Notes & Commentary:
Ver. 1. As. Hebrew, “(which is the month of Adar) when the king’s command and edict drew near to be executed, in that day when the enemies of the Jews hoped to have power over them, (though it turned out that the Jews had dominion over those who hated them.)” (Haydock) — To revenge, &c. The Jews, on this occasion, by authority from the king, were made executioners of the public justice, for punishing by death a crime worthy of death, viz., a malicious conspiracy for extripating their whole nation; (Challoner) so inscrutable are the judgments of God, who never wholly abandoned his people! The old Vulgate passes over the first 19 verses, with the 24th, 25th, and 28th. (Calmet) — In this whole history we cannot but admire the Providence of God. (Worthington)
Ver. 3. Extolled. Protestants, “helped.” Septuagint, “the king’s secretaries honoured the Jews.” (Haydock)
Ver. 6. Sons. It seems as if they had been slain with their father, ver. 10. See chap. vii. 9. (Calmet) — Yet, as the contrary would appear from chap. xvi. 18, we may suppose that they were at least (Haydock) imprisoned till this time, for a more exemplary punishment, while all the rest of the family perished with Aman. (Serarius) (Salien) (Menochius) — These are the kindred, specified nine months before, chap. xvi. (Tirinus) — Some Masorets childishly (Haydock) write these ten names one over another, and with greater and less letters, to shew that they were hung one above another, and that the guilt of all was not the same, but the youngest son was the most malicious. (Kennicott)
Ver. 10. Goods, in any place, (Tirinus) that they might not appear to be actuated by the desire of riches, (Calmet) to fall upon the innocent. How often does this fatal cause blind Christian conquerors! The sons of Aman were married, and had separate establishments, chap. viii. 1.
Ver. 13. Susan. Aman’s influence had been the greatest there, and had stirred up many enemies to the Jews, who were to be carefully sought out. (Haydock) — If we should consider only the dictates of clemency, we should think that the Jews were too eager in their revenge. But when we reflect, that their enemies had intended to destroy them all, and to seize their effects, we shall allow that they did not exceed the limits of justice, as they acted by royal authority, and abstained from touching any effects of the deceased. (Calmet) — In the capital, 800 men fell victims to their fury. But as the citizens of that place were probably the most guilty, we must not imagine that other cities would be treated with the like severity. (Haydock) — Gibbets, for a terror to the wicked. (Menochius) — This disgrace was not unusual, chap. xvi.18. Polycrates was treated thus. (Herodotus iii. 125.)
Ver. 16. Lives. In many cases they would probably be attacked, as Aman’s edict was perhaps still in force, as well as that of Mardochai. Hence both parties would be upon the watch. (Haydock) — Seventy-five. Roman Septuagint has only 15,000. Complutensian, 10,035. (Calmet)
Ver. 19. Meats, not only to the poor, but to all their friends, ver. 22., and 2 Esdras viii. 10. (Calmet)
Ver. 21. Receive. Protestants, “establish this among them, that they should keep the 14th….yearly,” 2 Machabees xv. 37. (Haydock) — None were obliged to keep more than one of these days, according to their respective dwellings. The 14th was for the provinces, the 15th for the Jews of Susan, ver. 18. (Tirinus) (Calmet) (Worthington) — Yet it would seem that both days were enjoined, ver. 27, 28. (Haydock) — The Jews still observe, them, as they gratify their vanity and vindictive spirit. The 13th is kept a rigid fast, for all above sixteen, for twenty-four hours, during which they eat nothing. (Calmet) — If that day should be a sabbath, or its eve, they fast on the 11th or 12th. (Drusius) — The day before the festival they give alms to their poor brethren, enjoining them to consume the whole in making good cheer. Each person must then contribute the half sicle, (Exodus xxx. 13.) which is bestowed on those who undertake a pilgrimage to the land of promise. At night, when the feast commences, they light the lamps, and begin to read the Book of Esther, as soon as the stars appear. They use an old parchment manuscript roll, and, in five places, the reader shouts with all his might, running over the names of the ten sons of Aman with all haste, to shew that they all died in a moment. Whenever Aman is mentioned, the children beat the benches with