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Esther’s Banquet

 5

On the third day Esther put on her royal robes and stood in the inner court of the king’s palace, opposite the king’s hall. The king was sitting on his royal throne inside the palace opposite the entrance to the palace. 2As soon as the king saw Queen Esther standing in the court, she won his favor and he held out to her the golden scepter that was in his hand. Then Esther approached and touched the top of the scepter. 3The king said to her, “What is it, Queen Esther? What is your request? It shall be given you, even to the half of my kingdom.” 4Then Esther said, “If it pleases the king, let the king and Haman come today to a banquet that I have prepared for the king.” 5Then the king said, “Bring Haman quickly, so that we may do as Esther desires.” So the king and Haman came to the banquet that Esther had prepared. 6While they were drinking wine, the king said to Esther, “What is your petition? It shall be granted you. And what is your request? Even to the half of my kingdom, it shall be fulfilled.” 7Then Esther said, “This is my petition and request: 8If I have won the king’s favor, and if it pleases the king to grant my petition and fulfill my request, let the king and Haman come tomorrow to the banquet that I will prepare for them, and then I will do as the king has said.”

Haman Plans to Have Mordecai Hanged

9 Haman went out that day happy and in good spirits. But when Haman saw Mordecai in the king’s gate, and observed that he neither rose nor trembled before him, he was infuriated with Mordecai; 10nevertheless Haman restrained himself and went home. Then he sent and called for his friends and his wife Zeresh, 11and Haman recounted to them the splendor of his riches, the number of his sons, all the promotions with which the king had honored him, and how he had advanced him above the officials and the ministers of the king. 12Haman added, “Even Queen Esther let no one but myself come with the king to the banquet that she prepared. Tomorrow also I am invited by her, together with the king. 13Yet all this does me no good so long as I see the Jew Mordecai sitting at the king’s gate.” 14Then his wife Zeresh and all his friends said to him, “Let a gallows fifty cubits high be made, and in the morning tell the king to have Mordecai hanged on it; then go with the king to the banquet in good spirits.” This advice pleased Haman, and he had the gallows made.


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Es 5:1-14. Esther Invites the King and Haman to a Banquet.

1. Esther put on her royal apparel—It was not only natural, but, on such occasions, highly proper and expedient, that the queen should decorate herself in a style becoming her exalted station. On ordinary occasions she might reasonably set off her charms to as much advantage as possible; but, on the present occasion, as she was desirous to secure the favor of one who sustained the twofold character of her husband and her sovereign, public as well as private considerations—a regard to her personal safety, no less than the preservation of her doomed countrymen—urged upon her the propriety of using every legitimate means of recommending herself to the favorable notice of Ahasuerus.

the king sat upon his royal throne in the royal house, over against the gate of the house—The palace of this Persian king seems to have been built, like many more of the same quality and description, with an advanced cloister, over against the gate, made in the fashion of a large penthouse, supported only by one or two contiguous pillars in the front, or else in the center. In such open structures as these, in the midst of their guards and counsellors, are the bashaws, kadis, and other great officers, accustomed to distribute justice, and transact the public affairs of the provinces [Shaw, Travels]. In such a situation the Persian king was seated. The seat he occupied was not a throne, according to our ideas of one, but simply a chair, and so high that it required a footstool. It was made of gold, or, at least, inlaid with that metal, and covered with splendid tapestry, and no one save the king might sit down on it under pain of death. It is often found pictured on the Persepolitan monuments, and always of the same fashion.

2. the king held out to Esther the golden sceptre that was in his hand—This golden scepter receives an interesting illustration from the sculptured monuments of Persia and Assyria. In the bas-reliefs of Persepolis, copied by Sir Robert Ker Porter, we see King Darius enthroned in the midst of his court, and walking abroad in equal state; in either case he carries in his right hand a slender rod or wand, about equal in length to his own height, ornamented with a small knob at the summit. In the Assyrian alabasters, those found at Nimroud as well as those from Khorsabad, "the great king" is furnished with the same appendage of royalty, a slender rod, but destitute of any knob or ornament. On the Khorsabad reliefs the rod is painted red, doubtless to represent gold; proving that "the golden sceptre" was a simple wand of that precious metal, commonly held in the right hand, with one end resting on the ground, and that whether the king was sitting or walking. "The gold sceptre" has received little alteration or modification since ancient times [Goss]. It was extended to Esther as a token not only that her intrusion was pardoned, but that her visit was welcome, and a favorable reception given to the suit she had come to prefer.

touched the top of the sceptre—This was the usual way of acknowledging the royal condescension, and at the same time expressing reverence and submission to the august majesty of the king.

3. it shall be even given thee to the half of the kingdom—This mode of speaking originated in the Persian custom of appropriating for the maintenance of great men, or royal favorites, one city for his bread, another for his wine, a third for his clothes, &c., so that the phrase denoted great liberality.

4. let the king and Haman come this day unto the banquet that I have prepared for him—There was great address in this procedure of Esther's; for, by showing such high respect to the king's favorite, she would the better insinuate herself into the royal affections; and gain a more suitable opportunity of making known her request.

8. let the king and Haman come to the banquet that I shall prepare—The king ate alone, and his guests in an adjoining hall; but they were admitted to sit with him at wine. Haman being the only invited guest with the king and queen, it was natural that he should have been elated with the honor.




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