, a release was made,
probably a release of prisoners and taxes and gifts were bestowed. God in 
His providence.

     Verses 19-23. This paragraph contains another important providential
event which in the subsequent history plays a very leading part. The
opening words of verse 19 have been pronounced obscure by critics. "And
when the virgins were gathered together the second time." Jewish expositors
have explained this as meaning a conspiracy, that the enemies of the new
queen had collected more virgins so that in some way Esther might be
eclipsed and placed into the background. It is claimed by others that the
words "the second time" should be omitted from the text as there is some
doubt about them. If this is done the statement would then refer to the
gathering of the virgins mentioned in the eighth verse of the chapter. But
the suggestion that the second gathering was an act of conspiracy might
be the true meaning; it would show the purpose of the unseen enemy and it
also explains the watchfulness of Mordecai. He sat at the king's gate.
It was according to oriental custom a place of public resort, where news
was heard and conversation with friends and others were carried on. The
suggestion by some that Mordecai sat in the king's gate because he was an
official of the government must be dismissed as incorrect.

     Verse 20 informs us of two interesting facts. Esther did not disclose
her nationality and she continued in humble obedience to her foster father
as if she were still under his roof and not the great queen. The royal
glory and dignity which surrounded her on all sides had not affected her
in the least. She had not forgotten that the whole royalty was not a matter
of pleasure to her, but only an act of obedience, the providential purpose
of which she did not know, but which she found out afterward. Her
interest was with Mordecai outside and not with the royal splendour inside.

     Let us note the providential leading in all this. If Esther had 
revealed her connection, if it had become known that Mordecai at the gate
was her uncle and she his adopted daughter, he would not have remained in
the obscure position before the gate. Then the conspirators would have been
cautious and not spoken within the hearing of such a person so closely
related to the queen. The knowledge of the planned attempt upon the life of
the King Mordecai owed to the fact that nobody knew who he was and
therefore paid no attention to him.

     The conspirators were Bigthan and Teresh. They sought to lay hands
on the king. According to Jewish tradition they intended to put a
venomous reptile in the king's cup when he was about to drink. The plot
was overheard by Mordecai who at once communicated the fact to Esther and
she told the king of it in the name of Mordecai. She did so guided by the
divine hand, which is so evident in this remarkable history. The plot is
at once investigated and the report is found true. The conspirators were
hanged and the event is historically recorded in the book of the 
Chronicles. (King Ahasuerus, Xerxes, lost his life by assassination in 
465 B.C. Artaban, the commander of his cavalry, conspired with Mithridates,
his confidential chamberlain, who admitted him into the king's bedroom,
and Artaban stabbed him to death while he slept.)

     Esther had saved the king's life by giving him the report of Mordecai.
And Mordecai received no reward. His faithfulness was evidently forgotten;
but God had ordered it all.

                         Typical Applications

     Dispensationally Esther typifies the Jewish remnant, which will be
called by the King of Israel, our Lord, when Gentile-Christendom has been
disowned and set aside for its unfaithfulness, as Vashti was set aside.
The parable of the good and the wild olive tree in Romans 11 is thus
illustrated by Vashti and Esther. The branches of the wild olive
tree--professing Christendom (but not the true Church) which were grafted
in upon the root of the good olive tree (Israel and the Abrahamic covenant)
on account of their failure will be cut out and cast aside. The broken off
branches (the remnant of Israel) will be put back upon the root of the good
olive tree. (See annotations on Romans 11, or for a fuller exposition read
"The Jewish Question," an exposition of Romans 11 by A.C. Gaebelein.)
This remnant will then be brought into definite relationship with the
Lord, pass through the period of the great tribulation, foreshadowed in
Haman's wicked Plot, and then receive the kingdom, be delivered and have
part in the kingdom, as it was the case with Esther, Mordecai and the
Jews at Shushan.

     The gospel application is also of interest. The humble Jewish girl is
raised to the place of a queen, to the place beside the King. She did not
seek that place. It never entered into her mind to receive such a place.
She was sought for. All this illustrates the gospel by which the beggar
upon the dunghill is raised to sit amongst princes and to inherit the
throne of glory (1 Samuel 2). She, who was a foreigner, becomes married
to the king, to share his glory, his riches and his honors. And so the 
believing sinner becomes one spirit with the Lord, a member of His body
"flesh of His flesh and bone of His bones," to share His eternal glory and
His eternal riches.

                         HAMAN AND HIS WICKED PLOT

                                 CHAPTER 3

     1. The promotion of Haman and Mordecai's faithfulness (3:1-6)
     2. Haman's proposal and the King's assent (3:7-11)
     3. The proclamation of death (3:12-15)

     Verses 1-6. How long after these things the history of this chapter
came to pass is not definitely stated. It probably happened after a short
interval. We are now introduced to Haman, the Son of Hammedatha the
Agagite. Him the king promoted and set his seat above all the princes. The
tracing of this man's name is of interest. Its meaning is "A magnificent
one." Philologists derive it from the Persian god Haoma or Hom, who was
thought to be a spirit, possessing life-giving power. There can be no
doubt that his name has a religious sentiment connected with it and his
activity shows zeal in religious things. What interests us the most is
that he was a descendant of Agag, the king of Amalek (1 Sam. 15:8) who
descended from Esau, Jacob's brother and enemy. Amalek is always the bitter
enemy of Israel. His final overthrow will come with the second coming of
Christ. Thus Balaam announced in his prophetic utterance. When the sceptre
at last rises out of Israel to smite the nations, then Amalek will find
his end. "And when he looked on Amalek, he took up his parable and said,
Amalek was the first of the nations, but his latter end shall be that he
perish forever" (Numbers 24:17-20). This Haman, the Amalekite, is later
called "the Jew's enemy" (verse 10). He foreshadows that final enemy, who
arises to trouble Israel and attempts their extermination before the King
of Israel appears. The dispensational and typical applications at the
close of this chapter deal more fully with this interesting character.