mallets; and formerly they used to strike at a stone, on which his name was cut, till it broke, ver. 31. After the lecture, they take a repast at home. Early the next morning they return to the synagogue, and read the account of Amalec from the Pentateuch, and repeat the Book of Esther, with the aforesaid ceremonies. The rest of the day they spend in merriment. Their teachers allow them to drink till they are unable to distinguish the name of Aman from that of Mardochai. (Basnage, vi. 15.) — They also change clothes, in contradiction to the law; (Deuteronomy xxii. 5.) and were formerly accustomed to crucify a man of straw, which they burnt with the cross, till Christian emperors put a stop to them; as it was concluded, from their curses, &c., that they had an eye to our Saviour. (Calmet) See chap. v. 14. (Haydock)
Ver. 25. And. Hebrew, “But when she came.” Septuagint, “and how he came to the king, asking leave to hang Mardochai. But his machinations against the Jews, turned upon his own head; and so,” &c. (Haydock)
Ver. 28. Ceremonies. The king also enjoined (chap. xvi. 22.) all his subjects (Tirinus) to keep a day of rejoicing, (Haydock) as the death of Aman was deemed a public benefit. (Calmet)
Ver. 29. Second. The first might be the edict, (chap. viii. 9.) or else the provisional establishment of the festival, as it could not have general authority till it was ratified by the high priest; after which, this second letter was dispatched. (Calmet) — Septuagint, “and queen Esther, daughter of Aminadab, &c.,…wrote all that they had done, and also the confirmation of the epistle of the Phrourai.” They should say Phurim, as the former word means “guards.” Hebrew, “wrote with all authority, to confirm this second letter of Purim;” (Protestants; Haydock) or rather, “this letter, Phurim, of which this is a copy.” The Roman Septuagint only add for this and the following chapter, to v. 9: “They set them apart during their lives, and by their advice; (Calmet; Ed. Alex.[Alexandrian Edition?], “for their health and counsel.”) and Esther established for ever, and wrote as a memorial: My nation,” &c. (Haydock)
Ver. 30. Peace: receive these glad tidings, and faithfully observe the injunctions. (Calmet)
Ver. 31. Fasts and cries. See ver. 21. (Calmet) — Protestants, “the matters of their fastings and their cry: and the decree of Esther confirmed these matters of Purim, and it was written in the book.” (Haydock) — This feast, instituted by Mardochai, was accepted and observed by the Jews as a constitution agreeable to, and not contrary to, the law, Deuteronomy iv. 2., and xii. 32. (Worthington)
Bible Text & Cross-references:
The Jews kill their enemies that would have killed them. The days of Phurim are appointed to be kept holy.
1 So *on the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, which as we have said above, is called Adar, when all the Jews were designed to be massacred, and their enemies were greedy after their blood, the case being altered, the Jews began to have the upper hand, and to revenge themselves of their adversaries.
2 And they gathered themselves together in every city, and town, and place, to lay their hands on their enemies, and their persecutors. And no one durst withstand them, for the fear of their power had gone through every people.
3 And the judges of the provinces, and the governors, and lieutenants, and every one in dignity, that presided over every place and work, extolled the Jews, for fear of Mardochai:
4 For they knew him to be prince of the palace, and to have great power: and the fame of his name increased daily, and was spread abroad through all men’s mouths.
5 So the Jews made a great slaughter of their enemies, and killed them, repaying according to what they had prepared to do to them:
6 Insomuch that even in Susan they killed five hundred men, besides the ten sons of Aman, the Agagite, the enemy of the Jews: whose names are these:
7 Pharsandatha, and Delphon, and Esphatha,
8 And Phoratha, and Adalia, and Aridatha,
9 And Phermesta, and Arisai, and Aridai, and Jezatha.
10 And when they had slain them, they would not touch the spoils of their goods.
11 And presently the number of them that were killed in Susan was brought to the king.
12 And he said to the queen: The Jews have killed five hundred men in the city of Susan, besides the ten sons of Aman: how many dost thou think they have slain in all the provinces? What askest thou more, and what wilt thou have me to command to be done?
