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

Esther Chapter 7


est 7:0

Haman's Downfall and Ruin - Est 7:1-10

At this second banquet the king again inquired of the queen what was her petition, when she entreated that her life and that of her people might be spared, for that she and her people were sold to destruction (Est 7:1-4). The king, evidently shocked at such a petition, asked who was the originator of so evil a deed, and Esther named the wicked Haman as the enemy (Est 7:5, Est 7:6). Full of indignation at such a crime, the king rose from the banquet and went into the garden; Haman then fell down before the queen to entreat for his life. When the king returned to the house, he saw Haman lying on the couch on which Esther was sitting, and thinking that he was offering violence to the queen, he passed sentence of death upon him, and caused him to be hanged on the tree he had erected for Mordochai (Est 7:7-10).

Esther 7:1

est 7:1

The king and Haman came to drink (לשׁתּות), i.e., to partake of the משׁתּה, in the queen's apartment.

Est 7:2-4

At this banquet of wine the king asked again on the second day, as he had done on the first (Est 5:6): What is thy petition, Queen Esther, etc.? Esther then took courage to express her petition. After the usual introductory phrases (Est 7:3 like Est 5:8), she replied: "Let my life be given me at my petition, and my people at my request." For, she adds as a justification and reason for such a petition, "we are sold, I and my people, to be destroyed, to be slain, and to perish. And if we had been sold for bondmen and bondwomen, I had been silent, for the enemy is not worth the king's damage." In this request עמּי is a short expression for: the life of my people, and the preposition ב, the so-called בּ pretii. The request is conceived of as the price which she offers or presents for her life and that of her people. The expression נמכּרנוּ, we are sold, is used by Esther with reference to the offer of Haman to pay a large sum into the royal treasury for the extermination of the Jews, Est 3:9; Est 4:7. אלּוּ, contracted after Aramaean usage from לוּ אם, and occurring also Ecc 6:6, supposes a case, the realization of which is desired, but not to be expected, the matter being represented as already decided by the use of the perfect. The last clause, וגו הצּר אין כּי, is by most expositors understood as a reference, on the part of Esther, to the financial loss which the king would incur by the extermination of the Jews. Thus Rambach, e.g., following R. Sal. ben Melech, understands the meaning expressed to be: hostis nullo modo aequare, compensare, resarcire potest pecunia sua damnum, quod rex ex nostro excidio patitur. So also Cler. and others. The confirmatory clause would in this case refer not to החרשׁתּי, but to a negative notion needing completion: but I dare not be silent; and such completion is itself open to objection. To this must be added, that שׁוה in Kal constructed with בּ does not signify compensare, to equalize, to make equal, but to be equal; consequently the Piel should be found here to justify the explanation proposed. שׁוה in Kal constructed with בּ signifies to be of equal worth with something, to equal another thing in value. Hence Gesenius translates: the enemy does not equal the damage of the king, i.e., is not in a condition to compensate the damage. But neither when thus viewed does the sentence give any reason for Esther's statement, that she would have been silent, if the Jews had been sold for salves. Hence we are constrained, with Bertheau, to take a different view of the words, and to give up the reference to financial loss. נזק, in the Targums, means not merely financial, but also bodily, personal damage; e.g., Psa 91:7; Gen 26:11, to do harm, Ch1 16:22. Hence the phrase may be understood thus: For the enemy is not equal to, is not worth, the damage of the king, i.e., not worthy that I should annoy the king with my petition. Thus Esther says, Est 7:4 : The enemy has determined upon the total destruction of my people. If he only intended to bring upon them grievous oppression, even that most grievous oppression of slavery, I would have been silent, for the enemy is not worthy that I should vex or annoy the king by my accusation.

Est 7:5

The king, whose indignation was excited by what he had just heard, asks with an agitation, shown by the repetition of the ויּאמר: "Who is he, and where is he, whose heart hath filled him (whom his heart hath filled) to do so?" Evil thoughts proceed from the heart, and fill the man, and impel him to evil deeds: Isa 44:20; Ecc 8:11; Mat 15:19.

Est 7:6

Esther replies: "The adversary and enemy is this wicked Haman." Then was Haman afraid before the king and the queen. נבעת as in Ch1 21:30; Dan 8:17.

Esther 7:7

est 7:7

The king in his wrath arose from the banquet of wine, and went into the garden of the house (קם is here a pregnant expression, and is also combined with אל־גּנּת); but Haman remained standing to beg for his life to Queen Esther (על בּקּשׁ as in Est 4:8), "for he saw that there was evil determined against him by the king" (כּלה, completed, i.e., determined; comp. Sa1 20:7, Sa1 20:9; Sa1 25:17, and elsewhere); and hence that he had no mercy to expect from him, unless the queen should intercede for him.

Est 7:8

The king returned to the house, and found Haman falling (נפל as in Jos 8:10; Deu 21:1, and elsewhere) at or on the couch on which Esther was (sitting), i.e., falling as a suppliant at her feet; and crediting Haman in the heat of his anger with the worst designs, he cried out: "Shall also violence be done to the queen before me in the house?" The infin. לכבּושׁ after the interrogatory particle signifies: Is violence to be done, i.e., shall violence be done? as in Ch1 15:2 and elsewhere; comp. Ewald, 237, c. כּבשׁ, to tread under foot, to subdue, used here in the more general sense, to offer violence. Without waiting for an explanation, the king, still more infuriated, passes sentence of death upon Haman. This is not given in so many words by the historian, but we are told immediately that: "as the word went out of the king's mouth, they covered Haman's face." הדּבר is not the speech of the king just reported, but the judicial sentence, the death warrant, i.e., the word to punish Haman with death. This is unmistakeably shown by the further statement: they covered Haman's face. The subject is indefinite: the attendants present. To cover the face was indeed to begin to carry the sentence of death into execution. With respect to this custom, expositors appeal to Curtius, vi. 8. 22: Philetam - capite velato in regiam adducunt; and Cicero, pro C. Rabirio iv. 13: I lictor, colliga manus, caput obnubito, arbori infelici suspendito.

Est 7:9-10

Then said Harbonah (already mentioned Est 1:10), one of the eunuchs before the king, i.e., who held office before the king: "Behold also the tree which Haman made (comp. Est 5:14) stands in the house of Haman." גּם points to the fact that the other eunuchs had already brought forward various particulars concerning Haman's crime. Mordochai, who had spoken good for the king, viz., when he gave information of the conspiracy, Est 2:22; Est 6:2. On this tree the king ordered that Haman should be hanged, and this sentence was executed without delay. - "And the king's wrath was pacified." With this remark the narrative of this occurrence is closed, and the history pursues its further course as follows.

Next: Esther Chapter 8