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B S T H E E, 







Professor PAULUS CASSEL, D.D., Berlin, 


IN lange's 'bibelwerk,' etc. 






^ C3 





Few words are required to introduce to the reader the learned 
author of the present work, as he is already known to English 
theologians by his Commentaries on Judges and Ruth in 
Lange's Bihelwerk. In Germany the author deservedly 
enjoys a wide reputation, for his books on religious, social, 
and scientific subjects are indeed legion, and his ministerial 
and philanthropic activity is appreciated by all classes, from 
the emperor to the poorest labouring man. This volume will 
supply a want long felt, for it elucidates the book of Esther 
in such a vivid and graphic manner as to make the reader 
realize the wonderful dealings of God with His chosen and 
thrice-redeemed people. Herodotus, the Talmud, the Mid- 
rashim, and other ancient books, as well as modern discoveries, 
reports of travellers concerning Persian customs and manners, 
and philological science, have been brought to bear their respec- 
tive testimonies to the truth of the recorded events. To this 
book are applicable, to a large extent, the weighty words 
of the Ven. Archdeacon Farrar in the Exioositor of January 
1888, where he says, "When we study a great modern 
commentary we are indeed heirs of all the ages." And again : 
" Philology, which is a science still in its infancy, has aided 
and enriched our modern scholarship." The author has 
happily combined the topical, exegetical, critical, and the 
practical methods of exposition, and has offered us instruc- 



tive and interesting matter on every incident touched 
upon in the sacred narrative. It is a hona fide historical 
commentary, and its parallels are striking, giving us an 
insight into ancient Oriental life, and especially Persian, 
as no other book of a similar kind does. 

It is also valuable on account of its apologetical character. 
The author holds a brief, and as a zealous advocate he pleads 
Israel's cause before the nations, asks for tolerance and large- 
hearted charity towards them, shows the injustice of the 
repeated Haman-like attacks to which they have in the 
course of their checkered history been subjected, and the 
wonderful intervention of Providence in their behalf, as well 
as the punishments which their covenant God meted out to 
their enemies. In a word, he, like Mordecai, " speaks peace 
to all his seed," and, more than Mordecai, preaches " peace on 
earth and good-will towards men." The four Appendices will 
be found exceedingly interesting and instructive, especially to 
Biblical students. That of the First Targum will appear for 
the first time in English. The author used the Amsterdam 
edition, and amended the text by the light of the \r\7\\i^ nvD nsD, 
Fiirth 1768, -)nD^? n^JD "iDD, ed. 1698, and the Hebrew 
version of Mordechai Ventura, Amsterdam 1870, and also 
the translation of Furstenthal. The Targum is divided into 
eleven paragraphs as follows : — 

§ 1. Introduction about Ahhashverosh. 
§ 2. The acrostic concerning Solomon. 
§ 3. The description of Solomon's throne. 
§ 4. Solomon and the Queen of Sheba. 
§ 5. The legend about Jeremiah. 
§ 6. The dialogue of Vashti and her death. 
§ 7. The election of Esther as queen. 
§ 8. The accusation of Haman. 


§ 9. The penitence of Mordecai, Esther, and the people. 

§ 10. The fall of Haman. 

§ 11. The great deliverance of the Jews. 

The author's notes, besides containing a mine of rich 
material, throw light on every point. By explaining the 
names of the ancestors of Haman, he indicates the time 
when the Targum was written, when the Jews were 
oppressed by the Eomans in the time of Justinian. Such 
names as Pilate the governor, Felix the vicious brother of 
Pallas, riorus, Cuspius Fadus, Flaccus, Antipater, Herod, 
Vitellius, Cestius Gallus, and Eufus, might more properly be 
called the sons or followers of Haman. He also traces 
Christian ideas in this Targum as well as antichristian, 
e.g. in the name Bar Pandira, whereby Christ is designated. 
On the other hand, Mohan;imedanism is not in the slightest 
way alluded to, which proves the great antiquity of the 

A word with regard to the translation of the book. I 
have on the whole been faithful to the author, and, as far 
as the English idiom allowed it, have reproduced the author's 
style. I am indebted to the Eev. James Neil, M.A., for his 
kindness in revising the translation, to the Eev. J. H. Bruhl 
for translating the excursus on Zoroaster, and to the publishers 
for their patient attention to the whole work. May it prosper 
on its way, and be blessed by Him who manifested Himself 
at all times as the Protector and Eedeemer of His people. 



1. The book of Esther, as we liave it in the Hebrew language 
in the canon of the Old Testament, is one of the most 
remarkable and instructive writings of ancient Persia. The 
information wMch it imparts surpasses in originality even that 
given by Herodotus ; it is of the same century, but older, and 
is tinctured with the colour of Persian custom and life more 
than any other book. It was written in the capital of Persia. 
It brings the reader into the palace of the king ; — it shows 
him its throne, with its magnificent surroundings. We obtain 
from it an insight into the inner life of the royal harem. 
Indeed, the little book represents a universal harem-history. 
It makes us better acquainted with King Xerxes, and gives 
us the original names of his princes and warriors. In spite 
of its specific Jewish-national motive, it brings us into contact 
with the political and religious movements that take place in 
the great empire. !N"owhere else is the weakness of the 
Persian monarch so clearly exhibited as the outcome of his 
very possession of tremendous power, and of his considering 
himself as the visible Mithra. The strife which was epidemic 
in Oriental States, which the stories of the Seven Wise Men 
everywhere describe,^ and which was regularly carried on 
between the viziers of kings and the favourite queens, is 
here narrated with such a vivid and historical accuracy that 
has no parallel. First, the queen falls on account of the 
intrigues of the seven ministers, then the vizier falls on 

^ I refer here to the book I lately brought out, Sieben weisen Meister, 
where the Hebrew and Greek versions in connection with Buddhistic 
interpretation and Oriental narrative are considered. 


account of the beauty of another queen. One recognises the 
stamp of genuineness in every trait of the narrative; just 
that which appears strange at first sight proves the fidelity 
with which contemporary events are narrated. The doubts 
which modern writers have raised against this book are 
owing to their deficiency in the historic sense, and to their 
want of a thorough acquaintance with Oriental affairs. Indeed, 
national prejudices contributed to the undervaluing of the 
book. Hamanic sentiment wanted to throw a veil over the 
picture of the old Haman, and to declare the book a myth. 
Of course, the whole narrative is the expression of a national 
triumph over intolerance and tyranny, and betrays a national 
character, just as the narratives of Herodotus and of others, of 
the Persian wars, sufficiently manifest traits of Hellenic one- 
sidedness. It is a memoir written by a Jew to all his people 
who are scattered in the extensive countries of Persia, in 
which are recorded the wonderful interpositions of Providence 
in their deliverance from destruction, which appeared to be 
certain. It has no other purpose but to narrate this ; it is 
not called upon to give information about other things ; albeit 
it gives a picture of Persian court life the like of which is 
found nowhere else. 

The king s^-iv^n« or tritJ^n^? is really Xerxes the First, the 
son of Darius Hystaspes. The name appears to be an 
appellative, and represents the genuine form, but which was 
sometimes pronounced by Greeks Kyaxares and sometimes 
Xerxes. It is a compound of tJ'^^? and ^n — as jamt^'Hi^ is a 
compound of jQ-ii and ^rii^ ; lam (Durban) ^ means officer, 
servant, and with Ej^ns it means the first servant (satrap) 
(comp. Dan. iii. 3), so then we have to explain En1:^^^K as 
meaning the chief king, or king of kings, ^i (Eakscha), the 
Latin rex, Xerxes or Xerx, is also a ^epe^ ; for tJ^nx corresponds 
to Khsha or Xyccx, which certainly contains the signification 

^ He appears in the Manichaeic reports as Turbo, and in the narrative 
of Secundus as Tyrpo. Comp. my Siehen weisen Meister, p. 350. 
Comp. Archelai et Manetis Disput. p. 44. 


of greatness or priority, t^ns is also found in the name of 
Artaxerxes, who is named in Ezra iv. 8, 11, 23, vii. 7, 
«nt^♦L^'^m^< or NDDDnnix. This is composed of Arta and ^m^, 
and j<nt^ or xriD, with which the word ^lara^ in Hesy chins, 
meaning king, may be compared. So must the name triD, 
Cyrus (the sun), be compared with fcvpio<;, and the Persian 
name Darius, Uara, Darab be compared with rvpavvo^. 

The name of the king, tnil^nx, stands properly in Ezra 
iv. 6 between Darius and Artaxerxes. With Xerxes are 
mentioned in the book of Esther as his counsellors and 
friends, Mardonius, Barzanes, Hydarnes, Aspathines, Pre- 
xaspes, and Ahhaemenes. Proper dates are given. If 
nothing is said about the preparation for the war with 
Greece, it is because, when this was subsequently written, 
it was not pleasant to be reminded of the unfortunate issue 
of that war; yet the date of the assembly given in ver. 3, 
"the third year of his reign," indicates that in the year 482 
preparation for the war was made. If events are narrated 
which have taken place in the sixth and in the seventh years 
of the reign of Xerxes, it is because he only returned to 
Shushan in the sixth year. In the twelfth year, about 
474-473 B.C., occurred the catastrophe, and then follows 
chap, x., where we read : " And the king laid a tribute 
upon the land and upon the isles of the sea." This is a 
remarkable notice, and must be understood according to the 
tenor of the whole book. The narrated fact is represented as 
the consequence of the deliverance of Israel and of the fall of 
Ham an. The imposition of taxes upon the land and the isles 
is a sign of their submission. The meaning of the passage 
obviously is, that since Hamanism has fallen, the power 
of the Persian king has risen over the land and the isles. 
The memoir desires to prove that the threatening against the 
Jews was against the interests of Persia, and that their 
deliverance from danger contributed to the welfare of the 
country. It intimates that just as Mordecai conferred a 
benefit upon the king by disclosing the conspiracy of his 


servants, so he also became the benefactor of the country 

in general when he was raised to the office of vizier, because 

he made the king's prerogatives more respected. 

The appearance of Ham an on the political arena was 

evidently the result of a religious Iranic movement. This 

increased the more after the return of the king from the war, 

where he met with disastrous reverses which naturally caused 

dissatisfaction. The attempt of Haman against the Jews had 

a deep religious-political basis ; also in Palestine, as the book 

of Ezra narrates that the Persian statesmen wrote to the king 

against the Jews. These statesmen raised considerations with 

regard to the Jews similar to those which occupied the 

mind of the Pharaoh who knew not Joseph in Egypt, and 

to those raised by Mithridates against the Komans, and at 

times by Turkish sultans against the Christians. All those 

that did not belong to the religion of Iran were looked upon 

as political and ecclesiastical enemies, and therefore to be 

exterminated. Such ideas are not very rare even in modern 

States. In this sense is also the speech of Haman before the 

king to be understood. 

A more dangerous contrivance against the Jews could not be 

thought of. But it was averted, and the memoir could assert 

that just through the deliverance of Israel the Persian power 

had risen and become great. In fact, the Greek chroniclers 

are silent concerning further Persian losses till the death 

of Xerxes; the battle of Eurymedon, 469, was not considered 

of great importance in official reports of the Persian court ; 

besides, it took place after the memoir was written. The 

Persians had ceased to attack Greece, but land and isles 

remained under their protection. 

f In Persia the enemy of the king was regarded as the 

/ enemy of everything good, and even of the Deity, because 

I he was their personified idea of God. Hence the memoir 

proves that the king derived only good from Mordecai and 

Esther. There is therefore no greater evidence of the 

genuineness, contemporariuess, and prudence of the Megilla 


f (scroll) Esther, than the very fact that it does not mention 
the name of God (mn*'). Haman accuses the Jews that they 
do not keep the "rn, laws, of the king, m is the product of 
the mind of his royal majesty, who is the representative of the 
J Deity. Beside him no other god must be acknowledged 
/ or tolerated. If the Jews observe the m of their God, they 
do it in opposition to the king.^ The book cannot and must 
not mention the name of the eternal God under the circum- 
stances, when everything depends upon the king. The author is 
very careful to show that he is the friend of the king, and that 
his book was not written against him, but against Haman. 
There is not a word here against the king, although later 
traditions are full of mocking and hostile epithets against 
him. It speaks, indeed, of Haman's attempt to kill all the 
Jews in the name of the king, but it does not omit to mention 
that they were saved in his name. So, then, in the omission 
of the name of God, we have here a political act of prudence 
which it was necessary to adopt by the written contemporary, 
the king's contemporary. Ij^evertheless, the strongly-marked 
Jewish faith appears everywhere. The fasting which Mordecai 
prescribed was connected with prayer, although the form of the 
prayer is not given. One thought pervades the whole book,v 
and that is, the wonderful providence by which God protects I 
the house of Israel.. It cannot be destroyed even by the( 
malice of such an enemy as Haman. Even Zeresh his wife is 
represented to be of the same opinion, when she says to him : 
" If Mordecai be of the seed of the Jews, before whom thou 
hast begun to fall, thou shalt not prevail against him." With 
the deliverance of the Jews is connected the fall of Vashti 
and, to a certain extent, the Persian War, also the election of 
Esther as queen, the conspiracy of the eunuchs, the escape 
of the king, and his sleeplessness. The opposition between 
Haman and Mordecai is a religious and not merely a personal 

^ About tlie fanciful attempts of ancient teachers to find the name of 
God concealed in certain letters, and otherwise false expositions, comp. 
Scliudt, Judische MerJcwiirdigkeiten, ii. pp. 311, 312. 


one. Mordecai is unwilling to bow his knee before the 
minister of Horn and of fire. Through this he comes, of 
course, into the danger of being denounced by Haman and 
crucified; but in the same night the king reads of his 
benevolent and loyal act, and he is not killed, but is 
honoured publicly ; yea, Haman himself must impart to 
him the honours which he in his vain conceit imagined 
were intended for himself. The saying of Haman, that the 
Jews were scattered in all lands, and had their own 
peculiar customs, was not unfounded ; but for all that, they 
were good citizens, and did their duty to the State in spite 
of their religion. This is clearly shown in the book. Mor- 
decai, though in the midst of Persians, yet scrupulously 
observes the religious commandments ; he uses the names of 
Jewish months and not of Persian ; and it is a fable that the 
names of the Jewish months originated in Persia.^ 

2. The event was indeed extraordinary ; never before since 
the time of Israel's exodus from Egypt did they pass through 
such great danger. It was the first instance of the outbreak 
of fanaticism which in later times was often repeated. Their 
whole existence throughout the .wide dominions of Persia was 
in the balance. The experience they received of the wonder- 
ful interposition of God in their behalf made an indelible 
impression upon them. They had seen before, in their history, 
the appointment of fasts. The prophet Zechariah says, " The 
fast of the fourth month, and the fast of the fifth, and the 
fast of the seventh, and the fast of the tenth, shall be to the 
house of Judah joy and gladness, and cheerful feasts." But 
such days of redemption they had not yet experienced. 
Therefore Mordecai and Queen Esther resolved to commemo- 
rate the great event which they themselves had witnessed. 
They joined their experience of God's redeeming love with 
the redemption of Israel from Egypt. As the feast of Pass- 
over was at all times celebrated with thanksgiving and praise, 

^ About the names of the Jewish months I refer to my book, Literatur 
und Geschichte^ p. 299, etc. 


SO should a feast proclaim to all generations the wonderful 
redemption which their forefathers had experienced. In 
imitation of the Passover, which began with the fourteenth 
of N^isan, this feast was also to begin on the fourteenth of 
Adar. They called it Purim, to remind them of the horo- 
scope which was placed for their destruction, but which led to 
their deliverance, just as the Passover reminded them by its 
name of the passing by of the protecting and redeeming angel. 
Purim also reminded them of Balaam's demoniac attempt to 
curse Israel, but the curse was turned into a blessing ; so now 
Haman, in accord with Persian custom, placed the horoscope 
in order to find a day favourable to Israel's destruction. 

The undertaking was made in the twelfth year of the reign 
of Xerxes, probably the twelfth month of the cycle of twelve 
years, of which it is said that the last was called Swine, 
which was considered as an unfortunate omen to the people, 
to whom swine were obnoxious. The thirteenth day of the 
month Adar was chosen, whose signification was fire, in the 
sense of consuming also, as March from Mars, Ares whose 
Greek name is from fire. The thirteenth day {Tir) signifies 
the arrow. For the king shot the arrow with the bow with 
which he was equipped, like the sun-god and Mithra, which 
we explain as meaning archer. But the arrow rebounded. 
Haman, his adherent, fell instead of Mordecai the Jew. The 
day became a day of joy instead of the horoscope of the curse. 
It was tljerefore quite natural that the day should be called 
Purim, lottery-day, for it was the day on which the prognos- 
tications of the horoscopian were falsified, and the threatened 
misfortune was turned into fortune. It was a grand thought 
of Esther and Mordecai, while being conscious that they were 
chosen by God to be the instruments in effecting a deliverance, 
to institute a day to commemorate that event. The people 
should realize a lively sense of the perpetual danger they are 
in on account of their faith in the midst of the heathen, so 
that they might the more ardently adhere to it, and never 
lose sight that God is their Preserver and Redeemer. Mor- 


decai and Esther claimed to have the right which Moses 
possessed to prescribe a feast for the people which should 
not only awaken serious thoughts in their minds, but also 
inspire them with joy and gratitude. When the ancient 
Jewish teachers ascribed to the book of Esther a certain 
prophetical character, it was because they foresaw the times 
when similar accusations to those recorded in this book would 
be made against the Jews, and they would often need the 
comfort which the feast of Purim inspires. Indeed, the 
institution of this feast was the type of the Feast of Hhanukah, 
or of Dedication, in which Judas Maccabaeus purified the 
temple. He, too, inspired by his victory over the Syrians, 
desired that the event should remain indelible. Just as 
Esther and Mordecai made the Passover to a great extent 
the basis of the Feast of Purim, so the Maccabees founded 
the Feast of the Dedication on the prophecy of Haggai, which 
predicted the coming of a new time from the four and 
twentieth day of the ninth month (Hag. ii. 18). We have 
therefore good ground for assuming the authenticity of the 
report that Mordecai caused the book to be written, and that 
he furnished the main facts. In chap. ix. 20-23 we not 
only find traces of this, but also of the appointment and 
the observance of the feast. (See the explanation in the 

We observe that Esther and Mordecai must not be judged 
by the standard of the gospel, nor must we expect to find 
in them the tblerating spirit of Jesus Christ. They retaliated 
and avenged themselves on their enemies in accordance with 
the prevalent policy and spirit of the East ; but who will be 
so bold as to maintain that the attacks against the Jews from 
Byzantium to Berlin, from the time of the Crusaders to the 
recent anti-Semitic movement, had in the slightest possible 
way been influenced by the Spirit of Jesus Christ ? The 
Hamanism of Berlin knew no more of the Cross than Haman 
did, or rather they had a desire to crucify. Mordecai had 
nothing of the apostle and the ascetic in him. He retained the 


sole character of a praying man after his prayer had conquered ; 
but in letting himself be invested with the office of vizier, 
he only wished to show in a visible manner the victory which 
his people had obtained through the help of God. This little 
book is remarkable and incomparable in the effect which it 
has produced upon the national and social life of Israel. Of 
course, the apostles rose higher to the ideal of true martyrs, 
because they conquered while they submitted to a violent 
death ; but, alas ! Mordecai and Esther, although they did 
not know the gospel, have found more imitators in the 
Christian Church than Stephen and Paul ; and that without 
having to save themselves from similar dangers to those of 
their exemplars. The vengeance which Jews exercised was 
in self-defence, because their life was not safe even after the 
deliverance which Esther had effected, so long as the party 
of Haman remained alive. These would have resumed their 
former hostile plan as quickly as the unextinguished embers are 
set ablaze by the least favourable wind that blows upon them. 
. One must have an historic sense, and imagine himself in 
ancient Persia, in order to realize the true state of affairs 
there. Tyranny knew nothing of the right of man ; and if 
any one obtained justice or favour, he owed it to the humour 
of the tyrant. 

The little book considers, indeed, the whole affair of which 
it treats only from a religious and national point of view, and 
removes the history, so to speak, from the universal history 
of the world ; but that is natural. The persecuted person 
thinks only of his danger and of his escape ; and the believer 
thinks only of the wonderful interposition of God which he had 

It is a beautiful thought of the Midrash when it compares 
Esther to the dawn of the morning. As the dawn announces 
the end of the night, so the book of Esther terminates in the 
0. T. the history of miracles. 

On the other hand, the history here recorded is the first of 
the kind within the experience of the people. The remark of 


the Midrash on chap. xi. is very significant, where, among 
other enumerations of persons who were first in something, 
it says, Ahhashverosh was the first buyer and Haman was the 
first seller of men. For the first time was there such a 
threatening in their history. Their children were once taken 
away from them and killed by Pharaoh ; they were also, as 
a people, taken captive by ISTebuchadnezzar, but their whole 
existence of old and young, of man and wife, was never yet 
in jeopardy. Such a dreadful danger is not to be mysticized. 
We read of such in the history of ancient tyrannies and of 
civil war, but from this history we get the indelible impres- 
sion that we are reading of the experience of a people who 
may expect renewed attacks against themselves from the 
conquering nations among whom they reside. Therefore, no 
book of the Old Testament has been so much commented on 
and adorned as this. In its pages, not merely did a voice of 
warning speak to the generations of Israel, but also a voice 
of historical comfort. But it is just these many comments 
and embellishments which testify to the genuineness and 
authenticity of the Hebrew Persian text, because they display 
quite a different spirit from that which characterizes the 
original document. 

3. This is already manifest in the additions which accompany 
the book of Esther in the Septuagint.^ In these the Jews have 
no longer any scruple in mentioning their God ; they appear 
to be anxious to remove beforehand any objections which 
might be raised against the narrative in Esther, and prove the 
long use of the book in the congregations of the Jews. 
Mordecai is represented as defending himself, by saying that it 
was not pride that prevented him from rendering adoration to 
Haman, but that he feared to give that homage to a man, 
which God claims for Himself. 

The second Epistle {i.e. that of the King in the LXX. 

^ Comp. the Lihri apocryphi veteris Testamenti graece, ed. Otto Frid. 
Fritzsche (Lipsiae 1871), with critical notes, where it is to be observed that 
in the second text occurs the mistake Tror/^oa instead of Totz-stuot on p. 31. 


and in the Apocrypha) reveals clearly the whole tendency of 
these additions. It originated in Egyptian court life, and 
narrates of such persons who from personal motives had done 
harm to the princes who elevate them ; it refers to examples 
in ancient history in which such counsellors led their 
kings to all sorts of evil, and also reminds of the accusations 
that were brought against bad viziers (as otherwise against 
queens) which occur in Oriental legends. 

Very remarkable is it that Haman is there accused of 
having entertained the desire of bringing the kingdom of Persia 
under the rule of the Macedonians. 

The author thereby intended to give the appearance of 
Persian originality to his letter, but he only proves the age in 
which he wrote, viz. at the time of the Ptolemies, who were 
themselves in a state of rivalry with one another in the 
Syrian kingdom ; and there he could do it without giving 
offence. I have already observed in the commentary that 
the Syrian garrison in Jerusalem at the time of the Maccabees 
is designated by Josephus with the term Macedonian (Joseph. 
Ant xii. 5. 4).^ 

We read, that in the fourth year of King Ptolemy and of 
Cleopatra, this letter became known in Egypt. From the fact 
that it speaks of Haman as a Macedonian, we may conclude 
that it refers to the time of war between the Egyptians and 
Antiochus the Great, which war terminated by the marriage of 
Ptolemy with Cleopatra the daughter of Antiochus (Joseph, xii. 
4. 1). About the Jews the letter speaks intentionally in the 
name of the King of Persia, " that the Jews are far from being 
evil-doers, that they live under the most righteous laws, and 
are the children of the only and true God." 

' Throiigli the influence of Alexander the Macedonian, and so long as 
his empire lasted, Greece was confounded with Macedonia. But false 
readings are not rare, for, as I have shown in my comment to the 
Second Targum, p. 329, ought not to be read Macedonian. Dr. J. Levy in 
his Lexicon (as well as the passage in Bab. Yoma and Bereshith Rabba 
c. xxxvii.) is mistaken if he thinks that Macedonia stands for Media. It 
stands for Yawan, while HID ought not to be translated. 


The additions were evidently made as early as at the begin- 
ning of the third century of the Christian era, perchance in 
order to diminish the force of the objections which were even 
then raised against the book of Esther. 

The most curious addition is, at all events, the so-called 
dream of Mordecai. We read : " Behold a noise of a tumult, 
with thunder, and earthquakes, and uproar in the land. And 
behold two great dragons (BpdfcovT€<;) came forth ready to fight, 
and their cry was great. And at their cry all nations were 
prepared to battle, that they might fight against the righteous 
people. And, lo, a day of darkness and obscurity, tribulation 
and anguish, affliction and great uproar upon earth (comp. 
Joel ii. 2). And the whole righteous nation was troubled, 
fearing their own evils, and were ready to perish. Then they 
cried unto God ; and upon their cry, as it were from a little 
fountain, was made a great flood, even much water. The 
light and the sun rose up, and the lowly were exalted, and 
devoured the glorious." The style is coloured by biblical 
citations, but the story of the fight of the two dragons rests 
upon an important Oriental parable. The legend is also given 
by the Midrash Esther (Amst. ed. p. 94c), where the dragons 
are not very correctly called D^:'':n, for sea-dragons are not 
meant. It must appear strange, that if the dragons represent 
Mordecai and Haman, then Mordecai is also called a dragon ; 
but dragon here (BpaKcov) is nothing else than a winged daeva, 
such as the Persians in particular knew. Both the good and 
the evil daevas were winged. Their appearance was alike, but 
they had different principles. So Astyages saw in his dream 
a dragon having the wings of an eagle, and rushing towards 
him. St. Jude also says that Michael the Archangel was 
contending with the devil. The same meaning is to be given 
to Daniel x. 13, where we read: "But the prince of the 
kingdom of Persia withstood me one and twenty days ; but, lo, 
Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me ; and I was 
left there with the kings of Persia." It is the war of the 
religion of Israel against the religion of Persia. The same 


is depicted in the war between the two dragons. The dream 
shows Mordecai as the representative of Israel, who is fought 
against and nearly conquered by Hainan, but after Mordecai had 
fasted and prayed there appears suddenly a little spring from 
which flows abundant and refreshing streams. " The little 
brooks of God are full of water." " He puts down the mighty 
from their seat, and exalts the humble and meek." It was owing 
to Mordecai's personal representation of the principles of the 
Jews in their strife against Haman that Purim, as we see in 
2 Mace. XV. 36, was called Mardocheu's day, the preceding 
of which, i.e. the 13th of Adar, the Maccabees celebrated with 
great joy their victory, and called it the day in memory of the 
execution of Mcanor. But the day of Nicanor is no more 
remembered, yet Purim remains. The same historical con- 
sideration which gave rise to the additions, namely, whether 
the vengeance of the Jews spoken of in Esther might not 
excite ill feeling among other nations against them, is also 
found in the Talmud (Megilla 7a) : " E. Samuel bar Yehudah 
said : Esther sent a message to the sages saying. Appoint a 
feast in memory of me for the generations to come. They 
replied : Thou wilt thereby provoke the nations against us. 
She then sent them word again. The event is already 
recorded in the chronicles of the kings of Media and Persia." 
This sentence is very instructive in enabling us to get an 
intelligent idea of the Talmudic time. The Eabbis, in order 
to magnify their authority, and to preclude the supposition 
that a feast was instituted without their permission, and that 
the Sanhedrin did not even exist in Persia, have deemed it 
prudent to tell the story that Esther had applied to the sages 
to sanction the institution of the feast which bore her name.^ 
Thereupon they raised the objection that the record of such 
an institution which commemorated their triumph over the 

^ [They go even so far as to ascribe to the book of Esther the authority 

of the divine legislator Moses. " It is written in the Law (Ex. xvii. 14), 

Write this for a memorial in a book." " Write this " refers to the Law ; 

* a memorial " refers to what is written in the prophets ; " in a book " 

refers to the book of Esther {ibid.). — Trans.] 



authorities under which they lived might be detrimental 
to the Jews in exciting the hatred of the nations against them. 
This fear (as we shall see) was drawn from their experience 
of the time in which they lived. She then replied, the fact is 
already well known in history, there is no secret about it, 
every one who reads history is cognizant of it. This is even 
given with greater clearness in the Jerusalem Talmud, accord- 
ing to which the Eabbis said as follows : " Have we not had 
enough of impending oppressions ? Do you want to increase 
them by calling to mind the oppression of Haman ? " E. 
Shimeon ben Nahhman said in the name of E. Yonathan : 
" Eighty-five elders (D''i<^n3 1D31 n^^^i:^ Dhdi) have been very 
sad about this affair . . . they said : Moses has told us : 
No prophet should add anything from now and hence- 
forth ; and yet Mordecai and Esther desire to appoint a 
new institution ! But they did not cease to ponder over it, 
until God opened their eyes and they found (a justification 
for it), written in the law, and in the prophets, and in 
books " (Tal. Jerus. Megilla, c. i. p. 9, W. Krotoschin). 
However peculiar this Talmudic passage may appear, yet it 
at the same time supplies a strong evidence of the genuine- 
ness of the book of Esther. Who could have invented 
this history, which in itself appeared venturesome to narrate, 
— it contained not only elements of glory, but also elements of 
danger for the people ? It not merely strengthened the national 
consciousness of Israel, but it excited also that of other nations. 
The Greek and Eoman Hamans were the proofs for the 
Persian. The tears of anguish which the people shed in the 
Orient and in the Occident were only repetitions of their 
bitter experience in Shushan. Therefore no feast had such a 
national background as the feast of Purim had. Both the first 
and the second Targums, which teem with such considerations, 
were political and religious memoirs for the people. 

Even the New Testament shows how great the importance 
of Haman and Ahhashverosh was thought to be. In the 
Gospel of St. Mark vi. 23, Herod Antipas says to his 


daughter : " Whatsoever thou shalt ask of me, I will give it 
thee, unto the half of my kingdom." He imitates in this 
that which Xerxes Ahhashverosh said to Esther (chap. v. 6) : 
" What is thy request ? even to the half of the kingdom it 
shall be performed." From this originated the name Ahhash- 
verosh in the Christian legend which the so-called "Wander- 
ing Jew " bore. For Herod and Herodias are the restless 
ones, and therefore the name was first applied to Herod and 
then to Nero, who like a frog imitated the lion Ahhashverosh. 
Still more remarkable and recognisable is the passage in Eev. 
xiii. 18:" Let him that hath understanding count the number 
of the beast : for it is the number of a man, and his number 
is 6 6 6." This number is incontestably found in Hebrew letters^ 
in the name x;;t^"i pn, Haman the wicked. For it is — 

5 = n 

40 = D 

50 = 1 
200 = 1 
300 = K^ 

70 = j; 
1 = K 

It is said of the beast that " he spake as a dragon," which 
reminds one of the Greek legends of the battle of the dragons 
in which Haman speaks. W^e cannot enter at large upon 
the question as to which of the contemporaries was regarded 
as Haman by St. John ; but so much is certain, that even 
here Haman was considered as the abstract idea of the draojon 
and of the ferocious beast. It was therefore natural that the 
Jews should also in later times designate every powerful 
enemy who threatened to deprive them of life and property 
by the name -ni:; and Haman. Eisenmenger (i. 721) and 

1 We cannot enter upon an enumeration of the curious interpretations 
of this number which appear in every commentary, but it is to be hoped 
that our interpretation will finally set them at rest. Because the meaning 
of the apocalyptic seer — which is to be more considered elsewhere — receives 
the eby much light. 


others had no right to reproach them with this ; and what he 
quotes from the book, ^^Dn pDy, represents likewise Haman 
only as the conception of the dragon, as it is done in the 
Eevelation. The dragon was to be assailed by the Messiah the 
son of Joseph. Should they have refrained from calling Achmed 
the vizier of Soliman by this name, who wanted to destroy 
them all if they would not deliver to him all their gold and 
silver (1523)? They had, as in the time of Haman, fasted 
and cried to God ; in fact, Achmed fell before he carried 
out his plans, and the Jews for a long time celebrated 
on the 27th of Adar an Egyptian feast of Purim (comp- 
NDnn p»V, ed. Vienna, p. 76 and p. 254). Should they not 
call by the same name Ibrahim Pasha, who was their most 
bitter enemy (1536), and fortunately for them was thrown 
over by Soliman ? And if they so designated in Frankfurt 
(1714) the robber and murderer Vincenz Fettmilch, was it 
not because he treated them in the spirit and after the 
example of Haman ? Certainly no book of the Bible was so 
popular among the Jews as the book of Esther. It was 
inculcated that women and children should hear it read in the 
synagogue on Purim ; and that when all the other books of 
the Bible shall lose their force in the time of the Messiah, it 
and the Pentateuch will have their full efficacy. They used 
to adorn and beautify the scroll, and private ones received 
illustrations.^ Schudt could not sufficiently express his 
admiration for an illustrated Megilla scroll for which the 
scribe asked five florins. The feast of Purim used to excite 
in the breasts of the Jews triumphant as well as revengeful 
feelings, for which many opportunities were given them. In 
this they were not always moderate, and the reproach which 
the Eoman emperor brought against them, that among their 
figurative representations they caricatured the cross under the 
image of Haman, was not altogether unfounded ; but their 
persecutors were very moderate in their manifestation towards 

^ [There were some fine specimens of snch in the Anglo-Jewish Exhibi- 
tion at South Kensington, 1887. — Trans.] 


them of the spirit of the gospel.^ The Jews used also to 
show their joy- on Purim by distributing gifts ; every one was 
in duty bound to send a i3pt^^^ TT'^riD, a half shekel, to Jerusalem 
or to the pilgrims in the Holy Land generally ; and the gifts 
to the poor were sent early in the morning, in order that 
they might be able to prepare for the feast in the evening.^ 
And if there were no poor at the time, the money was kept 
until there were some. The poor also made presents to each 
other, especially of provisions. Yet a woman dared not send 
a present to any other man but her husband, and so vice versa. 
Confectionary alone was not sufficient for presents. What 
Kirchner^ reports, that the gifts sent consisted of the point of 
a smoked tongue, peppered and preserved, has reference to the 
passage in the Talmud Megilla 7a, which speaks of the gifts of 
pepper and ginger. Pepper was held as symbolic of good sense, 
and of more value than sweets. They feasted exceedingly well, 
and practised all those customs w^hich Christians used on Christ- 
mas. They were especially fond of the little cakes filled with 
pap, which were called Krappelchen (fritters), and which were 
delightful objects, both to the young and the old."* Whatever 
could make the poor comfortable and happy was sent to 
them, because, as the author of the Mezahh Aron ^ says : 
" They look, nehich ( = poor things), the whole year for Purim." 
Kirchner ^ narrates that in his time (the end of the seven- 

^ See my history of the Jews in Ersch und Gruber's Encychpadie, ii. 27, 
p. 79. 

2 About the Jewish customs, comp. notably the liturgical treatises of the 
Jews, as Tania (Cremona 1565), § 39-41 ; Agur (Venice 1546), p. 80, 
n. 1042, etc. ; Sefer Tashbaz (printed by Vincente Conte), p. 172, n. 14. 
Comp. the compilation in Shibole Haleket and Mordecai. Also the useful 
book of the Minhagim Tobim, which appeared first in Amsterdam, then 
in Breslau, and re-edited by Bloch in Hanover. Likewise Simhhath 
Hanefesh, Sulzbach 1797, p. 59c. Comp. also the Minhagim of Dyhren- 
furt, 1692, etc. 

^ Comp. Paul Chris. Kirchner, Jildisches Ceremoniel, enlarged by S. J. 
Jungendres, Nurnberg 1726, p. 139. 

* Krapf, Krapplein ; in Silesia, Kriippel. See Frisch, Lex. i. p. 549. 

^ Mezahh Aron, Judisch=deutscher Commentar zu Esther, Flirst 1740, p. 51c. 

^ 1. 1. p, 137, note. This was in spite of the old ecclesiastical law, which 


teentli century) the Jews used also to send gifts to poor 
Christians on the Feast of Purim. The ancient Eabbis taught 
that one could not rejoice enough on that feast, just as 
Francis de Assisi said/ he wished it were possible that the 
walls should also eat meat on Christmas ; though there was 
certainly a great difference in the object of joy. The Jews 
then made their Purim to vie with the Christian Christmas 
more than now, when many of them keep Christmas 
(in Germany) as if it were their own feast. As some 
Christian authors both seriously and jestingly explained 
TFeihnachten (Germ, for Christmas) as meaning Wein nacht, 
" the night for wine," so were also the ancient Jewish Eabbis 
of opinion that one must drink so much on Purim until he 
will not be able to know the difference between •'3T»D inn 
(blessed be Mordecai) and p7\ IPN (cursed be Haman). It is 
very curious that the two phrases are numerically the same, 
viz. 502, just as the word nt^n.^ It is told in the Talmud 
that R Abaye and E. Hhananayh, having been very merry on 
Purim, had by mistake exchanged their meals, but being poor, 
when they came to dine together they knew not the difference. 
Another Purim story which might have ended very seriously is 
told of Eav. He and E. Sera dined together, and they got so 
intoxicated that the former slaughtered the latter. But the next 
morning God wrought a miracle, and the dead man was restored 
to life. The next Purim, Eav invited his friend again to dine 
with him, but be declined the invitation, saying : " I will not 
risk my life this time, for not always do miracles happen." 

forbade Christians accepting gifts from Jews. In the Canon Apost. 
n. 70 (Patr. ApostL), ed. Coteler (new ed. Antwerp 1698), ii. p. 446, we 
read : "Si quis episcopus aut alius Clericus jejunat cum Judaeis vel cum 
eis festos dies agit vel accipit eorum festi xenia exempli gratia, Azymi vel 
quid hujusmodi deponatur," where the editors remark, that this took place 
notably on Purim. 

^ " Volo quod et parietes eo die comedant carnes si fierx potest." Comp. 
my Weihnachten, Anm. n. 583, p. xcii. 

2 Even in the Piut (poetical meditation) for Purim we read, — 

Dnn n^sj^i idk^, etc. 


The feast was kept with great solemnity ; the thirteenth 
day of Adar, which was formerly the anniversary of the victory 
over Nicanor, was afterwards observed as a fast, and called 
"iDDJ^ n^:vn, the fast of Esther ; it was for the purpose of 
reminding them in the midst of the joys and pleasures of 
Purim of the great distress they had once passed through. 
There is no prescribed rule for it in the book of Esther, nor 
was it yet inserted in the index of fasts in Megillath Taanith. 
In the evening of the same day, the synagogue is well 
illuminated, and the minister unfolds the whole scroll and 
reads the narrative. When he comes to the passages which 
speak of Mordecai and of the final victory, the people repeat 
them after him in a loud voice and triumphant manner ; but 
when the name of Haman is mentioned, then the young people, 
and especially the children, make a great noise, and knock at 
the benches as if they were to kill him again. The Jews 
were wrongly reproached for expressing their feelings of 
approval of Mordecai and of hatred to Haman in this 
dramatic spectacle. But similar scenes used to take place in 
the Eoman Catholic Church in Passion Week, when, after the 
candles were extinguished, a great noise was made in imita- 
tion of the tumult which the Jews raised before Pilate. We 
read in an old book : " On Good Friday people rattle and 
make a noise in the Church." ^ And not only so, but scenes 
were exhibited in which Martin Luther in the effigy of an 
active boy received terrible blows, such as the Jews have not 
dealt to Haman. For the latter did only strike on wood and 
stone, and not men ; but not so the former. Johannes Pauli 
tells an old story of a peasant who was frightened in the 
scene on Good Friday, in which, while the singing was 
going on, the priest put out one candle after the other, 
and then " every man began to beat and to strike as on such 
nights was the custom in the Papacy." ^ The sermons which 
were preached in the synagogue on Purim were pervaded by 

1 See my TVeihnachten, n. 447, etc., to p. 134. 

2 Comp. Pauli Schimpf und Ernst, ed. Dittmar, p. 208. 


an earnest tone (conip. Megilla 11a). R. Dimi bar Yitzhhak 
took for his text Ezra ix. 9 : " For we were bondmen ; yet 
our God hath not forsaken us in our bondage, but hath 
extended mercy unto us in the sight of the kings of Persia." 
E. Hhanina bar Papa took for his text Ps. Ixvi. 12 : 
" Thou hast caused men to ride over our heads ; we went 
through fire and through water, but Thou broughtest us out 
into a wealthy place." E. Yohhanan took for his text Ps. 
xcviii. 3 : " All the ends of the earth have seen the salvation 
of our God." That happened in the days of Mordecai and 
Esther.^ The ancient Christian Church held Esther in high 
esteem, as she highly deserved, for risking her life for the 
sake of her religion and her people. The Church knew how 
to appreciate the martyr's spirit, and she had a higher instinc- 
tive knowledge of the wonderful dealings of God with His 
ancient people than many modern theologians have. In the 
Epistle of Clement to the Corinthians we read : " And 
Esther, whose faith was perfect, exposed herself to danger 
when she undertook to deliver the twelve tribes of Israel 
from imminent destruction. With fasting and humility she 
prayed to the Lord, the Creator of all things, the eternal God, 
who, when He saw the affliction of her soul and the dangers 
which she encountered, delivered the people for her sake." 

Clement of Alexandria ^ spoke in a similar strain : " That 
Esther who was perfect in faith delivered Israel from the 
power of the tyrant and from the cruelty of the satrap, and a 
single woman, bent down by fasting, resisted myriads of armed 
men, and by faith destroyed the tyrannical law. And she 
appeased the one, and the other, Aman, she removed, and by 
prayer preserved Israel in safety." In another place he says 
{Paid. lib. ii. p. 216): "The one Esther we find rightly 
adorned. She adorned herself mystically (fivo-TCKM<;) before 

^ See Tract. Bab. Megilla and Midrasli Meg. and Targum I. Targiim II. 
is in the Appendix with notes, but requires more full explanations than 
could be given in this Commentary. 

^ Stromatttf lib. 4. 


her king, but her beauty effected the deliverance of her people 
from murder." Jerome, too, writes in his letter to Paulinus : 
" Esther as a type of the Church delivered the people from 
danger, and after the death of Haman, which name signifies 
iniquity {iniquitas), she instituted a supper and a feast for 
posterity" (ed. Migne, i. 547). In his defence against Kufinus 
he says : " Let Esther be imitated, who long and silently 
endured the opinions of Artaxerxes, but at last corrected 
him by the truth" (ed. Migne, ii. 412, 413). Also in his 
introduction to Zephaniah (ed. Migne, vi. 1337) he speaks of 
Judith and Esther, who as a type of the Church had destroyed 
the enemies of Israel, and saved them froni destruction. This 
honour of Esther to be a type of the Church was naturally 
developed from the whole Christian tradition, which regarded 
her as a type of the Virgin Mary. This often occurs in 
hymns. In a hymn, dating from the fourteenth century, 
we find the phrase : " Haec Esther imperatrix." ^ Another 
hymn from the same century is as follows : — 

" Hodie ciibiculum 
Eegis Hester suscipit 

Sedare periciilum ~" 

Quod hostilis officit 
Aman restans fraudibiis 
Pro peccati videntibus 
Mortem mimdo conficit." 

Piemarkable is what is contained in a Litany, — 

" Maria, regis veri 
Virga aurea Assueri 
Irani judicis severi 
Scis lenire ut mederi 
Malit qiiam percutere." 

Much is said of the rod, i.e. the sceptre of Ahhashverosh, 

with which he indicated his favour to Esther. Not only 

is Mary styled in another hymn as the rod {virgula Assueri 

Aman tu mortifera sis adiiUrix cleri), but also in the famous. 

1 Comp. Mone, Lat Hymnen des Mittelalters, ii. 72, 157, 271, 434 


poem of Gottfried of Strassburg ; ^ the favour which the king 
showed to Esther by the sign of the rod was the type of 
the favour which God shows through the Virgin. For 
Ahhashverosh was thought to represent God, Aman re- 
presents Satan, and Esther the saving Mary. Specially 
strange, notably in reference to the Jews, is the moralizing 
of the Gesta Bomanorum (lat. 177), where Ahhashverosh is 
compared with Christ, and Queen Vashti with the synagogue. 
Vashti, who refused to come to the royal table, resembled 
the Jews, who, according to the parable, refuse to come to the 
Lord's Supper. Esther is the Church, which comes in her 
place. Haman, the mortal enemy of the Jews, is in the person 
of the Jewish people the Antichrist, who wants to hang 
Mordecai, the type of the righteous. 

When Queen Esther invites the king to come to her 
banquet, she resembles the Church, which Christ invites to 
come to partake of His body.^ 

The fast of Esther was spoken of as typical of the merit of 
fasting during the Quadragesima.^ 

She was also regarded by the Church as a saint. The 

^ Comp. Gentlie, Jungfrau Maria, p. 25, and the quotation from the 
Minnesingers in Benek. Mhd. Worterbuch, i. 483, suh voce " Gerte." 

^ Gesta Romanorum, n. 177, ed. Oesterley, p. 577. Owing to this honour 
which Ahhashverosh received in the Church, it also came to pass that his 
name was frequently given to persons even in the Protestant times. 
Fritsche, a well-known theologian and liturgist, bore that name. Ahhash- 
verosh Brandt was a famous physician who undertook a journey to 
Moscow (comp. Ehesa Litth. Dainos, j). 351). Another by the same name 
was Professor in Bremen (Bamberger, Gelehrte Deutschlands, i. p. 5). The 
mysticism of the name of Esther found a place in Reformed circles. In 
the terrible commotions which took place in Elberfeld and Ronsdorf, the 
sectarian EUer left his wife Vashti, and took another whom he called 
Esther (comp. Gobel, Gesch. des christl. Lehens, iii. 470). In England, too, 
Christian women were called Esther, and shortened into Essie (comp. 
Charnock, Phenomena, p. 41). So also the handsome wife of Casimir of 
Poland was named Esther. 

^ Comp. a German sermon of the thirteenth century, ed. Grieshuber, ii. 85. 
In Erfurt the 7th of September 1632 was observed as a day of commemora- 
tion of the victory near Breitenfeld, and coins were struck with the 
inscription : Dies Purim Evangelicorum anno 1631, VII. Sept. Erfurt. 
celebrati (comp. Falkenstein, Erf. Chronik, p. 709). 


editor of the Bible of Eoyaumont calls her une sainte femme. 
In Calmet's Bible it is said : " The Church Fathers make this 
holy queen {sainte reine) appear as a figure of the Church of 
Jesus Christ." 

She is represented upon images in the attitude of kneel- 
ing before King Ahhashverosh, who reaches her the sceptre, 
while this sceptre expresses tenderness.^ Her saint's day 
is differently given : May 24 or July 1. The Copts 
keep it December 20. The editors of Acta Sanctorum de- 
cided for September 4. In old Martyrologies are found the 
words : " Hester regiae " or " Hester reginae." ^ The Jesuit 
Canisius remarked on this : " The beautiful and faithful, who 
with the aid of Mordecai saved the whole Jewish people 
from a threatening danger." A similar sentiment is found 
in collections of Greek sentences — 

rou 'lapxrjTi sk Sciuocrov. 

The poems and popular books which treat of the book of 
Esther are numerous. John Chryseus wrote Histori Hester, 
a play translated from the Latin into German, Wittenberg 
1546; towards the end of the sixteenth century appeared 
Hamanus Tragoedia, which was written first in Latin by 
Thoma Naogeorgo, and then in German by Joh. M. Moeshemio 
and Mag. Joh. Postio. The same has been republished in good 
German byDamianus Lindner in 1607. Older than all these 
is a book with the following long title : " A very beautiful, 
pleasant, and comforting play from the Holy Scripture and the 
book of Esther, composed in short rhyme, in which is shown 
how God has at all times punished pride and self-will of the 
wicked, and rewarded the piety and humility of godly men 
and women." Printed at Magdeburg by Mich. Lotther,^ 

^ Comp. Guenebault, Bictionnaire Iconographique (Paris 1850), p. 191. 
2 Acta Sanctorum^ Bolland, Juli, torn. i. pp. 12, 13. 
^ Comp. Gbdeke, Grundriss der Geschichte d. deutschen Literatur, i. pp. 297, 


1537. Hans Sachs has also elaborated the narrative. An 
alliterative Anglo-Saxon treatise of the book of Esther is not 
yet printed. It is ascribed to Aelfric who lived in the eleventh 
century.^ There was also a scriptural play by Lopa de Vega, 
entitled La hermosa Ester ^ {Comedias appeared in Madrid 
in 1621, XV. p. 151). There was a Judeo-German play, 
entitled h'Si^ ^n)\yni^, printed in 1708 and communicated by 
Schudt in his Jewish Curiosities. It is peculiar, but not without 
merit. This play has given occasion to Wagenseil to make 
the incredible assertion, and that in opposition to Cuper, that 
the whole dramatic art has originated among the Jews.^ 
Several travellers (as, e.g., Stochowe and Th^venot)^ have re- 
ported the tradition that Safed in Galilee was the birthplace 
of Queen Esther. This appears to be connected with another 
opinion, that Safed is identical with Bethulia, where Judith 
lived. In the reports of Jewish travellers (as of Yihhus ha 
Abod)^ it is told that the tomb of Esther is at Kefar Baram, 
not far from Safed. This must refer to a mural monument of 
Esther ; as it was believed among the Jews (from Benjamin 
of Tudela and others) that the famous tombs of Mordecai and 
Esther were in Hamadan. It is told that on Purim the 
Jews of Safed went to the grave, and there read the Megilla, 
ate an(l drank, and made merriment. It does not appear very 
credible that they would do this at a grave. 

The name Bethulia, which was given to Safed, in connec- 
tion with the above legend, may have arisen from the fact 
that the Hebrew word nbin2, virgin, is found in the name 
(comp. Esth. ii. 19). A similar legend^ reports that a bird 
flew into the room when Esther was born, as an emblem of 

^ Kichard "Wiilker, Grundriss der Geschichte der Aiigelsachsisdien Literatur 
(Leipzig 1885), p. 471. 

2 Comp. Ticknor, History of Spanish Literature. 

^ Comp. Wagenseil, De civitate Norunbergensi, Altdorf 1697, p. 166. 

* Comp. Robinson, Palestine, ii., under " Safed." 

* Itiner aires de la terre sainte, ed. Carmoly, Bruxelles 1847, p. 456 (which 
is from the year 1537). 

^ Comp. Adami, Deliciae, i. 598. ' 


liberty and intellect. What a pity that the bird did not fly 
into the studies of many of the commentators on the book of 
Esther ! 

4. We add a few literary notices. 

With regard to the literature, see Wolf's Bibliotheca, torn. ii. 
89. To this may be added the dissertation of B. L. Eskuche, 
Marburg 1734, who consulted the then known literature, 
and the Talmud and Midrash. The Eoman Catholic com- 
mentaries are little used. That by Feuardentius was consulted 
by Prof. Dr. Schulze in his Commentary in Lange's Bihdwerh 
(1876). Prof. Sepp has, with respect to this book, deviated 
from the spirit and the piety of the Catholic expositors. 
Intent to bring about a church reform, he began with the 
revision of the canon of Scripture, which he proposed before 
the Vatican Council, but which rightly took no notice of it. 
He agitated against it with anti-Semitic hatred, but without 
profound learning (Munich 1870).^ On the other hand, 
there are two thick volumes of commentary on Esther, which 
the Benedictine Monk, J. A. Nickes, published in Eome 
(1858), in which he manifests a spirit of piety and diligence, 
but he is deficient in scientific criticism and study of the 
book itself. Besides the books that are alluded to in Keil's 
Introduction and in Schulze's Commentary, I mention the 
following Jewish commentaries : nriDX rb^'O W nnso, by Pieggio 
(Vienna 1841). Abr. Aben. Ezrah, Commentary on the Book 
of Esther, edited by Joseph Zedner, London (Nutt) 1850. 
The Commentaries on Esther, Euth, and Lamentation, by E. 
Menahhem ben Hhelbo, E. Tobia ben Eliezer, E. Joseph 
Kara, E. Samuel Ben Meir, and an anonymous author, 
published by Adolf Jellinek (Leipzig 1855). I add to this 
Liter Estherae Gracce, by 0. F Fritzsche (in two parts, as 
contributions to the Index Lectionum), Zurich 1848, which he 

1 As regards Melito, who does not hterally enumerate it in the canon, 
lie ought to have known that ah'eady older theologians have clearly ex- 
plained that Melito included the books of Nehemiah and Esther under 
the title of Ezra. Comp. Routh, Reliquiae Sacrae, i. 136. 


already at this time received into the collection of apocryphal 
Scriptures. With regard to poetry founded on Esther, I 
refer to the notices in the Annals of the History of the 
Jews, iii. 75, such as a drama Usque by Solomon, and the 
epic poem Copia Sidlam by Sarah. Of course, the most 
curious of all is Ahhashvervosh and Esther, a drama from 
the East, by Dr. J. L. Chronik (Berlin 1875).^ 

It is much to be deplored that Jews distinguished them- 
selves prominently in introducing rationalistic and unscientific 
doubts against the book of Esther, and that these were not 
obscure men. It was Spinoza (see Keil, Introd. p. 473) 
whom Gesenius, Bertheau, Ewald, Meier, etc., followed, who 
placed the date of the book of Esther in the time of the 
Ptolemies and Seleucian kings, for which there is no ground, 
and against which everything speaks. The criticism of 
Zunz was not so great as his diligent compilation of the 
fragments of post-biblical literature. What Fiirst observes on 
the book of Esther {Der Kanon des alten Testaments, Leipzig 
1868, p. 105) is a thoroughly unscientific conception of the 
Talmudical passages about the Megilla. To the followers of 
the rationalism of Spinoza and his disciples belonged also 
Herzfeld in his History of the Jews (ii. 358). Incompre- 
hensible are the insinuations of Gratz (in the Monatschrift fur 
Wissenschaft des Judenthums, 1886, p. 425). Jewish authors 
particularly should take the trouble to dig deeply into the 
history of ancient Israel. To catch the spirit of universal 
history is a conditional qualification for true exegesis, which 

1 The spirit of this most curious drama is characterized on p. 89, in the 
following verses : — 

Ahhashverosh and Esther 
Burn the lair 
Of the black revolution 
In pitch of infatuation. 
They wash the tresses 
Of the dirty heads. 

They cut for the blacks 
The thread of the Fates. 
They teach the Moors, 
They teach them Mores. 
Born were the Moors 
To become Kapores, etc. 

Skutsche in Breslau published a humorous, satirical Purim play with 
song in five acts, entitled Haman, der grosse Judevfresser, which I did 
not see. 


qualification even Spinoza and Zunz did not possess. Hasty- 
formulas were found for hasty assertions of unauthenticity 
and interpolation. Anti-Semitism needed only to appropriate 
the exegetical arts of rationalism in order to break the stave 
over the people, amongst whom some so carelessly handled 
their own canon of the Scripture. 

Paul Lagarde (Botticher) has recently brought out about 
Purim a learned treatise ; its conclusion is impossible to 
accept. I hope to be able to enter upon it at large else- 
where. With regard to the short treatise by Jules Oppert, 
Commentaire liistorique et philologique du Livre Esther, Paris 
1864, I have referred to it in the Commentary. 


"D'^n "'n''1 — " Nov: it came to pass in the days'' 
The rabbinical teachers make peculiar observations upon 
these words. R. Levi says (Bab. Megilla 106) there is a 
tradition from the time of the Great Synagogue, that wherever 
in the Scriptures a sentence begins with "TT'l, it was," it 
indicates a time of sorrow and distress (nyv). R. Ashe says 
that this is only the case when a scriptural sentence begins 
with ^a^3 ^r\\ " and it was in the days." In fact both views 
are of ancient date. In another place (Midrash Esther 85&) 
one is assigned to R. Eliezer and the other to R. Jonathan, 
from which we conclude that these two authorities lived in 
the days following the destruction of the temple, in times 
of great need and distress. The latter view only was the 
prevalent one (comp. Yalkut Esther, § 1044 [where the 
passage is not correctly quoted], and the first Targum). 
Moreover, the ancient sages found the idea of sadness 
intimated by the very sound of the Hebrew word \i"'i, vayShee, 
which is similar to woe. The Greek oval (the Latin vae of 
earlier occurrence) had the same sound and character, and 
was at the time used by the people (as Christ used it Matt, 
xi. 21, xxiv. 19 ; Mark xiii. 17). It was at that time not 
unusual for homiletical teachers to use, in the ecclesiastical 
Hebrew and in the popular Greek language, forms of expres- 
sion which contained a combination of ideas in order to serve 
the purpose of their teaching. Even the Greek translation 
of Scripture offers examples : the exclamation of woe in the 
Old Testament "•in (especially in Isaiah) ^ik is not only rendered 
by oval, but also in Ezek. vii. 26, ni^n h'^_ njn^ event upon event 



(or E. V. " Mischief shall come upon mischief ") is translated 
by ovaC This was occasioned by the sound of the word. 

The five verses, concerning which the above observation is 
made, are as follows: (1) Gen. xiv. 1, "And it came to pass 
in the days of Amraphel;" (2) Euth i. 1, "And it came to 
pass in the days when the judges judged ; " (3) Isa. vii. 1, 
" And it came to pass in the days of Ahaz ; " (4) Jer. i. 3, " It 
came also in the days of Jehoiakim ; " (5) in our passage, " It 
was in the days of Ahhashverosh." A sixth passage was 
overlooked, viz. 2 Sam. xxi. 1, perhaps because it does not 
read '•»''3 nti but in ^12^2 2]n "•n"'i, and perhaps also from a 
desire not to place David in juxtaposition with Amraphel, 
Ahaz, Jehoiakim, and Ahhashverosh. 

Now it would not be correct to assume that the observation 
of the Jewish teachers, of which we speak, is a complete 
homiletical form after their mode of thinking. It is true 
that all verses which begin with " it was in the days " 
introduce a catastrophe. They are things of impending 
danger which are to be narrated. 

The occurrences are of a sad character. They are such disas- 
trous events as the Greek calls avfjucpopd, so that this word is 
associated with gloom and sadness. The Hebrew word nin is 
to be understood in a similar sense. Though it really means 
only an event, an occurrence, it has been explained as denot- 
ing mishap and mischief. 

But the Jewish teachers who called attention to this, 
namely, that it is to a certain degree the historical style to 
begin a narrative of eventful catastrophes with the expression, 
" And it was in the days," have thereby had nothing else of 
more importance in view. They themselves lived in trouble 
and distress (ni^f and lyv), and only saw these, else they 
would have taught in a more comforting strain, that all the 
five catastrophes which begin with ^du TT'I, are only told for 
the reason that they emerge in the glorious events of the 
history of the kingdom of God. 

Gen. xiv. 1 begins with the war of the kings of the East 

CHAP. I. 1. 6 

against Canaan, but concludes with the victory of Abraham 
and with the benediction of Melchizedek, who as priest of 
the Most High God brings wine and bread, and says, 
" Blessed be Abram of God Most High, possessor of heaven 
and earth." The history of Euth does indeed begin with a 
famine, but it ends with the joyful event of the marriage of 
the converted heathen woman with the Israelite in whom is no 
guile, with Boaz of whom sprang David and David's greater Son. 

In the days of Jehoiakim (Jer. i. 3) there was indeed 
misery and trouble in Judea, but Jeremiah is called to see 
the fulfilment (i. 11). In the days of Ahaz there was 
fearful backsliding and idolatry (Isa. vii. 1), but the narrative 
only introduces the announcement of the prophet, " Behold, a 
virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name 
Immanuel" (ver. 14). 

It is introduced with a catastrophe in order to conclude 
with glory. It is not told on account of the existing evil, 
but on account of the coming salvation. The history begins 
with the night, in order to conclude with the dawn of the 
morning. The days of Ahhashverosh serve for the purpose of 
revealing the redeeming grace of God. In the days of Ahaz 
the good tidings are declared w^hich shall set free the whole 
world. The Eoman historian Livy, in describing the days of 
ruin which came upon Eome through Brennus, says the 
latter exclaimed, " Vae victis," " woe to the conquered ; " 
and he remarks, that " this is an intolerable expression to 
Eomans " (" intoleranda Eomanis vox," Li v. v. 48). But 
wherever the Scripture begins with its ^12^2 M"*!, with a " vae 
Israelis," it reports this only in order to reveal that salvation 
will soon come forth, whose fulness and blessing is indispens- 
able and unspeakable. 

The Greek version of the LXX. translates the Hebrew word 
••n^l in all passages with " iyevero" in harmony with the his- 
torical style of the Old Testament; thus in Luke ii. 1, iyevero 
Se iv rat? r/fjuepai^ itceivaL^, " it was in those days " (^n^l 
Dnn D^n^a). 


In the days when Augustus caused the Holy Land to be 
taxed its bondage began ; but just in consequence of this 
taxing, the Messiah, who makes all who believe in Him free, 
was born in Bethlehem. 

tJ^"Tit^n&< t^in tJ^mSJ^ni^ — " In the days of Ahhashverosh, that 


It would have been sufficient to say, in the days of Ahhash- 
verosh, who ruled from India unto Gush ; but the repetition 
of the name in connection with &5"in, ille, iste qui, is a preg- 
nant indication of the significance of the man spoken of. 

When, therefore, the Midrash Esther, p. 8Qa, compares 
this mode of expression with similar ones, as in 1 Chron. i. 
27, Di"nni< «in Dnnx, and Gen. xxxvi. 3, Dn5< ^ns ik>V 5<in, etc., 
it does so improperly. In the passages quoted, the word 
5<in has simply the sense of qui idem, and establishes the 
identity of the compared persons, as their names and epithets 
do not fully sound alike (as nt, which, as a complete relative, is 
like the new pers. c'eh). But here, where the same name is 
connected by xin, the explanation of mere identity cannot hold 
good, but, through the repetition of the name, t^in receives 
the meaning of the Latin ille} And the sense is : that 
famous and renowned Ahhashverosh, even more known 
than Gyrus and Darius amongst European and West Asiatic 
nations. The Talmud (Megilla 11a) by way of homily 
remarks, that in all places where t^in occurs it expresses 
the virtue or the vice of the person from beginning 
to end. But the thought in connection with him, as inti- 
mated by the identifying pronoun sin, was, that Esau was 
in his character all his life long an Esau, the father of Edom, 
just as Abram was by nature and grace always an Abraham 
(Gen. xvii. 5). But here also the historical significance of 
the expression " Ahhashverosh, that Ahhashverosh," because 
it is not repeated in the Bible, was not sufficiently considered 

1 In Corn. Nep. 4 we read, " Pittacus ille, qui septem sapientiim numero 
est liabitus." 


CHAP. I. 1. 5 

nor emphasized. This peculiar formula does already in itself 
indicate that we have to think of a famous Ahhashverosh, 
and that the king of the book of Esther is none other, as 
shown in the Introduction, than Xerxes of the Greek writers, 
the son of Darius Hystaspes, whom the cuneiform inscriptions, 
according to Lassen {Keilinsclir, p. 165, etc.), call K^sharsa, 
and according to Benfey (Keilinschr. p. 65, etc.) K^hsliydrsha, 
The twenty years of the reign of this king contain the 
great decisive points which through him affected the world- 
wide nations of antiquity, — the Jews and the Greeks, — and 
the memorable deliverances from calamity and distress which 
both experienced. The Greek histories know Xerxes mostly 
only as a commander of armies, and on the battlefield. The 
book of Esther reports him as he was in his court and in his 
seraih. Tlierefore it is just these last reports, notwithstanding 
that they have Israel for their central point, which show us 
the external movements within the Persian empire, as the 
result of former events. Bearing this in mind, it appears 
clear that the opinion of E. Levi (Meg. Esther ^^1)^ that 
Ahhashverosh is identical with Artahhasta mentioned in the 
book of Ezra, is not to be accepted, and has only arisen (as 
already shown in the Introduction) from the reading of Ezra 
vii. 1. He cannot be Artahhshasta {ie. Artahhsharshta or 
Artashsh, Artaxerxes), for the prefixes distinguish the names 
of the Persian kings from each other. The termination is 
mostly, as Hewdot observes (i. 139), the same letter which the 
Dorians call san, and the lonians sigma (?). Comp. Khurush 
(triD), Daryawush ({jn**"!!), Ahhashverosh, Hakhamanish, Chish- 
pish (Teispes), Fravartish, Dadarshish, Serish, and many others. 

^^13 nyi nnio "j^on — " Wlw reigned from Hodu unto 


This is not explanatory of the former clause, " that Ahhash- 
verosh." It is not meant to say that it happened in the 
days of the king who ruled over a wider extent of territory 
than any other ; for Darius had already extended the borders 


of his dominion from India unto Cush ; and to some extent 
can the same be said of Cambyses. 

In the cuneiform inscriptions Darius and Xerxes have the 
same majestic titles. What is meant to be conveyed is, that 
Xerxes was not only king of Persia when this happened, but 
also that his dominion extended from India unto Cush, i.e. from 
east to west, from the rising of the sun unto the going down 

Benfey translates a cuneiform inscription both of Darius 
and Xerxes as follows : " I, the mighty king, king of kings, 
king of populous countries, king of this great and mighty earth, 
far and near." Aeschines mentions in his oration against 
Ktesiphon, chap. xlii. (comp. Brisson, de B. Pers. iii. 73), a 
letter in which Xerxes had written that he was lord over 
all men, from the rising to the setting of the sun. Mardonius 
in his speech to Xerxes mentions the victories of the Persians 
over the Sakes, the Hindoos, and the Ethiopians^ (Herod, vii. 9). 
Only through the repetition of the name joined by the pronoun 
Kin is the famous celebrity of the reigning king indicated. 

That he swayed his sceptre from Hodu to Cush was merely 
the title of the great king. The Jewish Eabbis are therefore 
wrong when they interpret these words as indicating that he 
was a usurper, and not of royal descent (Yalkut, 1045, and 
therefore Eashi, in loc). This cannot be maintained of 
Xerxes (comp. Herodotus, vii. 3), and the words of Scripture 
give no occasion to such an assumption. Nor could they 
have had Smerdis in mind ; for if they had known of him, 
they would have also known that his reign was short. There 
seems rather to pervade the interpretation of the Midrash 
a stronger tone of antipathy and censure than we perceive 
in the book of Esther itself. This hostile feeling is apparently 
only directed against Ahhashverosh, but in reality it is meant 

^ The Sultan Soliman, when writing to Francis I. of France, called 
himself " emperor of emperors, prince of princes, disposer of the crowns 
of the world, the shadow of God over both hemispheres, ruler over the 
Black and White Seas, of Asia and Europe." Comp. Kanke, Fiirsten mid 
Volker, i. p. 5. 

CHAP. I. 1. 7 

in spirit against the Eoman emperors of the time, who certainly 
were often more arbitrary than the great Persian king. 

