Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary, 1859 edition.

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ESTHER - Chapter 3

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Esther iii.

Notes & Commentary:

Ver. 1. Aman means, "a disturber." (Haydock) --- Who. Septuagint add, "Bougaios, or Gogaios." Gog designates Scythia, where Aman might have been born. Pliny ([Natural History?] iv. 12.) places there the lake and river Ruges. But the Bugean, in Greek, may mean, "greatly puffed up:" or it may stand for Bagoas, "an eunuch," (Judith xii. 11.) like Putiphar. --- Agag, the king of Amalec, 1 Kings xv. This title, like that of Macedonian, (chap. xvi. 10.) is probably used out of contempt, as the Jews fequently styled their enemies, "race of Chanaan," Ezechiel xvi. 3., and Daniel xiii. 56. (Calmet) --- Sulpitius takes Aman to have been a Persian. His Amalecite ancestors may have fled before Saul into Macedonia, though he himself resided in Persia, so as to belong to all those nations. (Tirinus) (Menochius) --- Throne. Thus were Joseph and Joakim exalted, Genesis xli. 40., and 4 Kings xxv. 28. (Calmet) --- The Persians gave places according to merit, (Haydock) or as a reward. (Brisson.)

Ver. 2. Worship him, with divine honours, as he required, in imitation of the kings, Judith iii. 13. On certain solemn occasions, the latter at least exacted this respect from their subjects. But the pious Jews avoided appearing at such times, or the kings dispensed with them. The mere bending the knee, out of civil respect, would not have been objected to; and Mardochai says, he would not have refused to kiss the footsteps of Aman, chap. xiii. 12. (Calmet) (St. Thomas Aquinas, 2. 2. q. 84.) (Tirinus) --- But he could not give such worship as was claimed by the minor gods. (Worthington)

Ver. 4. Resolution. They did not mean to injure Mardochai, who had an employment at court, chap. xii. 5. (Calmet) --- Jew, and of course hindered by his religion from giving divine worship to any man. (Menochius)

Ver. 6. Counted. Septuagint, "consulted how to exterminate all the Jews in the kingdom." --- Assuerus. Hebrew adds, "the people of Mardochai."

Ver. 7. Lot. The Persians were much addicted to divination. The superstitious Aman, though he would appear a deity, was to be regulated by lots! Providence caused almost a whole year to intervene, before the cruel execution was to commence. (Calmet) --- Reason began to shew the futility of divination, (Cicero) but the Christian religion alone has been able to counteract its baneful influence. (Calmet) --- India is still much infected with it. (Bernier.) --- Phur. Hebrew, "they cast Pur, that is the lot, before Aman." (Haydock) --- The explanation intimates that Pur is a Persian word. (Du Hamel) --- Yet Pagnin maintains that it means in Hebrew, "to crush," a wine-press, or vessel; and the lot, which is thrown therein. (Menochius) --- Tickets, with the names of the twelve months, were probably drawn; and after the month was thus determined, Aman put in the urn as many tickets as it had days, and was directed to pitch upon the 13th. Septuagint have the 14th, both here and ver. 13. (Calmet) --- How preposterous was the (Haydock) fury of this man, thus to decide upon the day before he had the king's leave! (Worthington)

Ver. 8. Another, as the ten tribes were from Juda, or rather (Haydock) they were scattered about the empire. (Calmet) --- Hebrew, "and dispersed; and their laws are different from all other people's; neither do they observe the king's laws: therefore it is not for the king's profit to tolerate them." (Haydock) --- These are the old calumnies repeated by Tacitus, (Hist. v.) and ably refuted by Josephus. (contra Apion) Almost all Israel still continued about Media. Few had taken advantage of the decree of Cyrus.

Ver. 9. Talents. Hebrew, &c., add, "of silver." (Menochius) --- If the Hebrew talent be meant, this sum would be immense for an individual; (Calmet) though Aman might expect to raise it by the confiscation of the Jews' effects, ver. 13. Some think he speaks of the Babylonian talent, on which supposition the sum would amount to twenty-one millions of French livres, (Bude.; Calmet) or of the Attic one, which is worth half the Hebrew talent. The king might thus be prevented from thinking that the tributes would be lessened. (Tirinus)

Ver. 10. Ring, to transfer his power to him, for the time, Genesis xli. 42. Alexander gave his ring to Periccas, and was generally supposed thus to designate him for his successor. (Justin. xii.) See 1 Machabees vi. 14, 15.

