King James Bible
with Catholic Commentary by George Leo Haydock

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Esther 3

Haman seeks to destroy the Jews. (1-6) He obtains a decree against the Jews. (7-15)

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Haman seeks to destroy the Jews

1 After these things did king Ahasuerus promote Haman the son of Hammedatha the Agagite, and advanced him, and set his seat above all the princes that were with him.

2 And all the king’s servants, that were in the king’s gate, bowed, and reverenced Haman: for the king had so commanded concerning him. But Mordecai bowed not, nor did him reverence.

3 Then the king’s servants, which were in the king’s gate, said unto Mordecai, Why transgressest thou the king’s commandment?

4 Now it came to pass, when they spake daily unto him, and he hearkened not unto them, that they told Haman, to see whether Mordecai’s matters would stand: for he had told them that he was a Jew.

5 And when Haman saw that Mordecai bowed not, nor did him reverence, then was Haman full of wrath.

6 And he thought scorn to lay hands on Mordecai alone; for they had shewed him the people of Mordecai: wherefore Haman sought to destroy all the Jews that were throughout the whole kingdom of Ahasuerus, even the people of Mordecai.

He obtains a decree against the Jews

7 In the first month, that is, the month Nisan, in the twelfth year of king Ahasuerus, they cast Pur, that is, the lot, before Haman from day to day, and from month to month, to the twelfth month, that is, the month Adar.

8 And Haman said unto king Ahasuerus, There is a certain people scattered abroad and dispersed among the people in all the provinces of thy kingdom; and their laws are diverse from all people; neither keep they the king’s laws: therefore it is not for the king’s profit to suffer them.

9 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 Haman the son of Hammedatha the Agagite, the Jews’ enemy.

11 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.

12 Then were the king’s scribes called on the thirteenth day of the first month, and there was written according to all that Haman had commanded unto the king’s lieutenants, 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; in the name of king Ahasuerus was it written, and sealed with the king’s ring.

13 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 children 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.

14 The copy of the writing for a commandment to be given in every province was published unto all people, that they should be ready against that day.

15 The posts went out, being hastened by the king’s commandment, and the decree was given in Shushan the palace. And the king and Haman sat down to drink; but the city Shushan was perplexed.

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G Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Ver. 1. Aman means, “a disturber.” H. — Who. Sept. add, “Bougaios, or Gogaios.” Gog designates Scythia, where Aman might have been born. Pliny (iv. 12.) places there the lake and river Ruges. But the Bugean, in Greek, may mean, “greatly puffed up:” or it may stand for Bagoas, “an eunuch,” (Judith xii. 11.) like Putiphar. — Agag, the king of Amalec. 1 K. xv. This title, like that of Macedonian, (C. xvi. 10.) is probably used out of contempt, as the Jews fequently styled their enemies, “race of Chanaan.” Ezec. xvi. 3. Dan. xiii. 56. C. — Sulpitius takes Aman to have been a Persian. His Amalecite ancestors may have fled before Saul into Macedonia, though he himself resided in Persia, so as to belong to all those nations. T. M. — Throne. Thus were Joseph and Joakim exalted. Gen. xli. 40. and 4 K. xxv. 28. C. — The Persians gave places according to merit, (H.) or as a reward. Brisson.

Ver. 2. Worship him, with divine honours, as he required, in imitation of the kings. Judith iii. 13. On certain solemn occasions, the latter at least exacted this respect from their subjects. But the pious Jews avoided appearing at such times, or the kings dispensed with them. The mere bending the knee, out of civil respect, would not have been objected to; and Mardochai says, he would not have refused to kiss the footsteps of Aman. C. xiii. 12. C. S. Tho. 2. 2. q. 84. T. — But he could not give such worship as was claimed by the minor gods. W.

Ver. 4. Resolution. The did not mean to injure Mardochai, who had an employment at court. C. xii. 5. C. — Jew, and of course hindered by his religion from giving divine worship to any man. M.

Ver. 6. Counted. Sept. “consulted how to exterminate all the Jews in the kingdom.” — Assuerus. Heb. adds, “the people of Mardochai.”

Ver. 7. Lot. The Persians were much addicted to divination. The superstitious Aman, though he would appear a deity, was to be regulated by lots! Providence caused almost a whole year to intervene, before the cruel execution was to commence. C. — Reason began to shew the futility of divination, (Cicero) but the Christian religion alone has been able to counteract its baneful influence. C. — India is till much infected with it. Bernier. — Phur. Heb. “they cast Pur, that is the lot, before Aman.” H. — The explanation intimates that Pur is a Persian word. D. — Yet Pagnin maintains that it means in Heb. “to crush,” a wine-press, or vessel; and the lot, which is thrown therein. M. — Tickets, with the names of the twelve months, were probably drawn; and after the month was thus determined, Aman put in the urn as many tickets as it had days, and was directed to pitch upon the 13th. Sept. have the 14th, both here and v. 13. C. — How preposterous was the (H.) fury of this man, thus to decide upon the day before he had the king’s leave! W.

Ver. 8. Another, as the ten tribes were from Juda, or rather (H.) they were scattered about the empire. C. — Heb. “and dispersed; and their laws are different from all other people’s; neither do they observe the king’s laws: therefore it is not for the king’s profit to tolerate them.” H. — These are the old calumnies repeated by Tacitus, (Hist. v.) and ably refuted by Josephus. c. Ap. Almost all Israel still continued about Media. Few had taken advantage of the decree of Cyrus.

Ver. 9. Talents. Heb. &c. add, “of silver.” M. — If the Heb. talent be meant, this sum would be immense for an individual; (C.) though Aman might expect to raise it by the confiscation of the Jews’ effects, v. 13. Some think he speaks of the Babylonian talent, on which supposition the sum would amount to twenty-one millions of French livres, (Bude. C.) or of the Attic one, which is worth half the Heb. talent. The king might thus be prevented from thinking that the tributes would be lessened. T.

Ver. 10. Ring, to transfer his power to him, for the time. Gen. xli. 42. Alexander gave his ring to Periccas, and was generally supposed thus to designate him for his successor. Justin. xii. See 1 Mac. vi. 14. 15.

Ver. 12. Lieutenants. Lit. “satraps.” Heb. achashdarpene, “courtiers,” (H.) or those who are int he presence of his majesty, or porters. C. — They were entrusted with the care of the different provinces. H.

Ver. 13. Messengers. Lit. “runners.” H. — Posts were first established in Persia, and were the admiration of other nations, though nothing compared with ours, as they were not regular, nor for the people. They called these messengers Astandæ, or Angari. Mat. v. 41. Darius Condomanus was one of these postilions, before he came to the crown. C. — At first the kings had people stationed on eminences, at a convenient distance, to make themselves heard, when they had to communicate some public news. Diod. xix. p. 680. — Cyrus afterwards appointed horsemen, to succeed each other. Xenophon, Cyrop. viii. — Cæsar made some regulations on this head, which were perfected by Augustus and Adrian; but being neglected, Charlemagne strove to restore them: yet it is thought that the posts were not established, in France, till the reign of Louis XI. C.

Ver. 14. Letter. It should appear here, as it is in Gr. but the Heb. &c. omitting it, the Vulg. give it, C. xiii. 1.

Ver. 15. Jews. Heb. “but the city of Susan was in perplexity.” Gr. “troubled.” C. — Even the pagans could not view such a cruel decree, without horror. H.