Hodojb (nn), for India, is the only passage where it occurs, 
and shows the local origin of the book of Esther. The 
cuneiform inscription of Lassen and Benfey has Hidhu. On 
the other hand, Nasal, which is found in the Indian SindJm, 
is in Zendic Rendu. The name denotes originally only the 
land of the seven streams of the Indus ; it was afterwards 
applied to the eastern territories also (comp. Lassen, Ind. 
Alterth. i. p. 2). To derive the name Indus from the Sanscrit 
i7id = und, to flow (as also Indra was explained), as the god of 
rain, is doubtless correct (comp. my Engldnder in Delhi, ip. 10). 
Darius pushed forward with his armies as far as the countries 
around the Indus, and sutjected them (Herod, iv. 44). Their 
people formed the twentieth district of his dominions, and 
afforded a rich revenue (Herod, iii. 94). 

2^13 IV) — " U'nto Cush" 
The usual explanation of Gush is Ethiopia, by which we 
are reminded of the victories of Cambyses over Upper Egypt. 
The LXX. has therefore left " Unto Cush " untranslated, 
perhaps because it was so near home. But we must call 
attention to something else. The name Cush is not limited 
by local conditions, but rather describes certain tribes of a 
defined mode of life ; therefore Nimrod the hunter is derived 
from it. The Cossaei (in the present Chusistan), according to 
the scanty information that we have of them, are scarcely 
distinguished in their warlike habits from the Sakes, by which 
name Herodotus also designates the Persians as Scythians. 
That the name Cush could also be applied to these, I believe 
that I have shown, in that the legendary hero Eustem of the 
country of the Sakes (Sadjestan) appears as Cushan (see my 
Commentary on Judges, chap. iii. p. 33). They are then dark 
nations of Scythian (Nimrodian) mode of life, which must 
be understood under the term Cush. In this sense their 
spread becomes explicable. We can see the force of the 


sayiDg of the prophet Habakkuk, " I saw the tents of Cushan 
in affliction ; the curtains of the land of Midian did tremble " 
(chap. iii. 7). The name Ethiopia is to a certain degree 
only a translation of Cush, for k^d or ni3 signifies dark.^ Comp. 
the Sanscr. Khad, and the Gr. ctacoto?. 

Antiquity also clearly distinguished these formidable 
Scythian nations of the steppes of Europe and Asia according 
to their colours. The extensive custom of calling the 
victorious nations white and the conquered nations black 
(comp. my Magyiar Alterth. p. 144), refers to natural marks 
of distinction. Cush, as the son of Ham, was the dark 
contrast to the fair nations of Gomer, the son of Japhet, 
somewhat like the dark and the dark brown nations in 
contrast to the Germanic nations of light complexion. Ac- 
cordingly, it would not be impossible to think of the term 
" Unto Cush " as defining the limit of the campaign of Darius 
against the Scythians or Sakes ; but this is out of considera- 
tion. Cush expresses here, in general, the extreme limit. 
As Homer places the Ethiopians at the setting of Helios, and 
at the extreme ends of the world {Odyss. i. 24), so India and 
Cush stand opposite to each other for the lands of sunrise and 
of sunset. It was thought that in the empire of the Persian 
great kings the sun never set. This idea the Jewish teachers 
have rightly perceived, as e.g. Eav said, " Hodu and Cush 
mark the two extreme boundaries of the world." 

" Hundred and seven and twenty provinces." 
This enumeration also testifies to the original historical 
value of our book with regard to the history of the ancient 
Iran. I should like to see an impartial acknowledgment 
that this is in accord with the other credible records of the 
division of the old Persian kingdom. For the differences 

[1 In the same extensive sense the Psalter of the Book of Common 
Prayer renders Cush by Morians land. Bearing this in mind, we can 
easily see that the Ethiopian woman of Num. xii. 1 is Zipporah, the 
daughter of Jethro the Midianite, and thus the objection of infidels, that 
Moses encouraged bigamy by his example, falls to the ground.— Trans.] 

CHAP. I. 1. 9 

which, according to Brisson {de Eegn. Pers. lib. i. 169), were 
thought to exist, are not really there. In Dan. vi. 1 we 
read that Darius the Mede appointed over the kingdom 120 
satraps. Whoever this Darius might have been, the report is 
really not at variance wdth what Herodotus tells (iii. 89), that 
Darius the son of Hystaspes appointed twenty governors. For 
these twenty satrapies were large divisions, which included 
smaller ones, like provinces and counties. The first province 
consisted of lonians, Magnetians, Aeolians, Karians, Lycians, 
to which also belonged the Milyians and Pamphilians. So 
also the third province consisted of Hellespontians, Phrygians, 
Asiatic Thracians, Paphlagonians, Mariandians, and Syrians. 
As these provinces had just six divisions, we may assume 
that all the twenty satrapies had each six smaller revenue dis- 
tricts, called m''nD,^ so that there were in all 120 such districts. 
When Josephus (Antiq. x. 11. 4) speaks of 360 provinces, he 
makes the mistake of assigning to each of the 120 revenue dis- 
tricts three governors, while he knows himself that only the 120 
governors had a revision college of three superiors over them. 
A closer investigation concerning the revenue provinces in 
Herodotus will show that Persia is really wanting among 
them.^ The central governing country holds a special position 
among the subjugated countries. Therefore there are twenty- 
one countries^ which the inscription of Bisutun* enumerates 
(ed Benfey, p. 8), because Persia stands at the head of them. 
Attention has often been called to the fact that seven tribal 
chiefs have hurled the Persian Smerdis from his throne. The 
passage in Plato (De Legg. iii. 659) which appears so obscure 
nevertheless clearly shows that in his time there yet existed 
to a certain degree the right and liberty which these 

^ Comp. r\l^, m^D, a tax, from "njo, to measure, metior ; Sanscr. Mad. 
See my Commentary on Judges, p. 17. 

^ Herod, iii. 97, ^ '^ipaig Be x^P^ f^ovvvi (/,oi ovh, e'lpyiToci 'hoi,(jf^o(J)6pog. 

^ The inscription of the black Assyrian obelisk tells of twenty-seven 
Persian tributary princes, according to Oppert's explanation (comp. 
Spiegel, Eranische Alterth. ii. 261). 

^ [Bisutun means without walls. — Trans.] 


seven had established in Persia. Further on more will be told 
of the seven great men (i. 14), the first in the kingdom, who 
hold interview with the king, which, according to Herodotus, 
was the privilege of the friends of Darius. Persia proper, 
accordingly consists of seven tribes^ or divisions, which 
together with the 120 other countries make the total number 
of 127; but it must not be overlooked that the number 127 
is an indivisible one. A homily of R. Akiba declares that 
Esther was elevated to reign over 127 provinces, because she 
was a descendant of Sarah, who lived just 127 years (Megilla 
Esther S6d). 

Ver. 2. " That in those days, when the king Ahhashverosh 

sat on the throne of his kingdom, which ivas in Shushan the 


The first verse mentions the ruler from whom the event 
proceeded, to introduce the history and to throw light upon it. 
The second verse exhibits the place in the kingdom where it 
happened. The third verse sets forth the year of the reign, 
and the occasion which produced the narrated catastrophe. 
There appears, in beautiful simplicity, a fine premeditated 
historical art in the composition. 

In \T'i, " it was in the days of Ahhashverosh," is recorded 
the whole reign of the king ; but the expression " in these 
days," points out that the memorable event took place when 
the great king sat on his throne in Shushan. For during the 
hot season the king left the capital and took up his 
residence in cooler Ecbatana in Media.^ Some writers have 
been more precise on this point, and assigned the sojourn of 
the king at Shushan to the season of spring, at which time the 
weather is most lovely there even now, in spite of the city 
being in ruins (see Eawlinson in Eitter, ix. 302). The reason 

1 Comp. Ritter, Asien, viii. 13. Dunker, Alterth. 270 and 445, note. 

2 The Babylonian Jewish teachers imply a sojourn of the king in 
summer and winter in different palaces in the words, jn^'D^'a ""J^ )^ Vn, 
M. Esther, 87a. 

CHAP. I. 2. 11 

for this may be, because the king returned to his capital to 
celebrate the festival of the new year in spring. 

For Shushan, though very much embellished by Darius, had 
already been the capital since the accession of the Persian 
dynasty. Xenophon in the Cyropaedia does rightly speak 
of Cyrus sojourning there (lib. viii. 6). It was probably on 
account of its splendid situation, surrounded by mountains 
and streams, and abounding in fruit and flowers, especially 
the lily \m^^ which gave it its name. It had already become 
so attractive to the older monarchs as to induce them to 
choose it for their residence. But this was not the only 
reason why the Persian monarchs made it their residence. 
When the Medes and the Persians became masters over the 
whole complex territory of the Assyro-Babylonian empire, 
they soon perceived that in order to become great kings they 
must come out of the national, local, and tribal surroundings. 
As the later Caliphs left Arabia and established their seat of 
government in Bagdad, so did the Medo-Persians leave their 
tribal territories in order to found the capital in the subjugated 
countries. Babylon could not enjoy this honour, because it 
would recall the hostility of the old form of government, 
although the assertion may be well grounded, that Cyrus 
resided there for some months. Shushan became, especially 
since the time of Darius, the official, magnificent, famous 
residence of the Persian kings, as it certainly had never been 
before. The observations which we have in the ethnographical 
table of Gen. x. are of inestimable value. They teach us that 
there was a national distinction between the nation of the 
Babylonian-Assyrian empire and their confederates ; and not 
only between those who were sons of Ham, but also between 
Elam, Ashur, Arpachshad, Lud, and Aram, who were descended 
from Shem, and the nations of Madai, to which also belonged 

^ Spiegel in Eranische Alterthumslcunde, ii. 623, does not give the reason 
why he is not convinced of this etymological derivation, but holds it as 
suitable. Any other explanation is not to be thought of. 


When the Persians established the capital in Shushan, they 
found themselves in Elam, that is, outside their national 
country, and yet in its vicinity — in subjugated but in peaceful 
countries, as Strabo remarks (comp. Dunker, ii. 693). 

As a centre and seat of the great kingdom the city is 
characterized by the appellation of n'^'^^n,^ habeera (meaning 
properly, the castle, and in an especial sense the royal castle, 
the residence), as Shushan is everywhere called by Nehemiah 
(i. 1) and Esther and Daniel, even without special personal 
reference to the reigning king. For in the fortified castle 
was the seat of the king. 

In a similar manner have modern cities received a com- 
pound name, as Edinburgh, Petersburg, etc. For this reason 
it ought never to have been questioned that Daniel could not 
speak of any other capital but that of Shushan, which he 
calls ni^nn, or that there is a difference between this and the 
Shushan of Esther and the Greeks (as Kitter thinks, influenced 
by Eawlinson). — Apart from all verbal and archaeological 
reasons, it must appear from the spirit of the vision of Daniel, 
in which he sees the decisive battles of the Medo-Persians with 
Alexander, that the vision took place in the centre and seat of the 
Iranic dynasty. It must clearly appear from the same internal 
evidence that the vision was seen by him near the river Ulai, 
because this river w^as connected with the great glory of the 
Persian kings. It flowed whither the king went — as if the glory 
of the royal residence went everywhere with him ; for, as it is 
said, the great king drank no other water but from its springs. 

It ought also to be observed, that though the river near 
Shushan is elsewhere called Choaspes (comp. the passages in 
Brisson, i. 1. 9, 82), Ulai and Choaspes are not on that 
account two rivers, as some in ancient and modern times have 
thought; Loftus, for instance, who deems it necessary to 

1 The derivation of the word is known. In Scr. vr% Zend, vere, means 
"to defend." Therefore Zendic vara, Persian haru. From this comes 
the Greek (icHpts, which must again not be confounded with iSoiptg of 
Egyptian origin (comp. Sturz, de dialecto Macedon. p. 89). 

CHAP. I. 2. 13 

establish new theories concerning the changes of rivers (see 
Journal of the Royal Geographical Society , vol. xxvii. p. 130, etc. ; 
comp. Eodiger, Zeitschr. deutsch. Morgenl. Gesellsch. xiii. 715). 
But Eulaeus-Ulai is the name which Choaspes bore owing to 
the fact that it alone contained the pure water of which the 
king drank. 

The Midrash has, p. 8 7a, the following homiletic legend : 
The angels appeared before the Lord with the complaint, 
" Lord, the holy temple is destroyed, and this wicked man j;5jn 
sits on the throne in joys." But their attention is called to the 
ways of judgment and to the changes of the times. These 
had come to pass in an awful manner. Shushan lies in ruins, 
so that one might doubt its identity. It has become a desert, 
an habitation for lions and hyenas. Superstitious fanatical 
robbers are its custodians. Benjamin of Tudela found the 
country deserted as early as in the twelfth century, and he 
describes the ruins of the palace of Ahhashverosh (ed. Asher, 
p. 73). He could still report of a large number of Jewish 
inhabitants ; but they also have gone, according to the reports 
of Petachia (ed. Carmoly, p. 65). Not before 1851 were 
extensive investigations undertaken among these ruins. But 
though, indeed, the proud capital of ancient Persia is destroyed, 
the Jews have as yet received no comforting compensation to 
their above complaint, for the temple in Jerusalem is also 
still in ruins. And certainly neither the great king of Persia 
nor the later Eoman Caesar must be held responsible for its 
destruction. The ruins of Shushan and of Babylon have not 
contributed to its restoration. The causes for its downfall 
were not political, but spiritual. 

The ideas which the Rabbis in their homilies entertain 
concerning the throne on which the king sat, though some- 
what peculiar, are yet profound. For while the words, " when 
the king Ahhashverosh sat on the throne of his kingdom," 
express only figuratively the time in which the king returned 
to Shushan, the Jewish interpretation takes the figurative 
expression in its original literal meaning. The throne was 


the symbol of the royal power, and they connect their obser- 
vation with its symbolic-phantastic (symholisch-phantastisch) 
ornamentation. They do this in accordance with the Oriental 
usage and spirit. 

The acquisition and the possession of a throne denotes in 
itself power, as well as the besieging and the removal of a 
throne denotes victory.^ The transition of the universal 
monarchies from Babylon to Media, thence to Alexander, and 
thence to Eome, is represented by them as a transition of the 
throne. But what sort of a throne was this ? No other but 
that of Solomon, as described in 1 Kings x. 18. For the 
throne of Israel which the Son of David establishes is spiri- 
tually the universal royal throne. He is represented in 
prophecy as ruling over all the nations of the earth (Ps. 
ii. 8, etc.). 

But they embodied this truth in the type of political 
dominion. They likewise made Solomon to be a real universal 
king. Their historical insight appears to have been greater 
than it is generally admitted, in that they also ascribe 
universal dominion, i.e. preponderating power, to Egypt. For 
they say that the throne of Solomon came after his death 
into the hands of Shishak, king of Egypt, and then Asa 
recovered it when he conquered Serach the Cu shite. They 
further assert that Nebuchadnezzar had it in his possession, 
and that Cyrus sat upon it. " I have seen,^ says Elasar bar 
Yose, its fragments in Eome, but Ahhashverosh did not get 
it, for only a Kosmokrator ("iimplDnp) had a right to sit 
upon it." 

The application of this word is interesting. The Midrash 
applies it several times to great kings. It originated in 
Jewish speculative theology, hence in the Orphic hymn it is 

^ Comp. my Ahhandlung icber Kaiser und Konigsthrone, p. 23, BerHn 

2 Elasar bar Yose was, together with Simon bar Yochai, in Rome after 
the war of Barcochba in the second century. When he says, TT't^l '»J31")3 
VniK^j he may perhaps mean the booty which the Romans took from 
Jerusalem, of which they put a facsimile on the triumphal arch of Titus. 

CHAP. I. 3. 15 

applied to heaven (Hymn 4. 3), but heaven shared it and 
other epithets with potentates of this world. It has been 
applied by the Church Fathers, after the example of the 
Apostle Paul/ to the tyranny of the princes of this world, to 
Satan, and to demons (comp. Du Cange, Gloss. Graec. p. 721). 
But precisely because the only potentate of the world 
(pNI D''DB^ T\^\>) has alone the right to sit upon the throne, 
therefore the thrones which the tyrants of the world usurp 
are destroyed, and the Solomonic throne also is not restored, 
so long as the son of David does not take possession of it in 
spirit and in truth. 

Ver. 3. "In the third year of his reign." 

It was in the second year after the death of Darius that 
Xerxes, as Herodotus reports (vii. 7), had put down the 
rebellion in Egypt, and so in the third year after his return, 
he convoked a council of the princes to learn their views, 
but chiefly to impart his own (Herod, vii. 8). The agreement 
of this narrative of Herodotus on a secondary point with the 
verse above, by itself indicates the identity of Xerxes with 
Ahhashverosh, although our book does not mention the con- 
clusion of the war against Greece. For the historical matter 
of the Scripture, especially of the book of Esther, is concise 
and solid, aiming to come to the point, and presupposing 
the necessary limits of its report. 

It does not tell of the Greek campaign,^ because it was 
known, and also because its main aim was to derive the 
Israelitish history from things which were not considered of 
first-rate importance. It is satisfied to narrate that it was in 

^ Epli. vi. 12, TTpos Tovg Koaf^oKpotTOpxg tov aKorovg tovtov. Just be- 
cause the Midrash mostly uses Kosmokrator for earthly great kings is the 
homily (Wayikra Rabba, § 18, p. 160a) of interest, when it says : " Wlien-I 
made thee for a Kosmokrator, for a tyrant, over all men, I have neverthe- 
less given thee no power over those who are called sons of God." The 
note of Schenkel to Eph. vi. 12 is not correct. 

2 Comp. Havernik, Einleitiing^ torn. ii. p. 340 [Eng. trans., Clark, 


the third year of Xerxes when the princes and the satraps 
assembled in the palace, in order to intimate thereby that a 
great political fact underlay the occurrence. For in order 
that what is told in the book of Esther should actually 
happen, there must be according to the purpose of God a 
special council of the great men of the State. There must be 
an important political motive, but this is of no consequence 
to the narrator. It was enough for him to record the 
general magnitude of the kingdom, because this only throws 
light upon the coming event. An ordinary banquet could not 
invest it with a psychological explanation. There was just 
one campaign to which all were gathered. The Scripture 
very often tells the events in Israel as apparently separate 
from the events in the world, and yet they flow through 
them like a river, which, in passing through a sea, does not 
mingle its waters, but becomes clearer and clearer, like the 
Rhine passing through the Lake of Constance. Yet the fine 
threads which connect the experience of Israel with the 
great powers of the world are to be found everywhere. We 
seem to hear in universal history a quiet sound, an echo of 
the future. Israel's history is not to be separated from the 
fall of Nineveh, Babylon, and Media. Our book also, instead 
of saying that there was once a great feast, when this and 
that happened, quietly but instructively reminds us of the 
great fact with which Xerxes was occupied at the time during 
which the sudden and unexpected intrigue was brooding, a 
fact which at once produced Israel's calamity and redemp- 
tion. For the historian shows us both the external political 
condition and the internal party intrigues of the corrupt royal 

" He made, a feast unto all Ids princes and his servants" 

Herodotus, in reporting the council of war against the 

Greeks, did not need to tell what was a natural and common 

occurrence, that there had been a great feast provided for all 

the chiefs of the country. For his main object, according to 

CHAP. I. 3. 17 

his manner, was to illustrate the directions of the gods, and 
the dream through which the great event passed. But for 
the book of Esther, the feast was the great fundamental 
ground of its historical record. From the royal table issued 
the narrated catastrophe. A great feast was then in itself, as 
in modern times, nothing extraordinary in the Persian court. 
The feast " unto all the princes and servants " would not have 
a place in universal history, in spite of its being given to the 
generals and potentates of the universally famous Persian 
expedition against the Greeks. When it is mentioned here, 
it is not because of the persons that are enumerated, not 
for the sake of the guests, but for its own sake. With 
the significance of the men is joined the great war, which 
included the germs of a new universal culture ; but with 
the fact of the feast is connected the domestic occasion 
out of which proceeded the local, but for Israel the world- 
wide, events about Esther and Haman. These " princes 
and servants " of the king are more closely called Parthe- 
mim (D''DmQ), i.e. the first {fratama, Scr. pratlmraa, comp. 
Benfey, p. 88), and princes of the provinces (districts, ni:nD). 
The Midrash has an interesting and instructive comment 
upon these princes, which certainly, on account of the 
corruption of the text^ and the general neglect of scientific 
knowledge, has scarcely ever been considered. 

The passage reads thus : " E. Eliezer says, Farthemim, these 
are two legions of the king, for no king is called Augustus 
until these two nominate him." And who are these ? E. 
Isaak said they were the '':j<^iddi:ki ^JVDlpl, when these gave 

^ This is seen on the same page, where there is given a homiletic defini- 
tion of the word Paras, i.e. Persia. It is so called because it was twice 
severed asunder, once in the days of mnn and once in the days of |S2''nx. 
The first name should be read mi^nnS Jezdegerd, the last new Persian 
king whom the Arabs vanquished ; and the other is Artaban, the ast 
Parthian king whom the Sassanides dethroned. By this the age of the 
book is to be seen. This gloss could only have been written shortly after 
the fall of the kingdom of the Sassanides, about the end of the seventh 
century. Of course this cannot be proved to a demonstration, but it 
gives everywhere the impression of the Roman dominion. 



counsel to JSTebuchadnezzar (Titus), and he marched to Jeru- 
salem and destroyed the temple, then God destroyed them, 
and appointed others in their place ; and these are, as E. 
Yehudah ben Shimon in the name of Eliezer says, •'jfe^np-ini '•ji'i^v 
The explanation of this passage, as given by Sachs {Beitrdfjer 
zur Spracli- und AUerthumsforsch. i. 113), is a complete mis- 
understanding, because it is based upon a conjectural emenda- 
tion of the text instead of upon observing the general thought. 
This is as follows : The Jewish commentators always proceed 
from the standpoint that the various experiences of the 
princes and the kingdoms of the world are to be explained 
from their relation to Israel. They thus considered, not 
only the history of Babylon, but also of Eome, which broke 
up the last remnants of parliamentary independence, de- 
stroyed Jerusalem and Bethel, and burned the temple. The 
aim of the contemporaries of the later Eoman emperors was 
that the Eoman Senate should only be an institution in 
appearance, and the real power to elect the imperators and to 
keep them on the throne should be vested in the army. To 
this the above comment refers. When Titus (who is to be 
understood under Nebuchadnezzar) destroyed Jerusalem, he 
did it — so is the tradition (which Benjamin of Tudela ^ could 
still speak of in the Middle Ages) — by special order of the 
Senate. For this the State was punished. 

Hence comes its moral degradation. What the Parthemim 
were to Ahhashverosh," that exactly were the "jVDipT or rather 
the "JVn^pl and "•jn^ddijn, viz. the Decurions and Augustani, in 
Eome.^ The Decurions were considered in the imperial 
provinces what the Senators were in Eome. By the term 
Augustani were understood those whom the Greek writers 
call Augustalioi, ^aaCKiKol, officers of the highest dignity.^ 

1 Comp. my Historische Versuche, p. 20. 

" Even in later times this was the formula : " Et is esset imperator 
qiiem Senatns elegerat." Spartian, Didius, 5. 

^ Comp. Salmasius, Vopisc. Aurelianus, cap. 33. 

4 Concerning these, comp. Du Cange, Gloss. Gr. p. 151. Concerning the 
Augustani in similar and original meaning, Tacit. Ann, xiv. 15. 2 : " Tunc- 

CHAP. I. 4. 19 

They want to say tliat before Titus the prominent men who 
appointed the emperor were the senators and consuls, but 
now they are the '•J^'I^S which stands for ^:b3, i-^- Calones/ and 
^JN''i1p"i2, which stands for ^JsniDiS, i.e. Praetoriani. The reins 
of government passed from the hands of the senators into 
those of the life-guards. The cause of this is now ascribed 
to the evil counsel of the patricians against Jerusalem. 

But the eyes of the Jewish teachers ought not to have 
been closed to the fact that the same could be said of the 
Jews themselves. They were right when they directed the 
attention of their people to the history of the nations for an 
explanation of the judgments of God. The experiences which 
the Eoman Empire supply on this point are indeed many and 
awful, only they must not conceal from themselves the cause 
why they themselves lost their freedom and independence. 
Formerly they were masters, but now they are servants ; once 
a nation, but now dispersed. Israel also was once a people 
of Parthemim — great and free in the doctrine and love of 
God — until they destroyed their " temple." 

Ver. 4. " When he showed the riches of his glorious 


He proved the fulness of his royal power, in that he enter- 
tained the assembled princes for the space of a half-year, 
180 days. But this feast is distinguished from the one 
mentioned in the 5 th verse. The former was the council 
feast, instituted to deliberate about the great enterprise of 
the king. 

It is repeatedly reported by the ancient writers that it 
was a custom with the Persians to hold consultations about 
war and other affairs (de apparatu bellorum et seriis rebus, 
Ammian. Marc.) during meals (Brisson, lib. ii. c. 131). These 
reports are to be understood to mean that their custom was 

que primum conscript! sunt equites Romani cognomento Augustanorum 
aetate ac robore conspicui et pari ingenio procaces, alii in spe potentiae." 
i Tacit. Hist ii. 87-iii. 33. 


not like ours, to carry on important business first and then to 
entertain, but they did both at the same time. The Midrash 
says (876) the king manifested his greatness by displaying 
before the guests the trophies of Jerusalem. So likewise 
Herodotus, for the glorification of his people, represents 
Mardonius and Xerxes as boasting of their hitherto achieved 
victories, in order to incite to the war against the Greeks 
(vii. 9). Clericus is of opinion that all the princes did not 
remain together during the 180 days of the feast, but that 
they took their turn, some left when new ones arrived. But 
this supposition is not necessary. 

Ver. 5. "And when these days were fulfilled, the king 
made a feast unto all the people that were present in 
Shushan" ^ 

It lasted seven days, and was held in the garden of the 
palace. After the feastings and the consultations of the 
princes, at which the king displayed his whole power which 
he put in motion against the Greeks, there followed a feast 
specially for the people, which lasted a week.^ There is a 

^ In the Vierzig Vezieren, ed. Behrnauer, p. 340, we read : " The king 
held a great feast, at which high and low sat at table and ate to their 

2 Comp. Epische Dichtungen of Firdussi, translated by Schack, p. 203, — 

"Whereupon they celebrated seven days long, 
A merry feast with wine and song," 

When Eustem obtained a victory there was a feast at the court of the 
Shah, p. 248,— 

" After this sort, with wine and song, 
They revelled a week long." 

P. 133,— " Nigh the castle in Yredsh's gardens. 

Even in the palatial chambers, 
Eesounded the mirth of the festive days." 

P. 47, — " The Shah, after the arrival of the expected, 

Had the royal garden decorated." 

Hence the use of trees in the royal rooms (comp. my Kaiser Konigsthmne, 
\). 83, etc., and Hammer, Gemaldsaal, iv. 265). 

CHAP. I. 5. 21 

passage in the Schahnameh of Firdussi giving also an account 
of a feast lasting seven days, and according to the old Oriental 
custom it is held in the delightful groves of a park. Then 
follows the description, as by the epic poet, of the splendour 
that was there. There were curtains of white (iin) and of 
blue (rh^n) karpas, which originally in Sanscr. Xarpdsa meant 
cotton, but afterwards fine linen also.^ 

It has been observed^ that Curtius (iii. 3. 19) describes the 
cap of the Persian kings as having a white and blue stripe. 
But the same author says afterwards (vi. 6. 4) that the head- 
dress had white and purple stripes. Perhaps he is correct 
in both passages. White and blue are the colours of the 
atmosphere and of the sky (caeruleus)? These curtains 
{cculaea, vela) were furnished with cords of pn (fine linen) 
and purple, suspended on silver poles, and tied to marble 
pillars. It is described that what was then considered as the 
most costly material was used in the decoration of the garden 
tents. To this class belonged byssus and purple. Many 
names of tl\e ancient materials described also their colours. 
Cords of byssus are white. A Jewish teacher remarks in the 
Midrash that freemen fasten their garments with cords of 
byssus (c. 88). 

That white was in many cases the sign of liberty is well 
known. Khalid, the Arab, ordered the Taghlebites to wear 
a black band as a mark of their dependence. Though colours 
as marks of party distinction are no longer in vogue to the 
same extent as of old, yet even to-day white is among 
Mohammedans the mark of the masters of the country (comp. 
my "Geschichte der Juden," in Ersch unci Gruher, ii. 27, p. 236). 
A name which should imply the use of silk is not found in 

1 ComiD. Lassen, Ind. Alterthumsk. i. 250 and iii. 25. Ritter, v. 436. 
The Targum, Midrash Esther 88c, has paraphrased n^3n with p:n''''i<, Gr. 
dipivog, sky-blue. 

2 Dunker, Gesch. des Alterth. ii. 608, note. 

^ Comp, Philostratus, Life of Apollo, where this tells him of the dome 
of sapphires upon the royal palace of the Magi : " For this stone is dark- 
blue, according to the colour of the sky." 


the book of Esther. The silver poles stand opposite the 
marble pillars. The former {'^yh^) are movable, the latter are 
fixed. Both are white ; for not only 5]D3, silver, has its name 
from the colour of white, but also ^'K^' is white marble, and 
likewise Egyptian byssus was called so on account of its 
whiteness. The great residence in which the feast took place 
was named Shushan, from the white lilies which were 
cultivated in the garden. The floor was a mosaic pavement 
of uni (from which came alabaster, alahastrum, Goth. Alabcd- 
straum, probably with the article hii, as rannbx or tonni'K, to be 
known among the Greeks and Eomans), of ^\i^, like the pillars 
of 11 and mno. 

These two words, as well as Dnn, occur only once here. IT is 
taken, since Bochart, to be pearl; yet the objection of Gesenius, 
that the language used here can only refer to stone, has its 
weight, and therefore it must mean mother-of-pearl, or pearl- 
stone, as the LXX. translates, mno, according to Fiirst, 
should be read mpD, from the Chald. "ipD. If so, it must be 
taken for red marble, which was very much used.^ This 
explanation is to be preferred, because thus we see the same 
mingling of colour, white and red, for the floor as for the 
cords of the tent. Upon this floor stood gold and silver 
chairs and tables. 

The description given here is so little exaggerated, tliat 
even Mardonius had similar magnificence in his camp. The 
Greeks found after their victory " tents decorated with gold 
and silver, couches wrought in silver and gold, and other 
precious things" (Herod, ix. 80). Xerxes had left his own 
tent to Mardonius, and Pausanias was amazed at the sight of 
the golden and silver beds and tables, etc. (ix. 82). It is 
interesting to observe that the gloss of the Greek translation 
read, instead of mnoi "n% mnoa Til,^ and therefore translated 

1 Comp. Lamprid, Elagabal, 24 : " Stravit et saxis . . . porphyreticis 
plateas in palatio, quas Antonisnianas vocavit, quae saxa usque ad nostraiu 
niemoriam manserunt sed nuper eruta et execta sunt." 

2 The form H for rose, for the first time in the Mishna (comp. my Rose 

CHAP. I. 7. 23 

KVfcXo) poSa ireTTaa-fjieva, roses (poBa) were scattered about, for 
the custom of decorating with roses was then and afterwards / 
considered as the greatest festive ornamentation. 
Firdussi describes, p. 47, — 

" There stood a golden throne 'mid beds of roses, 
Where flowers gaily shone in perfumed posies ; 
The silken carpets, precious stones of splendour, 
Gleam in the groves where lamps their glories render." ^ 

The whole description of ver. 6 begins with the word "nn. 
In the Masoretic text the letter n is longer than usual ; but it 
would be in vain to try to find a reason for the custom of 
Bible copyists of making some letters more prominent (see 
my note on Buth, p. 225), and such peculiarities in the 
old and well-preserved manuscripts can sometimes only be 
explained from the casual notes of the copyists. 

Yer. 7. nnr "^32 niptJ^m — ''And they gave them drink in 
vessels of gold, the vessels being diverse one from another" 
Xenophon says of the Persians, that they were proud of 
possessing a large number of drinking vessels {Cyrop. viii. 8. 
18; comp. Athenaeus, lib. xi. p. 465). Accordingly, there 
were many changes of cups at a royal entertainment in order 
to display the abundance of possession ; and so it is the 
custom even now at the festive entertainment of great 

21 ni^fj^ p"""! — " And the wine of the kingdom was in abun- 
dance, according to the bounty or hand (tid) of the king, as 
the great king is." 

There could be no thought of insufficiency. The expres- 
sion r^dyo p, " the wine of the kingdom," is striking, for it 
proves also how the king entertained his guests. l^JDn X"> 
would be wine of the king ; niai'Dn p*" is royal wine, i.e. such 

unci Nachtigal, p. 19). The linguistic form, to which poho? also belongs, 
appears to be found only, after my supposition in the Biblical canon, in 
the name Ruth (see my Gomm. on Euth, p. 206). 


as the king himself used. It was not distinguished merely 
for quantity, but for quality — the best wine, such as befits 
the feasts of kings. The king himself drank only Syrian 
(chalybonic) wine (comp. Brisson, i. c. 84). May we not 
direct our attention to another table, at which also a king 
sat ? This was in Cana of Galilee. There the wine was 
insufficient for all the invited guests until the mercy of their 
Friend supplied them with the royal wine of the first miracle, 
and turned the old drink into taste of the joy of the new 
faith. What Ahhashverosh gave for the purpose of intoxi- 
cation, this King gave for sober reflection upon the grace 
of God. 

Ver. 8. DJli^ px ma n^n^J^ni — " And the drinking ivas ac- 
cording to the law, none coidd compel." 

The king had strictly commanded every steward to let 
every man do as he liked in this matter. This order was not 
for the purpose of teaching the people to be temperate in 
drink, but rather to enhance their pleasure by leaving them 
to please themselves without any restraint. The sense of the 
passage is that it was the custom at court that, in spite of 
the wine being so costly, the courtiers were to see that every 
one should have as much of it as he liked to drink.^ For 
such large drinking companies all restrictions ceased. Every 
one was to feel at home. The Eoman custom to nominate 
kings of the table and modimperatores (comp. Ursinus, de 
Tricliniis Boman. p. 383, etc.) has no parallel here. The 
Persians were great drinkers. " They drink so much," says 
Xenophon, "that they cannot stand upright upon their feet, 
and must be carried out." Every occasion was used by them 
to get drunk. When Themistocles fled to the King of Persia, 

^ The Midrash explains the non-compulsion to have consisted in that 
every one could drink the wine of his country. But this was a feast 
especially for the people of Shushan. E. Levi says the Persians used 
to have a very large cup at their feasts, which every one was obliged to 
empty, no matter whether he could or not, or whether he died from the 
effect. This cup the king did not have at his feast (Jalkut Esther 1048), 

CHAP. I. 9. 25 

the latter embraced the opportunity of making a drinking 
feast (Plut. Themistocl. 28). Eirdussi of the Mohammedan 
time faithfully represents this ancient custom. When the 
hero was about to march to the war, we read (p. 151), "Then 
music resounded, the cups were filled with wiue, and the 
shah was merry at the feast." Eustem describes it thus 
(p. 481),— 

" The cups were handed round to every head, 
And cheeks of guests have grown, like spring flowers, red." 

When Kai Chosru gave a feast (p. 511), — 

" All heroes deep in lust have sunk, 
And reel from out the palace drunk." i 

In this revelry in the palace of the garden at Shushan 
every one could share ; but, says the Mishna, Mordecai and 
his like-minded companions had no part in it. For the pious, 
who adore their God, and are penitent as long as they are in 
exile, such feasts are unsuitable. 

Yer. 9. n:hi2'n Ticn Di — " Also Vashti the queen made a 

feast for the wome7i in the royal house.'' 

It was not unusual for the royal women of the East to hold 
feasts in their apartments for the court ladies. This we are 
told by Firdussi of the Princess Menishe, that she had an 
annual spring-feast with her ladies ; and likewise Sudabe, the 
wife of the shah, invited her stepson Sijawush to a female 
feast (p. 389), — 

" The music rang, and foamed the sparkling wine, 
The minstrels diamond decked in glittering line, 
Loud sang." 

Chardin remarks : " In Persia as well as in the whole 

1 Xenophon lets Cyrus accurately describe the condition of a Persian 
drunken company (Cyrop. i. 3): "You all screamed without under- 
standing a word. You also said such funny things that caused laughter. 
Without hearing the singer, you swore that he sang excellently. 
After you rose up to dance . . . you could not stand erect upon your 


Orient, the women used to celebrate feasts at the same time 
with the men, but separate " (comp. Eosenmliller, Morgen- 
land, note 705). 

It might appear that the mentioning of the women's feast 
is unessential to the narrative, inasmuch as the catastrophe 
proceeded from the revelry of the men, but not of the women. 
But the notice introduces first the queen in the history, 
to make known that she was the legitimate queen, because she 
occupied in the royal house the same position with regard 
to the women as Ahhashverosh did with regard to the men. 
We also learn from this that Vashti was equally hilarious at 
her feast as her husband was at his. The Jewish teachers 
refer to this in their homilies, when they blame her equally 
with her husband as a seducer to luxury and vice, so that 
the women of Israel, too, caught the infection. They apply 
to Vashti Isa. iii. 12, "As for my people, children are their 
oppressors, and women rule over them." There were such 
four wicked women in the world, Jezebel and Athaliah in Israel, 
and Semiramis and Vashti among the nations (M. Esther 891)). 

The name Vashti undoubtedly means in Old Persian, 
"beautiful woman," and is either an epithet, or stands for 
the proper name (rj KaWca). The LXX. reproduces it by 
'AaTLv. In Aeschylus occurs the name Astaspes {Pers. 22). 

Ver. 10. ^T2^^ DVa — " On the seventh day, when the 

heart of the hing was merry with wine^' etc. 

Eunuchs were always in the monarchies of the Asiatic 
Orient the most influential courtiers. The chief officer of the 
army (2 Kings xxv. 19), the chief butler and chief baker 
(Gen. xl. 2), as well as the chief treasurers, chief guards of 
the harem, and chamberlains, D''D"iD, i.e. spadones, were chosen 
from this class. Hammer observes (Gesch. des osman. Beichs, 
V. 360) that down to modern times, with the exception of 
the chamberlain, the other court officers were eunuchs. 
Their names, he says, are usually in the East borrowed from 
flowers and perfumes (such as hyacinth, tulip, narcissus, musk, 

CHAP I. 10. 27 

amber, camphor) ; but as regards the names of the officers 
mentioned in ver. 10, the supposition is not perhaps without 
ground that they denote official designations. We are there- 
fore in a position the more easily to explain them by intro- 
ducing the Syro-Chaldaic element, because the Medo-Persian 
kingdom has surely in this but entered upon the inheritance 
of the great power of Babylon. Consequently we have 
in [DinD the Syriac p\-iD, meaning faithful, reliable,-^ a 
qualification which was considered necessary, particularly to 

The Syriac translator therefore renders in several passages 
the word Dno simply by meliiman (see 1 Kings xxii. 9 ; 
2 Kings ix. 32). The first-mentioned in our passage was 
either the chief officer of all, or a cabinet minister. The 
second is NnT3, hiztha, meaning the treasurer, from kd or 
nrn, which signifies prey, substance, riches (comp. Dan. xi. 24). 
n:u"in, hharhona, the chief of the bodyguard, from mn, i<l"in, 
" a sword." In t?n33, abagthaj must be understood the office 
which the Turkish court designates by kislarga, i.e. the guard 
of the harem, for which office eunuchs were specially suitable. 
For the explanation of the word, it may be useful to draw 
attention to the oft-repeated assertion of ancient writers, that 
^aycoa<; or ^aycoo^; is the Persian word for eunuch. But, on 
the other hand, it is not improbable that &«nnx and nnt, zethar, 
signify the chief baker and the chief butler. The first 
comes from J3, bread, food (Sanscr. hhag, cf. /3eVo9, (pdyecv), 
the second from -inr = "in:^, from nnsj>, to drink. The last 
name, D^nD, is more easily explained from ^-iD i<Di3, which 
means in Syriac " a castle " or " fort," and represents the 
Kapuaga or chief commander of the castle or tower. 

That we have to do here with officials and not merely 

^ Comp. Herod, viii. 105, In Xenophon, Cyrop. vii. 5. 64, we read : 
" That they are faithful, of this they gave the best proof at the fall of their 
masters. For of no one can be shown such fidelity in the misfortunes of 
their masters as of the eunuchs." Chardin, Voy. vi. p. 247 : " Aussi trouve- 
t-on dans le pais, quils sont sans exception plus rusez, plus secrets, jjZws 
retensus, plus fideles et m^me plus prudens que les autres hommes." 


with accidentally mentioned names, appears from the added 
clause : " The seven sarisim (eunuchs) that ministered in the 
presence of Ahhashverosh the king." It becomes thus intelli- 
gible why these seven men received the order to fetch Vashti. 
Eoyal etiquette required that she should be accompanied by 
the greatest dignitaries of the State to the dining-room of the 

The king was inebriated when he issued this order. It 
was not the custom among the Persians that the wives of 
kings should take part in such general drinking feasts. This 
appears from the fact that Vashti had a separate feast for the 
women. To this effect is what Plutarch tells us (Si/mpos. 
i. 1), which is repeated by others, " that the Persians never 
play and dance with their wives, but with their concubines." 
In Firdussi's poems, which are true pictures of ancient 
customs, it is not mentioned that the wife of the shah, but 
that the female singers and slaves, were present at the intoxi- 
cating festivities. True, in the well-known passage in 
Herod, v. 18, the Persians say to the Macedonians, "With 
us in Persia, it is the custom to prepare a great feast, to 
which also the concubines and the housewives, KovpiBLa<; 
yvvaLKa<;, are invited ; " but they appear thereby, for the sake 
of their pleasures, to have expressed themselves in equivocal 
terms. Had it been the usual custom, Vashti would have 
taken part in the preceding feast of 180 days, and her 
appearance would not have had to be postponed till the 
seventh day of the feast for men. The unusualness of the 
custom, moreover, appears from what we are told, that 
Ahhashverosh wanted to show the great men of the country 
her beauty, as they had never seen her. For Plutarch's 
report (Themist. 26) as well as Justin's (41. 3), that even the 
faces of the wives and concubines were not seen by strangers, 
is true with some exceptions. But the king being drunk, 
and conscious of his might, thought himself above feelings of 
jealousy and of the petty customs, and ordered Vashti to 

CHAP. I. 12. 29 

Ver. 12. HD^ttn |X»ni — "But the gitem refused" 
Plutarch says (to the ill-instructed Prince Anf.) : " The 
Persian king held all for slaves, with the exception of his 
wife, over whom especially he ought to have exercised his 
authority." Now, just because she enjoyed extra liberty, she 
refused to come, for she wanted to show the other concubines 
the power of her charms. The Midrash (90<2) explains 
the refusal in its own peculiar fashion. According to it, 
Ahhashverosh was a usurper of the throne, and Yashti 
was the granddaughter of Nebuchadnezzar, and therefore the 
legitimate heir to the throne. She sent to him this message : 
*' When thou wast groom in my father's stable, thou wast 
accustomed to fetch prostitutes, and dost thou regard me as 
one of them ? " It is noteworthy that the word she is said 
to apply to him is '•nsi'nnDi^ D^OIp, Comes stabulatus, i.e. the 
Comes stahuli, Comestahilis, Coucstabilis, from which the great 
office of the French Connetable has its origin. (By the 
Byzantines KovroaravXo^) The queen refuses to come at 
the king's commandment by the chamberlain. If he had 
come himself to fetch her, she would have readily gone ; but 
excited as she was, like himself, through much wine, and con- 
scious of her beauty, she asserted her self-respect. She dared 
to say no to the messengers, and they in their turn did not 
bring to the king this refusal in a mild form. 

" Therefore was the king very wroth." 
No good ever comes from pride aroused by drunkenness. 
Herodotus narrates the story, according to which Kandaules, 
king of Lydia, had boasted of the beauty of his wife, and 
this was the cause of his losing his life. The Persians who 
came to Amyntas of Macedonia were so greedy after intoxi- 
cating drinks and things of extravagance, that the embittered 
inhabitants killed them. In the case above, the king con- 
sidered himself greatly insulted, because his will was not 
obeyed in the presence of his princes and courtiers. His 
dreadful anger was excited, and the only person who could 


appease it, Vashti herself, was too proud and stubborn to 


Ver. 13. " Then the king spake to the ivise men, which 

knew the tirnes." 

The affair did not end with the king's becoming sober. 
The ancient writers often remark, that the transactions which 
used to take place during the time of inebriation were 
resumed after the people got sober (Brisson, ii. 131). This 
circumstance is instructive, as it shows the power of small 
things at the great royal court. The etiquette of royalty is, 
especially in the East, the type of authority, and the only 
restraining influence to which the king himself is subject. 
Vanity and consciousness of power have sometimes also in 
Christian States given rise to high political questions, because 
of non-observance of proper etiquette towards the sovereign. 
The king, indeed, should not have allowed that the queen 
should be fetched by main force ; but whether it was possible 
that any one should disobey his will was a question for tlie 
highest council of the kingdom to hear and to determine. 
The D^nvn "•jni"' are the Magi, as they are so called, not on 
account of their superstition (as Clericus thinks), but because 
they are experienced, such as know what is proper under the 
circumstances; they correspond to those whom we designate 
as worldly wise, or savants. They are acquainted with the 
times and customs, are the judges concerning ceremonies and 
ordinances (pni m) in the land. It is intentionally mentioned 
how seriously the king took the matter in hand. 

In spite of the great affairs of the kingdom which occupied 

1 In the Vierzig Vezieren, ed. Behrnauer, p. 107, it is told that the 
Caliph Harim Arrashid got into such a passionate rage, that it lasted for 
days, and that was because the citizens of Cairo came too late to do him 
homage. Just then, a female slave in placing a disli upon the table 
happened to spill some of its contents, so he wanted to tear her to pieces. 
Then she turned to him, and exclaimed : " Caliph, God has commanded 
to restrain one's passion, and to forgive people their offences." This had 
an effect upon the caliph, his anger disappeared, and he forgave. But 
none had spoken in this manner to Ahhashverosh. 

CHAP. I. 14. 31 

his mind, the apparently insignificant incident which resulted 
from drunkenness he could not let pass without discussing 
it like one of the most difficult State questions. In a 
kingdom such as was that of the great Persian king, nothing 
was insignificant. Everything that concerned his person was 
important. He proposed the matter before the cabinet council 
with all the judicial formalities, as in cases of greater con- 
cern he was accustomed to consult those who were versed in 
the ordinances and laws of justice (comp. Herod, iii. 31). 

Ver. 14. v^x I'^pn) — " The ministers hefore whom he 
'proposed the matter luere standing necct unto him." 
They that sat near him in the cabinet, who saw the face of 
the king, were the seven princes of Persia and Media. A 
matter which concerned the persons of the king and of the 
queen could only be discussed by the highest tribunal. It is 
known that Herodotus tells of the seven tribal chiefs of 
Persia, that they always enjoyed free access to the king. 

Darius belonged to the order of these seven chiefs, and 
when he became king another succeeded to his place. For 
the king was the head of all, and was surrounded by seven 
princes, as the seven (at the time known) stars ^ surround 
the sun. Hence the number seven appears in all the State 
institutions of the Persians. To Ezra the order w^as issued 
from the king and his seven privy councillors. Aeschylus 
mentions seven highest officials as standing nearest to the 
king. Firdussi could still report of seven heroes surrounding 
the shah.^ Therefore the names which are mentioned do not, 
as the Midrash says, signify offices, but are names of the great 

^ How the names of the seven stars became the names of the seven days 
of the week, and with regard to the astrological opinions in connection 
therewith, and what influence this had upon the formation of numbers, 
see my Esmun, chap. ii. 
2 Ep. Dicht. p. 248,— 

" Kai Kawus the throne ascended, 
Kenewed in health, and Rustem vanquished, 
Gurgin, Bahram, Euham, Eustem, 
Tus, Giw, and Guders around him." 


officers who surrounded Xerxes, of the highest dignitaries, 
statesmen, and generals who administered the affairs of the 
State, and accompanied him in his campaigns. 

It is worthy of remark that the names here mentioned 
appear again in the well-known Persian histories. And it is 
also of great interest and importance to the testimony of the 
truth of this book, to find that Herodotus reproduces the 
names in the Greek form of writing. The narrative receives 
special vividness when we find at the court of justice the 
same persons of whom Herodotus, on account of their 
military participation in the Persian war, gives us more full 
information. One caution is here necessary. The two texts 
of the names must not be compared for the purpose of cor- 
recting each other -, they both agree, but their variations are 
due to the different pronunciation of the names by the Greeks 
and by the local Jews. Moreover, great stress must not be 
put on the Masoretic punctuation, which was the work of 
centuries in which the Jews had forgotten the pronunciation 
of these names. In order to proceed securely in this attempt 
of identification, we begin with the sixth name, with fc<DD"in, 
Marsena. One can recognise in him Mardonius the son of 
Gobryas, the inciter of the war. There can be no doubt 
about the person of did. Herodotus says (vii. 62) that all 
Modes (and Persians) were called Arians. Hence the prefix 
Ario, which occurs in the name Ari, is often only a family 
name and not a proper one. The above did is the Mardos 
of Herodotus, where the son of Darius and Parmys, a 
prominent man, the maternal grandson of Cyrus (vii. 79), is 
therefore also called by the Greeks Ariomardos. In the 
same manner we learn to know 8<:t^D, Carsluna, but which 
was originally read &<:tjnn, as the name Barzanes (cited by 
Diodorus and Arrian as of a king of Armenia, but with the 
spelling of Barzaentes). Ariobarzanes is also the name of 
the Persian satrap (comp. Xenophon, Cyrop. viii. 8. 4, and 
the annotation of Schneider). Here is meant Artabazanes, 
— for Arta (Herod, vii. 61), like Ario, is to be understood as 

CHAP. I. 14. S3 

denoting nobility of pedigree, — who was an elder brother of 
Xerxes (vii. 2). Just so is "iriK^, Shetliar, easily to be recog- 
nised in the strongly aspirated name of Hydarnes. One of 
the seven who subdued Pseudo-Smerdis bore this name (Herod, 
iii. 70), and his son Hydarnes was the leader of the "memor- 
able ten thousand " in the Persian war (vii. 84). Upon the 
cuneiform inscriptions the interpreters read the name Vidarna 
as also they read Uwaihi and Kabujia for the so-called Susia 
and Cambyses. According to similar vocal laws, the writing 
of ^5nD'^x, Achymtha, in Esther, corresponds to Aspathines. The 
transition of the Greek p, b into the Hebrew d is well known. 
Achmetha, xncrii?, is Ecbathana. So is Smerdis called in 
cuneiform inscriptions Bartya. Aspathines also was one of 
the seven from whom Darius rose to be king. The two names 
of c^^'Enn and plDD, Tarshish and Memucan, offer greater philo- 
logical difficulties, but their solution can with probability be 
effected if the easy changes in the forms are taken into 

Tarshish has indeed a resemblance in sound to the office- 
bearer called Tirshata, the name Theresh, and occurs in 
cuneiform in the name of an Armenian general of Darius, 
which is read Darshi {sh). The pointing of the Masoretes is 
easily explained from the fact that the name of Tarshish was 
too familiar to them, as standing in the Bible for a certain 
country and for a maritime power. But one must finally read 
^^-^2 for SJ>-Knn, from which the Greek name Prexaspes easily 
appears. This is evident from the circumstance of his position 
among the seven, for he stands near Admetha, whose son 
Asthapines was a naval captain (Herod, vii. 97). The Greek 
;)^ for the ^> we have already found in the name of Xerxes. 
It remains yet to speak of the name piDD. The i has cer- 
tainly been introduced by the vocalization of the Masora. But 
for pDD should be read pDD (comp. Vidafrana and Inta- 
phemes), or rather p3n, so that through the interchange 
of D3 with DD the double consonant a was changed for a 
double D. The name of Ahhaemenes in the cuneiform 



Hakhamanish is to be recognised in this. This was the 
original ancestor of a Persian family, and of a brother and 
general of Xerxes. This explanation of the names receives 
its support from the positions in which they stand. First, 
the elder brother of Xerxes, then the two old and former 
friends of Darius (Hydarues and Aspathines), then two 
younger tribal chiefs, and two younger brothers of Xerxes. 
The question why were just these chosen, and why are 
Otanes and his son Smerdomenes left out, is answered, because 
the cabinet consisted only of seven, and those who were 
entitled to cabinet rank were probably not appointed at the 
same time, but as a vacancy occurred ; and this was either 
by special choice of the king, or by other arrangements. 
Otanes was perhaps not chosen, for the reason that his 
daughter was the wife of Xerxes (Herod, vii. 61). 

Ver. 15. " Wliat shall wc do unto the qiieen Vashti 

according to law .^ " 

This formal question was put to the seven princes, and it 
varies from the question put before the council by Xerxes, 
whether we should undertake the war with Greece or not, in 
this respect, that the latter was mainly pleaded by Mardonius 
and was opposed by Artaban ; but the former, although one 
only pronounced the decision, was in fact agreed to by all. 

The description of the whole transaction is a most valuable 
representation of ancient court history. Not only does it 
teach that there were not wanting good old forms which the 
king was obliged to use when he desired to place 'important 
measures before the council of princes ; but it also shows 
how these forms had lost their intrinsic value when the men 
and the times had no longer the spirit to animate them. Of 
what avail are prescribed statutes when there is no heart to 
beat in them ? A council which is incompetent to refuse to 
entertain the question whether the queen was right or not 
in refusing to come to the revelry of her husband already 
manifests a dependent spirit, which disqualifies it from pro- 

CHAP. I. 15. 35 

nouiicing an impartial judgment. But they do not refer the 
question back to the king, because the behaviour of the queen 
gives them the opportunity of intriguing. A spirit of jealousy 
has always existed in Oriental countries between persons and 
corporations, who exercised an influence upon the king. 
Thus far Ahhashverosh appears to have been led by his wife. 
Therefore the momentary anger which she excited in him was 
eagerly grasped by them as an occasion for destroying her 
influence. It was so, too, according to the beautiful story 
which Firdussi communicates, when Sudabe's intrigues with 
the king failed, no one rose up in the council to speak for her, — 

" The princes brought their homage, 
And shouted : Death disgraceful 
Be the punishment to the shameful." 

The instructive stories of the Forty Viziers, properly speak- 
ing, contain nothing else but the struggle between the queen 
and the royal councillors as to predominance of their respec- 
tive influences upon the decision of the king. The same 
happens in all countries, but especially in the East ; also in 
•recent times.^ Hammer is of opinion that in the empire of 
the Osmans, since the time of Soliman the Fair, the iiifluence 
of the wives was more often directed against the grand vizier. 
Something of the same kind took place here ; no voice was 
raised either to defend or to excuse her. The king had placed 
the sentence in the hands of her enemies, or, at least, of her 
timid judges. If any wished to defend her, he was deterred 
by the thought that he would arouse the suspicion of holding 
doubtful views as to the irrevocable character of the 
sovereignty of the king. Herodotus gives a fair example of 
the caution practised by a timidly prudent court of justice 
which Cambyses convoked, in order to decide the question 
whether he might marry his sister (iii. 31). The judges found 

^ But it did not always result favourably to the viziers. Djemila Cau- 
dahari had such great influence under Mahmud of Gasna, that Omra Altun 
Tash could no longer resist it, and was obliged to resign his office. (See 
Richardson, Treatise of Eastern Nations, German trans, p. 264.) 


it difficult to say yes or no, but tliey perceived that he wanted 
an affirmative answer, and that he would consider a negative 
one as an insult upon his riglit to do as he liked, so they decided 
that, " Whereas they did not know of any law which allowed 
such a marriage, on the other hand they knew well that the 
king was allowed to act as he pleases." Here also it was not 
entirely without danger to appear as a decided opponent of 
the queen. The great affection which the king had for her 
might eventually cause her conduct to appear before him in a 
different aspect, which would excuse her and be dangerous to 
the opponent. Memucan (Ahhaemenes) implies this in his 
speech. He lays emphasis upon the principle involved in the 
act of Vashti, and makes it, to a certain degree, as a social 
matter which concerns the State. The king has in this affair 
not only to consider his own interests, but also the interests 
of all his subjects. For the queen has not only sinned against 
him, but by her example she has also excited the whole 
country. What Vashti had dared to do will be known every- 
where ; and if this deed is to remain unpunished, then will 
the rights of the husbands be disregarded all over the country. 
The wives will refer to the example of Vashti, and repudiate 
the authority of their husbands, so that p*D, great contempt, 
and ?ivp, anger, will enter to disturb the family peace.^ 
Memucan makes liis assault upon the queen in a Machiavelian 
manner. With great subtlety he tries to conceal this under 
the pretence of wishing the welfare of the people, which he 
knows the king has at heart. He gives to the accusation 
such a turn of apparent impartiality, as to make it difficult 
for the king, especially after the affair became known abroad, 
to yield to the queen. And there was none on the council 

^According to Mohammedan custom, a woman must appear at the call of 
her husband, and render obedience and subjection to him, " even should 
both her hands be occupied at the time with kneading bread ... as 
the messenger of God had said (peace be upon him). ' And if it were 
permitted to prostrate oneself before any one but God, I should command 
the wives to prostrate themselves before their husbands ' " (comp. Vierzig 
Veziere, ed, Behrnaucr, c. vii. p. 95). 

CHAP. I. 19. Z% 

board who had the courage to expose the deceitful machina- 
tions of Memucan. For it could have been proved that the 
jqueen by not coming to the banquet was more obedient to 
her royal spouse than if she had come. 

But these moral maxims had no place in the heart of any 
one, perhaps not even in the heart of Vashti herself. It 
could again have been proved that the power of woman is 
neither founded nor abrogated by law. It was also certainly 
known to those who sat together, that Vashti's conduct was 
neither unheard of, nor that it would result in any extra- 
ordinary occurrence. Moreover, they knew that the exemplary 
punishment of Vashti would not at all alter the influence 
of the beauty and amiability of women over those upon 
whom they exercise the power of their attractions even in 
bad things, where the will is not powerful enough to offer 
resistance. Indeed, it is in allusion to Persian manners that 
the First Book of Esdras speaks of the highest and greatest 
power which Zerubbabel ascribes to wives and their husbands. 
He says (chap. iv. 28) : " Is not the king great in his power ? 
do not all regions fear to touch him ? Yet did I see him and 
Apame the king's concubine, the daughter of the admirable 
Bartacus, sitting at the right hand of the king, and taking the 
crown from the king's head, and setting it upon her own 
head ; she also struck the king with her left hand ... ye 
men, how can it be but that women should be strong, seeing 
they do thus ? " 

Ver. 19. Titn snn■^?5' "iC^X — " That Vashti come no more" etc. 
That tyranny, which does not know even the fear of God, 
is the greatest folly, our narrative teaches with unsurpassable 
clearness and simplicity. Excessive vanity demented the 
king more than the wine did. It lasted longer than his wrath. 
He neither could see that the doing of Vashti was caused by 
his own fault, nor the nature of the intrif^ues a^Tjainst her 
whom he still loved. In his state of excitement he had not 
the sagacity either to palliate her offence or to detect the snare 


which was laid against him by his sycophants. The Midrash, 
in reference to this, rightly calls him a C>2t2 — fool. Memu- 
can's impudent accusation has for its aim to remove Yashti 
from the royal palace, and to give her throne to another that 
is better than she. From the expression n^DD nnion r^rrw^h 
it must not be supposed that Vashti was not the queen, but one 
of the women of the harem, who, on account of her beauty, 
had raised herself to such an influential position. For although 
it is said that her throne should be given to her companion, 
another inmate of the harem, who is better, nniD, i.e. more 
tractable, obliging, and submissive, yet we must remember 
that this is the language of contempt, in which the vile courtier 
tries to wreak his private vengeance. Such examples of 
queens having to quit their thrones to make room for new 
beauties are not only found in Oriental, but also in European, 
particularly in modern French histories. But it must be also 
observed that the autocrat of the ancient great empire apparently 
asserted his capricious will in a legal manner, whereas the 
modern sultans, in their arbitrary acts, have even thrown off' 
the external forms of legality. Chardin relates that one of 
the favourite wives of the shah had once besought him not to 
touch her on a certain day on account of her bodily condition, 
which made it necessary that she should have rest. The shah 
caused her to be examined, and when it was found that her 
plea had no foundation iu fact, she was at once burned alive 
{Voijages, vi. 229). 

Queen Vashti would not have succumbed if the royal privy 
councillor had not voted against her. But he used the oppor- 
tunity to destroy the female influence at court. The same 
attempt, only in a coarser manner, was made by the viziers 
to avert the harem influence frovi the Sultan of the Osmans, 
Ahmed I., at the beginning of the seventeenth century. They 
told him that these women were witches, and had bewitched his 
father Solimau, so that he was entirely dependent upon them. 
Memucan's accusation went deeper, was more refined and 
flattering to the vanity of the king, inasmuch as it made the 

CHAP. I. 20. 39 

affair of Vashti's disobedience a question of principle. It was re- 
presented to him that his own position was at stake in the matter. 
If he yielded to her, he would be the cause of the disobedience 
of all the women in the country, and something dreadful might 
happen. But, on the other hand, it was his bounden duty, 
as he had the supreme power, to issue a decree that the wives 
must everywhere pay implicit obedience to their husbands. 

Ver. 20. ^^dh DIiriD V^^^) — "And when the kings decree 

which he shall make shall he published" 

Although Memucan's aim was to have Vashti deposed, yet 
he laid special stress upon tmis. He propounded a general prin- 
ciple, that disobedience of wives to their husbands was dangerous 
to the peace of the State. He made it appear that Vashti's 
deposition must be the natural outcome of this principle, 
rather than the aim of his advice. Should she even escape 
unhurt /rom this ordeal, such a decree, when publicly pro- 
claimed under the sanction of royal prerogative and authority, 
would, at any rate, have a deterrent effect upon the women of 
the country. He therefore changed the dangerous and dis- 
agreeable negative verdict concerning Vashti into a positive 
royal decree, which should affect the women of the country 
generally. By this subtle device the king was entrapped 
into an implicit pledge of removing the queen. His own 
decree precluded him from saving Vashti, which would have 
been of direful life - long consequence to his councillors. 
Through the publication of a royal DJns, official document, 
a reconciliation of the king with his former favourite became 
extremely difficult, and the intrigue which probably began 
already at the feast received thereby its crowning victory. 

To our ideas it appears almost comical, that a king should 
send out a circular in which the women are commanded to 
render due honour to their husbands.^ But it did not appear 
in this light to the ancient Persians. 

1 That this is in harmony with the Oriental mind may be seen in the 
story of The Thousand and One Nights (xxiv. 68), where it is told that a 


The power of the great Persian king over his subjects was 
really universal.^ In fact, there was not a domestic or 
family right in which he could not interfere. This is evident 
from the ideal glorification in which Xenophon represents the 
institutions of Cyrus when developing their application. He 
says that the Persian laws precluded beforehand the possibility 
of the citizen thinking of evil {Cyrop. i. 2). Again he reports 
that Cyrus had forbidden to spit or to sneeze, or even to turn 
round in public places, as something to be admired {Cyrop. 
viii. 1. 42). The companions of Cyrus cannot go hunting 
if Astyages does not command their fathers {Cyrop. i. 4). 
And, indeed, this was yet copied by the Sultan of the Osmans 
in 1664, who ordered to give his kiaja 100 switches upon the 
soles of his feet because he hunted of his own accord (Ham- 
mer, vi. 148). The decree which the king, on the proposal of 
Memucan, issued, had not to do with the accomplishment of 
an actual duty, but with the subjection of the disposition of 
man to a command. Civil right was not taken from the 
women, but obedience was enjoined upon them. The husbands 
did not receive a substantial, but only an ideal privilege. But 
just for this reason, the subtle plan pleased the adulated vanity 
of the conceited king. He undertook to accomplish that 
which could be done by no one. Had it been possible by the 
application of external special force to restore order among the 
husbands in the house, it would have been done long ago. 

The Persian king must have known from his own history 
and from that of his family how little the greatest force could 
prevent one becoming subject to the humour of one's beloved 
in the house. But being dazzled by his fancied and over- 
rated omnipotence, he adopted this proposal as a means whereby 

sultan ordered to proclaim everywhere : " It is not proper that any one 
should follow the advice of women." 

^ The whole history about Vashti is certainly based upon a grand poli- 
tical thought. The Persian monarchy is founded upon the monarchy in 
the family. What the husband is in the family, that he is in the State. 
If his rights are disputed in the former, they are at the same time injured 
in the latter. 

CHAP. I. 21. 41 

to assert his power, and to make everybody feel the terror 
of his autocratic rule. It is certainly no fable which is told 
of Xerxes, viz. that when the inundation of the Hellespont 
had destroyed his bridges, he gave order that it should be 
bastinaded for disobedience (Herod, vii. 35). But it was 
more easy for him to beat the sea than to obtain that which 
his edict commanded, namely, to cause the women to renounce 
their desire of governing by their own peculiar powers. 
Only the truth is mightier than the women (as Zerubbabel 
says) ; and it alone could keep their power wdthin bounds and 
hallow them. Even the command of the servant of the King 
of kings, of the Apostle Paul, that women should not speak in 
the churches, could not exert a compulsory force upon them. 
Though it is apparently externally obeyed, yet it is only ex- 
ternally so. 

Ver. 21. "And the saying pleased the Jcing." 
The proposal of Memucan was readily sanctioned by him.^ 
No one among the ministers offered opposition. Vashti lost 
her influence, probably also her life, although this is not ex- 
pressly mentioned ; but only that she should not come to the 
king, and that her royalty (ni3^o) should be given to another. 
In the empire of the Osmans also, each Chasseki, i.e. female 
favourite, had her court, her chamberlain (kiaja), the income 
of a Sandjak, and a gilded equipage, set with precious stones 
(Hammer, v. 329). But if she had been deprived of all this, 
and her life had been spared, she was still to be feared by her 
enemies ; therefore they must have insisted that she should 
be quickly executed. The enjoyment of the momentary favour 
of a tyrant has often enough ended sadly. Vashti fell in a 
war which is frequently carried on in Eastern courts between 
the women and the eunuchs and the princes.^ That her fall 

1 He had not the nobility of character nor the intellect of the young 
Cyrus, who did not apply force to Aspasia for refusing to act as the other 
wives, but treated her with gentleness. (Comp. Plutarch, Artaxerxes, 26.) 

2 Concerning the penalties which are meted out to the favourites when 
they have displeased the sultan, Chardin writes {Voyages^ vi. 233) : "Car 


did not lead to serious disasters after the king; had sobered 
down and cahnly reflected upon it, was owing to the fact that 
he undertook a great campaign, which occupied all his 

Ver. 22. "And he sent letters into all the hinc/s provinces, 

into eveonj province according to the luriting thereof ^ and to 

every people after their language^ 

It is here emphatically declared that the decree addressed 
to all the peoples was written both in the distinctive language, 
|1t^•i3, and in the distinctive alphabet, nriD, of each nation. We 
learn from this that the Persian Government did not use 
a particular official language in its proceedings with the people, 
but addressed them in their own dialects (comp. c. viii. 9). 
The contents of this decree were, That every man should 
be lord, "nc>, in his house, and should command, inoi, in his 
language. Hence the decree was to be in force not only 
in Persia, but everywhere, and valid not merely in Persian 
language, but in every language. 