     And all the king's servants bowed down and did him reverence. They
paid to him the honor of a god. Nearly all these Oriental rulers claimed
divinity. Artaban is saying to Themistodes, according to Plutarch "The
important thing with us Persians is that a king is worshipped and looked
upon as the very image of God." As the king's representative this worship
was extended to Haman. But Mordecai did not bow down because such reverence
involved the recognition of a false god and was against the commandment
of God. Mordecai may have remembered Isaiah's great prediction, "To Me
every knee shall bow and every tongue shall swear." According to Jewish
tradition Haman wore on his coat the image of an idol and that this was
the reason why Mordecai refused. The king's servants warned Mordecai and
when this was not heeded they told Haman. What a noble figure! In the midst
of the worshipping servants bowing deep before Haman stands erect Mordecai,
the Jew. He manifested faith in God. He trusted in Him who had delivered
Daniel's companions out of the fiery furnace, when they refused to worship
the image set up by Nebuchadnezzar. He trusted the same God who had
stopped the lion's mouths when Daniel would not pay divine honors to
Darius, the Persian king.

     And when Haman discovers that Mordecai was a Jew and that his refusal
was not wilful disobedience but inspired by faith in God, in obedience to
His law, the Amalekite hate is stirred up in his wicked heart, and he
became full of wrath. An unseen being, he who is the murderer from the
beginning, told him to make this occasion for destroying all the Jews in
the Persian Empire.

     Verses 7-11. And now Haman waits on his unseen master, the devil. 
They cast the lot before Haman, from day to day, and from month to month, 
to the twelfth month, which is the month Adar. He wanted to find out the
month which would be best suited for the execution of his wicked plot.
Soothsaying, familiar spirits, asking the dead, divining by the flight of
birds or by the liver of a slain animal, prognostigators and astrologers,
flourished among the Egyptians, the Babylonians, the Persians and all
other pagan nations. Behind it all is the Devil and his fallen angels. And
these things are still practised, not alone in China and India, but in the
very midst of professing Christendom. Spiritism, the worst form of demonism,
is ever on the increase. Astrology, asking the dead, consulting the demons,
casting the lot, getting messages through the so-called "ouija board" (in
use in China, the land of demon possessions, for over 2000 years) is made
use of today by countless thousands among the supposedly "Christian
nations." We see what kind of progress the world has made. The same
superstitions, the same evils morally and in religious matters, the same
demon powers whose fellowship the greater part of the race invites, as
3000 and more years ago.

     Through the lot he imagines that the twelfth month, the Jewish month
Adar, is the month to execute the plot. Jewish tradition explains this in
the following way: "When he came to make observations in the month Adar,
which comes under the zodiacal sign of the fish, Haman exclaimed, "Now
they will be caught by me like the fish of the sea." But he did not notice
that the children of Joseph are compared in the Scripture to the fish of
the sea, as it is written: "And let them multiply as the fish in the midst
of the earth" (Genesis 48:16; marginal reading).

     And now he approacheth the king who was ignorant of Haman's dark
counsel. He tells the king of a certain people which inhabit his kingdom.
He avoids mentioning their names, if he had the plot would not have 
succeeded for Xerxes must have been well acquainted with the illustrious
history of the Jews and he knew that ever since Cyrus the policy of the 
Persian Empire had been the protection of the Jews. Haman's accusation is
twofold. First: Their laws are diverse from those of every people. Second:
Neither keep they the king's laws. And then the verdict: It is not for the
king's profit to suffer them. They were a separate people, following their 
God-given law. It was this religious side which stirred up the hatred of
Satan and through Haman he urges now the wholesale murder of the race. And
Haman Like his dark master, Satan, was cunning enough to anticipate an
objection from the side of the king. Would not his kingdom suffer 
financially if a whole people is wiped out? To remove this financial 
consideration he offers to pay 10,000 talents of silver for the desired
slaughter of the Jews (about 20 million dollars). With it he tempted the
avarice of the king and at the same time tickled his pride by implying 
that it must be a trifle to him to lose a whole people who were only worth
the price of 10,000 talents. And Haman probably speculated that this great
sum he offered, the greater the sum was the more flattering it would 
appear to the fancy of the king to waive it. Oriental monarchs were known
for doing such things in a boastful spirit. This Haman knew well.

     Then the king gave him his ring. It was a ring to seal a document.
Every ring had a seal. The transfer of the royal ring with the royal seal
and denoted the transfer of kingly authority and power to the recipient.
Haman was therefore invested with royal authority. The haughtiness of the 
king appears now. Not alone does he turn over his signet-ring but he also
makes Haman a present of the enormous sum he had offered to the king. In
cold blood Xerxes gives over to him the unknown people into the hands of 
this wicked enemy.

     Verses 12-15. A great activity is here described. An Empire-wide 
proclamation, a veritable proclamation of death was issued. The king's
scribes were called on the 13th day of the month. Research has established
the fact that the 13th day of the month was called by the Persians Tir
(the meaning of which is "lot"). All the king's satraps, the governors of 
every province, the princes of every people who had become identified with
the Persian empire were notified in different languages of what should
take place on the 13th day of the month Adar. The proclamation was written
in the name of the king and sealed with his ring in Haman's possession.
"And letters were sent by posts into all the king's provinces, to destroy,
to slay, and to cause to perish, all Jews, both young and old, little
children and women, in one day, even on the thirteenth day of the twelfth
month, which is the month Adar, and to take the spoil of them for a prey."
And this horrible decree was sent in haste throughout the land. The king
and Haman sat down to a banquet, while the capital, Shushan, was perplexed
and deeply stirred.

