King James Bible
with Catholic Commentary by George Leo Haydock

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Esther 2

Esther chosen queen. (1-20) Mordecai discovers a plot against the king. (21-23)

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Esther chosen queen

1 After these things, when the wrath of king Ahasuerus was appeased, he remembered Vashti, and what she had done, and what was decreed against her.

2 Then said the king’s servants that ministered unto him, Let there be fair young virgins sought for the king:

3 And let the king appoint officers in all the provinces of his kingdom, that they may gather together all the fair young virgins unto Shushan the palace, to the house of the women, unto the custody of Hege the king’s chamberlain, keeper of the women; and let their things for purification be given them:

4 And let the maiden which pleaseth the king be queen instead of Vashti. And the thing pleased the king; and he did so.

5 Now in Shushan the palace there was a certain Jew, whose name was Mordecai, the son of Jair, the son of Shimei, the son of Kish, a Benjamite;

6 Who had been carried away from Jerusalem with the captivity which had been carried away with Jeconiah king of Judah, whom Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon had carried away.

7 And he brought up Hadassah, that is, Esther, his uncle’s daughter: for she had neither father nor mother, and the maid was fair and beautiful; whom Mordecai, when her father and mother were dead, took for his own daughter.

8 So it came to pass, when the king’s commandment and his decree was heard, and when many maidens were gathered together unto Shushan the palace, to the custody of Hegai, that Esther was brought also unto the king’s house, to the custody of Hegai, keeper of the women.

9 And the maiden pleased him, and she obtained kindness of him; and he speedily gave her her things for purification, with such things as belonged to her, and seven maidens, which were meet to be given her, out of the king’s house: and he preferred her and her maids unto the best place of the house of the women.

10 Esther had not shewed her people nor her kindred: for Mordecai had charged her that she should not shew it.

11 And Mordecai walked every day before the court of the women’s house, to know how Esther did, and what should become of her.

12 Now when every maid’s turn was come to go in to king Ahasuerus, after that she had been twelve months, according to the manner of the women, (for so were the days of their purifications accomplished, to wit, six months with oil of myrrh, and six months with sweet odours, and with other things for the purifying of the women;)

13 Then thus came every maiden unto the king; whatsoever she desired was given her to go with her out of the house of the women unto the king’s house.

14 In the evening she went, and on the morrow she returned into the second house of the women, to the custody of Shaashgaz, the king’s chamberlain, which kept the concubines: she came in unto the king no more, except the king delighted in her, and that she were called by name.

15 Now when the turn of Esther, the daughter of Abihail the uncle of Mordecai, who had taken her for his daughter, was come to go in unto the king, she required nothing but what Hegai the king’s chamberlain, the keeper of the women, appointed. And Esther obtained favour in the sight of all them that looked upon her.

16 So Esther was taken unto king Ahasuerus into his house royal in the tenth month, which is the month Tebeth, in the seventh year of his reign.

17 And the king loved Esther above all the women, and she obtained grace and favour in his sight more than all the virgins; so that he set the royal crown upon her head, and made her queen instead of Vashti.

18 Then the king made a great feast unto all his princes and his servants, even Esther’s feast; and he made a release to the provinces, and gave gifts, according to the state of the king.

19 And when the virgins were gathered together the second time, then Mordecai sat in the king’s gate.

20 Esther had not yet shewed her kindred nor her people; as Mordecai had charged her: for Esther did the commandment of Mordecai, like as when she was brought up with him.

Mordecai discovers a plot against the king

21 In those days, while Mordecai sat in the king’s gate, two of the king’s chamberlains, Bigthan and Teresh, of those which kept the door, were wroth, and sought to lay hands on the king Ahasuerus.

22 And the thing was known to Mordecai, who told it unto Esther the queen; and Esther certified the king thereof in Mordecai’s name.

23 And when inquisition was made of the matter, it was found out; therefore they were both hanged on a tree: and it was written in the book of the chronicles before the king.

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G Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Ver. 1. Suffered. He began to repent. The Persians used to deliberate when warm with wine: but their decrees were not ratified till they had examined them again the next day. Herod. i. 133. — This was not the case here; the king divorced his wife without any delay. C. — Sept. intimate that he presently lost thoughts of her. “He no longer remembered Vasthi with any affection, reflecting what she had said, and how he had condemned her.” H. — But the Alex. copy agrees with the Heb. C.

Ver. 2. Beautiful. Thus Abisag was brought to David. 3 K. i. 2. The Turkish emperors select women from all their dominion, without distinction of noble or ignoble; as all are their slaves.

Ver. 3. House. Distinct from the palace, v. 14. — Women’s. Heb. “things for rubbing, (C.) or purification;” (H.) such as perfumes, but not clothes.

Ver. 4. Commanded. Heb. “did so.”

Ver. 5. Jew. He was of the tribe of Benjamin. But all went by this name, after the captivity. Mardochai had probably returned from Jerusalem, seeing things were unfinished there. 1 Esd. ii. 2. C. — Semei, who cursed David. Chal. — Cis. The head of the royal family of Saul; whence authors have concluded that he and Esther were of royal blood, (C.) and descendants of Miphiboseth. T.

Ver. 6. Who. This may refer to Cis, the great-grandfather of Mardochai, if we postpone this history till the latter end of the Persian monarchy. D. — But it more naturally applies to Mardochai himself, who (C. xi. 4. T.) was led captive 80 years before, being then perhaps 10 years old, so that he would now be only 90; an age when many are fit for great things. C. Cic. de Senect. — He might even have been an infant when taken, and of course would not be much above 80 when he came into such favour. H.