The Midrash makes a peculiar remark upon this. The 
decree was written in four principal languages. (1) ryi', Greek 
(as Hellenic was considered the same as Heathenism. The 
Talmud says : " Cursed be the man who shall teach his son 
the wisdom of the Greeks" {Sotah, p. 49Z>), comp. my Mag, 
Alterth. pp. 196 and 338), for the purpose of singing ; (2) in 
Persian, for lamentation ; (3) in Hebrew, for holding intercourse 
with one another; (4) in Latin, the language which is suitable for 
carrying on war. History has taught, that in all languages, 
more especially in Hebrew, the voice of lamentation resounded. 
One might almost say that Hebrew literature has ceased to 

le Roi ... en degrade les lines, changeant ces Favorites en esclaves, qu'on 
en voye servir aiix plus has emplois et dans les quartiers reciilez dii Serail ; 
il en fait dirtier d'autres k coups de verge et de bS,ton, il en fait tuer, 11 en 
fait m^me brMer les unes et enterrer les autres toutes vives." According to 
the story of The Thousand and One Nights (xiii. 16), Harun Arrashid 
had a dark tower in which the favourites were imprisoned when they 
committed an offence. 

CHAP. I. 22. 43 

exist, since in modern times the Jews think that they need 
no longer mourn. (M. Esther, p. 91«.) 

The author of the verdict under which Vashti fell was 
Memucan, the last mentioned among the privy councillors. 
The Midrash tries to find out the personal motives which led 
him to entertain such hostile feelinsjs aj^ainst Vashti. One 
was, that on a certain occasion she had struck his face 
with a slipper. Such disgraceful treatment is certainly no 
rare occurrence in the East.^ 

The second was, because his wife had not been invited by 
the queen to the feast. 

The third was, because he wanted to see his own daughter 
promoted in the place of Vashti. Whether the reasons given 
by the Midrash were exactly the same which actuated the 
hatred of Memucan or not, one thing is certain, that he could 
not tolerate the petticoat government of Vashti, and that such 
and similar reasons as are given by the Eabbis have often led 
to such results. 

That Herodotus does not mention this event is not to 
be wondered at, inasmuch as it happened before the cam- 
paign. Apart from this, it is not to be expected that he 
should have known everything which took place in the inner 
circle of the Persian court, and that he should have incor- 
porated this in his brief reports of the Persian war. There 
were many writings and administrative measures issued from 
Shushan, and these were of such a character as to be deposited 
by all the governors among the acts of administration.^ 

1 In the legend The Thousand and One Nights, it is told that a king 
punished his son by beating him with his slipper on the face (iii. 24, ed. 
Konig). But the sUpper is specially an instrument of punishment in the 
hands of the women, as the story represents it in chap. xxiv. p. 40. [In 
Mohammedan schools in Palestine the teacher often throws a slipper upon 
a delinquent boy, when he, without crying, puts it on the foot of his 
master, and kisses his hands. — Trans.] 

2 In Athenaeus, lib. xiii. p. 556, we read : "Among the Persians, the queen 
must tolerate many concubines, because the king, like a master, has 
the command over his wife." lioi ro &}; Zsa'^c'ryiu oip^cstu tjjj yet/^csTi^s tou 


Ver. 1. nbi^n D''"imn -ini< — "After these things, ivhen the 
wrath of the king Ahhashverosh ivas opacified, he remem- 
herecl Vashti." 

This did not happen soon after the feast named in chap, i., 
but there was an anxious interval between. We see here 
how exactly even the chronology of our book shows that 
Xerxes and Ahhashverosh are identical. In the third year 
of his reign the above event took place, and in the seventli 
(comp. ver. 16) this which is told here. In this year 
Xerxes returned from his campaign (480-479), and there- 
fore only now could the thread of the court history of 
Shushan be resumed (ver. 16). After the exhaustive 
fatigues which he went through in that war, he felt the 
want of the companionship of Vashti, whom lie had really 
once affectionately loved. Formerly the ambitious desire for 
war and conquest had eclipsed the feelings of love to the 
women. Now they arose the more strongly, as in the enjoy- 
ment of a specially agreeable favourite he might forget many 
a care. When we read, " he remembered Vashti, and what 
was decreed against her," still now after three years we 
may suppose that he somehow connected the misfortunes of 
his campaign with the wrath and the severity with which he 
had treated her. 

' Herodotus narrates (vii. 46) that Xerxes in the midst of his glory on 
his march to Greece had said : " In this short life the^e is no man either 
among these or others so happy, that he should not often and more than 
once be in such a position as to prefer death to life. For misfortunes 
come, and diseases rage, which make our life to appear so long, though it 
is so short." 


CHAP. II. 1. 45 

When Xerxes gave expression to such thoughts, what 
would not his courtiers have given if they could have brought 
Vashti to life ! But there was no one present to do like the 
vizier of the story of the Forty Viziers (ed. Behrnauer, p. 141), 
where it is told, — A king had once in his drunken hours 
pronounced a sentence of death against his favourite friend, but 
the vizier did not execute the order, but hid the culprit. 
When the king became sober, he was in great distress of 
mind, on account of the supposed death of his friend ; then 
the vizier rejoiced his heart by introducing the friend well 
and sound. But Vashti was no longer to be got, and the per- 
plexed courtiers did not know any other way of extricating 
themselves from the dilemma but to look for another woman, 
who by her especial charms would captivate the king and 
would occupy his leisure, as only Vashti could, and since her 
no one else. They therefore propose to the king to send out 
officers ^ all over the country to bring every beautiful girl to 
Shushan. They should be brought to the harem (n^^:r\ n''n), 
and placed under the supervision of the xjn, viz. of the Aga 
(Sanscr. dja), the keeper, who would introduce them to the 
king after they had undergone a due course of preparation 
(vers. 9, 12). Among so many, there would certainly be one 
to whom the king would take a fancy, and make her what is 
called in the court language of the Osmans, a Chasseki, a 
favourite, in the place of Vashti. The proposal pleased the 
king, and he issued an order accordingly. 

One cannot but admire the simple, quiet historical style ofl 
our narrative. Laying aside all the reports which would 
only prolong our way of coming to the essential part of the 
contents of the book, there is nothing omitted which would 
contribute to the historical and psychological introduction and 
illustration. How much was necessary to happen before 
Israel could have ready help in time of need ! AVhat great 
things, according to external appearance, must precede, in order 

* D'^T'pS are not common officers, but eunuchs and overseers, who bear 
here this name, from the charge entrusted to them. 


to make it possible that a Jewish girl by the influence of 
her charms should ascend the throne of a Chasseki in the 
Persian kingdom ! The great conference of all the officers of 
the State, the dreadful war with Greece, and the unfortunate 
issue of the same, were they not in the hands of Providence 
so many stepping-stones in the path of Esther's ascendancy ? 
In order to replace the loss of the special beauty of Vashti, 
a woman of equal endowments must be sought for the king, 
wherever and however it might be ! How many things must 
subserve to the frustration of Haman's wicked plan ! The 
wrath of Xerxes against Greece, and his wrath against his 
wife. Court intrigues against the powerful influences of a 
wife, and the vain conceit of offended sovereignty. First 
drunkenness, then homicidal passion, then new excited 
sensuality, were the sad instruments wliich preceded the 
redemption of Israel. When the people were delivered, they 
could well be penitent when they especially considered the 
way in which Vashti — though not herself guiltless — was one 
of the main causes of their deliverance. And if deep 
penitence must have resulted from the reflection that a 
woman like Vashti had to die a violent death in order that 
the people of God should live, — what kind of penitence must 
the thought call forth when we remember that Christ gave 
His life in order that Israel and the Gentiles might live, and 
that the apostles of the truth, walking in His footsteps, went 
through fire and sword in order to save souls ! 

Israel passed through the conflagration of Jerusalem on 
their road to conversion. In the court of Nebuchadnezzar 
originated the prophecy of Daniel. Through the harem went 
the wonderful intervention of Esther on behalf of her people. 
The Hebrew word for harem, n^\^:r\ nu (which only occurs in 
this book), does not correspond to the Arabic haram, meaning 
sacredness, devotion, but comes rather near to the Turkish 
Odalik : the Gynaeceum, the house of the women, in contra- 
distinction to the house of the men. It must not be assumed 
that the formation of the word implies an immoral motive. 

CHAP. II. 1. 47 

nor that the institution of polygamy was in itself the product 
of greater depravity of the human heart than the natural i 
man commonly possesses. The opinion of some, that the 
harem was the consequence of Oriental despotism, is also 
erroneous. It arose from the radical views of heathenism, 
viz. that the passions of the natural man are not to he 
restrained, but legalized ; and also that the natural right of a 
husband over his wife is not to be controlled by moral rules, 
but to be left to his arbitrary will, as an indisputable and 
constitutional right. With both polygamy and despotism 
social conditions of time and place were so closely connected, 
that they survived in their degenerating and baneful influence 
the principle of heathenism which originated them. "What 
we find of both, in the history of Israel of the Old Testament, 
are relics of social customs, which had themselves vanished 
before the thought of the living and holy God of the 
Decalogue ; and even these during their continuance appeared 
in their purest possible form. 

The repentance of David, the deepest human self-abasement 
in confession and faith, touches his pleasures in the harem 
as well as the abuse of his royal power. But repentance 
and faith towards the pure and holy God are wanting in 
heathenism. This corrective of the deepest social wisdom 
was therefore also unknown both to Oriental and occidental 
heathen States. Hence the kingdom of the countries on the 
Euphrates and the Tigris had become a despotic caricature ; 
hence, too, the institution of the harem, and the degrading 
effects, especially upon women, that were connected with it 
and proceeded from it, made such progress. There is nothing 
legendary in the story that is told in the commencement of 
The Thousand and One Nights, that the caliph believed he had 
a right to behead his wife any day. 

The Persian king of antiquity, like the modern shah and 
sultan, arrogated to himself this historical prerogative. In 
his privilege to do everything there was a representation of 
the highest power of the husband over his wife, at least so 


far as external means allowed. He had the command over 
the life and death of all the men, so also over the bodies and 
enjoyment of all the women. Xerxes should send out a 
commission all over the country in search of beautiful damsels, 
in order that his longing after a favourite might be satisfied. 
This was not a sudden outbreak of an unheard-of act of 
violence. It was nothing else but the expression of a 
universally recognised right, or rather of a heavy yoke. 
When Alexander the Great did the same, and caused beauti- 
ful women from all Asia^ to be brought to his house, he 
intended also to show therewith that he completely succeeded 
to the claims of the Persian great king. The harem of the 
new Persian shah is supplied in the same manner. Chardin 
gives an instructive representation of the process of fetching 
and despatching the beauties. In some cases, in modern 
times, the parents rather like the idea that a daughter of 
theirs should be demanded for the harem, for they promise 
themselves to obtain thereby a certain amount of influence 
and interest at court. Sometimes, it is further said, the king 
himself goes among the Armenians in search of beautiful 
wives. It is therefore the custom among these to betroth 
their daughters when still young, because such are not taken 
away. But, alas ! sometimes it happened that these searches 
were used as a means of exercising private spite, hatred, and 
revenge, and the Armenians (so-called Christians) have de- 
nounced each other when families had concealed their 
daughters from the vile inquisitors of the king (Voyage, vi. 
242). Married women were mostly spared, not because of 
want of right, but because virgins were needed.^ 

Among the Mongolian shahs, it is said that the prince has 
a statute right to demand the wives of his subjects. On 

^ Diodor. xvii. 77 : 1^ UTrccaZu rau x,a.ra, rojy ^Aaixu yvvuiKuv WiKzhiy- 

2 In vers. 2 and 3 it is said nblDl mj?3 5?3 shall be sought. ' Chardin 
says, vi. 226 : " II n'y entre que des vierges. Quand on en sait quelqu'une 
parfaite en beaute, en quelque endroit que ce soit, on la demande pour le 
Haram et cela ne se refuse point." 

CHAP. II. 5. 49 

account of this circumstance there was a long war in 1320, 
because an emir would not give up his wife, Bagdad-Khatun 
(Desguignes, iii. 303). In the Osman Empire also, under 
some sultans, such cruelty was carried on to great excess. 
New slaves used to be sought for Sultan Ibrahim, in order 
that each Friday he should have a new one brought to 
him as to a religious solemnity. He fancied he would like 
a favourite of high stature, and search was consequently 
made all over Constantinople for such a person ; and, after a 
good deal of trouble, they found at last an Armenian woman 
who was tall as a giant. She succeeded in ingratiating her- 
self into his favour, so that, she became most powerful, and 
provoked the jealousy of the other women, until, at last, the 
sultana invited her to an entertainment, where she caused her 
to be strangled. It was then reported that she died suddenly 
(Hammer, v. 359). 

For David also a handsome damsel was sought in all 
Israel ; but it was in order that she might nurse the old 
man. After he repented he became master of himself. We 
read, " she cherished the king, and ministered to him ; but 
the king knew her not " (1 Kings i. 4). 

Yer. 5. " There was a certain Jew in Shushan" etc. 
The history passes now into that of Israel. The narrative 
of the selection of a virgin for the royal harem is only in- 
terrupted for the sake of introducing certain persons, in 
reference to whom all the reports were thus far made. 
These are two in number, a man and a woman, uncle and 
niece, guardian and minor. They form the central point of 
the book. They are the deliverers of Israel. "A certain 
Jew was in Shushan the castle." The name Yehudi (Jew) 
came in vogue in Southern Palestine after the separation of 
the ten tribes under Eehoboam. The kingdom of Judah 
stood in opposition to the kingdom of Israel. It still 
continued for a century after that of Israel had passed away, 
and during this time there was but one Yehudah, or Judea, 



in the Holy Land. The conquest and the rule of Nebu- 
chadnezzar obscured all preceding events. The deeds of 
Shalmaneser receded to the background. By Nebuchad- 
nezzar the holy city Jerusalem was conquered, and the 
inhabitants of the kingdom, who were called Jews (2 Kings 
xvi. 6, XXV. 25), were by him led into exile. These last, 
through keeping closely together, in order to maintain 
the national faith, have made the name Yehudi especially 
distinguished. The sharp contrast between Judah and Israel 
was given up in a strange land. To the ten tribes, in the 
penitent sorrow of the exile, the name of Jerusalem was again 
a dearly loved and cherished one. The breach caused by 
the secession of Jeroboam was only repaired in the captivity. 
While Israel, the ideal Biblical name, only expressed their 
humiliated position before God, the name Jew became 
universally known as the designation of every one who 
manifested the faith of Israel. Therefore all the captives 
are called Jews in the book of Esther, although it cannot be 
proved that all of whom it treats belonged to the captivity of 
Nebuchadnezzar, as there must have been some there who 
were taken captives by his predecessor Shalmaneser. 

The districts in which Nebuchadnezzar distributed tlie 
Jews are not clearly defined. We learn only from Dan. i. 2 
that they were taken to Shinar, i.e. to Babylon. Zerubbabel 
brought back Jews who had lived in Babylon (Ezra i. 11— 
ii. 1). But such also joined them who had come from Tel- 
nielach, Telcharsha, Cherub, and Addan, names which define 
the old Elymais, i.e. Loristan (see my Geschichte der Juden, 
p. 173). It is well known that not all came back under, 
the leadership of Zerubbabel. The permission of Cyrus for 
their return home was evidently not merely an act of kind- 
ness on his part, but also an act of policy, as we shall see 
farther on. It was certainly only Jewish colonies of definite 
districts which emigrated. It was not of the highest import- 
ance to Cyrus to found there a new mighty State, which might 
afterwards become independent, but only that these territories 

CHAP. II. 0. 51 

should be settled by weak and thankful colonies who enter- 
tained anti - Babylonian sentiments. There yet remained 
behind a multitude, notably in Shushan, from which place, 
the residence of Daniel and Nehemiah, none seem to have 
been sent back (Dan. viii. 2 ; Neh. i. 1). 

The man is called Mordecai. This name does not occur 
in Israel before the captivity. Another captive who returned 
with Zerubbabel is so called Ezra ii. 2 ; Neh. vii. 7. It is 
the name of one who was born in exile. It is according to 
Persian analogy.^ 

In the first syllable it corresponds to Mardonius (siD">lD), 
Mardontes, Mardus ; in the last it is like that of Artachaeus or 
Artachaes (comp. Herod, vii. 22). One is reminded of some- 
thing similar in the names of Mardokempad and Mesesimordak 
in the Canon of Ptolemy. To say that Mordecai the Jew- 
had his name from the idol Merodach, would not certainly 
be true ; but the name of the idol is itself derived from the 
Sanscr. martiya^ Arm. martj Pers. mere? = man, and it does not 
preclude the supposition that other compounds were used witii 
this word.^ Moreover, when the name of Mordecai was once 
currently used, the Jew could bear it with as great indifference 
to its allusion as the Christian St. Martin could bear his 
name, which is derived from Mars. 

At any rate, the derivation of the name — apart from 
Merodach — from mart, merd =m.QXi, signifying "the manly," 
is clearer and surer than the one proposed by Oppert, 
who thinks it is derived from the modern Persian mardic, 
meaning " soft." But it is remarkable that the name Mor- 
decai is only given to a native of the captivity ; and this 
circumstance corroborates the otherwise evident fact, that 

^ It was not a happy conjecture of the learned Molinus of Venice (de 
vita et lipsanis St. Marci Evangelistae, Eomae 1864, p. 10), that the name 
of Mark the evangelist was originally Mordecai, from wliich the Roman 
name Marcus was formed. It cannot be established that this was always 
the case with the name of Marcus, nor why it should be so (comp. Gotting, 
fjelehr. Nadir. 1865, p. 905). 

^ See my article " Mordecai '* in Herzog's Realencyklop. p. 365. 


Mordecai was not one of those who were exiled, as it was 
curiously enough concluded from ver. 6, where we read : "And 
his name was Mordecai, the son of Jair, the son of Shimei, 
the son of Kish, a Benjamite ; who had been carried away 
from Jerusalem with the captives, which had been carried 
away with Jechoniah (Jehoiachin), king of Judah, whom 
jN'ebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon had carried away." 

The clear and instructive intentions of the historian in the 
genealogical passage are evident. He points out, through 
the enumeration of the four generations from Kish to Mordecai, 
the time which elapsed since the banishment of Jechoniah, 
which took place before the destruction of the temple. The 
period of about 115-120 years which since then elapsed to the 
sixth year of Xerxes are exactly expressed by the four genera- 
tions. We have also some intimation concerning the period of 
the narrative, which is assigned to the reign of Xerxes I. 
That Kish was a Benjamite, is only told for the purpose of 
distinguishing him from other men with the same name who 
belonged to the tribe of Levi. One might have thought it 
impossible that Biblical expositors should commit the mistake 
of making the information concerning the exile of Jechoniah 
refer to Mordecai himself, — an idea for which there is neither 
textual nor historical foundation, but rather both against it. 
If this had been the case, the author would have placed 
Ahhashverosh immediately after Nebuchadnezzar ; but this 
could not be so, according to the narrative in Daniel and 
Ezra, whoever we may consider Ahhashverosh to be. The 
author is well acquainted with the fact that a king of Persia, 
of whom he reports, succeeded Cyrus ; for he puts Persia 
before Media. If the relation is^j? in ver. 6 refers to Mordecai 
and not to Nebuchadnezzar, there would have been no reason 
why the narrator should only mention the three generations 
Jair, Shimei, and Kish, and, indeed, why he should mention 
more than Mordecai's father, as he does similarly in ver. 15, 
where he mentions only Esther's father, Abihhail. The opinion 
of the Midrash, that by Kish is here to be understood the 

CHAP. II. 5. 53 

jfiither of King Saul, is only hoiniletical trifling, and hardly 
deserves notice. 

If that Kish had been meant, King Saul or any other 
member in the genealogical line as given in 1 Sam. ix. would 
have been mentioned ; but this is not the case. Again, the 
opinion that this Mordecai is identical with the one of Ezra 
ii. 2, who returned to Jerusalem, is also groundless. First, 
because this one came from Babylon, and not from Shushan. 
Secondly, the book of Ezra itself reports that Ahhashverosh, 
whoever he may be, reigned after Cyrus, and therefore 
Mordecai would have reached an excessively great age if he 
had been one of those carried into exile by Nebuchadnezzar, 
as there were about sixty years from the banishment of 
Jechoniah to the return of the captives with Zerubbabel. We 
would reach the monstrous conclusion of the Duke of 
Manchester, and of the German doctors after him, which the 
Biblical genealogy itself destroys, if the relation "i^t? be 
arbitrarily connected with ^lordecai, instead of, as it naturally 
is, with the last name. Above all things, it is necessary to be 
cautious of theories, for the sake of which all the hitherto 
received and well-established views are thrown overboard ; 
whilst, when we follow the simple rendering of the verse as 
indicated, everything is beautifully harmonious. 

The Midrash (Esther 92a) makes in its own fanciful way a 
peculiar and groundless assertion upon the position of the word 
ya^ his name. It says : When the Scripture speaks of a bad 
man, the word yo^ stands after his name, as Nabal his name ; 
when it speaks of a good man, as here of Mordecai, it stands 
before. "And his name was Mordecai." But iDtJ^I stands before 
Micah in Judg. xvii. 1; before Doeg, 1 Sam. xxi. 7; before Sheba, 
"a man of Belial," 2 Sam. xx. 1; and before others who cannot be 
reckoned among the good. On the other hand, the word stands 
after Josiah, 1 Kings xiii. 2 ; after Daniel, Dan. x. 1 ; and after 
the names of the best m,en, and, above all, after the Messiah, 
Zech. vi. 12, where we read, "Behold the man, Zemach {i.e. 
Branch) is his name, he shall build the temple of the Lord." 


The fourth generation from the exile of Jechoniah witnessed 
the events of which this book treats. Mordecai must still 
have been in the prime of life. He had a relation Abihhail, 
who died and left an orphan daughter behind. This girl, 
Mordecai, of whose wife or children nothing is reported, took 
to his house, as there was no nearer relative, and he became 
her nursing father, pt?, from her youth. For the word pi? or 
n^DS implies nursing of a child from its infancy, as Naomi was 
the nurse of the child of Kuth from its birth (Ruth iv. 16), 
and as Moses said to the Lord : " Have I conceived all this 
people ? have I brought them forth, that Thou shouldest say 
unto me. Carry them in thy bosom, as a nursing father carries 
the suckling child?" (Num. xi. 12). He cherished her as a 
father and mother cherish their own child ; and the whole 
narrative shows that this was not done perfunctorily, but with 
his whole heart. 

Ver. 7. nriDS X'-n nonn-nj^ — " Hadassah, that is, Esther." 
The girl was called in the house of her parents and of 
Mordecai, Hadassah, i.e. " Myrtle," Myrto, a name which in 
very ancient times had reference to the connection of beauty 
with fruitfulness ; hence it was a symbol of Venus, and was 
therefore appropriately chosen as an epithet to the girl. 
Jewish women, as among other Eastern nations, have always 
had names borrowed from flowers. We need only refer to 
the names of Jewish women which have come down to us 
from all the Middle Ages, such as Flora, Myrrha, Blumchen, 
Blume, Rosa, Fiore, etc. (see Zunz, Namen dcr Juden, p. 73, etc.). 
The Midrash acknowledges this in its comment on the 
passage. It says, Mordecai's cousin was called Myrtle, like 
the righteous, because she never faded, but was always 
blooming both in summer and in winter. They apply to 
her Isa. Iv. 1 3, where we read : " Instead of the thorn 
shall come up the fir tree, and instead of the brier shall 
come up the myrtle tree," understanding, of course, by the 
thorn and brier Vashti, and by the myrtle Esther (Bab. 

CHAP. II. 7. 55 

Megilla lOh). On the other hand, the Church Father 
[Jerome] refers this passage to the Apostle Pauh " At that 
time," says he, " when he preached the gospel in the world, 
and could say, ' We are a sweet savour of Christ ' (2 Cor. 
ii. 15), he is rightly called a cypress and myrtle tree" 
{Comm. ad Jes., ed. Migne, iv. 538). But the prophecy goes 
beyond the preacher of the truth to the truth itself. The 
Talmudical word for myrtle is ndj^, as in Syriac. Compare 
with it the Persian i^DlDDN (see Vullers, i. 601). 

"iriDx N\i. 

Esther was the name which the girl received in the harem 
as a favourite of the king. E. Nehemia (in Megilla loh)^ 
correctly derives the name from innox, or as the Targum 
writes it, i<-i^nD''N, after the Greek aarrip, star ; Syr. N"inDS ; 
Pers. m^no ; Zend, stara. And in Persian it has the special 
sense of the lustre of Venus, Fortuna {sidus genethliacum), of 
the morning star (see Vullers, ii. 220), as the Persians call 
the king, "the morning star of the throne." Such names 
were customary for the wives and favourites in the East. The 
Caliph Hisham II. of Spain gave to his beloved Eadhiyet the 
surname of Fortunate Star (Hammer, Namen der Araher, p. 11). 

The name of the legitimate wife of Xerxes, Amestris^ 
(Herod, vii. 61-114, and ix. 169), will likewise be best 
explained from the compound of Amesha (nt^'DS) and Sitra, 
mriD, meaning heavenly star. For with Amesha (heavenly, 
immortal) and Cpenta are also the seven genii designated, 
which are the gods of the seven planets. Some have thought 
that they could find the name of Hadassah, myrtle, repro- 
duced in the name of Atossa, the wife of Darius. The 
circumstance against this is, that Hadassah is only a Hebrew 
word. We may rather consider that it has some relation 

^ [R. Yehudah says, that the name of Esther is derived from "iDD, to 
hide, because she did not tell of her origin. — Trans.] 

2 Comp. the name of the beautiful Amazon in Hyrcania, Qx'Kriarpis, in 
Diodor. xvii. 77, in respect to the latter part of the name, and of Amytis 
(by Ctesias), daughter of Cyaxares, in respect to the first part. 


with the Persian word I^TIX, light, splendour, fire. "With this 
word the Persians designated the phoenix on account of its 
magnificent brilliancy, and by the term "isnn CTii^ they called 
the red rose and the tulip, as the splendour of spring. Like- 
wise the name Eoxane/ the beautiful wife of Alexander, is 
explained to be derived from the Eoshen Pehlvi, njc^sn, 
meaning " the shining one." The favourite of the Spanish 
Caliph Abderrahman III. was called ISTureddunja, " the light 
of the world." A famous woman in the harem of Stamboul 
was called [N'urbanu, " woman of light ; " another in the 
Muhamedan India had the name of Nurmahal, " light of 
the harem." Famous Chassekis of the Osman sultans were 
called Mahpeiker, " moonlike " (this is a favourite expression 
of Pirdussi for a girl). Mahfirus, " favourite of the crescent ; " 
Mihrmah, " sun-moon." Other such peculiar names are as 
follows: — Parysatis, the mother of Artaxerxes IL, in later 
form Perisade, " the perichild " or " angel's child ; " the 
wife of the Caliph Mothaded was named Kothronneda, 
" dewdrop." An Osman Chasseki of Grecian birth was 
called Eebia Gulnusch, "rose-drink of spring." Favourite 
female slaves had such names : Dshanfeda, " offering of soul ; " 
Sudshbagii, "the one with plaited hair" (Hammer, Gescli, 
viii. 358); Sheckerbuli, "sugar-plum;" Sheckerpara, "sweet- 
meat ; " Sheckerchatun, " sugar- woman." This last was a 
princess at Delhi at the time of Firuzshah. The famous 
Kosem was called Ssafiye, " the pure." Jewesses also were 
called so (comp. Weil, Lehen Mohammeds, p. 186), as the 
names of Eeine, Eeinchen occur among them. We conclude 
with the names of two wives of Darius, Phaidyme and 
Parmys. The former may properly be compared with Fatime 
of later times ; but Parmys is to be taken as the repro- 
duction of n''i<D"in, the name of a cow, which according to 
the legend suckled King Feridon, the most renowned person 

1 She was the daughter of Ahmed ibn Tanhm, ruler of Egypt. Her 
outfit was so great, that in the kitchen there were no less than 1000 
golden mortars (Hammer, Geinaldesaal, iv. 268). 

CHAP. II. 7. 57 

in all Persian traditions (Vullers, i. 226). How much truth 
is represented by the Oriental fable, is seen from the collection 
of names of favourites which is contained in the story of 
The Tliousand and One Nights. We meet there with such a 
name as Queen Labe (sun). The Caliph Harun had female 
slaves with the names of Alabaster -throat, Coral -mouth, 
Coral-branch, Moon-face, Full-moon of the full-moons, Sun- 
shine, Pearl-necklace, Dawn of the morning, Garden-flower, 
Sugarcane, and the most favourite name of all, Morning-star 
(see xi. 27, xii. 102).^ 

nsno nniDl "li^riTiS'' mr^ni — " And the maiden vjas fair 

and heautifid." 

The first adjective expresses in the original, to a certain 
degree, the regular beauty of her figure ; the second expresses 
the gracefulness and amiability of her manners. The Mid- 
rash has a very curious homily about her age. In spite of 
the text, which calls her a nnj;^, i-e. a young girl, the Eabbis 
are divided in their opinion about her age. Some maintain 
that she was from forty to eighty years old. Others again 
declare that she was seventy-four years old, because the letters 
of Hadassah, noin, are numerically equivalent to seventy-four, 
and because Abraham was also seventy-five years old when 
he left Haran. The sense of this homiletical peculiarity is, 
that there was something very wonderful in the reception of 
Esther by the king. Although she was so old, yet she so 
miraculously found favour in his sight. Nevertheless the 
Piabbis would not have come to this strange comment if 
they had not felt the logical necessity of assigning to Esther 
at this period of the story such an advanced age, in order 
to make the supposition that Mordecai had already been 
among the captives of Nebuchadnezzar tenable. It is their 

^ Conip. the names which, according to Oriental legend, Solomon's 
wives had : Tender-violet, Shining-star, Sun-lustre, Phoenix, Paradise- 
bird, etc. (Hammer, Rosendl. i. 243). A heroic female slave of Alaeddin 
Khiljy, to whom he entrusted the defence of a castle, had the name of 
Guli Behesht, Rose of paradise {Gemcildesaal, iv. 218). 


fashion thus to meet by way of homily historical difficulties, 
and solve them by combinations of letters. Now, as such 
homiletical solutions are contrary to reason, they just prove 
what they want to avoid, viz. the monstrous anachronism 
by which Mordecai is placed as far back as the time of 

Ver. 8. yotJTin NT*"! — "So it came to pass, when the kinrjs 

commandment a.nd his decree was hea^rd!' 

The notice in this verse is not given without reason. If 
Esther was so beautiful, the circumstance easily explains 
itself why, in the midst of the great choice of beauties that 
w^ere- to be brought to Shushan, she was not overlooked. 
Jewish tradition informs us, through the Targum, that 
Mordecai, her guardian and second father, had kept her 
concealed, in order not to be obliged to deliver her to the 
royal agents ; but people who knew her, and had not seen her 
for some time among the girls, drew their attention to the 
concealment. This they reported to the king, who imme- 
diately issued an order, to tlie effect that wherever it has 
come to the knowledge of the authorities that a man had 
refused to deliver his daughter, he should be hanged by the 
neck before his own house. 

What is here told does certainly correspond to Eastern 
custom, but our book gives no occasion for it. The tradition 
originated in the East, where the search after women for the 
harem had become an intolerable nuisance, especially to the 
oppressed population. It was therefore quite natural to 
suppose that Mordecai did all he could, as loving parents do 
sometimes now-a-days, to keep Esther away from the covetous 
eyes of the royal eunuchs. The Midrash wanted in this 
manner to characterize more closely both the admirable 
beauty of Esther and the prudent precaution and love of her 
uncle. But this does not at all harmonize with the higher 
ideas of the narrative. Here it is precisely and instructively 
intimated, that no especial attention had been directed to 

CHAP. II. 9. 59 

Esther. She was fetched in the ordinary way with crowds of 
girls. As one plucks flowers in a garden to present a 
bouquet to a dear friend, so they here collected a variety 
of human beings from all places for sensual enjoyment, 
provided they had any attractiveness and colour. The 
gardener w^as the ''^n (t?jn, ver. 3), Aga, the keeper of the 
w^omen, who had the charge of the women's house. This was 
the most important person in such acts as here described. 
As the damsels were introduced by him to the king, his 
influence and his favour was of great weight. The intention 
of the narrative of our book is manifestly to show the 
wonderful help which was provided for Israel for the time 
of their need. This is to appear exactly from the opposite 
fact, that Esther was not concealed^ but at once found and 
given up. The cleverness and the taste of the people who 
fetched her, and of those who administered the affairs of the 
harem, were also instruments of deliverance in God's hands. 

Among the hundreds who were placed under the care of 
the Aga, the gracefulness of Esther struck him the most. 

Ver. 9. mv:n nDTil — " And the maiden pleased him." 
Curtius narrates (viii. 4. 23, etc.) that it happened when 
once Alexander was at a banquet, there were thirty noble 
virgins presented to him ; but although they were all of the 
choicest beauty, yet the eyes of all were directed to Eoxane, 
as she surpassed them in good looks. (Quae quanquam inter 
electas processerat, omnium tamen oculos convertit in se.) 
The same was the case with Esther. The experienced eye of 
the Aga was beyond all attracted by her, and he paid her 
the best attention, and showed her favours, which were of 
importance to her and her friend's future career. The 
Midrash says that he foresaw that she would eventually 
become queen, and therefore he was so friendly to her. But 
this is false. Eather was it, that Esther's gracefulness 
pleased him so much that he undertook, so far as lay in his 
power, to risk everything in order to make her queen. The 


pleasure which he had in her he manifested by special 
exertions in her behalf, for the purpose of increasing her 
natural beauty by artificial means. It is said first of him, 
— n^pnion " nt? bni'^). The original meaning of t'nn, whose 
organic root is hn, is represented by the German word eilen, to 
hasten. Yes, it is clear that this German word, which does 
not occur in the Gothic, and whose origin Grimm did not 
discern, is connected with the Old German word illa^i, Old 
S. German ilian. The Greek word a^aiXkaaOai is similarly 
connected with a^. The idea of hastening contains in it the 
cause for doing so, an anxiety to carry out some important 
duty or strenuous order ; therefore also trembling, terror in 
general. Here in our passage the verb 5>n2 has the sense of 
hurrying to carry out a duty and a privilege. He delivered 
to Esther prior to all others, even before her turn came to 
receive them, the necessary materials provided for the women's 
toilet before they could be introduced to the king ; and he 
meant the quick despatch of this business as a favour to her ; 
lor the longer she participated in his nursing care, the more 
beautiful she would become. We read : " And he speedily 
gave her things for purification, with her portions." Each 
newcomer to the harem must first undergo an ablution in 
order to refresh herself, etc. ; and this custom is also observed 
in the case of young girls, because the bath is the most 
essential part, according to Oriental custom, in the process 
of effecting a good bodily appearance, with wdiich all other 
adornment is connected. So then the word pnttn has 
evidently received the meaning of preparing the toilet, and 
of things generally necessary for making a good ddhut. 

The portions (niiD) consisted of magnificent dresses and 
ornaments, which were given to every woman of the harem.^ 

Not only was Esther privileged in speedily receiving every- 
thing necessary for her external appearance, but she also 

^ The explanation of Clericus on this passage, that by the portions is 
meant food, is quite erroneous. The women naturally received food at all 

CHAP. 11. 9. 61 

received seven selected slaves to wait upon her. In the 
word ni*5<")n, part. pass. pers. pL, which only occurs in this 
passage, lies the significance of the selection of the servants 
which were proper for her. As all who were gathered 
received their share of servants, the distinction shown to her 
could not have consisted in the point of time ivhen she 
received the servants, but in point of their q^iialifications 
and appearance. They were of the very best sort. Likewise 
in point of numher, they were seven, the same number of 
servants as were allotted to the great court ladies. 

The Targum has a peculiar comment upon the number of 
servants. In order to show how Esther could, amidst her 
surroundings, remember which day was the Sabbath, it says 
that she knew this from the number of her slaves ; for every 
day she had another to wait upon her, who was called by the 
name of the day of the week, and thus when the one who ' 
served on the Sabbath came to wait upon her, she knew that 
it was the Sabbath day. It is certainly a peculiar Oriental 
thought which makes a calendar of human beings. The 
Targum also further gives the names of the seven slaves, and 
that in a poetical and instructive manner. We have already 
mentioned that the servants as well as mistresses have 
poetical names, borrowed from nature. This is imitated in 
the Targum; but the Jewish teachers themselves had not 
noticed it before. They took these names from the history 
of the creation, so that they can only be elucidated from the 
things that were created in the first week. But this comment 
gives undoubtedly the appearance of being tinctured with 
Christian ideas. We begin with Monday, in which the 
firmament or sky was created. This is in Hebrew j;''P"i. 
The slave which waited upon Esther on this day was there- 
fore called xn^ypn, better xn^yp"), meaning something like 
" Heaven's child." On Tuesday were created the trees, their 
fruit and all vegetables, and so the name of the slave of the 
day was xn''3i3:i, from p, NnjJ, " the garden," corresponding to 
" Garden-flower." 


On the fourth day, Wednesday, were created the stars of 
heaven (as they are called in the Targum, Gen, i. 14, pvi:), 
and therefore the name of the servant of the day was Nnninj, 
" Starlight." On Thursday were created all creeping things. 
The Hebrew word ptj' is expressed in the Talmud by 
tTTn, therefore the attendant of this day is named xn^ti'm, 
" Butterfly." By the way, through this explanation the 
reading is established, and the i of Mezahh Ahron, etc., is 
erroneous. Eemarkable is the name of the slave who 
attended her on the sixth day, in which the cattle and man 
were created. It is xn^an^n, the diminutive form of NQ-nn, 
meaning in Chald. and Syriac the " Lamb " (see Targ. Gen. 
xxi. 29), "Little lamb." Be it remembered that Friday is 
designated by a lamb, which certainly is in accord with the 
Christian remembrance of Him who as the Lamb of God 
was led to the slaughter on that day. 

The seventh day is the Sabbath, the day of rest, the quiet 
time. Therefore the name of the servant is NrT'VJ"), " Quiet." 
For yjn is rendered " quiet " both by Jewish and Christian 
commentators in Ps. xxxv. 20 — "the quiet in the land." 
The servant " Quiet " reminded Esther that it was the 
Sabbath. The day following the Sabbath, our Lord's day, 
on which the light was created, Esther had an attendant 
whose name was ND^n, which is best explained from ij^n, the 
name of a rare bird, which is taken mostly, though not always 
rightly, to be the phoenix (see my Schwan, p. L). The phoenix 
is a symbol of light ; and so we see here, as in connection 
with Friday, traces of Christian symbolism, in which the 
lamb of Friday is the risen phoenix of Sunday. But the Aga 
was not satisfied with the mere giving to Esther her ornaments 
sooner than to the rest, and the best of servants. He assigned 
also to her and to her servants the best apartments in the 
house. The phrase w^:r\ n^n niDi^ n^nnyrriNT n:c'^i can have 
no other sense than that he changed the place where she had 
dwelt into a better. But if n^B^^l refers to her person, then it 
reads, "he wrought a change in her for the best (niL3^) in 

CHAP. II. 10. 63 

reference to the house of the women." We may translate 
the verb nr^', after the Syriac example in Acts vii. 43, by 
" transtulit," " he transferred her." 

Ver. 10. nDy-nx^ iddx nTt^n-t?^ — "Esther had not shoiml 
her people nor her kindred; for Mordecai had charged her 
that she should not shoiv it" 

This prohibition testifies to his wisdom and piety. It 
becomes now evident why so much stress is laid in ver. 7 on 
the fact that Esther had lost her parents, and that Mordecai 
had adopted her as his daughter. If her parents had been 
alive, such concealment of nationality on her part would have 
been next to impossible. It would have been difficult for her 
to hide her origin, and the parental love and her own filial 
love would have sooner or later betrayed it. But Mordecai, 
who did not love her less than her own parents, had that 
good sense and that judgment which are better safeguards to 
love than vanity and self-pleasing, which are so often mixed 
up with the better feelings in the hearts of parents. Esther 
belonged to a people in the kingdom which politically and 
religiously represented a marked contrast to the ruling people. 
The accusation which Haman afterwards brought against 
them had surely occupied the public attention of the con- 
querors and the priests before. At all events, it must have 
been useful for Esther to conceal her descent. As she was 
now exalted to such a high position, her only aim must have 
been to find favour in the eyes of the king ; and to this end 
a knowledge of her nationality in the circle of the house of 
women could in nowise be advantageous to her. Indeed it 
might rather, sooner or later, imperil both the position of 
Esther and that of her people. Mordecai, who was at home in 
Persia, was well acquainted with the conditions of the court 
and of the capital. How easily could Esther fall into disgrace, 
as Vashti did, and so herself be the main cause of her 
people's misfortunes (see Yalkut on the passage) ! So also in 
the contrary event, as the history has taught, what dangers 


would ensue to Esther from her nationality being known, if 

persecutions against the Jews should -arise ! The deliverance 

which she was later called to achieve succeeded, humanly 

speaking, only because no one knew that she belonged to 

Israel. Had it been known, the intrigues for her destruction 

would have been commenced. Add to this that the king was 

perhaps favourably disposed to other Jews besides her, whose 

position had to be taken into consideration; and if it. had 

been known that she also was a Jewess, envious tongues 

would have been busy with the charge of preponderating 

Jewish influence at court. 

The Midrash says that Mordecai showed his modesty 

by prohibiting Esther from making her pedigree known. 

Xhere is truth in this. He certainly thereby renounced 

claims upon honours and presents which would have fallen 

to him as her nearest kindred. Chardin says that it is still 

the custom in modern Persia to give pensions to the family 

of a lady of the seraglio ; and the more she is esteemed by 

the king, the greater are the pensions {Voyage, vi. 626, 627). 

But Mordecai had love for his people and for his [adopted] 

daughter ; but he had no desire for the acquisition of money 

and honours. Thus he could the more freely observe what 

was going on at court. It might be asked, how was it 

possible that Esther's nationality should remain a sealed 

secret ? ^ But the secret was in Esther's own hands, and 

entirely depended upon her discretion as to the time of 

revealing it. For the arbitrary and domineering spirit with 

which women are sought and bought in the name of the king 

is above all the petty differences of nationality, which it does 

not care to inquire into. Beauty and enjoyment are sought. 

The person who is admitted into the seraglio needs only to 

have physical good looks. History, name, parents, and birth 

1 Out of this question arose the Talmudical opinion (Megilla 13rt), that 
we must not read that Mordecai took Esther T\lh for a daughter (ver. 7), 
but n'^ii', into the house. We are reminded of Bathsheba the wife of 
Uriah, of whom Nathan said in his sermon on penitence to David, that 
he had robbed her husband of the one ewe-lamb he had. 

CHAP. II. 10. 65 

are of no account. During the time in which the Turks 
carried on a prolonged war with Christian nations in Europe, 
the sultans carried on their vicious amusements with women 
from Greece, Eussia, Poland, Hungary, and Italy. So was 
the Sultana Tarslian in the seventeenth century a Pole, Bafifa 
the powerful concubine of Murad IV. was from Venice, and 
Kosen the mother of Ibrahim the Vicious was a Greek. 
That the origin of even such distinguished persons w^ho 
had left their mark upon history was unknown, is testified 
by the various reports concerning Churem, the favourite of 
Soliman I., who was an extraordinary woman. French authors 
say that she was a peasant woman. Other writers affirm that 
she was the sister of King Sigismund, so that the latter would 
be, of course, Soliman's brother - in - law. Others again say 
that she was a native of Siena in Italy, a daughter of Nani 
Marsigli, and had been kidnapped by robbers. If so, through 
her the Pope Alexander became related to the sultan. But as 
she is usually called a Eussian, she must have come from 
Galicia. Count Ezewuski asserted that she was the daughter 
of a poor pope (priest) of Eohatyn, a small town in Galicia ^ 
(comp. Hammer, Osm. Gcsch. iii. 672, 673, and 736). The 
Oriental legend tells that even slaves sometimes kept their 
origin a profound secret. A sultan said once that he did 
not want a favourite of unknown origin, for he feared that 
lie would have bad children by her (The Thousand and 
One Nights, xix. p. 97). The maidens were delivered to the 
Aga without a name and without a history, only as so many 
bodies, and not even as a modern flock of camels, which 
possess a history, biography, and photography. The Aga had 
before him a multitude of beautiful faces ; and he cared nothing 
as to which nation they belonged. When it came to his 
knowledge, it was through the women themselves, who sought 

1 The Mid rash speaks of such experience and life at court when it 
remarks that Ahhasliverosh did not want to ascertain the origin of 
Esther, because various nations have severally claimed her as belonging 
to them. 



lo gain some advantage for their relations. It therefore 
sufficed that Mordecai should forbid Esther herself to tell of 
her origin, as the information would not come from other 
quarters. For as soon as she was in the seraglio all access 
to her ceased, and Mordecai was silent. 

Ver. 11. "And Mordecai walked every day hefore the 

court of the women's liouse^^ etc. 

But though he asked Esther to deny any knowledge of him, 
yet his anxious paternal care for her did not cease. As an 
apparent stranger, it was perhaps the more easy for him to 
make inquiries about her welfare and proceedings ; and so 
he was daily to be seen in the neighbourhood of the court. 
The Midrash thinks that he was anxious lest she should 
be enchanted, a belief which to this day still exists in the 

Ver. 12. "Now vjhen the turn of evei^y maiden loas come!' 
We have here an exact description of the events that took 
place in the inner circle of the house of women. But this is 
not for the purpose of telling us an anecdote from the secrets of 
the harem. It is thereby emphatically intimated how wonder- 
ful the providences were by which Esther reached her happy 
goal. We learn from Herodotus (iii. 69) that Phaedyme, in 
order to investigate whether there were certain marks upon 
the body of the false Smerdis, had to wait till her turn came 
to be called to the king ; for, he adds, " the Persians let their 
wives come to them by turns " (eV irepirpoirfi 'yap Brj yvva2K6<; 
(f>OLT6ovo-t Tolat Heparjo-t). This successive turn was not a 
slight interval ; it lasted, it is said, a twelvemonth, — a year 
then, in which every newly -received woman had time to 
prepare herself for the day of meeting the king. — Now such 
turns were daily occurrences, consequently the number of 
court women must have been about 360. In this matter 
also we see how closely our book agrees with the otherwise 
known notices of classical writers, and how much liglit it 

CHAP. IT. 12. 67 

throws upon them. Curtius narrates (and is confirmed by 
Plutarch) that Darius had 360 women with him (iii. 3. 24). 
When Dicaearch says in Athenaeus (lib. xiii. 557) that there 
were only 350, the notice in our book leads us to give more 
credence to the report of Curtius. It is a characteristic 
feature of the great King of Persia that he has the liberty of 
having every day in the year another woman to wait upon him. 
This Diodorus expressly says when he narrates of Alexander 
the Great, that he had entirely adopted the luxurious habits 
of a Persian ruler. His words are : " He led with him 
concubines, like Darius, who were not less in number than 
the days of the year " ^ (" ovk eXctTTOf ? TrkiiOei tcjv Kara tov 
iviavTov r)fjL€p(oi^," xvii. 77). These were to the number of 
360, as Curtius expressly states (vi. 6. 8, Pellices ccc. et Ix. 
totidem, quot Dario fuerant, regiam implebant). Yet the 
avarice and luxury of the princes in later times was not 
satisfied even with this number. The Osman sultan Murad 
III. had 40 favourites and 500 female slaves; but 400 
appears to be the round number with the Persian shahs, 
as is evident from the narrative of Chardin {Voyage, vi. 

These twelve months were spent by the women in going 
through a course of preparation by the application of the 
means then usual of embellishing their bodies, and all 
this for one single occasion. There was never a greater 
caricature of monarchical and manly power, never a more 
legal degradation and disgrace of woman, than was manifested 
in the institution of the harem. Certainly it was a question 
of life with the selected women whether they would be raised 
as special favourites and queens or not. They therefore must 

^ For their year was 360 days (comp. Ideler, Handh. der Chronologie^ 
ii. 514). Abimassr, a governor of Diarbekr, had for the number of new 
calendar 365 female slaves, in order to have one a day (Hammer, 
Gemdldesaal^ v. p. 40). This throws light upon what is told of tlie 
Emperor Commodus (Lainprid, c. 5) : " Hac igitur lege vivens ipse 
cum trecentis concubinis . . . trecentisque aliis puberibus exoletis qjiios 
aequo ex plebe et nobilitate coUegerat." 



have considered the regulation which required a whole year 
of personal preparation before meeting the king as a special 
act of indulgence which his refined taste dictated. It was 
his pleasure to see a rivalry among the women, and therefore 
full liberty was given them to this effect. Everything of 
luxury and pleasure was placed at their disposal ; but this was 
not in consideration for themselves personally, but only in 
reference to the eventual enjoyment of the king, just as a 
landlord decorates a house with fine gilded paper, not for 
the sake of the walls, but for his own pleasure. We have 
no exact information in reference to the toilet of the women 
which was given them during the year. That there was a 
definite order in this respect is evident from what we read, that 
six months were spent in the application of oil of myrrh, and 
six months in the use of sweet odours and other purifications. 
ion p^ ; "1^ is, as is well known, fivppa, o-fivpva, tlie fragrant 
resin of halsamodendron myrrha, which was esteemed very 
precious in olden times. Famous ointments were made of 
it. The Arabs, says Athenaeus (lib. xv. p. 688), generally 
call ointments myrrh, because they are produced from it. 
Here, without doubt, the precious ointment is meant which 
in the time of Pliny (Rist. Nat. xiii. 3) was called " royal 
ointment," because it was used by the kings of the Parthians. 
It consists of a number of ingredients, among which is myrrh, 
as in the anointing oil of the Scriptures (Ex. xxx. 25). 
It. Hhiya-bar Abba explains it correctly by nDDD (Meg. 13a), 
viz. (jTaKTi) ; and in Athenaeus also we find that myrrha, called 
stakte, is a kind of ointment. They understand by stakte the 
drops of oil issuing from fresh myrrh. The explanation of 
It. Yehudah, that it means |i:pD?DX, is not so correct, as ekaiov 
ofMcfxiKLVov {6/jL(j)dKLov) IS oil of uuripc olives. To this very 
day the Orientals like tlie perfume of very fragrant ointments 
and pomades as well as of other odours (D^D'ki'n). " In the East 
one lives and is refreshed," says Chardin (iv. 158), "by perfumes, 
instead of feeling, as in our countries, overcome by them." 
Eastern stories vividly describe the pleasures of the baths and 

ciiAr. II. 13. 69 

the embrocations, and of the use of rose-water and other 
fragrant essences, ointments, and odorous combs, in connection 
with the course that people go through for improving and 
adorning their external appearance.^ 

Ver. 1 3. mj;3n nmi — " Then i7i this wise came the inaiden 

unto the king!' 

This verse is very instructive. Every maiden that was 
called to appear before the king had the liberty to use any 
means which, in her estimation, might conduce to her pleasing 
him. " Whatsoever she desired was given her to go with her 
out of the house of the women unto the king's house." By the 
term &<ni?, " to go with," the Midrash finely understands that 
she could choose any one to accompany her. Every one 
had the right of taking servants with them, so that they 
might form the background in the interview. 

But it was no slight matter even for the most pronounced 
belle to win the most spoiled and sensual king. And one single 
meeting together was to decide her fate, either of getting a 
secluded and uninfluential career, or of living all her life long a 
splendid though luxurious life. For if she had failed to win the 
affections of the king, she did not return the next morning to 
the house of the women, which was superintended by the Aga, 
but she w^ent to the harem, the house of the concubines, 
where such women were kept and maintained who belonged 
to the king, and whom he disposed of according to his pleasure. 
Ver. 14. The eunuch who was at the head of this second 
house of women was called Shaashgaz, rr^yiJ', from the Persian 
IJ'X^, " beautiful," so that his name means " minister of 
beauties " (as Kislar-Aga). 

1 We refer particularly to the narrative of Ameny {The Thousand and 
One Nights, xx. 49). Especially instructive matter is to be found in Aelian 
( Verm. Gesch. xii. 1), where he tells of a Greek woman that was brought 
to the camp of Cyrus — women followed her whose duty was to plait her 
hair and to anoint and to rouge her face. Plutarch narrates (seven wise) 
tliat the Sybarite women gave invitations to their friends a year before, in 
order that they miglit have time to prepare their toilets. 


Ver. 15. "iriDN-nn rjnm — "Now when the turn of 
Esther" etc. 

All that preceded her were certainly distinguished for 
their good looks, but none of them had made any good 
impression upon the king. Finally, it was Esther's chance. 
In order to intimate the significance of the moment, the 
narrator just here adds, what he has not done in ver. 7, the 
name of Abihhail her father.^ He had died early, and the 
education of Esther, which suited her so well in her present 
position, was entirely the work of Mordecai. To him, there- 
fore, as her second father, due honour is given in ver. 7, in 
that she is only called " his uncle's daughter." Abihhail was 
the brother of Jair, the father of Mordecai. Though nn 
meant originally " friend," " beloved," yet later on it came to 
signify "uncle," as the word uncle still retains the meaning 
of " a friend of the house." 

So Mishael and Elizaphan are called the sons of the Til, 
uncle of Aaron, for their father Uzziel was the brother of Amram 
(Ex. vi. 22; Lev. x. 4). So also Abner is called the son 
of the uncle, nn, of Saul, for his father Ner was a brother of 
Kish (1 Sam. xiv. 51). The Greek name ©eto?, Pott rightly 
derives from Saner, clhe, to nourish {Eiym. Forsch. xiv. 51. 
Comp. my Comm. on Ruth, p. 213); and when jrjdr] rrjdki^ 
compared with it, it follows that originally it was applied 
to the brother of the mother, as it is mostly used so, 
only that it naturally was extended to the brother of the 
father also. The same connection of ideas must be ascribed 
to the Hebrew nn. Its radical signification of " love " points 
to maternal tenderness in nourishing her child with her 
breast. nn belongs to m, "breast," "mamma," "nipple." 
Comp. 1^ and nn. 

To the prominence which is given to the father in the 

Israelitish popular life is to be ascribed the fact, that 

Tn represents in Scripture only the patruus and not the 

avunculus. We may notice that it is characteristic of Roman 

1 The LXX. has Aminadab. 

CHAP. II. 15. "71 

nations, that for the brother of both parents avunculus is usual 
rather than patruus, although the former means only the 
brother of the mother. (Comp. uncle. Wall, unchin, Albanes. 
miki ; cf. Diez, Lex. der rom. Spraclie, p. 697.) In the 
Targuni we meet such words as nnx, viz. nxns, father's brother. 
Evidently there must have been a corresponding word, Dnj< or 
DNHN', for mother's brother. There can be no doubt that 
from this Hebrew Ahh'em comes the hitherto unexplained 
German word Oheim, and that this also meant originally the 
mother's brother. 

" She required nothing." 
The characteristic feature which these words indicate is 
very significant. The other women could not find enough 
artificial means with which to make an impression upon the 
king. The supplies of ornaments and other things which 
they had received for this purpose from the Aga was deemed 
by them as insufficient, and they demanded more in order 
to satisfy their burning desire to become favourites. But 
Esther cared nothing about these things. She had no such 
ambitious desires. Her heart did not burn to become some- 
thing which was indeed illustrious, yet not becoming to a 
believing Jewess. Eeluctantly she had left her home, and 
reluctantly and passively she put on her ornaments, and did 
not exert herself to take a single active step to reach the 
pinnacle of her fellow-women's glory. She was wanted, and 
ordered to appear, and therefore she obeyed the Aga in 
causing herself to be dressed up for the occasion, but did 
not express an urgent desire to see the pomp of the harem. 
She was compelled to be there ; but that was no reason for 
her to profane her lips and her believing heart. This is not 
to be lightly estimated. In the midst of women, who are 
more jealous and ambitious than men, tempted by her own 
heart to believe that she was the most beautiful of them all, 
and occupying such vantage ground, to which she was to a 
certain extent already committed and pledged, a desire on her 


part to become the mightiest woman, or, at least, to be 
crowned with the greatest honours, might have found some 
extenuation. But Esther was superior to this. What she 
possessed was only obedience — to her second father, and to 
the necessity. But ambition, a desire to rule, lust of pleasure, 
she had none. To have virtue and chastity in the heart — 
when at home, under the protection of parents, is not so 
difficult. But in the harem, in the midst of all the provisions 
which sensuality has prepared and ordered, where everything 
excites the passions, and where royal power casts its dazzling 
lustre, in such a position still to remain virtuous, requires an 
education in the divine law of a holy God, such as Esther 
had received in the house of Mordecai. 

" And Esther found favour in the sight of all them that 

looked upon her." 

She desired nothing, and yet she received what the others 
had with all their arts [vainly] endeavoured to obtain. Her 
natural gracefulness of manner, heightened by a charm which 
all the others did not possess, viz. the charm of an innocent 
and chaste heart, — which no toilet can supply, and which 
wantonness and pomp leave the more missing, — captivated 
all who saw her, even before she went to the king. She 
pleased all, not merely on account of her beauty, but what 
is more, on account of her amiability. Her modest and 
unpretentious behaviour towards everybody won for her the 
respect of all. Being of a simple and contented disposition, 
she excited no envy or dislike in others. In contrast with 
those who preceded her, who, in spite of all the artful means 
which they used for obtaining more ostentatious ornaments, 
were yet dissatisfied, and therefore excited dislike against 
themselves, she was satisfied with the gifts and treatment 
she received. But where should the others get the charms 
which only a quiet believing heart can supply in such a place ? 
In the house of sensuality true chastity makes an irresistible 
impression upon the eyes, countenance, and demeanour. But 

CHAP. II. 16. 73 

it was the grace of God which brought such a girl to this 
place ; not for the sake of the king, but for the sake of the 
danger that was impending upon the people to whom she be- 
longed, and to whom she was attached both in heart and belief. 

Ver. 16. "So Esther ivas taken unto King Alihashverosli, 
into his house royal, m the tenth month, which is the month 
Teheth, in the seventh year of his reign.'' 
Tebeth is the tenth month in the Jewish year which begins 
with Nisan according to the Scriptures, and the fourth month 
in the Jewish year which begins with Tishri according to 
the traditions. The name was indigenous in Syria and 
Mesopotamia, where the Jews in the time of the captivity 
had adopted it and all the new names of the months. The 
statement that the introduction took place in the tenth month 
of the seventh year of the reign of the king, evidently refers 
to the Persian computation of time. Now, if their tenth 
month was either then called Tebeth, or corresponded to 
Tebeth, it would follow that, already under Xerxes, the 
Persian year began in the spring, as is also manifest 
from the spirit of the teaching of the Avesta. It 
would also not be erroneous to infer that the introduction 
of the women to the king began in the Persian spring, so 
that nine months had passed before Esther's turn came. 
The ground for the successive turns cannot be ascertained ; 
probably it was in accordance with the priority of the 
selection for the harem by the Aga. The wonderful dis- 
pensation by which Esther was chosen as a favourite of the 
king is more prominently brought to view by the fact that 
her turn was not before the tenth month, after hundreds 
of candidates had gone before her and had been rejected. 
It may be asked why, if the Aga was well disposed to her, 
and as it appears from ver. 9 that he facilitated matters for 
her speedy advancement, did he not introduce her before ? 
To this we answer, that his postponement was actuated by 
friendly feelings towards her, in not wishing to risk her 


chance, as he knew that the first were not usually successful. 
The LXX. and Josephus have on this a surprisingly deviating 
date, viz. that it took place in the twelfth month, which is Adar 
{BcoBeKaTM fjLr]vi, 09 earov 'ABdp). These chronological variations 
did not arise from homiletical traditions, which rather adhered to 
the month Tebeth, but only from a gloss, which must have been 
made by one who was acquainted with Persian chronology. The 
same must have added to or explained the statement " which 
is Tebeth, -nx." For this is the Persian name of the ninth 
month, with which the tenth month of the Jewish calendar 
partly agrees. But the LXX. translators took this nx for 
the Adar of the Jewish calendar, and consequently had added 
"in the twelfth month." The ancient expositors pa^ss over 
any indication that the tenth of the month Tebeth recalls 
the sad event of Nebuchadnezzar's encompassing Jerusalem 
with his besieging army (Elzek. xxiv. 1, 2). In the month 
which had a fast day, Esther appeared before the king, that 
she might finally save Israel by fasting. The month of 
oppression and distress, caused by the anger of the king, 
became the month of deliverance occasioned by the love of 
the king. 

Ver. 17. *' And he made her queen instead of Vashti." 
The same favour which Esther experienced everywhere, she 
also found in the eyes of the king. " He loved her more than 
all the women." No other maiden found such grace before 
him, and she became his cherished wife, so that he set the 
royal crown upon her head. Jewish teachers, who did not 
like to entertain the notion that Esther enjoyed his love, say 
that it was not at all herself whom he embraced, but a 
spirit ; while she was all the time in the house of Mordecai. 
But although a similar superstition was to a great extent 
prevalent in the Middle Ages, yet the authors of the Zohar 
ought to have been mindful of the fact, that in their zeal 
to shield Esther from contamination with the uncircum- 
cised and vicious king, they thereby made her a deceiver. 

CHAP. 11. 18. 75 

The Midrash informs us that the king had hitherto the 
portrait of Yashti suspended over his bed, and now since 
Esther saw it, he had it removed, and placed hers in its 
stead (Esther Eabba 99b; Yalkut). This observation is in 
agreement with contemporary experience. Herodotus narrates 
(vii. 69) that Darius, the father of Xerxes, had a portrait of 
his favourite wife Artystone made out of embossed gold. The 
Jewish teachers quote on this occasion a remarko.ble saying 
of E. Berachia, son of Levi (Esther Eabba 92&), "When 
Israel was in exile, God said to them, ' You weep before me, 
and say that you are like orphans who have no father and 
mother. I will send you a redeemer, who will also be without 
a father.' "^ This they apply to Esther. But she had once a 
father and a mother, and a second father in Mordecai. Israel, 
indeed, was redeemed by the Messiah, who had no human father. 

Yer. 18. "And the. king made a great feast." 
The other women were dismissed. But Esther, the king 
loved. The lot of these great earthly potentates was usually 
not an enviable one, in spite of their great pomp and magni- 
ficence. They possessed power, but no love ; they could 
command, but they knew little of the emotions of the heart's 
affection, which are extended to the person loved for his own 
sake. Just because they extracted sensual enjoyment by 
force of royal command, they were not in actual possession of 
love. Extravagant and luxurious persons and times, im- 
poverish the ideal thought of true love, of husband to the 
wife and of wife to husband, who is also to her the image 
of divine creation. It is told of Khosru, the great king of 
Persia, that he chose the highly gifted Sherin as his favourite, 
but that she loved a poor artist named Ferhad. The joy 
also of true and inmost love grows only out of morality and 
out of the belief in an omniscient God. It is written : " The 

^ [" For it is written, Behold the man whose name is Branch, and he 
shall bud forth under liim" (Zech. vi. 12, R. V.). Again Isa. xi. 1. 
Midrash of Moses Hadarshan on Gen. xxxvii. 22. — Trans.] 


king loved Esther." He found in her a different person from 
other women. She was modest and unassuming in her 
bearing. Virtue without covetousness, and obedience in 
spiritual nobility, not only beautified her face, but also gave 
her such an imposing charm that the king was moved by 
higher than mere common feelings when looking at her. 
In this for him unusual joy he instituted a feast : an Esther- 
feast (iDDX nriEJ'D) or banquet to celebrate her coronation, as 
this was the custom everywhere. Besides this, he gave an 
nmn to the provinces, which the Chaldaic version properly 
paraphrases by Nn^ pUK^, " remission of taxes." Just so the 
Latin word remissio means, giving rest to the soul (like nn^n, 
from nij), as well as release of tribute. The word d<peaL^ of 
the LXX., according to its ancient use, has the meaning of 
dimissio and remissio also in the higher senses of the word. 
When the pseudo-Smerdis entered upon his reign, he likewise 
on the ground of such a celebration remitted the taxes for 
three years (Herod, iii. 67), on which occasion he used the 
word drekrjLT), viz. ariXeca <^6pov (comp. 1 Mace. x. 34), where 
it is spoken of areXeta? koX alpiaew^, " days without taxes." 
Herodotus is of opinion that all Persian kings have remitted 
the taxes when they began to reign (vi. 59). But the 
Osman sultans, although they have often celebrated weddings 
and feasts of circumcision with great eclat, have never yet 
remitted the taxes on such occasions. They have rather com- 
pelled their subjects to give them presents, unlike this case, 
where the king gave the gifts, ^'on n^D, to his subjects. 

This expression, -j^Dn Ti^, is correctly rendered in the E. V. 
"according to the bounty of the king," i.e. the gifts were 
plentiful in quantity and worthy in quality.^ When, in 1675, 
one of the most pompous feasts were held in Stamboul, every 
Greek family was obliged to contribute thirty aspers (a Turkish 

1 On the other hand, the ancient caliphs magnanimously imitated this 
royal bounty. The most magnificent wedding was that of Mamun with 
the daughter of his Vizier Buran. Of this Hammer, in his Gemdldesaal, 
ii. 231, reports that all the guests, including the camel-drivers and the 
sailors, were overloaded with presents. 

CHAP. II. 19. V7 

coin), and every ten taxed families at Adrianople had to send 
six hens, two fat geese, and four ducks (Hammer, vi. 308). 
The delivery of other presents was also imposed upon 
Jews and Christians who belonged to corporations and guilds. 
Entirely different was the munificent action of the King of 
Persia ; he gave with full hands, remitted the income-tax with 
a joyful heart, for he loved Esther ; and he who loves gives. 

Ver. 1 9. " And when the mrgins were gathered together 

the second time." 

