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A.C.464.

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*Chald. Make a decree.

thi

21 * Give ye now commandment to cause these men to cease, and that this city be not builded, until another commandment shall be given from me.

22 Take heed now that ye fail not to do this: why should damage grow to the hurt of the kings?

23 7 Now when the copy of king Artaxerxes' letter was read before Rehum, and Shimshai the scribe, and their companions, they went up in haste to Jerusalem unto the Jews, and made them to cease † by force and power.

+ Chald. by arm and power.

bis the

4 the drei

5 feas pala

SECTION III.

Artaxerxes divorces his Qucen.

ESTHER 1 24.

6

1 Ahasuerus maketk royal feasts. 10 Vashti, sent for, refuseth to come. 13 Akc

suerus, by the counsel of Memucan, maketh the decree of men's sovereignty.
1 Now it came to pass in the days of Ahasuerus, (this is

462.

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* The book of Esther, which derives its name from the person whose history it chiefly relates, is by the Jews termed Megilloth Esther, or the volume of Esther. It has ever been held in the highest estimation by the Jews, who place it on the same level with the law of Moses ; and they believe, that whatever destruction may attend the other sacred writings, the Pentateuch and the book of Esther will always be preserved by a special providence.

Concerning the author of this book, the opinions of biblical critics are so greaty divided, that it is difficult to determine by whom it was written. Some ascribe it to the joint labours of the great synagogue, who, from the time of Ezra w imon the Just, superintended the edition and canon of Scripture. Philo the det assigns it to Joachin, the son of Joshua the high priest, who returned with Zerubbabel; others think it was composed by Mordecai; and others, again, attribute it to Esther and Mordecai jointly. The two latter conjectures are grounded on the following declaration in Esther ix. 20. 23, “ And Mordecai wrote these things

, and sent letters unto all the Jews that were in all the provinces of king Ahasuerus; and the Jews undertook to do as they had begun, and as Mordecai had written unto them.” But the context of the passage clearly shows that these words do not relate to the book itself, but to the circular letters which Mordecai distributed in the Persian provinces. Augustine, and some of the fathers

, suppose that it was written by Ezra, and this opinion appears more probable than any that has been offered to us.

But although we have no sufficient evidence to ascertain precisely who was its real author; there is no doubt but that the book itself contains a genuine and faithful account of what actually took place; not only from its admission into the canon of Scripture, but also from the institution of the feast of Purim ; which, from its first establishment, has been regularly observed as an annual solemnity, on the fourteenth and fifteenth of the month Adar, in commemoration of the great deliverance which Esther by her interest had procured for the Jews; and which is even now celebrated among them with many peculiar ceremonies, and with te joicings even to intoxication. This festival was called Purim, or the feast of kers

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Or, of por

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Ahasuerus which reigned, from India even unto Ethiopia, A.C. 462. over an hundred and seven and twenty provinces :)

2 That in those days, when the king Ahasuerus sat on the Itse throne of his kingdom, which was in Shushan the palace,

3 In the third year of his reign, he made a feast unto all DHTK his princes and his servants; the power of Persia and Media, ,

the nobles and princes of the provinces, being before him :

4 When he shewed the riches of his glorious kingdom and the honour of his excellent majesty many days, even an hundred and fourscore days.

5 And when these days were expired, the king made a feast unto all the people that were present in Shushan the * Heb. found. palace, both unto great and small, seven days, in the court of the garden of the king's palace;

6 Where were white, green, and + blue hangings, fastened + Or, violet. air with cords of fine linen and purple to silver rings and pillars

of marble: the beds were of gold and silver, upon a pave-
ment of red, and blue, and white, and black marble.

7 And they gave them drink in vessels of gold, (the vessels marble, and being diverse one from another,) and şroyal wine in abun- stone of blue? dance, || according to the state of the king

Heb. wine of 8 And the drinking was according to the law; none did the kingdom, compel : for so the king had appointed to all the officers of ing to the hand his house, that they should do according to every man's pleasure.

