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(Travels, p. 332.) informs us, that it is a crime for any person whatever to be enquiring what passes within those walls ; that it is very difficult to be informed of the transactions in those habitations; and that a man may walk a hundred days, one after another, by the house where the women are, and yet know no more what is done therein than at the farther end of Tartary. This sufficiently explains the reason of Mordecai's conduct.
No. 944. ii. 19. The King's gate.]
“ The public place for doing business among the Greeks and Romans was the market place or exchange, because they were all merchants. In our ancestors' time the vassals of each lord met in the court of his castle, and hence comes the expression, the courts of princes. As princes live more retired in the East, affairs are transacted at the their seraglio: and this custom of making one's court at the palace gate has been practised ever since the times of the ancient kings of Persia.”
FLEURY's Hist. of the Israelites, p. 147.
No. 945.-.7. In the first month, (that is, the month Nisan) in the twelfth year of king Ahasuerus, they cast pur, that is, the lot, before Haman, from day to day, and from month to month, to the twelfth month, that is, the month Adar.] It was customary in the East, by casting lots into an urn, to enquire what days would be fortunate and what not, to undertake any business in. According to this superstitious practice, Haman endeavoured to find out what time in the year was most favourable to the Jews, and what most unlucky. First he enquired what month was most unfortunate, and found the month Adar, . which was the last month in the year, answerable to our February. There was no festival during this month, nor was it sanctified by any peculiar rites. Then he enquired the day, and found the thirteenth day was not auspicious to them, ver. 13. Some think there were as many lots as there were days in the year, and for every day he drew a lot; but found none to his mind, till he came to the last month of all, and to the middle of it. Now this whole business was governed by providence, by which these lots were directed, and not by the Persian gods, to fall in the last month of the year; whereby almost a whole year intervened between the design and its exécution, and gave time for Mordecai tò acquaint Esther with it, and for her to intercede with the king for the revoking or suspending his decree, and disappointing the conspiracy.
PATRICK, in loc.
No. 946.--. 10. And the king took his ring from his hand, and gave it unto Haman.) This he did both as a token of affection and honour. With the Persians, for a king to give a ring to any one was a token and bond of the greatest love and friendship imaginable. Alex. ab. Alex. Geniel. Dier. 1. i. c. 26.) It may be this was given to Haman to seal with it the letters that were or should be written, giving orders for the destruction of the Jews.
Among the Romans in aftertimes, when any one was put into the equestrian order, a ring was given to him, for originally none but knights were allowed to wear them. It was sometimes used in appointing a successor in the kingdom : as when Alexander was dying, he took his ring from off his finger, and gave it to Perdiccas, by which it was understood that he was to succeed him. See 1 Macc. vi. 14, 15.
Sit annulus tuus, non ut vos aliquod, sed tanquam ipse tu: non minister alienæ voluptatis, -sed testis tue, Cic. ad. Q. Fratr.
No. 947.—v. 12. Haman said moreover, Tea, Esther the
queen let no man come in with the king unto the banquet that she had prepared, but myself; and to-morrow am I invited unto her also with the king.) Athenaus mentions it as a peculiar honour, which no Grecian ever had before or after, that Artaxerxes vouchsafed to invite Timagoras the Cretan to dine even at the table where his relations and to send sometimes a part of what was served up at his own : which some persons looked upon as a diminution of his majesty, and a prostitution of their national honour. Plutarch, in his life of Artaxerxes, tells us, that none but the king's mother and his real wife were permitted to sit at his table, and therefore he mentions it as a condescension in that prince, that he sometimes invited his brothers. So that this particular favour was a matter which Haman had some reason to value himself upon.
Biblical researches, vol. ii. p. 199.,
No. 948.-vi. 1. The book of records.] That which was practised in the court of Ahasuerus in the passage now referred to appears to have been customary in the Ottoman Porte. “ It was likewise found in the records of the empire, that the last war with Russia had occasioned the fitting out of a hundred and fifty galliots, intended to penetrate into the sea of Azoph: and the particulars mentioned in the account of the expences not specifying the motives of this armament, it was forgotten that the ports of Azoph and Taganrag stood for nothing in the present war; the building of the galliots was ordered, and carried on with the greatest dispatch.” Baron du Tott, vol.ii. p. 15.
“ The king has near his person an officer, who is meant to be his historiographer: he is also keeper of his seal, and is obliged to make a journal of the king's actions, good or bad, without comment of his own upön them. This, when the king dies, or at least soon after, is delivered to the council, who read it over, and erase every thing false in it, whilst they supply every material fact that may have been omitted, whether purposely or not.” BRUCE's Trav. vol. ii.
No. 949.-vi. 8. And the horse that the king rideth upon, and the crown royal which is set upon his head.] Herodotus relates that the kings of Persia had horses peculiar to themselves, which were brought from Armenia, and. were remarkable for their beauty. If the same law prevailed in Persia, as did in Judea, no man might ride on the king's horse, any more than sit on his throne, or hold his sceptre. The crown royal was not to be set on the head of the man, but on the head of the horse ; this interpretation is allowed by Aben-Ezra, by the Targum, and by the Syriac version. No mention is afterwards made of the crown as set upon the head of Mordecai ; nor would Haman have dared to advise that which could not be granted. But it was usual to put the crown royal on the head of a horse led in state ; and this we are assured was a custom in Persia, as it is with the Ethiopians to this day; and so with the Romans. Horses drawing triumphal chariots were crowned.
GILL, in loc.
No. 950.—vi. 12. Having his head covered.] This was so natural and significative a method of expressing confusion or grief, that it was adopted by other nations as well as the Jews. Demosthenes being on a particular occasion hissed by the people, went home with his head covered. (Plutarch in Demosthene. More instances of this may be found in Lively's Chronology of the Persian Monarchy, p. 18, 19.
No. 951.-vii. 8. And Haman was fallen upon the bed whereon Esther was. They sât, or rather laý, úpon beds, as they eat and drank; and Hamån 'fell down as a supplicant at the feet of Esther, laying his hand upon her knees, and beseeching her to take pity upon '
him. It was the custom among the Greeks and Romans to embrace the knees of those whom they petitioned to be favourable to them. It was indeed usual in their religious worship to touch the knees of their gods. Sulpitius Severus apprehends this to have been done by Haman in the present instance.
PATRICK, in loc.
No. 952.viii. 15. And Mordecai went out from the presence of the king in royal apparel of blue and white.] White garments were usually worn by those who set up as candidates for any honourable employment in the state: and it was done to shew how justly and innocently they would perform the duties and offices committed to their charge. See Horace, b. i. od. 35. 1. 21.
No. 953.-ix. 26. Wherefore they called these days Purim.] This festival was to be kept two days successively, the fourteenth and fifteenth of the month Adar, ver. 21.
On both days of the feast the modern Jews read over the Megillah, or book of Esther, in their synagogues.
there read must not be printed, but written on vellum in the form of a roll; and the names of the ten sons of Haman are written on it in a peculiar manner, being ranged, they say, like so many bodies hanged on a gibbet.
a gibbet. The reader must pronounce all these names in one breath. Whenever Haman's name is pronounced, they make a terrible noise in the synagogue: some drum with their feet on the VOL. II.