This verse remained obscure to former commentators, and 
especially in ancient times, so that the LXX. omitted it 
altogether. But this was very wrong. The verse occupies 
an important position. It closely connects the foregoing with 
the following, and only shows the beauty and the simplicity 
of the thoughts contained in the narrative. It introduces 
tlie circumstances under which a new event took place, viz, 
the conspiracy of the eunuchs and its collapse. This occur- 
rence is placed close to the election of Esther as queen. In 
ver. 1 9 the contrast as well as the connection is shown : 
" And when the virgins were gathered together the second 
time . . . and when Mordecai sat in the king's gate ; " the 
elevation of Esther to the rank of queen had not at all 
interrupted the routine of the harem. Ahhashverosh indeed 
loved Esther, but of the tyrannical Persian lust of women he 
had not given up a particle. The temptation to continually 
acquire new wives was as strong with him as ever, and 
he could not subdue his sensual infirmities and love of 
extravacjance. He did not issue a decree to recall and annul his 
former one for the seeking out of women, although his heart 
had found satisfaction in Esther. The narrator intentionally 
brings out the contrast. " Look," says he, "just now the king 
has shown that he loved Esther above all women, and yet 
other women are so soon sought ! " On the other hand, there 
is truth in that which the Jewish expositors, if they are 
rightly understood, seem to have surmised, namely, that the 


search for new women was intentionally organized in the 
court, in order that the person of Esther might possibly be 
eclipsed and placed in the background. One might easily 
bring analo^jous cases in Oriental courts as illustrations. The 
intriguing courtiers and their retinue did not find in Esther, 
whose origin was not even known to them, a person who 
would patronise and support their plans and farther their 
influence. This they could only secure by the elevation of 
another favourite who was more intimately connected with 
them. This endeavour would not only meet with impunity, 
but would also, according to Persian court fashion, be con- 
sidered as an act of loyal demonstration. The king's love 
to Esther did not at all hinder him from receiving such fresh 
enjoyments. In his haughty and dark heart there was not a 
shadow of the thought that such conduct was in fact directed 
against his love, and against her who was momentarily 
loved by him. To this the narrator significantly alludes. 
He wishes to say : " Scarcely had the feast of Esther taken 
place, when they again began to collect virgins ; and so 
apparently the power of the new queen had already begun 
to decline." It was then that the following event occurred, 
wliich was of such a character that it endangered the king's 
oum life, hut was in the end ^productive of greater love and 
gratitude on his part to Esther. 

" While they loere again collecting virgins, Mordccai sat 

in the king's gate." 

Not as an official, but as an independent man, Mordecai sat 
in the public place before the king's palace,^ and spent his 
leisure hours, as it is the custom in the East, in hearing 
news, making inquiries, and in conversations with friends 
and acquaintances. This clause is also of importance ; for not 
only does it represent the external circumstance, without 

^ Herodotus calls the place 'Trpodvpx. When Syloson came with a 
petition to Darius to ask for Samos, we read : i'^ero i; rx -Trpodvpoc ra» 
fixai'hT^og oIkio)v (iii. 140). 

CHAP. II. 19. 79 

which the discovery of the conspiracy could not have been 
made by him, but it also expresses the sharp contrast to 
the first clause, " While they were collecting." The seeking 
of new women could only have been directed against Esther, 
while Mordecai's sitting before the palace had no other 
intention [than to guard her interests], for before this he had 
nothing to do there except to be near the palace in order 
to assist his dear daughter with his paternal advice. 

Before the narrator proceeds to give a detailed account of 
the episode, he restrains himself from what he has to say 
in ver. 20, and inserts parenthetically two memorable facts, 
viz. that Esther did not disclose her parentage and nationality, 
and that she now as punctually and carefully followed 
Mordecai's injunctions in all things as she formerly did when 
she was under his humble roof. The clause is remarkable from 
many an aspect. It reveals, first of all, a new characteristic 
of Esther herself. As the favoured queen she remained as 
modest and as obedient to her foster father as she was when 
she was first received into the harem. She still continued 
to do what he told her, as if she had still been in his house. 
The royal pomp which surrounded her on every side did not 
make her head dizzy. She had not forgotten that the whole 
royalty was not for her a matter of pleasure, but only a duty 
of obedience. Her interest was with the father out of doors, 
and not with the luxury inside. 

Xothing else but his wisdom influenced her. Xow, if the 
picture of Esther's character gains in our estimation through 
this parenthetical notice, its importance is further seen in 
this : Not merely because she did not disclose her parentage, 
and did not suffer herself to be influenced by any one but 
Mordecai, did she maintain her position at court (on account 
of which influential courtiers were searching for other and 
more manageable women) ; but also because the fact; concerning 
which more is to be spoken in detail, shows how wise the 
arrangement of Mordecai was. The knowledge that he 
acquired of the conspiracy he certainly owed only to the fact 


that no one had paid any particular attention to him. Had 
it been known that he was a countryman and relation of the 
queen, he would not have been able to sit so leisurely before 
the gate of the palace. The intriguers would have been 
cautious with their design. Thus wisdom rewarded the one, 
and obedience the other. Esther continued to be queen, 
because she was no less humble now than she was when only 
a poor orphan. She rose in power and influence, because, out 
of gratitude to her uncle, she did not think of either. The 
parenthesis is also of uncommon importance, for without it 
the fact of the discovered conspiracy would have had no 
significance and interest for our book. 

Ver. 21. Dnn Dvo^n — ''In those days," 
Now, after the short digression, the narrator takes up the 
thread of the narrative. " In those days," says he (as they 
were again collecting virgins, and) as Mordecai used to sit at 
the gate, it happened that two eunuchs belonging to the 
sentinels of the palace, and therefore confidential persons, 
made a conspiracy against the king's life. The reason for it 
is not stated, but it probably was because their ambition had 
been thwarted and their influence had been damaged. Others 
sought to gain promotion in a different way, by seeking to 
substitute another favourite in the place of Esther ; but these 
thought that they could only reach their aim by murdering 
the king, and substituting another in his place. Through the 
wonderful guidance of Providence, the plan of the one party 
must become the means of salvation from the design of the other 
in reference to the king and the queen. Their names were 
Teresh, mn, and Bigthan, |rm. The name |rm is like «nJ3 
(s. a), Bagoas, Bagistanes ; that of U'\t\ reminds us of xntnn 
(Ezra ii. 63) ; both are derived from their offices. But they 
were not high officials. This is shown by the qualifying words 
t)Dn nDC^D, those who kept the door. Herodotus called them 
TTvXovpoi, (j>v\aKaL (iii. 140), without whom no one could enter 
the castle (iii. 72). The name fjon '^'\'2W was not unfamiliar to 

CHAP. II. 21. 81 

the narrator, as it often occurs in the history of Israel when 
they had reached the zenith of glory (2 Kings xii. 1 0, xxii. 4, 
XXV. 18 ; 2 Chron. xxxiv. 9 ; Jer. xxxv. 4, lii. 24). 

Moreover, it is said that Xerxes was at last actually killed 
by conspirators. Artaban, the commander of his cavalry, 
conspired with Mithridates, his confidential chamberlain, who 
admitted him into the bedroom of the king during the night, 
and so he stabbed the king with his dagger while he was 
asleep (Diodor. xi. 69. 1). But this time he escaped assassi- 
nation. It is emphatically told that the conspirators were 
watchers of the threshold, the guard at the entrance of the 
gate. From this it appears probable that Mordecai, who was 
loitering about the gate, and unnoticed by them, overheard 
their treacherous conversation. Josephus thinks that a Jewish 
slave was one of them, by the name of Barnabazus, who 
betrayed them to Mordecai. The Jewish commentators are 
of opinion that Mordecai understood their language, inas- 
much as he spoke seventy languages ; and the proof they 
give of this is, that another man in Ezra ii. 2 is called 
Mordecai, whose name stands near the name Bilshan, which 
they take as an adjective meaning linguist. The language 
they spoke was the language of Tarshish, "^^dhld. How they 
come to this strange idea can easily be guessed. The name 
of one of the conspirators was l^nn, which reminded of ^^^m, 
which is sometimes explained as standing for Tarsus in Cilicia. 
But it is curious to note that with this Mordecai the Ben- 
jamite, according to the Eabbis, a Barnabas stands in con- 
fidential and fraternal relationship, and he is conversant with 
the language of Tarsus, like the Apostle Paul, who also had 
a Barnabas for an intimate friend and companion ! The 
LXX. does not even mention the traitors by name, but simply 
speaks of them as commanders of the body-guard (ap^Lo-co/juaro- 
(f>v\aK€<;). Josephus used a manuscript which read Enn 
instead of tnn, for he calls him Theodestes. Mordecai dis- 
covered the plot by his wisdom and by his observation, which 
his love to Esther inspired. Was he not sitting day by day 


in the square before the palatial gate for tlie very purpose of 

being vigilant, and yet to be unobserved ? And when he 

was quite certain (ynvi) that the king's life was in danger, 

so that he could substantiate his accusation, and that 

this would not fall upon the head of Esther, he at once 

acquainted her with the fact. Evidently he must have kept 

up a continual correspondence with her, as appears from 

V. 20, and so the queen revealed it to Ahhashverosh. A 

searching investigation was immediately made, the accusation 

was proved, and both eunuchs were hanged on the gallows. 

Upon this mode of execution we shall speak farther on. 

The incident was a wonderful interposition of the great 

Eedeemer of Israel, who thus already made known His name. 

Without this, Esther might perhaps have fallen a victim 

through the instrumentality of a new rival. But now she had 

saved the king's life. She had told him that it was Mordecai 

from whom she had learned the secret of the conspiracy, and 

he had his name duly registered in the archives ; but to 

reward him, he had momentarily forgotten,^ and Esther, acting 

on the advice of her friend, was silent on the point. He 

would have been exalted to high rank, had she said that he 

was her uncle and foster-father. But she obeyed, and said 

nothing. The instruments have been prepared for the hour 

of danger and of deliverance. The Midrash adorns the above 

fact with many quaint sayings ; but there are some valuable 

thoufTjhts amonix them. 

According to it, the conspirators wanted to poison the 

king by putting a snake into his cup of wine or coffee. 

When they saw that this plan was discovered, they indeed 

hastily removed the snake ; but when the investigation of 

the affair was made, lo, in order to save Mordecai's head, 

there the snake was again in the cup. The story of the 

1 Even in the history of Germany it occuiTed, as Archenholz narrates 
{Histm^y of the Seven Years' War, 7th ed. p. 462), that the court 
preacher Gerlach had warned Frederick II. against the treachery of 
Warkotsch, and saved his life ; but his fidehty was not acknowledged nor 

CHAP. 11. 21. 83 

snake in the cup^ is borrowed by the Midrash from the 
experience and notions of the time. King Xerxes was not 
exactly a John, wlio, according to the Lord's promise to all 
His disciples, might drink from a cup in which a snake had 
full play, without being hurt. The Midrash further says of 
the wonderful providence of God, that the king's anger 
against bis servants was like that of Pharaoh against his 
in order that Joseph might be set free from prison ; and 
that the anger of the servants against the king happened 
in order that Mordecai might become instrumental in the 
deliverance of Israel. In answer to the question whether 
Mordecai was right in his intervention to save the life 
of such a king, the Midrash says : Jacob blessed Pharaoh, 
Joseph interpreted the king's dream, and Daniel pro- 
phesied to Nebuchadnezzar. The pious of Israel have 
always been obedient to the existing authorities, and have 
always done what they could for their welfare. This ex- 
hibition of loyalty, as in the case of Joseph and Daniel, so 
also here, became the means of the salvation of those who 
showed it. The king had certainly not appreciated the 
spirit and the sentiments of Esther. He was accustomed to 
his wives esteeming his life of the highest consequence. 
When Darius recovered from sickness, through the instru- 
mentality of the clever Greek physician Demokedes, he sent 
him to the house of the women, in order that they might see 
him who saved his life ; and they gave him rich presents 
(Herod, iii. 130). For the life of these w^omen was, after the 
death of their king, very sad and miserable. The report of 
Athenaeus, that the Persian king was guarded by 3 women, 
has no other sense except that to none was his life so 
precious as to them. Ahhashverosh, indeed, rejoiced that 
Esther saved his life, and she gained in his estimation, and 

^ The narrative of the noble Omar Ben- Abdul- Aziz has taken hold of 
the Oriental legends, which tell that he was poisoned by a treacherous 
servant, and from the poison he became green like as grass (comp. 
Tutinameh, iibers. v. Rosen, ii. 139). 


secured her position against possible rivals. But the 
tyrannical selfishness of an Oriental mighty king is neither 
diminished nor refined by such catastrophes. They are to 
him usual acts and occurrences that are bound up with 
government. Holding unlimited power over the lives of 
thousands, his heart is not softened nor his wisdom increased 
by an exhibition of dutiful love. He had not, indeed, for- 
gotten to condemn the conspirators, but the reward due to the 
deliverer, and the warning lesson which the hostile assault was 
intended to teach him, these he had forgotten. This is 
evident from the narrative farther on, when it reaches its 
tragic height. Through extraordinary interventions, that 
which was prevented from happening helped to prevent other 
things from happening. The failure of the attempt to murder 
the king, and his omission to reward Mordecai, were factors in 
the frustration of the plan which hatred and caprice had 
formed. But it also proves that the preparatory steps taken 
by the king, as recorded in chap, iii., although they were 
intended to prevent similar catastrophes, yet they did not 
proceed from a sense of dereliction of duty and love on his 
part, but were entirely based upon his right of exercising his 
arbitrary will. 


Ver. 1. " After these things." 
The narrator in our book has not undertaken the task of 
giving a complete history of Ahhashverosh. His chief object 
is to report the circumstances which were connected with 
the drama of the danger and of the deliverance of Israel. 
True, he gives the exact dates in which the recorded events 
happened, but at the same time we must remember that he 
does not write annals of the Persian court. He rather very 
ably places those events in succession after each other which 
have any ethical tendency or bearing upon the history, in 
spite of the intervals of time which lie between them. The 
disaster which Haman seeks to bring upon Israel is to him 
the hinge upon which his history turns. All these things, he 
implies, must necessarily have happened, in order that the 
plan of an angry man should be frustrated. Instead of giving 
us diffusive reflections, he lets the facts speak for themselves. 
He does not speak of the miracles which these successive 
occurrences reveal, but he makes it clear that Haman only 
becomes powerful just at that moment when the exaltation of 
Esther to the position of queen, and when the saving of the 
king's life through Mordecai had taken place, and not before. 

" Haman the son of Rammedatha the Agagite." 
The narrator reports his elevation by the king after the 
preceding events had taken place, but omits to indicate the 
ground for this elevation. Kegarded superficially, there seems 
to be no connection between these events and his promotion, 
nevertheless they form the historical basis or the ladder upon 


\vhicli he climbed up to his high position. There is a well- 
known Persian tradition, that in the reign of King Vistagpa, 
later Gustasp, the religion of the Avesta was introduced into 
Persia (Spiegel, Avesta, i, 42, 43). Although it has been 
questioned whether this Vistagpa is the same as Hystaspes, 
the father of Darius, yet the identity of the names may be 
established from the fact that the house of Darius was 
particularly zealous for the doctrine of the Zarathustra. It 
is remarkable enough that we do not meet with the name 
Hystaspes, except in the case of the father and the son of 
Darius. This king says of himself, in the inscription of 
Bisutun, according to Benfey, p. 12, as follows: "I have 
again restored the temple, and the worship of the protector 
of the kingdom and of the gods." Xerxes also, if the few 
notices we have are an indication, was closely connected with, 
and influenced by, this religious cultus. A magus by the 
name of Osthanes (see Pliny, 30. 1) accompanied him on his 
war expedition, and was commissioned to propagate Persian 
doctrines, and an Iranian priest had even ordered the destruc- 
tion of the temples and the images in the hostile countries. 
In the elevation of Haman we must therefore see an approval 
of, and participation in, his religious zeal. The whole activity 
of Haman betrays religious sentiments, and his name has a 
religious sound. 

Haman (pn) is to be derived from the wonderfully holy 
Haoma, or Hom, who was thought to be a spirit as well 
as a sacrificial potion, possessing life-giving power (Spiegel, 
Avesta, ii. 75). The significance of Hom in the Persian 
sacrificial service was at all times known (Omomi in 
Plutarch) ; and as it was connected especially with priestly 
functions, we may infer from this that one who bore a name 
which was derived from Hom, was endowed with priestly 
qualities. In fact the name pn, Gr. Omanes (like Otanes, 
Azanes, Hystanes), does not occur in the classics as a name 
of any Persian, and only the inscription of Bisutun (Benfey, 
p. 14) contains the following passage: "A man named 

CHAP. III. 1. 87 

Martiya, son of Chicliikrish, who lived in Kliuganaka, a 
Persian city, rose in the Susian kingdom, and said : ' I am 
Umanish, king of Susiana.' " Though it is doubtful whether 
the letter " u " is in the name of Umanish, but the context 
shows that the name is similar to Haman. It says that a 
man in Shushan (where Haman lived) arrogated to himself 
the royal title of Umanish. And it is precisely of such a 
person, that we may presume he was actuated by religious 
motives. What enhances the probability of the identity of 
Haman with this person is the name of his father, i^mon, 
Homdata [as in Pherendates], "the gift of Hom." The 
appellation of Hom was then, like the functions of the priests, 
hereditary in the family. We may also assume that the third 
epithet of Haman which sounds as a family name, Agagite 
(^jjn), is closely connected with it. The Jewish commentators 
have, forsooth, woven a good deal of fantastical interpreta- 
tion around this name, but which in no other point comes 
near to the historical truth save in this, that they give to the 
hatred of Haman against the Jews a religious colour. But 
their saying that Haman was a descendant of Agag, the 
king of Amalek (1 Sam. xv. 8), who descended from Esau, 
Jacob's brother and enemy, — and hence his hatred of the 
Jews was hereditary, — cannot be proved from history, although 
their pointing out an historical contrast in Haman, as we 
have already shown, is certainly correct. The Midrash goes 
even so far as to give a whole list of names which form the 
genealogy of Haman up to Esau, but in spite of the corrup- 
tion of the text, it can be seen that the names mostly arose 
from the Piabbinical views of the morality of this generation. 
First, names are given which denote " bad qualities ; " then 
figure as the ancestors of Haman those persecutors of the Jews 
in the Herodian-Pioman era, who are of Idumean and heathen 
origin.^ The genealogy of the Targum is for this reason 

^ The passage in the corrupt text, Amst. ed., compared with another, is 
as follows (a similar genealogy in Herod, vii. 204, viii. 131) : — 


remarkable, because we get thereby a clue to the time when 
it was written ; but it does not contribute anything to eluci- 
date the epithet Agagite in connection with Haman. In 
our opinion, it is quite improbable that Haman should be a 
descendant of Amalek/ 

Tor the son of a certain Hamedatha, a man whose name 
was derived from Haoma, must be of pure Medo- Persian 
descent. If the narrator had wanted to say that Haman was 
really an Amalekite, he would have at once written Amalek 
instead of Agagi. Agag was indeed a king of Amalek, but 
what is told of him in the Book of Samuel cannot stamp 
him as a type of Haman, as he rather suffered than executed 
judgment. One cannot also assert that the narrator, in calling 
him Agagite, w^anted to represent him as the ethnical as well 
as the political persecutor of his people, as Amalek was, for 

"11 DnoTi^N^ in {al ipi^D) jpybn^ in («?. pxn) nyo* "in Diia^ in d^d^^^ 
p^iDV in ^pDiD in j:ix -m xnri in xnt^DiQ "in "i:ii ' nn i:t^ "in nn^in 

.i!^y"j nnmn Ta"''^N"i xnrn^ -m 

To read ^DID^D ^D'^Dvb '^DT^Q ^nyS ^ DISS'S ^Dns^D^N, "It^S^Dit^ ''\i2- 
The translation according to the corrected text is : Haman the son of Ham- 
datha of Agagi, son of Stench, son of Robbery, son of Pilath, son of Lysias, 
son of Florus, son of Fadus, son of Flaccus, son of Antipater, son of Herod, 
son of Refuse, son of Decay, son of Parmashta, son of Waizata, son of 
Agag, son of the Red One (Rufiis), son of Amalek, of the wliore of Eliphaz, 
son of Esau. These are, with the exception of Lysias, a Syrian general, 
entirely names of Roman persecutors of the Jews ; and Antipater and 
Herod, who were Idumeans, and therefore sons of Esau, have a place in 
the ignoble roll because of their similarity of character with the rest 
(comp. Targum, ed. Amsterdam, 58d). 

* The Midrash, as is usual with hostile parties, tries its best to stain 
Haman's pedigree. It declares him to be a descendant of a prostitute, as 
the nickname bastard is common in the East. However, Hammer tells us 
(Namen der Araher, p. 50) that the expression is not a nickname among the 
Turks, but rather a term in praise of natural gifts [so also among the 
Jews. — Tr.]. Yet it is not always so, for when used by Ibrahim, the Osman 
sultan, it was certainly not an expression of praise (Hammer, 58d). That 
Agagi represents the ethical hostility of Haman may be seen from the 
analogy of the LXX. on ix. 21, when it calls him 'M»ksI&>u, inasmuch as 
the hostility of the Syrians, in the time of the Maccabean persecution, 
was designated by Macedonian names. The garrison of the castle, whose 
expulsion was for a long time commemorated by a feast, was also called 
Macedonian (Joseph. Ant. xii. 5. 4). 

CHAP. III. 1. 89 

this would have been unique in Scripture. In that case, he 
would have explicitly named Amalek. Apart from this, it 
did not even occur to the interpreters to ask whether, accord- 
ing to 1 Sam. XV. and 1 Chron. iv. 43, which record the 
destruction of the whole race of Amalek, there could still 
be any one descended from him. But Haman does not 
even feel and act like an Amalekite, for he does not begin 
to persecute the Jews before the independent bearing of 
Mordecai excites his indignation. If the narrator had wanted 
to designate by the appellative Agagite an enemy of the Jews, 
he need not have added in ver. 10 the words Dnin\n "iilV, 
'' the Jews' enemy." There can therefore be no doubt that 
the word Agagite has received the prevalent notion from the 
punctuation of the Masoretes. 

The similarity of the letters of '':i:ix with the name of the 
Amalekite king led them to tliis punctuation, so that by way 
of jest they might transfer the character of the ancient enemy 
of the Jews to Haman. But this change in the punctuation is 
the more interesting, as in all probability an honourable title 
was changed by it into a polemical one. For Haman bears 
this appellation in the first mention of him. If it is not a 
nickname given to him by the Jews and reproduced by the 
narrator, then it must be a Persian name, which is somewhat 
connected with the purport of the father's and the son's names. 
It is very probable that in ''JJ&5 is to be found the New Persian 
njt^lJ, Guageh, which means a man of authority and dignity, and 
therefore is also used as a title of honour (Vullers, Lex. i. 
735). But it has also the sense of a comrade or companion, 
one who belongs to the same corporation, which is perhaps more 
characteristic, as we shall afterwards show. The LXX. reads 
Bovyalo<i instead of '•Jix, and thereby prove that they, at any 
rate, had not thought that he was a descendant of Agag. They 
seem thus to have thought of Bagoas, which was also the name 
of a number of royal confidants of Alexander the Great.^ 

^ Comp. Curtius, vi. 5. 23 : " Inter qiiem Bagoas erat specie singulari 
spado . . . cui is Darius fuit adsuetus et mox Alexander adsiievit." 


But the Bagoas were eunuchs, and Haman was not. Perhaps 
we may recognise this Guageh (Gogeh) in the name Gyges, 
who was a favourite among the retinue of Candaules of Lydia, 
and who afterwards became king (Herod, i. 8). 

"And advaiiced him, and set Jiis seat ahove all the 


The elevation of a man at court was figuratively represented 
by the elevation of his seat in the presence of the king. The 
highest seat was occupied by the king, and the one who sat 
the nearest to him was the most honoured and distinguished. 

When the hero Eustem was to be rewarded by the shah, 
we read (Firdussi, ed. Schack, p. 266), — 

" And Eustem, witli the adorning crown, 
Sat nearest to the lofty throne." 

When he quarrelled with Kai Kawus, and his friends persuaded 
him to remain, they promised him — 

" Thy seat a throne as for a king." 

Therefore at great conferences of princes, the various dignities 
were displayed by the various elevations of the thrones they 
occupied. When the German kings came during the Crusade 
to Constantinople, the emperor occupied a higher throne than 

Geiseddin Balbun, the ninth prince of the Ghurid dynasty 
in Delhi, permitted only those of the fifteen expelled kings 
who formed his court to sit on lower seats near him, who were 
descended from the caliphs (comp. my Kaiser und Konigs- 
thron, p. 49). When Apollonius of Tyana came on his 
fabulous journey to the Indian sages (Phil. iii. 16), Jarchas 
sat "upon a high seat, the other sages upon lower ones, and to 
Apollonius was offered, as a mark of special honour, the throne 
of Phraortes the king (17).^ Such elevations through personal 

^ The famous Vizier Melekshahs, Nisamolmlik, narrates in his auto- 
biography, of the great honour which was shown him. He alone rode on 
horseback, the others were on foot. "From this moment I sat upon 

CHAP. III. 2. 91 

favouT of the rulers were not unusual in Oriental courts, 
especially in times of peace, and under weak princes. It is 
told by Ktesias of a eunuch under Darius Nothos, that, 
through the favour of the king, he succeeded in getting all the 
power at court into his hands. So also it is told of Bagoas, 
under Artaxerxes II., that he and the Greek Mentor had so 
much ingratiated themselves into the favour of the king that 
they had more influence than the king's own friends and 
relations, TrkelaTOV la'^vaai, twv (J)lX(ov kol avyjevoov rwu Trap 
'Apra^ep^r)" (Diodor. xvi. 50). The elevation of Haman 
must surely have a special significance, for all the courtiers 
and guards were compelled to fall down before him and to 
render him homage as to a king. 

Ver. 2. "All the king's servants lowed down and did 


Servants of the king included all the courtiers and guards. 
The expression corresponds to the New Persian Gholam, of 
which Malcolm says {Gesch. Pers. i. 185) Gholam, or slave, 
was the title of the body-guard of Eastern princes. When the 
son of a great Persian nobleman is admitted into the guard, 
he claims tlie title of Gholam-e-shah, or " slave of the king." 
" Slave " was the usual title by which the rulers when angry 
addressed the highest officials, as pashas and grand viziers. To 
the demented Ibrahim, sultan of the Osmans, his grand vizier 
said : " You are the caliph, the shadow of God upon earth, 
and what enters your mind is divine revelation ; however 
absurd it may appear, it has a hidden meaning, which your 
slave^ respects, although he does not understand it " (Hammer, 
V. 399). The religious power which the adulating minister 

the wished-for horse, and all the great and eminent men walked by my 
stirrups" (Hammer, Gemdldesaal, v. 71). So the Barmekide Giafar at the 
court of Harun was allowed to sit alongside the caliph. 

^ Aloisius Gritti was the plenipotentiary ambassador of Soliman I. in 
his treaties with Charles V. In the official communication of the sultan, 
as given in a Latin report, are the words, "Aloisius Gritti sclavus meus eo 
proficiscitur " (Hammer, Gesch. des osman. Reichs, iii. 137, note). 


ascribes in these words to the sultan is an exact copy of the 
flattering words which were used in very ancient times to 
Eastern rulers. "The important thing with us," says Artaban to 
Themistocles (Plutarch, Th. c. 27), "is that a king is worshipped, 
and is looked upon as the very image of God." The Baby- 
lonian and Assyrian princes had names which in themselves 
indicated the people's high reverence for them. The saying of 
Solomon, according to the Muhamedan legend, that a great king 
always includes the prophet, but the prophet does not always 
include the king {Rosenol, i. 234), does not reach to the height 
of that which Cleo dared to say to Alexander the Macedonian 
(Curtius, viii. 5. 11): "The Persians did not simply out of 
piety worship their kings as gods, but also out of wisdom, for 
the majesty of the kingdom is a refuge of salvation." For 
this reason he also advised him to accept prostration and 
adoration like a Persian king. Tor this custom had not, 
properly speaking, among the Persians, and generally in the 
East, a slavish, but a religious sense. They did not bow down 
before a worldly, but rather before a spiritual power. Hence 
the same homage was also due to the images of the king. 
Philostratus narrates in the Life of Apollonius (i. 2 7) that all 
barbarians who came to Babylon were first obliged to adore 
the image of the king.^ When, therefore, the king ordered 
that the same honour should be shown to Haman as to him- 
self, it was a recognition that he was his alter ego. Hitherto, 
so long as Mordecai sat at the gate, i.e. since Esther became 
queen, no courtier had received such honours, though, as 
Plutarch reports, Xerxes had chosen his brother Ari(a)menes 
next to himself. Perhaps it is necessary to explain this as 
connected with the inherent dignity of the office of Haman, 
which corresponds to his name. There may be some con- 
nection between the New Persian Gogeh and the idea of 

^ In order to sliow distinction to his general Dsliewlier, the Caliph 
Moiseddin of Egypt commanded his governors to dismount from their 
horses before him and to kiss his hand, a distinction which is generally 
only due to princes (Hammer, Gemcildesaal, iii. 214). 

CHAP. III. 2. 93 

spirituality in more ancient times, as Benfey {Gr. Gr. i. 134) 
joins the Sanscr. okhlia, '* pure," with the Greek a7i09, which 
in Persian life was applied as an epithet to distinguished 
pious and great men, and which Burnouf (Yacna, i. 16) finds 
again in the name Achaemenes. The surname Sofi, which the 
Persian shah, who had established his new seat of government 
at Ispahan, bore with his family, likewise meant '' pure," and 
referred to the ascetic habits of the otherwise political and 
warlike house, even before Ismael's accession to the throne. 

" But Mordecai loioecl not down" etc. 
This refusal of Mordecai to render adoration to Haman 
arose perhaps from an opposite cause from the refusal of 
the Greeks. They considered such an act as mean and 
degrading, because, as the Spartans said afterwards, it is not 
their custom to fall down before a man (Herod, vii. 136). 
The Athenians punished Timagoras for performing adoration 
(Yaler. Max. vi. 3, Ext. 2). Pelopidas nobly declined it — 
because he looked upon the Persian king as only a man, to 
whom he would in nowise render divine honour. When 
Themistocles was a captain in Persia, he thought it his duty 
to perform such homage, on the ground that it would please 
God who had so exalted Persia (Plutarch, Th. 27). But 
Mordecai had just the opposite motive for his refusal. He 
saw in the adoration which the king demanded for Haman, 
not merely an act of etiquette to a man, but an act which 
involved the recognition of false gods. Daniel and his three 
young friends submitted rather to every hazard of their lives, 
than to recognise the existence of any other deity but Jehovah. 
The word i;-i3, here used, expresses the sense of falling down, 
as in the adoration of idols, and it is therefore not used in 
the history of Israel to denote polite homage paid to kings 
and those who are high in authority, or strangers, but the 
word nr\^ instead. It is analogous to n^a, Gr. /cvvio), and 
irpoaKvpeo), expressing the same act of worship. But before 
Elijah as a man of God the captain falls down (2 Kings i. 13). 


In the time of the same prophet there were only 7000 who 
did not bow the knee,"ij;i3, to Baal (1 Kings xix. 18). In the 
time of Hezekiah, he and all that were with him bowed them- 
selves, yiD, and worshipped the living God (2 Chron. xxix. 29). 
Mordecai could not fall down before Haman as the reflex of 
a false lustre of a false god. For the prophetic words ring 
through all Israel : " To me every knee shall bow, every 
tongue shall swear." 

The Persian history, Dshami, which Hammer in Bosenol, 
ii. 3, quotes, narrates of a governor of Caliph Omar, when he 
came for the first time to Persia after its conquest, that the 
inhabitants according to the Old Persian manner fell down 
before him, as the servants of Ahhashverosh fell down before 
Haman. When the governor saw it, he also fell down. And 
as they all rose from their knees, he asked before whom they 
fell down. They replied, " Before thee ; but thou, prince, 
before whom didst thou kneel ? " " Before God," said he, 
" to whom alone worship belongs." Thereupon Omar sent 
ambassadors, who forbade the people to fall down except 
before God ; and consequently the Persian custom did not 
become one of the Muhamedan ceremonies. But instead 
of this, the Muhamedan and Osman sultans made the kissing 
of the hand, and especially of the garments, obligatory, as the 
humiliated Tatarchan when he lost his power was no longer 
received with pomp by the sultan, but was satisfied to kiss 
the coat of the grand vizier {Gesch. des osman. Beichs, iv. 644). 

The Midrash has its explanations of the subject in 
question, which were employed in the homiletical discourses 
in the synagogue. According to one, Haman had actually 
worn an image of an idol upon his coat, for the purpose of 
compelling the people to worship him, and thus Mordecai the 
more resisted. In fact, this remark only shows that in the 
view of the authors of the Midrash, Mordecai's refusal to fall 
down arose from religious scruples. Stranger still is another 
glorification which they bestow upon Mordecai. Haman had 
really been Mordecai's servant. They were once both sent out 

CHAP. III. 3. 95 

on a military expedition. Both had a separate division to 
command, but Haman carelessly spent all the provision and 
ammunition before he could take the enemy's fort; for he relied 
too much on himself, and he would have been dismissed with 
disgrace had not Mordecai saved him. But this he did on 
condition of Haman becoming his slave. And therefore 
Mordecai refused to make obeisance to his own slave. The 
national vanity, as represented in this fiction of Haman being 
a slave of Mordecai, has overlooked the fact, that it gave to 
the former the character of humility and submissiveness in 
certain circumstances, and to the latter a want of refinement 
and duty towards a comrade in arms. 

Ver. 3. " Then the king's servants, that were in the king's 
gate, said unto Mordecai, Whj transgresseth thou the kings 
commandment ? " 

It is a sign that they had greater concern for Mordecai 
than for Haman, that they gave him timely warning, instead 
of at once accusing him. They called his attention to the 
danger before him. Not for the sake of Haman, but because 
it was a law of the kinc:, which could not be transgressed 
without peril. Mordecai knew this, and yet remained. He 
could, indeed, withdraw from the conflict, by not appearing at 
the gate, but his love to Esther forbade it. He would not 
leave this post of loving duty at all hazards. But should he 
be killed, his loss to Esther would be irreparable. Yet his 
courageous faith in God triumphs over these difficulties, and 
he is sure that no ill will happen to him, as no ill happened 
to Daniel in his stedfast opposition to idolatry. He could 
not reckon upon escaping harm on the ground that he as a 
Jew refused to fall down before strange gods, nor could he 
depend upon the assistance which Esther might render him 
at a critical moment, for his whole plan, according to which 
he strictly bound her to be silent upon her origin, would 
have been frustrated ; but he trusted in God, who would 
surely protect him, whether he fled or whether he remained at 


the gate. Nevertheless, the servants of the king contributed 
to the acceleration of the danger ; and this unseemly trait is 
perfectly characteristic of the friendships and companionships 
of such worldly people. They had encouraged him every day 
to render homage, till at last he had told them that he was a 
Jew, and could not do it. When he gave them this reason for 
his refusal, it was because he considered it as amounting to 
idolatry. Naturally, the courtiers, being themselves heathen, 
could not comprehend his reason. It did not appear to them 
clear why he, because he was a Jew, should be exempted from 
a duty which they were obliged to perform. Certainly, they 
might have calmed themselves and let the matter go until 
Haman himself had noticed it, or until it had altogether passed 
into oblivion. But their exaggerated zeal for upholding the law 
was incited by their vexation at the stubbornness of Mordecai, 
and so they denounced him. What Haman had not yet noticed, 
they now told him in order to learn, whether a Jew had 
the privilege of not bowing before him. They also wanted to 
see whether Mordecai would remain stedfast after Haman's 
attention had been drawn to his conduct. They are just 
Dnai;, servants, slaves, excited by curiosity, their pride offended, 
displaying slavish zeal, without any regard as to the danger 
to another man's life whose conscience the}'- ought to reverence, 
and whose character they ought to admire. But at all events, 
they represent to Haman that Mordecai refused to pay him 
homage, only for the reason that he is a Jew. Haman learns 
that it is not a personal matter, but one of principle with him. 
Not wilful disobedience, but religious legal ground underlies 
his refusal. Haman had not noticed anything in particular 
in Mordecai hitherto, but now he pays close attention. He 
gives Mordecai to understand that he has his eye upon him. 
The emphasis in vers. 4, 5, is upon the words (mn* xin i^ii) : 
" that he was a Jetv'' " And Hainan saio that Mordecai 
lowed not dovm^ ^ This shows that he did not notice it 

^ The anger of Haman is explained by the following remark ot 
Herodotus, i. 134 : " When Persians of equal standing meet, they kiss 


CHAP. III. 6. 97 

before. "And he was full of wrath." A man of refine- 
ment would have overlooked and excused it, as no personal 
slight w^as intended. But the vain parvenu was vexed that 
anybody should have the courage to refuse homage to him, 
even him (as vain men think), and to expose him to the 
ridicule of the courtiers (as little souls think) if he did not 
break down the stubbornness of Mordecai. A noble-minded 
man would have respected his conscientious religious scruples; 
but a puffed-up man, as Haman was, did not consider the 
person, but the principle involved in his refusal, and the 
ground upon which it was made.^ 

Ver. 6. " But he tliought scmm to lay hands on Mordecai 


The haughtiness of the man was too great to be satisfied 
with taking vengeance on Mordecai alone. The offender 
appeared to him too small a person to hurl all his thunder- 
bolts against, and yet too important a person to be left alone. 
He must avenge the disgrace which was so publicly cast upon 
him by Mordecai in the presence of the courtiers, and obtain 
such satisfaction for himself as may have a deterrent effect 
upon others. But if he called Mordecai alone to judgment, 
it might be understood as an act of private and personal 
spite, which would not redound to his honour, but would 
rather bring hatred and intrigue upon himself. So he lays 
stress on the fact that Mordecai, as a Jew, incurred the guilt 
of transgressing the royal decree. Looking from this stand- 
point, he found it easier to wreak his vengeance upon him. 
In this way he could conceal his personal malice under the 

each other upon the lips instead of saluting. But if one of them is 
inferior to the other, they kiss the cheeks ; and if one of them is quite an 
inferior, he falls down and worships the other." 

1 The comparison of the French Minister Yillele with Haman was not 
quite a happy one ; he is reported to have said, when he reached the 
pinnacle of glory, " Only two persons, Labourdonnaye and Delalot, did 
not, like Mordecai, bow the knee before me " (comp. Miinch, Gesch. der 
neuesten Zeit, v. 195). 



cloak of zeal for resisting the rising influence of Judaism. 
He thought he could earn merit for himself by vindicating 
the interests of the State, while at the same time avenging 
his offended pride. Should Mordecai fall in the midst of 
a general massacre, there would, of course, be no suspicion 
that he met with his death for the trifling offence of refusing 
homage to him. For it would be said that the king simply 
put down the rebellion in general. There would also then be 
wanting an avenger and an accuser. This psychology of the 
hatred which brooded in Haman has undergone a manifold 
development in Oriental courts, where the powerful have 
often to be cautious in exercising vengeance, because the way 
to it lies always between the mood and the caprice of the 
autocrat. Great and small citizens have at all times sought 
to give vent to private hatred and personal passions under 
the pretext of patriotism, and of seeking to promote the 
welfare of the State. Many an ambitious office - seeker, 
who either possessed no qualifications or was unfortunate 
in his demands, became by this process converted from a 
royalist to a rebel. The offended pride of Hassan Ibn 
Sabbah, which was provoked by Melekshah and his Vizier 
Nisamolmiilk, contributed to the establishment of the 
ancient sect of murderers, the Assassins (Hammer, Gemalde- 
saal, V. p. 19; comp. Weil, Kalifen, iii. 205). The Jews 
experienced this plentifully. The hatred which they were 
made to feel during 1500 years not always arose from 
religious zeal, but very often was occasioned by personal 
discord on account of some slight offence to somebody. 
In a speech of defence before the King of Spain, a Jew 
said strikingly enough : " We Jews are like mice, upon 
whom all throw the guilt when some one has nibbled a 
little cheese " (Shebet Jehudah, chap. viii. and chap. Ixii.). 
It was remarked before that the names of Haman mioht 


be indicative of his priestly origin. If this be so, and if we 
may take Haman as in some degree connected with the 
family of those religious persons whom the Greeks and 

CHAP. III. 6. 99 

Eomans specially call Magi, then the way in which Haman 
observes that Mordecai is a Jew, and at once decides to 
strike the whole of Judaism root and branch, would be 
more explicable from a psychological point of view. It 
was consistent with the character of a Magus to direct his 
attention to the Jews, and their opposition to the customs of 
the country, in order to constitute the supposed misdemeanour 
of Mordecai into a principle of rebellion. Just such a person 
would be inclined to stir up the religious animosities of the 
people against the whole Jewish nation [as, alas 1 we have 
witnessed in more recent times, and that in the midst 
of the boasted civilisation and culture of the nineteenth 
century !]. 

If Haman had been merely a secular vizier, one would 
have thought that he would pour out his wrath only 
upon Mordecai and his family. If his refusal of homage 
only concerned the transgression of a royal decree, then 
surely he alone was the guilty party. But Haman regarded 
Mordecai as a representative of a religious persuasion, and 
therefore he wanted to destroy the whole of Judaism. He 
did not consider it merely as an offence against the majesty 
of the king, but also against the established religion of the 
country, and hence his great wrath. The whole perception 
of the dramatic conflict between the Jewish -believing 
Mordecai and the Persian Magus gains in clearness if we 
place them in sharp contrast to one another. We have 
shown that the name of Haman, Agagite, is a Masoretic 
change of the ISTew Persian nji<lJ. The word has the meaning 
of " fellow-comrade," and therefore appears to be in connec- 
tion with Ui^n, socius, consors (see VuUers, i. 414). But 
now the Jews, at least those of Talmudical times, caU a Magus 
and priest of fire by the Hebrew name tan, which, in every 
sense of the word, means "a companion," "fellow-disciple," 
" comrade." In consequence of this, its signification is 
the same as '•ii^^j, and task, "wise man," "learned master," 
" house - father." Thus it appears that in the surname 


^Jis/ which Hainan bore, is expressed his titular name as 
a member of the order of fire- worshippers and Magi, with 
which also his other names perfectly agree. The fire-ministers 
and Magi were, at any rate, hostile to the Jews down to the 
'^jtimes of the Sassanides. With the appearance of the Sas- 
sanides began also in Persia restrictions upon the Jewish 
cult, because with them was completed the restoration of the 
Persian fire-worship (see my " Gesch. der Juden " in Erscli und 
Griiber, ii. 27, p. 184 ; and Spiegel, Avesfa, i. p. 18). 

The Talmud frequently mentions the hostility of the 
Dnnn, i.e. the Magi, who, in contrast to the Parthians, have 
oppressed the Jews (comp. the passages in the Aruch, suh 
wee, whence Buxtorf and Hyde, relig. vet. Persar, p. 360). 
Therefore the Jews remember them with scorn and aversion. 
They explain Ps. xiv. 1 : " The fool, h^'i, says in his heart, as 
referring to the Dnnn," the " companions." So also the 
IMuhamedans usually call them by the nickname of Philiva, 
i.e. fools, instead of Kalivan, " fire-worshippers." 

But when the Jews gave to the Magi the name of D^inn, 
it must have corresponded to a similar name which was 
peculiar to the whole order, and which was perhaps handed 
down in the ^ew Persian n:ixij. It is interesting to notice, 
that as this at the same time was the designation for " house- 
father," so also does Spiegel trace back the name Mobed, 
^laviirra^, moipet, to Sanscr. itmdna-;paiti, " house -father " 
(Avesta, ii. p. 15). 

The name inn for Magus is manifestly older than the time 
of the Sassanides. This is especially seen in Isa. xlvii. 9-13, 
where the prophet addresses Babylon in these words : "The 
loss of children and widowhood in their full measure shall 
come upon thee, despite of the multitude of thy sorceries, 
and the great abundance of thine enchantments " (l^inn). 

1 Oppert quotes from the Sargonidic Inscriptions, "Countries like 
Agag and Arubanda in Media" (Spiegel, Eranische Alterthumskunde, 
ii. 247). Even if Agag should mean a country in Media, it would not 
militate against our view, as the Magi were considered Medians. 

CHAP. III. 6. iDf 

And further, in ver. 12: "Stand now with thine enchant- 
ments," ^nan ; and ver. 13:" Let now the astrologers, the 
star-gazers, the monthly prognosticators, stand up and save 
thee from the things that shall come upon thee." So, then, 
there is a close relation between the name Dnnn with "i?n, 
which the prophet in olden times ^ used to designate magic, 
and which was also included in the word societas. Indeed, 
this idea receives support from the fact that the Jews, 
acquainted with such passages as Deut. xviii. 11, where "i?n 
is used for " enchantment," have transferred its meaning also 
to the verb "inn. 

The prognosticators, astrologers, and Chaldeans formed a 
separate caste, society, and fraternity in Babylon. Diodorus 
says of them : " They form a society in the State similar to 
the priests in Egypt . . . they are famous in astrology, and 
very diligent in augury. Amongst them science is trans- 
mitted through the family."^ The same is said of the 
Persian Magi. " The religious service of the Persians is 
like a priestly order, transmitted from father to son." ^ It 
is therefore to be understood that D''"^2n, companions, was 
their titular name, as covenanted members, just as sodalis 
was the appellation of the Eoman priestly associations [Titii 
Augustales], or as the name fratres Arvales, ir ova f rater, was 
applied in Ptome to Christian orders in the Middle Ages, and 
to societies in modern times. Even among the Jews "inn was 
a titular name, which implied that he who bore it participated 
in the spiritual communion of a certain society. The name 
Dnnn received then the same general sense as Chaldeans and 
Magi.* According to its etymology, it expressed as little 
what the associates did as the other names ; but as all magic 

^ Comp. Bibliotheca-Antiquar. i. 635, 860, etc. 

2 The beautiful passage is fully given in Historij, ii. 30. 

^ Sozomen, Hist. Ecd. ii. 8, of Brisson, p. 383. [Raslii on Tal-Shabhath, 
p. 11, distinctly affirms that the Persian priests were called D''"inn ; but 
from Kiddushin, p. 72, it appears that some Persians were called so who 
were natives of Atabur, 2 Kings xv. 12.— Tr.] 

* See Chaldeans and names of priests in Herod, i. 151. 


proceeded from the Magi, so from the knowledge possessed 
by the inn proceeded the formation of the word "^?n^ which 
expresses this knowledge, to divine and to pronounce en- 
chanting formulas. Thus, therefore, "ijn has received the 
meaning of magic, and "inn (also in Arabic and Persian) came 
to signify " to know," " to investigate ; " as Knobel ^ rightly 
maintains we should read, in Isa. xlvii. 13, n^D^ n^in, 
" astrologers," instead of nain. It is not necessary to assume, 
with Schelling,^ a mixture of these names with the deities 
of the Kabires. 

When Origen says {contra Cels. vi. 23) that neither Jesus 
nor His apostles have borrowed from " the Persians or 
Kabires" (Jlepawv 7) Ka^eipav), he indeed alludes to the 
famous classical name Kabires, but he means the name of the 
Chaberim, the Persian savants, as he can only speak of these. 
But when the Arabs have applied to the Parsees the name of 
Gheber, or Caphir, it is probable that this was because they 
wanted to express by this name their scorn for them, and to 
show that tliey did not consider them wise men, but infidels.'*^ 

To the special arts of the Dnan, the wise men of Mesopo- 
tamia and Iran, as well as to the ancient wisdom in general, 
belonged horoscopy, i.e. the observation of the relations that 
subsist between the movements and the position of the stars, 
and their reciprocal influences upon the life of man. 

The prophet speaks in the passage quoted above " of the 
monthly prognosticators of the things that shall come upon 
thee." As they pretended to be able to foretell fortune or 
misfortune, success or failure, good or evil days, by means of 
horoscopy, so their science for kings and statesmen was not of 
slight importance. It was evidently in vogue at the Persian 
court. The Magi must have latterly been called Chaberim, 

^ See his Commentary on Isaiah, p. 353. 

2 Die Gottheiten von Samothrake, pp. Ill, 112. 

^ Just as pagani is from pagus, so somewhat similar is the Arabic "1S2, 
from which, as applied perhaps to heathen, was derived the meaning, " to 
deny," " to doubt." The Hebrew 123, texit, is quite remote from this 

CHAP. III. 7. 103 

not without reference to this science. Pliny narrates {Hist. 
JS'at. XXX. 2), in the name of Osthanes, the royal Magus of 
Xerxes, that there existed a magic from the stars. The 
astrologers who accompanied Darius, Curtius calls by the 
common name of Chaldeans ; but the astrological idea per- 
vades the name and the legend of Zoroaster (Zarathustra). 
The star which the wise men of the East saw appear at the 
birth of Christ, receives its significance only when such divina- 
tion is connected with the truth announced by the Magi. An 
instance of this is given us in ver. 7, where we read : — 

" They cast the Pur, that is, the lot, before Haman,from day 

to day, and from month to month, to the twelfth month, which 

is the month Adar." 

The narrator translates the word lis by i?il3, which means 
" share," pars, sors, — just as we use the word " lot " in a 
religious sense. The New Persian has also an analogous word 
for pur.^ It is not necessary to bring the New Persian mt^n, 
2mrs, segmentum (com p. Vullers, i. 317; Eosen. Narrat. p. 
110), to elucidate the meaning of -iiD, "la. For inasmuch as 
the " lot " here spoken of was cast from day to day, and from 
month to month, and finally fell on the twelfth month Adar, 
it must evidently refer to the horoscope which was set up, 
and whose apparent indication of fortune the Greeks, as well 
as the Komans, called the result of horoscoping, K\r\po^, or 
sors. Indeed, the prophet may allude to this when he says 
n^tJ'ini' D'*j;niO, " the monthly prognosticators " (Isa. xlvii. 1 3).^ 

It fell before Haman, i.e. " he caused it to fall," he made 
observations and obtained the result. If the meaning of '•Jjs 
is really found in n:iS"iJ (with which the Sanscr. salchja is to 
be compared) as a Persian expression for -inn, then the know- 

^ Hyde, de rel. vet. Pers. p. 195, says : " Notandum est quod Persae vulgo 
sunt proni ad pronuntiandum, p pro b, unde scribunt Panaem pro Ban^m 
et Deypadur pro Deybadur," etc. 

2 The lot was, according to Herod, (iii. 128), customary among the 
Persians. For when thirty men volunteered to follow the expedition 
against Oroetes, the lot was cast who the chosen ones should be. 


ledge of Haman in the use of the horoscope gains through this 
a clearer explanation. The narrator has already indicated this by 
the mentioning of " Haman, son of Hamadatha the Agagite," as 
hachaber, or ''i:i&5, is equivalent to ^JDH, fire- worshipper magician. 
Sors, pur, the result of setting up the horoscope, was so 
termed, as according to ancient ideas every day and every 
hour had its allotted fortune, which was suitable to the various 
undertakings and exercises of the will of man. How these 
observations were made, the ancients have left us an abun- 
dance of information. It did not merely depend upon the 
position of the planets, but more particularly upon their rela- 
tion to the zodiacal signs, every one of which controlled a 
month. In reference to this, the Chaldeans, as Censorin 
expressly narrates, had a special era, dodecaeteris, consisting 
of twelve years, " which the horoscopians made applicable, not 
to observations of sun and moon, but to other purposes, 
because they say that in it revolve weather, fertility of 
crops, drought, as well as diseases and conditions of healing" 
{Be die Natali, cap. xviii.). Scaliger is of opinion that this era 
was still in use by the astronomers of the East in the Middle 
Ages.^ The years of the era had different names of animals. 
The first year was called Mouse, and the last had the name of 
Pig. What form of horoscopy it was that gave to Haman 
the twelfth month (the Jewish Adar) as favourable for his 
enterprise against the Jews, is difficult to establish. The 
Jewish exposition (Megilla 135) tries to show that he found 
out that he could not harm Israel in any other of their 
months but Adar, because he knew that Moses died on the 
7th of that month ; but he deceived himself, as Moses was 
also born on the 7th of Adar.^ [So it was not an unfortunate 

^ Isagog. Clironolog. Canon, lib. iii. p. 181 : "Ea signant sua tempora 
Persae, Chatai, Tartari, Turcae, sed Indi praecipue." Likewise in his notes 
to Manilius, comp. Eschenbach, Epigenes de Poesi Orphic (Norib. 1702), 
I). 165a. 

^ [The reason for assigning the same day of the month to the birth and 
death of Moses is given by Rashi, in loc. Because he said : " I am an 
hundred and twenty years old this day " (Deut. xxxi. 4). — Trans.] 

CHAP. III. 7. 105 

day for them after all, as the end proved.] The Midrash 
(93&, followed by the second Targum) is more explicit as to 
the reason why the other months were less favourable for his 
purpose. " When he came to make observations in the month 
of Adar, which stands under the zodiacal sign of the fish, he 
exclaimed : ' Now they are caught by me like the fish of the 
sea.' But he noticed that the children of Joseph are com- 
pared in the Scripture to the fish of the sea, as it is written : 
' And let them multiply as the fish in the midst of the earth ' 
(Gen. xlviii. 16)." 

This thought did not, of course, enter Haman's mind, 
but perhaps he made use of the Persian customary idea, 
that the twelfth month is propitious for taking action 
against the hostile principle under the figure of serpents, by 
the writing of amulets which would kill them (Hyde, de rel. 
vet. Pers. p. 258). But surely more suitable is what Manilius, 
among many other things, says of the zodiacal sign of the 
fish : " The star does not come out at the beginning of this 
sign. Hateful gossip and poisonous tongues are bestowed 
upon men, who bring bad words to ears unaccustomed to hear 
them. Thus the faults of the people are blazed abroad by 
these ambiguous tongues" (lib. iv. 5. 574, etc.). 

The narrator mentions the time when Haman made investi- 
gations concerning the lot. He says, |D3 t^^nn-^in ptJ^^in K^inn, 
" In the first month, which is the month Msan." It must be 
taken for granted that he understands by the expression, " the 
first month," the first Persian month, as he paraphrases the 
word pur by the Hebrew hy\in ^\r\, i.e. the lot. Otherwise it 
would have been sufficient to say, in the month Nisan, for he 
wrote for Jews. But he wanted to specify which month it 
was in which the lot, according to Haman's scientific observa- 
tions, was cast. Just because it was a horoscopy, it depended 
upon the month. The Jewish month Nisan had no particular 
advantage to offer for Haman's purpose, but the first Persian 
month had certainly its significance. The Persian new year 
undoubtedly tallied in ancient times with Msan, for as an 


astronomer of the Middle Ages says, " Their first month always 
began when the sun entered the zodiacal sign of the Eam." * 
This ram is the symbol of Nisan. The specification in the 
book of Esther, therefore, confirms the oldest authentic notice 
of this description. New year, was from time immemorial, 
in the opinion of the nations, exactly the proper time for 
attempting to ascertain the future. We still find in the book 
Sadder, a Persian compendium of doctrines (in Porta 66), that 
it is necessary to offer sacrifices and to feast on the first day 
of the new year, for the welfare of the coming year depends 
upon it.^ The superstition which has fastened itself upon our 
new year, and also upon Whitsuntide, by the practice of 
lotteries and the seeking to ascertain the future by means of 
oracles, is to be traced back to the highest antiquity. It is at 
all events very remarkable, that on the feast of Epiphan}^, i.e. 
January 6, there was a custom to play a game with beans, 
by which lots were cast to elect the king of the feast. 
On the same day was commemorated the arrival of the Magi 
of the East to seek the new-born King. Again, the same 
day is also the chief festive day of the first week of the new 
year among the Persians, properly the great Neuruz.^ It is 
not previously mentioned that the king did not enter upon 
an enterprise without first casting the pur. The omission 
would not have appeared strange, if we had not the notice in 
ver. 7. And this is the more important, as with it is con- 
nected the memorable day when the whole disaster was to 
take place. It brings out the fact prominently, that Haman 
put the arts of astrology into motion, in order to secure the 
destruction of Israel. He had likewise set in array the 
wisdom of heathenism against the people and the will of 
God. The diabolic character of his hatred is shown in that 
he called the lottery of divination to his assistance. It is 
not so much the personal antipathy of one man towards 

^ Ideler, Handbuch der Chronologie, ii. 547. 

2 See Hyde, de rel. vet. Pers. p. 465 ; comp. Spiegel, Avesta, p. 100. 

^ We shall enter upon this more particularly in another place. 

CHAP. III. 7. 107 

another man, but the hostile sentiments, which make use of 
the hidden arts of magical calculations, in order to make sure 
of the enterprises that are here characterized ; the casting of 
the lot is here considered as an unusual mode of procedure. 
For it expressed the fanatical zeal of Haman, who not only 
applied his official power against Mordecai, but also his 
magical arts against the people of Israel. Therefore the 
report in ver. 7 is properly the central point of the whole 
narrative, though the author only mentions it, as it were, in a 
whisper. The contrivance of Haman against Israel is thereby 
represented, not merely as an act of tyranny against the 
people, but also as a rebellion against their God. Through 
the casting of the lot, Haman, as shall be more fully showai 
farther on, is placed in the rank of the magicians of Pharaoh, 
and near Balak, who sought by the curses of Balaam to hurt 
Israel. He casts the lot in the new year as though he wants 
to have the fortune of the star for himself against a people 
which, as he well knows, has a peculiar religion and an 
especial reverence for God, as appears from ver. 8. The 
drawing of a lottery at the court of the king was in itself no 
extraordinary thing. The wisdom of the Magi was consulted 
in all important affairs. This is what Pliny means when he 
says : " This wisdom has assumed in the Orient the command 
of the kings" (xxx. 1). Later times give an illustration of 
this. That the descriptions of Chardin ^ of the Persian court 
of his time are perfectly suitable to antiquity, we do not 
assert. But among the Oriental princes of the Middle Ages 
there were no polities without astrologers. Through these 
they made their own wishes and intentions legitimate. The 
Mongolian Khan Hulaku destroyed the Caliphat, because the 
astrologer said that the house of Abbas must fall before him.'^ 
Even the Osman sultan requested Frederick (1769) to send 

^ Comp. particularly, Voyages, torn. v. ; Descript. des sciences, xi. p. 76, 
etc. : " On consulte les Astrologues siir toutes les choses importantes et 
quelquefois le Roi les consulte sur les moindres choses par exemple s'il 
doit aller h la promenade, s'il doit entrer dans le Serail," etc. 

^ Malcolm, Gesch. v. Pers. ii. p. 73. 


him three expert astrologers. But his answer, " That his 
astrology was an efficient army and a full treasury," it appears, 
did not quite please the sultan, for he then turned to the 
Emperor of Morocco, with the request to send him an 
astrologer, saying, " That although the knowledge of all secrets 
is only with the most high God, yet it is legitimately allowed 
to cultivate the knowledge of the true moments of the day 
and of the night." ^ But though similar astrological polities 
existed in the court of Xexes, yet the casting of the pur for 
Israel had just as distinct a significance as the arts of the 
Egyptian magicians and the curses of Balaam. For, not 
what these generally were in the habit of doing, but what 
they did against Israel, could be taken into consideration. 
The narrator does not forget to note that this happened on 
the first month of the twelfth year in the reign of the king. 
It appears that in the view of Haman this twelfth month was 
particularly favourable for his design. 

The second Targum calls the man who assisted him in the 
casting of the die, Shamshai the scribe. This is one of the 
interpretations of which the Midrash is fond. Among the 
enemies who sought to hinder the rebuilding of the temple in 
Jerusalem by writing a denunciatory letter to King Artah- 
shasta against the Jews, was one Shamshai, the scribe (Ezra 
iv. 9). It is to be noticed that his name is apparently 
derived from the adoration of the heavenly lights, and 
signifies "sun-servant," as Epiphanius also knew a sect by 
the name " Sampsaei," translated by 'HXcaKoL 

On the other hand, the Midrash has another beautiful 
explanation : At the moment when Haman challenged the 
diabolical chance of the lot of the stars against Israel, a divine 
voice was heard exclaiming, " Fear not, congregation of Israel ! 
If thou wilt repent towards God, then the lot will befall him 
instead of thee." Instructive is also the parable by which 
the Midrash scoffs at the vain haughtiness of Haman, who 
wanted to soothe his offended vanity by the adoption of 
1 Hammer, Gesch. des osman. EeicheSj viii. pp. 328 and 428. 

CHAP. III. 8. 109 

destructive measures against the people of God. " He is like," 
it says, "to a bird which built its nest on the seashore. 
One day the waves swept the nest away. Then the bird got 
angry, and wanted to empty the sea and fill it with sand, 
which naturally enough caused great amusement and laughter 
among its companions." ^ So foolish was also Haman, who 
thought to annihilate the people for which God had appointed 
such a past and such a future. Like the little bird was also 
a smaller Haman, or rather no Haman, but only his scribe 
Shamshai, who, it says, had such a thirst for wisdom that 
even the Sea of Tiberias could not quench it. He drank it 
all out, and yet was thirsty as before.^ 

Ver. 8. " And Raman said unto King AhhasJiverosh" 
The horoscope was set up by Haman's instruction and in 
his presence, therefore it is expressly said, pn '':th, before 
Haman. The king knew nothing about it. Haman only 
now communicated to the king what had been in his mind 
for a long time (ver. 8). For he wanted not only, as he 
thought, to be himself secure, but also to have the result of the 
horoscope investigation, and to be able to say in the language 
of Schiller, " Die rechte Sternen-Stunde ausgelesen sei, des 
Himmels Hiiuser forschend zu durchspliren " (Wallenstein, 
ii., vi.) : " I have deciphered the right hour in the stars, by 
searching its traces in the celestial mansions," before coming 
to the king. And when he did so, his opening statement was 
more devilish than his former action. " The stars do not lie," 
but he did lie, and with fine diplomatic words entrapped the 
unsuspicious king. One could not better represent the art 
with which Haman sought to win the king, both by what he 
said and by what he did not say, than it is done in ver. 8. 

^ The parable of the strand-snipe (Sanscr. tittihha) is found in India, of 
which the people say, " It considered itself one so important that it slept 
on its back, and stretched forth its legs in order that the sky should not 
fall down." The Indian fable has only changed the end (see Max 
Muller on Hitoimdesa, p. 97). 

2 Michelet, Gesch. der Bibel, Prague 1865, p. 11. 


"ins"Dj; ):^'' — " There is a certain people'^ 
He does not call it by name. The name would bring their 
glorious history to remembrance. The name would in itself 
have contradicted many a subject which he was desirous to 
mention. It was, moreover, properly speaking, an act of 
treachery against the king himself which Haman had in 
hand ; inasmuch as the protection of the Jews had been the 
policy of the Iranic dynasty ever since Cyrus. For it was 
just in opposition to Babylon, against which Cyrus revolted, 
that the Jews were favoured by him and restored to their 
land to form a faithful advanced guard. Darius adopted the 
same policy when the Magus Gumata (Pseudo-Smerdis) fell. 
It may be supposed that Xerxes would not have consented to 
Haman's request even on that account. For Haman speaks 
as the Magi had spoken. Because he knew this, he entirely 
suppressed the name of the people whom he was arraigning 
before the highest tribunal in the land. Besides, the name 
Jews was extensively known. The king must have known 
how many of them were living in Shushan. Had he not in 
the name of the Jew Mordecai been saved from the treachery 
of his servants ? Therefore Haman says UV ^Je^^ " There is 
somewhere a people." In the other three passages where the 
word IJC^'' occurs, it has the sense of " some one, somewhat," 
connected with it (Deut. xxix. 14 ; 1 Sam. xiv. 39, xxiii. 23). 
Here it expresses, besides, the scornful tone with which 
Haman speaks of the people which he disdains to name. 
He depreciates the importance of the nation, in order the 
more easily to attain his end. It is TiSDI ITDD, " scattered 
and separated among the nations." The people of whom 
he speaks has no national consolidation. It is without a 
national bond of union, and therefore also destitute of the 
means of offering a possible resistance. Eepressive measures 
against it would require no sacrifice and might easily be taken, 
for as scattered and separated fragments, it has neither power 
nor importance worth thinking of. He speaks of the Jews as 
if they were gipsies, and the question had concerned a tribe. 

CHAP. III. 8 111 

without a history, vocation, commonwealth, and connection. 
So, also, we find in elementary books of later times Jews 
and gipsies placed in juxtaposition, though it may not have 
been done with Hamanic intentions. But the despicable 
way in which Haman speaks of Israel to the king, was not 
disadvantageous to his design of representing them as very 
dangerous subjects to the State. He therefore adds, True, 
this people is scattered among the nations, but they are found 
in all the territories belonging to the king. He notices a 
fact whose historical truth is, indeed, of importance, and 
could not be gainsaid in any age. The fault he has to find 
with them, is a matter that concerns the whole country. 
And now come the principal objections to them : {j^d r\)2Y^ 
DHTn Dyn, their laws are diverse from those of every people. 
By these laws are to be understood the religious precepts 
which divided Israel from the inhabitants of the Persian 
kingdom. The word m is only used for the decrees of the 
king and of God. Of the king, because he was considered as 
the embodiment of divine power, and therefore his orders 
were looked upon in the same light as if they had been issued 
by God. They were irrevocable. The word occurs in the 
book of Esther in this and other passages only in reference 
to the king. Now, when such statutes of a people are spoken 
of, no others are meant than their religious customs, for they 
cannot have another king, and other precepts, m, cannot be 
used. This is evident from its etymology. But so great 
was the importance of such decrees as were issued by the 
king, that owing to their religious character they inseparably 
combined justice and equity. Hence in Pehlvi r\ia, 'New 
Persian m, meant " justice," " righteousness," as well as 
" chance," " destiny," and " fortuitous event." The surname 
which the ancient Persian kings are said to have had, from 
Kajomors to Gustasp, was that of jNnt^n, dadan ; compounds 
of this word are applied as appellatives to the king and 
to God (Vullers, i. 779-81). To it corresponds the Greek 
6efiL<; in Homer, which is only applied to a holy statute. The 


oracles in Dodona were called 6efjLL<TTe<; At6<;, " decisions given 
by Zeus." ©e/^t? eVrt corresponds to the Latin fas est. It 
is interesting to compare the various ideas formed among 
different nations with the statutes and customs given to men 
for their observance. Among the Iranians, statutes are con- 
sidered as gifts (Sanscr. da, BlBco/jli,, dare) ; among the Greeks, 
as ordinances {tlOti^i ; cf. Sanscr. dim) ; among the Eomans, as 
proclamations {fas is derived from fari, and lex from legere). 
But the Eoman view comes nearer to the Hebrew idea of 
revealing which the word "lox, "im (BeKoXoyos:), contains. How- 
ever, what is here said applies only to radical words which 
disclose ancient divine commands in human rites. 

The m, says Haman, which this people considers obligatory, 
differs from those of the whole nation. When this difference 
was emphasized, it amounted to a passive disloyalty to the 
king. For it did not fully recognise the claims of the Til 
^i'on, the statutes of the king. It indeed regarded them as 
the laws of the potentate, but it denied their religious basis. 
Haman must have desired that the king should draw such a 
conclusion. For the nations of the Persian kingdom greatly 
differed in language, costumes, and manners. This was even 
a matter of pride to the ruler, that his powerful sceptre 
extended over such a heterogeneous conglomeration of peoples. 

