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QUEEN Esther also, fearing the danger that was at hand, had recourse to the Lord.

Ver. 1.  Fearing.  Gr. "caught in the agony of death."  The old Vulgate has many variations in this chapter.  C.

 

--- This prayer should be placed after that of Mardochai, at the end of C. iv.  M.


2 And when she had laid away her royal apparel, she put on garments suitable for weeping and mourning: instead of divers precious ointments, she covered her head with ashes and dung, and she humbled her body with fasts: and all the places in which before she was accustomed to rejoice, she filled with her torn hair.

Ver. 2.  Ointments.  Gr. "instead of the proud sweets, she filled her head with ashes and dust."  Such as might be soon cleansed again.  H.

 

--- Torn.  Gr. "curled hair," (straptwn trichwn.  H.) some of which she cut off.  See Lev. xix. 27. and xxi. 5.  Houbig.


3 And she prayed to the Lord the God of Israel, saying: O my Lord, who alone art our king, help me a desolate woman, and who have no other helper but thee. 4 My danger is in my hands.

Ver. 4.  Hands; very imminent.  I am ready to expose my life.  Ps. cxviii. 109.  C.


5 I have heard of my father that thou, O Lord, didst take Israel from among all nations, and our fathers from all their predecessors, to possess them as an everlasting inheritance, and thou hast done to them as thou hast promised.

Ver. 5.  Heard.  Old Vulg. often repeats, "from the books of my fathers;" adducing the various instances of protection which God had shewn to his people, Noe, Abraham, Jonas, the three children, Daniel, Ezechias, and Anna: which intimates that Esther made the sacred books the subject of her frequent meditations, as good people ought to do.  H.



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6 We have sinned in thy sight, and therefore thou hast delivered us into the hands of our enemies: 7 For we have worshipped their gods. Thou art just, O Lord.

Ver. 7.  For.  Gr. "since we have extolled," &c.  Esther had not been guilty herself of this prevarication; but too many of the people had.  H.


8 And now they are not content to oppress us with most hard bondage, but attributing the strength of their hands to the power of their idols,

Ver. 8.  But.  Gr. Compl. "Yea, thou hast placed (or rather as the Alex. MS. reads, they have placed) their hands upon the hands of their idols, (H.  making league together.  C.) to tear away the decree of thy mouth," (H.) and to  put in execution the projects of (M.) the devil.  H.


9 They design to change thy promises, and destroy thy inheritance, and shut the mouths of them that praise thee, and extinguish the glory of thy temple and altar, 10 That they may open the mouths of Gentiles, and praise the strength of idols, and magnify for ever a carnal king.

Ver. 10.  Idols.  Gr. "of the vain things, and to render wonderful for ever," &c.


11 Give not, O Lord, thy sceptre to them that are not, lest they laugh at our ruin: but turn their counsel upon themselves, and destroy him that hath begun to rage against us.

Ver. 11.  Not idols, as they are often here designated, (C. and 1 Cor. viii.) being only the imaginations of men.  W.

 

--- Destroy.  Gr. "Make an example of the man, who had begun (H. evils. C.) against us."  H.

 

--- She throws the blame upon Aman, and not upon her husband.  C.


12 Remember, O Lord, and shew thyself to us in the time of our tribulation, and give me boldness, O Lord, king of gods, and of all power:

Ver. 12.  Gods.  Gr. "nations, and Lord of all power."  H.


13 Give me a well ordered speech in my mouth in the presence of the lion, and turn his heart to the hatred of our enemy, that both he himself may perish, and the rest that consent to him.

Ver. 13.  Lion.  This expression seems not sufficiently respectful.  Capellus.

 

--- But why might not Esther use it with regard to one, who  was raging against her people more than any lion, as S. Paul applies it to Nero, probably after her example?  Houbigant.  2 Tim. iv. 17.

 

--- David also thus styles Saul and his persecutors in general.  Ps. vii. 3. &c.  C.


14 But deliver us by thy hand, and help me, who have no other helper, but thee, O Lord, who hast the knowledge of all things. 15 And thou knowest that I hate the glory of the wicked, and abhor the bed of the uncircumcised, and of every stranger.

Ver. 15.  Stranger.  Only those near Chanaan were forbidden to marry; and S. Paul commends Eunice, who had espoused an infidel.  Capel.

 

--- But this was not the reason of his commendation; for he ordains, Bear not the yoke with infidels.  A pious woman might, therefore, very well refrain from such contracts, to which the Jews, at this time, were in a manner forced.  Still Esther  might have a conjugal love for her husband, (Houbig.) though she would have preferred to marry one poorer of her own religion; and here she only submitted to the designs of God, in raising her to such an elevated station.  M.


16 Thou knowest my necessity, that I abominate the sign of my pride and glory, which is upon my head in the days of my public appearance, and detest it as a menstruous rag, and wear it not in the days of my silence,

Ver. 16.  Sign.  The diadem.  It was no sin to wear it.  Capel.

 

--- What then?  May not a pious prince despise such ornaments, raising his mind above them?  Houbig.

 

--- Silence, when I am alone.  Nothing could give us a higher idea of Esther's virtue and greatness of soul, as her elevation did not make her forget herself.  C.


17 And that I have not eaten at Aman's table, nor hath the king's banquet pleased me, and that I have not drunk the wine of the drink offerings:

Ver. 17.  Me.  Ought she to have been thus affected towards her husband?  Capel.

 

--- Undoubtedly: as the meats and the wine had been offered to idols.  Houbig.


18 And that thy handmaid hath never rejoiced, since I was brought hither unto this day, but in thee, O Lord, the God of Abraham. 19 O God, who art mighty above all, hear the voice of them, that have no other hope, and deliver us from the hand of the wicked, and deliver me from my fear.
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