The Agora
Bible Commentary

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Esther 4

Est 4:1

MORDECAI... TORE HIS CLOTHES, PUT ON SACKCLOTH AND ASHES... WAILING LOUDLY AND BITTERLY: Common expressions of personal grief (cp Ezra 8:21,23; Neh 9:1; Lam 3:40-66). Undoubtedly he felt personally responsible for this decree (cp Est 3:2-5).

There is no mention of Mordecai praying, but prayer normally accompanied the other practices mentioned (cp 2Ki 19:1-4; Joel 1:14) -- so it seems reasonable to conclude that he DID pray.

Est 4:2

BUT HE WENT ONLY AS FAR AS THE KING'S GATE: Where, perhaps, he hoped for an audience with Esther (v 4).

Est 4:4

WHEN ESTHER'S MAIDS AND EUNUCHS CAME AND TOLD HER ABOUT MORDECAI, SHE WAS IN GREAT DISTRESS: Being in the palace, she seems to know nothing about the decree.

Est 4:8

Mordecai must have taken Hatach (v 6) into his confidence; if he didn't know the identity of Esther before, he would now!

Est 4:11

BUT THIRTY DAYS HAVE PASSED SINCE I WAS CALLED TO GO TO THE KING: Is Esther out of favor with the king herself? Why?

Est 4:13

DO NOT THINK THAT BECAUSE YOU ARE IN THE KING'S HOUSE YOU ALONE OF ALL THE JEWS WILL ESCAPE: For one thing, Hatach now knew that she was a Jews (v 9); quite possibly, others would know also.

Est 4:14

AND WHO KNOWS BUT THAT YOU HAVE COME TO ROYAL POSITION FOR SUCH A TIME AS THIS?: Although there is still no mention of God (in fact, there is none anywhere in the Book), Mordecai clearly implies his deep belief in the providence of God, to protect and ultimately save His people Israel. This verse is the primary reason for seeing the doctrine of providence as crucial to an understanding of the Book of Esther.

See Lesson, Est, providence in.

Est 4:16

GATHER TOGETHER ALL THE JEWS WHO ARE IN SUSA, AND FAST FOR ME...: Evidently there was a fairly large population of Jews in Susa (v 16; cp Est 9:15). Again, there is no mention of prayer, though some of the Jews may have prayed since they faced serious danger.

Like all human beings, Esther was not without flaw; but certainly our heroine should be judged more by the brave act she performs than by the natural fears she had to fight against. The rash man acts without fear; the brave man, in spite of it.

FOR THREE DAYS: Thus, from 13th to 15th of Nisan -- exactly the same days as the sufferings and death of Jesus. If the Jews did indeed fast for three days, they would not have been able to keep the Passover, as the Law of Moses commanded (Ex 12) -- which is no problem: for the time was coming when they would live it out!

AND IF I PERISH, I PERISH: These seem more like words of courageous determination than an expression of resignation to the inevitable.

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