Herodotus, in his description of the Persian kingdom, por- 
trays its manifold character in a very drastic manner. Haman 
therefore must have intimated that the difference between the 
Jews and the other nations is not so much in their external 
dress and language, as in their sharp religious contrast, in 
their acknowledgment of a God who is different from the 
gods of the other nations, who, although they vary among 
themselves, yet are at one in describing to the great king of 
Persia divine honours. But this people would not do that, 
because they would thereby acknowledge a principle which 
is against their religious convictions. This was, of course, 
derogatory to the dignity of the king. The king provided 
himself with all sorts of symbols and ordinances, in order 

CHAP. III. 8. 113 

tliat he (to use the words in the treatise of Mundo, which is 
ascribed to Aristotle and edited by Apuleius) " should be 
venerated as a god." But Haman is not yet satisfied. He 
wants to show the actual consequences which follow, when 
other laws are carried out than those which emanate solely 
from the king's will. It is not to be assumed that their 
different religious opinions are merely matters of sentiment, 
and it is sufficient that they by their actions show themselves 
to be obedient Persians (as, e.g., Mordecai who had saved the 
king's life). The consequence of such diversity of principles 
is that " they do not practise the king's laws " (i?iDn Til 
W^^V i::)\s). Is not Mordecai's refusal to kneel before Jmii 
a proof of this statement ? But Haman, with the subtlety of 
the serpent, avoids mentioning individual cases of disobedience. 
He generalizes his accusation that the whole Jewish people, 
on account of their religious laws, do not respect the commands 
of the king. 

By this he did not mean to convey that they refused to pay 
taxes, but he referred to their denial of divine honours to the 
king, which denial as a people they dared to make throughout 
all the territories of the kingdom. This they everywhere 
do with their self-willed stubbornness, and show publicly, 
that they prefer their own laws to those of the king. In 
the book of Daniel, we see that his rivals went similarly to 
work, and when they could not point to any omissions in his 
duties as a citizen, they said : " We shall not find any occasion 
against this Daniel, except we find it against him concerning 
the law of his God " (nnbt? mn, Dan. vi. 6). But his resist- 
ance to the king's law, because it was against the law of God, 
must cost him his life. The three pious men, Hananiah, 
Mishael, and Azariah, were likewise placed by their enemies 
in a strait between the obedience they owed to the king's 
command and the worship which was due to God alone ; and 
they were ready to die in defence of the latter. But Haman 
made the charge general against the whole nation, that they 
rejected the authority of the king altogether. Had it been 



a question concerning a single person, Haman would not pro- 
bably have wasted one word more. " But they are many 
(said the king), a whole nation. Would not the State suffer by 
your proposal ? Shall they not be tolerated because they are 
useful citizens ? " This objection of the king, Haman at once 
removes. He tells him that they are a profitless people, and 
do not deserve any such regard. The damage which might 
possibly ensue by leaving them to enjoy rest (DH^^n^) is not 
equal (mtr px) to the profit which their removal would 
bring. And he hastens to add, — noticing that the king had 
thus far approved of his speech, and wishing to remove any 
financial consideration which might have seriously occupied 
the king's mind, — " If it please the king, let it be v/ritten 
that they be destroyed (Dnasi5), — not merely be banished or 
their goods spoiled, — and I will pay 10,000 talents of silver 
into the treasury ^ to compensate for the possible damage." 

The subtlety with which Haman tickles the conceited king, 
could not be more accurately presented, than it is in the 
specification of the sum of money which he was ready to pay 
for the slaughter of the Jews. It is self-evident that the 
king was to understand that this sum was to compensate 
him for the loss the royal treasury might sustain, as soon 
as he issued the order for their destruction. As he 
formerly spoke so slightingly of the significance of this 
people, that it mattered very little to the king whether 
they existed or not, one should have expected that he, in 
order to confirm his low estimation of them, would have 
offered a very small price for their heads. But the cunning 
Haman had the avarice as well as the vanity of the king 
in view. The sum was, in fact, not a small bribe which 
the king might be induced to take, notably when Haman 
himself guaranteed it. Had he offered a small sum, it 

^ Ti^ *1T3^ is the treasury, Zend, ganza (Sanscr. ganclscha\ gaza. The 
amassing of solid gold and riches in the treasuries is only peculiar to the 
East in respect of show. In itself it is the case everywhere. Meissner, 
in his Humiliated and Exalted Esther, p. 62, etc., has collected the descrip- 
tions of Oriental treasuries from travellers of the seventeenth century. 

CHAP. III. 8. 115 

might have offended the king, and aroused his suspicion 
that Haman's only intention was to make profit by the 
bargain. Exactly because he so depreciated the people, and 
made out it was of no consequence to the king whether 
they lived or not, he for that very reason named a high 
sum. Thus he entrapped the king from two sides, from one 
by tempting his avarice with the large sum, and from the 
other by tempting his pride in implying that it must be a 
trifle to him to lose a multitude who were only worth the 
price of 10,000 talents. It must be a large sum if the offer 
should not offend the pride of the king, and must so excite 
his vanity that he should, as is shown in ver. 11, turn it into 
a generous gift to himself. Ten thousand talents of silver 
were a considerable sum for the Persian king. 133 (of 
round form, cake, as the Greek (j)6oL8e9 '^vaiov, gold cake ; cf. 
Bockh, Iletrolog. Unters. p. 51) was a Babylonian talent which 
was stamped in silver in Persia ; therefore Haman says he 
wants to let the silver be weighed or stamped. As such 
it was 3000 shekels and 1000 Attic drachmas in value. In a 
round sum, 10,000 Babylonian talents were about £4,0 00,0 00.^ 
With regard to the higher or smaller value of the sum, we may 
obtain more decisive knowledge by comparing the contemporary 
value of the currency generally. The parallel notices in the 
books of Ezra and Nehemiah with those in Herodotus make it 
appear that it was a very important sum. In Neh. vii. 70, 
72, we are told of the offerings which the returned captives 
brought for their sanctuary. They were 41,000 darics of 
gold and 4200 minas of silver. How exact these statements 
are, and how they agree with the money value given by the 
Greek writers, appears from the fact that the 21,000 darics 
which the fathers apart from the people gave, are of the same 
value as the 4200 minas; for five darics are equal to one mina. 
Now, as one talent has 500 darics, therefore the value of the 

^ [According to Mr. Berewood, a BnT)y Ionian talent of silver was £218, 
15s., so that ten thousand talents would be £4,680,000 ; but it is uncertain 
whether they were Hebrew, or Babylonian, or Grecian talents. — Trans.] 


whole contribution was over 80 talents, wliicli indeed was a large 
sum for the poor captives of those days to raise. But it appears 
insignificant by the side of the 10,000 talents which Haman 
offered as a price for the whole people. Very important also 
were the valuable things which Ezra received from the king as 
the property of the temple. We read (Ezra viii. 26) : "I even 
weighed into their hands (that is, to the priests) 650 talents 
of silver, and silver vessels 100 talents, of gold 100 talents;" 
total, 850 talents. To this were added 2 bowls of gold = 
1000 darics, or 2 talents. So then the whole temple treasure 
did not even amount to 1000 talents. 

Herodotus has given us particulars about the revenue which 
the several provinces of the Persian monarchy contributed. 
The provinces wdiich paid in silver had to calculate in 
Babylonian talents (iii. 89). The whole sum which was 
collected from Babylon and the rest of Assyria (where the 
Jews were in great numbers), amounted annually only to 
1000 talents. From Egypt came 700 talents. The sum 
raised in Shushan and the whole adjacent territories was 
not more than 300 talents. The whole income from the 
Persian Empire, apart from the gold dust of India, was no 
larger a sum than 7600 Babylonian talents in silver. To 
this certainly must be added the revenue of 210 talents 
from the Lake of Moeris, and 140 which remained in Cilicia 
for the payment of wages.^ So, then, the sum which Haman 
offered was about equal to the whole annual income in silver 
from the whole empire. Eor, according to the standard of the 
Euboeic talent, which was also valid in Persia (for all, e.g., who 
delivered gold were obliged, according to Herodotus, to pay in 
the Euboeic talent), the income of the Persian king amounted, 
with the exception of the gold dust of India, to 9540 talents. 
This agreement of the offer of Haman with the silver revenue 

1 On this occasion, while mentioning the particulars given by Herodotus, 
we cannot do otherwise than call attention to the difficulties which 
they occasion to historical expositors. As they are so very important 
we shall endeavour to solve them in the supplement. 

CHAP. III. 8. llT 

of tlie king has also an exegetical value.^ Considerable 
numbers of Jews were only to be found in the chief States of 
the Persian kingdom, and for these alone Haman offered the 
king as much as he derived from all, — a very great sum 
apparently for the people which was represented to the king 
as worthless. But the speculation of Haman was, as already 
remarked, strictly correct. The greater the sum was, the 
more flattering it appeared to the fancy of the great tyrant to 
waive it. It must have been thought enormous, if Ahhashverosh 
should boastfully reject it. Haman knew his master well 
enough to guess tliat when he once enjoyed his confidence and 
smiles, matters of finance would not be so exactly weighed in 
the balances. The Oriental sultans were liberal in taking 
as well as in giving. Haman could comfortably offer such a 
sum to the king, for if he at all entered into the bargain of 
selling the Jews, he need not trouble his head any further 
about the money. He who, like Alihashverosh, delivers up a 
people, without question, investigation, or consultation why 
and wherefore he should do so, does not want to make a 
business of them, but only to show that he is the grand lord, 
who treads nations under his feet ; and yet the more boastful 
he is, — as it here appears, — the more he is in reality only 
the slave of his ungoverned passions. What Haman has 
here done, in offering the king money for the lives of others, 
is by no means a thing unheard of. At the court of the Seld- 
shukian princes, Mohamed was offered a great sum of money 
by his grand vizier for the life of an eminent man whom 
he hated — viz. Alaeddaulet Abul Hashim in Hamadan. 
Mohamed, who was not so generous as Ahhashverosh in 
giving, but extraordinarily greedy of receiving, entered upon 
the bargain. But when Alaeddaulet heard of it, he offered 

^ The Oriental legend, wliicli better portrays the Hfe and the spirit 
of the East than its authentic history, teaches also analogies on this 
point. In the legend of King Heykar, one king demands as tribute from 
the other " the triennal income " of his country, and about this there 
arises the prize fight of the spirit {The Thousand and One Nights, ed. 
Habichtj xiii. p. 86). 


the king a greater sum for the life of the vizier, and the 
bigger bid obtained the victory. Of course Hanian concealed 
his plan and hatred under the flimsy pretext of political 
prudence and necessity. It is a matter about a disobedient and 
hostile people. He reckoned upon the distrust of the king 
after the experience which he had gained in his dealings with 
the Greeks in his unfortunate expedition. Similar devices for 
killing all the Christians of the Turkish Empire were made 
several times at the court of Stamboul under Selim I. and 
Murad IV.; and even so late as 1770 the fanatical Mufti 
Perisade Osman Efendi declared his opinion, that such a 
massacre was a necessity. But when the Sultan Ibrahim, 
1646, meditated a similar plan of killing the Christians, it 
was his Mufti who dissuaded him, by telling him that the 
stars were not favourable to his intended enterprise (Hammer, 
Gesch. des osmanischen Reiches, v. 390). By tliis opinion the 
right to kill all Christians was not contested. As also the 
right to kill all the Jews was claimed by the Roman emperors 
as successors to Titus, and this supposed right was commuted 
into the imposition of a head-tax. 

Ver. 10. " And the king took Jiis ring from liis hand and. 

gave it to Hamanr 

The name ny3D which the ring bears comes from its use in 
the act of sealing. The seal was dipped (ynto) in a coloured 
liquid, and then pressed upon a docum^ent. Thus the seal- 
ring received its name from the action, because a seal without 
a ring was not customary in the East. For the ring which 
was worn on the finger was the symbol of the person having 
control and power over his will. The seal of the king 
included all his power. A document which bore the im- 
pression of the royal seal {sigillum) demanded unhesitating 
obedience. It was considered as a divine law, and irrevocable 
(see chap. viii. 8). Therefore with the king's great seal was 
transferred royal power. I^ot before his dying hour did 
Alexander the Great deliver his ring to Perdikkas. History 

CHAP. III. 10. 119 

very characteristically narrates of the Emperor Tiberius, that 
with his last breath he convulsively held his ring in his 
clutches (Suet. Tib. 73). The Oriental legends about the 
peculiar virtues of the seal of Solomon, by which he had 
power over demons and spirits, are only figurative representa- 
tions of his royal power. Only to an alter ego, or uncon- 
ditional representative of the will of the king, could the royal 
seal-ring be delivered. This, in a modified form, became for 
the purpose of State administration the custom in the court 
of the Turkish sultans, where, for a long time, it was customary 
at every accession to the throne to order four imperial seals 
to be made, three of which, in circular form, were given to 
the highest officers ; while the fourth, in quadrangular form, 
the sultan reserved for himself (Hammer, Osman. Reich, viii. 
199). Xo one could execute the work which Haman 
undertook without obtaining from the king extraordinary 
power. By putting on the ring which the king wore on his 
own finger, he was thereby invested with royal authority. 
The narrator, in recording this act, repeats the designation : 
" Haman, the son of Hamedatha the Agagite, the Jews' 
enemy," in order to call attention to the impending calamity. 
The ring stamped him as the Jews' enemy, and his receiving 
it — remarks the Midrash, strikingly — produced a greater 
impression upon the Jews than the prophecies of all the 
prophets did, for they were led to repent of their sins. 
Haman is now distinguished with the name D^^nM ^yi, 
" persecutor of the Jews," " hater of the Jews," — a name 
which is applied to no one else in the 0. T., but which the 
Jews have ever since applied to all those whose blind pre- 
judice caused them to be Jew-baiters, and who were influenced 
more by feelings of fanaticism, envy, and avarice than by a 
desire to ameliorate Israel's condition, and to lead them to 
repentance and to salvation. The expression is chosen with 
particular reference to more ancient usage. The enemies of 
Israel and of their God are often so styled. The word "n^? in 
the sense of enemy (in the singular and plural) occurs, besides. 


in some passages in Ex. and Deut., in Amos v. 1 2 ; Isa. xi. 
1 3 ; especially in the Psalms, where ii^ stands often for "nv 
(comp. Ps. xxvii. 11, liv. 7, Ivi. 3, lix. 11). But more probably 
the narrator had Isa. xi. 1 3 in his mind, where it is said of 
the enemies of Judah (imD^ min'' n-i:^), " They that vex Judah 
shall be cut off." 

Ver. 11. "And the king said unto Haman, The silver is 
given to theCy the people also, to do luith them as it seemeth 
good to thee." 

The haughtiness of the king is extreme. He gives to 
Haman the ring, without receiving first the price of the 
bargain. Therefore he adds, that he makes him a present 
of the money. Haman should give notliiiig, but he can take 
what he likes. As Haman said, " if it please the king " to 
destroy the Jews, he would give him money ; so now the 
king says he need not give anything, and may do " as it 
pleases him." We must observe that the king does not say 
that he makes him a present of the people in order to 
destroy them (Dna&<!?), but only that he may do with them 
as he likes. Has he not noticed the brief hint of Haman, 
or does he think that this is merely his avaricious speculation ? 
The narrator gives us an insight into the tyrannical careless- 
ness and indifference with which Ahhashverosh listens to 
Haman. How readily he gives him the seal of authority to 
deal with a whole nation as he likes, without a single 
question or investigation ! For he merely says, " The people 
(DVn) also is given to thee," without mentioning them by 
name. He looks upon the order simply in the light of 
granting a favour to Haman. What can scarcely excuse 
him is his confidence in Haman, in that he believes that 
Haman is patriotic in his declaration that the people (ayn) 
are really dangerous to the State. It is the peculiar cha- 
racter of Oriental tyrants to have too much confidence in 
their ministers. The more a ruler is careless and capricious 
and absolute in power, the more boundless is his confidence 

CHAP. III. 12. 121 

in persons whom his autocratic will has raised to high offices 
of State. Of the noble Giafar the Barmekide, it is told that 
he possessed such power, that he first spontaneously adopted 
and executed the most important affairs, and then reported 
about them to the caliph, who merely used to say, "All 
right, Giafar." This gave rise to the mocking verse which 
Abu Pharaon made upon Harun, and which, according to 
Hammer, is as follows : — 

" Thou thinkest that thy hand rules the empire ; 
Thou art mistaken indeed ; 
Thou art nothing but the puppet, wliose wire 
The hand of the great man does lead." 

But Ahhashverosh is not in the hands of a Barmekide, but 
in those of a revengeful man. — At the conferences w^hich the 
ambassador of the Hungarian pretender to the throne, Zapolya, 
had with Ibrahim Pasha in 1533, the latter boasted of his 
power, and said, " My master has also two seals ; one he wears 
himself, and the other I wear; for he does not want to see any 
difference between himself and me " (Hammer, Osman. Reich, 
iii. 129). Against this Ibrahim the Jews complained, as against 
a second Haman ; and they rejoiced in like manner when he 
fell (Joseph ha Cohen, Dibre hhayim, p. 103, ed. Amsterdam). 

Ver. 12. " Then were the king*s scribes called in the first 

month, on the thirteenth day." 

This date must have been perfectly known to the narrator, 
for the letters of the king must have been prepared from the 
day of the first month to the corresponding day in the twelfth 
month in which the execution was to take place. But this 
was the thirteenth of Adar, as is expressly stated in chap, 
ix. 1. And as the edicts were issued to the Persian authorities, 
it must have been in accordance with the Persian calendar, with 
which the Jewish must have been brought into harmony. It 
must therefore also be assumed that the thirteenth of the first 
month agreed with the Jewish. But was it without any signi- 
ficance tliat Haman should choose the thirteenth day of the 


month for the starting-point of his diabolical hatred? He had 
cast the lot from day to day in order to find out the month in 
which he might strike the Jews. The thirteenth day of 
every month was called by the Persians Tir, and this has still in 
the modern Persian the meaning of " lot," " share," and " part " 
(Vullers, Lex. Pers. i. 486). We cannot refrain from other 
considerations which throw light upon the choice of the 
thirteenth day. It is necessary to remember that beside 
other four months of the Numa which have thirty-one days, 
the ides of the Eoman calendar falls upon the thirteenth, and, 
with regard to the full moon, the time of the month was 
reckoned as so many days before or after the Ides (cf. 
Ideler, Ilandh. der ChronoL 239). So also it is known that 
Macrobius (lib. i. cap. 15) adheres to the explanation that 
" Idus signifies the day which divides the month, for iduarc 
means in Etruscan the same as dividere." The full moon 
divided also the old Indian months into two parts — the 
bright part was called citklapaxa, and the dark part hrish- 
napaxa (see Lassen, Ind. Alterthumskunde, i. 824, etc.). Like- 
wise, we find in Persian dictionaries that the planet Mercurius 
was called by them Tir. But concerning Mercurius-Hermes 
the ancients had, to a certain extent, the notion that he was 
the god of light of the lunar year. It was thought that Isis, 
the Egyptian moon, was descended from Hermes, and that 
Hermes has his seat in the moon, and goes about with it in 
its rotation. He has also added the five leap-days to the 
lunar year, and he, as is elsewhere more fully told, liberated 
Mars, i.e. Ares, who was chained in the thirteenth month, 
whereby the arrangement of the leap month (among the Jews, 
the second Adar) is indicated (see my Drackenkdmpfe, p. 65). 
The connection of the thirteenth day with the planet Tir 
may yet be instructive from another aspect. It is thought 
that Tir is nothing else but a part of the compound tistrya, the 
star Tistar, which the Parsees have ever invoked as the most 
illustrious and mighty (comp. Spiegel, Avesta, i. 273), which 
notably gives rain. But it appears to me that the very name 

CHAP. III. 12. 123 

Zarathustra, in a reversed form, means " the son of the star." 
It is undoubtedly this star which the gospel tradition knew 
as the star of the Magi, the Persian wise men. Then the 
tradition would also be remarkable, because the arrival of the 
Magi at Bethlehem is assigned to January 6, and this was 
reckoned as the thirteenth day from the 25th of December, 
the assumed birthday of Christ, as it still goes in modern 
times by the same name of the thirteenth, in reference to the 
three kings (Melchior, Caspar, and Balthazar), among the 
people of North Germany and of the Netherlands. 

However, there is something more certain and sure. If 
we may believe that the designation of the thirteenth day by 
the name of Tir had reference to the full moon, we should 
rather decide for the connection of its significance with Tir, 
" an arrow," which was contracted from tigr (comp. Tigris, 
tigra, ro^ov, Tc^ev/ia). Pliny says the Medes call Tigris an 
arrow (see Botticher, Arica, p. 28). The arrow is an ancient 
emblem of the moon as well as of the sun (hence of the moon 
and sun-gods). Even the name itself of the fourth month, 
which is the same as of the thirteenth day, viz. Tir, receives 
an explanation from this, not so much, of course, according to 
the later Persian calendar, where the year began with spring, 
but after a computation of time, of which the year began in 
September, which was so much in use in the first Christian 
centuries in the East, that it became the official era in 
Constantinople (Ideler, ii. 359). In this era the fourth 
month corresponds to the zodiacal sign Sagittarius, whose 
symbol is the arrow, or, as the Jews call it, " the bow." 
The constellation of Sagittarius appears in December, hence 
the arrow-throwing god of the Lycians, when winter came, 
hid himself in Patara. 

All this undoubtedly throws much light upon the intention 
of Haman to destroy the Jews on the thirteenth of the month. 
The arrow is the symbol of death, of sickness, of disgrace, and 
of blasphemy. Poisonous words are compared to arrows (Ps. 
Ixiv. 4). False tongues are called deadly arrows (Jer. ix. 8). 


The apostle speaks of the fiery darts of the evil one (Eph. vi. 
1 6). In a similar figurative sense the Greeks used the word 
t'69 ; and in Persian " to shoot one with an arrow " means, to 
wish evil to any one, or to slander him (see Vullers, i. 483). 

The importance of the arrow and the bow in the Persian 
kingdom is well known. A coin bore the image of a bow, and 
an archer hits better than an edict. The bow was manifestly 
the symbol of the king himself, and represented his victorious 
and ruling power like the sun, hence the Persians were de- 
picted upon the coins as standing with the extended bow, ready 
to shoot (Vullers, Arsac. Imperium, i. p. 50, Paris 1728, etc.). 

On the day of the arrow, Haman sealed a death warrant 
against unprepared Israel. 

"And there ivas written according to cdl that Haman 
commanded unto the king's satraps, and to the governors that 
luere over every province!' 

Haman had received the authorization from the king, and 
" it was written," not, " they wrote," for the writers were only 
instrumental in the act, and wTote, so to speak, what the 
grand vizier dictated. He caused these letters to be 
addressed to the D^jamt^nx. That we are to recognise in 
this word, both according to the sound and sense, what is 
known from classical authors as satraps, or satrapa, satrapes, 
there can be no doubt. The X, comp. avv and ^vv, is re- 
produced here by li^n, as in tniK'ns, for the H in Xerxes. 
The N is, besides, only a Semitic prefix ; therefore the form 
of 'E^aTpd'7Tr)<; for satrap, by Theopomp, can be recognised 
as Semitic pronunciation (comp. Pott, Etymol. Forsch. i. 
Ixvi.). In a similar manner the Jews have reproduced later 
Greek words which begin f by appending an «, and by 
d:3, to which corresponds ^n here ; or fei/09 by |DDS, and 
^vXlvov by p^D3X. — Likewise, it is certain that D^Jsmt^'nK 
perfectly corresponds to the Old Persian Khshatrapaivan, as 
it was read upon the inscription of Bisutun by Benfey (comp. 
Lie Fers. Keilinschrift, p. 18), and, in fact, we may read 

CHAP. III. 12. 125 

D'jismc'rii?. It means the administrator of a government 
(JchsJiatra, domain, and pavjan, according to Benfey, from 
the Sanscr. pa, to govern), as Herodotus calls satrapies ap-^ai 
The second part of the word D'':ia (sing, ps or p) is doubtless 
found in the modern Persian Ban (|^<3), possessor, commander. 
The Greek form teaches that EJishatrapawa was also pro- 
nounced Kssliatrapa. After the fall of the Old Persian 
monarchy there were, properly speaking, no more satraps. 
The different Oriental kingdoms have given different names 
to their governors. When we find the old word airiK^, 
sitrap, in Persian dictionaries, it looks as a reintroduction 
of the Greek name into the Persian. Under the caliphs 
the governors of provinces were called Wali, or sometimes, as Hammer remarks {Ldnderverwaltung iinter dem 
Chalifat, p. 11), and Emire or Nabbe (pi. newab, whence in 
a maimed form, Nabob) were the names of representatives. 

But Haman did not only write to the satraps, but also to 
the nine, governors of single districts. There were twenty 
satraps of the king (see ver. 1) ; but in the several satrapies 
were medinoth, i.e. revenue districts, to the number of 127, 
including Persia proper. At the head of these stood the 
mna, and therefore the first were entitled " the satraps of 
the king," i.e. governor-generals ; while of the second it said, 
" who were over every medina or district." Now we must 
remark something about the meaning of the name nns, pi. 
niriQ or niina. It was not only a name of a provincial 
administrator in the Persian, but also in the Assyrian and 
Babylonian Empires. The most ancient notice of this name 
we find in the kingdom of Solomon. Nehemiah held the 
office of a nns in the Persian kingdom. That this office con- 
sisted in collecting the taxes may be seen from Neh. v. and 
1 Kings XX. 24. To explain this very extensively used word, 
it is necessary to compare it with ancient Greek notices, for 
it must seem strange that satrap had become Grecised and 
nns not. Now we must remember that Hesychius uses 
7rd^r)Te^, " rich," '' eminent," in the same sense as Herodotus 


speaks of the 'irdx€e<; as the aristocrats of Naxos (v. 30), the 
eminent men of Aegina (vi. 91), and of the rich Sicilian 
Megareans (vii. 156) as Tra^i^e?. To the same effect we read in 
1 Kings X. 15, that Solomon received gold from the kings of 
the mingled people (or of the West), and from the ]ni^n nine ; 
which cannot in the strictest sense mean governors of the 
country, as they were not called so in Judea (see 1 Kings iv.), 
but must likewise be understood as a general name for the rich 
and the eminent of the country. Why Thenius (BUcher der 
Konige, p. 169) should conclude, from the mentioning of this 
name, that this chapter is of later date, is difficult to see. 
The connection of nns in a figurative sense with 7ra;^u9, which 
has also the natural meaning of fat, has nothing astonishing in it. 
It is exactly in the nature of the Oriental dialect to associate 
riches and eminence of a person, in a figurative way, with the 
size and appearance of his body, and to express the two ideas 
by one word. The Psalmist calls the mighty of the land '•jtJ^T 
p^?, i.e. " the fat ones of the land" (comp. Isa. v. 17). In like 
manner is this the case with p^ (comp. Judg. iii..29 ; Isa. xxx. 
23). It has its analogy in the Greek iraxv^, at least accord- 
ing to Pott {EtymoL Forsch. ii. 221), Sanscr. halm, large. 
Hesychius has the gloss ^a^alo^ fiiya^, 7rd\v<; ra^ix;. It is 
evidently to be read irayy^, and refers to similar forms, nna 
is still to be recognised in the modern Turkish pasha, formerly 
written basha, bassa, and was also a general title of honour 
which was bestowed upon learned men (Hammer, Osman, 
Beich. i. 56). And what is here remarkable is, that in the 
placing together of satraps and pashas in the book of Esther, 
we have the ancient Oriental designation of governors side by 
side with that given by the modern Moslem State (probably 
the last of that description). 

The State secretaryship of the great king of Persia was 
evidently a very extensive institution, for the many nations 
were not managed and governed with uniformity after one 
single scheme; they were allowed to have their own particular 
language and customs; the orders which were addressed to 

CHAP. III. 13. 127 

them from the throne were sent to them in their own language 
and writing, It is emphatically stated that every province 
and people received the letters in its own peculiar writing 
(n^JiDD) and language (iJitJ>i5D). This is explained by the fact 
that they were not merely directed to the satraps who were 
Persians, and to the inferior governors (mna), but also to the 
princes (nn5i>), who belonged to the_ people themselves. For 
as the officers of the first rank were called governors of the 
king, and of the second rank pashas of the provinces, so these 
were called princes of the people (ny). Indeed, the contents 
of the letters concerned them the most ; for, to a certain 
extent, it was a call for a united national war against one 
people that was scattered among them all. Haman in his 
diabolical subtlety did not merely write to the satraps, lest he 
should provoke disapproval, as it w^ould have appeared to 
them as an arbitrary act. jN"or did lie write merely to the 
administrators of finance, lest these should demur on the 
ground that the exchequer would suffer by it; but he specially 
wrote to the chiefs of the nations, to inflame their local 
popular antipathies against the Jews. The bureaucratic board, 
which was instituted for the better management of local 
affairs, and for the instruction of the people, when measures 
were transmitted to them in their own language, should 
become the instrument in his hand of exciting hatred and 
passion. Thus does the abuse of power change the best 
organizations into instruments of death. It is not the 
institutions and constitutions of a country which secure 
prosperity to the people, so much as the spirit which pervades 
the hearts of the rulers who put them in motion. 

Ver. 13. " And letters should he sent hj posts into all the 

king's provinces" 

The actual despatch of the letters is not yet told in vers. 
12 and 13. The former speaks of their style, and the latter 
of their contents. The sending out of the letters is recorded 
in ver. 15. The words, the letters to be sent {n)b*^:, iSTiphal 


Inf. absol, which occurs only in this place), are connected 
with ver. 14 and explanatory of it. The runners (D"'yin) 
were the royal post. " Nothing in nature," says Herodotus 
(viii. 98), "surpasses those messengers in swiftness. For as 
many days as the journey would occupy, so many men and 
horses are provided, one man and a horse for each day's 
journey, and neither snow nor rain, nor heat nor night, can 
hinder any of the runners from finishing his course with the 
greatest speed. The rider transmits his message to a second, 
and the second to a third, and so on, until it reaches its 
destination. This running course of the riding messengers 
the Persians call Angareion." The messengers themselves 
were called Angaroi. The word mJiC, letter, which occurs in 
chap. ix. 29, is therefore hardly to be explained from a 
Hebrew root, but must be taken as a contraction of mJ35?. 
The modern Persian clearly shows this in the words engarc, 
engariden, a " writing," " document," " codex " (though in 
VuUers it is used only in the abstract sense of thinking). 
The Talmud Erubin 62a, gives the Persian names of letter- 
carriers "p'ln'iD and '•jiinN, and so the first is clearly explained 
from p-iniD, Arab, paper (see Preytag, iv. 216), by the modern 
Persian inD, a seal. 

The second name, Eapaport (in HrecJi Millin, p. 6) explains 
from angari ; but this is a mistake, for it is to be read '•JTiax, 
from the Persian herden, to carry. In Arabic we have still 
the name of a letter-carrier, mna, tdbellarms (Freytag, i. 106). 

" To destroy, to slay, and to cause to perish, all Jews, hoth 

young and old, little cliildren and loomen" 

The contents of the writing were to the effect that all Jews 
should be totally exterminated ; and the expressions used were 
evidently chosen to convey the climax of cruelty. First the 
command is 'T'O^nf', to destroy, i.e. their communal institu- 
tions, their domestic peace, their welfare, and their property. 
But this is not yet enough, so it is followed by the more 
cruel word y^rh, to put them all to death at the edge of the 

CHAP. III. 13. 129 

sword. But lest any official might out of pity let some of 
them escape, another more revolting expression is added, 
^ax^l, " and to cause to perish," all without distinction of sex 
or of age. When Haman first made his proposal to the king, 
in ver. 9, he used the w^ord Diasb, to lose them ; but he did 
not explicitly say that he meant to kill them, for he would 
have attained the object of his request if they had only been 
banished from the country. But lest the provincial authori- 
ties should interpret this ambiguous expression in a mild way, 
he specified the manner in which he wanted them to be 
destroyed, namely, by slaughter. Some commentators have 
thought it so improbable that such an edict should be issued, 
that they have thrown doubt upon the genuineness of the 
whole book. Such critics only displayed their complete 
ignorance of history and of the spirit of Oriental rule. 
Attention had rightly been called to the misdeed of 
Mithridates king of Pontus (Grot, in loc). The manner 
in which he ordered the Eomans to be slain is literally the 
same as the one narrated in our book. Appian (xii. cap. 22) 
reports : " He sent secret orders to all the satraps and the 
mayors of cities, that they should within the space of thirty 
days fall upon the resident Romans and Italians, upon their 
wives and children, and upon all freemen of Italian origin, 
and kill them, and throw them away unburied, and take their 
goods and possessions, partly for themselves and partly for the 
King Mithridates." ... " These secret orders Mithridates 
sent to all at the same time. When the appointed day 
came, there was wailing and lamentation in the whole of 
Asia." Mithridates was also an Oriental tyrant, and acted in 
a measure according to old tradition. It was to him an act 
of vengeance as w^ell as national policy, which Haman like- 
wise in his plan presented before the king. But the Romans 
were a mighty people who had penetrated Asia victoriously, 
whilst the Jews formed, throughout the whole country, sub- 
jugated peaceable communities. Mithridates therefore was 

the executioner of national vengeance, but Haman sought to 



avenge his own personal spite. For the latter fearful motive 
has also many analogous examples in the Orient. Specially 
cruel appears the deed of Alaeddin Khiljy Sultan (in the 
beginning of the fourteenth century). Some Mongols whom 
he had dismissed from his service were accused of treachery, 
and in consequence of this he caused all Mongols, it is said 
15,000, to be slain in one day. Mohammed, the victorious 
Shah of Chowaresmier (in the beginning of the thirteenth 
century), had conquered Turkestan, and had given to the 
conquered Osman Khan, who was uncommonly handsome, his 
daughter in marriage. But this man, being inwardly as 
coarse as he was outwardly fair, had no sooner settled in 
Samarkand, than one fine morning he undertook a massacre 
of all the people of Chowaresniier, so that his own wife, the 
daughter of Mohammed, scarcely escaped. Of course he 
himself did not escape vengeance afterwards (comp. Hammer, 
Gemdldcsaal, vi. 172 and iv. 197). Shah Abbas of Persia, 
when he no longer needed to tolerate the disobedience of the 
inhabitants of Ghilan, issued an order in 1634 that all the 
people should be killed (Malcolm, ii. 30). European history 
also is not without such examples of tyrannical cruelty. 
Prominently among all is the fearful sanguinary St. Bartho- 
lomew night. For those who were then killed were not 
strangers, but Frenchmen, friends and guests. Yea, even 
those who had been invited to weddings were cut off without 
pity. Here the king himself and the princes imbrued their 
hands in blood. They were more bloodthirsty and guilty 
than Ahhashverosh, who was deceived by another, and mis- 
led by his own arrogance. 

Eanke, in ]\\q French History (i. 332), s^ys that about 3 o'clock 
the alarm-bell began to ring ; then the people rushed every- 
where into the houses of the Huguenots, in order to kill them 
and to rob them of their property, crying, " It is the king's will, 
and he has commanded so." Orders were given by word of 
mouth, and these were carried with the speed of lightning 
from city to city to excite fanaticism. According to moderate 

CHAP. III. 13. 131 

statistics, in Paris alone 5000, and in the country 20,000, 
people were massacred. 

The Jews were scattered in all the provinces of the empire 
(Joseph. Jewish Wars, vii. 333), but they lived everywhere 
together in separate communities, as was the peculiar custom 
in ancient times. The various nationalities of a city did not 
reside promiscuously, as in a modern city, but in separate 
quarters. For this reason jealousies were more frequent, and 
hatred and passion were more easily excited against each 
other. In the cities where Greeks and Syrians dwelt together 
strife never ceased. It could not therefore be difficult for 
Haman to excite fanaticism and avarice, either of which is 
always, even without external impulse, the source of the other. 
Joseph. A^itifj. xviii. 9. 9, gives a remarkable example of this 
from Seleucia. The Greeks and the Syrians were always 
quarrelling. But the former were generally defeated, because 
the Jews took part with the latter. " Now when the Greeks 
had the worst in this sedition, and saw that they had but 
one way of recovering their former authority, namely by 
preventing union between the Jews and the Syrians, they 
every one discoursed with such of the Syrians as were formerly 
their acquaintance, and promised they would be at peace and 
friendship with them. Accordingly they gladly agreed so to 
do ; and when this was done by the principal men of both 
nations, . . . they fell upon the Jews, and slew about 50,000 
of them ; indeed, the Jews were all destroyed, excepting a few 
who escaped," etc. A similar quarrel arose at Caesarea be- 
tween the Jews, the Greeks, and the Syrians as to the owner- 
ship of the city, in which the Syrians played a double game ; 

and though overcome by the Jews, the latter were at last 

severely punished by the Komans (Joseph. Jewish Wars, ii. 
13. 7). There is a history of the entire extermination of the 
Jews in Persia under Abbas II. in the year 1666. It is 
not authenticated, but it may possibly be an imitation of the 
narrative in our book (see Schudt, Jiid, Merkwilrdigh i. 1. 


" In one day, even upon the thirteenth day of the twelfth 

month, which is the month Adar." 

It may seem strange that Haman should have left the 
governors such a wide space of time for the execution of the 
order, but it was because the horoscope had cast the die for 
the month Adar ; and this turned out to the salvation of Israel. 
On the other hand, a long interval was desirable for himself, 
as it would leave the various executioners time to prepare for 
decisive action on the appointed day. The objection to this, 
that the Jews might in the meantime have fled or provided 
themselves with places of refuge, does not hold good, for 
whither could they have fled ? In such a case the whole 
extensive empire would have been their universal prison. And 
if the communities had desired to emigrate, would they have 
been suffered to do so ? And even if they had been willing 
to forsake their faith and nation, would they not have been 
hindered from doing so ? For when one wants to destroy a 
person, he strengthens him in tenacious adherence to his 
religious system out of hatred. The command of Haman was 
violent and cruel enough before the actual deed. He played 
with them, as the cat with the mouse which she has already i 
caught. He let them have breathing time, during which they 
should prepare to die, to lament their fate, and to fall into 
despair. The horoscope had decided for Adar. In the 13th 
of the first month, the day of the arrow, the decree was issued, 
and till the 13th of Adar, i.e. a whole year, the angel of death 
was hovering over Israel, and pierced their souls before he 
touched their bodies. 

" And to take the spoil of them for a prey." 
That ^'2^ represents war booty is well known (comp. my 
Comm. onJitdg. p. 60). It is therefore usually connected with 
TD, to plunder. Pott (ii. 153), who compares it with apird^eiv, 
is surely right, rather than Benfey. The writing of Haman 
regards the Jews as enemies of the country, whose subjuga- 
tion is determined upon, and whose hostility is of so enormous 

CHAP. III. 14. 133 

a nature, that slavery would be too mild a punishment for 
them. The Persian monarch had power enough to deal as he 
pleased with those who were under his dominion, and of whose 
power of resistance he had nothing to fear. 

The Jews have experienced a similar fate in their subse- 
quent history, if not in being threatened with death, at least 
in having their property confiscated. The German-Eoman 
emperor used to claim the right, during the Middle Ages, of 
levying a head-tax from them, on the ground that he was the 
heir of the conqueror of Jerusalem, and could do with them 
as he liked. The Emperor Charles IV. said expressly, in a 
rescript : " All the Jews belong, themselves personally and 
their possessions, to our exchequer, and are in our hands and 
power, so that we are authorized to deal with them according 
to our pleasure." It was again a relic of the old Oriental 
law of conquest, which was upheld against the Jews in Christian 
States, and aggravated by religious sentiment, such as we 
find in Haman's order, when Albert Achill, the Margrave 
of Brandenburg, published the following political law : 
" When a Eoman king or emperor is crowned, he has every- 
where the right to take the goods of the Jews that are living 
under his dominion, and also to take their life, and to kill a 
certain number of them " (see my " Geschichte der Juden " in 
Encyclop. Ersch und Gruher, ii. 27, p. 86). 

Ver. 14. ''A copy of the writing to he given out for a 


The explanation of pti'riD is not without certain great diffi- 
culties. It does not appear that the compound jnns, " royal 
bread" (Dan. i. 5), Zend, paiti, Sanscr. jpati, Pers. pdd = 
" king," " lord," and ia, " bread," comp. Greek /Se/co<?, bread, 
throws any light upon it. Nor can it be compared with D:ina, 
" word," " edict," which is in Persian D^Q, Dn^S, for the two 
words have no relation to each other. It is certainly like 
]y^2r\'^ in Ezra. With regard to its meaning, we find a differ- 
ence of opinion already among the oldest commentators. 


Some of them thought that the two words in Esther and in 
Ezra are of different meanings, which is surely not the case. 
The LXX. has rendered the word pathsliegen in Esther by 
antigraphon ; hence came into Lexicons and into most modern 
versions the word " copy " for it. But this is clearly an 
hypothesis of the LXX., for it renders parshegen by diasaphesis 
and diatage, which corresponds to the paraphrase of the Tar- 
gum, diatagma. But it is also evident that pathsliegen and 
parshegen are inseparable, because the second half of the 
compound never occurs for " writing " or " copying." In the 
passages in Ezra there is no mention of a copy, as they only 
speak of one letter. The satraps could not have sent a copy, 
but the original, to the king. So also in our passage, the 
word cannot be understood in the sense of a copy. We must 
therefore take antigraphon in the sense of " contents," " pur- 
port," " tenor," as Jerome rightly renders it by " summa." To 
obtain this meaning, it is not necessary to adduce the modern 
Persian ntnnn, Arab, dns (Castelli, Lex. Syr. p. 738 ; Vullers, 
ii. 698).^ Other Orientalists, as Oppert and Gildemeister, 
have thought that the word is composed of the Old Pers. fra 
(Sanscr. pru, Lat. pro) and ahanhana ( = gaoighana), which 
means order (see Eiirst, Zex. ii. 244). At all events the 
syllable p^ demands consideration. It may dialectically be 
compared with signum, whose original idea was likewise 
" mark," " character," and " contents." Pott hit upon a good 
idea when he reminds us of a Sanscr. form, sangna (cognitio) 
(Etym. Forscli, i. 183). Sig7mim is, in fact, nearly related 
to 7 1 7 z/ (w aK6i,v, with which the Zend, znd, Sanscr. gna, 
cognoscere, are connected. Parshegen and pathshegen cannot 
be better rendered than by " intelligence," " observation," 
"contents of a letter." Only in the sense of argumentum, 
cognitio, could the Targum translate DD^D, Ps. Ix. 1, and 
n:6J'n, Deut. xvii. 1 8, by parshegen ; but for the latter, other 
editions have merely parsha. — The contents of the writing to 

* The attempt of the Targum to derive the word from jjns, " to explain," 
may be correct for this, but untenable for -parshegen. 

CHAP. III. 14. 135 

the authorities was published ("li'J) to the populations, in order 
that they might be ready for the day of the execution. These 
were no private instructions to the authorities, but rather open 
orders to the people. The intention of the publicity was in 
order that the Jews might be prevented from a possible flight. 
Thus the prospect of the coming event increased the hatred 
and mistrust of the heathen against them, severed all the ties 
which had hitherto held them together, and extinguished every 
humane feeling of pity in the breasts of the people, by harden- 
ing their hearts during this long interval of respite. The 
tyrannical command caused the Persian people to prepare 
themselves as for a feast. They were to provide themselves with 
weapons, and to be ready and eager for the prey.^ Fanaticism 
and avarice do not need much time to be inflamed. But 
Haman thought that the more the idea was held out to the 
people that on a certain day they would have a chance of 
robbing the Jews, the more they would calculate upon it as 
sure. Men must be prepared for joys and for sorrows, for 
benevolence and for hatred, in order to drink of their cup to 
the brim. 

In ver. 15 may be seen how vividly graphic, and yet 
how plain, is the description of the narrative. While the 
messengers run — for they transmit a royal order (therefore 
hamelech) — the command is published in Shushan. What a 
dreadful command ! Life and property should be taken from 
hundreds of thousands, parents should see their children 
killed before their eyes, and children should stand as silent 
and helpless witnesses of the slaughter of their parents ; 
and while this is being proclaimed, Ahhashverosh and Haman 
sit down at the table and drink. Just now an arrow is 
shot, giving the signal for the butchery of thousands, and 
Haman sits silent at the table of the deluded and fickle king. 

^ The Midrasli Esther 94a, describes this beautifully in its own homi- 
letical way. When a Jew went to market to buy meat or anything else, 
there the Persian met him, and said scornfully, " To-day you still buy and 
pay your money ; to-morrow I shall kill you, and plunder all that you 


Wine flows abundantly into the cups, but the numberless 
tears which flow from many dim eyes are forgotten. It is 
not more tragical in Shakespeare's Ricliard IIL, Sict iii. scene 1, 
where Glo'ster is represented as inciting to acts of new 
atrocity, and saying to Buckingham, " Come, let us sup 
betimes, that afterwards we may digest our complots in some 
form." For the banquet of Ahhashverosh gives less the 
appearance of a complot than of the malicious triumph of a 
treacherous enemy. 

" But the city of Shushan was perplexed." 
The accustomed explanation of the word riDUJ cannot 
easily be adopted. Commentators have generally followed 
the LXX., wdiich renders it by " iTapdaaeTv" " the city of 
Shushan was horrified," deriving the word from the root ^n, 
which means " rolling," " turning," and is cognate with 13X 
and *]an. Jewish grammarians have given occasion to this 
interpretation (see Kimchi's W'lin^n ivin, p. 72). On the 
other hand, the predominating ancient Jewish opinion on the 
word w^as, that it is derived from nan, " to weep ; " so the 
second Targum, etc. Of course it was thought that the weeping 
refers to the resident Jews alone, — an opinion which Jerome 
followed, for he says, " Cunctis qui in urbe erant flantibus ; " 
and another scholium has the word "Judaeis" instead of 
cunctis. And the LXX. also renders in other passages forms 
of words which are likewise derived from ^n by K\av6fx6<i, 
"weeping," as, e.g., Joel i. 18; Micah vii. 4. But it is 
necessary to limit both significations, as they are due to the 
homiletical expositions of later Jews, and both are untenable 
objectively. The word neviicha ("perplexed") cannot apply 
to the Jews, for we read only in chap. iv. 1, "Now when 
Mordecai knew all that was done." Only now commences 
the description of the effect which the publication of the 
decree had produced upon the Jews. Apart from this, it 
would be extraordinary to intimate that the Jews are meant 
by the word " city," when iv. 3 expressly relates that wher- 

CHAP. III. 14. 137 

ever the report of the decree came, " there was great mourning 
among the Jews, and fasting and weeping." But if, as is 
undoubtedly the case, this is predicted of the whole city of 
Shushan, the question arises, why should nevucJia be taken 
in a sense which implies that they were horrified, amazed, 
and confounded at the event which had actually been 
ushered in ? Did it come all of a sudden upon them, that it 
took them by surprise ? When the king had long hefore placed 
the prospect of plunder before them, it can scarcely be 
supposed that when the longed-for day had actually arrived, 
the people were smitten by feelings of compassion for the 
poor innocent Jews. The first Targum foresaw the objection, 
and tried to meet it by the remark, that the city got confused 
by the discordant, tumultuous voices that were heard, of joy 
on the part of the heathen, and of lamentation on the part of 
the Jews. But in ver. 15 there is only expressed the deeds 
and the behaviour of the heathen against the Jews. Then in 
chap. iv. comes the contrast afforded by the description of the 
misery it had produced among the Jews. In nsui, therefore, 
there can only be intimated a parallel to the drinking of the 
king with Haman. When Naomi returned with Euth to 
Bethlehem, we are told " that all the city was moved about 
them" (Dnn), i.e. her return in such a poor condition, accom- 
panied by her young daughter-in-law, excited wonder and 
gossip, but does not necessarily imply that feelings of 
sympathy were aroused. In the same sense w^e must take 
the word nevucha. The edict of Haman did not arouse 
compassion towards those against whom it was directed, but 
formed only a subject of gossip and conversation. While the 
decree was issued to kill thousands of Israel, " the king and 
Haman were merrily drinking wine, and the city of Shushan 
was full of gossip." I think that n3U3 may be derived from 
a form of in: cognate with na3 (in the onomapoetic meaning 
of latrare), "to bark." From the Gk. Bd^co, jSa^a^co, "to 
prattle," usually in a secondary bad sense (fut. /3d^a}), 
comp. Odyss. viii. 408, ctto? fie^uKrai, from which Bd/Sa^, 


/3a^dKTr]<;, " gossiper," " crier," are derived (Suidas, etc.). It 
is certainly the onomapoetic form, and it has doubtless an 
affinity with the French hahil, bahiller, and the English 
babble. Again, "733 may be compared with it, because the 
3 is only a prefix peculiar to Hebraisms (see my Comm. 
on Judges, p. 120). 

The condition of Israel was sad in the extreme. Their 
annihilation was impending, — their enemies were drinking, — 
and their neighbours were gossiping. Where else were they 
to seek help, but in repentance towards the living God ! 


Yer. 1. "Now when Mordecai hneiv all that was done." 
He got to know, not only that which was evident from the 
published edict, but also the whole transaction of Haman with 
the king (see ver. 7). The order to the city of Shushan declared 
perhaps only what should take place there on the 13th of 
Adar, but he knew that Haman's plan made provision for the 
destruction of the Jews in general. The resentful vizier had 
not told the king what was the design of his hatred, but the 
courtiers suspected it (iii. 3) ; and it must have reminded 
Mordecai, and touched him to the core. The more he got 
to know the whole condition of things, the greater was his 
terror. It was not a mere caprice of the king, but a 
systematic, premeditated plan. If at any time he had cause 
to weep and repent, much more now. There was only one 
friend left who could help in this extremity, God alone ; 
and before Him confession of sin, and heartfelt supplications 
must be made. 

The Midrash has for the explanation of the words, " and 
Mordecai knew all," invented a heavenly scene, which as a 
homily may not have been without effect upon the synagogue. 
The thinojs which had come to his knowledcje were not 


human, but divine. The prophet Elijah had informed him 
of the accusation of Satan against Israel, that they had 
transgressed the law and worshipped idols. In consequence 
of which, judgment was decreed. But the prophet Elijah 
called upon the patriarchs to come to the rescue, and Moses 
had advised, that inasmuch as judgment had not yet actually 
gone forth, it was yet time for Israel to repent of their sins ; 


and if they did so, the sentence of condemnation would be 
revoked. Elijah came to make this known to Mordecai. It 
is clear that exegesis does not gain anything by the con- 
tribution of this legend. Mordecai did not need that Elijah 
should come and instruct him in the duty of repentance and 
supplication, when the whole existence of Israel was called 
in question. 

*' Mordeccd rent his clothes, and put on sackcloth with 


What Mordecai did was a sign of personal as well as of 
public mourning. When Jacob heard of the supposed death 
of Joseph, we read that " he rent his garments and put on 
sackcloth " (Gen. xxxvii. 34). David did the same when 
mourning for his sons. But the symbolism out of which 
these signs were formed contains thoughts which go beyond 
the mere idea of mourning. Achilles mourned in like manner 
as the pious of Israel, and there is nothing to prevent us 
from assuming that in his display of these external signs of 
anguish he recognised the idea of repentance {Iliad, xviii. 23).^ 

They only show that the whole ancient Western Asiatic 
world anticipated the word of the apostle, " The wages of sin 
is death." These external signs of mourning are also therefore 
public, and so to speak, political and patriotic, because 
mourning and repentance flow from the same source. The 
custom of throwing earth and ashes upon the head of a corpse 
at burial by the bereaved arose also from the idea, that the 
mourners had brought vividly to their remembrance their 
state of mortality. For dust has the similarity to decomposed 
matter. Dust and ashes represent the disfigurement of the 
face and of the form of the one buried. Homer says : 
"Achilles deformed the lovely countenance {fjo-'xyve)" and 
that in contrast to the washings and the anointings which 

1 With regard to the literature on this subject, see generally the article 
of Leyrer in Herzog's Bealencydop. ; and in respect to the Greek, Pauly's 
article in the Eealencyclop. of Antiquities. 

CHAP. IV. 1. 141 

were used for the beautifying of the body. But ointment 
upon the head, with its fragrance, was the symbol of life, an 
emblem of the fragrant flower ; just as the flowing hair upon 
the head of a Nazarite was the type of a portaUe altar ivJiich 
the holy man should he, — and dust or ashes upon the head 
was the symbol of the person disfigured by death, and of man 
who is destined to die, reminding the mourner that he is 
but dust. The rending of the garments and the putting on 
of sackcloth were inseparably connected. Together they 
expressed the opposite of life and enjoyment. It was con- 
sidered as a renouncement of the world when the comely 
garments were torn asunder, and when the coarse sackcloth 
was put on. It was a giving up of the joys of life on 
account of death. When one mourned with these external 
signs upon him, he indicated thereby that he was mindful of 
the transitoriness of all earthly things, and of the insipid 
vanities of the world. Plutarch narrates of one whom he calls 
superstitious as follows : " He sits outside wrapped up in a sack 
or shabby garments, he rolls himself naked in the dust, and 
enumerates his sins and delinquencies one by one, that he 
has eaten or drunk this or that, that he has gone in a way 
which his tutelary spirit forbade him" (Plutarch On Super- 
stition). The same did pious Job, who rent his garments, sat 
in ashes, his head covered with dust, while his friends sat 
in like manner near him. The only difference was, that the 
pious and patient sufferer knew what he wanted when 
displaying these symptoms of his sorrow. But to Plutarch 
and to heathenism these things became unintelligible. How- 
ever, although gloomy customs like these, as well as those which 
were most beautiful, became in time instruments of ungodli- 
ness and superstition, yet we cannot fail to recognise that 
they originally possessed the inherent thought of repentance, 
and for this reason became the pictures of mourning and 
death. Albeit among the Syrians and Orientals in general, 
they did not call forth true repentance and confession of sin 
before God. Ahab did the same as Mordecai, when the 


ascetic prophet Elijah declared to him the judgment of God. 
"He rent his clothes, and put sackcloth upon his flesh, and 
fasted, and lay in sackcloth, and went softly " (1 Kings xxi. 
27). The King of Israel did so in consequence of the 
preaching of Elisha (2 Kings vi. 30). When the pious 
King Hezekiah heard the blasphemy of Eabshakeh, " he rent 
his clothes, and covered himself with sackcloth, and went into 
the house of the Lord " (2 Kings xix. 1 ). But the prophet 
Joel exclaimed : " Eend your heart and not your garments " 
(ii. 13). For hypocrites and worldly people used to put on 
sackcloth in order to appear as prophets. 

Mordecai's mourning was not merely a conformity to a 
custom, but it was sincere, heartfelt, and true. And this 
mourning was repentance. The Midrash shows deep insight 
into his state of mind when it represents him as a penitent, 
first of all for his own personal sins, not casting the guilt 
upon others, and then repenting for the sins of his people. 

" And went out into the midst of the city^ and cried with 

a loud and a hitter cry!' 

These words of the narrator are not without significance 
and difficulty. The whole manner of mourning at that time 
could in itself be only intelligible by publicity. It was to a 
certain extent an ecclesiastical custom, bearing the external 
and visible signs of instruction and exhortation to the 
spectators. At public calamities mourning was necessarily 
a public affair. " In the streets," exclaims Isaiah, " they gird 
themselves with sackcloth ; on their house-tops, in their broad 
places, every one howleth, weeping abundantly " (xv. 3). 
But Mordecai does not sit down in ashes and sorrow, but 
" he goes into the midst of the city." Yet surely this is not 
a Jewish city, it is Shushan, the residence of the Persian 
king. Its inhabitants are the very persons who have the 
task entrusted to them of murdering him and all his kindred 
on the 13th of Adar. Why does Mordecai go to them 
with the cry of penitence and mourning ? The LXX. has 

CHAP. IV. 1. 143 

sought to explain this by adding a clause, " A people is 
about to be destroyed which has done no evil." But the 
added clause is an explanation of the Midrash of that time, 
and has no exegetical force. In the first place, the penitent 
garment is unsuitable for making remonstrating reproaches. 
He was penitent, as the Midrash elsewhere says, because he 
recognised that his nation had sinned before God, and there- 
fore he could not have said that they had done no evil. In 
the second place, the lamentable cry to excite the sympathy 
of the people would have been in vain, for they could not 
grant it. The king's order precludes all private sympathy, 
and also self-defence, according to Persian usage. Plutarch 
narrates, that Teribaz the Persian once successfully defended 
himself against people who wanted to seize him and carry 
him off as a prisoner ; but when they told him that they 
came by the command of the king, he at once threw down 
his sword, and extended his hands to be bound. 

The Jewish commentators say that he went into the city 
in order to make known to the Jews what had happened with 
regard to them. But they must have known this, as it was 
everywhere proclaimed. Perhaps he knew it before they 
did, and indeed he knew more than the proclamation con- 
tained. If this be the case, we might expect that the same 
would be said as occurs in ver. 16, that he gathered together 
all the Jews that were present in Shushan. 

When " he went into the city," it must have been in 
reference to his mourning and penitent cry. Therefore the 
opinion of Clericus is very singular, that " Mordecai cried so 
loud and so bitterly, because he was convinced of the wrong 
that he had done to Haman in refusing to adore him." In 
that case Daniel must also have done wrong in resisting the 
impious commands of the tyrant. It is not the lamentation 
itself which is striking, but the lamentation, on the way to 
the city of Shushan, before all the Persians, and as far as 
the court of the king. 

It is interesting to notice the contrast between Mordecai 


and the prophet Jonah, of whom it is written, that he went 
into the city, viz. Nineveh. At that time Jonah was not 
penitent, but he preached repentance ; he did not preach to 
Jews, but to the heathen of the whole city ; and the lowest 
citizen as well as the king listened to him. Mordecai, on 
the other hand, was himself a penitent ; his appearance was a 
forcible wail ; his voice sounded of judgment to come : but 
only upon the Jews. The king and the people were struck 
dumb in perceiving that they were to be the executioners of 
this judgment. But Mordecai was as good a witness as 
Jonah. The latter was the witness of God before the 
heathen ; the former, his own witness, in that he declared 
himself to belong to the people of God in the presence of the 
heathen. Mordecai belonged to the most prominent men of 
Israel, for he was descended from the captives who were 
carried away with King Jechoniah (ii. 6). To these belonged 
the best class of Israel, as the poor were left behind at home 
(2 Kings xxiv. 14, 15). Mordecai "sat before the gate of 
the king." This certainly implied a degree of respectability. 
Herodotus (iii. 120) informs us that those who sat before the 
sate of the kin<]f were eminent Persians. This is confirmed 
by what we read in chaps, ii. and iii. ^e had facilities of 
detecting the conspiracy, and could maintain himself against 
the demands of Haman ; for it was not entirely unknown 
that he had saved the king's life (see chap. vi. 2, 3). But 
among the Jews especially, it was no secret that the foster- 
child of Mordecai was the queen. How else could she have 
issued such an order to them as in chap. iv. 15? They must 
have known her when yet in the house of her uncle. How 
easily, at least in the opinion of the Jews, Mordecai could now 
save himself ! The people are generally inclined to overrate 
influence at high quarters. If he placed himself under the 
protection of the queen, who would dare to touch him ? 
Haman himself would not enforce the law against him, if 
he knew, what he does not know, that this Mordecai possessed 
such personal protection. With these thoughts in the minds 

CHAP. IV. 2. 145 

of the Jews, Haman, as the author of their national misery, 
would have appeared before them as the only one who could 
save the life of Mordecai. But Mordecai removed their fears 
or comforts in this respect by appearing publicly in his mourn- 
ing dress. He did not remain sitting at the gate of the king 
but was not ashamed to go forward with ragged garments 
before all the Persians, and to acknowledge himself as one of 
that people who were under sentence of death. He went 
into the city with the cry of repentance and of sorrow, in 
order to show himself before all others as a fellow-sufferer 
with his people. In taking part in their national sorrow, he 
does not want to assume any other position, but he wishes to 
show that he is ready, if needs be, to share with them the 
common fate that Providence may have in store for them. 
This he makes known by his wailing all over the city, that 
Jews and Persians may be convinced of his earnestness. All 
heard it ; he did not desire to escape the notice of the 
I^ersians, and the Jews he wanted to arouse by his example 
to similar acts of repentance, and to strengthen them in their 
faith. No other Jew needed to go in this manner into the 
midst of the city, for no other knew so much of the depth 
of the misery they were in as he did. He desired that the 
report should go forth that it is Mordecai himself who goes about 
in sackcloth and ashes. Not ashamed to be known as belonging 
to the persecuted people, he went back to the king's gate, but 
not, of course, to his old place, to which he could not come. 

Ver. 2. " For none might enter within the king's gate 

clothed with sackcloth.'* 

The historical originality of our book could with certainty 
be established by this casual remark, for it proceeds from the 
radical idea underlying the Persian religious system. The 
doctrine of the Old Persians was perfectly dualistic. To the 
principles of good and evil — the powers of Ahuramazda and 
Ahriman — corresponded the categories of clean and unclean in 
the affairs of daily life. That which had any reference to 



life was considered clean, and that which had reference to 
suffering and death was considered unclean. Therefore a 
corpse, with all that appertained to its burial, mourning, and 
the mourning garments, was unclean. The sacks, or, as we 
should say, the gloves, which the bearers wore on their 
hands, were to be buried (see Spiegel, Avesta, ii. Introd. 
xviii.). In the third Fargard of the Vendidad, vers. 36, 37, 
we read : " What is the most unpleasant thing on earth ? " 
Ahuramazda answered : " When, holy Zarathustra, the wife 
or the son of a holy man goes on the perverted way, covered 
with dust and dirt, and makes a mourning speech " (Spiegel, 
Avesta, i. p. 80). According to Anquetil, ed. Kleucker, ii. 311, 
the passage reads : " When a righteous man, a woman, or 
young person covers the head with dust and goes and comes 
with weeping and mourning." Now this was naturally only 
the case among the Parsees, whilst Mordecai conformed to 
the custom of mourning as practised among his people. But 
the King of Persia was the visible representative of Ahura- 
mazda ; and therefore what was unclean could not approach 
his person, his room, or his palace. His house was as 
the temple of God. No one who, whether in thought or in 
deed, had participated in the arrangements of a funeral, or 
was otherwise connected with dead creatures, could enter his 
apartments. His palace was to a certain degree the seat of 
the holy fire. Of this it is written in the book Sadder 
(ed. Hyde, p. 476, n. 80), that " whosoever brings a corpse or 
anything in connection with it, is said to produce misfortune 
for himself and others." The castle of the Persian king had an 
outer and inner court. At the gates of the latter the courtiers, 
as well as Mordecai, were in the habit of sitting. But when 
he was clad in sackcloth and ashes, he could only approach 
the outer court and wail. 

Ver. 3. " Whithersoever, the king's commandment . . . 
came, there was great mourning among the Jews, and fasting, 
and weeping, and wailing^ 

CHAP. IV. 3. 147 

We read in Deut. iv. 30: " If thou shalt return to the Lord 
thy God, for He is a merciful God, He will not fail thee, 
neither destroy thee, nor forget the covenant of thy fathers, 
which He sware unto them." Of this promise Israel always 
thought in distress, and also now. Wherever the deadly edict 
came, there they remembered that God alone was their last 
resort for help and deliverance. In times of terror and 
persecution, Israel, when repenting and turning to God, 
experienced the preciousness of His word. Where else was 
there at that time a people upon earth who possessed a similar 
source of comfort in such an hour of distress ? What would 
the descendants of the Milesian Branchides have done if they 
had received a similar communication th;it they were to be 
totally destroyed ? (Curt. vii. 5. 51). They would have appealed 
trembling for pity, with ropes upon their necks and naked ; 
for so used the inhabitants of besieged cities in the Middle 
Ages to supplicate the besiegers. But the Jews have no 
thought of this, they do not put their trust in human artifices, 
they turn to the Lord their God, who commanded them to 
apply to Him, but with a penitent heart, in the time of their 
need ; their whole history is but a chain of mercy from their 
Lord in heaven. They do not appeal to the king at Shushan, 
but to the Judge of all flesh. They come with penitence, 
prayer, and lamentation. They appoint days of humiliation 
for all the congregations. The manner of their mourning is 
the old-fashioned one. The traditional customs were observed, 
which only require a new heart and a lively faith to become 
new also. They consist of fasting, weeping, and wailing 
{zom, hecJii, misped). The prophet Joel when preaching to 
Israel on repentance and conversion said in the name of God : 
" Turn ye unto me with all your heart, and with fasting, and 
with weeping, and with mourning" {zom, becJii, misped), ii. 12. 
In the war in which all the tribes were engaged against the tribe 
of Benjamin, they could not obtain the victory until they 
repented with fasting and weeping (see Judg. xx. 26, and my 
Comm.) At the commencement of the time of the Judges, 


when Israel received a message from an angel or messenger of 
God who reminded them of their history, they wept, and the 
place was called Bochim — " weepers " (Judg. ii. 5). To 
mourning belonged — apart from fasting and weeping, when 
it was especially on account of the dead, and on account of 
national sin — the dirge or lamentation, the ISDtD, from nsD, 
" to lament." Most of the expressions for the signs of mourn- 
ing are borrowed from observations of the conditions of 
nature. Thus bni^, " to mourn," is borrowed from the fading 
and drooping condition of a plant, and generally expresses the 
mourning condition of man. One can notice it in his bearing ; 
if he is humbled and crushed down, then he is an fj^K, " a 
mourner." Therefore Isaiah speaks of " those that mourn 
in Zion " (Ixi. 3). They are such as deplore the lamentable 
condition of the kingdom of God, not merely by putting on 
black garments, but by being contrite in heart (comp. my Irene, 
p. 1 7). As riDn, hachct, " to weep," surely arises from the 
observation of the drops of tears flowing from the eyes, so that 
it was taken as akin to the Greek TrrjyTj, " spring," and the 
German Bach, " brook," so also ought the grammarians to 
have long ago accentuated the kinship between the Hebrew 
ISD and the Greek acj^aBd^o). For among Oriental and other 
nations, excited movements of the body, and striking upon the 
breast, are generally tokens of mourning. As an animal kicks 
about when it is pricked and wounded, so does the uncultured 
man when he feels inward pain.^ So is the Greek TreV^o?, 
" wailing," to be explained by 7rd6o<;, passion ; and so also 
KoirreaOai has the double signification of " striking " and 
"mourning;" so is plangere originally synonymous with tundere. 
But the Scripture uses the word nsD only in its secondary 
meaning. It is the solemn mourning for the dead which used 
to accompany weeping. Of Abraham we read that " he 
came to mourn for Sarah and to weep for her " (Gen. xxiii. 2). 
The prophet Ezekiel announces to Israel that they will be in 

^ Of the horse, which on account of its pain threw clown Cyrus, 
Xenophon says : " <r<poclx^6)u ocTroasiiTcct rou Kvpou" {Cyroj?. viii. 1. 37). 