9 Also Vashti the queen made a feast for the women in the royal house which belonged to king Ahasuerus.

10 f On the seventh day, when the heart of the king was merry with wine, he commanded Mehuman, Biztha, Harbona, Bigtha, and Abagtha, Zethar, and Carcas, the seven * chamberlains that served in the presence of Ahasuerus the + Or,cunuchs. king.

11 To bring Vashti the queen before the king with the crown royal, to shew the people and the princes her beauty: for she was + fair to look on.

+ Heb. good of 12 But the queen Vashti refused to come at the king's commandment I by his chamberlains : therefore was the Hcb, which king very wroth, and his anger burned in him.

13 q Then the king said to the wise men, which knew the times, (for so was the king's manner toward all that knew law and judgment :

of the king.

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countenance.

hand of his cunuchs.

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(Pur, in the Persian language, signifying a lot) from the events mentioned in
chap. ill. 7. ix. 24. It has been remarked, that the name of God is not men-
tioned throughout this book ; but his superintendent providence is so evidently
displayed in every transaction recorded in it, that its authenticity on this account
cannot be questioned. - Dr. Gray's Key in loc.; Horne's Crit. Introd. in loc.

lau tio

* Heb. What to do.

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say

dau:

good with the king.

Heb. from before him,

A.C. 462. 14 And the next unto him was Carshena, Shethar, Adma.
a Ezra vii. 14. tha, Tarshish, Meres, Marsena, and Memucan, the seren

princes of Persia and Media, which saw the king's face, und
which sat the first in the kingdom ;)

15 * What shall we do unto the queen Vashti according
to law, because she hath not performed the commandment
of the king Ahasuerus by the chamberlains ?

16 And Memucan answered before the king and the princes, Vashti the queen hath not done wrong to the king only, but also to all the princes, and to all the people that are in all the provinces of the king Ahasuerus.

17 For this deed of the queen shall come abroad unto all women, so that they shall despise their husbands in their eyes, when it shall be reported, The king Ahasuerus commanded Vashti the queen to be brought in before him, but she came not.

18 Likewise shall the ladies of Persia and Media this day unto all the king's princes, which have heard of the deed of the queen. Thus shall there arise too much contempt and

wrath.
+ Heh. If it be 19 +If it please the king, let there go a royal command-

ment from him, and let it be written among the laws of
the Persians and the Medes, S that it be not altered

, That Heb, chati Vashti come no more before king Ahasuerus ; and let the

king give her royal estate || unto another that is better than
she.

20 And when the king's decree which he shall make shall
be published throughout all his empire, (for it is
the wives shall give to their husbands honour, both to great
and small.

21 And the saying * pleased the king and the princes ;
and the king did according to the word of Memucan:

22 For he sent letters into all the king's provinces, into every province according to the writing thereof, and to every

people after their language, that every man should bear rule + Heb. That in his own house, and + that it should be published accordone oraledao, ing to the language of every people.

ESTHER II. VER. I, TO FORMER PART OF VER. 15.

1 After these things, when the wrath of king Ahasuerus was appeased, he remembered Vashti, and what she had done, and what was decreed against her.

2 Then said the king's servants that ministered unto him, Let there be fair young virgins sought for the king:

3 And let the king appoint officers in all the provinces of his kingdom, that they may gather together all the fair young virgins unto Shushan the palace, to the house of the

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pass not away, ch. viii. 8. Dan. vi. 8, 12, 15. 1. Heb, unto her compa. nion,

great,) all

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* Heb. was

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cording to the language of his peoplc.

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women, * unto the custody of + Hege the king's chamber- A.C.462. lain, keeper of the women; and let their things for purification be given them:

4 And let the maiden which pleaseth the king be queen ver. S. instead of Vashti.' And the thing pleased the king; and he

* Heb. unto the hand. † Or, Hegai,

did so.

carried away

1 Or, Jehoiachin, 2 Kings

Heh. nou

nance.