                        Typical Application

     Haman illustrates the coming man of sin, the beast of Revelation 13.
As remarked in the introduction, his title "Haman the wicked" (7:6)
represents in the numerical value of the Hebrew letters which compose this
title the number 666. (See Revelation 13:18.) This future coming one will
be like Haman the enemy of the Jews and one of Satan's masterpieces. Haman
was to be worshipped and revered. And the man of sin will demand divine
worship and with the help of the first beast, the little horn of Daniel 7,
he seeks to exterminate the Jews. He will manifest greater cunning than
Haman and use the political power to accomplish his purpose. Mordecai in
his refusal is a type of the godly Jewish remnant to worship the man of

     The proclamation of death pronounced upon a whole race of people, 
everyone doomed to death, none exempted, typifies the condition in which
the whole race is spiritually. The law on account of sin is such a
proclamation. "The soul that sinneth shall die." "The wages of sin is
death." The helpless condition in which the death doomed Jews found
themselves is a picture of the helpless condition of man as a sinner.
Nothing the Jews did could save them; no weeping nor pleading could change
things. All this may be enlarged upon and helpfully applied to man's
condition as a sinner.


                                 CHAPTER 4

     1. The great lamentations of the Jews (4:1-3)
     2. Esther's discovery (4:4-9)
     3. Esther's helplessness (4:10-12)
     4. Mordecai's answer (4:13-14)
     5. Esther's decision (4:15-17)

     Verses 1-3. When Mordecai heard of what had been done and the plan to
exterminate his people became known to him he rent his clothes. This and
the putting on of sackcloth and ashes were the outward expressions of the
most intense grief. The sackcloth was a coarse hair-cloth of a black color.
Then his bitter cry and wailing was heard in the midst of the city. Because
of the sackcloth, which was also used as a sign of mourning over the dead
among the Persians, it was regarded as unclean, and inasmuch as the palace
of the king was looked upon as a clean and holy place, Mordecai could not
enter the king's gate. He had to stand outside the wall. And throughout
the provinces as the proclamation became known and was read by the condemned
race, there was the same weeping and wailing with fasting. Prayer
unquestionably was also connected with this grief.

     Verses 4-9. Esther in the secluded portion of the palace knew nothing
of the great edict which had gone forth. Her maids and chamberlains, whom
she may have used to keep in touch with her uncle, then informed her that
Mordecai was missing inside of the gate and that he was sitting outside
in a most pitiable condition, weeping and wailing. How this report must
have shocked Esther! She was exceedingly grieved and then sent raiment to
Mordecai. This was according to Persian custom in connection with mourning
over the dead that the nearest relations should send the mourner new
garments, to put these on instead of the sackcloth. The Jews must have
conformed to some of these customs. Esther thought that some one of the
family of Mordecai had died. But Mordecai refused the garments for he was
not mourning over death. This must have mystified Esther still more. She
therefore sent Hathach, one of the king's chamberlains, her personal
attendant, to Mordecai to find out the cause of his mourning.

     And Hathach went forth. Mordecai told him of Haman's plot. As he
possessed a copy of the decree he gave it to Hathach to deliver to Esther
and then Mordecai's message to Esther. "To charge her that she should go
in unto the king, to make supplication unto him, and to make request before
him, for her people." He did not say "for this people" but "for her people."
This made known to
Hathach Esther's Jewish origin. Mordecai knew the great favor Esther had
found before the king and he hoped that her supplication would avert the
doom of the race. There is nothing said of Mordecai calling upon God, no
record of his supplications to the God of Abraham. Undoubtedly he did call
on Him. This is in accord with the character of the people; they are seen
as out of the land and out of touch with the Lord. Yet Jehovah in
unchanging mercy watcheth over them. And Hathach delivered the message.

     Verses 10-12. Esther sent the answer. Mordecai heard the alarming news
that the king was unapproachable. Esther herself had not seen his face for
a whole month. To enter the king's presence unbidden would mean sure death.
Death to all "except such to whom the king shall hold out the golden
that he may live." Esther thus informed Mordecai that she is subject to
the same law, and if she transgresseth it, no exception would be made,
though she be the queen.

     Verses 13-14. Mordecai's answer to Esther is a sublime one. It would
have been quite natural for Mordecai to say "If thou canst not save all
the people, at least save me, and the house of thy father, for thou 
belongest to the unassailable house of the king." He does not think of his
personal interest and safety; it is the salvation of his people which is
upon his heart. He knows that Esther is in a position not only to be saved
herself, but also to save her people. He gives her to understand if she
does not act now and if she holds her peace deliverance for the Jews would
be granted through another source. She would lose a great opportunity and
she and her father's house would perish. In these words Mordecai expressed
his deep conviction that the Jewish people cannot perish. He knew the
history of the past and trusted God that He would find a way out at this
time also. And he believed more than this, that Providence had put her on
the throne just to effect the deliverance: "Who knoweth whether thou art
not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?"
     "The answer of Mordecai is a masterpiece of eloquence. He who loved 
and cherished Esther as a daughter, seeks now that she should risk her life
for the deliverance of Israel. He wills it, because he believes in the
deliverance; because he draws from the history of Israel the assurance that
as a race they cannot become extinct, and because he sees in the
exaltation of Esther the divine purpose to use her in the deliverance.
He encourages her to act and to risk her life and this he did by
stimulating her faith in an overruling providence and that therefore she
had nothing to fear."

