E S T H E R
This is but a part of a chapter; the rest of it, beginning at v. 4, with six chapters more, being found only in the Greek, is rejected as apocryphal. In these three verses we have only some short hints, I. Concerning Ahasuerus in the throne, what a mighty prince he was, ver. 1, 2. II. Concerning Mordecai his favourite, what a distinguished blessing he was to his people, ver. 2, 3.
B. C. 495.
1 And the king Ahasuerus laid a tribute upon the land, and upon the isles of the sea. 2 And all the acts of his power and of his might, and the declaration of the greatness of Mordecai, whereunto the king advanced him, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Media and Persia? 3 For Mordecai the Jew was next unto king Ahasuerus, and great among the Jews, and accepted of the multitude of his brethren, seeking the wealth of his people, and speaking peace to all his seed.
We are here told,
I. How great and powerful king Ahasuerus was. He had a vast dominion, both in the continent and among the islands, from which he raised a vast revenue. Besides the usual customs which the kings of Persia exacted (Ezra 4:13), he laid an additional tribute upon his subjects, to serve for some great occasion he had for money (v. 1): The king laid a tribute. Happy is our island, that pays no tribute but what is laid upon it by its representatives, and those of its own choosing, and is not squeezed or oppressed by an arbitrary power, as some of the neighbouring nations are. Besides this instance of the grandeur of Ahasuerus, many more might be given, that were acts of his power and of his might. These however are not thought fit to be recorded here in the sacred story, which is confined to the Jews, and relates the affairs of other nations only as they fell in with their affairs; but they are written in the Persian chronicles (v. 2), which are long since lost and buried in oblivion, while the sacred writings live, live in honour, and will live till time shall be no more. When the kingdoms of men, monarchs and monarchies, are destroyed, and their memorial has perished with them (Ps. 9:6), the kingdom of God among men, and the records of that kingdom, shall remain and be as the days of heaven, Dan. 2:44.
II. How great and good Mordecai was.
1. He was great; and it does one good to see virtue and piety thus in honour.
(1.) He was great with the king, next to him, as one he most delighted and confided in. Long had Mordecai sat contentedly in the king’s gate, and now at length he is advanced to the head of his council-board. Men of merit may for a time seem buried alive; but often, by some means or other, they are discovered and preferred at last. The declaration of the greatness to which the king advanced Mordecai was written in the chronicles of the kingdom, as very memorable, and contributing to the great achievements of the king. He never did such acts of power as he did when Mordecai was his right hand.
(2.) He was great among the Jews (v. 3), not only great above them, more honourable than any of them, but great with them, dear to them, familiar with them, and much respected by them. So far were they from envying his preferment that they rejoiced in it, and added to it by giving him a commanding interest among them and submitting all their affairs to his direction.
2. He was good, very good, for he did good. This goodness made him truly great, and then his greatness gave him an opportunity of doing so much the more good. When the king advanced him,
(1.) He did not disown his people the Jews, nor was he ashamed of his relation to them, though they were strangers and captives, dispersed and despised. Still he wrote himself Mordecai the Jew, and therefore no doubt adhered to the Jews’ religion, by the observances of which he distinguished himself, and yet it was no hindrance to his preferment, nor looked upon as a blemish to him.
(2.) He did not seek his own wealth, or the raising of an estate for himself and his family, which is the chief thing most aim at when they get into great places at court; but he consulted the welfare of his people, and made it his business to advance that. His power, his wealth, and all his interest in the king and queen, he improved for the public good.
(3.) He not only did good, but he did it in a humble condescending way, was easy of access, courteous and affable in his behaviour, and spoke peace to all that made their application to him. Doing good works is the best and chief thing expected from those that have wealth and power; but giving good words is also commendable, and makes the good deed the more acceptable.
(4.) He did not side with any one party of his people against another, nor make some his favourites, while the rest were neglected and crushed; but, whatever differences there were among them, he was a common father to them all, recommended himself to the multitude of his brethren, not despising the crowd, and spoke peace to all their seed, without distinction. Thus making himself acceptable by humility and beneficence, he was universally accepted, and gained the good word of all his brethren. Thanks be to God, such a government as this we are blessed with, which seeks the welfare of our people, speaking peace to all their seed. God continue it long, very long, and grant us, under the happy protection and influence of it, to live quiet and peaceable lives, in godliness, honesty, and charity!
– Matthew Henry Commentary