13 And she answered: If it please the king, let it be granted to the Jews, to do to-morrow, in Susan, as they have done to-day, and that the ten sons of Aman may be hanged upon gibbets.
14 And the king commanded that it should be so done. And forthwith the edict was hung up in Susan, and the ten sons of Aman were hanged.
15 And on the fourteenth day of the month Adar, the Jews gathered themselves together, and they killed in Susan, three hundred men: but they took not their substance.
16 Moreover, through all the provinces which were subject to the king’s dominion, the Jews stood for their lives, and slew their enemies and persecutors: insomuch that the number of them that were killed amounted to seventy-five thousand, and no man took any of their goods.
17 Now the thirteenth day of the month, Adar, was the first day with them all of the slaughter, and on the fourteenth day they left off. Which they ordained to be kept holyday, so that all times hereafter they should celebrate it with feasting, joy, and banquets.
18 But they that were killing in the city of Susan, were employed in the slaughter on the thirteenth and fourteenth day of the same month: and on the fifteenth day they rested. And, therefore, they appointed that day to be a holyday of feasting and gladness.
19 But those Jews that dwelt in towns, not walled, and in villages, appointed the fourteenth day of the month, Adar, for banquets and gladness, so as to rejoice on that day, and send one another portions of their banquets and meats.
20 And Mardochai wrote all these things, and sent them comprised in letters to the Jews that abode in all the king’s provinces, both those that lay near, and those afar off,
21 That they should receive the fourteenth and fifteenth day of the month, Adar, for holydays, and always, at the return of the year, should celebrate them with solemn honour:
22 Because, on those days, the Jews revenged themselves of their enemies, and their mourning and sorrow were turned into mirth and joy, and that these should be days of feasting and gladness, in which they should send one to another portions of meats, and should give gifts to the poor.
23 And the Jews undertook to observe, with solemnity, all they had begun to do at that time, which Mardochai, by letters, had commanded to be done.
24 For Aman, the son of Amadathi, of the race of Agag, the enemy and adversary of the Jews, had devised evil against them, to kill them, and destroy them: and had cast Phur, that is, the lot.
25 And, afterwards, Esther went in to the king, beseeching him that his endeavours might be made void by the king’s letters: and the evil that he had intended against the Jews, might return upon his own head. And so both he and his sons were hanged upon gibbets.
26 And since that time, these days are called Phurim, that is, of lots: because Phur, that is, the lot, was cast into the urn. And all things that were done, are contained in the volume of this epistle, that is, of this book:
27 And the things that they suffered, and that were afterwards changed, the Jews took upon themselves and their seed, and upon all that had a mind to be joined to their religion, so that it should be lawful for none to pass these days without solemnity: which the writing testifieth, and certain times require, as the years continually succeed one another.
28 These are the days which shall never be forgot: and which all provinces in the whole world shall celebrate throughout all generations: neither is there any city wherein the days of Phurim, that is, of lots, must not be observed by the Jews, and by their posterity, which is bound to these ceremonies.
29 And Esther, the queen, the daughter of Abihail, and Mardochai, the Jew, wrote also a second epistle, that with all diligence, this day should be established a festival for the time to come.
30 And they sent to all the Jews that were in the hundred and twenty-seven provinces of king Assuerus, that they should have peace and receive truth,
31 And observe the days of lots, and celebrate them with joy in their proper time: as Mardochai and Esther had appointed, and they undertook them to be observed by themselves, and by their seed, fasts, and cries, and the days of lots,
32 And all things which are contained in the history of this book, which is called Esther.
1: Year of the World 3496, Year before Christ 508.