     Verses 15-17. She responded to this eloquent appeal; her believing
heart had laid hold on the suggestion of her uncle. The Jews are to be
gathered together in Shushan, she requests, for three days and three nights,
neither to eat nor to drink. She would do the same with her maidens. "And
so will I go in unto the king, which is not according to the law, and if I
perish, I perish."

     Fasting in the Old Testament is always the symbolic form of prayer;
it cannot be disassociated from prayer. In giving this command she
expressed her dependence on God and put Him first before attempting to go
in to the king. And then her noble word--If I perish, I perish. Her faith
measured up to Mordecai's expectation. She is ready to sacrifice herself in
order to save her people. How it reminds us of Him who did more than say,
"If I perish, I perish," who gave Himself and took upon Himself the curse
of the law. And Mordecai did according to all that
Esther had commanded him.

                         Typical Application

     In the weeping, and wailing of Mordecai and the Jews, the rent
clothes, the sackcloth and the ashes, we have a prophetic foreshadowing
of the earnest turning to God of the Jewish remnant during the end of this
age. How vividly Joel speaks of this man in the name of Jehovah. "Therefore
also now saith the LORD, turn ye even to me with all your heart, and with 
fasting and with weeping, and with mourning" (Joel 2:12). And then comes
for them the final deliverance as revealed by Joel and foreshadowed in the
deliverance of the book of Esther. Mordecai's faith and Esther's noble
decision are equally typical of the trust and confidence of that godly
portion of the Jewish people who will pass through the time of Jacob's
trouble (Jeremiah 30:4) and who will be delivered out of it.

     As we pointed out in the previous chapter, the great proclamation
typifies what God has said as to the race of sinners, that the wages of
sin is death. "Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things that
are written in the book of the law to do them." The whole race is therefore
under condemnation. And the Jews read this awful proclamation and reading
they believed, and believing what was written they gave expression to
their grief in fasting and turning to God. Alas! that God's proclamation
telling the sinner of his dreadful condition, of the death and wrath which
hangs over him is less believed than the proclamation of the Persian enemy
of the Jews. Yet to know and to enjoy real salvation and deliverance, the
realization of our real condition as lost sinners is eminently necessary.

     As already stated, Esther is a faint type of our Lord in that she was
willing to sacrifice herself in behalf of her people; while He gave that
blessed life and died for that nation (John 12:27).


                                 CHAPTER 5

     1. Esther before the king and her request (5:1-8)
     2. Haman's delusion (5:9-14)

     Verses 1-8. On the third day Esther put on her royal apparel, a
significant day in Scripture as we point out in the typical application
of this chapter. The days of fasting and agony were passed and she is seen
no longer attired in sackcloth but in royal garments. It is of great
interest that Rabbinical exposition (Midrash) gives a tradition that in
her great anxiety and anguish of soul she uttered the opening sentence
of Psalm 22, "My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me?" She made use of
the very words which the most ancient Jewish exponents understood as
referring to the Messiah and which came from the lips of our Lord when
He bore our sins in His body on the tree.

     Clothed in her majestic robes, probably wearing the crown the king
had placed upon her head, she entered in and stood in the inner court,
which was the entrance gate to the pillared hall at the opposite end of
which the king sat on his throne. The king saw her and she obtained
favour--grace--in his sight.

     And the king held out the golden sceptre which was in his hand. So
Esther drew near, and touched the top of the sceptre. The beautiful typical
meaning of this the reader will find at the close of this chapter. The
royal sceptre, the emblem of royal power is extended towards her, the sign
of the king's favour, and she touched the sceptre. (The Latin
translation--the Vulgate--translates "she kissed the sceptre.") In touching
the sceptre she expressed her need of it. She touched the royal sceptre
of power and authority--because from this she seeks and expects
deliverance. And it was the touch of faith. And so at once the king
recognizing her action and what was behind it said, "What wilt thou, Queen
Esther? And what is thy request? It will be given thee even to the half
of the kingdom." instead of asking for a big gift she requests that the
king and Haman be present at a banquet she had prepared. The initials in
the Hebrew of the sentence "Let the king and Haman come" spell the word
Yahweh, which is Jehovah. This the rabbis used to prove that the name of
God is mentioned in this book. While this is merely fanciful, we know that
Jehovah is revealed in the manifestation of His power in behalf of His
people. It must have mystified the king that such a request came from
Esther. But she made the petition for she wanted Haman to be present when
she uncovered the plot to the king. And the king urged haste upon Haman.
He was hurrying to his doom. At the banquet he repeated his question to
find out what her petition was. It was customary among oriental kings that
petitions were offered and then easily granted at banquets. He repeats his
offer also that even if it is the half of the kingdom, it is to be
performed. This benevolence of the king proved to the queen his affection
for her and hence the success of her great mission. She still holds back
her petition. She invites to another banquet on the next day when she
promises to make known her petition. In this she exhibited great wisdom.
She made the king curious and expectant.