CHAP. IV. 3. 149 

sucli an extreme state of terror and of stupefaction that they 
will neither be able to mourn nor to weep (xxiv. 16). In 
the word nao was not' expressed the unarticulated sobbing and 
sighing, but the spoken lamentation. In Jer. iv. 8 we read : 
" For this gird you with sackcloth, lament and howl " (iW'n). 
The substance of such lamentation we hear in 1 Kings xiii. 
30, where it resounds at the grave of the old prophets: 
" Alas, my brother ! " or as we read in Jer. xxii. 18:" They 
shall not lament for him. Ah my brother ! or, Ah sister ! 
they shall not lament for him. Ah Lord ! or. Ah His glory ! " 
In later times the Jews called those who held such funeral 
orations or sermons by the name of Saphdanim (n"'nsD), who 
it has been thought are the persons to whom Job alludes in 
chap. iii. 8, when he says : " Let them curse it that curse 
the day." Excessive lamentation for the dead was inseparably 
connected with excessive praise of them. Therefore in Bere- 
choth Q2a, it is strictly inculcated that the funeral orators will 
have to give an account for making a great ostentation. Among 
the public rites in connection with mourning, the misped, or 
" dirge," or " oration," was after all the most insignificant 
part. Hence the index of the fast days which we have under 
the name of Megillath Taanith, from the time of the destruction 
of the temple, constantly reminds us that lamentations must 
not be made. That is, that the fast days should be observed 
with sackcloth, ashes, and weeping, but without that additional 
and non-essential misped} 

" In sackcloth and ashes also the most prominent wrapped 

themselves up." 

The Hebrew U'l'h W" IDSI \>^ cannot otherwise be under- 
stood. It is not merely mulii, "many," by which n'^2ib has been 
translated since the time of Jerome, as in the second Targum. 

^ [This only refers to certain weeks in whick a feast occurred. The pre- 
scribed ceremony for fasting is : the ark is to be carried into the street, 
ashes to he placed npon the heads of every one, and the eldest is to 
deliver an exhortation (Taanith, i. 15a). — Trans.] 


Only the first Targumist perceived that in this supplementary 
word there is something more expressed. When, namely, it is 
said before, that wherever the sad nevvs came, there was great 
mourning among the Jews, it would have been superfluous to 
add that many sat in sackcloth and ashes. No, the word 
" rahim" must have the same sense as in Job xxxv. 9, 
" prominent," " rich," " mighty." As in Isa. liii. 12 it is 
predicted of the Messiah, that He will have the raUm, the 
" great people," for His portion or booty, and not merely 
the poor and the needy, so the same word marks the contrast 
here. The great and rich men of Israel also did not disdain 
'to put on sackcloth and ashes, which with them was really a 
sign of sincere repentance. A similar contrast is found in Isa. 
XV. 4, where judgment against Moab is announced. The armed 
men of Moab (who are not usually tender-hearted) cry aloud : 
" His soul trembleth within him " (see Delitzsch, Comm. p. 205). 
This explanation agrees with what was said before of Mordecai. 
No one shirked the duty and the need of repentance. 

There were many in Israel who in spite of their exile had 
amassed riches and lived in pleasure, and were eminent, like 
Mordecai ; but none of them despised the external signs of 
repentance and conversion towards God. The "rahim" for- 
sook their luxurious ottomans and couches, and laid themselves 
down (yv^) upon beds of sackcloth and ashes, as Job did. This 
expression, as well as the custom itself, passed into the asceti- 
cism of the Church. So we read, e.g., of the clergy in the Con- 
suehcdines of the monks of Clugny: "Oineres, qui incapite jejunii 
fratrum, olim pcenitentium hodie fidelium omnium capitibus 
imponuntur . . . benedicti conservantur ab Infirmario, ut Mori- 
entibus fratribus cum cilicio substernantur " (comp. Du Cange). 

It is just the complete penitence to which the Jews gave 
themselves up, just their reliance upon the mercy of God, and 
the committing of themselves into the hands of their heavenly 
Judge, which explains the insertion of ver. 3 to connect the 
preceding and the following verse. Ver. 4 begins the history 
of the deliverance from the distress. Their first human support 

CHAP. IV. 4. 151 

was, that Esther had received the news of what had been 
decided by Haman with regard to the nation. This was 
occasioned by Mordecai's appearing before the court of the 
king in sackcloth and ashes, so that he attracted the notice of 
the people of the palace. One would have expected the 
narrator to report without interruption : " And Mordecai 
came before the king's gate in sackcloth and ashes ; and 
then the maidens came and told it to Esther." But as this 
is not done, it shows the profound thought which pervades 
the report, in spite of its brevity. For if the insertion had 
not been made, it would have appeared as if the deliverance 
of the Jews was entirely ascribed to the fact that Esther was 
the queen, and to nothing else. But in Israel is manifested 
that when a people is to be saved, it can only be through 
repentance before God. When this has taken place, then 
natural and human assistance comes as a matter of course. 
For this reason Israel's universal humiliation and repentance 
is first narrated, and then the history begins with the human 
deliverance, in which Esther was the chief instrumentality. 

Ver. 4. " And Estliers maidens and her chamberlains 

came and told it her.'' 

They have not told her of the edict against the Jews ; of 
this she only heard afterwards, vers. 5 and 6. In the house of 
the women, which was secluded and perfectly inaccessible, 
nothing was as yet known of the State edict. As the queen 
had no share in the affairs of government, nor could even have 
an interview with the king without an especial summons (ver. 
11), what did the activity of the grand vizier concern the 
harem ? Perhaps the report of his doings would have pene- 
trated the secluded house ere this, if the origin of Esther had 
been known at court. But why is it said " her maidens and 
her chamberlains told her " ? 

The context leads us to guess the reason for the twofold 
notice. Esther had constant intercourse with Mordecai, other- 
wise the discovery of the conspiracy (chap. ii. 22) would not 


have been possible. Besides, Mordecai used to sit before the 
gate of the king, that he might learn how Esther fared. This 
intercourse made him an object of notice to the servants of 
the queen, and it is natural when they missed him in his 
usual seat at the gate of the court, that they should come and 
tell it to their mistress as something very strange. But when 
the maidens said that they did not see Mordecai within the 
court, because it was unusual for them to leave the house, then 
the Sarisim, i.e. the eunuch chamberlains, most likely added 
that he was seen sitting in the open space before the gate in a 
most lamentable condition, clothed in sackcloth and ashes. The 
more such a mourning dress was against the spirit of the 
Persian law, the more astonishment would he occasion in the 
eyes of the courtiers. Indeed, it was owing to this circum- 
stance that the sentinel did not let him pass within the court. 
But when the maidens and the chamberlains brought this 
report to Esther, — 

" Then the queen was exceedingly grieved ; and she sent 

raiment to Mordecai." 

The formation of the word ^n^nnni, from hn, portrays by 
its reduplicate sound the terror which this news caused to 
Esther. But what was it that made her so afraid ? As she 
was unaware of the political ground of her uncle's sorrow, she 
must have thought of some other, e.g. that a dear relation of 
his had died, for whom he was in mourning. But this also 
could not have been the only ground of her dismay ; for it 
would not explain why she sent him raiment. If that were 
the case, why should she interfere with his conforming to a 
Jewish custom of long standing ? However, her sending him 
raiment was not a compliance with a Jewish, but with a 
Persian custom ; and this notice also is a remarkable testimony 
to the original source of our book in Persian life. The 
modern Persian liturgy has still the following rubric; 
" When a person dies, the relations, especially the nearest, 
have to care for his soul. Among the rites that are to be 

CHAP. IV. 4. 153 

performed belongs an outfit of garments. For new garments 
must be given which, at least in modern times, become the 
property of the ministering priest, who puts on the first in 
the third night after the death of the person, the second on 
the third day, the third six months afterwards, and finally the 
fourth on the anniversary of the death " (Spiegel, A vesta, ii. 
p. xli.). In the Persian Canon Sadder (chap. Ixiv., ed. Hyde 
(ed. 1700), p. 467) we read: "The more magnificent the 
garments shall be, the more honour thou shalt have. With- 
out garments there will be shame before the heavenly 
assembly." There is no doubt that we find traces of this 
custom in the Judaism of a later age. A legend which the 
book ntJ'yD contains, reports of a certain Eabbi Ponira to whom 
the spirit of one departed appeared, saying, that it came from 
Paradise, and requested him to mend the torn sleeves. Por 
it was ashamed to walk in Paradise in a ragged garment, 
chap. 218 (comp. Eisenmenger, ii. 212). 

Now the above throws light upon the act of Esther. 
The Jews in Persia, especially those who like herself moved 
in Persian society, had to a great extent embraced the notions 
and customs of the Persians. So thinking him to be a 
mourner for a relative, she sent him the new raiment as a 
filial duty, and that he might be able to resume his inter- 
course with her. And this also explains why she was so 
horrified when she heard of his appearance as a mourner, be- 
cause she knew that as such he was considered by the Persian 
law unclean, and therefore must not come near the palace. 
But in her great love to Mordecai, and sympathy with his 
sorrow, she involuntarily removes the veil of mystery that 
was hitherto hanging over her origin before the eyes of her 
household. She sends him garments, which is just what only 
relations do to mourners. " How is it," must the messengers 
or those who saw it have asked, " that the queen sends 
garments to the mourning Jew ? " Nevertheless the mystery 
was not yet disclosed, for the hour of redemption had not yet 
come. Her origin still remained an obscure puzzle to her 


companions, and a holy secret between her and her uncle. 
But we see in this again a clear proof of the truth, that it is 
love which becomes the instrument and occasion of succour 
in every distress. Mordecai refused to accept the garments. 
He did not wear them for a dead person, but in penitent sorrow 
for a people who were doomed to die. He did not put them 
on, but he said nothing. He did not wish to betray the 
secret to the messengers. If he had desired to say something 
to her, he could not have refrained from making allusion to 
her nation. But this he could not do without being sure whether 
he might trust the messengers. With her, love had broken 
through the bounds of caution ; while he, in wisely sending 
back the garments, gave her an intimation that the ground of 
his being in deep mourning was another and more appalling 
one than the loss of a friend. He led her, in fact, to con- 
clude that some great danger had befallen, or was threatening, 
all her kindred, otherwise he would not so promptly send back 
the sympathetic gift of his beloved niece, which was the only 
possible means of continuing his intercourse with her. 

Yer. 5. " Then called Esther for Hathach, one of the kings 
chamberlains, whom he had appointed to attend upon her" 
Esther, ever since she became queen, had not diminished 
her love and respect for her uncle. Her heart had not 
become proud, and she did not look down haughtily from 
her high position upon her relations. How much her heart 
beat for Mordecai may be seen from the terror which seized 
her when she heard that he was in mourning ; still more so 
from the decision she came to when he had returned the new 
garments. The sending of these was indeed already fraught 
with danger with regard to the secret of her pedigree, but it 
was done on the spur of the moment ; and now she increasingly 
hazards her secret, deliberately and consciously, out of the anxiety 
that she has for her friend. The word ^^}!^^], " she charged him," 
is emphatic ; the chamberlain is strictly charged to obtain in- 
formation from Mordecai of what has occurred, and to bring it 

CHAP. IV. 5. 155 

straight to the queen, no matter what it might be. Her anxiety 
was too great to allow her to dread lest the chamberlain might 
possibly through this obtain the clue to her greatest secret. 

Ancient Jewish interpreters have understood Hathach to 
have been Daniel. But the sense they meant to convey by 
this explanation was, that they thought Hathach was a Jew, 
and therefore Esther sent him on such a confidential errand. 
But this conjecture is not only unnecessary, but also contra- 
dicts the context of the narrative. True, one might think 
that she would have preferred to choose a Jew, if he were at 
hand, for the discharge of this important and delicate business ; 
but this man was the chamberlain whom the king had 
appointed to attend upon her. Had she had a Jew near her 
who knew what was croincr on, she would have been informed 
of it long ago. He would have been known to Mordecai, 
who would have transmitted the sad news to her at the 
very first opportunity. Under the supposition of the 
messenger being a Jew, the psychological fact of her anxiety 
to learn the grounds of Mordecai's sorrow, joined with her 
fear lest her secret should leak out, would remain in inex- 
plicable obscurity. Hathach was a eunuch ; as such he was 
appointed chamberlain of the queen, and therefore a proper 
person for her to send on a confidential errand. The ter- 
mination of the name Hathach reminds us of the same 
termination in Mordecai's name (Mordach) as Artachaeus, 
Artachaies (see above), it may be supposed that it is in Greek 
Otaches, like Otanes and Otaspes. The etymological explana- 
tion may perhaps illustrate it from the Zend, jpazend, jatan, 
Huzvaresh, nx\^ as nomen dei (comp. Ized). The eunuchs were 
generally more faithful to their mistresses than other servants. 
Phaedyme also, the wife of Cambyses, and then of pseudo- 
Smerdes, must have had a reliable servant in order to transmit 
the dangerous message to her father (Herod, iii. 68). It is 
touching to read of the fidelity of the eunuch Tyriotes which 
he displayed towards his mistress, the wife of Darius Codo- 
1 See VuUers, Lex. Pers. ii. 1542. [Buhlen compares sJ^j merely. — Tr.] 


inannus, even after lier death, and this at the hazard of his 
life (Curtius, iv. 28). 

Ver. 6. "So Hathacli luent forth." 

He went, that is to say, from the palace and its enclosed 
walls into the open space where Mordecai now sat, and 
told him of the order of Esther. Consequently, Mordecai 
understood that Esther had full confidence in her messenger, 
and so he communicated to him everything. Mordecai's 
message in return was surely not without danger, for it con- 
tained an accusation against the powerful Haman. It re- 
vealed Esther's Jewish origin, and it demanded from the queen 
something which might seriously affect her. He let her know 
through the messenger all that " had happened " (imp) ; he 
did not conceal from her the fact of his refusal to bow before 
Haman (for this can only be meant by the word " happened," 
because it is connected with the sum of money which Haman 
offered to the king), and that his conduct had provoked the 
wrath of the vizier. It was necessary that Esther should be 
informed of everything, in order that in case of need she 
should be able to expose the trifling and mean motives 
which induced Haman to persecute the Jews. What Mor- 
decai did at the time was surely with a good conscience. 
It at all events served to bring the issue clearly before 
Esther, for the sake of whom he was sitting at the gate, and 
brought upon himself great danger. The queen must have 
been touched by observing that Mordecai had remained 
stedfast in his fidelity to God and in his love to her, and 
that he did not swerve either from the one or from the other. 
He did not bow before the idols, but he also did not desert 
the gate of the king. How mean must Haman appear in 
the eyes of the king, when Esther would be in a position to 
tell him that he rewards the piety and faithfulness of such 
a man by alluring the king to issue such a terrible edict 
of persecution against a whole innocent nation, and that, 
forsooth, because his vanity had been offended ! Mordecai 

CHAP. IV. 6. 157 

was well informed ; the transaction of Haman with the king 
was not unknown ; yes, even the exact sum which the subtle 
and clever vizier offered was known. We read that Mordecai 
stated to Esther " the exact sum of the money (p]D3n nc^ia) ^ 
that Haman had said (ittt?) he would pay to the king's 
treasuries ; " in reality he did not pay it, as the king made him 
a present of it. But he is not satisfied with a mere verbal 
communication ; he sends her the document of the royal 
proclamation, in order that she should see that the informa- 
tion is not founded upon mere hearsay reports, but upon 
written evidence, and be convinced of the fearful condition of 
the Jews in the country. But he does not stop with his 
simple narrative. He joins to it a request. When Esther 
through her chamberlain astonished him with the present of the 
garments, and had made anxious inquiries as to the causes of 
his mourning, he at once saw that she was inclined gradually 
to make known her origin. At any rate, he believed that he 
had the right to set her free from the pledge of secrecy which 
he himself had imposed upon her (ii. 20). Her inquiry had 
not arisen from mere curiosity, and he gives his report also 
not for its own sake. He tells Hathach " to disclose it " 
unto her, and " to charge her " (n)))h) l^^nb) he should tell her 
that it is her uncle's and her benefactor's request, and command, 
that she should make use of her royal prerogative, and seek an 
interview with the king to obtain help from him. She had 
" charged him " to let her know what had happened, and so 
he now " charges " her to obtain succour. She did so as his 
queen, and he does so as her uncle. " She should go in unto 
the king and make supplication unto him, and make request 

^ The word occurs again in chap. x. 2. It must not be compared with 
parshegan, as in this evidently Persian word par is only the preposition. 
But it clearly belongs to the Heb. parash^ to be distinct, which meaning 
may suffice both passages. For both contain the idea of greatness, height, 
and expansion. In the above, Mordecai communicates the highest sum, as 
we would say. Chap, x. 10 speaks of the expansion of the greatness which 
Mordecai had obtained. Parash means originally " to spread," " to unfold," 
and so it came to be used in the sense of " explaining " and " illustrating." 


before him for her people." Such weeping and supplication 
for grace before the king was not an unusual thing ; the wife 
of Intaphernes, Herodotus narrates (iii. 119), went with weep- 
ing and wailing before the gate of the king (like Mordecai), 
until Darius was moved with compassion and granted her at 
least some favour. From the beloved queen Mordecai could 
especially demand that she should do this for the sake of her 
people. It would not have been extraordinary that a queen 
should intercede in behalf of the sad lot which had befallen 
a strange people ; how much more reason was there that she 
should do this for her own, especially as Ahhashverosh did 
not even know that she belonged to the condemned nation, 
and perhaps did not even remember the name of the people 
whom he had so rashly appointed to die. 

Ver. 11. "All the Idng's servants and the ^people of the 

king's provinces do hnowr 

Esther is frightened at the request of Mordecai, but she 
does not decline to comply with it. It corresponds with her 
feeling in the matter, though her feminine weakness makes 
her hesitate and shudder at taking the step, that she declares 
that she would gladly do it if she could. She would obey 
his order to go to the king, but he ought to know that 
this is no easy thing to do. It does not depend upon her 
to speak to the king when she wants. His own wives 
can see him only when they are specially called, and her 
influence over him is not yet paramount, as thirty days had 
elapsed during which he did not even think of her. And 
should she even dare to go to him uncalled, and should he 
be so benign as to receive her when he is sitting upon the 
throne, she could yet not address him unless he held out 
the golden sceptre to her, and beckoned her to approach 
nearer. She does not actually decline her uncle's request; 
she does not say that when the king summons her she would 
not petition him for mercy to the Jews ; but she evades and 
postpones it, and makes it dependent upon the whim of the 

CHAP. IV. 11. 159 

kino^. In fact, the court regulations were so as Esther said. 
It is well known, as Herodotus narrates, that at the fall of 
the false Sraerdis the only persons who could obtain admission 
to Darius without being called were his six companions. But 
this oft-quoted passage is not enough to explain fully the words 
of Esther. The majesty of the great Persian king was not 
only inaccessible without his permission, but also no one dared 
to speak to him without his beckoning on them to approach. 
For he was the human representative of Ahuramazda. That 
Alexander the Great imitated the manners of the Persian 
king we have proofs in many descriptions. Phylarchus in 
Athenaeus (p. 539, comp. Fragm. ed. Lucht, p. 100, ed. 
Briickner, p. 36) says, that while Alexander sat on the 
throne, "no one of his great friends and servants dared to 
approach him." Ephippus in his description says : " As he 
sat with majestic look, there was a solemn silence before 
him." This was the Oriental idea of solemnity and awe 
with which the august majesty of a king is surrounded. 

When an English Embassy was received by Shah Abbas 
of Persia, we read : " They entered into the audience chamber, 
where the first officials sat round the walls like statues, not 
moving a muscle, and dead silence prevailed." No one, even 
at the present time, approaches the King of Persia without 
the repeated order from the king to do so. Eraser reports that 
a courtier, who had made his fortune, when he was asked to 
come near, answered, " I do not pray to be commanded to 
approach {mi souzum), I burn to do so."^ Herodotus tells 
of a similar sending of messengers to and from the harem. 
The daughter of Otanes became first the wife of Cambyses 
and then of pseudo-Smerdis. Her father sent a messenger 
to ask her whether her husband was the real Smerdis ; she 
replied through a confidant, that she would make the in- 
vestigation at the risk of her life, but she must wait until her 
turn came when she would be called by the king (iii. 6 0). 

Here also there was an understanding between Esther and 
^ Comp. my Kaiser und Konigskronen, p. 172. 


Mordecai with regard to tlie king, but a friendly one. She was 
requested by her foster-father to dare to approach the king 
without his special permission, but it was in order that she 
should ask for mercy in behalf of an innocent people. 

" That whosoever, luhether mem or woman . . . ivho is not 
called, there is one law for him, that he he put to deaih." 
The sense of the peculiar form n^Dni? irn T\r\^ is that the 
law makes no exception. nni< (m, fern.) expresses that the 
law is absolute and of universal application. Esther wishes 
to say, that she is subject to the same law, and if she trans- 
gresses it, no exception or excuse will be made, although 
she is queen. For in " the coming to him " (xu''"")tJ^N) is 
included the address to him, because she would not come 
without having to ask him for something. We can see from 
Dan. ii. 9 that this indicates a standing rule. The King 
Nebuchadnezzar demands from his courtiers, to give him 
without fail the interpretation of his dream. " If you are not 
able," says he, " then there is but one law for you," |iDm s\n mn, 
i.e. " there is but one sentence for you in all circumstances, 
whatever excuse you may make." 

" Except such to whom the hing shall hold out the golden 


The expression D"'n")tJ> occurs only in the book of Esther ; it 
is the form of the Masora for tDa"it^, and its relation to ^2.^ is 
as the Gr. a/crjirrpov to aKiqirray {(JKr)irTov')(p<;). The linguistic 
comparison teaches thereby that the Hebrew letter k^ has 
indeed the sound of sh (as in hh^, crKvXdo), etc.) ; and the 
various pronunciations of shebet and aKTJTTTO) rests upon 
similar dialectical differences, as sch does in German dialects, 
which in Low German has completely the sound of sh 

The sceptre is said to be golden, just as Homer calls it 
(ii. 1. 15 ; Odyss. xi. 91), where the priests and seers carry it 
in the name of their gods. The sceptre of Achilles was 
embossed with gold (ii. 1. 246), as Yoss translates, or had 

CHAP. IV. 12, 13. 161 

golden nails. Gold was generally the appendage of royal 
dignity. Everything belonging to Oriental kings and to 
antiquity was ornamented with gold, and was called golden, 
as a crown, a throne, a chair, and pillars. In the Middle Ages 
they used to speak of " golden Eorne " {aurea Eoma)} Wallace 
tells of the Burmese, that when they spoke of anything belong- 
ing to the king, they qualified it by the word gold, and there- 
fore they spoke of his golden ears and golden feet {Denkvsurd. 
Iiidicn, p. 33 ; com p. my Kaiser und Konigskronen, p. 127). 

The sceptre is the royal staff of authority. Odysseus takes 
the royal staff of Agamemnon in order to command silence 
and order (//. ii. 185). To whom permission was given 
to speak in the assembly, to him the herald handed the 
sceptre {II. xxiii. 568; Odyss. ii. 37). The inclining of the 
sceptre forward towards the visitor was the sign of permission 
given him to come near. Kings and gods (priests, and in 
caricature wizards) work and beckon with the staff. The 
form Dtt'"' for " stretching out," " extending the arm " with the 
staff, only occurs in Esther. It may be dialectically compared 
with tlie Lat. tendo and the Greek retW. 

Ver. 12. ''And they told to Mordecai Esthers words." 
This additional clause is surprising, for it is already said in 
ver. 10, "Then Esther spake unto Hathach, and gave him a 
message unto Mordecai." But it must be so understood that 
Mordecai made inquiries from others with regard to the custom 
at the Persian court, and they confirmed Esther's words, that 
it was really only at the risk of life that one could appear 
before the king unsummoned. 

Ver. 13. " Then Mordecai hade them return answer unto 
Ancient commentators felt it strange that from ver. 13 the 

^ [R. Akiba promised liis bride ornaments under the term golden Jeru- 
salem, Nedarim, p. 50a. Perhaps the Hymnologist borrowed from the 
Talmud.— Trans.] 



name of the messenger Hathach does no more occur, while it 
is repeatedly mentioned in vers. 5, 6, 9, and 10. The Midrash 
has from this circumstance developed a legend, viz. that 
Haman had killed Hathach because he acted as a messenger 
of Mordecai. It need hardly be remarked that such violent 
procedure is in perfect harmony with the spirit that prevailed 
in Oriental courts; yet we cannot accept the legend, as it is at 
variance with the true exposition of the passage. We may rather 
explain that the further omission of the name of the messenger 
by the narrator, was owing to the fact that he had more im- 
portant subjects to relate, compared with which what became 
of Hathach was of no consequence. 

" Think not with thyself that thou shalt escape (as) the 

king's house more than all the Jeics." 

The answer of Mordecai will appear the grander the more 
earnestly we consider it. He does not say to her, first of all, 
" If thou canst not save the people, at least save me, and the 
house of thy father, for thou belongest to the unassailable 
house of the king." This would have been natural enough 
under the circumstances. But we see that with him there is 
not a moment's consideration of personal interest and safety. 
He thinks of nothing else but of the salvation of the whole 
of Israel, and of its providential calling. There can be no 
question with him about the individual, when the existence 
of the whole nation is at stake. He does not want to be 
saved alone, nor to be an exception in the hour of danger. He 
demands from all his people the duty of holding together, and 
first of all from Esther herself. For she alone is in a position 
not only to be saved herself, but also to save others. There- 
fore it is her bounden duty to be anxious for the salvation of 
her people, even if she should thereby lose her own life, and 
become the first victim. Mordecai's words are closely joined 
with the report of Esther, that it is impossible to come to the 
king spontaneously without risking one's life. But when 
going to the king in such a manner includes the possibility 

CHAP. IV. 13. 163 

of obtaining deliverance, why not run all hazards ! What 
worse thing can be expected ? If she is killed in her 
attempt to save others, then she will die the death of the 
martyr, as her people should die ! Of course, Esther is in the 
house of the king : Haman does not even know that she is a 
Jewess ; and should he know it, he would not dare to enforce 
the law against her. But this exceptional position is only so 
far valuable, if she herself will not make an exception. She 
can make use of it in order to save her people, but it offers 
no security to her own safety when all Israel are cut down. 
It is a thing of daily occurrence that a favourite wife should 
lose her life — as was the case with Vashti. But that a 
people like Israel, having such promises and hopes in store 
for them, should be totally destroyed, would indeed be an 
unheard-of occurrence. If, therefore, Esther should think of 
using her advantageous position to save herself and her family 
by separating herself from Israel, the probability is that she 
herself will be lost, and that they will be saved. Israel's 
whole history is composed of wonders of salvation. When they 
were persecuted by Pharaoh, when they were in the wilder- 
ness, when they w^ere surrounded by enemies on every side, 
they were always delivered in an unexpected manner. It is 
more sure, Mordecai firmly believes, that Israel will in 
some way or other be delivered out of this trouble, im- 
probable as it may appear, than that Esther should receive 
security for her own life if she declines to do her duty. We 
can clearly see that he wants to impress her with two 
thoughts : first, that Israel was always delivered in an 
extraordinary manner ; secondly, that it was an extraordinary 
providence which exalted her to the royal throne. "Who 
knoweth," says he, "whether thou art not come to the 
kiugjdom for such a time as this ? " i.e. whether the one did 
not happen to secure the other. The answer of Mordecai is 
a masterpiece of eloc[uence. He who had loved and cherished 
Esther as a daughter, seeks now that she should risk her life 
for the deliverance of Israel. He wills it, because he believes 


in the deliverance, because he draws from the history of Israel 
the hope that they cannot become extinct, and because he 
sees in the wonderful exaltation of Esther the way to the 
deliverance. This he puts before her consideration with 
all the paternal urgency and authority which he has still 
reserved for himself with regard to her. He begins witli 
destroying every illusion of Esther, that she is in danger 
by speaking to the king, and would therefore prefer not to 
risk her life ; and he concludes with comforting her that 
she shall save her life, just because she will not flee from 
the danj^er. It is not the danc^er which is of decisive 
moment, but the moral aim for which it is sought. He con- 
vinces her that escape and silence would be of no avail to 
her, but that courage and acknowledgment have hope, — not 
for her own sake alone, but for the sake of Israel which has 
such a history ; and yet for her own sake, who was formerly a 
captive orphan, but is now become queen. His chief design 
was to plant in her heart faith in an overruling Providence, 
and then she would have nothing to fear. — He was the right to do this, because she knew how very much he loved 
her. He would not advise her to sacrifice her life needlessly. 
Such confidence is necessary in order to have such a faith, 
which is superior to human anxieties and precautions. That 
Esther was capable of having such faith, is evident from her 
former and later conduct. 

Of verbal peculiarifcies in the passage may be mentioned ••lonn, 
from the Piel nJ21, which has completely the sense of imagin- 
ing, as from it is derived the word nim, image (imagio, 

Eemarkable is the position of 'i^Dn-n^a ^b'orh) Mordecai 
says: Do not imagine to escape "as^ house of the king." 
Esther might think that even when all the houses of Israel 
would be sacked, her royal house would naturally be spared. 

^ [So the Rabbis understand the word n''3 in 1 Sam. vii. 17 as meaning 
wife, from which they infer that wherever Samuel was there was also his 
wife.— Trans.] 

CHAP. IV. 14. 165 

We must not take the words to mean " in the house of the 
king/' the household which she had formed for herself. They 
stand in contrast to the expression in ver. 14, "Thy father's 
house." Mordecai thinks that Esther perhaps imagines that 
as a royal house it would escape, so he says, " But when 
Israel shall he delivered, then wilt thou and thy fathers house 
perish." In seeking to save thyself, those who are with 
thee in the royal house may perhaps he preserved ; hut if thou 
shouldest nevertheless perish, then the house of thy father 
will he totally destroyed. The fall of male and female 
favourites in Oriental courts, as we shall see in the case of 
Haman, brought with it the fall of the head and members of 
their famiUes. Mordecai wants in this manner to raise her 
moral courage, by showing her the disgrace which she would 
bring upon herself when, although Israel would be delivered, 
she would fall together with her family, himself of course 
included, although she had not attempted anything for their 
deliverance. It would be a disgraceful death. 

Ver. 1 4. " For if thoto altogether holdest thy peaceP 
^l^'nnn t^^nnn. The infinitive represents the continuance of 
silence, " If thou shouldest altogether be silent, and suppress 
thy concern in the matter." Esther should speak for her 
people, whether she is called or not called; she should attempt 
to fascinate the king by her manner and speech, as she can at 
other times, and more especially now, when it is a question of 
life or death to her people. The derivation of the verb " to 
be silent," from the noun tnn, " dumb," " deaf," has been 
contested ; yet the idea of Gesenius, who adduces the analogy 
of dumb, obtuse, of /cox^o? from Koirreiv, is before all others to 
be preferred. The verb t^^in, to cut, to work in art, is doubt- 
less from the Greek 'x^apa.TTco. As from this is %ajoaf, 
" stake," " pile," so has cnn come to mean a " blockhead " or 
" stupid fellow," who cannot open his mouth, as stipes and 
truncus in Latin. The biblical colloquial describes by the 
word tnn, a dumb man, under the notion that he is like a 


piece of wood, without life, dull and awkward. That tnn was 
actually used in the sense of " stake," " pile," is seen from 
the meaning of ^p, a " wood," " hush ; " Chald. t^cnin ; 
Samarit. ssni<. The word has the signification of silence also 
in the Arahic. When tnn has the meaning in Persian of 
" rough " (Jiomo impolitus, rudis), it is only a confirmation of 
the above given derivation. But Vullers is mistaken when 
(Lex. Fers. i. 675) he wants to join it with Knn, ursus, which 
is from quite a different etymology. 

" Then shall respite and deliverance arise to the Jews from 

another place." 

Mordecai is in full assurance of faith that Israel cannot he 
so shamefully annihilated. He is quite certain that ways 
and means will be found for their deliverance. He sees an 
earnest of this in the wonderful exaltation of Esther. But 
should she refuse to act, deliverance will come in spite of her. 
The words nfj^m nn occur only in Esther, and have arisen 
from the influences of the captivity, i.e. they manifest Aramaic 
forms, nn is avairvor), as the Chaldaic Targum uses. The 
time will come when Israel, as one that has escaped breathless 
from persecution, will be able to breathe again freely, ni^^n 
is an infinitive substantive of h^^, " the deliverance ; " comp. 
the Chaldaic rh^rh in Dan. iii. 29. 

"And ivJio Jcnoweth whether thou art not come to the 

"kingdom for such a time as this ? " 

The expression "who knoweth" occurs particularly in Eccle- 
siastes as an exclamation of despair in not knowing what is to 
come. But it is quite differently used in this place, where it is 
an exclamation of certainty in the ways of providence, which 
man does not know as to detail. Mordecai is not a prophet who 
can say with certainty that Esther's errand will be successful, but 
he has faith enough to see in her going to the king — difficult 
and dangerous as it is — a way of deliverance. He cannot 
describe the result in detail, but he is sure that it will be an 

CHAP. IV. 16. 167 

important turning-point in the history of Israel, and that 
Esther was not raised in vain to occupy such a high position. 
The exclamation yiT' '•d, " who knoweth," is here also an 
exclamation of faith, as in Joel ii. 14 ; Jonah iii. 9 ; Ps. 
xc. 11. For when the Psalmist says, "Who knoweth the 
power of Thine anger, and Thy wrath as he should fear it ? " 
he believes in the anger of God, the mystery of which had 
only overwhelmed himself. But the words of Mordecai to 
Esther were not intended to implant despair, but faith, in her 
heart. Eor it is faith which ascribes Esther's exaltation solely 
to a special guidance of providence ; and however adventurous 
and sublime the demand of her uncle may appear to her, the 
extraordinary circumstance of her becoming queen should 
only act as an incitement to duty, and she should be ready to 
give her life for the salvation of Israel. 

Ver. 16. *' Go and gather together all the Jev:s that are 

present in Shushan." 

Esther is ready to act in accordance with Mordecai's request. 
She certainly had not said too much of the danger which she 
would have to encounter, but in spite of it she does not resist 
his demand any longer. She is ready to do everything for 
her people. It is no common hazard which the woman and 
the queen undertakes. Clericus was of opinion that Esther 
only displayed timidity w^hen she thought of the possibility 
that the king might kill her for venturing to transgress the 
rules of etiquette. But he overlooked both the awful import- 
ance that was connected with etiquette and the feelings of a 
woman's heart. The coming and going of the women to the 
Persian king depended entirely on his caprice. This caprice 
was inexorable law. Vashti had lost her life because she did 
not come, although she was commanded ; might not the same 
happen to Esther, who came although she was not com- 
manded ? Be it remembered also what the coming of Esther 
to the king must imply. It must appear in his eyes as a 
self-willed request for that for which at other times his lust 


summoned her. This was then debasing to her feeling. She 
thought the king would misinterpret her motives and regard 
her profession of fidelity to her people as the flimsiest pretext. 
The wives had to wait till it pleased the king to call them. 
Therefore she thought that if she came and found him in ill- 
humour, not only might she lose her life, but also her honour, 
which is worse. She would be dishonoured among her fellow- 
women of the harem, who considered it honourable patiently 
to wait until their turn came. 

And did Esther know whether she would, even under the 
most favourable circumstances, succeed with her petition ? 
What if she did not overcome the influence of Haman, and if 
the order of massacre were not withdrawn ? And if she 
failed, what then ! She would in vain have exposed herself 
to be misunderstood. She would have lowered her royal 
dignity. Henceforth, even if her life should be spared, she 
would be an object of hatred and intrigue. If her desire 
should not be fulfilled now, she must sooner or later 

It is necessary to judge the deeds of men by the circum- 
stances in which they are placed. Torn asunder from the 
conditions of life of which they are the outcome, they lose 
for the most part all significance. In itself the seeking of an 
interview with the Persian king, who is the husband, is 
certainly no wonderful thing. But when we review the 
circumstances under which this was done, then Esther appears 
to have displayed greater heroic courage than the famous 
Eoman women, who out of patriotism were ready to die ; or of 
the Pythagorean women, who would rather have their tongues 
bitten off than be silent. Just because Esther put her throne 
and life at hazard, without having any prospect of a certain 
result — therefore she sent Mordecai word : " Gather together 
all the Jews that are in Shushan." To what place ? Into 
the synagogue. She says D1J3, gather them into the no^an n^3, 
" house of assembly," the Hebrew form for synagogue. What 
shall they do there ? They should fast for her three days 

CHAP. IV. 16. 160 

(d^v).^ Fasting was in the 0. T. the symbolic form of prayer, 
as well as the garment in which the suppliant appeared. It 
represented the attitude and the disposition under which alone 
true prayer could take place. The man who is not hungry 
does not ask for food. Out of a luxurious life does not flow 
the longing after spiritual things and after God. The body must 
iirst be mortified before the soul is full of faith. Fasting has 
no selfish aim. If it does not by fervent and spontaneous 
prayer spiritualize the body, it loses its value. The sanctifica- 
tion which it offers to the body must be the vessel of the God- 
loving soul. If this is not the case, then fasting is absurd. 
Therefore the prophet blames the fasting of Israel when it is 
severed from true repentance and love (Isa. Iviii.). Jeremiah 
shows that fasting and prayer are inseparable. "And the 
Lord said unto me. Pray not for this people for their good (for 
grace, nn^^b) ; when they fast, I will not hear their cry " (xiv. 
11, 12).^ The character of the fasting required by Esther from 
Mordecai is also given in Neh. i. 4, etc. : " I sat down and 
wept, and mourned certain days, and I fasted, and prayed 
before the God of heaven." In the same way is fasting 
understood in the New Testament. When Jesus tells the 
disciples the reason why they could not drive out an evil 
spirit (Matt. xvii. 21), He does so by saying, "This kind 
goeth not out but by prayer and fasting." Thus He describes 
the devoted, penitent, and holy disposition by which alone 
the suppliant may accomplish such a thing. So also does 
the apostle join together fasting and prayer (vrjo-Tela koI 
Trpoaevxy) (1 Cor. vii. 5). The ancient Church laid great 
stress upon fasting, inasmuch as she found herself surrounded 
by a society that lived in luxury and extravagance. It was 
considered as a disciplinary measure, and as a means by 
which an individual might overcome self. There were not 

^ The word occurs for the first time in the O. T. in Judg. xx. 26. 
Concerning its etymological connections, see my Coram, on Judg. p. 176. 

2 Jerome says on this passage (ed. Migne, iv. 771, 941): "Jejunia et 
preces et victimae et holocausta tunc proficiunt cum recedimus a vitiis 
liemus antiqua peccata." 



wanting in those days men who in the spirit of the prophets 
spoke against the abuses of fasting. Augustine comments upon 
the above passage of the apostle thus : " Christians may say, ' Let 
us fast and pray and give, for to-morrow we die.' But of the 
two sentences, I prefer that they should say, ' Let us give and 
pray,' instead of the other, ' Let us fast and not give.' " Far 
be it from the thought that the apostle considered the 
highest good, i.e. salvation, to consist in the exercise of the 
bodily powers of man.-^ Similar words Augustine uses in 
another place, quoted by Suicer from Severian : " Fasting has 
two wings, prayer and almsgiving, without which it cannot 
move." Again in his commentary : " Wilt thou that thy 
prayer should fly to God, give it two wings — prayer and 
almsgiving." ^ In his letter to Casulanus, Augustine writes, 
" I, at all events, find in the writings of the apostles and 
evangelists, and in the whole document which is called the 
N. T., that fasting is prescribed ; but on which days to fast 
and on which not, I do not find. Therefore it is the business 
of the ministers of the Church to arrange these according to 
necessity and usefulness." ^ What is said with certainty is, 
that to prayer belongs a spirit of fasting. By the appointing 
of certain fast-days, the dignity both of fasting and of prayer 
is lowered. Discipline of the body, moderation in eating and 
drinking, the crucifying of one's lusts and propensities, is the 
daily fasting which is necessary, and without which the 
Lord's Prayer cannot be repeated. It does not matter whether 
one eats meat or fish on this or on that day, or begins to 
satisfy his old appetite for eating in this or in that hour. 
This is [only] work and external appearance, and does not 
increase the strength of life in and prayer to God. Esther 
wants three days to be devoted to true repentance, earnest 

1 Oratio 151, cap. 6 {Oj)^. ed. Migne, v. 1. 812). 

2 On Ps. xlii. cap. 8 {0])jp. ed. Migne, iv. 1. 82). 

3 Ep. 36, cap. 11 ; but the last sentence : "Itaque ad Ecclesiae pastores 
id spectat pro necessitate vel utilitate ecclesiae decernere," I find in the 
quotations of older editions (cf. Beyerlinck, theatr. vitae humanae^ iv. 300), 
but not in the ed. Migne, Ojpp. ii. p. 147. 

CHAP. IV. 16. 171 

prayer, and intercession on her behalf before God, and says 
that she will do the same in her palace with her servants. 
One might have thought it would have been enough if she 
had done so herself, but in her humility she has no confidence 
that her prayer alone will bring the desired answer. Besides, 
it is not her own, but the people's affair ; the people fast and 
pray for themselves when they do so for her. She appoints 
the duration of the fast to be three days, night ^ and day, in 
which nothing should be eaten or drunk. Of such long fasts, 
the life of the synagogue affords no other examples ; but it is 
correct to begin to reckon the commencement of the fast with 
the evening of the first day, as is the case with the Day of 
Atonement. It did not, however, conclude, like the Day of 
Atonement, after twenty-four hours had elapsed, but con- 
tinued till the end of the third day. It lasted then about 
forty hours, and ended when Esther went to the king, as it 
is believed, on the third day. The space of time would then 
be like that in which " the bridegroom is removed from the 
disciples" (Matt. ix. 15), viz. from the crucifixion to the 
resurrection, therefore the ancient Church had a fast of forty 
hours, strictly speaking, and afterwards forty days. This is 
undoubtedly the passage of Irenaeus, as Bingham proves {0pp. 
ix. p. 180), for the remark about counting together hours of 
the day and hours of the night will only then have a 
meaning if we place a comma after wpa?. It appears that 
recent Koman Catholic writers have also maintained that 
there was no distinction between the forty hours' and the 
forty days' fast.^ When we remember that the number forty 

^ We read, " Three days, night and day." The word night standing 
before day, shows that the fast commenced with the night. [It was an 
estabhshed custom among the Jews, both in biblical and post-biblical 
times, to regard a part of a day as a day. — Trans.] 

2 Prayers of forty hours' duration have been appointed in the Koman 
Catholic Church since the sixteenth century. There was a fraternity who 
devoted forty hours to prayer in memory of the death of Christ. The 
Pope ratified this rule in 1560. On account of ecclesiastical abuses* 
especially in France, Clement VIII. appointed such a period of prayer for 
all churches in 1592. 


^vas already in the Old Covenant a number used in reference 
to repentance, judgment, and expectation, as in the flood, in 
the sojourn of Israel in the wilderness, and in connection with 
Elijah, etc., we can see the reason why Esther's fast should 
last exactly forty hours. Curiously enough, the Midrash 
places the command of Esther to fast in the time of the 
Passover (p. 94, etc.). 

Esther has by this long fast imposed no slight task upon 
herself and upon the people ; but she sees in this the only 
hope. She knows the danger of her action. " I will go unto 
the king," she says, " which is not according to the law " 
(m^-^S 1t^'^?). This m, " law," is like the law of God. It is 
inviolable ; death is the wages of its transgression. If men 
in general, if Israel in particular, had in like manner feared 
to transgress the laws of God, their peace would have been 
more lasting. But, at all events, the punishment of the 
transgressor by the Persian king was sure and unmerciful ; 
but our God is full of mercy and love in all His judg- 

" So let it be ! " she exclaims, " I will do what lies in me. 
Do you your part, fast and pray. And if I perish, I perish 
as the victim of obedience and love (^m3K "TnaK "iK^«D)." The 
whole force of these thoughts lies in the repetition of the 
verb. She gives by this expression free vent to her pent-up 
feelings of misery and woe, and to her determination, what- 
ever may come, to submit to the will of God. We have a 
similar passage in Gen. xliii. 14, where Jacob, after having 
refused for a long time to let Benjamin accompany his 
brethren to Egypt, at last, being pressed by a higher law of 
love and duty, quietly consents to his going, and exclaims, 
Tii^^tJ' Th^^ ntJ'i^D, " And if I be bereaved of my children, 
I am bereaved." Neither exclamation contains an ex- 
pression of indifference or of despair, as Ewald maintains 
{Rehr. Gram. 8th ed. p. 865). Therefore the translation of 
Arnheim in Zunz's Bible, " I am anyhow lost," is entirely 

CHAP. IV. 17. 173 

Yer. 1 7. " So Mordecai went his imy." "iinyi. 
The translations hitherto given have not hit upon the sense. 
If the word meant merely " ahiit!' " he went away," or as 
Arnheim translates, " he went about," it, having a definite and 
well-known meaning, would not have been chosen to express 
this idea. We must not depart from its sense of passing over. 
We have in it, when locally spoken of, a local portraiture. 
Therefore those Jewish interpreters who understood by it, 
transgression of a law, still retain its proper meaning. It is 
maintained in the Talmud that Esther's three days' fast began 
two days before the Passover, and included the first day ; 
and this is incorrectly thought to be proved by chap. iii. 12. 
Consequently, it is asserted that Mordecai transgressed the 
law of the Passover (Eab. in Bab. Megilla \^a ; Midrash 
Esther 94, etc.). No other view is found in the first Targum. 
For the words D]31 DD:i, " sad and excited," are not the transla- 
tion of "lUV^I, as Levy (Chald. Lex. ii. 116) supposes, inasmuch 
as they are immediately followed by nnyi ; but they merely 
mean to say that Mordecai was very sad to be obliged to 
transgress the joy of the feast (&5jn nnn). How can Levy 
ascribe to the Targumist the derivation of the word " anger " 
from nny ? Another explanation of the Midrash likewise 
testifies that the word is to be understood in the sense of 
passing over or transgressing. According to which, Mordecai 
was displeased with Esther for profaning the feast ; but after 
being better instructed by her on the subject, "inv^l, " he trans- 
gressed " his words,^ i.e. in the dialect of the Talmud, he with- 
drew his words. It is impossible that this word should have 
been chosen without a purpose, and E. Samuel (Megilla 15a) 
felt this, and explained that Mordecai passed over the other 
side of a lake or river. Samuel, who himself lived on the other 
side of the Euphrates, is for this a good authority. The castle of 
Shushan was situated near the river Ulai, as we know from 

1 Sefer Meg. Esther, " Er Uberfliret seine Red." [This verb is used in 
the sense of transgressing in Hos. vi. 7. In Micah vii. 18 it means "pass- 
ing by transgressions." — Trans.] 


Dan. viii. 2. The royal castle was the real Shushan, and it is 
of this that the ancient writers speak when they describe the 
city as situated near the Eulaeus or Choaspes (Herod, vii. 7 ; 
Curtius V. 1 and 2, etc.). Mordecai was in the royal fortified 
town, and transacted his business with Esther before the 
chief gate. The Jews resided in another part of the city. 
When lie wanted to go to them to gather them together, 
he had to cross the water to come to the Jewish quarter. 
Benjamin of Tudela in the Middle Ages still described Susa 
as lying on both sides of the river, and connected by a bridge 
across it. So then we see that the word nun has a local 
and graphic meaning, and we cannot have a better testimony 
for the topographical knowledge of the narrator than we have 
in this word. In nny is contained the idea of passing by or 
passing over. But Mordecai did not pass by, but he passed 
over the river, like Abraham and Nehemiah, — certainly not 
the Euphrates, but the Ulai, into the capital of the captivity, 
— not to rejoice before God with thanksgiving, but to pray to 
Him in deep sorrow^ and in earnest repentance. 



Yer. 1 . " Now it came to pass on the third day^ 
The emphasis which the narrator puts on this date seems 
to indicate that he had the thought in his mind, that the third 
day in Holy Scripture marks important facts in connection 
with the kingdom of God. A pious Jewish narrator chose en 
this occasion this formula in remembrance of the third day on 
which God gave the law to Moses in the midst of thunder and 
lightning (Ex. xix. 16). This third day was the beginning 
of a new life for exiled Israel. Out of the darkness of death 
the sun arose in his brilliancy. What God, through the 
prophet, said to Hezekiah (2 Kings xx. 5) : "I have heard thy 
prayer, I have seen thy tears ; behold, I will heal thee : on 
the third day thou shalt go up unto the house of the Lord," 
had also happened here. After two days of weeping came 
deliverance. The prophet Hosea says : " After two days will 
He revive us ; on the third day He will raise us up, and we 
shall live before Him " (vi. 2). It was on the third day after 
the day of suffering that Christ rose from the dead, to raise 
others too. It appears as if the Midrash was thinking of these 
parallels, when it ascribes to Esther as having cried out in 
the moment of her great anxiety and anguish of soul, when 
she had to appear before the king, " My God, my God, why 
hast Thou forsaken me ? " (Ps. xxii. 1). She repeated the very 
words which were understood by the Jews as referring to the 
Messiah, and according to Christian interpretation, which had 
their complete Messianic realization when they fell from the 
lips of Jesus on the cross. 

" That Esther put on her royal apparel" 
ni270 t^'npni, " she put on royalty," is a form of expression 


chosen with great precision, and means more than " she put 
on royal apparel." She appeared before the king in the full 
array and attitude of the queen. She wore the crown which 
he himself had placed on her head (ii. 17). The whole Koa-fio^ 
l3aaCkiK6<i is meant, of which Diodorus relates, that Alex- 
ander had placed it again on the head of the Persian queen 
{Bill. xvii. 38). The additions in Josephus and in the Greek 
Apocrypha bear already the Midrash character. The queen 
came to the king. 

" And stood in the inner court!' n''D"'jan. 
Tiirst is of opinion that if D^JQ should be connected with 
D'^Q, the sense would be opposite, viz. " face to face " with 
Ahhashverosh. But this is not even the case with evcoTrca, 
" the face," expressing the inner walls of the chamber, and 
means just the opposite of irpovooTria, which signifies the 
external side. The use of the word face in Hebrew, as well 
as in Greek, comes from the covering of the face ; the veil 
being considered as the door to the face. When the veil is 
opened, the inner part of the face becomes visible. 

Ver. 2. " So Esther dreiu near and touched the top of the 


When the king saw her standing, she gained favour in his 
sight ; he was not angry with her because she came without 
being called, as she feared would be the case. She found him 
in good humour. When Bathsheba came to King Solomon, 
her son, he rose up to meet her, bowed himself unto her, then 
sat down on his throne, and seated her on his right hand 
(1 Kings ii. 19). Of course, Ahhashverosh did not receive Esther 
with the same politeness. Yet the report of Plutarch (in his 
treatise about the badly instructed prince) is correct, that the 
Persian kings did not treat their wives like slaves. And 
Esther wore the crown upon her head ; and she did not 
prostrate herself at his feet, as others were obliged to do, but 
lie saw her standing (mDiy), and he beckoned to her with the 

CHAP. V. 2. 177 

sceptre, as one beckons with the hand, as a sign of salutation 
and of invitation to come near.^ The poet Zacharia uses the 
imagery of night as a queen, " Lo, the solitary night beckons 
with the leaden sceptre " {Adelung Lex. iv. 1563). 

It is worthy of remark, that by touching the sceptre she 
intimated that she had a petition to the king. The sceptre 
represented royal power ; this she touched, because she needed 
it very much. Nothing more was certainly expressed by the 
touch ; for with the King of Persia, everything that was to be 
obtained by petition, be it the smallest trifle or the life of a 
whole nation, was considered as a grant of grace. Amongst 
the Jews of old the custom was, that a petitioner who desired 
the grant of a great favour from any one, fell down before 
him and took hold of his feet, as the woman did to whom 
Elijah restored the child alive. This was a sign of humility, 
in the same manner as touching the knees. Pliny says, " The 
knees of man contain a certain amount of sacredness in them, 
according to usage of nations. The petitioners touch them ; 
they stretch out their hands to them ; they pray to them, as 
to altars, perhaps because there is vital power in them" 
("fortassis, quia inest in iis vitalitas," Hist. Nat. xi. 45). But 
this is not correct. The feet or the knees of man were 
touched out of humility, because the petitioner did not 
arrogate to himself worthiness to such a degree as to enable 
him to touch the higher parts of the benefactor's body. He 
therefore prostrates himself upon the earth, and can only 
touch the foot or the knee. 

The custom among the Greeks, for a petitioner to touch 
the chin, had a different significance. Thetis did so when 
she laid her petition before Zeus (Ilias, i. 501 ; comp. viii. 
371, vTT avdepewvos;). This also Dolon would like to do, to 
obtain mercy from Diomedes, but he does not succeed (x. 
454), where Crusius in his Commentary on Homer explains, 

^ What the Midrasli reports, as well as Josephus and the Apocrypha, 
that the king was so angry that Esther fainted, and that angels accom- 
panied her, etc., are entirely legendary homilies of the Jews of a later age 



that it was the knee, and not the chin, which was touched. 
It is not this passage only to which Pliny refers when he 
speaks of it as a general custom among the Greeks. There 
was even a particular word, vTroyeveid^eiv, for it. The under- 
lying thought of the custom was, that by caressing and flatter- 
ing the chin the petition would be granted. It had nothing 
to do, as Eosenmtiller will have it, with the Oriental notion 
of the sacredness of the beard, for it was peculiar to many 
nations. Grimm quotes from Gudrun 386 similar customs. 
It is remarkable, at any rate, that r/cnu, Sanscr. ganUj knee, 
is evidently cognate with ffena, yiueiov, Sanscr. Jiami, chin, 
and yet the two customs had different fundamental thoughts. 
Touching the knee was an appeal for mercy, but touching the 
chin was an act of flattering the supposed tender part of man. 

To be sure, the humiliation of Esther in presenting her 
petition in the palace of Shushan was not like that of the 
Venetian Ambassador, Francis Dandolo, before the Pope in 
1312. He appeared before the Pope in the presence of many 
guests upon all fours, and carried an iron chain upon his 
neck, and thus lay under the table like a dog until his 
petition was granted. When he bore after this the name 
of Cane (dog), he deserved it less than Diogenes, who did not 
know how to flatter (comp. Leo, Gesch. v. Italien, iii. p. 70); 
and still less than the pupil of Diogenes, who, when asking 
a favour of a superior for some one else, touched him on his 
thigh. That person became enraged, for he expected that 
the supplicant would touch his knee. " What," exclaimed 
Crates, " are the thighs not also thine ? " (Diog. Laertius, vi. 
cap. V. n. 7.) 

Plutarch (on Cold) mentions that a petition was not 
refused in Persia when the petitioner carried fire, or went 
into the water. The same custom is still observed among the 
Turks, and Hammer adduces many examples from the years 
1638 and 1655 (GescJi. des osman. Beiches, v. pp. 239, 630). 

Esther does not touch the knee as a dependant, nor the 
chin as a woman ; she touches the sceptre of royal authority. 

CHAP. V. 3. 179 

because from this she seeks deliverance. In fact, the Persian 
tyrant arrogated to himself divine power. With his sceptre 
he dispensed life or death. When the ancient Christians estab- 
lished petitionary courses (supplicationes), and often called them 
stations, they based them on the idea that they caused the cross 
to be carried before them. This is spiritually, but not in the 
sense of material superstition. The cross is the true sceptre of 
the great King of Grace. He who touches it in his heart will live. 

Ver. 3. " WJiat wilt thou, Queen Esther ? " {rs^h^^n nriDK.) 
Esther came at the time when the king held a reception. 
This appears from the circumstance that "the king sat on 
the throne." At such a time those who had any business to 
transact with him presented it. This throws light upon the 
question of Ahhashverosh, " What wilt thou ? What canst 
thou, queen, want ? What has brought thee into the 
reception room ? " It is the language of gracious favour, in 
which he expresses his astonishment that the queen should 
also have something to ask. 

" What is thy request ? It shall be given thee even to 
the half of the kingdom." Nowhere does the sublime 
munificence of the Persian shahs appear to greater advantage 
than in their readiness to bestow great favours. The more 
powerful they considered themselves, the more they fancied 
they could give everything. " Ask what thou wilt, express 
thy wishes," were the haughty phrases with which they as 
divine beings thought of bestowing a favour. The more so 
here, where Esther, wearing a crown upon her head, asks a 
favour. As queen she is, as we say, half or part of him ; 
she is his companion in the government (in name and by 
favour), therefore he says to her, "Ask what thou wilt, thou 
shalt have to the half of the kingdom." This was naturally 
only a benignant phrase, to show Esther his love for her, and 
the claim she has upon him. — Yet it happened that on 
similar occasions whole provinces and cities, i.e, the revenues 
from them, were really given away. 


Ver. 4. " Let the king and Haman come this day ^ unto the 


The caution whicli Esther uses in her invitation is for us 
the finest characteristic of Oriental conditions. 

She has two things in view, in order to succeed in her 
attempt to get the edict revoked. It must first become 
clear to her that Ahhashverosh is indeed so favourably 
disposed to her that he will also fulfil his promise according 
to her mind. For that he will keep his promise was sure, 
but the realization of it was often worse than the refusal. 
When Darius, son of Artaxerxes, realized the promise that was 
given him to have the beautiful Aspasia for his wife, he 
indeed received her, but she was very soon snatched from 
liim ; and this also led to his lasting disgrace and to his final 
ruin (Plutarch, Artaxerxes, 26). When Pythius the Lydian 
was encouraged by former favours from Xerxes to beseech the 
king to leave behind one of his five sons who accompanied 
the expedition, his wish was fulfilled, — he was left behind, 
but cut into two parts, which were placed on each side of the 
road, and then the army passed through them (Herodotus, 
vii. 39). Secondly, she wanted Haman to be present when 
she made her petition. She thought she must not give to 
Ahhashverosh the opportunity of talking the matter over 
early with Haman, and that the latter must not have time to 
accomplish his design, or at least to arrange for his escape. 
In inviting Haman, too, she avoided giving the appearance 
of her petition being detrimental to his interests. Haman 
himself must consider the invitation as a special sign of her 
regard for him. We see that Esther manifested in her 
undertaking a bold as well as a prudent spirit. But the life 

1 [This is in Hebrew, DVn, pHI, ^^'DH, 5<3\ Yabo, Hamelech, Yeliaman, 
Hayom. From this the Rabbis prove that the name of God is mentioned 
in this book, for the initial letters of these four words compose tlie 
name Jehovah. The same form so many words in chap. i. ver. 20, only in 
a reversed manner from the final letters. But they do not account for the 
omission of the name of God in the Song of Solomon, as it is uncertain 
whether the word n"* in viii. 6 is the name Jah or a suffix. — Traxs.] 

CHAP. V. 5, 6. 181 

of a whole nation was at stake, and it was her love to them 
which nerved and inspired her resolutions. It was a great 
distinction to Haman that the queen invited him together 
with the king to her banquet ; but she learned already from 
the favourable reception she met from the king how much 
she might depend upon his attachment to her, and also what 
weight she might place upon his regard for Haman. She 
experimented to a certain degree as to the relations in which 
Haman really stood to Ahhashverosh. 

Ver. 5. "Cause Hainan to make haste, that it may he done 

as Esther hath said." 

This shows that the king at once appreciated Esther's zeal. 
Without a moment's hesitation he granted her very first desire. 
He had not the slightest suspicion that his minister harboured 
any ill-feeling against his consort, and he might even have 
joyfully congratulated himself that the relations between the 
government and the harem were those of peace and harmony 
and mutual respect for each otlier. There is nothing more 
instructive for powerful autocrats than to observe the great 
weakness with which they rule. The haughty potentate who 
believes that he is able to do everything, gropes as a blind 
man in the dark about the designs which others out of 
passion and despair are laying for him. While he fancies 
that he, like a human god, can dispose of life and death, and 
of happiness and misery, others play with his humour as with 
a ball. The haste with which he makes Haman come is but 
the dawn of a gracious morning. Haman hurries uncon- 
sciously to judgment, of which he himself was to be the 
instrument as he was its guilty cause. 

Ver. 6. "And the king said unto Esther at the banquet of 

ivine, What is thy petition ? " 

From the repetition of this question Esther gathered hope. 
For when the king gave audience to her, he must have seen 
that the invitation to the banquet was not her only object in 


coming to him. He must have understood that she had a 
petition which she wanted only to present at the banquet, 
where according to Persian custom it could more easily be 
granted (Hammer, Gemdldesaal, ii. 162). During the drink- 
ing of wine, the king used to consult with his family about 
the affairs which were brought before him. The Persian 
kings were often tried and harassed on such occasions by 
petitioners who took advantage of their benevolent disposition. 
When Xerxes had promised Artaynte to grant whatever she 
wished (Herod, ix. 109), she asked a present which his 
wife Amestris gave him, and whose jealousy must thereby have 
been provoked. When he again promised to grant a similar 
petition to Amestris, she demanded that Artaynte should be 
delivered up to her, that she might avenge herself upon her 
(Herod, ix. 110, 111). Such things were of daily occur- 
rence, and they took place in every department of Oriental 
life. Procopius relates (Pers. Gcsch. i. 5) that the Persian 
shah under the Sassanides had once told a man to ask any 
petition he liked, and so he asked something which was 
against the law : to visit the prisoners " in the house of 
oblivion." Almamun the caliph said once to a girl, "Ask 
what thou wishest;" and she asked the liberation of his enemy 
{The Tliousand and One Nights, ed. Habicht, xiii. 1-4). 

When, therefore, the king remembered at the banquet that 
Esther had touched the sceptre, and that apparently he had 
not satisfied her desire by his coming, he then really showed 
devotion to her, and a readiness to do her a favour, and that 
in the presence of Haman. 

" What is thy petition (in^«'^>) ? and it shall he granted 
thee : and what is thy request (intrp2"i) ? it shall he per- 

The ideas of rh^^"^ and 7\^\>2 are not the same, h^^ signifies 
to ask, to demand an objective thing, as rogare. What is 
asked is granted (|n3) by the gift of an object. When 
Ahhashverosh first spoke kindly to Esther, he did not imply 

CHAP. V. 6. 183 

that she might have a n^KC', a tangible thing to ask. It 
looks as if the first term was concealed in it. But now he 
adds to what he said the first time : '•]n^p2 n», " What is thy 
wish ? " The substantive form niifp2 occurs only in Esther 
and in Ezra, while the verb C^pa is found in the whole of the 
0. T. It has been overlooked that its meaning " to wish " is 
lexicographically established. The German word wiinscJien, 
Eng. "wish," is derived from it. Thus the Hebrew ^p2 
(vaksJi) corresponds closely to the Sanscr. vdksh, vanksh, Norse 
dsJca, Anglo-Sax. vyscan, Eng. " wish " (comp. my Eddischen 
Shcdien, p. 99). Wishing has more of a subjective character. 
The king therefore says to his wife, as to a wife, " What is it 
that thou wishest, what is thy heart's desire ? Whatever it 
be, petition or wish, of a general or of a personal nature, 
speak out, it shall be granted." 

The king considers himself as possessing the power which 
the legends and fables ascribe to those who, as spirits and 
wizards, allow their beloved to have wishes. When God 
appears to Solomon, He says, " Ask (bi^^) what I shall give 
thee " (1 Kings iii. 5). When Elijah takes leave of Elisha, 
he says to him, " Ask what I shall do for thee " (2 Kings 
ii. 9). Ahhashverosh fancies himself like the God of truth 
and like the powers of fiction, to be able to grant petitions 
and desires of the heart. 

" Uven to the half of my kingdom it shall he performed" 
He repeats at the banqueting table what he said in the 
inner chamber. From this and other examples it appears 
that Herodotus (ix. 110) could not have meant that the king 
only grants petitions once a year at his dining table. This 
happened especially when he gave a public dinner on his 
coronation day. This mistake of Herodotus has conduced 
to the false explanation which he has when he says : ovvofia 
Se TO) Zelirvcp rovro), irepaiaTl ixev tvkto,, Be T'qv EWrjvcov 
fyXSxraav reXecov. The last word riXeiov, a complete feast, 
is surely not a translation of tvktcl, a connection which 


could scarcely be if tvktol be Greek joined with revxofiai, 
Tvy^dvecv. Therefore the attempts hitherto made to explain 
the word have been in vain. It appears to me that tvkto, 
has the analogous sense of yevkcria, " annual feast," " throne 
feast," " coronation feast," and it is therefore to be derived 
from the Persian tecM, meaning a throne. This throws light 
upon the narrative in the Gospel of Mark (vi. 21). Herod 
in his vain conceit entirely imitates the court fashions of the 
great Persian kings (as the German princes in the seventeenth 
century aped the fashions and extravagances of the court of 
Louis XIV.). He also had a feast to commemorate his 
accession to the throne {roh 'yevealoL<; avrov). The names of 
his courtiers (though of Macedonian origin) are in accordance 
with those of the Persians, fieyLarave^, When his daughter 
dances, he says to her, " Ask of me whatsoever thou wilt, 
and I will give it thee." And again, " Whatsoever thou shalt 
ask of me, I will give it thee, unto the half of my kingdom." 
Thus he imitated the language of Ahhashverosh, which was 
familiar to him. 

Yer. 7. " Then answered Esther : My ^petition and my 

She still keeps back her petition. She sees indeed that 
she has found favour in the eyes of the king, and has good 
reason to believe that he wants to do what she will ask him ; 
and yet she hesitates. " Ah, indeed," she says, " I have a 
petition and a wish ; but if thou wilt show me a favour, 
then come once more with Haman to my entertainment, and 
I will tell it thee then." What she does now is entirely 
calculated with respect to the nature of the king. She makes 
him curious and expectant ; she excites in him a still greater 
desire to be kind and gracious by timidly telling him to 
observe somewhat of her difficulty and embarrassment which 
necessitates a postponement of telling her desire right out ; 
she assures herself of his love, when he, the tyrant, who is 
not in the habit of exercising patience, agrees to come once 

CHAP. V. 7. 185 

more to the banquet. She increases by this the proofs of 
her feigned respect for Haman, so that he dreams of being 
quite secure. She psychologically prepares everything as 
best she can, before she ventures upon the great stroke, which 
in spite of the favour of the king may become dangerous. 
The two intervening days have a wonderfully tragical cha- 
racter. While Esther trembles all over with excitement and 
uncertainty, while she stands between life and death, with 
full consciousness that the fate of a whole nation depends 
upon the success of her enterprise, she must at the same time 
appear in the character of a cheerful wife, of an interesting 
hostess, and of an illustrious queen. JSTothing about her must 
betray that she sees in the cup of wine a reflection of the 
blood of her people ; nothing must indicate that Haman the 
dreaded favourite was invited not to meet with honour, but 
with judgment. The simple narrative conceals a conflict of 
thoughts of a highly dramatical character. The sorrowful, 
prudent woman must overcome two men who hold the destiny 
of thousands in their hands ; she has no weapons for the 
warfare except her charms and her insight into human nature. 
But her trembling heart sooii found help. Through the 
guidance of God, who is not named, things take place which 
pave the way for such a success far beyond her knowledge 
and calculation. Just then, when she could not withdraw, 
when delay was no longer possible, — for " to-morrow I shall 
make known my request," — events happen wdiich powerfully 
influence the mind and disposition of the king. There was 
only one night ^ between one banquet and the other ; but it 
was long enough to announce to Haman and Mordecai an 
unexpected catastrophe. Esther is to experience, that when 
one pursues a great plan, it is not necessary for him to fret, 
nor to think that the result is entirely dependent upon his 
own power and wisdom. 