Ver. 12. Lieutenants. Literally, "satraps." Hebrew achashdarpene, "courtiers," (Haydock) or those who are in the presence of his majesty, or porters. (Calmet) --- They were entrusted with the care of the different provinces. (Haydock)

Ver. 13. Messengers. Literally, "runners." (Haydock) --- Posts were first established in Persia, and were the admiration of other nations, though nothing compared with ours, as they were not regular, nor for the people. They called these messengers Astandę, or Angari, Matthew v. 41. Darius Condomanus was one of these postilions, before he came to the crown. (Calmet) --- At first the kings had people stationed on eminences, at a convenient distance, to make themselves heard, when they had to communicate some public news. (Diod. xix. p. 680.) --- Cyrus afterwards appointed horsemen, to succeed each other. (Xenophon, Cyrop. viii.) --- Cęsar made some regulations on this head, which were perfected by Augustus and Adrian; but being neglected, Charlemagne strove to restore them: yet it is thought that the posts were not established, in France, till the reign of Louis XI. (Calmet)

Ver. 14. Letter. It should appear here, as it is in Greek, but the Hebrew, &c., omitting it, the Vulgate give it, chap. xiii. 1.

Ver. 15. Jews. Hebrew, "but the city of Susan was in perplexity." Greek, "troubled." (Calmet) --- Even the pagans could not view such a cruel decree, without horror. (Haydock)


Bible Text & Cross-references:

Aman, advanced by the king, is offended at Mardochai, and therefore procureth the king's decree to destroy the whole nation of the Jews.

1 After these things, king Assuerus advanced Aman, the son of Amadathi, who was of the race of Agag: and he set his throne above all the princes that were with him.

2 And all the king's servants, that were at the doors of the palace, bent their knees, and worshipped Aman: for so the emperor had commanded them; only Mardochai did not bend his knee, nor worship him.

3 And the king's servants that were chief at the doors of the palace, said to him: Why dost thou alone not observe the king's commandment?

4 And when they were saying this often, and he would not hearken to them; they told Aman, desirous to know whether he would continue in his resolution: for he had told them that he was a Jew.

5 Now when Aman had heard this, and had proved by experience that Mardochai did not bend his knee to him, nor worship him, he was exceedingly angry.

6 And he counted it nothing to lay his hands upon Mardochai alone: for he had heard that he was of the nation of the Jews, and he chose rather to destroy all the nation of the Jews that were in the kingdom of Assuerus.

7 In the first month, (which is called Nisan) in the twelfth year* of the reign of Assuerus, the lot was cast into an urn, which, in Hebrew, is called Phur, before Aman, on what day and what month the nation of the Jews should be destroyed: and there came out the twelfth month, which is called Adar.

8 And Aman said to king Assuerus: There is a people scattered through all the provinces of thy kingdom, and separated one from another, that use new laws and ceremonies, and moreover despise the king's ordinances: and thou knowest very well that it is not expedient for thy kingdom that they should grow insolent by impunity.

9 If it please thee, decree that they may he destroyed, and I will pay ten thousand talents to thy treasurers.

10 And the king took the ring that he used, from his own hand, and gave it to Aman, the son of Amadathi, of the race of Agag, the enemy of the Jews,

11 And he said to him: As to the money which thou promisest, keep it for thyself: and as to the people, do with them as seemeth good to thee.

12 *And the king's scribes were called in the first month, Nisan, on the thirteenth day of the same month: and they wrote, as Aman had commanded, to all the king's lieutenants, and to the judges of the provinces, and of divers nations, as every nation could read, and hear, according to their different languages, in the name of king Assuerus: and the letters, sealed with his ring,

13 Were sent by the king's messengers to all provinces, to kill and destroy all the Jews, both young and old, little children, and women, in one day, that is, on the thirteenth of the twelfth month, which is called Adar, and to make a spoil of their goods.

14 And the contents of the letters were to this effect, that all provinces might know, and be ready against that day.

15 The couriers, that were sent, made haste to fulfil the king's commandment. And, immediately, the edict was hung up in Susan, the king and Aman feasting together, and all the Jews, that were in the city, weeping.

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*

7: Year of the World 3494, Year before Christ 510.

12: Year of the World 3495.