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the utmost contempt, as a despicable and proud people, who would live according to their own laws. Therefore If it please the king, let it be written that they may be destroyed : and I will pay ten thousand talents* of silver to the hands of those that have the
charge of the business, to bring [it] into the king's treasuries. 10 And the king took his ring from his hand, and gave it unto Ha.
man the son of Hammedatha the Agagite, the Jews' enemy. And the king said unto Haman, The silver [is] given to thee, the people also, to do with them as it seemeth good to thee. This was strange conduct in the king. He prudently consulted before he put away Vashti ; he made inquisition into the conduct of the conspirators, before he condemned ther; here he regarded
nothing, but made a general decree, and gave Haman all the spoils 12 for his own use. Then were the king's scribes called on the
thirteenth day of the first month, and there was written accord: ing to all that Haman had commanded unto the king's lieuten: ants, and to the governors that (were) over every province, and to the rulers of every people of every province, according to the writing thereof, and (to) every people after their language ; it was written in the language and character of every people, that they might understand it ; in the name of king Ahasuerus was it written, and sealed with the king's ring. And the letters were sent by posts into all the king's provinces, to destroy, to kill, and to cause to perish, all Jews, both young and old, little chile dren and women, in one day, (even) upon the thirteenth [day] of the twelfth month, which [is] the month Adar, and (to take] the spoil of them for a prey : it was a great motive to them to take up arms against the Jews, that the king had remitted the money
promised ; and therefore Haman allows it to those who should de. 14 stroy them. The copy of the writing for a commandment to be
given in every province was published unto all people, that they 15 should be ready against that day. The posts went out, being
hastened by the king's commandment, and the decree was given in Shushan the palace ; it was either first published there; or fiassed before the king's councils. And the king and Haman sat down to drink ; but the city Shushan was perplexed; the Jews there were greatly distressed ; the inhabitants also were fearful of che consequence of the massacre, and the growing power and pride of the prime minister ; and others who were allied to the Jews, or friends to them, were greatly concerned at this bloody edict.
1. A GOOD man will bring religion into the common affairs
of life, and carry the ordinary forms of civility no further than is consistent with that. It was not pride or stiffness which influ.
As their destruction would be a considerable loss to the royal revenue in their tribute, he proposes to give a sum equal to two millions one hundred and nineteen thousand pounds,
we suppose they were Babylonish talents ; but if Jewish talents, twice as much. This be probably intended to raise out of the spoils of the Jews.
enced Mordecai, but a principle of conscience, for which his memory is worthy of reverence. It suggests a useful hint to us, to make the word of God the standard of politeness and good breeding, at least so far as never to contradict its rules. This will prevent fulsome flattery, and all mean and sinful compliances, the injuring of our health, the wasting of time, or neglecting religious services, to please and humour any persons, be they ever so great and eminent. A wise and good man will never pay any compliment to the injury of his conscience, and to displease him who is higher than the highest, and whose favour is all in all.
2. We infer how unhappy it is for a nation to be under an arbitrary prince, whose will is his law, and who can do what he pleases with the liberties, lives, and properties of his subjects. Would one think that this was the same man who granted the decree to Nehemiah to rebuild Jerusalem ? but there was no regard to God or religion in either case ; that was made to gratify one favourite, this, so contradictory, to gratify another. When a proud, malicious, revengeful man is the favourite of an arbitrary prince, what dreadful mischief may he not do! All these people were to be destroyed, only to gratify his malice ; and this easy, weak prince, at once gave way to it. We have every reason to be thankful that we are not under such a government. It is our duty to pray that kings and all in authority may be wise and good, and truly concerned for the happiness of mankind ; that their subjects may lead quiet and ficaceable lives in all godliness and honesty.
3. How miserable is that mind which is under the influence of pride and revenge. What a wretched, restless principle is pride ? How astonishing, that Haman should ever form such a cruel and diabolical scheme ! There is great reason for us all to watch against the rising of pride and revenge, for they may transport persons to commit the most horrid and bloody excesses. Let us endavour to subdue every such turbulent and wretched disposition, and learn from the precept and example of Christ, that humility and readiness to forgive injuries, which will most effectually secure our own confort ; for if we indulge pride and revenge, no one suffers by it so much as ourselves.
