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ANNOTATIONS AND REFLECTIONS
The author of the book of Esther in the Apocrypha, gives the following account of the behaviour of Mordecai and Esther on this afflicting occasion.
Then Mordecai thought upon all the works of the LORD, and made his prayer unto him saying, O LORD, LORD, the king: Almighty : for the world is in Thy power, and if Thou hast appointed to save Israel, thers; is no man can gainsay Thee. For Thou hast made hea.. ven and earth and all the wonderous things under the heaven. Thou art LORD of all things, and there is noman that can resist Thee, which art the LORD. Thou knowest all things, and Thou knowest, LORD, that it: was neither in contempt nor pride, nor for any desire of glory, that I did not bow down to proud Haman. For I could have been content with good will for the salvation of Israel, to kiss the soles of his feet. But I did thisi that I might not prefer the glory of man above the glory of God: neither wil I worship any but Thee, O God, neither will I do it in pride. And now, O LORD God, and King, spare thy people : for their eyes are upon us. to bring us to nought : yea, they desire to destroy the inheritance that hath been thine from the beginning. Despise not the portion which thou hast delivered out of Egypt for Thine own self. Hear my prayer, and be merciful unto Thine- inheritance : turn our sorrow into joy, that we may live, O Lord, and praise Thy name : and destroy not the mouths of them that praise Thee, o LORD.
Queen Esther also, being in fear of death, resorted unto the LORD:
And laid away her glorious apparel, and put on the garments of anguish and mourning: and instead of precious ointments, she covered her head with ashes,
and she humbled her body greatly, and all the places of her joy she filled with her torn hair.
And she prayed unto the Lord God of Israel, saying, O LORD, Thou only art our King: help me, desolate, woman, who have no helper. but thee: For my danger. is in mine hand. From my youth up I have heard in the tribe of my family, that Thou, O LORD, tookest Israel from among all people, and our fathers from all their predecessors, for a perpetual inheritance, and thou hast performed whatsoever Thou didst promise thema And niw we hare sinned before Thee: therefore hast. Thou given us into the hands of our enemies, because we worshipped their gods: 0 LORD, thou art righteous. Nevertheless, it satisfieth them not, that we are in bitter captivity : but they have stricken hand with their idols. That they will abolish the thing that Thou with Thy mouth hast ordained, and destroy Thine inheritance, and stop the mouth of them that praise Thee, and quench the glory of Thy house, and of Thine altar, and open the mouths of the heathen to set forth the praises of the idols, and to magnify a fieshly, king for ever. O LORD give not Thy sceptre unto them that be nothing, and let them not laugh at our fall; but turn their device-upon themselves, and make him an example that hath began this against us. Remember, O LORD, make Thyself known in time of our affliction, and give me boldness, o King of the nations, and LORD of all power. Give me eloquent speech in my mouth before the lion: turn his heart to hate him that fighteth against usy, that there may be an end of him, and of all that are like-minded to him: But deliver us with Thine hand, and help me that am desolate, and have no other helper but thee. Thou knowest all Things, O LORD, Thou knowest that I hate the glory of the unrighteous ; Thou knowest my necessity, for I abhor the sign of my high estate which
is upon my head in the days wherein I shew myself, and that I wear it not rohen I am in private by myself. And that thine handmaid hath not eaten at Haman's table, and that I have not greatly esteemed the king's feast, nor drunk the wine of the drink offerings. Neither had thine handmaid any joy, since the day that I was brought hither to this present, but in Thee, O LORD God of Abraham. Thou mighty God above all, hear the voice of the forlorn, and deliver us out of the hands of the mischievous, and deliver me out of my fear.
The melancholy occasion justified the violence of Mordecai's grief; for supposing that by means of the queen he could have used interest to secure his own life, how could he have sustained, without the utmost distress of mind, the thoughts of the miserable end to which thousands of those with whom he was united in faith were condemned?
Mordecai's expostulations, in his last message to the queen, shew, that he had a strong faith in the power of God, and an earnest expectation that the LORD would, in remembrance of his promises to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, extend His compassion to their afflicted race, in this time of extreme danger. He considered the advancement of Esther to the crown as the work of PROVIDENCE, that she might be an instrument of good to her people; and therefore urged her to take an unprecedented measure, trusting to the Divine blessing on her pious endeavours. The laws of Persia forbad her approach to Ahasuerus; but the Divine law required that she should omit no ineans for serving her God, and her country.
As soon as Esther was convinced that it was hier duty to exert her influence with the king, she resolved to hazard her life, rather than neglect it. But knowing
that the hearts of monarchs are under the rule and governance of the SUPREME Being, she wisely determined to commend herself and her people to the protection of God, and to require her attendants to join with her; from which we may infer, that she wished, not only to offer her own supplication in private, but to co-operate with that public humiliation, which the exigence of the case required. Having taken these resolutions, she resigned herself to the disposal of heaven.
With what true humility and piety did Esther offer up supplications and intercessions to the throne of grace It evidently appears that she had not been a candidate for royalty through any desire of earthly grandeur; on the contrary, the crown which adorned her temples, was considered by her as mark of ignominy, since it distinguished her to the world as the consort of ani heathen prince. Not all the pleasures of a luxurious-court had any charms for her; she experienced no joy, but that which she so ardently sought, by pouring out her soul in pious adoration to the Lord God of her fathers.
The situation in which Esther was placed, exposed her to many temptations; but, by the aid of Divine grace, she was enabled to resist them all, and to leave to the world a shining example of FEMALE PATRIOTISM.
ESTHER GOES INTO THE PRESENCE OF AHASUERUS,
From Esther, Chap. V.--Apoc. Chap. xvi.
upon the third day, when Esther had ended her prayer, she laid away her mourning garments, and put on her glorious apparel.
And being gloriously adorned, after she had called upon God, who is the beholder and saviour of all things, she took two maids with her. *
And upon the one she leaned, as carrying herself daintily. And the other followed, bearing up her train.
And she was ruddy through the perfection of her beauty, and her countenance was chearful, and very amiable; but her heart was in anguish for fear.
Then having passed through all the doors, she stood before the king, who sat upon his royal throne, and was clothed with all his robes of majesty, all glittering with gold and precious stones; and he was very dreadful.
Then lifting up his countenance that shone with majesty, he looked very fiercely upon her: and the queen fell down, and was pale, and fainted, and bowed herself upon the hand of the maid that went before her.
Then God changed the spirit of the king into mild. ness, who in a fear leaped from his throne, and took her in his arms, till she came to herself again, and com, forted her with loving words, and said unto her, Esther, what is the matter? I am thy brother, be of good cheer. Thou shalt not die, though our commandment be general: come near.
And so he held up'his golden sceptre, and laid it upon her neck, and embraced her, and said, Speak unto me.
Then she said unto him, I saw thee, my lord as an angel of God, and my heart was troubled for fear of thy majesty. For wonderful art thou, lord, and thy countenance is full of grace. And as she was speaking, she fell down for faintness.
Then the king was troubled, and all his servants comforted her.
Then said the king unto her, What wilt thou, queen Esther? and what is thy request? It shall be even given thee to the half of the kingdom.
And Esther answered, If it seem good unto the king, let the king and Haman come this day unto the banquet that I have prepared for him.