Notes on the Bible, by Albert Barnes, , at sacred-texts.com
These events must belong to the time between the great assembly held at Susa in Xerxes' third year (483 B.C.), and the departure of the monarch on his expedition against Greece in his fifth year, 481 B.C.
The house of the women - i. e. the "gynaeceon," or "haram" - always an essential part of an Oriental palace (Compare Kg1 7:8). In the Persian palaces it was very extensive, since the monarchs maintained, besides their legitimate wives, as many as 300 or 400 concubines (compare Est 2:14).
Mordecai, the eunuch Est 2:7, Est 2:11, has been conjectured to be the same as Matacas, who, according to Ctesias, was the most powerful of the eunuchs during the latter portion of the reign of Xerxes. Mordecai's line of descent is traced from a certain Kish, carried off by Nebuchadnezzar in 598 B.C. - the year of Jeconiah's captivity - who was his great-grandfather. The four generations, Kish, Shimei, Jair, Mordecai, correspond to the known generations in other cases, for example:
High priests kings of Persia Royal stock of Judah Seraiah Cambyses Jeconiah Jozadak Cyrus Salathiel Jeshua Darius Zerubbabel Joiakim Xerxes Hananiah
The age of Mordecai at the accession of Xerxes may probably have been about 30 or 40; that of Esther, his first cousin, about 20.
Hadassah, הדסה hădassâh from הדס hădas ("myrtle") would seem to have been the Hebrew, and Esther the Persian, name of the damsel. Esther is thought to be connected through the Zend with ἀστήρ astēr, "star." But there is not at present any positive evidence of the existence in Old Persian of a kindred word.
The Persians had no special contempt for the Jews; but, of course, they despised more or less all the subject races. Esther, with her Aryan name, may have passed for a native Persian.
Mordecai occupied, apparently, a humble place in the royal household. He was probably one of the porters or doorkeepers at the main entrance to the palace Est 2:21.
The second house of the women - i. e. Esther returned to the "house of the women," but not to the same part of it. She became an inmate of the "second house," or "house of the concubines," under the superintendence of a distinct officer, Shaashgaz.
She required nothing - The other virgins perhaps loaded themselves with precious ornaments of various kinds, necklaces, bracelets, earrings, anklets, and the like. Esther let Hegai dress her as he would.
Tebeth (compare the corresponding Egyptian month, "Tobi" or "Tubi"), corresponded nearly to our January.
In the seventh year of his reign - In December, 479 B.C., or January, 478 B.C. Xerxes quitted Sardis for Susa in, or soon after, September, 479 B.C. It has been regarded as a "difficulty" that Vashti's place, declared vacant in 483 B.C., was not supplied until the end of 479 B.C., four years afterward. But since two years out of the four had been occupied by the Grecian expedition, the objection cannot be considered very weighty.
A release - Either remission of taxation, or of military service, or of both.
When the virgins ... - Rather, "when virgins" etc. The words begin a new paragraph. There was a second collection of virgins (after that of Est 2:8), and it was at the time of this second collection that Mordecai had the good fortune to save the king's life.
Conspiracies inside the palace were ordinary occurrences in Persia. Xerxes was ultimately murdered by Artabanus, the captain of the guard, and Aspamitras, a chamberlain and eunuch.
Both hanged on a tree - i. e. "crucified" or "impaled" the ordinary punishment of rebels and traitors in Persia.
The book of the chronicles - Ctesias drew his Persian history from them, and they are often glanced at by Herodotus.