5 Now in Shushan the palace there was a certain Jew, whose name was Mordecai, the son of Jair, the son of Shimei, the son of Kish, a Benjamite;

6 Who had been carried away from Jerusalem with the b2 Kings captivity which had been carried away with # Jeconiah king 2 Chron. of Judah, whom Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon had Jer. xxiv. !.

7 And he brought up Hadassah, that is Esther, his xxiv. 6. uncle's daughter: for she had neither father nor mother, rished. and the maid was || fair and beautiful; whom Mordecai, | Heb. fair of when her father and mother were dead, took for his own of counte. daughter.

8 So it came to pass, when the king's commandment and his decree was heard, and when many maidens were gathered together unto Shushan the palace, to the custody of Hegai, that Esther was brought also unto the king's house, to the custody of Hegai, keeper of the women.

9 And the maiden pleased him, and she obtained kindness of him ; and he speedily gave her her things for purification, with * such things as belonged to her, and seven * Heb. her maidens, which were meet to be given her, out of the king's house : and the preferred her and her maids unto the best 1 Heb. he place of the house of the women.

10 Esther had not shewed her people nor her kindred: for Mordecai had charged her that she should not shew it.

11 And Mordecai walked every day before the court of the women's house, I to know how Esther did, and what knowline should become of her.

12 ? Now when every maid's turn was come to go in to king Ahasuerus, after that she had been twelve months, according to the manner of the women, (for so were the days of their purifications accomplished, to wit, six months with oil of myrrh, and six months with sweet odours, and with other things for the purifying of the women ;)

13 Then thus came every maiden unto the king; whatsoever she desired was given her to go with her out of the house of the women unto the king's house.

14 In the evening she went, and on the morrow she returned into the second house of the women, to the custody of Shaashgaz, the king's chamberlain, which kept the con

portions.

changed her.

peace.

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A.C. 462. cubines: she came in unto the king no more, except the

king delighted in her, and that she were called by name.

15 | Now when the turn of Esther, the daughter of Abihail the uncle of Mordecai, who had taken her for his daughter, was come to go in unto the king. she required nothing but what Hegai the king's chamberlain, the keeper of the women, appointed.

whered

SECTION IV.

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Commission of Ezra 25.

then

EZRA VII.

1 Ezra goeth up to Jerusalem. 11 The gracious commission of Arlarerzes to

Ezra. 27 Ezra blesseth God for his favour.
1 Now after these things, in the reign of Artaxerxes king

Cristian

458.

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25 Ezra probably received his first commission through the interest of Esther; as a short time after it was obtained, she was made queen, (compare Esther ile 16. with vii. 8.)

From Ezra's entering upon the work of reforming the Jewish church, the celebrated prophecy of the seventy weeks, which is delivered to us in the ninth chapter of Daniel, concerning the coming of the Messiah, is to be computed. The words of the prophecy, in our English translation, are as follow.

Ver, 24, “Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people, and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most holy:" ver. 25. “Know, therefore, and understand, that, from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem, unto Messiah the Prince, shall be seven weeks; and threescore and two weeks the street shall be built again, and the wall even in troublous times :" ver. 26. “ And after threescore and two weeks shal Messiah be cut off, but not for himself; and the people of the prince that shall come, shall destroy the city and the sanctuary, and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and to the end of the war desolations are determined :" ver. 27. "And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week; and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured out upon the desolate."

And it being of great moment, for the conviction of Jews and other infidels who reject the faith of Christ, to have this prophecy well cleared, and made out, in order hereto it is to be observed,

1. That this prophecy doth relate primarily and especially to the Jews. For it expresseth the time that was determined upon the people of Daniel, that is, the Jews, and upon the holy city, that is, Jerusalem, the whole of which was seventy weeks; after the expiration of which fore-ordained time, an end being put to the Mosaic economy, the Jews should be no longer God's peculiar people, and the worship which he had established at Jerusalem being abolished, that city should be no longer a city holy unto him.

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