4. It is common for the people of God to be slandered, to prepare the way for their destruction. The Jews were represented. as a proud and obstinate people ; factious in the Persian state, though, for aught that appears, they were peaceable, good subjects, and sought the peace of the country in which they were settled. But it is on these principles that persecutors in all ages have grounded penal laws against conscientious men. It is upon Haman's principles that the many popish conspiracies and massacres have been founded ; upon these principles too, protestant dissenters have beeh, in former ages, represented as enemics to the church and state, and in consequence of that been fined, imprisoned, banished, and destroyed. Let us thank God for our liberties, and that those who delight to asperse and vilify others can, under our present happy constitution, do nothing more.
• 5. We are taught to own the determination of Providence in the most casual events. Haman, according to the superstition of the east, would find out a lucky day to destroy the Jews; and God ordered it to be twelve months after the plot was formed, that there might be time to defeat it. The providence of God will appear in the course of the story to be indeed wonderful ; and it suggests to uş Solomon's observation, that the lot is cast into the lap, but the whole disposing thereof is of the Lord, Prov, xvi. 33.
6. God for a while may leave his people in the greatest danger, that he may display his power the more remarkably and effectually in their deliverance. It was no wonder that the Jews and all their friends were perplexed, when they were all condemned as sheep to the slaughter, and had no apparent means of escape. When the church is in the greatest distress, God seems sometimes to retire, that when he appears it may be with greater lustre, to the confusion of his enemies and the joy of his friends. This thought should keep up our courage in the darkest prospects, and when our apprehensions are most dişmal ; for we shall see in the course of this history, as in many other instances, that God taketh the wise in their own crafiiness, and ensnares the wicked in the works of their own hands.
We had an account in the former chapter of the king's bloody decree";
and in this we are told how the Jews were affected with it. T H EN Mordecai perceived all that was done, Mordecai
V rent his clothes, and put on sackcloth with ashes, and went oat into the midst of the city, and cried with a loud and a 2 bitter cry ;* And he came even before the king's gate, that his
cries might reach Esther's ears : for none (might) enter into the 3 king's gate clothed with sackcloth.t And in every province,
whithersoever the king's commandment and his decree came, (there was] great mourning among the Jews, and fasting, and
weeping, and wailing; and many lay in sackcloth and ashes. 4 So Esther's maids, and her chamberlains came and told [it] her,
es a piece of common newe, that Mordecai was in mourning ; for she, living retired, did not know what had passed, or the reason of his lamentation, but supposed some calamity had befallen him. Then was the queen exceedingly grieved ; and she sent raiment to clothe Mordecai, and to take away his sackcloth from him ; she
sent him a change of raiment that he might come to court, and take 5 his place as usual ; but he received [it] not. Then called Esther
for Hatach, (one) of the king's chamberlains, whom he had apa
• Mordecai was particularly affected with it, because the edict arose from his conscien. tious scruples.
+ This custom is still preserved in the east; none are admitted into the king's palace in trourning, lest they should disturb their pleasures, and put them in mind of sickness and death
pointed to attend upon her, and gave him a commandment to 6 Mordecai, to know what it (was,] and why it (was.) So Ha.
tach went forth to Mordecai unto the street of the city, which (was) before the king's gate. And Mordecai told him of all that had happened unto him, his refusal to bow to Haman, and what followed thereon, and of the sum of the money that Haman had promised to pay to the king's treasuries for the Jews, to destroy them. Also he gave him the copy of the writing of the decree that was given at Shushan to destroy them, to show [it] unto Esther, and to declare [it] unto her, and to charge her in the name of God, and as she loved her people, that she should go in unto the king, to make supplication unto him, and to make re. quest before him for her people. And Hatach came and told Esther the words of Mordecai.