     Verses 9-14. Haman's pride produces delusion. He congratulates himself
over the honour the Queen has done him. It was a day of joy and gladness
of heart. And how he was moved with indignation when he beholds again
Mordecai standing up and not doing him the honour which in his delusion
he thinks is now more due him than before. Why did he not kill him at
once? According to Persian law one who sat at the king's gate put himself
under the protection of the king. As long as he was there he was safe. Now
this being the case, if Haman had killed Mordecai, his enemies would have
reported the matter to the king that he had murdered one who had placed
himself under the protecting wings of the king, who had appealed for
protection. Haman knew the possible consequences. Therefore he fetched his
friends and his wife Zeresh. He gives a review of his riches and his
honors including the latest of being invited by the queen. Then he tells of
his vexation. "Yet all this availeth me nothing, so long as I see Mordecai
the Jew sitting at the king's gate." Then comes from his friends and his
wife the advice. The suggested gallows are made to hang Mordecai and Haman
waits, perhaps impatiently, for the morrow when he would go in merrily to
the king and request the execution of the Jew. In his delusion and pride
he did not know that he built the gallows for himself.

                        Typical Application

     This chapter is especially rich in its symbolical, typical and
dispensational meaning. It was on the third day that Esther came forth to
enter into the presence of the king. The third day throughout Scripture
is the day of resurrection and life, the day of blessing and glory. On the
third day in the first chapter of Genesis the submerged earth came out of
the waters and brought forth its beautiful vegetation. This speaks of
resurrection and it is the first time this type is found in the Word of
God. Many times after that the third day in the history of Israel is
mentioned, as well as the third time, and each time it carries with it the
same lesson. (See 2 Kings 20:5; Jonah and his experiences, etc.) All these
passages are blessed types of Him who was raised on the third day after
He finished the work the Father gave Him to do. And so is Esther a type.
She passed typically through a death experience in her fasting, with deep
anguish of soul. "If I perish, I perish," she had said; ready to sacrifice
herself. When she stands in her royal garments before the king on the third
day with her death experience behind she reminds us of Him who left the
grave behind and is now garbed in resurrection glory. The golden sceptre
tells of divine righteousness, power and grace. That sceptre is extended
to all who come to God in that blessed and worthy Name. We can come with
boldness to the throne of grace, obtaining mercy and finding grace to help
in time of need. And there are other gospel applications which we can make.
Esther's entering in to the king was not according to law. Law excluded
her from the presence of the king. So we are excluded from being in God's
presence, because we are sinners. But love has made a way through the
Beloved One in whom we are accepted. And the banquet which Esther made
for the king was for more than giving refreshment to him who loved her,
as we can refresh Him also. It was a banquet to expose the enemy, to stop
his accusation and take his power away from him. And all this is graciously
accomplished in a spiritual way through the cross and the resurrection of

     If we look upon Esther as a type of the Jewish remnant we see in her
fasting and agony the tribulation through which this remnant passeth. But
there comes a third day. This prophecy declares. "After two days will He
revive us; on the third day He will raise us up, and we shall live before
Him" (Hosea 6:1). The third day will surely come when Israel will rise out
of the dust and when the golden sceptre will be extended to His earthly

     In Haman we see the arrogant pride of the enemy of God and the final
enemy of the Jewish people. "Pride goeth before destruction, and a haughty
spirit before a fall" (Prov. 16:18), was true of Haman, it is true of all
who walk in pride and will finally be exemplified in the total defeat of
him, who exalteth himself above all that is called God.


                                 CHAPTER 6

     1. The sleepless night (6:1-3)
     2. The exaltation of Mordecai (6:4-11)
     3. Haman anticipates his doom (6:12-14)

     Verses 1-3. A sleepless night is the next event. The king wanted to
sleep but sleep refused to come. What was the cause of his insomnia? Some
say too much excitement and anxiety in connection with his kingdom; others
that he was speculating on the petition the queen would make on the morrow.
The ancient Jewish expositors say that God took his sleep away from him.
And this is the correct answer. His wakefulness was ordered by God. Next
God puts it into his heart to order the book of record of the chronicles
to be brought so that they might be read to him, not to produce sleep but
to spend the sleepless night in a profitable way. Once more we see the hand
of God in directing the reading of the record of Mordecai's discovery of
the plot against the king's life and how he had saved the king. The deed of
Mordecai had been unrewarded through the wise purpose of the Lord; and now
it is brought to light by the same providence. In that memorable, sleepless
night the machinations of revenge, so finely spun in the dark, are suddenly
arrested and their exposure becomes assured. And let us remember that the
same providence still works, mysteriously and openly in the lives of God's

     The king hears that Mordecai had not been rewarded. His pride and
dignity were suddenly stirred up. He felt it was not just that such a deed
should go unrewarded. It must also have come to his mind that this Mordecai
had not reminded the king of his deed, by sending a petition for a reward
or by requesting a favour, so common in oriental life. He had kept silent.

     Verses 4-1 1. The king must have been indignant that such a matter
had been overlooked and he wants to have the matter rectified at once. He
asks "Who is in the court?" Whosoever would be there would have to carry
out the king's commission. He did not expect that Haman was waiting outside.
Perhaps he also had a sleepless night, nervously excited as he thought that
soon Mordecai would dangle from the gallows; and how he would enjoy the
banquet of Esther on the same day. He was in a great hurry and desired that
the execution of the despised Jew should take place in the early morning.
All is working together and God's majestic hand is seen every step of the
way! "Never was there exhibited a more frivolous and thoughtless judgment
than that shown by many higher critics in their light estimation of the
book of Esther. For surely there can be no more beautiful description of
the impending dramatic catastrophe than that with which the whole of this 
book is full. At the moment when the mind of the king has but one thought,
to compensate Mordecai with the long-merited honour and dignity, and so
much the more because it ought to have been done long ago, at the very
moment when he looks for a person to carry out his plans, just then, Haman
appears on the scene" (Professor Cassel).

