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Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament, by Carl Friedrich Keil and Franz Delitzsh, [1857-78], at

Esther Chapter 5


est 5:0

Esther's Gracious Reception by the King. Haman's Rage against Mordochai - Est 5:1-14

On the third day Esther betook herself in her royal apparel to the inner court of the palace, and was so kindly received by the king, that he promised to grant her any petition she might make; whereupon she requested the king to come with Haman that day to a banquet which she had prepared (Est 5:1-8). On returning from this banquet, Haman saw Mordochai in the king's gate, and when the latter did not bow before him, was so enraged, that, upon the advice of his wife and friends, he resolved to induce the king to permit the execution of Mordochai on the following day (Est 5:9-14).

Esther 5:1

est 5:1

On the third day Esther put on her royal apparel and entered the inner court of the king's house, opposite the dwelling of the king, where he was sitting on his throne before the gate (Est 5:1). The third day must be counted from the day of the transaction between the queen and Mordochai (Est 4:14); the first day being that on which it took place. The fasting, then, would not begin till midday; and on the third day Esther went to the king to invite him on that day to a banquet, which would surely take place in the forenoon. Thus the three days' fast would last from the afternoon of the first to the forenoon of the third day, i.e., from 40 to 45 hours. מלכוּת תּלבּשׁ, she put on royalty, royal dignity, i.e., arrayed herself in royal apparel. Bertheau thinks that the word לבוּשׁ has been inadvertently omitted before מלכוּת; but such a conjecture is without sufficient support, the passages Est 6:8 and Est 8:15 being of another kind. The expression is elliptical, and מלכוּת is easily completed by the notion לבוּשׁ furnished by the verb.

Est 5:2

When the king saw Queen Esther standing in the court, she obtained favour in his eyes (see rem. on Est 2:9), and he held out to her the golden sceptre that was in his hand; and Esther drew near and touched the top of the sceptre, probably kissed it, as the Vulgate renders the word.

Est 5:3-4

The king, concluding from the circumstance of her appearing there unsummoned, that she had some urgent matter to bring before him, said to her: "What wilt thou, Queen Esther? and what is thy request? To the half of the kingdom it shall be granted thee." A short expression for: if thy request relates even to the half of the kingdom, it shall be granted. Est 5:4. Esther, however, for the present requested nothing further, than that on that day (to-day) the king and Haman should come to the banquet she had prepared. על טּוב אם like Est 1:19.

Est 5:5

The king commanded Haman to hasten thither, to do as the queen had said. מהרוּ, hastened Haman, i.e., sent to fetch him quickly. מהר like Ch2 18:8; Kg1 22:9. לעשׂות, that the word of the queen might be done, carried out.

Est 5:6

At the repast, and indeed at "the banquet of wine," when the greatest cheerfulness would prevail, the king repeated his question as to the desire of the queen, making the same promise as in Est 5:3. ותעשׂ, an abbreviated form of the imperfect תּעשׂה, is optative or jussive: and it shall be done.

Est 5:7-8

Esther answered: "My petition and my request - if I have found favour in the sight of the king, and if it please the king to grant my petition and to do my request, let the king and Haman come to the banquet that I shall prepare for them, and to-morrow I will do as the king hath said," i.e., make known my request. Though the king had, in the midst of the gaiety, asked what was Esther's request, she did not esteem the time an appropriate one for expressing it. She begins: my petition and my request, - but then stops, and says only, if the king will do her the favour to come with Haman to a banquet again on the morrow, she will then bring forward her petition. Esther invited Haman with the king on both occasions, that, as Calovius remarks, eum apud regem praesentem accusaret decreti surrepti contra suos populares nomine, et in os omnes cavillandi vias ei praecluderet.

Esther 5:9

est 5:9

Haman went forth from the palace satisfied and with a joyful heart. When, however, he saw Mordochai in the king's gate, who neither stood up nor trembled before him, he was full of indignation against him. וגו קם ולא are circumstantial clauses following the principal clause without a copula. קם and זע are perfects, and ולא - ולא are used in the sense of neque - neque. זוּע constructed with מן means to tremble before any one, to be disquieted.

Est 5:10

Haman, however, refrained himself; and without immediately giving vent to his rage at Mordochai, went home and sent for his friends and his wife Zeresh, that he might unburden himself before them, and take counsel with them for Mordochai's destruction.

Est 5:11-12

He first spoke to them of his wealth and domestic happiness, of the "glory of his riches and the multitude of his children." From Est 9:7-10 we learn that Haman had ten sons; and many sons were not looked upon as a great blessing from God by the Israelites only, but were also esteemed a signal prosperity among the Persians, the king annually sending presents to him who had the greatest number of sons.

(Note: Herod. says, i. 136: Ἀνδραγαθίη δ ̓ αὕτη ἀποδέδεκται, μετὰ τὸ μάχεσθαι εἶναι ἀγαθὸν ὅς ἂν πολλοὺς ἀποδέξῃ παῖδας τῷ δὲ τοὺς πλείστους ἀποδεικνύντι δῶρα ἐκπέμπει ὁ βασιλεὺς ἀνὰ πᾶν ἔτος. Comp. Strabo. xv. 3. 17.)

Haman next recounted to them the great honours he had attained; כּל־אשׁר את, all how the king had made him great, and how he had advanced him above the princes; comp. Est 3:1. אשׁר is a second accusative of the means by which something is brought to pass. Finally, Est 5:12, what high distinction had just been accorded him, by the queen having invited him alone to come to her banquet with the king. "Yea, Esther the queen did let no man come in with the king unto the banquet which she had prepared but myself; and to-morrow am I also invited unto her with the king." אף enhances the meaning: even this honour is shown me. קרוּא־להּ אני, I am her invited guest = I am invited to her and by her; comp. Ew. 295, c.

Est 5:13

And yet all his good fortune is embittered to him as often as he sees the hated Jew Mordochai. "And all this availeth me not at every time when I see the Jew Mordochai sitting in the king's gate." לי שׁוה is, not being equalled to me, i.e., not answering my desires, not affording me satisfaction.אשׁר בּכל־עת, at all time when = as often as. The fortune and honour he enjoys fail to satisfy him, when he sees the Jew Mordochai refuse to show him the reverence which he claims.

Est 5:14

His wife and all his friends advise: "Let a tree be made (set up) fifty cubits high, and to-morrow speak to the king, that Mordochai may be hanged thereon (i.e., impaled; see on תּלה Est 2:23); and then go in merrily with the king to the banquet." The counsellors take it for granted that the king will without hesitation agree to Haman's proposal to execute Mordochai, and therefore advise him at once to make the necessary preparations, so that the hated Jew may be hanged on the morrow before the banquet, and Haman may then go with the king to the feast prepared by the queen, free from all annoyance. גב עץ עשׂה, to make, i.e., to erect a high tree. The higher the stake, the farther would it be seen. The 3rd pers. plur. יעשׂוּ stands instead of the passive: let them make = let ... be made. So too יתלוּ for let ... be hanged. This speech pleased Haman, and he caused the stake to be erected.

Next: Esther Chapter 6