Notes & Commentary:
Fearing. Greek, "caught in the agony of death." The old Vulgate has many variations in this chapter. (Calmet) --- This
prayer should be placed after that of Mardochai, at the end of chap. iv. (Menochius)
Ointments. Greek, "instead of the proud sweets, she filled her head with ashes and dust." Such as might be soon cleansed
again. (Haydock) --- Torn. Greek, "curled hair," (strepton trichon. Haydock) some of which she cut off.
See Leviticus xix. 27., and xxi. 5. (Houbigant)
Hands; very imminent. I am ready to expose my life, Psalm cxviii. 109. (Calmet)
Heard. Old Vulgate 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. (Haydock)
For. Greek, "since we have extolled," &c. Esther had not been guilty herself of this prevarication; but too many
of the people had. (Haydock)
But. Greek Complutensian, "Yea, thou hast placed (or rather as the Alexandrian manuscript reads, they have placed)
their hands upon the hands of their idols, (Haydock; making league together. Calmet) to tear away the decree of thy mouth,"
(Haydock) and to put in execution the projects of (Menochius) the devil. (Haydock)
Idols. Greek, "of the vain things, and to render wonderful for ever," &c.
Not idols, as they are often here designated, (Calmet and 1 Corinthians viii.) being only the imaginations of men.
(Worthington) --- Destroy. Greek, "Make an example of the man, who has begun (Haydock; evils. Calmet) against us."
(Haydock) --- She throws the blame upon Aman, and not upon her husband. (Calmet)
Gods. Greek, "nations, and Lord of all power." (Haydock)
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 St. Paul applies it to Nero, probably after her example?
(Houbigant) (2 Timothy iv. 17.) --- David also thus styles Saul and his persecutors in general, Psalm vii. 3., &c. (Calmet)
Stranger. Only those near Chanaan were forbidden to marry; and St. Paul commends Eunice, who had espoused an infidel.
(Capellus) --- 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, (Houbigant) 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. (Menochius)
Sign. The diadem. It was no sin to wear it. (Capellus) --- What then? May not a pious prince despise such ornaments,
raising his mind above them? (Houbigant) --- 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. (Calmet)
Me. Ought she to have been thus affected towards her husband? (Capellus) --- Undoubtedly: as the meats and the wine
had been offered to idols. (Houbigant)
Bible Text & Cross-references:
The prayer of Esther, for herself and her people.
1 Queen Esther, also, fearing the danger that was at hand, had recourse
to the Lord.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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,
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
5: Deuteronomy iv. 20. and 34. and xxxii. 9.