     And the king asks Haman, "What shall be done unto the man whom the
king delighteth to honour?" In his blind self-love, his deluded pride, Haman
thought he was the man to whom the king would do still more honour. Well
says a writer in the Talmud--"inasmuch as the writer of the book of Esther
knew what was in Haman's heart, he must have been inspired in writing this

     And pride fills his lips with an extraordinary demand. When his wicked
lips spoke the words, he must have imagined himself clad in royal apparel
riding the king's charger, wearing his crown, and thus led forth through
the city, announced by the town-crier that he is the man whom the king
delighteth to honour.

     The king speaks: "Make haste and take the apparel and the horse, as
thou hast said and do even so to Mordecai the Jew, that sitteth at the
king's gate, let nothing fail of all thou hast spoken." What a thunderbolt
this must have been for Haman! While he dreamt of his own honour and
greatness he is suddenly awakened by the unalterable command of the king,
whose word is law, to do all he had spoken to the man whom he hated and
despised, whose death warrant he expected to have signed by the king. He
could not tarry in the king's presence for the king demanded haste. He
could not parley with the king; that would have been an insult. All that
was left to Haman was to make haste and take the apparel and the horse to
Mordecai. He arrayed him and then led him through the city and proclaimed
before him the king's message. And Mordecai? His mouth must have been
filled with laughter and with praises to his God, when his deadly enemy
came to do him honour. How great was his triumph in the marvellous
exaltation brought about by the keeper of Israel, who neither sleeps nor
slumbers! The Jews read the entire book of Esther on the Purim feast. When
the reader reaches this passage he reads the record with a raised and 
triumphant voice.

     Verses 12-14. Mordecai is back at the gate; Haman in bitter
disappointment, with evil forebodings, his head covered, the sign of grief,
returns to his wife and friends. When they hear what happened they told
him that his case would be hopeless. In the conflict between the Jew and
the offspring of Amalek, victory is on the side of the Jew. (Ex. 17:16;
Numb. 24:20; Deut. 25:17-19) And then the king's chamberlains knocked at
the door to hurry Haman to Esther's banquet.

                        Typical Application

     The great lesson of this chapter is the wonderful working of divine
providence. Surely "God works in a mysterious way, His wonders to perform."
And how He cares for His people and watcheth over them! He is still the
same, for He is the Lord who changeth not.

     And Mordecai stands out in this chapter as another type of our Lord.
All the men of God in Old Testament history, in their humiliation and
exaltation, like Joseph, Moses, David, etc., are types of the humiliation
and exaltation of our Lord.

     What was done to Mordecai will also be some future day the happy lot
of Israel when they will be delivered out of the hand of their enemies.


                                 CHAPTER 7

     1. The second banquet and Esther's petition (7:1-4)
     2. Haman's exposure (7:5-6)
     3. Haman's miserable end (7:7-10)

     Verses 1-4. Esther at this second feast knew that the God of her
fathers was at work and that all the hatred against her race came not
from the heart of the king, but centered in Haman. In the events of the
sleepless night and what followed she must have seen the display of the
hand of God. And now she utters her delayed petition. Her petition is that
her life may be spared as well as her people. How astonished the king must
have looked as he gazed upon his beautiful wife and learned from her lips
that her life was in danger. And still greater must have been his surprise
when he hears, "For we are sold, I and my people, to be destroyed, to be
slain, and to perish." What a scene! The handsome queen, her marvelous
earnestness and eloquence in pleading for her life and for her people; the
darkening, astonished countenance of the king, the blanching face of Haman
and the others in the banquet hall in great excitement.

     And her heart-rendering plea, perhaps mingled with tears which coursed
down her cheek, did not fail to produce the desired effect.

     Verses 5-6. The king must have been more than astonished" he must
have been angry. Who dared to plot against the life of the beautiful queen
and deprive him of her? Who dared to sell her and her people for slaughter?
Even then before he hears from Esther the name of the man, he must have
realized, that the crouching Haman is the man. "Who is he, and where is
he that durst presume in his heart to do so?" Her answer is brief but
eloquent. With flashing eyes and pointing her finger to the guest at her
side she said, "An adversary and an enemy, even this wicked Haman!" The
scene is beyond
comparison. Then Haman was afraid before the king and the queen. He
anticipated the fearful storm which would break over his head.

     Verses 7-10. The king arose in his wrath. Close to the banquet hall
was the garden. There the king went in the heat of his wrath and the great
excitement which had seized upon him and made him speechless. When an
oriental king or sultan arises angry from his own table, then there is no
mercy for him that causeth it. (See Rosenmueller Oriental Studies on
Esther.) In the meantime Haman begs cowardly for his life. He must have
fallen at her feet with weeping and wailing. And Esther did not open her
lips. Then Haman in his agonizing plea falls upon the couch where Esther
was. At that moment the king re-entered the banquet hall. He has regained
his speech and when he beholds Haman on the couch he utters a word of bitter
sarcasm, as if he had designs upon the honour of the queen. No sooner had
the king spoken the word, the attending servants covered Haman's face. This
was a Persian custom. The face of a criminal was covered to indicate that
he was no longer worthy to behold the light and that darkness of death
would be his lot.

