ESTHER CHAPTER 5.
Esther Appears before the King.
ESTHER’S INVITATION TO THE KING. — V. 1. Now, it came to pass on the third day, namely, after her interview with Mordecai, when she charged that a fast be made in her behalf, chap. 4, 15-17, that Esther put on her royal apparel, in order the more readily to gain the king’s good will, and stood, took her position, remained standing, in the inner court of the king’s house, over against the king’s house, before the large door which led to the throne-room, through whose opening the king could see every one who approached. And the king sat upon his royal throne in the royal house, over against the gate of the house, in a direct line with the doorway, a position which had various advantages. V. 2. And it was so, when the king saw Esther, the queen, standing in the court, the raised seat which he occupied enabling him to see over the heads of his attendants, that she obtained favor in his sight; and the king held out to Esther the golden scepter that was in his hand, the slender rod which was the symbol of kingly authority and the holding out of which signified the gracious acceptance of the petitioner, chap. 4, 11. So Esther drew near and touched the top of the scepter, probably also kissing it, as tradition has it, in acknowledging the favor of the king and in expression of her submission to his royal authority. V. 3. Then said the king unto her, What wilt thou, Queen Esther? The Hebrew words are rendered more exactly by the phrase, What is the matter, Esther, the queen? And what is thy request? It shall be even given thee to the half of the kingdom. Far from having become indifferent toward her, his regard for her had rather been stimulated anew by her appearance, so that he was ready to show himself most liberal toward her. V. 4. And Esther, whose shrewd caution warned her not to presume upon the first impression made upon the king, answered, If it seem good unto the king, let the king and Haman come this day unto the banquet that I have prepared for him. Here again the consideration which Esther seemed to show for the king’s favorite served to strengthen his regard for her and to increase his anxiety to serve her. V. 5. Then the king said, making Esther’s petition a command addressed to Haman, Cause Haman to make haste that he may do as Esther hath said. So the king and Haman came to the banquet that Esther had prepared, being her guests in her own private apartments. V. 6. And the king, feeling that there was something very important that Esther wished to discuss with him and request of him, said unto Esther at the banquet of wine, when they had reached that part of the feast where drinking was the chief thing, and when their hearts were merry, What is thy petition? And it shall be granted thee. And what is thy request? Even to the half of the kingdom it shall be performed, thus reasserting the promise given in the morning. V. 7. Then answered Esther and said, My petition and my request is: v. 8. If I have found favor in the sight of the king, and if it please the king to grant my petition and to perform my request, let the king and Haman come to the banquet that I shall prepare for them, and I will do to-morrow as the king hath said, state the request weighing upon her mind. It was either that Esther lacked courage at the crucial moment, or that she did not feel quite sure enough of her position on the first day. The fact that one bravely confesses his position and conviction does not exclude the application of prudence. It is the matter of wisdom to ascertain in what frame of mind our neighbor may be, lest unfavorable circumstances prevent the proper effect of our confession.
HAMAN’S FATUOUS SECURITY. — V. 9. Then went Haman forth that day joyful and with a glad heart, puffed up because of the supposed distinction shown him by the queen; but when Haman saw Mordecai in the king’s gate, where he had again taken up his position, that he stood not up nor moved for him, still refusing to give him the deference which he expected from all lower officers, chap. 3, 2, he was full of indignation against Mordecai. V. 10. Nevertheless, Haman refrained himself, he could not afford to fly into a rage at this time; and when he came home, he sent and called for his friends, and Zeresh, his wife, inviting them to hear of his good fortune and to give him sympathetic advice. V. 11. And Haman, puffed up with boastful pride, told them of the glory of his riches, one factor which made for his happiness, and the multitude of his children, a great number of sons being considered a great blessing, also among the heathen Persians, and all the things wherein the king had promoted him, and how he had advanced him above the princes and servants of the king, this recent advancement being very flattering to his ambitious vanity. V. 12. Haman said moreover, Yea, Esther, the queen, did let no man come in with the king unto the banquet that she had prepared but myself, this being the very highest point of distinction; and tomorrow am I invited unto her also with the king. V. 13. Yet all this availeth me nothing, it could not satisfy him, he could not enjoy it with the proper degree of calm satisfaction, so long as I see Mordecai, the Jew, sitting at the king’s gate, the fact that this member of a despised nation, of a race of slaves, could defy him by refusing to give him the honor he desired, galled him and spoiled the enjoyment of all his blessings. V. 14. Then said Zeresh, his wife, and all his friends unto him, Let a gallows be made of fifty cubit high, the great height serving to emphasize the execution and its disgrace, and tomorrow speak thou unto the king that Mordecai may be hanged thereon, there being no doubt in their mind that this request would readily be granted. Then go thou in merrily with the king unto the banquet, his enjoyment undisturbed by a single thought of the hateful Jew. And the thing pleased Haman; and he caused the gallows to be made, erected before his very house, all ready for the execution which he hoped to bring about on the next day. Thus the supposed luck of the godless makes them secure and prepares them for the destruction which the Lord has appointed for them.