Ver. 7. Brothers. Josephus, (xi. 6.) the old Latin version of the Syr. Abenezra, &c. suppose that Mardochai was uncle to Esther. But the Heb. Syr. Gr. and Chal. assert that he was only her cousin. Sept. “daughter of Aminadab, (or rather Abihail, v. 15.) his father’s brother, and her name was Esther; and after her parents were dead, he educated her for a wife;” eis gunaika, as some Rabbins also maintain, believing she was an heiress. Yet other Greek copies, Heb. &c. read, “he educated her as a daughter, thugatera: for the damsel was very beautiful.” He had probably adopted her. C. — Edissa. Heb. hadassa, (H.) or hadassah, signified “of myrtle.” M. — Esther, “a sheep.” C.

Ver. 9. And he, Egeus, commanded the under eunuch. T. — Heb. “he quickly gave her her things for purifications, (v. 3.) and her portions, with seven maids, suitable for her, out of the king’s house; and he charged her and her maids to dwell in the best of the women’s house,” (H.) where things were the most commodious. C.

Ver. 10. Would. Heb. “had not declared.” He was not influenced to treat her thus on account of her royal extraction. H. — In effect, the Jews were despised. C.

Ver. 11. Court. He was one of the life-guards. C. xi. 3. T. — This situation enabled him to disclose a conspiracy, (v. 23. and C. xii. 5.) as he often went to enquire after the health of Esther. C.

Ver. 12. Turn. This was rigidly observed, in that country, where polygamy prevailed. Gen. xxx. 16. Herod. iii. 69. — The wives were “shut up in separate apartments,” (Just. i. 9.) in the remotest parts of the palace. C. — Twelfth. A full year elapsed before they could be admitted. — A sweet. Prot. “other things for the purifying of the women.” H. — It would be difficult to form an adequate idea of the luxury of the Persians, if the Scripture had not informed us. The kings were not satisfied with one wife. Assuerus had 400; (Josephus) and Darius Codomannus carried 360 with him, in his expeditions. Curt. iii. — Parmenio took an incredible number of his concubines, at Damascus. Athen. xiii. 9. — They were not all treated alike, but all were very sumptuously adorned. Cities were allotted to furnish one with sandals, another with girdles, &c. Cic. in Verrem. v. C.

Ver. 15. Abihail. Sept. “Aminadab, brother of Mardochai’s father.” H. v. 7.

Ver. 16. Tenth. Sept. and old Vulg. “twelfth month, which is Adar.” Tebeth corresponds with December and January. C. — Notwithstanding all exertions, Esther had been near four years in preparing; (T. C. i. 3. C.) unless some years had elapsed before she was brought, v. 12. H. — She was guilty of no sin in becoming an inferior wife of the king. M. T.

Ver. 17. Crown. Lit. “diadem,” (H.) which was a bandage “of purple, striped with white,” by which the queen was distinguished from the other wives. C. — The king wore “a four-square cidaris,” with a similar ornament. Alex. Genial. i. 27. — Only one queen was chosen from all the wives, and she was “adored” by the rest. Dion. Athen. iii. l. — Though God had forbidden marriages with infidels, (C.) at least with those of Chanaan, (H.) a dispensation might be granted, (Ex. xxxiv. T. 2 K. iii. W.) for a greater good. Esther was not puffed up with her exaltation, and refrained from all forbidden meats. C. xiv. 15. C. — If she be the Artystona of Herotous, (vii. 69. H.) as it is most probable, (T.) her two sons, Arsames and Gobryas, had a command in the famous expedition of Xerxes. Usher, A. 3524. C.

Ver. 18. Servants. Sept. add, “seven days, and he magnified the nuptials of Esther.” H. — Rest, from labour. C. — Sept. “remission to all his subjects,” of tribute, as was sometimes done. Herod. iii. 66. T. C. — Gifts, on Esther. Chal. Malvenda.

Ver. 19. And. Sept. “But Mardochai,” &c. H. — They say nothing of the gifts, v. 18. — Second. The same process had been observed before, when Vasthi was chosen. C. — Mardochai was perhaps then one of the king’s guards. H. v. 11. T. — This second inquiry is here specified, to introduce the following account. M.

Ver. 20. Commandment. No one interrogated her, as she had been educated as Susa, and was taken for a Persian lady, v. 10. M.

Ver. 21. Bagathan, or Bagatha and Thara. C. xii. 1. One of the chief counsellors was called Bagatha. H. — But these two were porters, (C.) or guards, of the king, (Sept. Grot.) or of the treasury. Vatab. — Some Gr. copies and the Chal. insinuate that they were displeased at the advancement of Mardochai. The latter supposes that they meant also to poison Esther. C. — It appears that they wished to make Aman king, (M.) and the detection was always resented by him. C. xii. 6. C.

Ver. 22. Notice of it, from Barnabaz, a Jew in the service of one of them. Josephus, xi. 6. — He might also hear some suspicious words. R. Calom. W.

Ver. 23. King. Such histories were preserved with great care. 1 Esd. vi. 1. C. — Sept. “the king ordered a memorial to it to be kept in the royal library, for the praise of Mardochai’s good will.” H. — The latter also wrote an account. C. xii. 4.