1 An Arabic proverb says, " The nights are pregnant with many things, 
and give birth to them before the dawn of the morning " (Hammer, Gesch. 
der Ilchane, ii. 291). 


Ver. 9. " Then went Hainan forth on that day joyful 

and glad of hearth 

" On that day," for on the next day there was an end to 
his joy. To-day his heart was still elated, that he was the first 
man in the country, and was in great favour with the king 
and queen, and in fact he had reached the goal of his ambition. 
It is true that generally an invited guest received special 
distinctions, as Themistocles received (Plutarch, Th. 29), and 
as the Cretan Timagoras (according to Athenaeus, quoted by 
ancient commentators) ; but they do not form a strict parallel 
to the case before us. Here Haman laid stress upon the fact 
that the queen invited him, that she invited no one else to give 
the king the pleasure of his company, that therefore she must 
esteem him beyond measure; and the pleasure was enhanced 
when he reflected that the attendance at such banquets 
generally turned out very dangerous to the viziers, but in this 
only honours awaited him. At any rate, it appears clearly 
from Haman's glee that he was quite unaware that Esther 
belonged to the people against whom he had issued such 
cruel orders ; otherwise his merriment would have been 
moderate. He was the more pleased when he thought that 
he had not noticed any jealousy on the part of the queen 
concerning his predominating influence over the king. All 
obstacles appeared to have been overcome by him. He had 
no longer any rival. Henceforth all must bow before him. 

" Mordecai sat in the king's gate; he stood not wp, nor 

trembled before him." 

]N'ow also he did not take any notice of Haman ; he did not 
bow before him, nor did he stand up to compliment him, nor 
was he convulsed either by fear of or respect for him. And 
Haman was full of wrath that the Jew, the commoner, should 
not bow before the Magus and favourite of the king. In 
his vanity he was ashamed that the other courtiers had seen 
Mordecai's boldness. He was afraid that they would think 
that after all Haman cannot be so all-powerful, if a man like 

CHAP. V. 9. 187 

Mordecai dares to ignore him. Still excited with his self- 
glorification, the conduct of the Jew appeared to him intolerable. 
Certainly he knew that this could not last long, for his 
destructive decree had already been published everywhere; but 
the time for its taking effect had not yet come, and should he 
till then tolerate the contempt of Mordecai ? The thought occurs 
to him to wait no lono^er, and to order at once that he should 
be killed ; but p2i«?n''1,^ he restrained himself. Ancient com- 
mentators '^ have not understood why Haman did not at once 
make short work with Mordecai; but they were deficient in 
insight into the customs and spirit of the East. The arbitrari- 
ness of the absolute shah is on the one hand a burden to the 
great, and on the other it secures freedom to the humble 
people. The unlimited control of the king over life and death, 
to decide according to the whim and mood he was in, prevented 
his subordinates doing the same. For the nearer they were 
to him, the more they were exposed to the same treatment. 

The position which a grand vizier like Haman occupied 
was an exalted one, but not the less dangerous. He had to 
take good care not in any way to give the appearance of 
arrogating to himself the prerogatives and functions that 
belonged to the shah. He was surrounded by enemies who 
were jealous of him. There were many others who wanted to 
supplant him, and the intrigues of the seraglio might become 
at any moment dangerous. To do away with Mordecai in a 
quiet manner was in itself an easy thing for him, but he feared 
the consequences. When we read above (iii. 6), " But he 
thought scorn to lay hands on Mordecai alone," it means that 
he did not think it worth his while to risk his position for 
such a man. It was permitted to everybody to sit at the gate 

1 pQX is rightly compared with plK, to wrestle ; its meaning is certainly 
the German fassen, " to take hold." And p^t^nn is to be taken, like the 
Greek dyx>.ct,u/2»usiif sxvtov, in the sense of taking hold of oneself {se 
colligere). In sound it is like the German packen, Sanscr. pag pax, capere 
(see Dieffenh. goth. Gloss, i. 343). 

2 This applies even to Clericus ; but these misconceptions always arise 
from an inclination to follow a complete unhistorical criticism. 


of the kinsf. This law was recognised even under the Turkish 
sultans. Jews and Gentiles could appear before the gate 
either to present a petition or to pay homage, just in the same 
way as all could place themselves before the sun to be warmed. 
The idea was that all had the liberty of receiving the beams 
that shone from royal majesty. Now, this being the case, if 
Haman had privately killed Mordecai, the intriguers of the 
palace would have eagerly reported to the king that Haman 
had murdered one that had placed himself under the protecting 
wings of the king, and who appealed for protection ; that he 
encroached upon the rights of the king to pardon a criminal, 
and that he had done this from personal spite and vanity, 
without asking for authority, and before the very holy gates of 
the king. The mistrust of the king would thus have been 
aroused, the enemies would have gained time to complicate 
matters further, and the consequences would have been incal- 
culable for him. Haman thought of all this, therefore he 
restrained himself from adopting harsh measures at present, 
until he had first consulted with his party. 

Ver. 10. "And he sent and fetched his friends, and Zeresh 

his wife" 

Every one of the great men who had obtained power had 
his party. In this the absolute government did not differ 
from the modern constitutional forms of government. It is 
therefore such a party meeting which Haman at this moment 
calls together. The occasion for it is not his encounter with 
Mordecai, but the new good fortune which he believes has 
befallen him. The narrative has for this reason an extra- 
ordinary dramatical character, since it presents Haman as 
seeing in the invitation of Esther the crowning of his ambition, 
while she was actually preparing measures for his fall. Having 
become the attached friend of the king and queen, how 
powerful is his position ! So he gives a kind of account of 
this to his friends and to his wife, for they share in his honours 
and power. It is wonderful enough that to-day he describes 

CHAP. V. 13, 14. 189 

to them all his glory, while, unknown to him, the to-morrow 
will strip it from him entirely. He shows them how rich he 
is — how numerous are his sons — also the number of his 
faithful adherents upon whom he can rely. He further com- 
municates to them that he enjoys the highest confidence of the 
king, who has bountifully lavished his honours upon him ; and 
that of which he is still more proud is, that the queen was 
quite partial to him, and had so distinguished him as to invite 
him only, together with the king, to her banquet. In fact he 
pours out his whole joyful heart before them, — for really more 
pleasures he cannot expect.^ 

Ver. 13. " Yet all this availeth me nothing, so long as I 
see Mordecai the Jew sitting at the king's gate" 
He tells of this vexation also. He is, forsooth, ashamed to 
tell of the real ground of his vexation. He simply but 
emphatically gives them to understand that his joys are 
embittered by being obliged to see Mordecai at the royal gate. 
The more we consider Haman as the representative of a 
religious party, the more force we see in this complaint 
brouojht before them, as it is intended to awaken their general 
interest in the matter of the Jew being still tolerated at the 
gate of the king. But what is to be done ? Let them give 
advice, for his honours and his attempts are as much theirs as 
his. But their interests will certainly not be furthered if the 
Jew should still be suffered to sit at the gates of the king. 

Yer. 14. " Then said Zeresh, his wife, and all his friends 

unto Mm!' 

It is evidently correct to take this name as related to Zairi, 
gold. Other Persian names seem to have the same compounds 
(Zariadris, Zariaspa) ; it is the same name which Jewesses of a 
later age frequently have, like Zahab (gold) Chryse, and in 
Germany, etc., Golde (see Zunz, Namen der Juden, p. 71). 

^ Comp. " Die GescL. eines Yeziers," in Mirchond's Histor. Samanid. ed. 
Wilken, p. 85. 


Naturally they are not merely Jewish names, as the name 
Chryse is mentioned by Homer. The German name Goltrat 
(in ninth century) has some connection with this (in opposi- 
tion to Forstemann, Namenbuch, i. 543). 

Thus also in the house of Haman Zeresh represents the 
decisive and regardless person. She speaks first, and proposes 
the worst means. Her fanaticism excites the whole party. 
Her diabolical subtlety soon finds its condemnation through 
the fidelity of a noble and obedient wife. "What she advises 
Haman to do is to use the moment, and to act decisively 
while he has the opportunity. N'ow he stands on the 
pinnacle of favour with the king. A day must not be lost ; 
to-day he must proceed to act, and is sure of success. He 
must by no means delay, for who knows what changes may 
come in the interval ? " Let a gallows be made " — then 
go to-morrow to the king. Has not the king presented 
thee with the whole of this people, because they are contrary 
to the law of the empire ? Why then dost thou not quickly 
execute this obnoxious man ? Go and do away with him, and 
then when thou goest again to the banquet of the queen, 
nothing will vex thy soul ! This advice was certainly clever 
and bad enough, and would have been carried out, if a mightier 
arm from heaven had not frustrated it. A gallows fifty 
cubits high should be erected. With regard to the mode of 
execution we shall speak later on. She wants to intimate 
that this individual is guilty of high treason. So high should 
the gallows be, that it may be seen far and wide what 
happened to the man who offended Haman. The height of 
the gallows for the enemy should proportionally contrast with 
the high position of the person against whom he had sinned. 
A Persian cubit was three digits longer than the common 
Greek (Olympic) cubit, as Herodotus says (i. 178), where, 
without doubt, he means Persian or Greek BaKTvXoc. Bockh 
decides for Persian. Accordingly, the Persian cubit had 24 
digits, and was in proportion to the Greek as 8:7, and con- 
tained 234,274,280 Persian lines {Meferol. UntersucJi.i^. 210). 

CHAP. V. 14. 191 

But this prudence came to nought. However short the 
time was in wliich her plan was to be carried out, it was yet 
too long ; judgment came sooner. The apparent exaltation 
of Haman was really his fall. It is dreadful to think that 
he intended going to Esther's banquet' with a complacent 
countenance after he had murdered her dear friend. But 
what is even more striking, that the cruel deed fell upon 
himself. What he has so long postponed, viz. the punishing 
of Mordecai, in order not to give a handle to his enemies, 
becomes now, when he thinks he may safely execute it, the 
stepping-stone to his fall. The height of fifty cubits becomes 
at last the picture of the depth of his fall. His adherents 
and Zeresh have rejoiced with him in his triumphs ; and so 
they fall with him in the abyss of destruction. 


Ver. 1. " On that night the king's sleep fled from him." 
No one has command over sleep. When, therefore, in 
ancient times sleep was represented by the figure of a lion, 
it was because the lion subdues all, and does not suffer him- 
self to be subdued. The great king wanted sleep, but sleep 
would not be caught ; like a flying butterfly, it continued 
coming and going. Why could he not sleep ? It need not 
have been on account of fear or sordid cupidity (sordidus 
cupido, Horatius, Od. lib. IT. ad Grosphum). Was it because 
he had taken too much wine — of which it is said that it 
drives away sleep ? This also need not necessarily have 
been the case. It often happens to kings, and especially to 
Oriental despots, that the care and responsibility of govern- 
ment, their remorseful consciences and gloomy forebodings, 
deprive them of sleep. Suetonius (cap. 50) tells of Caligula, 
that he so suffered from sleeplessness, that, tired of lying in 
bed awake, he used to get up and stand or roam about 
the rooms of the palace. Procopius reproaches the Emperor 
Justinian with being cursed with sleeplessness, so that he is 
obliged to roam about the whole night (Hist. Arcana, ed. 
Bonn, pp. 81, 82). Similar restlessness of conscience and 
sleeplessness is reported of the energetic but cruel Caliph 
Al-Mansur (comp. Hammer, Gemdldesaal, ii. pp. 70, 89). 

Of the Turkish sultan, Selim I., it is told that he was in 
the habit of passing most nights in reading books, without 
sleeping at all; sometimes he would have others read to him, 
or talk to him about the affairs of the State (Diez, DenJc- 
vMrdigheiten von Asien, i. 266). In the history of Ahhash- 

CHAP. VI. 1. 193 

verosh, that sleepless nigbt was illumined by the torch of a 
people's emancipation from worse than slavery. It caused his 
mind to meditate upon the past. The night often becomes 
a means of awakening serious reflections. Quietness and 
leisure cause the mind to collect its powers, they rouse the 
conscience, they bring to remembrance what is lost, they set 
free from the excitement of the daily routine; and happy 
is he to whom they are as a ladder to God, to whom belongeth 
the mysteries of salvation and redemption. 

" And he commanded to bring him the hook of records." 
It is also known from other sources that the Persian kings 
had every service that was rendered to them entered in 
historical books.^ Of Phylakus we read in Herod, viii. 85, 
that he was recorded as a benefactor of the king, and such 
were called " opoGa^^aC This word has surely not been 
correctly explained by Eosen and Botticher (Arica, p. 20) ; 
it has rather a connection with the Persian Ersans, Orosans, 
K'^Tsnt?, dignus, " worthy," and means even now in modern 
Persian beneficiwn, "benefit" (VuUers, Fers. Lex. i. 79). Like- 
wise Herodotus reports (viii. 90): "As often as Xerxes saw 
that one of his men distinguished himself by some act in the 
naval battle, he made inquiries about him, and the secretaries 
registered his name, and his captain's, and his family name, 
together with the name of the town from which he came." 
To the same effect Xerxes wrote to Pausanias (Thucydides, i. 
129) : "The service will remain in my house for a continual 
remembrance " (which examples were already noticed by 
Grotius, though not correctly explained). It is not to be 
assumed that the books in which the names of benefactors 
were inscribed are different from the general chronicle of the 
kingdom, for the events of the court were also the events of 
the kingdom. There was a royal and grand reason for so 

1 A similar book was kept by the Byzantian court. See Codin in Lib. 
de Ofic. Tov i7r\ tav dvctfAviiaioiu. Even Scriver mentions it in Zufdllvje 
Andachten^ iv. n. 30, p. 25. 



greatly valuing every service rendered to the king as to put it 
on record, so that it might be brought from time to time before 
his remembrance. On the one hand, what concerned the king 
was considered worth remembering; and, on the other, such a 
record was an incitement to his subjects to attachment and 
submission. What is gained now by receiving decorations 
and titles was gained at that time by having one's name 
inscribed in the chronicle, and by the title Orosang. But in 
every case the preservation of historical facts, however little 
in themselves, proved their beneficial power. Eecalling to 
mind past events is always instructive and useful. The 
cherishing of remembrance may become the means of leading 
the individual to a higher life. In our narrative the finding 
of the forgotten fact in the book of records, becomes an 
important factor in the deliverance of Israel. Ahhashverosh 
is warned against bad deeds, and inclined towards good ones ; 
Haman already finds the commencement of his condemnation. 
How much, indeed, the occurrences of this night humble all 
human foresight ! In that night all those machinations of 
revenge, spun in the dark, are scattered ; and while Esther still 
trembles, because she thinks that she alone must be the instru- 
ment in Israel's deliverance and Haman's fall, the foundation 
thereof is already laid by a higher hand. The greatest achieve- 
ments of men are only portions of coinciding interpositions, 
which the spirit of truth orders and directs in history. 

Ver. 3. " And the king said, What honour and dignity 

hath leen done to Mordccai for this 1 " 

The thing was indeed of the utmost importance. The life 
of the king had been at stake. What greater thing can be 
for the king than the remembrance of this event ! Should 
not he who had saved his life be royally rewarded ! It was 
against the dignity and the pride of the great tyrant not to 
acknowledge this on a grand and magnificent scale. 

But though the rewards were generally entered in tlie 
book of records of the court, it was omitted in Mordecai's 

CHAP. VI. 3. 195 

case. This circumstance surprised the king the more. It 
was not only that he felt grateful to his benefactor, but also 
that it was an offence to his majesty that the record of the 
empire should have nothing to show of a reward to the man 
who had saved his life from the conspiracy. " What honour 
and dignity " (nhn:ii "ip"*), he asks, has been done to Mordecai 
for this, for such he deserves who has rendered so great 
service to the king ? The courtiers reply, Nothing has been 
done to him ; and they lay the blame upon others. This reply 
of "Nothing" excites in the king mistrust and ill-humour. 
A man who detected and denounced the conspiracy of his 
eunuchs has received nothing I May it have been that those 
whose business it was to propose sucli a reward were dissatis- 
fied with the king's escape ? 

Did his courtiers manifest no zeal and joy in the good 
deed, even so much as to mention the benefactor's name with 
approval and praise ? Mordecai did not ask anything — 
and who, with all these meritorious services which he had 
rendered to the royal house, would have remained content 
without receiving a reward either openly or clandestinely ? 
He had no friends whom he could expect to recommend his 
case and to promote his interests. Courtiers protect others 
only when it is to their own advantage. Mordecai was a free and 
independent man. He did not send in any petitions, and did 
not court any one's favour. How should he receive anything ! 
Merits alone are not enough for obtaining a reward. These 
examples reveal to us the hollow condition of the whole royal 
power. The king does not even know whether deserving 
servants receive any recognition, where those who surround 
him keep them in the dark. He cannot even show grati- 
tude, which is his chief duty. What a caricature is such a 
shah who demeans himself like a god ! Have no confidence 
in great men, nor in princes, says the Psalmist. But this is 
our comfort, that the heavenly King knows all things and 
knows our heart, — that there is no nepotism in His kingdom, 
— and that His willingness to give to and atone, does not 


depend upon a priest. The table of the Lord's Supper, 
where He thinks of those for whom He died, belongs to 
Him and to no one else. 

Ver. 4. *' JFho is in the court ? " 
The indignant king wants to carry out at once what he has 
omitted before. It is not so much out of regard to the person 
of Mordecai that he is so urgent, but rather on account of his 
own pride. He is vexed to think that there should be a man 
in existence who had saved his life, and who could say that 
he had done it gratis. Officers were at all times waiting in the 
court to receive orders. The king does not w^ant to lose time 
in causing any particular person to come, in order to bestow 
the delayed reward. The first man who is in the outer hall 
court should do it. The king does not even think of Haman. 
Now, although it was something unusual for a man in the 
high position of Haman to make his court visits at the dawn 
of the morning, yet this time he was there at that very 
moment. Never was tliere exhibited a more frivolous and 
thoughtless judgment than that shown by many critics in 
their light estimation of the value of the Book of Esther. 
For surely tliere can be no more beautiful description of the 
impending dramatic catastrophe than that with which the 
whole of this book is full. At the moment when the mind of 
the king has but one thought, to compensate Mordecai with 
the long-merited honour and dignity, and so much the more 
because it ought to have been done long ago, — at the very 
moment when he looks for a person to carry it out properly, 
just then, Haman makes his appearance on the scene. What 
does he want ? To ask for an authorization from the king to 
hang this same Mordecai on the gallows which he has already 
erected. Haman was in a hurry. Early in the morning the 
execution should take place ; on that day he should see 
Mordecai no more in his accustomed seat ; for he could no 
longer bear to behold the obstinate Jew. Before he 
goes to the banquet of Esther with a triumphant heart (to 

CHAP. VI. 6. 197 

the banquet of Esther, the adopted daughter of Mordecai, 
though he knows it not), Mordecai shall be no more. 
The removal of this faithful man would, in his opinion, 
enhance the honour of enjoying the good things at Esther's 

But time is not given him to make his proposal. Before he 
liad yet left his house his doom was already fully developed. 
Scarcely has he arrived when he is summoned to appear before 
the indignant king. Mordecai, who knows nothing of what is 
going on, is the object of a wonderful conflict of ideas and 
intentions in the royal sleeping apartment. One wants to 
honour him, and another wants not only to degrade him, but 
also to hang him on the gallows. Spectators, too, are there 
who observe these strange coincidences. They are the servants 
of the king (l^DH ^"ly:), who know of the gallows which Haman 
had erected for Mordecai, and now hear of the purpose of 
the king to reward him. They act like genuine courtiers, 
and do not reveal to the king the intention of Haman out of 
fear of this man ; nor, from jealousy, do they communicate to 
Haman, even if they have time to do so, the thoughts of the 
king. Haman in his vanity, and still dizzy with excitement on 
account of the special favours which he experienced yesterday, 
sees in the circumstance that he is called in so quickly, a 
happy omen for himself. Never has any one fallen so blindly 
and so self-deceived into the snare of destruction as he did. 
What is written in Ps. xciv. 21, " They gather themselves 
together against the soul of the righteous, and condemn inno- 
cent blood. But the Lord hath been my tower," was now 
fulfilled. Of course it afterwards received a greater fulfilment. 
" When they shall go to and fro " (German trans.), says Hos. 
vii. 12, " I will spread my net upon them." This was so in the 
case of Haman. 

Ver. 6. "And the king said, Let him come in." 
Even the highest minister is not so eminent as not to accept 
the orders of the king ; for in point of fact all his officers are 


his slaves. Certainly, the king cannot make Ha man respon- 
sible for Mordecai not being long ago rewarded for his deed, 
since at that time (iii. 1) Haman had not yet been exalted to 
power. But the suspicion and the ill-will of the king towards 
him are seen in the fact that he does not tell him what had 
passed during the night, that he does not ask him anything 
about Mordecai, that he does not even mention his name, or 
give any reason why he wants to reward him. The general 
abstract question : " What shall be done unto the man whom 
the king delighteth to honour ? " shows that he has no con- 
fidence in Haman. He cannot trust him to say the right 
word, if the person upon whom the honour was to be conferred 
does not please him. And the king had a right to suppose 
that that person could not be beloved by Haman, or else he 
would have long ago asked for some acknowledgment of his 
services. A man with such merits, who had received nothing, 
is surely not a friend of the momentary favourite. There was 
a tone of ill-humour towards Haman in the general question 
which he put to him, inasmuch as he was of the highest rank 
among the court officials ; but Haman does not see it. In his 
infatuation even the vagueness of the question appeared to him 
to have but one definite meaning, namely, that it contained a 
very flattering recognition of himself. He was so sure that he 
saw everywhere success to his efforts. When the king called 
out, " Let him come in," it was no honour to Haman that he, 
the first and best man, should act merely as an instrument of 
conferring high honours upon a man who was his subordinate. 
But he believed that he had found in the early audience to 
which he was ordered a new sun of royal favours which was 
to shine down upon him. When he was so early in the day 
and so specifically asked as to the manner in which a favourite 
should be honoured, he thought it could not possibly refer to 
any other person than himself. This, he explained to him- 
self, must be the reason why he, and no other, was called in, 
and why the king did not mention any name, lest he should 
perchance in his modesty fail to do justice to his merits. How 

CHAP. VI. 7. 199 

vain, indeed, is the wisdom of these children of the world ! 
They fall into their own traps. In his self-love he ascribes to 
the king such a tender conscience as purposely to make the 
question a general one in order not to hurt his delicate feelings, 
and so he thinks of using his opportunity of asking a good 
deal. He thinks, too, that he would at the same time flatter 
the king by placing the honours to be conferred in the highest 
possible scale ; and with all this he hypocritically pretends to be 
impartial, as he does not yet know whom Ahhashverosh means. 

Ver. 7. " And Haman said unto the hing!' 
The foolishness of haughty and yet servile men repeats 
itself. When Xerxes allowed Demaratus, the Spartan, frankly 
to ask what he wanted, he asked to have the crown of the 
king placed on his head, and to be led through the city in 
the same manner as the king was. According to Plutarch 
{Themist. xxix.), Mithropaustes, the king's uncle, said to the 
vain Greek : " The king's crown could not cover a brainless 
head ; and should he even hold the thunder in his hands, he 
would still not be Zeus." Seneca, who tells the same story 
{De heneficiis, vi. 31), properly says, that he was deserving of 
a reward so long as he did not ask for it. The parallels which 
Clericus adduces are not properly to the point. Haman pro- 
poses, for the person to be honoured, the same distinction as 
Demaratus asked, only in a higher degree. The individual 
concerned should be arrayed entirely as the alter ego of the 
king; he should put on the royal apparel, he should ride 
upon the king's own riding horse, and he should wear the 
king's crown. Haman, who thinks that all this will fall to his 
lot, wants thereby to appear throughout the whole of Shushan 
as the " other I " of the king, in order to subdue all his 
opponents. As if he were the king himself, one of the fore- 
most princes should lead the horse by the bridle during the 
procession through the city, and should proclaim before him : 
" Thus shall it be done to the man whom the king delighteth 
to honour." All this has its deep foundation in Oriental life. 


The Hebrew word iriD, " crown," is none other than the tradi- 
tional Greek Kirapc^ or KiBapL<;, the tall Persian imperial hat 
which we sufficiently know from coins (see Spanheim, De 
praest et usu numisin. i. p. 470). Such town-criers as Haman 
here asks, we often meet in Oriental histories (Gen. xli. 43), 
— also when one was led to be disgraced. Just as here the 
crier is to proclaim the reason for the honour, so also he was 
called to proclaim the reason for dishonour. In a story of The 
Thousand and One NigJtts (ed. Konig, xi. 19), the Imam of the 
place is led through the city, seated upon a camel backwards, 
and a crier goes before him and proclaims : " Thus are those 
punished who mix themselves up in affairs without being 
called to do so." Also the leading by the bridle on such 
occasions is a well-known custom (see Hammer, Boaendl, ii. 33). 

It is a shrewd remark of the old Jewish commentators, 
that although Haman had also asked for the person to be 
distinguished, the ornament of the royal Kidaris (Keter), 
yet afterwards we read only of the apparel and the horse. 
They concluded from this, that Ahhashverosh did not permit 
the crown to be given. It is true that ver. 10 does not 
mention the crown, yet this does not conclusively prove that 
it was not used. On the other hand, the words "apparel 
and horse " imply that the officer to be appointed as attendant 
had special functions to discharge besides robing, putting on 
liis spurs, and holding the bridle. 

How exquisite was Haman in the wishes of his vanity ! 
How smart he thought he would look when he would plume 
himself in royal magnificence before all his friends ! How he 
would tower in grandeur even over all the highest of the 
kingdom, the Parthemim ! (comp. chap. i. 3). But pride comes 
before a fall, and the higher he thinks himself to be, the 
deeper he falls into disgrace. The prophets could not teach 
a more striking lesson than is taught in the history here. 

Ver. 10. " Then the king said to Haman, Make hasted 
These are friendly words, but they fall like thunderbolts 

CHAP. VI. 10. 201 

upon liis ears. Apparently they are unimportant orders, but 
they shatter his pride as a stormy wind breaks a reed. 
The king had evidently anticipated that Haman would think 
that he was to be so highly distinguished. Therefore he 
thought if he made him the groom to Mordecai, it would 
be in itself a lesson to him. Then he noticed that his 
servant wanted to play the king, and this stirred up jealousy 
in his breast, as is the case with all. tyrants. And yet 
with all this he thought : Haman considers such a con- 
descension upon my part a mere act of grace. He wants 
to be reckoned among the great Parthemim of the kingdom ; 
his wishes shall be granted. To them would fall the honour 
of holding the horse's bridle of the person to be distinguished, 
and he shall have that honour. But Haman hears of the 
new dignity with a shudder. For this honour is his shame. 
When he thought that these great dignities concerned him- 
self, it pleased his pride to be attended by a compeer ; but 
now he is singled out to attend upon the man whom he 
abhorred from the bottom of his heart, words cannot 
describe the galling annoyance which this command caused 
him. What, he ? Impossible ! But who else ? That 
Mordecai, whom he just now was about to hang on the 
gallows ! That decided enemy of his ; that Jew of whom he 
was going to make an example, and let him feel his power 
before he breathed his last breath, upon him he should 
attend all over the city ! How could he look after that in 
Mordecai's face, if he should happen to meet him ; and what 
will the people of the city say when they see Haman 
invested with the office of stable - boy to such a man as 
that ! It is necessary to realize the vanity, intoxication, and 
false security which possessed Haman's soul in order to 
see how low he sunk when he heard these words of the 
king. While he dreams of the glory of becoming an '^ alter 
ego'' of the king, he all of a sudden is made to feel the 
entire pressure of his humiliation. If the whole psychological 
process which was going on in the vain man's mind is 


considered, one would find that the judgment of Haman 
has no parallel in the whole history of the world, nor has 
there been a humiliation of a statesman or any other great 
man like his. Many conceited Ministers of State have 
been sternly rebuked and dismissed. The Persian history 
offers an example in the case of a vassal of Mahmud of 
Gaznas, who made another run like a slave by his horse, 
and soon afterwards had liimself to run in like manner 
by the horse of him whom he had humiliated, and to 
live in the prison which he had built for him (Malcolm, 
Gesch. V. Per 8. i. 204). But the ground of his fall was an 
external one. Haman fell from the enormous height of his 
vanity. He fell at the feet of him whose deadly enemy 
he was, — and before a man who was innocent, — whom, in 
spite of his piety and fidelity, he so cruelly persecuted. 
He was at the same time wounded in his pride and in his 
conscience. One must indeed be like Haman, a willing 
Persian courtier, now as abjectly slavish as before he was 
wicked, in order to endure the humiliation that he had to 

Whilst he apparently showed unconcern in the matter, 
and acted as if he felt nothing amiss, and left the 
king as an obedient and zealous servant to discharge his 
duty with regard to Mordecai, his cowardice was greater 
than his vexation. One can sufficiently realize the scene 
which took place when he met Mordecai at the gate of the 
king. Mordecai must have for a moment imagined himself 
to be like that Hassan in the fable whom Harun Ar-rashid 
in his sleep arrayed in the gaudy dress of a caliph, and 
brought into the magnificent apartments of the palace. 
" His mouth must have been filled with laughter, as one 
that dreameth " (Ps. cxxvi. 1). But the uppermost feeling 
of his heart must have been that of praise rather than 
of victory. He then learned a fresh meaning in the words 
of the Psalmist, "The Lord alone doeth great wonders;" 
" The Lord releaseth the prisoners." For in what other 

CHAP. \1. 10. 203 

mood could a believer in the living God of love and truth 
express his astonishment at seeiug the author of all enmity 
against his people coming in the name of the king to be 
his servant, whilst he and his people are still mourning and 
fasting ? His heart must, of course, have palpitated when 
he heard that Haman, his implacable enemy, is to lead 
him riding through the royal town. The proud vizier is 
to be his herald and slave ; but he realized at the same 
time the full assurance of hope, that if this can happen, 
God will surely not forsake His people, but will redeem 
them in a marvellous way. 

When Haman afterwards lost his life on the gallows, his 
death-agonies were nothing in comparison to the humiliation 
he had undergone when he humbly begged Mordecai to 
permit him to wait upon him. The agony was great enough 
when he was obliged to decorate another, and in this case 
a Jew. But it was quite unendurable when he remem- 
bered that everybody knew how he hated Mordecai ; that 
the latter had not paid the slightest respect to him ; and, 
above all, that Mordecai was aware of his wicked plan, and 
would rejoice at its overthrow. Haman judged every man 
by his own standard. He could not appreciate a servant 
of God, as Shimei could not appreciate David in humiliation. 
He therefore suffered, not only in reflecting upon his own 
miserable condition, but also in pondering upon the achieved 
triumph of Mordecai. It would be worthy of the pencil of 
the greatest artist to picture the two faces as they stand 
opposite each other. That of Haman, who, in spite of the 
enormous internal vexation which breaks his heart, looks 
externally courtly, complacent, and careless, — and that 
of Mordecai, solemn, emaciated by much fasting, prayers, 
and tears ; and yet with a halo about it, arising not from 
joy over another man's misfortune, but from a heart attuned 
to gratitude to God. His eyes are not directed towards 
Haman, but towards heaven. "I will lift up mine eyes 
unto the mountains, from whence cometh my help." 


N"ow the king looks intently upon Hamaii to see what 
effect his words would make upon him ; he therefore repeats 
the order twice, "As thou hast said," and, " Let nothing fail 
of all that thou hast spoken." Horace, while in his first 
satire narrating the parable of Tantalus, uses the well-known 
sentence : " Mutato nomine, de te fabula narratur." A tone 
of irony pervades the words of the king : Do not err, " de te 
non narratur." There is no thought of thee, but carry every- 
thing out as thou hast said. 

We find a grand antithesis in the parable of [N'athan 
before David. As if Nathan had asked : What shall be done 
to the man who has done this ? David's anger is kindled 
against the man, and he says, " The man that has done this 
shall surely die ! " And Nathan says : " Thou art the man." 
Thou hast pronounced thine own sentence. But here is David, 
a penitent sinner, seeing in the parable of Nathan a picture 
of himself, and soon applying it to himself; and the judge is 
not Ahhashverosh, but the living God. 

The explanations given to this passage by the Eabbis are 
more of a triumphant than of an exegetical character, as 
might be expected from them, when later similar experiences 
brought it vividly to their remembrance. The reader in the 
synagogue, when he comes to this passage, raises his voice as 
if momentarily triumphant; but these are notions suitable 
to them, and not in accord with the spirit of the ancient 
witnesses in the Old Testament. It is certainly an idea 
borrowed from Oriental life when they represent Mordecai 
as putting his foot upon the neck of Haman when he 
mounted the horse. Such things occur (see Hammer, 
Gemdldesaal, v. 45), but the humiliation of Haman's soul 
was much greater. 

Ver. 11. " And caused him to ride through the street of 
ihe city." 

Eelihob (nim), street, is an open space. The Oriental towns 
had a free space for riding and racing, something like a 

CHAP. YI. 12. 205 

hippodrome, which is called Atmeidan in Constantinople. 
Upon the open space where equestrians and equipages appeared, 
Haman was to lead Mordecai in procession. It may also 
mean the principal street, the broad way leading through the 
city. He was to display him before the greatest number and 
the most prominent of the people.^ 

Yer. 12. " And Mordecai came again to the king's gate!' 
The pious man was not changed by the honour shown to 
him ; he did not esteem himself the better for it. In his 
view things were as before. The people were still in danger. 
Whether his life is now secure, this did not enter his mind 
to inquire. He w^as sufficiently conversant with Persian 
customs to knovv that this incident had in no way changed 
the situation of his people, and that what had been con- 
ferred upon him was only a self-glorification of the king 
himself. So long as the decree which threatened destruction to 
his people was not revoked, there could be no progress. Yet 
he was sure that God would wonderfully send help. So he 
resumed his place in sackcloth and ashes. He, who had just 
now attracted the envy of all the spectators who saw him 
wearing the king's crown upon his head, is now seen sitting 
at the royal gate, and covered with the mourner's garment. 

But how much happier was he in his mourning than the 
one who hurried home with bated breath ! Haman looks now 
as an ^nx, " a mourner," who had just returned from the 
burial of his beloved, for he comes back from the grave of 
his insolent pride. 

How provoking to him was the ride of Mordecai through 
the city ; while the people hailed him who had saved the 
king's life, he is laughed at and mocked by everybody, and 
Mordecai in envied array looks down upon him. He must 

^ The story of the Princess Hind, who avenged herself on the cruel 
Hedshadsh by causing him to hold the bridle of her camel in her pro- 
cession, is a romantic contrast to the above, and taken from later Arabian 
life (See Roseiiol, ii. 33). 


hold his tongue, and hold the horse by the bridle, and perhaps 
be kicked by it. At length the ride is over ; he went home 
hurriedly (f)m3, " impelled "), crushed (which is properly the 
sense of hm, mourning), and having his head covered, as one 
that is ashamed to be seen and recognised, and he related to 
his family what had happened. 

How different was the scene in that house from that 
described in chap. v. 1 1 ! At that time he was inflated with 
recounting his successes, his influence, his favours, — and only 
one anxious thought troubled him, how to get rid of the 
obnoxious Mordecai who sat at the gate, — but now he fully 
realized shame, vexation, and disappointment, which far over- 
balanced his former enjoyments. Then it appeared so easy 
to put Mordecai out of the way ; but now he is not only 
still alive, but is recognised and registered as a benefactor 
of the king, and who had triumphed over him in the pre- 
sence of all the inhabitants of the city. All the members 
of his family hung down their heads. It was an unheard-of 

Ver. 13. " Then said his luise men and Zeresh his wife 
unto him, If Mordecai, before whom thou hast begun to fall, 
be of the Jews," etc. 

How much worldly wisdom and admonition does this verse 
contain, especially when we compare it with chap. v. 14 ! 
On the former occasion of the party gathering, Zeresh was 
the first boldly to advise the immediate execution of Mor- 
decai, and the " adherents " only chimed in, while nothing 
was said of the wise men. But now the adherents are silent, 
Zeresh is in the background, and the wise men are the 
speakers. Among a class of men such as are gathered here, 
it is not principle or conscience which decides a point, but 
the measure of its success. When Haman was successful, every- 
thing that he did was considered wise by them, but now they 
have not even a word of comfort for him. At that time they 
instigated him, now they blame him. Did they not then 

CHAP. VI. 13. 207 

know that Mordecai was a Jew ? Had not Haman expressly 
told them so ? Now they act as if they hear it for the first 
time ! What else was the cause of Haman's disgrace but 
their advice ! Why did not they then moderate his temper 
by saying, " N'ever mind Mordecai, let him sit," — but they 
urged him on to hang him at once. Had this not been done, 
the present occurrence would not have turned out so badly 
for Haman. He would not have been present on that morn- 
ing at the palace. Another person would have had to dis- 
charge the irksome business. But of this neither his wife nor 
liis friends take any notice, they again pretend to be wise as 
before. We could have told thee at once, they say, what the 
result would be, " Why hast thou begun with that fellow ? " 
And Haman is in that evil state of falling out of the frying- 
pan into the fire of his false and self - righteous friends. 
Kemarkable is the expression VD3n, " his wise men." It seems 
in itself to indicate the irony of the narrator. Fine wise men 
were these ! They ought to have given him better advice 
before ! Of what avail is the announcement to him now ? 
But the mentioning of the " Hhahhamim," who were with 
Haman, contains also an instructive significance. That 
Haman's whole position was a quasi-spiritual one, belong- 
ing to Parseeism, we have already attempted to show above. 
This accounts for his being surrounded in his high office by 
other such Magi, who are sometimes called D''i3n and some- 
times " wise men," like the priests of Egypt, to whose 
office belonged divination and astrology, as we have seen 
above. But their wisdom consisted in their superstition in 
results. Only just now they find a reason for their ominous 

But what causes them to declare that because Haman has 
fallen before Mordecai, he will always continue to fall ? The 
misfortune which has befallen him appears to them as a bad 
omen. The Jews, thought they, are his enemies ; he has 
undertaken a dreadful work against them ; whether it will 
succeed or not, no one can tell. But now this misfortune 


lias happened to Haman. If it begins so, propliesies super- 
stition, it must go on in -the same way to the end. Mordecai 
is a Jew ; and if he is unfortunate with him as an individual, 
it is a sure prognostication that he will be equally and more, 
so in his attempt against all the Jews. The conclusion they 
come to is not with regard to the Jews ^er se, but only in so 
far as the experience in the case of the individual Jew Mor- 
decai leads them to infer what will be Haman's fate with 
regard to the whole nation. This is pure belief in fetishism. 
When Indians have to remove a heap of stones, if before 
they proceed to the task they are hurt by one stone, they 
will leave the stone and abstain from the work altogether. 
Of the high morality, according to which Haman as an 
intriguing traitor and murderer must fall, they were not in 
the least conscious. Superstition, of course, has not seldom 
carnal forebodings that are fulfilled in the spirit. In fact, 
the God of Israel is a living God, who, because righteousness 
and truth are His attributes, reveals them unto men, especi- 
ally unto those who trust in Him that He will not give 
them over to destruction. Not because Haman fell the first 
time he will continue to fall, but he began to fall because 
the time of judgment had come. Universal history bears 
testimony that persecutions of believers never brought a 
blessing to the persecutors. The saying of the wise men of 
Haman has an important comforting truth far above their 
knowledge and understanding ; only not in the national and 
carnal sense in which the Jews understood it, but in the 
extensive sense that "Blessed are they that have been per- 
secuted for righteousness' sake : for theirs is the kingdom of 
heaven " (Matt. v. 1 0). No one will prosper who wantonly 
persecutes innocent witnesses of the truth. Hamans have 
never been wanting, but they have all fallen. 

Ver. 14. " WJiile they were yet talking with him, came 
the king's chamberlains" 
Behold, their gloomy conversation is yet dispelled for a 

CHAP. vi. 14. 200 

while by a ray from the sun. Eoyal messengers yet come to 
the house, and bring a new invitation to Ham an to come iu 
haste to the queen's banquet. He is still accompanied by a 
royal retinue through the city to the palace. Mordecai may 
see that there is not yet an end of Haman. — But he saw him 
for the last time. It was but a deceiving lustre. Destruction 
lay beneath it. He was fetched in order to be held more 
securely. Probably Esther had heard what had happened to 
him, and feared he might not come. What took place in the 
morning encourages her for the act at noon. They were still 
(QTiy) speaking of the misfortune when the message arrived, in 
consequence of which he so shamefully fell, to rise no more. 


Ver. 1. "So the king and Haman came to hanqicet," etc. 
We have here a repetition of what was told in chap. v. 5, 
but this repetition is for a very significant reason. Esther 
wants to make an experiment at the table with the king and 
Haman, which will be decisive of life or death.^ If she 
succeeds, then her people are saved ; if she fails, then she 
is lost too. The invitation to the second banquet is not in 
vain. Observing the changeable mood of the tyrant, she tries 
first to ascertain whether the kindly disposition which he has 
shown towards her on the former occasion still continues. 
And she was not disappointed. He asked her, as at the first 
time, to express her wish, whatever it might be. He treated 
her now with the same tenderness as he did then. But she 
had also during the interval received some tokens of encourage- 
ment. Haman's humiliation had in the meantime taken place. 
It was now known that his position with the king was not so 
unassailable after all. Esther had seen that Ahhashverosh 
himself had really no antipathy against the Jews, otherwise 
how could he have conferred such high honour upon 
Mordecai, and that through the medium of Haman ? It was 
now clear to her that every persecution that was started 
against the Jews was only an intrigue of Haman, of which 
the king, properly speaking, knew nothing. All this was 
revealed by the wonderful night in which the king could not 

^ Araestris, the wife of Xerxes, asked for similar permission to avenge 
herself against the wife of Masistes at a banquet ; but that banquet was 
,of another kind, and that petition was influenced by different motives. 
Herod, ix. 110. 


CHAP. VII. 3, 4. 211 

sleep. — Esther saw in this the hand of her God, stretched 
out to render assistance in the time of need, and she was 
inspired by new courage. 

Ver. 3. " Then, Esther the queen answered.'' 
Her reply shows a decided and determined tone, — " Now, 
if thou art fully in earnest with thy kindness, and thou really 
wishest to show me a favour, know that my heart has no 
desire for playthings, my petition does not crave for female 
pleasures, I do not ask for money or for dress, — I have no 
court intrigues and eunuch stories to speak of with thee, but 
of a matter upon whose issue depends life or death, shame 
and destruction. Thou expectest, king, a petition which 
shall supply thee with pleasure and amusement ; I must speak 
of such things as will excite thee to the uttermost. Thou 
sittest at table and art desirous to be merry, but I bring a 
petition before thee which will cause thee pain. But thou hast 
promised me to grant my petition ; then spare my life, which 
I fear is at stake. Thou hast expressed a willingness to fulfil 
my wishes ; then give me the life of my people." The royal 
feast becomes all at once a tragical scene. The king listens, 
is astounded, and becomes excited ; Esther begs for her life. 
Who besides himself can threaten it ? Who dares to threaten 
her whom he cherishes and loves ? All in the dining-hall 
are dumb-struck and trembling. The king's brow is clouded ; 
while Esther with her calm and plaintive eloquence, which the 
occasion and the subject have inspired, looks handsomer and 
more dignified than before. The force of her tremulous voice 
the author portrays in reproducing her speech in an abrupt 
form. It should have been, " If I have found favour in thy 
sight, king, and if it please the king to grant my request 
{^rb^"^ riN T\rh), let my life," etc. ; but she in her excitement 
puts life before petition, and people before request. 

Ver. 4. " For we are sold J* 
" There was a bargain made about us, and that for the 


purpose of our being destroyed, slain, and annihilated." The 
words ^2vh ^nnh T'O^rh do not exactly represent a climax, 
but show that Esther chose the strongest words she could 
find with which to express the fate of her people. n^tJ^, to 
destroy, by removing a thing out of sight ; nnx, to let a thing 
perish by plucking it out by the root, and that, too, by 
slaughter, therefore the word ^Tirh is added. But notwith- 
standing Esther's excited feelings, which were natural to her 
under the circumstances, we must not overlook the fact that 
she made a masterly calculation of the nature of her husband, 
and ordered her language accordingly. She does not say to 
whom she and her people were sold, nor does she name the 
people that were sold. She places herself in the front, and 
says : " I and my people." For she has to do with a fickle 
man, whose will is governed and determined by his momentary 
passion and humour. There is nothing to be gained by a 
mere plea on the point of justice involved in the question. 
Here the heart, the vain heart, is required to be inflamed by 
representations which might flatter his fancy of possessing 
unlimited power. She must not say that he has sold her, for 
what Jie has done must be well ! and she must take care not to 
assail hi7n. Therefore she does not even name the sold people, 
— perhaps he is reminded of his own deed ; and the Jews are 
too despicable to him. So she mentions herself first, — for at this 
moment she was more valuable to him than a whole people ; that 
she was sold, whom the king loves so much that he generously 
offers her half of his empire ; that she was sold, whose beauty just 
now at the table fascinates more than ever. This is what she 
emphasizes, and whereby she seeks to win the tyrant. " I and 
my people," she says. The impression of the speech gains all 
its force from the insertion of the personal pronoun. The 
people do not suffer for her sake, nor she for the people's 
sake. She who belongs to the king, and whom he loves, is 
sold. Who can dare to sell his wife ? Yea, even so much 
as to estimate the value of the person he loves ! He wants 
to give her half of his kingdom, if she desires it; and she 

CHAP. VII. 4. 213 

begs liim with bitter tears to save her from the death to 
which she is sold. " To be sold " was, besides, an expression 
applicable only to slaves. Quintilian says (viii. 1) : "As under 
the term city (urhs) is understood Eome, so by the term 
venales are understood slaves." When Eoxolana got to be 
the favourite of the Turkish Sultan Suleiman, she was re- 
proached by her envious rival with being came venduta, 
" sold flesh." Eoxolana then called herself so before the 
sultan, as an excuse for no longer approaching him, for as 
'•' sold flesh " she considered herself unworthy to do so ; 
and this contributed to her complete victory over her rival 
(Hammer, Gesch. cles osrnan. Reiclies, iii. 728). 

" But if we had been sold for hondmen and bondwomen." 
This turn in Esther's plea is still more beautiful and im- 
pressive. One cannot represent in a few words the whole of 
the rare position of a Persian shah. " If it were nothing 
further," she says, " but that we had been sold as slaves, our 
lives would then be spared, and we could entertain the hope 
of eventually regaining our liberty, — in that case I should 
not trouble thee so much. It would not have been worth 
while to disturb thee just now and spoil thy appetite." For 
these pregnant words, although the adversary could not have 
compensated the king's damage, i?Dn pTJ3 nitJ' i^n pfc< ""a (or 
E. V. "for our affliction is not to be compared with the 
king's damage "), are calculated to flatter the Persian tyrant. 
True, 1^ means " enemy," but in the abstract also " distress," 
" tribulation," " misfortune ; " and even if it is insisted that the 
article points to the enemy, still it must be conceded that 
the emphasis cannot be on the person, but, as it is a parti- 
cipial form, rather upon the act of the enemy. For " the 
adversary " is no other in the second than in the first, — it is 
always the same Haman, — but the mischief would be of 
another character if it were only to end in slavery. The 
word nvn, therefore, means the evil which the evil one has 
done to Israel. Esther's meaning is as follows : " The enemy, 


or the enmity, if it threatens such things to us, uould not 
have been considered of sufficient value (p)^ pt?) to disturb 
the king {i^Kin pl^2)." True, indeed, that pn has the meaning 
of damage, and may radically be compared with nocere ; and, 
in fact, is used in Ezra (iv. 13) to denote the damage done to 
the revenue, and other acts of enmity to the king. And yet 
it cannot be here, as some have supposed, that Esther meant 
to convey to the king that she and her people would rather 
suffer slavery than cause him any pecuniary damage ; for in 
both cases, whether they were sold to be killed or into slavery, 
pecuniary damage must ensue. But in the flattering language 
of the etiquette of the Persian court, to disturb the king 
was tantamount to damage or injure the king. When the 
king was disturbed in the enjoyment of his dinner by being 
called to pass judgment upon sad cases, it was considered as 
an injury done to him. Esther nevertheless does it — only 
because her life and the existence of her people are at stake. 
She would have rather gone into slavery than cast a gloom 
upon the joyous hours of the king. But she cannot act 
otherwise. She is compelled to speak out. With this ex- 
planation agrees that of an African Eabbi, quoted by Ibn 
Ezra in his commentary on this book (ed. Zedner, London 
1850, p. 29). One reading of this passage in the LXX. is 
indeed remarkable : ov yap a^LO<; 6 Bcd^oXo^ 7% av\7]<; rov 
ySao-tXeo)?, for avXtj certainly does not mean here the court of 
the king, but is a Greek form of the Hebrew si^iy, viz. " the 
injustice," " the evil deed," against the king. 

Yer. 5. " Then spake the hing." 
The words of Esther could not fail to produce the desired 
impression. They were so forcible and so full of good sense. 
She spoke from the depth of her heart, and yet with full dis- 
cretion. Her high position as the beloved wife of the king, 
her beautiful appearance, her graceful manners, her heart- 
rending plea, her bitter tears, and above all the justice of her 
cause, called forth sympathy mingled with indignation from 

CHAP. VII. 5. 215 

every impartial heart ; and the king's wrath was specially 
kindled, seeing she had touched the delicate spring of his 
immeasurable vanity. For he knew of nothing. He had 
long ago forgotten the thoughtless grant that he had made to 
Haman in one of his capricious moods, and if memory still 
served him, he was quite certain that the sale of the queen 
formed no item in the contract, and that her name was not 
even mentioned on that occasion. And now he sees that the 
whole scheme was after all designed to deprive him of her. 
Undoubtedly it was an intrigue which caused Yashti's fall, 
but she had to some extent brought it upon herself by 
her disobedience, and he was not present when she was 
sentenced ; and yet how sorry he afterwards was for his rash 
deed. But now somebody, without his knowledge, sells 
his wife to death, — his wife who is so obedient and so 
loving. One sees in these words that the narrator describes 
the king's anger, in that he repeats the word ■id5<''1, " And 
the king Ahhashverosh spake and said to Queen Esther." 

" Who is he, and where is he ? " (i^in.) 
This question expresses his burning indignation. There is 
some one who dares that — who is he ? Where in my king- 
dom does the man live who has the audacity to act thus 
towards me, whose heart is full, i.e. whose heart is filled with 
such impudence as to do so ? ^ The LXX. pretty nearly repro- 
duces the sense by iroXfiriae, " that durst presume " to do so. 
Arnheim renders it freely, " who had the haughtiness," etc. 
The first Targum exaggerates his excitement still more, by 
representing him as saying, " Who is the audacious, the 
criminal, the rebel, who ventures to do this ? " Esther, 
impelled by the trouble of her heart, and noticing that the 
king was inclined to do her justice, gains confidence, and 
without regarding the presence of him whom it concerns, 
freely speaks her mind. 

1 [A speech like that in the K T. Acts v. 3, "Why hath Satan filled 
thine heart % "—Trans.] 


Ver. 6. ''An adversary and an enemy, ^ even this wiclced 


" That one after whom thou inquirest, the oppressor and 
enemy, the one who wants to murder me and my people, 
who has sold me — now, with flashing eye and angry mien she 
lifts her finger and points to her guest, * that Haman ! ' — he is 
.^ot far from here ; we need not seek him ; he sits at our 
side^^that man there — Haman is this wicked one ! " It is a 
dramatic scene beyond comparison. Haman's blood runs 
cold. Such a storm he had never anticipated. How should 
he know that Esther was a Jewess ? Had he known it, he 
would have adopted quite different measures. To defend 
himself now he knew was impossible. The faces of both, of 
the king and of the queen, deterred him. He knew well 
how the king looked when he was angry. 

The Oriental legends frequently describe the dreadful look 
which Harun-Arrashid assumed when he detected a piece of 
roguery. Abdolmelik, king of Damascus, says one of these 
legends, did not make the slightest movement. He was quite 
like one petrified. Harun assumed all at once such a dreadful 
tone, that the unfortunate prince gave up his throne not so 
much on account of obedience, but on account of the terror 
which overwhelmed him. The surprise made him stiff and 
benumbed.^ Dvni, from nyn, to become " alarmed," " terrified," 
figuratively and really (fyo/Selv. 

Yer. 7. " And the king arose in his wrath" 
The king was so angry that he did not speak a word, still 
less did he give Haman the opportunity to speak. Excessive 
blind wrath generally follows tyrannical conceit. In the 
same proportion in which Oriental tyranny permits itself to 
make superabundant grants, is its blind wrath when its 

* The observation of Ibn Ezra, that ")V means an open enemy and 
n''1X a hidden enemy, is at any rate not confirmed here, where Esther uses 
both expressions to heighten her hatred. 

2 See The Thousand and One Nights, ed. Leipzig 1790, i. 124 and 407. 

CHAP. VII. 7. 217 

infatuated vanity is offended. The Oriental legendary world 
is full of representations of pure downright passion, which, 
against whomsoever it may be directed, whether he deserves 
it or not, is thought to be so natural, that it is to the 
Oriental mind an adornment of the most ideal king. Upon 
the quality of relentless passion are founded the Eastern 
novels and stories about various catastrophes, and sons and 
wives and viziers are its habitual victims. That which befell 
Haman here was experienced by Hikar, the most virtuous of 
all viziers, as is told in a very instructive Arabic narrative. 
Intrigue knows usually how to excite jealousy and anger, and 
an investigation concerning the right or wrong of the accused 
is considered unnecessary. 

non, "heated fury." The king became hot on account 
of glowing excitement. Eosenmtiller has collected some 
examples to show that when an Oriental king rises angry 
from the table, then there is no mercy for him who was 
the cause of it {Morgenland zu Buch Esther, No. 718). 
The sense is that the king withdraws his favour from him, 
as the sun departs. His going away means the same as 
the vanishing of the sun, the cessation of the light of mercy 
and of life. The royal dining-hall was close to the garden 
of the palace, whither the king went as a sign of his being 
angry, and to cool himself.^ 

" And Haman stood up to make request for his life." 

Haman read his fall in the face and in the movements of 

the king. But as he was haughty when prosperous, so now 

he is without manliness in ruin. He falls upon his knees 

before his accuser to beg for life. He is not ashamed to 

ask mercy of her whose people he wanted to kill without 

mercy. He lies at her feet, to whom he owes his sudden 

^ Not like Sulpicius Severus, of whom we read (Hist. Sacra, ii. Ill): 
" Remembering the enemy, he delayed a little. And in order somewhat 
to deliberate {deliberandique gratia modicum secessit), he turned aside." 
This is not the manner of an Oriental prince. The going away was a 
sign of anger. 


crushing defeat, crying and sobbing for help. He beseeches 
her to save him, who had just now called him a traitor and 
an enemy. Of course he could have said that he did not 
then know that she was a Jewess, and that his proposal had 
no reference to her. But how could this plea move Esther's 
compassion, when all the efforts she had thus far made were 
in behalf of her people ? But seeing that she alone has 
influence with the king, he cringes before her after the 
manner of knavish cowards, who do not mind besfgins: from 
any and everybody if they think they will get what they 
want. They do not blush, for they are destitute of self- 
respect. And so Haman lies prostrate before Esther's feet 
crying for mercy, and not minding the contemptuous and 
wrathful glance which she deigns to cast upon him. Esther 
would not and could not forgive him. — To speak a good word 
for him now, if she were disposed to do so, would be to 
undo the whole work that she has done. The angry king 
feels himself deeply offended. Who should now save Haman ? 
While he is still kneeling near the divan upon which Esther 
sits, the king returns from his walk in the garden and 
finds him in this posture. It is quite true what Plutarch 
{Themist. 26) tells of the jealousy of the Persian kings with 
regard to their wives, but the words which the king addresses 
to Haman, " Will he even force ^ the queen before me in the 
house ? " do not contain jealousy, which would be absurd, but 
biting irony. It cannot be mercy, thinks the king, that thou 
seekest from her whom thou hast so atrociously offended ; 
thou canst have no hope that she would forgive thee ; so it 
may be that thou art so audacious as to lay hold of my wife 

^ tJ>33. LXX. fiioi^siVj in the well-known sense. Clericus has translated 
this classical word by " subagitare" for this word is still more used by the 
Latins in this sense than " subigere," especially in the popular language of 
the comedians (comp. Terent. Heaut. iii. 3, 6, etc.). Old Meissner (p. 112) 
has not understood the irony, for only in ironical bitterness has the 
exclamation any sense. The same was the case with Vorstius, who, for 
this reason, rendered the expression of Sulpicius Severus by " ajp'petitam" 
which is a weak emendation (p. 203). 

CHAP. VII. 7. 219 

in an unwarrantable manner! He that could be so bold as 
to devise a plan for killing my own wife, who could abuse 
my confidence in order to betray the love of the king, such a 
man is quite capable of making an indecent assault upon the 
queen in my presence ! In these awful ironical words lay 
the sentence of death for Haman. They manifest the fury of 
the king, who does not stop to consider that Haman was 
unaware of the origin of Esther, nor does he think of the 
people whose lives were at stake, but only of the audacity 
which could make his wife an object of hatred. And this 
irony contained an accusation against Haman, which was in 
itself enough to procure the forfeiture of his life. Therefore 
scarcely had the words escaped the king's lips when Haman's 
face was covered. The covering of the face of a criminal 
arose from the idea that he is henceforth no more worthy to 
behold the light of which the king was an emblem. That 
with which he was previously only threatened when the king 
went out to the garden, — when the sun departed, — he is now 
made to realize after the king's return, — he must see the sun 
no more. He is a guilty criminal, and has no more right to 
see the sun. Guilt is in itself defilement like death.-^ The 
voluntary covering of one's own face is different from its 
being covered by another. Mourners do it spontaneously, 
because they feel as if under judgment ; but when the faces 
of others are compulsorily covered, it is a sign to them of 
judgment, to intimate to them that they are condemned. 
The first do not want to see the light, the second no longer 
need it. The explanation of Ibn Ezra, that it was customary 
to cover a man's face who had provoked the king, is correct. 
To this effect the reference of Curtius is also a happy one, 
who reports that when Philotas was seized by order of 

^ The faces of the dead are covered. This brings painful recollections 
to me of the time when I had to cover the face of my dear departed 
wife. In a story of Lubeck, the dying monks are said to have been seen 
in the monastery in a time of cholera with covered faces, as if they were 
already prepared for burial (see Deecke, Liibische Geschichten und Sageu, 
p. 120). 


Alexander, he was brought with covered face to the place of 
the king (velato capite ad regiam) (vi. 22. 8). We are 
even informed further that this was done with an old m^ 
{ohsoleto amiculo), while his hands were tied to his back. 
Therefore Cicero rightly ascribes the origin of the formula, 
"Lictor, tie his hands, cover his face, hang him on the 
accursed tree," to the time of the Eoman kings, as he thinks 
to Tarquinius (superbissimi et crudelissimi regis) {Pro Gajo 
Rahirio, p. 3, etc.). 

In fact, as Livius (i. 26) informs us, this punishment w^as 
already applied under Tullus Hostilius to Horatius, on 
account of the patriotic murder of his sister. His father 
pleaded for him, saying, " Should the hands which have 
shortly before carried arms and obtained dominion for the 
Eoman people be tied ? Should the face of the liberator of 
this city be covered ? " So Horatius is sentenced to pass 
with covered face under a beam as under a yoke. The 
covering of the face signified his guilt.^ 

This evidently was also the theological ground in the 
practice among the Eomans to pray, and to offer sacrifices 
with covered heads.^ By this, a sense of guilt wa^ acknow- 
ledged and confessed ; and Plutarch's explanation, that the 
Eomans did this to humble themselves, is the riojht one, 
while other explanations are flat and constrained, and only 
rarely applicable. Tertullian (Apolog. cap. 3 0) rightly says : 
" We pray with uncovered head, because we are not ashamed," 
— i.e. Christians pray without fear, not as condemned, but as 
reconciled, — " for love casteth out fear." Naturally this is 
also the meaning of the words of the apostle when he says 

^ At all events, I believe that I have given to this remarkable passage 
its proper meaning. For it has been often quoted and misinterpreted 
even by GottUng in Romische Staatsverfassung, p. 159. 

* Comp. Brisson, de formulis, i. 32, but the custom is not there explained. 
When Suetonius ( Vitellius, cap. 2) reports that Vitellius, after his return 
from Syria, adored the king " Velato capite," it was not necessarily an 
Oriental practice, but rather the flatterer rendered homage to the emperor 
in the same way as was done to the gods. 

CHAP. VII. 7. 221 

that a man should not have his head covered, whatever the 
covering may be, when he is praying or prophesying {irpoaev- 
'X^ofievo^ fj 7rpo^7]T6v(ov), for Christ is his head. The doctrine 
was not, as Oosterzee thinks, against the custom of the Eomans, 
but more particularly against that of the Jews. 'Not only 
the later Jews, as he says (on 1 Cor. xi. 4, p. 107), had this 
practice, but it existed from time immemorial (as in the case 
of Moses at the bush), and especially at the time of Christ 
and the apostles. The theological idea contained at that 
time in the covering of the head during prayer is proved from 
the use of the word 5]t}y in connection wdth prayer, which 
the Psalmist employs to express " covering the face in sorrow, 
or being overwhelmed with affliction " (Ps. Ixxvii. 4, cvii. 5). 
The act of covering of the face in the case of a mourner was 
in itself not different from that of a suppliant. In both the 
feeling of repentance is presupposed to exist. The mourners 
in this way bemoan only one object of temporal loss, while 
the suppliants have in view the whole relation of man 
towards God. When w^e read in Moed Katan 2 4^, "Every 
covering which is not as the covering of Ishmaelites (pre- 
Mohamedan) is not a covering/' it refers not only to 
mourners, as Levy thinks (Chcdd. Worierhich, ii. p. 210), 
but to prayer in general (comp. Sefer Agur, ed. Venez. 
1516, p. 4a). And this covering consisted in putting on the 
Talith (praying garment), and did not exclude the proper 
covering of the head. Hence we read in Tract Shabbath 
IQa: "He pat it on, covered himself, wrapped himself up 
(5|Dj;nD), and prayed." This practice went so far that it 
became indispensable to every religious and spiritual act, 
so much so, that even God in heaven was pictured as a 
Eabbi covered (pi''Dj;n) with a garment as white as snow 
(Targum on Song of Solomon, v. 10), and as it is added, 
" He studied during the day the law and the prophets, 
and during the night the Mishna " (Eisenmenger, i. 
p. %)} 

1 [Comp. The Old Paths, by Dr. M'Caul, p. 439.— Trans.] 


In the dreadful words which the king uttered to Haman, 
the courtiers perceived the sentence of his condemnation. 
He was covered. 

Ver. 9. " Then said Harlonali" etc. 
When courtiers are unsuccessful, then all their glory is at 
an end.^ Former jealousy breaks now out in open hostility. 
Former cowardice gives place to bold accusation. Haman's 
manner and conduct was of such a haughty character as to 
preclude his making loyal friends who would stick to him in 
misfortune. Besides, Harbonah may not have been one of 
his friends at all. The scene took place in the apartments 
of the queen. Harbonah was one of her eunuchs, who 
belonged to her party, and now supports her victory by his 
remark. The word D^i also is explained by modern commen- 
tators (Bertheau and Keil) in such a way as to imply that 
Harbonah added to what other eunuchs had said. But this 
is erroneous. It is most characteristic. The accusation of 
Esther against Haman was that he had sold her with her 
people. This embittered the king the more, tliat he had 
presumed to sell his wife. He considered it as the highest 
act of treason. And so Harbonah adds : *' It is not this 
offence alone that he has committed, but he has also conspired 
against the life of Mordecai, who has saved his majesty's life, 
and who has just now been honoured by the king.^ Haman 
was quite ready to execute him on the gallows fifty cubits 
high." The word " also " (dj) refers then not to Harbonah's 
speech, but to Haman's treachery against the king and his 
friends. It is very curious that, as in chap. iv. so here, the 
name of Jews is passed over in silence. It is not said tliat 
the people who have been sold are Jews, nor does Harbonah 
say, as it stands elsewhere, " Mordecai the Jew." For it 
does not at all matter to what nationality they belong — it 

^ Comp. the history which Dio Cassius gives of Scrib. Procnlus, lix. 26. 
2 [Therefore in the hturgy for Purim it is said : " Harbonah also is to 
be remembered for good." — Trans.] 

CHAP. VII. 9. 223 

is not a question about certain persons, but a royal question 
which is dealt with here. Haman's offence consisted in 
wanting to slay the king's wife and the king's friends — this 
is accentuated. The Midrash (Yalkut Shimeoni, n. 1059) has 
a remarkable comment on this verse. Under Harbonah is to 
be understood the prophet Elijah, who assumed his appearance 
in order to effect Haman's death. They thought that n:nin 
is derived from ann, " sword." Haman is a type of Israel's 
adversary (Samael), of whom Jewish tradition says that he 
will at last be killed by Elijah. In the same way, in 
patristic writings, Elijah is represented as the great opponent 
of Antichrist at the last day (see the fragment attributed to 
Lactantius in Baluzii MiscelL, ed. Mansi, i. 12).^ 

" And the king said : Hang him thereon" 

rhn means "to hang." The passage in Deut. xxi. 22 is 
well known : " And if a man have committed a sin worthy 
of death, and he be put to death, and thou hang him on a 
tree (i^yn hv inis n''i>ni), his body shall not remain all night 
upon the tree, but thou shalt surely bury him the same day ; 
for he that is hanged Olbn) is accursed of God : that thou 
defile not thy land which the Lord thy God giveth thee for 
an inheritance." The condemned was drawn up upon a beam 
and nailed to it. This was a common mode of punishment 
among the Persians. The Greek writers when they mention 
it call it avaaravpoeLV, avaaravpovv. 

The wood was called o-Tavp6<;. So narrates Ctesias, that 
the king had caused Inaros to be hung, avearavpcoae iirl 
TpKTL a-Tavpoh ; ^ the same expression is used by Thucydides, 
dvearavpcoOr) (comp. "Biihr, zu Ctesiae Bell. p. 176). What 
is expressed by avd is reproduced in the Hebrew idiom by 
nhn, " to hang," as the beam was usually high, as is here 
expressly stated. Haman had one prepared fifty cubits high, 

^ We shall refer to this again when we consider the number 666. 

2 When Artayktes is punished we read (Herod, ix. 20) : axvllet. 


in order that the condemned might be seen from a distance, 
and this fell upon his own head. 