     The gallows which Haman had prepared for Mordecai is used for his own
execution. Critics point out the statement that the gallows 50 cubits high
(80 feet) stood in Haman's house and they raise the question "How could
an 80 foot long pole be gotten into any one's house?" But the word gallows
means in the Hebrew "tree." Probably a tree standing in the garden of Haman
was made ready with a rope to hang the hated Jew. It is characteristic of
the critics to take such minor things to discredit the accuracy of

                        Typical Application

     Haman illustrates the work and the ignominious end of the final
Anti-christ who troubles Israel. Haman had almost succeeded. But when the
proper moment came God acted in behalf of His people and Haman falls
forever. So that coming man of sin will almost succeed, but in the end of
the great tribulation, the final 1260 days or three years and a half, with
which this age closes, the power of God will be displayed in the complete
victory over this enemy of God and man. Haman's end came by the decree of
the king and the Anti-christ will be destroyed by the coming of the King
of kings and Lord of Lords.


                                 CHAPTER 8

     1. Mordecai's exaltation (8:1-2)
     2. Esther's second petition (8:3-8)
     3. The second proclamation (8:9-14)
     4. The joy of the Jews (8:15-17)

     Verses 1-2. Esther the Queen receives from the king the possessions
of Haman, the enemy of the Jews. Then she revealed what Mordecai was to
her, her uncle and foster-father. The king had taken the signet-ring of
authority from the hand of Haman. The same ring Mordecai received. Esther
honoured her uncle by placing him over the house of Haman.

     Verses 3-6. But while Mordecai had become the prime-minister of
Persia, Haman the Agagite had been executed, and all his property given
to the queen, the horrible decree still stood; the first proclamation was
still in force. Something had to be done to complete the deliverance of
her people. Her life and Mordecai's life had been spared, but what about
her beloved people? It is true the fateful day was still in the future,
but the evil decreed and not yet recalled had to be met in some way. Once
more she enters into the presence of the king. Once more the king holds
out the golden sceptre, from which we learn that his decree was still in
force and that, therefore, Esther once more risked her life. But she knew
he loved her. Knowing this she cast herself at his feet and besought him
with tears to put away the mischief of Haman, and his devices he had
devised against the Jews. Her pleading and her tears were not in vain. Her
petition is that the letters of Haman, demanding the destruction of her
people, should be reversed. "For how can I endure to see the evil that will
come upon my people? or how can I endure the destruction of my kindred?"
The king answers her. But the former decree cannot be revoked; it must
stand. Laws made by Persian kings could not be altered or changed. (See
Daniel 6:15.) A revocation of the edict is impossible and the former
proclamation therefore stands. This Persian custom had for its foundation
the idea that a "decree" must be looked upon in the light of an emanation
from the king as a person with divine authority. But inasmuch as Mordecai
had now the signet-ring, which authorized him to issue decrees in the name
of the king, he could do anything he pleased and write to the Jews in the
name of the king and this second proclamation would also be irrevocable.
     Verses 7-14. Then followed a great activity. The scribes were called
and Mordecai dictated the message. It was addressed to the governors and
princes of the whole empire from India to Ethiopia and written in many
languages. He wrote in the name of the king and sealed it with his ring.
The letters were dispatched by posts on horseback, riding on swift steeds
that were used in the king's service. The proclamation contained the
following good news: "The king grants the Jews in every city to gather
themselves together, and to stand for their life, to destroy, to slay, and
to cause to perish, all the power of the people and province that would
assault them, their little ones and women, and to take the spoil of them
for a prey, upon one day in all the provinces of King Ahasuerus, that is
upon the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, which is the month Adar."
The proclamation of death stood, but alongside of it there was given a
proclamation of life. They needed not to die. Their enemies were given into
their hands. Acting upon this second proclamation, believing its contents,
they learned that while the first decree stood and could not be revoked,
the second decree set them free from death and gave them liberty.

     Verses 15-17. How things had changed under God's merciful dealings
with His people! When that first decree was issued Mordecai sat in
sackcloth and ashes and all the Jews wept and wailed. But now when the
second decree was announced Mordecai went forth from the presence of the
king in royal apparel of blue, white and purple, the Persian colours.
(They illustrate the ancient Persian view about the world. White the colour
of light, blue, the sky, and purple was brought in connection with the
sun.) On his head he had a great crown of gold. There was great joy in the
city of Shushan. The Jews had light, and gladness, and joy, and glory.
Throughout the vast kingdom there was nothing but joy. Furthermore many
people became Jews.

                        Typical Application

     In Mordecai's exaltation as given in this chapter, in Haman's
possession handed over to the queen and her uncle, in the authority which
both received, we have a fine foreshadowing of what will take place when
the final Haman is overthrown. That will be when the times of the
Gentiles are passed and the King, our Lord, has come back. Then Israel will
get her great blessings, promised long ago by a covenant-keeping God.

     Like it was in Mordecai's and Esther's day, the riches of the Gentiles
will be given unto them. "Then thou shalt see, and flow together, and thine
heart shall fear, and be enlarged; because the abundance of the sea shall
be converted unto thee, the wealth of the Gentiles shall come unto thee"
(Isaiah 60:5). Israel restored will then be the head of the nations and
no longer the tail. As many people became Jews as recorded in the last
verse of this chapter, so in that coming day, ten men out of all languages
of the nations shall take hold of the skirt of a Jew and say, "we will go
with you, for we have heard that God is with you" (Zech. 8:23). "And many
nations shall be joined unto the LORD in that day" (Zech. 2:11). All
this blessing for the Jews in Persia was brought about by the heroic deed
of Esther, who passed through a great struggle, who risked her life that
her people might be saved. And the promised blessings and glory can only
come to the people Israel through Him who gave His life, the true King and
Shepherd of Israel, the Lord Jesus Christ.

