William Kelly Major Works Commentary - Esther 4:1 - 4:17

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William Kelly Major Works Commentary - Esther 4:1 - 4:17

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Esther Chapter 4

Well might there be a great cry going forth from the Jew. Their doom was sealed. So it appeared. The more so as it was always one of the maxims of the Persian empire that a law once passed was never revoked - "according to the law of the Medes and Persians that altereth not." Nothing then, it might appear, could possibly have saved the people. The master of 127 provinces had given his royal word, signed with his seal, and sent it out by posts throughout the whole length and breadth of the empire. The day was fixed; the people named. Destruction seemed to be certain; but Mordecai rends his clothes and puts on sackcloth, and goes into the midst of the city, and cries with a loud and bitter cry (Est_4:1), and if God's name is not written and does not appear, God's ears, none the less, heard. Mordecai came unto the king's gate, for none might enter into the gate clothed with sackcloth. He came before it, not within it, and Esther heard. They told her, and the queen was exceeding grieved, little knowing the cause of the grief. And Esther sends, through one of the chamberlains, and Mordecai tells him of all that had happened unto him, and of what Haman had promised to pay, and the destruction that was impending over the Jew.

Esther upon this, we are told, gives Hatach commandment to Mordecai telling him the hopelessness of the case. The object was that she might go and make supplication to the king. But how? It was one of the laws of the Persian empire that nobody could go into the king's presence. The king must send, and the king had not sent for the queen for thirty days. It was against the law to venture there. Accordingly Mordecai sends her a most distinct but severe message. "Think not with thyself," said he, "that thou shalt escape in the king's house more than all the Jews. For if thou altogether holdest thy peace at this time, then shall there enlargement and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place." Not a word about God. He is hidden. He means God, but so perfectly is there a preserving of the secrecy of God that he only vaguely alludes to it in this remarkable manner - "Then shall there enlargement and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place;" - for God would look down from heaven; but Mordecai only speaks of the place and not of the person - "but thou and thy father's house shall be destroyed: and who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?"

Esther, accordingly, is brought to a due sense of the situation. She enters perfectly into Mordecai's feeling for the people and his confidence of the enlargement that would come from another place. So she bids Mordecai ''Go, gather together all the Jews that are present in Shushan, and fast ye for me, and neither eat nor drink three days, night or day." She also, as she says, will do this. "I also and my maidens will fast likewise; and so will I go in unto the king." Not a word about the perfumes now. Not a word about the sweet odours to prepare herself for the presence of the king. To that she had submitted; it was the king's order; but now, although she does not mention God, it is evident where her heart is. She goes with this most singular preparation, but an admirable one at such a time - fasting - a great sign of humiliation before God; yet, even here, God is not named. You cannot doubt that God is above, and that God is behind, the scenes; but all that appears is merely the fasting of man, and not the God before whom the fasting was. "And if I perish, I perish." Her mind was made up.