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SECTION LXXIV.

MORDECAI'S DISTRESS.

From Esther, Chap. iv.

When Mordecai perceived all that was done, Moro decai rent his clothes, and put on sackcloth with ashes, and went out in the midst of the city, and cried with a loud and a bitter cry.

And came even before the king's gate: for none might enter into the king's gate clothed with sackcloth.

And in every province whithersoever the king's com'mandment and his decree came, there was great mourn. ing among the Jews, and fasting and weeping, and wailing; and many lay in sackcloth and ashes.

So Esther's maids and her chamberlains came and told it her. Then was the queen exceedingly grieved; 'and she sent raiment to clothe Mordecai, and to take away his sackcloth from him: but he received it not.

Then called Esther for Hatach, one of the king's chamberlains, whom he had appointed to attend upon her, and gave him a commandment to Mordecai, to know what it was, and wliy it was.

So Hatach went forth to Mordecai unto the street of the city, which was before the king's gate.

And Mordecai told him of all that had happened *unto him, and of the sum of the money that Haman had promised to pay to the king's treasuries for the Jews, to destroy them :

Also he gave him the copy of the writing of the decree that was given at Shushan to destroy them, to shew it unto Esther, and to declare it unto her and to D.'

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charge her that she should go in unto the king to make supplication unto him, and to make request before him for her people.

And Hatach came and told Esther the words of Mordecai.

Again Esther spake unto Hatach, and gave him commandment unto Mordecai.

All the king's servants, and the people of the king's provinces, do know, that whosoever, whether man or woman, shall come unto the king into the inner court who is not called, there is one law of his to put him to death, except such to whom the king shall hold out the golden sceptre, that he may live: but I have not been called to come in unto the king these thirty days.

And they told to Mordecai Esther's words.

Then Mordecai commanded to answer Esther, Think not with thyself 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; 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? • Then Esther bade them return Mordecai this answer.

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: I also and my maidlens? will fast likewise ; and so will I go in unto the king, which is not according to the law: and if I perish, i perįsh.

So Mordecai went his way, and did according to all that Esther had commanded him.

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siri ANNOTATIONS AND REFLÉCTIONS.

23 The author of the book of Esther in the Apocrypha gives the following account of the behaviour of Mor. decai 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, there is no man can gainsay Thes. For thou hast made heaven and earth and all the wondrous things under the keuven. Thou art LORD of all things, and there is na mun 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 this that I might not prefer the glory of man above the glory, of God: neither will 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 apun, us to bring us to nought : yea, they desire to destroy the: inheritance that hath been Thine from the beginnings Despise not the portion which thou hast delivered our of Egypt for Thine own self. Hear my prayer, and be merciful unto Thine inheritance : turn our sorrow juta. joy, that we may live, O LORD, and praise Thynamo und destroy not the mouths of them that praise. Then, O LORD).

a Queen Esther also, being in fear of death resorted: unto the LORD.:

stid And laid away her glorious apparel, and put on the garments of anguish: and mourning and jastead, tof precious ointments, shey coyered het dhehuarith ashes

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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, desolats woman, who have no helper but thee : For my dunger. is in mine hand. From my youth up I have heard. ir the tribe of my family, That thou, O LORD, tookesf Israel from among all people, and our fathers from all their predecessors, for a perpetual inheritance, and thou Isast performed whatsoever Thou didst promise them. And now we have sinned before Thee : therefore hast Thou given us into the hands of our enemies, because we worshipped their gods : 0 LORD, thou art righteous. Neverthelcss, it satisfieth them not, that we are in bitter captivity :-but they hare 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 fleshly 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, 0 LORD, make Thyself known in time of our afliction, and give me boldness, O. King of the nations, und Lord of all power. Give me eluquent speech in my mouth before the lion: turn his henrt to hate him that fighteth against us, that there: may be an end of him, and of all that are like-minded to hina si Bút. deliver us with thine hand, und help me that am desolate, and have no other helper: buttheeas kduhondwest-all Things, O LORD, Thow knozcest that Í hate the glory of the unrighteous. Thou knowest ny necessity for I abkou the sign of inay high state which

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is upon my head in the days wherein I shew myself, uni that I wear it not when I am in private by myself. And that thine handmuid hath not eaten at Haman's table, and that I have not greatly esteemed the king's feust, 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 toice 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 means for serving her Gov, and her country.

As soon as Esther as convinced that it was lier duty to exert her influence with the king, she resolver co hazard her life, rather than neglect it. But knowing

that

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