     In gospel application the second decree or proclamation is of much
interest. It typifies and illustrates the good news. As we saw, the first
decree illustrates the sentence of death passed upon the whole race on
account of sin. The second decree does not cancel the first, but declares
that which liberates from death, sets free and gives power. And that is
the good news as it is given in the cross of Christ. Death is met by death;
the death of the Son of God in the sinner's place, bearing the curse, sets
free from the law of sin and death. Thus the sinner's doom is fully met
in the death of Christ. "This second decree has been nailed to the cross
of Christ, it has been revealed in His sacrificial death, written with His
blood, sealed by His bowed head, uttered by His expiring cry. It has a
twofold effect. First, the sinner who avails himself of it, who believes,
is saved. It arrays all the forces of righteousness on his side and enables
him to find his surest protection in that which but for the work of Christ
must have condemned him. Then it puts him in a position to rise up against
his enemies by whom as a captive he was enslaved and to lead his captivity
captive. From the condemnation of the law and from the cruel dominion of
sin believing sinners are equally delivered by the proclamation of the
gospel in the cross of Christ, as the Jews had righteous power given to
them over their enemies.

     But faith was necessary for the Jews. They had to believe the second
proclamation as they believed the first. Woe unto the Jews when that
thirteenth day of the month Adar came and they acted not upon the second
decree. Then the first decree would have been carried out upon their heads
and they would have suffered death. So must the sinner believe the first
decree--that death is sentence as a sinner; then he must believe the second
decree "Christ died for the sins of the ungodly"--there is life in a look
to the crucified One. And as the Jews had light, gladness, joy, and glory
because they believed, even so he who believes the good news has salvation,
peace, joy and glory.


                                 CHAPTER 9

     1. The resistance and victory of the Jews (9:1-11)
     2. Esther's petition (9:12-16)
     3. The institution of Purim (9:17-19)
     4. The messages of Mordecai and Esther (9:20-32)

     Verses 1-11. The fateful day, the thirteenth day of Adar, came and
with it the retribution for the enemies of the Jews. On that day they
gathered together to withstand all who would assault them. The princes and
governors and all other officials of the king helped the Jews, because they
knew the influential position which Mordecai held and that he waxed greater
and greater. Theirs was a great victory. In Shushan itself 500 were slain
and 300 more in another part of the city; there were 75,000 slain in the
provinces. The ten sons of Haman were slain; their Persian names are given.

     Verses 12-16. The king heard the report of the number of his subjects
slain in Shushan the fortress and then asks the queen to make a petition.
She requests that an additional day be given to continue the work in
Shushan and that the ten sons of Haman be hanged on gallows. But had they
not slain already 500 in Shushan? The 500 were killed in the palace, or,
as that word should be rendered, citadel, fortress; the extra day was
requested to continue the retributive work in the city itself. The request
was granted and the ten sons of Haman were hanged. On the spoil, the goods
and possessions of those slain, they did not touch, probably to avoid
false accusations, though the decree gave them permission to spoil their
enemies. When Jews read in orthodox synagogues the book of Esther they read
the names of Haman's ten sons in one breath, as quickly as possible,
intimating thereby that they all were exterminated at one and the same time.

     Verses 17-19. With the fourteenth day of Adar they rested and made
it a feast of rejoicing. The Jews in Shushan celebrated the thirteenth
and fourteenth day and rested on the fifteenth day. This was the origin
of the traditional feast of Purim still kept by the orthodox Jews in
commemoration of the great deliverance and the wonderful history of
Mordecai and Esther. It is mostly celebrated by public reading of this
book and by the distribution of gifts.

     Verses 20-32. The final section of this chapter gives the account of
a message which Mordecai sent to the Jews in the provinces of the Persian
kingdom enjoining them to observe these days, the feast of Purim. Queen
Esther also wrote with all authority confirming this second letter of Purim.

                        Typical Application

     What happened to the enemies of the Jews in Shushan and the Persian
provinces will be the lot of all those who hate them. This is often made
known in the prophetic Word. Thus spake Balaam: "His king (Israel's King)
shall be higher than Agag, and His kingdom shall be exalted. God brought
him forth out of Egypt; he hath as it were the strength of an unicorn; he
shall eat of the nations his enemies and shall break their bones, and
pierce them through with arrows" (Numbers 24:7-8). The Lord Himself will
arise in behalf of His people and judge their enemies, for it is written,
"I will render vengeance to mine enemies and will reward them that hate
me" (Deut. 32:41). In this respect this little book with its history is a
prophecy of the ultimate victory of God's chosen people over their enemies.
In all their history it has been true, and will be finally true in the 
fullest sense of the word what Isaiah wrote: "No weapon that is formed
against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in
judgment thou shalt condemn (Isaiah 54:17).

     The ten sons of Haman, so fully identified with the wicked father, 
are also not without meaning. The final form of the Gentile government 
in the close of the age was revealed to Daniel. It consists of ten kingdoms,
seen in Nebuchadnezzar's dream image and in Daniel's ten-horned beast,
forming once more the Roman empire. It will be domineered over by the
little horn, who works together with the man of sin. The ten sons of Haman
and their miserable end are another illustration of prophetic truth.


                                 CHAPTER 10

     The three verses with which this book closes tell us of the
greatness of King Ahasuerus. Here also is the record of the increasing
greatness of Mordecai. He was next unto King Ahasuerus, great among the
Jews, accepted of the multitude of his brethren, seeking the wealth of 
his people and speaking peace to all his seed. A blessed type of Him who
is greater than Mordecai and who will some day bring peace to His 
earthly people and who will speak peace to the nations. The precious 
little book ends with peace.

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