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AND this was the copy of the letter: Artaxerxes the great king who reigneth from India to Ethiopia, to the princes and governors of the hundred and twenty-seven provinces, that are subject to his empire, greeting.

Ver. 1.  "Hitherto," S. Jerom observes, "the preface extends.  What follows, was placed in that part of the volume where it is written, And they, &c. (C. iii. 13. where the edict should naturally appear.  C.) which we have found only in the Vulg. edition."  H.

 

--- Josephus produces this edict at length, but with some variations, (C.) which are of no importance.  H.




2 Whereas I reigned over many nations, and had brought all the world under my dominion, I was not willing to abuse the greatness of my power, but to govern my subjects with clemency and lenity, that they might live quietly without any terror. and might enjoy peace, which is desired by all men.

Ver. 2.  World.  This is an exaggeration.  Princes are flattered with high titles, but none more so than those of the East.  C.

 

--- Quietly.  Lit. "in silence."  Gr. "undisturbed by the stormy billows, (akumantouV) at all times; and that the kingdom might be rendered quiet, and the roads unmolested, to the very extremities; that peace, which is desired by all men, may be renewed."  How amiable are these dispositions, which ought to be cherished by all princes!  We might then hope soon to see peace restored.  H.


3 But when I asked my counsellors how this might be accomplished, one that excelled the rest in wisdom and fidelity, and was second after the king, Aman by name,

Ver. 3.  After.  Gr. "of all kingdoms as a reward, Aman shewed me," &c.  Josephus, "the second after me, for his fidelity and confirmed good will."  C.

 

--- It is a great hurt for a king to be governed by one counsellor.  Prov. xv. 22.  W.


4 Told me that there was a people scattered through the whole world, which used new laws, and acted against the customs of all nations, despised the commandments of kings, and violated by their opposition the concord of all nations.

Ver. 4.  A people.  Gr. "a certain perverse people, mixed with every tribe through," &c.

 

--- New.  Gr. "opposite to those of every nation, which always casteth aside the edicts of the kings, so that we cannot extend to them that upright and blameless dominion which we exercise over you."


5 Wherefore having learned this, and seeing one nation in opposition to all mankind using perverse laws, and going against our commandments, and disturbing the peace and concord of the provinces subject to us, 6 We have commanded that all whom Aman shall mark out, who is chief over all the provinces, and second after the king, and whom we honour as a father, shall be utterly destroyed by their enemies, with their wives and children, and that none shall have pity on them. on the fourteenth day of the twelfth month Adar of this present year:

Ver. 6.  Second.  Gr. "our second father."  C.

 

--- Compl. "the second after us, shall be all extirpated by," &c.  H.

 

--- This king is represented as very stupidly giving orders for the destruction of a nation which he never names; (Capel.) but he intimates that Aman would do it, in whom he placed the most unbounded confidence.  H.

 

--- If the latter had any suspicions of the queen's being of that nation, he might very prudently abstain from mentioning the Jews even to the king, contenting himself with describing them so that they would easily be known by his agents; and, in effect, the king sufficiently pointed out the Jews, by saying that they followed laws different from all the world.  Houbigant.

 

--- Infidels generally represent them as a wicked race, enemies to all but their own nation.  Tacitus, &c.

 

--- We need not wonder if Catholics be painted in the same colours, as the devil is still the same.  H.

 

--- Fourteenth.  Josephus has the same day, though the 13th is specified in Heb. &c. (C. iii. 12.) and in the Gr. and Vulg.  C. xvi. 20.  We must, therefore, allow that the Jews might be slaughtered on both days, or that the Greek is incorrect in this place.  C.

 

--- Salien thinks it would not be lawful to spare the Jews any longer than the 14th day; (M.) or the carnage was to cease on the 14th, as it did at Susa.  C. ix. 17. 19.  T.


7 That these wicked men going down to hell in one day, may restore to our empire the peace which they had disturbed.

Ver. 7.  Hell.  Prot. "grave."  The king only wanted to send them out of this world.  At the end of this verse, S. Jerom says, "Hitherto is given the copy of the epistle.  I found what follows after that place where we read, So Mardochai, &c. (C. iv. 17.) yet it is not in Heb. nor does it appear in any of the interpreters."  H.

 

--- He means, Aquila, &c.  For he plainly asserts before, that it was in the Septuagint, which he calls the Vulgate; and all know that his version was taken from the Heb.  The Church reads this prayer of Mardochai, (T.) in the mass, against pagans, (W.) and 21st Sunday after Pentecost, &c. so that this is a part of Scripture which the Council of Trent will not suffer to be rejected.  T.


8 But Mardochai besought the Lord, remembering all his works, 9 And said: O Lord, Lord, almighty king, for all things are in thy power, and there is none that can resist thy will, if thou determine to save Israel. 10 Thou hast made heaven and earth, and all things that are under the cope of heaven. 11 Thou art Lord of all, and there is none that can resist thy majesty. 12 Thou knowest all things, and thou knowest that it was not out of pride and contempt, or any desire of glory, that I refused to worship the proud Aman,
13 (For I would willingly and readily for the salvation of Israel have kissed even the steps of his feet,) 14 But I feared lest I should transfer the honour of my God to a man, and lest I should adore any one except my God.

Ver. 14.  To a man; "as if," says Capellus, "the salutation and civil honour be not quite different from adoration and religious worship, which must be given to God alone.  Neither did Haman demand religious adoration, but only salutation and civil honour...To bend the knee is frequently used in civil honour, nor is it necessarily understood of religious worship."  May our English Protestants deign to borrow this grain of common sense from one their foreign brethren, when they attempt to impugn the respect given by Catholics to the saints.  H.

 

--- "We grant that Aman did not require religious worship: but as the civil respect which he claimed, was to be performed in the same manner as the Jews worshipped God, Mardochai would not wound his own conscience, or that of his people."  Houbigant.

 

--- Yet it is by no means clear that Aman did not insist on being worshipped as a god.  It is evident that Mardochai understood him, at least, in that light.  C. iii. 2.  H.


15 And now, O Lord, O king, O God of Abraham, have mercy on thy people, because our enemies resolve to destroy us, and extinguish thy inheritance. 16 Despise not thy portion, which thou hast redeemed for thyself out of Egypt.


17 Hear my supplication, and be merciful to thy lot and inheritance, and turn our mourning into joy, that we may live and praise thy name, O Lord, and shut not the mouths of them that sing to thee.

Ver. 17.  Inheritance.  Lit. "line," (H.) as it was usual to measure land with lines.  M.


18 And all Israel with like mind and supplication cried to the Lord, because they saw certain death hanging over their heads.
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