Again Esther spake unto Hatach, and gave him commando Il ment unto Mordecai ; All the king's servants, and the people
of the king's provinces, do know, that whosoever, whether man or woman, of whatever quality, shall come unto the king into the inner court, who is not called, without a particular license, (there is) one law of his to put him) to death, except such to whom the king shall hold out the golden sceptre, that he may live : but I have not been called to come in unto the king these thirty days; therefore she had no other means of speaking to him but at
che hazard of her life, and she had reason to fear, lest she had lost 12 his affection, and that her petition would not be granted. And they 13 told to Mordecai Esther's words. Then Mordecai commanded
to answer Esther, Think not with thyself that thou shalt escape 14 in the king's house, more than all the Jews. For if thou alto
gether holdest thy peace at this time, (then) shall there enlargement and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place; but thou and thy father's house shall be destroyed : and who know
eth whether thou art come to the kingdom for (such] a time as 15 this? Then Esther bade (them) return Mordecai (this an16 swer,] Go, gather together all the Jews that are present in Shu.
shan, and fast ye for me, and neither eat or drink three days, night nor day ; I also and my maidens will fast likewise ; and so will I go in unto the king, which [is] not according to the law : and if I perish, I perish ; she at length resolves to comply, and being thus recommended to God, she would go in to the king. If she perished, it would be a satisfaction to perish in so good a cause, and for 80 worthy an end. This implied a great regard to
the God of Israei, a concern to do her duty, and to engage his 17 assistance, and a resolute submission to his divine will, So Mor
decai went his way, and did according to all that Esther had commanded him.
He here insists upon her gæing in to the king; urging that she would share in the gen. eral destruction, that even her rank would not exempt her; and with a noble triumph of faith adds, that God would deliver his people some other way. He apprehended, that while the rest escaped, God would take her and her family off for want of zes for his cause and people: and that she ought rather to think that God had advanced her to be an instrument of their deliverance.
1. T T is a great satisfaction to good men, that the law of God
I is not like the laws of the Persian court. There was no attending there with mourning, or any kind of sorrow. But God allows, invites, and encourages afflicted souls to come to him. His law runs thus, Is any man afflicted ? let him pray. Call upon me in the day of trouble, and I will deliver thee. The law of the Persian court was, that no man should come to the king without express leave, on peril of his life : a bad law for themselves and their king too. But the king of heaven bids us always welcome ; allows the poorest and the meanest to draw near, to come boldly, with humble confidence, to the inner court, the holy of holies, through the blood of Jesus. Let us be thankful for these privileges, and use them, lifting up holy hands, and cheerfully pour out our complaints to the Lord.
2. God often brings his people into affliction that he may engago them to pray. The Jews were perhaps too ready to forget God while they were in prosperity, and wanted the religious advantages which they had enjoyed in Judea. God brought these dangers on them to rouse their attention, and to promote and quicken their prayers. One end of affliction is to bring us to our knees, to promote humility, and fervency in prayer. In their affliction they will seek him early.
3. When we are in deep distress, or have great undertakings before us, it will be our wisdom to engage the prayers of others. Esther, when thus distressed for herself and her country, and tortured with a inixture of hope and fear, desired the prayers of all the Jews. Those who know what devotion is, what prayer has done, and what it can do, will be desirous of, and thankful for, the prayers of their brethren. But those who desire the prayers of others should not think that enough, they should be careful to pray for themselves. Esther engaged her maidens in this work. Here, as Mr. HENRY observes, is an example of a mistress praying with her maids, worthy the imitation of all good women who are heads of families, or when their husbands are abroad, or will not discharge this important duty ; the sin and neglect of one, will not excuse the other.'
4. Every one ought to consider why God placed them in such or such circumstances, and employ their interest and advantages for his glory and the good of others, v. 14. We may not know at first, what end Providence designs in our relations, and circumstances, and should therefore observe the leadings of it: and whenever opportunity of service offers, should earnestly embrace it, justly supa posing it is the intention of God we should do so. Every truly · good man will watch for opportunities of usefulness, and carefully improve them.
5. It may sometimes be our duty to expose ourselves to the greatest dangers for the preservation and happiness of others. 1$ was undoubtedly Esther's duty to enter in unto the king, and save