Haman's fate has a parallel in modern history. Henry V. 
of England had laid siege to Meaux in France, where the 
cruel commander had hung all the English prisoners. So, 
after the king had taken the city, he caused him to be hung 
on the same scaffold (Mensel, Gescliichte von FranhreicJi, ii. 
455). When, therefore, the Jews call Christ a ^^hr\, there can 
be no objection to it as far as the letter is concerned, as it 
is the translation of crucifixus, " the crucified." But the 
objection is that they use the word as a term of reproach, 
" But we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling- 
block, and to Greeks foolishness," etc. (1 Cor. i. 23). When 
the Jews also used, on the feast of Purim, to represent 
Haman as crucified, the act contained a historical truth, 
although the suspicion in ancient times may not have been 
without foundation, that they also mocked thereby the 
suffering of Christ ; therefore the Eoman emperors issued in 
408 an edict against it, as follows: " Judaeos quodam festivi- 
tatis suae solemni Aman ad poenae quondam recordationem 
incendere et sanctae crucis assimulatam speciem in contemtum 
Christianae fidei sacrilega mente exurere " (Cod. Theod., lib. 
xvi. tit. 8. 18). 

The allegory which the Jews have in connection with this 
occasion is interesting. It is told in the second Targum that 
when Haman was about to be hanged in the garden, he 
complained to the trees that he was to be hanged on one of 
them, and especially on one which was fifty cubits high. So 
the vine, the Paradise-apple, the oak, and the pomegranate 
refused out of pious motives to be used for that purpose. 
The oak even averred that it could not have any one hung 
upon itself, because it had served as a scaffold to Absalom, 
the son of David. Then the cedar came and offered itself, in 
order that he may have the required height. But later 
homilies have taken away this office from the cedar, and 
given it to the thorn bush, in order that it also may serve 

CHAP. VII. 10. . 22^ 

a purpose in God's creation. "For equals meet together, one 
tliornr should lie upon another thorn." The wicked are com- 
pared to thorns (MezahJi Aaron, p. 47). There is in this 
no doubt a hidden reference to the thorns of Christ. Accord- 
ing to another allegory, when Haman was looking for the tree 
on which to hang Mordecai, and on which he was hanged 
himself, he could find no other but the fir tree for this 
purpose. In this is seen a German allegory. The fir is 
used as a Christmas tree ; the Jews called Christmas i^tD^,^ 
which properly comes from natalis (festum natale) ; but it 
admits a secondary meaning of " hanging " (niri), by way of 
polemical play upon words. 

Ver. 1 0. " Then vms the king's wrath 'pacified!* 
The remark is important for the statement that follows. 
In chap. ii. 1, after Vashti was removed, we read: "When 
the wrath of the king Ahhashverosh was pacified, he remem- 
bered Vashti ! " He was sorry for her. But now — and on 
this the following is a commentary — his wrath is subdued; 
but Haman's fate caused him no sorrow, and this was fortunate 
for Esther and the Jews. The king's order was not yet 
revoked, and was still impending over their heads, and it 
would not have been difficult to find adherents of Haman 
who would have walked in his footsteps. The decision had 
only begun with the fall of Haman. If his execution had 
only been caused by the momentary anger of the king, the 
Jews would still have perished. Their destiny and that of 
Esther depended now on what the king was going to do after 
he calmed down. 

1 [This word is used by the Jerusalem Targum on Ex. xxx. 19 : "Aaron 
and his sons shall wash." When applied to Christmas, it must announce 
to the Eabbis the glad tidings that Jesus came into the world to cleanse 
and to save sinners. — Trans.] 


Ver. 1. "On that day did the king Ahhashverosh give the 
house of Haman, the Jews' enemy, unto Esther the queen." 
What is here narrated occurs numberless times in the 
histories of Oriental kingdoms. The will of the shah is law. 
What his servants possess, they have only through him. 
And this is also to some extent the case with their life. 
When they are to be punished their possession returns to 
him. The fall of a man like Haman is always considered in 
the light of a war — what he possesses is spoil. Haman falls, 
so his house is confiscated when the kinoj wills it. When 
Sultan Suleiman caused the mighty vizier of the Turkish 
empire, his own brother-in-law, Ibrahim, to be strangled, he 
confiscated all his property, which was worth millions. And 
so when Shah Abbas ordered the execution of a certain 
prominent man on account of his haughtiness, Chardin, who 
informs us of it, adds : " I do not now say that the king put 
all his property under seal, because I believe I have said 
more than once, that the confiscation of goods almost invari- 
ably follows the loss of life, when it is lost by the order of 
the sovereign." The king Ahhashverosh confiscates Haman's 
house, not for himself, but for Esther. She and Haman 
carried on war between them, and she had conquered through 
the favour of the king, therefore she receives the war booty. 

" And Mordecai came hefore the king" 
He had not come before the king when the king had 
learned from the chronicle that he had saved his life. Now 
he comes as Esther's uncle. It was now universally known 

CHAP. VIII. 2. 227 

to what nationality she belonged. She had therefore no 
longer any cause to conceal the facts, that her connection with 
the Jew Mordecai was of long standing, that he had brought 
her up, and that she had heard from him about the dangerous 
condition of her people. It made no difference to the king 
that she was a Jewess, for not the peculiarities of his subjects, 
but his own will was law (as is the case with all Oriental 
sultans). It was enough for him that Mordecai was her rela- 
tion, that she liked him, and that he had obtained his favour. 

He took off his ring and gave it to Mordecai, just as 
he did before to Ham an. He gave the property of the 
defeated party to the conqueror. The persecutor (iniv) had 
fallen, and the persecuted came into power. The arbitrari- 
ness of the monarch became the instrument of retaliation. 
This also will not be strange to those who read Oriental 
history. In a story of the history of Harun Arrashid it is 
told that the governor of a prison was once though innocent 
punished by the governor of the State, and when his innocency 
was proved, he was set as inspector over his persecutor (ed. 
Habicht, xiii. 20). Abbas ordered Murchidcalichan to be 
killed ; and made his .^room, who helped in the execution, 
governor of Herat in his place (Olearius in Meissner, p. 114). 

The change was in itself radically not different from what 
takes place in modern constitutional States. In the place of 
the outgoing minister comes the leader of the opposition. Only 
here a matter of principle or ambition is involved in the 
change, but there a matter of life. In Europe it came to be 
a sign of the limited power of the monarch, while in the East 
it was a sign of the unlimited power of the shah. 

Ver. 2. "And Esther set Mordecai over the house of Haman'' 
It was given her as a present from the king, for she stood at 
the head of those against whom Haman conspired. But she 
cannot be the vizier, and so she nominates her uncle to the 
office. Therefore she gives him the house of Haman. He 
requires not only to have the ring, but also the property of 


Haman, as the same grandeur which Haman possessed is 
necessary to his (Mordecai's) position. Esther rewards 
Mordecai for the love she liad received from him. She is not 
only a zealous daughter of Israel, but has also a grateful heart. 
Throufjh the education which she received from him she was 
qualified to become a queen, and therefore in return he must 
become her husband's vizier. But, with all this, she had not 
forgotten the higher motive which was far above personal 

It never occurred to the king that all was not yet 
finished with the hanging of Haman. He saw that there 
was war between Esther and his minister. The latter had 
fallen in disgrace, for the king felt that he had assailed 
his sovereignty, and now he thought that all was at an end. 
It was not for the sake of the Jews that he had made such 
an exhibition of his anger, but in vindication of his own 
authority. Now the death of Haman had appeased him, and 
he took no further trouble. But the queen could not yet be 
satisfied with his condemnation. For what she had dared 
and done was not so much to procure the fall of Haman, as 
the deliverance of Israel. That Mordecai had the ring and 
the house of Haman given to him could not satisfy her. The 
cruel decree was still impending over Israel. It was yet in 
full force though Haman was dead. And as long as this was 
not repealed, the triumph of Mordecai and herself could not be 

Ver. 3. " And Esthe7^ spake yet again 'before the hingy 
She was not content with what she obtained in her first 
audience with the king at the banquet. She besought him 
again (pididi) to grant her a second audience. And she knew 
well that this would be more difficult than the first, for the 
very reason that the first was so successful. The means 
which she on that occasion used could not be used again. 
She could not invite to another banquet. To take the king 
by surprise again was impossible. For this he had only given 

CHAP. VIII. 3. 229 

her one opportunity. The personal consideration v/hich 
induced him to grant the former interview was now wanting. 
The entertainment of tyrants becomes soon tedious when no 
character of novelty is introduced into it ; they soon think 
they have had enough of it. The second appearance of 
Esther before the king was therefore more difficult and of 
more doubtful result than the first. She makes also now — 
as the narrator takes no pains to conceal — more exertions, in 
order that she may impress the king. 

" She fell clown at his feet, and besought him with tears." 
She did not do so the first time. But at that time she did 
not know how much regard and affection the king had for 
lier. And a weeping woman cannot invite to a feast. But 
now she knew that he loved her. One does not resist the 
tears of a beloved wife. And so she beseeches him even 
weeping, that he, the gracious and powerful, may now undo 
the evil (nyi) of the evil one (j?i), viz. " the device that 
Haman had devised against the Jews." It is true that he is 
dead, but the arrow which he has thrown is still deadly 
poisonous. And she does not now say, as before, "we are 
sold," lest she should be misunderstood as if she was only 
anxious for personal freedom ; but she entreats his help 
against the plan that threatens the Jews in general. This 
name was not even mentioned in the former conversa- 
tion ; but now, since it is known that she is a relative of 
Mordecai the Jew, she has courage to name them in the third 
person. The narrative indicates nicety of style, in that she 
is not represented as saying : " to do away the device which 
Haman had devised against us." For it would have been 
offensive to the king to entertain the idea that a plan of the 
execrable Haman could have touched the queen. The result 
of Esther's petition was still doubtful. She could not rely 
upon the humour of the Persian shah. During the interval 
between the fall of Haman and her present interview various 
influences might have been brought to bear upon the king's 


mind. But she was mistaken in her fears. The king again 
held out the golden sceptre, as a sign that he regarded her 
graciously ; and she recognised in this that he was favourably 
inclined to hear what she had further to ask of him. 

Ver. 4. " So Esther arose, and stood hefore the king" 
As a suppliant she knelt, but in consequence of his favour 
she stood up as his wife, and more accurately formulated her 
petition. The speech which she now makes is a masterpiece 
of that prudence and humility with which the person of the 
shah must be addressed. The first words, " If it please the 
king, and if I have found favour in his sight," are, as it 
appears, the usual form of addressing the king. Similarly 
she spake to him on the former occasion ; but now, bearing in 
mind the difficult matter that she had to lay before him, she 
adds, " and the thing seems right (ik^d) before the king." 
This adjective occurs only here, but in later Hebrew of the 
Targum and the Talmud we meet with it frequently. The 
verb is etymologically cognate with 16J^\ "itJ'X, meaning " right," 
" proper ; " but the special sense in which i^j^d is used here, is 
the same as in later times. The Eabbis in the Talmud called 
that " hasher " which was permitted from a religious point of 
view. In the same sense Esther understands the word if the 
thing appears to the king such as, for his person, for his 
position and conscience, seems proper and allowable. She 
herself passes no judgment upon it, — this is his privilege, 
and he will in his wisdom know whether what she demands, 
is permissible and right. Then she goes on to say, " And I 
be pleasing (nnito), good, in his eyes." The word " good " is 
purposely chosen by her. According to the religious dualism 
of the Persian teaching, Ahriman is the evil, and Ahuramazda 
is the good god. Evil was therefore against the light and 
against the king, who represented the doctrine of Ahuramazda. 
Evil was the king's enemy, and good was the devoted 
adherent of the king. When Esther accuses Haman, she 
calls him j^in, " the evil one ; " and in contrast to this she 

CHAP. VIII. 6. 231 

says now, " And if I be good in his eyes ; " if the king loves 
me, and I appear as pleasing, submissive, and attached. She 
prays him for the sake of the love which he has for her — 
but, of course, after ascertaining that her demand is right — 
that he should invalidate and revoke the edict, and destroy 
the letters (idd, "scroll," "letter," and "book" as literae) 
which contain Haman's device to annihilate the Jews. She 
adds wisely that they are ni^nD, the machination of Haman, 
for in themselves they were the letters of the king; and 
therefore she guards herself against implying that she meant 
that the king's own work should be destroyed. Nothing of the 
kind. For she knows well that a royal edict cannot be revoked, 
and therefore she puts into the king's mouth a different inter- 
pretation of the character of the letters. They are entirely 
Haman's work, of which the king knew nothing originally ; 
they had been smuggled in, and therefore he can revoke them. 
When she adds : '* son of Hamedatha the Agagite," it must be, 
as already remarked, in allusion to his relation to a certain 
party, which makes it more detestable in the eyes of the king. 

Ver. 6. " How can I endure to see ? " etc. 
With rhetorical skill and force she continues to move his 
heart. " Say not, king, that thy favour protects my life, — ■ 
that is doubtless true, — but I have not prayed merely for 
myself, — and how could I live in peace and enjoyment while 
my poor people is slain ; how unbearable would be to me thy 
favour and glory, if I should have to witness the disaster 
which befell my own kindred ; how should I be ashamed to 
be something to thee, when in spite of it I should have to 
look at the destruction of the nation which gave me birth ! " 
(She uses the word nn^lD for nation, from lb\ as natio is from 
nascor.) She says, " endure to see," without being able to 
help. Thus she gives the king clearly to understand that 
she would be powerless and helpless, although she is the 
beloved queen ; and this powerlessness w^ould be a reflection 
upon him. She effectively shows him the contrast between 


the favour that he had shown to her and Mordecai, and her 
possible helplessness in not being able to save her brethren 
from death and plunder. What would the people say, and 
what would be the general popular opinion if they should see 
that the great favourites of the king are inactive while their 
people suffer ? Could Esther endure that people should say of 
her, that she was sitting and enjoying herself in the harem, 
and looking with indifference at the destruction of Israel ? If 
so, thy favour, she gives him to understand, would be worse 
than thy wrath. The adherents of Haman will avenge them- 
selves on Mordecai and on us by killing the Jews before our 
eyes. Not Haman but we would be the most unfortunate. 
His death would be better than our life. For it is better to 
die with the others than to live in sorrow and contempt. 
" My people and I have not fasted and prayed that I should 
live, but that they should live. My life is in thy hands. 
Save the poor people." 

Vers. 7, 8. " Then the king Ahhashverosh said to Esther the 

queen" etc. 

The answer of the king manifests dignity and kindness at 
the same time. He pacifies the excited Esther, and yet main- 
tains his royal attitude. It is difficult to see why Clericus 
finds the answer obscure. His language is clear ; a revoca- 
tion of the edict is impossible ; a rescript issued in the name 
of the king and sealed by his seal cannot be made void under 
any pretext whatever.-^ And this rests upon the idea that a 
" decree," m, is ideally to be looked upon in the light of an 
emanation from him. Whether the writing and the plans 
originated in Haman's mind or not, is of no consequence. 
Suffice it that they bear the name and seal of the king. 
" But," says he, " you can obtain your wish very easily in 
another manner. Mordecai is now the keeper of the seals, and 
he can issue any decree in my name that he likes. It is now a 

^ What Brisson adduces from Diodor. xvii. 30 (not 14), has no reference 
to this {De reg. Pers. princ. 1. i. c. 130). 

CHAP. VIII. 9, 10. 233 

well-known fact that Haman has fallen, that I gave to Esther 
the Jewess his house, and that he was hung because of his 
wanting to lay violent hands upon the Jews. Make this 
known everywhere ! This will show all over the Persian 
kingdom what my will is, and where my interests lie. Then 
my governors and officials, after hearing these reports, will 
take care not to rise against the Jews. They will see from 
this that another party has come to the helm of government, 
and that it is not my will that the Jews should be wronged. 
As soon as the officials hear that the queen and the vizier are 
themselves of Jewish origin, they will instruct the people to 
behave themselves to the Jews in general with proper decorum, 
and not in the spirit of Haman. You can issue an edict in my 
name, which will virtually annul the first, but the first cannot 
be revoked. Write," says he, " now also to the Jews what you 
please," just as he had before left Haman to do what he liked. 
We observe in him the same arbitrary proceeding, the same 
carelessness as to the lives of many people, the same tyran- 
nical caprice now for Esther as it was before for Haman, — 
all is easy in his hands, except to revoke his former edict, 
which might be regarded as derogatory to the royal dignity. 

Vers. 9, 10. "Then were the king's scribes called at that 
time, in the third month, which is the month Sivan, on the 
three and twentieth day thereof" etc. 

The name of the third month, Sivan, occurs for the first 
time here. Its meaning, like that of most names of the old 
calendar, has been entirely confused by Benfey and Stern 
in the book, Ueber die Monatsnamen. According to them, 
it is derived from an imaginary Iranian deity named 
gpenta. The meaning can easily be seen. The second and 
the third month of the Jewish calendar were vernal months, 
whose names were transferable to each other, as is the case 
elsewhere. We frequently call June the second May. The 
month May, which is called in the later Jewish calendar n''''5<, 
lyar {eap, spring), goes in the Old Testament by tlie name of 


IT (1 Kings vi. 1, 37), meaning blossom, the month in which 
the trees are in bloom. Now, as the letters r and D are inter- 
changeable (as in inr and ino), IT became JVD, to designate the 
second spring month, and the third in the year. The Lettes 
called it Seedu, month of blossoms (comp. my Sunem, 1876, 
p. 182). 

The decree which Haman obtained with subtlety dated from 
the 13th of the first month Nisan, so that it was forty days 
in advance of this. It was therefore the more necessary 
to despatch the message without delay. For it had to be sent 
all over the empire to all nations, as everywhere a rising 
against the Jews was feared ; consequently we find here that 
not runners only were employed, as in the case of Haman's 
despatch, but also riders on swift steeds, mules, and young 
dromedaries. The expression tJ'lDnn 2yr\ is to show that 
besides riders on ordinary horses, D^DID, there were others who 
rode on race-horses. The word ej>d"i is found in two other 
places in the 0. T., in Micah i. 13 and 1 Kings v. 8, in 
conjunction with D''D1D, and appears to be cognate with rachab, 
and to express " rash and fierce driving." That, therefore, 
the name of the famous horse of Eustem, Eekshh, is to be 
derived from D'^'i there can be no doubt, and not from its 
colour, as Yullers {Lex. Pers. ii. 24) asserts, for he himself 
gives it the general meaning of horse. It seems to me that 
this word gives us explicitly the origin of the German word 
Boss ; Old High Germ., Old Low Germ, liros ; Anglo-Sax. 
Iwrs. This explanation was overlooked even by Grimm 
{Gesch. d. deutsch. Spr. p. 31). In the translation into the 
German language, the chs became an s or sch, as evidently is 
the case in the relation between the Hebrew ^ni and the 
German rauschen. These runners are further designated on 
account of their excellence and swiftness as D'*i"inK^nx. All 
recent commentators (as Bertheau, Keil, Schulz) have almost 
literally accepted the view of Haug, which is expressed in 
Ewald's Annual (v. 154), where he explained the word thus: 
" It is an adjective form of Kshatra, ' dominion,' ' the king,' 

CHAP. VIII. 9, 10. 235 

with the termination ana, na, and signifies the ' royal State 
horses.' " However specious this explanation may momentarily 
appear, it awakens doubt after close observation. First, 
because Haug himself explains in the previous page D'^JDn^i^nj^ 
from Kshatra, " land," " dominion," and it did not occur to him 
that here in our text ^^^n is with a daleth, 1, while in D^JintJ^n^^ 
the same sound is given by a n. Secondly, if it meant 
" royal," it would have stood first in order by way of distinc- 
tion. If it was not an official name, why did not the author 
use the Hebrew word ^^d, which he frequently uses ? If 
it were such, what does it mean ? Were not the rest royal ? 
Or were all royal horses sent ? Why is this expression not 
used in connection with the State horse upon which Mordecai 
rode ? Then, again, the formation of the word is defective. 
Kshatra means province, land (modern Pers. ■int:^). We do not 
observe the meaning of " stately," " lordly," in it. It would 
almost, on the contrary, express a contrast to wliat was royal, 
and rather express that which was provincial and belonged to 
a satrapy. 

Now a closer observation will show that D^:^nt^•^N is derived 
from the Old Persian nnt^ with the prefixed syllable, and has 
the signification of dromedary. The camel, which is swift in 
running ("dromas velocissimi cursus," VuUers, ii. 411), has this 
name (Zend, ushtra, uschticr, uchtur) Schutitr, SchUir} This 
name of the camel is manifestly, as dromedary, from Bpo/juico, 
" to run," derived from the habit of the animal. The Tigris is 
therefore also called mnK>, because its current is swift. The 
word is doubtless connected with rpe^ft) (for o-rpixo^), and 
with the Zend, takshra, " to run " (Bournouf, Su?- le Yagna, p. 
411). One is thereby reminded of the rapid running of a 
stream (comp. Dieffenbach, Goth. Glossen, ii. 316). The camel 
and the horse, on account of their swift running, have received 
various exchanges in name. In Old German glossaries the 
camel was called " wild horse." The name for horse in the 
Middle Ages was warannio; Old High Germ, reinneo, reinno 
^ [Sanscr. agwatora. — Trans.] 


(runner) ; warani, icaranah, is used by Caucasian nations for 
camel (comp. my essay on the camel in Mark. Forschungenj 
vol. ix.). Accordingly, I translate D^^intJ^nx, "racers, horse- 
dromedaries," for this is the sense of the narrative, that they 
ran swiftly, which was of greater importance than that they 
should be of stately appearance. 

Old Jewish commentators have really understood camel by 
the word, and the swiftness of the camel is well known (see 
Ptitter, xiii. 639 and 734). But in the posts which the 
Persian kings in the time of Xerxes used, it does not appear 
that camels were employed. In MezaJih Aaron (p. 48c) 
there is the curious remark that the sort of camel that was 
employed in the transmission of this message had eight feet, 
so that when four of them got tired it ran with the other 
four, and that the riders were tied to them, and had no 
garments nor saddles, and that these Ahhashtranim are called 
" trampeltrarius." The Chaldean translators rendered the 
word by '•^"iDny, " naked," and the misunderstandiug about the 
dromedary was added, because this loses its hair for some 
months, so that it appears as naked (comp. Oken's Zicsammen- 
stellungen Naturgesch. vii. 1270, and Eitter, xiii. 654). 

To the above explanation what follows is very suitable, 
D''DD"in '':n, " sons of mares." yy\ is " stud," Pers. ramakd (comp. 
Justi, ^2^m Bundehesch, 158); but it was not new that all 
were bred of the stud : but in ']m, Syr. i<3?o"i, is repeated what 
Jacob Grimm (Deutsche Gram, iii 327) remarks on the stud, 
that the word properly means, bred from the stud mares. 
KDD*i also is stud, and grex equarum, i.e. "bred as a stud" 
(Castelli, 867). They were mares particularly trained as 
racers. Probably what Xenophon says about the places in 
which the postmen with their attendants halted, in order to 
receive directions, has some reference to this (comp. Brisson, 
De reg. Persar. n. 338, p. 312). 

The sending of the letter took place on the 23rd of the month 
Sivan. The date is just as purposely chosen as that of the 
first message by Haman. That was despatched on the loth 

CHAP. VIII. 11-14. 237 

day of Nisan, which bore the name of Tir, " arrow," among 
the Persians (see chap. iii. 12). Mordecai's message was sent 
out on the 23rd day of the month Sivan, which corresponded 
to the Old Persian month also called Tir, which was the name 
among them for Mercurius the divine scribe (Hyde, De rel. 
Persar.ip, 264), and the 23 rd day had the name of Dai pa Din, on 
which day the Parsees pray for the expulsion of the evil of Satan. 
Besides this, Din had the signification of justice and law, and 
among the Jews pi meant judgment ; it was then, indeed, for 
Haman and his adherents a '{^^n DV, a day of judgment. 

Vers. 11—14. "Wherein the king granted the Jeius ivhich 
vjere in every city to gather themselves together^' etc. 
The edict of a Persian king was infallible and irrevocable ; 
consequently another must be published to remove the mis- 
chievous effect of the former. In the first, direction was given 
to the party of Haman to destroy all the Jews ; the second 
expresses that the king gives permission to the Jews to kill 
their enemies. The king could not order the enemies of the 
Jews to keep the peace, but could invest with authority those 
who were appointed by them for the slaughter. He did not 
literally take away the sword from the hands of the anti- Jewish 
party ; but he at the same time handed it to the Jews. On 
the side on which the king lent his weight and authority 
victory was sure. Therefore the edict in favour of the Jews, 
according to the narrative, is verbally like the hostile edict 
against them, with the exception of a few variations which 
their peculiar position required. Because the Jews were 
scattered in different places, the decree provided that they 
should assemble themselves in localities and arm themselves 
so as to be able to offer a collected national opposition or 
assault. But they are authorized to exercise this power only 
against the Dyn i)^n, " the fighting men," of their enemies, 
but not against any one else. They may only fight against 
the party and adherents of Haman. They are the Dnv, " the 
enemies." This was to take place on the same day which 


Haman had appointed for their destruction, on the 13 th day 
of the month Adar. A day sooner would annul the former 
decree, — but the present was only another which supported 
the former. The month Adar ("ns) corresponds, according to 
its origin and meaning, with the month of March. The name 
already signified " fire " among the Chaldeans and Assyrians 
(Movers, Phcenic. i. 340). Adramelech, a name containing the 
word Adar, was an idol to which children were offered up in 
burning fire. It represented the consuming and warming power 
of fire, as well as the warmth which the earth possesses and 
makes use of in the vernal season. Therefore March is also so 
called from Mars, not on account of its warlike, but on account 
of its agricultural significance. He was invoked that he 
should protect the field from injury; that he should give 
prosperity to the produce of the land, and to the cattle (comp. 
my Drachenkdmpfe,^. 91). For Ares, whose power was trans- 
ferred to Mars, means also nothing else but ix, "iv = ^^, " fire " 
(comp. my Esmun, pp. 30, 31). He is the flaming god, and is 
represented on both sides of coins of Areopolis as holding 
weapons with burning torches. The genius of the modern 
Persian month Adar, although not corresponding now, as in 
olden times, with March (Hyde, De rel. Pers. p. 249), but with 
November, is yet connected with fire, the hearth, and the sun. 
The 9th of the month was illuminated by the festive fire, and all 
the altars were burning like funeral piles. According to Haman's 
opinion, Israel should be consumed in flames of war; but instead 
of this they became a consuming fire for their enemies. 

While in chap. iii. 15 it is merely said of the messengers 
of Haman that they went forth in haste, D'Sim, of these it is 
said, " they hastened and hurried on," D^^nnD. The word 5]m 
is only a transposition of ins ; " to be afraid," " to flee," " to 
hurry," are cognate ideas (comp. ran = nan, which means the 
same when the consonants are thus exchanged). The same is 
the case with the verb hr\2, " to be anxious," " to flee," " to 
tremble." It contains the idea which is found in the Latin 
halitus, and expresses " panting for breath." The messengers 

CHAP. VIII. 15. ^39 

are breathlessly hurrying on, and anxious to carry out the 
king's command. The decree was published at Shushan, and 
only through this the inhabitants of the capital learned what 
had happened. Not only the fall of Haman, but also of his 
party, is but just now made known ; but it is done in such 
a way as to produce a visible and forcible impression of a 
dramatic kind upon the great multitude. 

Ver. 1 5. "And Mordecai went forth" 
At the time (chap. iv. 1) when the dreadful decree against 
the Jews was issued, Mordecai rent his clothes, and put on 
sackcloth and ashes. ]^ow, being placed by the king in 
Haman's position, he went out from the palace in official 
uniform. " He went forth," he let himself be seen, and by 
this the fall of Haman and the victory of his opponent 
was shown, so as to leave no doubt in any one's mind. 
He wore an apparel of blue and white. White and purple 
or violet were the Persian State colours. They have reference 
to the Persian religious view about the world. White is 
the colour of light, blue of the sky, purple of the sun. He 
wore on his head " a great crown of gold," nhlj nnr niDy. 
When the king asked Haman, on that eventful night, what 
he should do to the man whom he wanted to honour, he 
replied, he should put upon his head the ni^i^D "in:3, " the 
cidaris, which the king alone could wear," the straight one 
ippdrj). It is not said that he conferred this honour upon 
Mordecai. He only granted him royal dress and a royal 
horse. And now is mtoy to be distinguished from -iriD ; the 
first is a diadem twisted round about the head. Verbally rr\^]} 
and tiara (in Herod, rcdpa^ or TLrjpi]^) seem to be the same 
(Hyde, De rel. Pers. p. 369) ; but, in fact, it is more used and 
described as a cidaris, and is really only a diadem, and 
therefore must mean such in our passage, for only such 
was made of gold. With regard to the identity of the tiara 
with the cidaris, Spanheim says (Dissert, de usu et ;prcest. 
Nummor. p. V70) : "Conjuncta itaque in regione Persarum 


aut Armeniorum etiam culta ilia capitis ornamenta tiara ac 
diadema non vero ut eadem, sed diversa."^ In themselves 
tiara and cidaris were not the same ; but they were bound 
toijether, for the former was wound around the latter, and 
appears also on the coins of the Arsacides without the cidaris 
(comp. Vaillant, Begnurn Arsacidaricm, p. 1, etc.). So the name 
tiara came to be used for the whole ornamentation of the 
head, and appeared to signify ina, a crown, while it was only 
an niViV or m^y. Mordecai did not wear a high hat, which 
the king alone could wear, but a princely tiara, which was big 
enough, and embroidered with gold. A passage in Strabo (lib. xv. 
c. iii. 19, ed. Paris, p. 625) clearly describes his uniform: "They, 
the princes, have a lined robe with sleeves down to the knees 
{')(^ltl6v), inside it is (iin) white, outside it is avOivo^, — better 
to read lavOivo^, viz. violet blue (nl)Dn) ; in the summer they wear 
a mantle of purple, but in winter it is of a variegated colour 
or blue (just according to the reading avBivov or lavdivov)." 

Mordecai was so dressed, and as it was summer, in the 
month of Sivan, he wore a purple mantle. The name yi^n, 
which occurs only here to denote the stately flowing robe, is 
very frequently used by the Jews to signify a wrapping up 
in general (as the case is with instrumentuin), and specially 
for the grave-cloth or shroud in which the dead are buried. 
The second Targum renders it by no'^bj, which Buxtorf and 
Levy after him consider Hebrew {Lex. Chald. p. 143) ; but in 
2 Kings ii. 8, it is a wrapping together of the mantle, which 
appears as contrary to enveloping. The etymological explana- 
tion in the Talmud, Tr. Shabbath, p. 7 Ih, that one appears in 
such a mantle like a D^iJ,^ " a puppet," shows that the meaning 
was then obscure. It is nothing else but the Greek KaXvy^ia. 

The Midrash Esther, ed. Amst. p. 95a, speaks of coins on 
which the images of Mordecai and Esther were struck on each 

* Comp. Sueton. Nero 13 : " Dein precanti tiara deducta diadema 

^ [Rashi, in loc.^ explains that it means a garment made of one piece of 
cloth, without being cut for sleeves, etc. — Trans.] 

CHAP. VIII. 16. 241 

side. If such really existed, they must have been issued for 
political reasons in later times. It is quite probable, as we have 
instances of Oriental coins which represent a man on one side 
and a woman on the other, as Zenobia and her son, or Aurelian. 
But there can be no thought of authenticating the report of the 
Midrash, as Hottinger is inclined to do (Cippi, Hehr, p. 147). 

" And Mordecai went fortlir j^V. 
This expression is reproduced by John in chap. xix. 5, 
when he says : ^E^rjXOev ovv 6 'iTjaov^i, " Jesus therefore came 
out " from the palace of Pilate, as Mordecai from the palace 
of the Persian king. Mordecai with the golden crown and 
stately robe, and Jesus wearing the crown of thorns and also 
a purple garment; Mordecai triumphant, but Jesus mocked 
and scourged. Mordecai went out to avenge his people by 
imbruing his hands in the blood of their enemies ; but Jesus 
went out to pour out His life-blood on the cross, in order to 
redeem all from eternal death. It is impossible that John 
should not have had this passage in mind, and it is strange 
that modern commentators of the N. T. have not referred to it. 

Ver. 16. " The Jeivs had light" ni^i^. 
Light is salvation, redemption, happiness, — the preceding 
anxiety had been to them like night. The morning emanci- 
pates, spring redeems, and good news brings light and liberty. 
The placing of lights,^ together with the expressions of glad- 
ness and joy and honour, is certainly peculiar to the book of 
Esther; and this is to be attributed to the influence of the 
view which the Persians took of the universe, according to 
which light was the present agency in everything good. 
Ahuramazda — iTons — was the antithesis of everything defiled 
and impure, and of all deceit and slander (comp. Hyde, pp. 
161, 162). — \)b\y, gladness, is radically and essentially like the 

^ [This was prohably also an ilhimination, as was the custom in the East 
on such occasions, and it became the pattern for the later Feast of the 
Dedication. — Trans.] 



German jaAichzen, juclizen, juzen, Eng. " to shout," " to huzzali," 
Gr. Iv^eiv. 

Ver. 1 7. " And many from among the peoijle of the land 

hecame Jews." 

Our text has the word DnriTiO.^ And from this it was 
inferred from very ancient times (even by the Targumim) 
that there must be a verb ir[\ from Tin\ to signify " the act of 
making a proselyte to Judaism." But the word does nowhere 
occur. Neither biblical nor post-biblical Hebrew knows it, 
but rather for the said act the words -i-ij and -i^^'^riD do every- 
where occur. I cannot believe that the narrative meant to 
convey the idea that " many became Jews," that they cut 
themselves off from their national connection, and embraced 
the Mosaic religion by circumcision, etc. This would not 
have been recorded in one short sentence forming only half of 
a verse in the original. Such an event would have excited a 
great deal of comment and much material for the historian. 
The removal of the wall of partition which separated the Persians 
from the Jews by their respective rites and customs, would 
have produced such a change among them both, that the fact 
would not have been passed over so slightly as if it was of no 
great importance. What the passage means in all probability 
is this — that many Persians made common cause with the Jews, 
that they became friendly to them, and united with them in 
hostility against the party of Haman, as they saw that the Jews 
had such high influence at court, and that their patron was a 
great favourite of the king. I think, therefore, that we are to 
read DnnTiD, from in\ " to unite," which word occurs frequently 
in this sense in the 0. T., in the Targum, and in the Talmud. 

^ [Although the LXX. and the Syriac read as the Masoretic text, yet it 
may be that the scribes had afterwards purposely exchanged the n for a n, 
as some codices have even a circle to indicate that a l is wanting. Haub 
says : " None sine caus4 circulum habent codices. Nam legendiuu 
DmrrriD, inserta % quia ro ) non abest ab DnirT* Judaeis." The author's 
view gains support from the comment of Ibn Ezra, who makes a com- 
I^romise by saying, that they only assumed the name of Jew. — Trans.] 


Ver. 1. " Now in the twelfth month!' 
The arrow which Haman was to throw on the 13th of Adar 
upon the people of Israel fell upon his own head, and upon the 
heads of his family and party. That day was to be the great 
day of battle against the Jews, and his own sons fell. He that 
digs a pit for others falls into it himself. What he wanted to 
do to others was accomplished in himself. As Adonibezek said, 
" As I have done, so God hath requited me " (Judg. i. 7 ; see 
my Comm. p. 7) ; so it was fulfilled on the 18th of Adar. In 
the book of Wisdom (chap. xi. 15, IG) we read, "But for the 
foolish devices of their wickedness, wherewith being deceived 
they worshipped serpents void of reason . . . thou didst send 
a multitude of unreasoning beasts upon them for vengeance : 
That they might know, that wherewithal a man sinneth, by the 
same also shall he be punished." The history of the artist 
Perillus, who had made a bull of copper for Phalaris of 
Ac^rigentum, in order to torture those whom he murdered, and 
was the first to suffer by it himself, is repeated in all legendary 
collections. The German imperial chronicle tells a similar 
instructive story of the Emperor Nerva, to whom an artist 
offered to manufacture a horse of a wonderful kind. It was 
so constructed, that if a knight should be placed upon it, the 
horse w^ould fly in the air and the knight would be burned. 
Nerva tried this first on the artist himself (see Massmann, 
Kaiser chronik, iii. 747). It is not clear why the legend was 
transferred to Nerva. Probably he is confounded with Nero. 
But it is a matter of history that Louis XI., king of France, 
put Bishop Eoland of Verdun in the iron cage which he 
had invented. — Comines reports, " Fecerat caveas ferreas 


ligneasque ferreas laminis intra extraque inductas cum 
terribilibus claustris, octo pedum amplitudine, unum altitudine 
supra staturam hominis. Primus harum auctor Episcopus 
Verdunensis fuit, qui in primam earundem ut primum facta 
fuit missus quatuordecim annos habitavit " {Ber. Gest. Litdov. 
XL, lib. vi. c. xii.). Similarly it is told of Ezzelin, who made 
the architect the first prisoner in the prison which he had 
erected (Massmann, i. 1, quoted from Muratori). Massmann 
has also overlooked a similar story of an artificial horse of 
which Plutarch tells in connection with Aemilius Censorinus 
in Egesta. This man was a cruel governor, and a certain 
Aruntius Paterculus offered to make him a horse of metal 
by which he might torture people. Then the tyrant tested 
its efficacy upon the artist (Plut. Comparison of Greek and 
Roman Reports, n. 39). The modern history of France shows 
a remarkable retribution in name and in date. Louis XIV. 
ordered on October 12, 1693, to demolish the royal tombs at 
Spire. The man who was entrusted with the superintendence 
of the work was called Hentz. On October 12, 1793, the 
revolution began by the demolishing of the royal tombs at St. 
Denis, and the French representative who undertook it had 
also the name of Hentz. When the narrator in the book of 
Esther rightly points to the retaliation which the tyranny 
of Haman received, the Jews should not forget that they 
experienced a similar retribution in their history. They 
shouted triumphantly when Jesus was crucified. And so 
the whole Eoman army shouted triumphantly when Vespasian 
and Titus returned as victors to Eome and there publicly 
crucified Simon Giora. There were not trees enough at the 
siege of Jerusalem on which to crucify all the prisoners of 
war. I have referred to these wonderful retributions in my 
small book, Israel in der Weltgeschichte. 

300^1 Ver. 2. ''For the fear of them was fallen upon all the 
If the second edict had not come, Haman's party would 

CHAP. IX. 2. 245 

naturally have obtained the ascendancy. In such a despotic 
country everything depended upon the knowledge which people 
had of what was precisely the king's will and caprice. When 
the people heard that Haman's party were in bad odour at 
court, that their leader was killed, and that Mordecai was in 
his place, and was ever gaining in influence, their intention 
and desire of laying violent hands on the Jews was relin- 
quished. True, the first edict was still valid according to the 
letter; but the second showed that the party to be attacked 
had now the upper hand, and although the first was not 
revoked, it would be decidedly against the will of the king to 
molest them. All the officials, from the satrap downwards, 
had no other will but that which was in harmony with the 
royal will (under riDt^i^^n ""J^y are to understood those who 
used to do the king's will).^ Consequently they were now 
just as disposed not to put any obstacle before the Jews, as 
they were before to assume a hostile attitude against them. 
Courtiers and officials are double-faced, according as they 
receive sunshine or cloud from above, i.e. from the court. 
The law is therefore to them only a bugbear; it frequently 
changes its appearance ; now it is a roaring lion, and now a 
mouse, and so on. What will the satraps and pashas, whose 
positions are entirely dependent upon the favour of the king, 
what will they undertake against the Jews when they hear 
that one of them is the favourite prime minister of the king ? 
A linguistic peculiarity is to be observed in the word v^^T], 
by way of analogous expressions in other languages. y:i3 means 
"to touch," and in the causative form y"'in, "touch in point of 
time," " to arrive," and is used in ver. 2 6 in the same way as 
the Germans say Zustossen, Eintreffen ; K. V. had " come " 
(reached) "unto them." Comp. chap. iv. 3, where v^i^ ought 
to be translated "reached." Not in the same manner do 
accidere, a-vfi^alvecv, evenire, etc., agree, but UviofjLaL is doubt- 
less from the same root as v^j, as well as of the same meaning. 

1 In the same sense the words are used in chap. iii. 9 of those who as 
cashiers brought the money into the king's treasury. 


"jianj is, of course, an infin. absol. It is used in the 
sense of reverting, turning over, upside down. The obscure 
etymology of ^sn becomes clear by a comparison with the 
Latin vix, vice, German Wechsel, English " turn." \:h^, " to 
rule," doubtless reappears in the German Schalten, and in 
Sultan having the sense of ruling powerfully. 

Ver. 4. ""DTiD B^''«n — " The man 3fordecai" 

This c^^KH is of special significance when it is joined to a 
proper name. It represents the person as distinguished, as a 
man of influence and name. — So in Num. xii. 3, the word 
man is applied to Moses by way of emphasis, that such a 
man as Moses was very meek above all. Of the false Micah 
it is said: "And there was a man of the hill country of 
Ephraim whose name was Micah," and he had his own house 
of worship, Judg. xvii. 1. 

Of Jeroboam it is said, "And the man Jeroboam was a 
mighty man," 1 Kings xi. 28. 

Especially significant is Dan. ix. 21: " And the man 
Gabriel." So it is used here. 

Mordecai had a name, position, importance, and influence, 
and was continually advancing. 

Ver, 5. " And the Jews smote" 
The narrator lays stress upon the fact that the Jews were 
mowing down their enemies with great fury, and that they 
were not interfered with by the authorities of the land. 
Such party w^arfares in the Persian kingdom are quite 
authentic. The narrator characterizes their violence on the 
opponents as inflicting death and destruction. They not 
merely humiliated them, or put them to flight, but they 
exterminated them. The authorities were silent spectators, 
and did not come to the assistance of the defeated party. 
That is what is meant by the w^ord DiinD, " they did accord- 
ing to their good pleasure," without let or hindrance. The 
Persian authorities saw their countrymen and co-religionists 

CHAP. IX. 5. 247 

in the hands of the Jews ; but they feared the king — and he 
was more than God — more than love — he had given his 
consent, and therefore the victims must fall. 

It was a battle between inhabitants of the same country, 
but they were not fellow- citizens. They were all fellow- 
servants under one master. Only the Jews had a God in 
heaven, but they did not imitate His reconciliation and 

The names of the ten sons of Haman give occasion for 
interesting remarks. Very little has as yet been done for 
their interpretation. The explanations of Jules Oppert 
{Extrait des Annales de jyliilosophie Chretienne, Janvier 1864, 
p. 22) are mere guesswork, paying more attention to the 
sound than to the ideas contained in them. All the names 
are pervaded by religious ideas in connection with the 
fire-worship ; they originated in the religion of the Magi, and 
their formation and composition bear that character. But the 
text does not give them in their purity ; one feels that they 
have been tortured by the hands of the conquerors. As their 
houses have been sacked, so were their names deformed and 
caricatured. The popular custom to extend the strife so as 
to assail the honour and name of the aggressive or opposing 
party took place also here. I have shown elsewhere^ how 
old the custom is, and that this is not the only place in 
wdiich it appears in the Old Testament. The hostility of the 
two parties in the Persian kingdom went so far, that they 
trampled the names in the dust, and they revealed their 
wrath in caricatures upon them. If we prove this in the 
case of a few names, we shall have the probability that it was 
so with all. The last son of Haman is called t^nr^l.^ 

The name evidently signifies son of fire, for ^?1 means fire, 
and fc<nr, natus, "son" (comp. Justi, Zum Bicndehesch, p. 164). 
It was written % which means " woe " (see chap. i. 1), and this 

1 Comp. Panthera, Stada^ OnoJcotes, Caricaturnamen Christi, Berlin 1875. 
^ Comp. Wahyazdata in the Inscription of Bisutum. Comp. Benfey, 
The Persian Cuneiform, p. 18. 


woe was indicated by making the letter i large, and the T 
smaller than usual, for the same reason. The second name 
is pD^i. Even at present the Jews nickname a poor man by 
Dalphon, because hi means poor, miserable, wretched. This 
Persian name was properly Durpan, ]i^2'\1, meaning "a guard 
of the temple." In the same manner they have in some 
names omitted the letter d in data, in order to get a secondary 
meaning. They call one Purta instead of Purdata, in order 
to obtain the meaning that he was one upon whom the pur, 
the lot, fell by the direction of God, — and because Purta is in 
Aramaic " little," " dirt," " distress," and " shame." They write 
fc^nsDi^ instead of mSDS. The proper meaning of the name 
was (sun) horse-given (comp. asphan, Justi, 6 3) ; they make 
of it asafta in reference to the Aramaic word "'21DX, meaning 
" a foundling." The first name is j^rnJtJnD. The Masoretes 
have written the n at the end small, in order to make it 
appear like KlJtJ^is, for tna again means " dirt," and nij means 
" bespattering," or if thus written m^, it means " uncleanness." 
In itself, it is either one born of a high-caste family, a 
|xns = |i<SJ^"iD, persona, parson, person ; or it comes from hiirsin, 
fire (Hyde, J)e rel. Pers. 362). Yet Vullers gives the last 
as meaning "a fire -worshipping priest" {Lex. i. 219). In 
the name i<nsj>D"is, also, the v was written small in order to 
pervert the sense. It evidently means one born of Behram 
(Behram = Mars, Atesh- Behram, irvp dpetov ; comp. Hyde, 
p. 633). They want to connect it with nD''")a, "rending 
asunder," in a degraded sense. The names Nmn« (not Nmnx, 
as in some editions), ••D''"i&?,^ nnj^, Oppert brings together with 
Ariyadata, Ariya^aya, Ariyadaya, but I would rather consider 
them as compounds of *iiK, fire. The Jews wanted to under- 
stand by xmnx, "an offspring of a lion;" and by ""Dnt?, 
" poison." In nnx, I am not sure whether the last syllable 
was to point to '•n, " pain," " sickness," " trouble." Adalia was 
probably originally Adaria, derived from -iix, "fire." It is 
clear that they made an effort to heap upon the fire- 
^ "Apt^o;, a Persian, Herod, vii. 38. 

CHAP. IX. 11. 249 

worshippers scornful epithets. This was not merely because 
they were victorious over their enemies, but chiefly because 
their hateful religion had received a blow. That the Jews 
cared more for retaliating and avenging than for enriching 
themselves, appears from the added clause : " but on the 
spoil they laid not their hand." njs^ " spoil," from n2, " to 
take spoil." So is apTrayfia, from apira^co. To HD, without 
doubt, belongs the German word Beute (English "booty," 
" butin "), as r is frequently assimilated with n and D. 

Yer. 11. ''On that day." 
The news of the day was, of course, reported to the king 
from every quarter of Shushan. He communicated it to 
Esther with an air of the greatest indifference, as if he asked 
her how she likes the handsome present he had given her. 
He asks her caressingly: "Have I not done it well? 500 
have been slain in Shushan, Hainan's sons are dead ; and if 
this has happened here, what must have taken place in the 
provinces ? " He at any rate expected, as it seems, that Esther 
would express her satisfaction. But the grand woman has 
caught the spirit of a Persian queen. It was not for nothing 
that she ascended the throne. She wants to use the favour- 
able moment, and to carry on the war thoroughly to the end. 
She fears the vengeance of some of the hostile party who had 
not yet been vanquished. If these are not put down with a 
strong hand, she is afraid that they will eventually retaliate, 
— and how easy it is to change the mind of a Persian king, 
she knows well from her own experience. He tells her that 
500 have been slain in the citadel of Shushan — viz. on the 
13 th of the month. She asks him to issue an especial 
decree (m) to continue the battle on the next day in the city 
itself. There is evidently a distinction between what took 
place in the two days. The former decree was only valid for 
the 13 th, and therefore a new one was necessary if the war 
was to be continued. The partisans of Haman were killed in 
the citadel, but not in the city. - Hence Esther's petition. 


She is not satisfied with the slaughter of Hainan's sons. 
They must also be hung up, as Haman was, on the gallows. 
The people should see the destruction of the whole household. 
They should be impressed with the fact that all the leaders of 
the party met the same disgraceful end as their chief. This 
she considers necessary, not only for accentuating her triumph, 
but that it might have a deterring effect. They should have 
a visible demonstration of the end of the enemies of Israel. 
Esther must not be judged by the standard of the love of 
Christ. She and her people were engaged in a battle against 
a powerful party, at whose head was the king himself, and 
she would have succumbed, had she not, in a wonderful 
manner, won him over to her side, and enlisted his participa- 
tion. But that there is a difference between the mode of 
warfare of the Jews and that of their enemies, is seen from 
this, that had they been defeated, all their property would 
have been made booty (chap. iii. 13), while they do not touch 
the property of their enemies. 

That the ten sons of Haman were hung on the same 
gallows as Haman, is not expressly stated in the text. 
The Jewish commentators take the word yv^ for the same 
tree that was used at the hanging of Haman. The manner 
in which the names of the ten sons of Haman are placed in 
Jewish manuscripts and books, viz. in a straight column one 
under the other, is owing to a Midrash. In fact, the later 
Jews show more hatred against Haman and his family than 
even his contemporaries did who were engaged in the strife, 
for it is directed against those who had long ago been 
judged. Yet this hatred is expressive of later experiences. 
They narrate that the ten sons of Haman were so hung 
under each other upon the gallows of fifty cubits, that each 
took up the space of three cubits, leaving the space of one 
cubit between one another, so that all the ten occupied 
forty cubits. The remaining ten cubits on the top was 
occupied by the body of Haman. Thus he crowned the 
summit of the gallows. The picture of the gallows is indi- 

CHAP. IX. 17. 251 

cated by the large \ of the last name. They also tell of a 
mocking conversation which Mordecai carried on with Haman 
when he was on the gallows, and Haman's thoughts. (It 
certainly reminds us of the scorn with which they treated 
Christ on the cross.) They said jestingly, As Haman was 
one with his sons during life, so they must be united in their 
death. Even at the present time they read the ten names 
in the synagogue in one breath, in order to intimate that they 
were all made to expire at one and the same time, as a 
punishment for their wanting to destroy Israel in one day. 
So it was that the battle lasted two days in Shushan, while 
in the other parts of the Persian kingdom it was confined 
to the 13 th day, in accordance with the letter" of the law. 
On the 14th quiet was to be restored. The number of the 
slain, 75,000, sounds dreadful; but when 810 fell in the 
capital alone, the number is proportionally not so large when 
divided between the various places of the kingdom. Human 
life was very cheap in the eyes of a Persian tyrant. 
75,000 men fell in a battle, whose only origin was in 
the circumstance that a decree issued by the king was 

Ver. 17. "And made it a day of feasting and gladness." 
The historical celebration of the feast of Purim is treated 
elsewhere. — We have here an unvarnished picture of the 
life of the ancient world, — how the people, after the trouble 
they had gone through, rejoice and express their joy by 
eating and drinking, just as they before express their sorrow 
by fasting. Above, in the narrative of the fast, God is not 
mentioned before whom they expressed their sorrow in heart- 
felt repentance ; nor is God mentioned now, that they 
expressed their gratitude to Him in the feast of rejoicing. 
Yet there is no meal and no feast among the Jews without 
reference to God and mention of His name. But there is a 
marked difference between the people in captivity and the 
people which Moses brought out of Egypt. The ancient 


Jews used to say, that Haman was in his time the same to 
the Jews that Pharaoh was to that generation. They also 
made it a rule that on a leap year the feast of Purim 
should be kept on the 14th of the second Adar, which in an 
ordinary year would be the feast of Passover. But there is 
a great difference between the solemnity with which the 
Passover was observed and the giddy joy of Purim. In the 
first, the unleavened bread, the Passover lamb, the blood, the 
feast itself, reminded them of sin, repentance, reconciliation, 
and redemption, while in Purim only the voice of exultation 
was and is heard. Passover is therefore in the highest sense 
the feast in which confession is made. Purim represents 
more the character of a national holiday. Therefore also the 
Church of Christ gave great glory to the feast of the Passover, 
while of Purim she took no notice, as it had vanished even 
from the circle of the early Jewish Christians. 

Therefore the Lord's Supper is and should be the fairest 
of all feasts. Nowhere else can or dare one better express 
his gratitude and his joy for redemption and salvation. 

Ver. 19. " The Jeivs of the villages that dwell in unwalled 


Hitherto Dn"i2 and the nins ""ly w^ere taken as people and 
cities of the flat or open country, in contrast to Shushan. 
But the idea that these words are intended to convey is more 
precise. The narrator distinguishes three kinds of Jews. 
First, the Jews in Shushan; secondly, ver. 16, the Jews that 
were in the provinces, ni:nD2 nK^« Dnin\n. The contrast to 
Shushan is the Medina. Thirdly, the Jews who were 
reported D^ian. If these were the same as those in the 
provinces, then they would be mentioned successively twice, 
for it is already said in ver. 17, that on "the 14th day 
they rested, and made it a day of feasting and gladness." 
Moreover, the word Ferazim would have occurred in ver. 17. 
The word therefore, p hv, also shows that the Jews spoken of 
are others, who lived neither in Shushan nor in the Medinoth. 

CHAP. IX. 20. 253 

Undoubtedly nins '•iV are unfortified towns and places in the 
east cauntry, in Turkestan and Taran, on whose extensive 
prairies many Jews were scattered. These words are clearly 
illustrated by Ezek. xxxviii. 11, where nina ny are clearly 
described by nins p5<. He represents there a land having 
cities without walls. The word n2 seems to be related to 
the Greek tto/jo?, " a ford." 

" And of sending portions.'' 
The portion or present niD, both as a noun and a verb, is 
the Greek vefico, with the transposition of m and n. (Probably 
originally fielpo/Mat, fxeipco, belonged also to it, and their relation 
to each is like that between donum and B(opov.) The opinion, 
which is also shared by Fiirst, that Mammon (fiafi/jLOJva) is a 
doubling of ni», is erroneous. The expression Mammon is 
formed of nummus. 

Ver. 20. "And Mordecai v;rote" 
This is a very remarkable fact. It was quite natural for 
the Jews, after receiving the tidings that the king was 
favourably disposed toward them, and that they had gained 
the victory over their enemies, to express their joy by keeping 
a feast. But that this feast should be instituted for all 
times was nevertheless singular, inasmuch as Mordecai 
possessed no spiritual authority to order such a perpetual 
institution. The importance that he possessed, he only 
gained through the influence of Esther. And now he did 
not occupy the place of a synod of the elders, nor of a high 
priest, but the place of the grand vizier at the Persian court. 
It was this position which gave him the authority of ordaining 
a perpetual feast for the Jews. He considered the King of 
Persia as the king of the Jews, and as his representative he 
possessed Jewish-national authority. For, indeed, it was only 
to be a national feast, only a feast in remembrance of the 
victory over their enemies. The letters of Mordecai do not 
prescribe any prayers to be used on the feast, but only the 


making of merriment. There is no reference to any passage 
of Scripture in them, but only a reminder of the present 
wonderful deliverance. Of course, by the remembrance of the 
dangers they had gone through, he wants to strengthen and to 
encourage the hearts of the Jews, but the authority by which 
he commands is solely his own. Hitherto no feasts were 
kept by them save those commanded by Moses in the name 
and by the authority of God. It was to a certain extent a 
feast of the exile, in which also the exiled men became the 
means of deliverance. Mordecai, too, directs his writings 
only to the Jews in the empire of King Ahhashverosh, " both 
nigh and far." 

It is to be observed that the ground here given for enjoining 
the feast is not because the Jews had obtained predominance, 
but the sudden change in their condition from trouble to 
tranquillity, from sorrow to gladness. On such occasions they 
sent to each other presents, according to the ciistom of the 
times ; — but Mordecai was particularly anxious in his letters 
that they should bestow gifts upon the poor. It does not 
appear that Mordecai was conscious, when instituting this 
feast, that he could not enjoin it in the spirit and authority 
of Moses. True, it is added, " and the Jews took upon them " 
(f'npl), they declared their readiness to comply with his order, 
which was easy enough, for people are generally glad to have 
an annual festival of rejoicing, especially under such circum- 
stances ; but there was yet wanting in it any previous con- 
sultation with the people as to whether they wanted to have 
such a feast for all time. It was the same Mordecai that 
ordained it who had procured for them the second decree of 
the king. 

Ver. 23. From the words, "and as Mordecai had 
written," the editor of the book begins to write his 
appendix. Thus far he has given the original narrative. 
Now the style is quite different. He uses quite different 
forms of expressions. The phrase "ison nv ")^N, " he commanded 
by a writing," ver. 25, is only found here. The same idea is 

CHAP. IX. 28. 255 

expressed above only by m in:, ** he gave an order." Again, 
when we read in ver. 24, " Haman devised to destroy them," 
he uses the ^^[^?, which was not used above, and only because 
it is of similar sound with pn. Further, when we read, ver. 
26, they called these days Purim ; with regard to the events 
of this m:t<, " letter," we must understand by the " letter " 
the whole book of Esther, which was sent with a memorandum 
to the Jews. The word does not occur above. Finally, 
when it said (ver. 27), "the Jews took upon them, and upon 
their seed, and upon all such as joined themselves unto them 
(D^i^an-bi))," one understands by this word, which does not 
occur in the real text, and especially from the same word in 
Dan. xi. 34, that it refers to false associates. It appears that 
it is applied not so much to such as were completely con- 
verted to the Jewish faith, as to such as had become friends 
and helpers. The reason why they should also at all times 
keep the feast, is because they must reflect that in case the 
party of Haman had gained the victory, they as friends and 
confederates of the Jews would have perished with them. 
They were those of whom mention is made in chap. viii. 1 7 ; 
and my hypothesis, that we are there to read onn^nD, " they 
united themselves," is thereby confirmed. Were it not so, we 
should not have D''l^jn, but cnj, " proselytes," or a similar word. 

Ver. 28. "And that these days." 

The Jewish commentators conclude from these words that 
the book of Esther was written by inspiration, because it is 
here said, " these days should be remembered, and should not 
fail from the Jews," which must be a prophecy. 

They have indeed been fulfilled, for the feast of Purim 
has never been forgotten by the Jews ; nevertheless, they 
were not spoken in prophetical, but in legislative language. 
These days of Purim shall not fail from among the Jews, nor 
the memorial of them perish from their seed.^ 

^ [Jewish tradition teaches that in the days of Messiah all the feasts shall 
cease except the feast of Purim. — Trans.] 


Ver. 29. "Then Esther the queen, the daughter of Ahihhail, 


This second letter proves more decisively that Esther and 
Mordecai assumed a special authority over the Jews, at least 
in so far as they were connected with the related events. 
The addition here of the words " daughter of Abihhail " is 
borrowed from the solemn introductory sentence of her own 
letter. But the object of the second letter was not merely to 
emphasize and to confirm the first. The emphasis consists 
chiefly in this, that Esther added her authority to that of 
Mordecai. Therefore she inserts the words cipn h22, " with all 
strength or authority." The last expression occurs only once 
more in Daniel, and means " the royal authority," " the 
influence," " the order," of the shah. Eor the celebration of 
the feast of Purim, the royal authority of Esther was made 
use of. Therefore the first word of ver. 29 has in the text a 
large n, thus ninani, to emphasize that the queen herself wrote 
the letter with her own hand. This letter was sent like a 
royal decree to the Jews in all the 127 provinces, and con- 
tained only words of peace and of assurance. It was comfort- 
ing news which Mordecai could communicate in the name of 
Esther. The more so — and this was the second reason for 
the letter — because the Jews, in consideration of what had 
happened, are requested not only to keep the feast with glad- 
ness, but also the previous fast, remembering that Mordecai 
and Esther have themselves fasted during the distress. They 
had in the hour of danger cried to God and totally abstained 
from food. This also should never vanish from the memory 
of the Jews. 

After the despatch of the first letter of Mordecai, it became 
then a serious question whether it was possible to establish 
on his sole authority a feast like the Mosaic ones ; therefore 
the influence of Esther was invoked — and should it be only a 
feast of joy ! If they had passed from sorrow to joy (pi"'o 
r\T\mh), they should not only commemorate the experienced joy, 
but also the sorrow. 

CHAP. IX. 29. 257 

The duty was enforced upon the Jews to imitate every- 
where/and at all times, the example of Esther and Mordecai, 
and to devote one day in the year to fasting and prayer. For 
this the authority of Mordecai alone was not sufficient. 
Therefore it is written (ver. 32), "the commandment of Esther 
confirmed these matters of Purim," and the fast is indeed 
called the fast of Esther, the day before Purim. But that 
this day was originally the 13th of Adar is not expressly 
stated, but it may be supposed so, as the 13 th day was the 
day of distress. It must not be overlooked in confirmation of 
this, that in ver. 31, Mordecai is mentioned before Esther, 
because Mordecai began the fast (iv. 1). We have the word 
niDl^ here, as in iv. 16, of Esther, and DnpVT, as in iv. 1, of 
Mordecai, p])V), " and he cried with a loud and a bitter cry." 

The book properly ends with chap. ix. All is written in 
the book, the event, the help, and the feast. The contents of 
chap. X. are only a historical postscript. 


Ver. 1. "And the king AhhasJiverosh laid a tribute upon 

the landy 

Short as the sentence is, it has yet caused a good deal of 
speculation. It was sought in various ways to explain why 
the narrator made this record. Jewish commentators wanted 
to assume that the king had put all under tribute except the 
Jews, which is by no means intimated. Grotius was of 
opinion that this is stated in order to enhance the merits of 
Mordecai. He exclaims : " Sunt enim Judaei, magni artifices 

More modern commentators, as Bertheau and Schulz, said 
the author wished to show the power of the king. Keil, as 
well as others, thought that he only communicated an item 
from the Persian annals. 

The report must show the bias of the narrator; it con- 
tributes to magnify the wonderful change which the deliver- 
ance of Israel had brought about. The king had given up 
much when he had prevented the destruction of Israel. It 
was not alone that he had renounced the offer of Haman, 
but also the whole property of the Jews, which, if they had 
been cut off, would have become his own in all places of his 
dominion. All this was taken from him. The product of 
the plunder was so much loss for him. With this thought 
the narrator connects the report concerning the tribute. 
Instead of taking away the property of the Jews, he laid a 
tribute upon all. The whole kingdom must make up the 
deficiency which arose from his presenting the Jews with their 
own riches. 

This application of the general historical fact agrees with 

CHAP. X. 1. 259 

the spirit of the whole narrative. In the texts in this verse 
we find mostly tnc^nfc^, while in the other passages it is written 
tJmitJTiK. This is scarcely a mistake of the scribe, but is 
intentional. The two ii in the name Ahhashverosh express 
the woe which the deed of Ahhashverosh occasioned. I go 
so far as to believe that the reading in this verse is the 
proper one, and the other a homiletic corruption, although 
in the last mention of the name it is pointed as in the 
first. In chap. v. 2 we have an imitation of the style of 
the book of Kings. n^riD, as was observed in iv. 7, is 
used in the sense of " the full sum ; " so here it means 
" the distinguished," " the highest," influence of Mordecai. It 
is surprising that Mordecai bears no other title but Yehudi, 
" the Jew." But at that time it was only a national and 
religious epithet. It had not yet received the sarcastic and 
annoying character which was put upon it in later centuries. 
He calls Mordecai "j^oi) n^^D, literally, "the second to the 
king." By which is meant the king's grand vizier, his sub- 
stitute, who was the keeper of the royal seal. That it was a 
general Oriental dignity may be inferred from 2 Chron. xxviii. 
7, where it is told that Zichri slew Elkanah the "jfjion n:^jD. 
It seems to have appeared strange to the narrator that Mor- 
decai, although a captive Jew, should have become royal 
vizier. He was, says he, Dmn^^ hn^, " great among the Jews." 
Just as the king of Persia and the king of Assyria were both 
called h)^^n ^^jd, " the great king," that is, the one who had 
power over the others, so this expression is used with regard to 
Mordecai, he was a great one for the Jews, viz. their repre- 
sentative and their prince of the captivity, as he proved by 
his letters. — And, indeed, he was not like one of the many 
ministers who as Jews held offices in Muhamedan or Christian 
courts, for he had more power than they, and was elevated 
for quite different reasons. The others, not even excepting 
E. Chisdai in Cordova, were raised to their ministerial offices 
on account of their knowledge of finance; but not one of 
them, however highly esteemed and appreciated, " was great 


among the Jews " in the sense in which Mordecai was. He 
was the acknowledged saviour of the life of his king and of 
the lives of the Jews. His only great prototype was Joseph, 
for Daniel, as it seems, possessed only spiritual authority in 

And the power that Mordecai possessed over the Jews 
was popular and pleasing, " accepted (''IV")) of the multitude." 
He did not oppress them ; they, his brethren (vnx) ; he did 
not assume a proud and overbearing air towards them, and 
did not forget in the uniform of the grand vizier the garment 
of the penitent. Why should he not be beloved by them 
when he had promoted their safety and welfare, and made 
arrangements that his posterity should maintain the peace ? 
For this is the sense of n)bli^ nnn, " speaking peace." They 
were not merely words of peace, but he laboured that the 
peace should remain uninterrupted for the present and the 
future, that is, for " his seed " ()^^), viz. " the posterity of the 
people," inasmuch as their enemies had received a mortal 

Alas ! the book closes without further information about 
the end of the king, of Esther, and of Mordecai. But no 
other disturbance occurred, and, in fact, the Jews enjoyed 
prosperity and peace in the Persian kingdom beyond the 
time of Alexander the Great. But we have no more informa- 
tion about such persons as Mordecai and Esther. Later times 
have given us many speculative interpretations, but not facts 
of authentic historical value. 



{Translated from the Aramaic.) 


And it came to pass in tlie days of Ahhashverosli, one of the 
ten kings ^ who once ruled and are to rule the world in the 
future. And these are the ten kings. The first kingdom is 
that of the King of kings, the Lord of hosts, — may it be 
speedily magnified upon us. The second is that of Mmrod, the 
third of Pharaoh, king of Egypt, the fourth of Israel, the fifth 
of Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, the sixth of Ahhashverosh, 
the seventh of Greece, the eighth of Eome, the ninth of the 
King Messiah, the son of David, the tenth (again) of the 
King of kings, the Lord of hosts, — may it be speedily revealed 
to us, and to all the inhabitants of the earth.^ When the 
kingdom of Babylon was about to be destroyed from the 
earth, and its dominion to pass away from it, the inhabitants 
of the country did not know whom they should place as king 

^ In Dan. vii. 24, Rev. xvii. 12, we have i3arallel passages in which the 
rulers of the world are spoken of as ten in number. The idea of such 
universal rulers is more peculiar to the East, where the great shahs have 
always pretended to be rulers of the world. Of Kai Kawus says Firdussi, 
among other things, — 

" Now Kawus as king in the place of his father succeeded, 
And all the world was to him subjected. 
Now he saw that the earth quaked and trembled." 

This idea is more largely developed in a mythic-dogmatic way in the 
" Tshakravartins " of the Buddhists. Tshakravartin was lord of the wheel, 
i.e. of the world. Universal kings were the lords of the ages. It must be 
so understood if one of these Tshakravartins appears to be lord of the iron 
wheel, another of that of brass, another of that of silver, and another of that 
of gold (Remusat on Foe-koue-ki, Paris 1836, p. 134). Buddha had the 
choice, according to the legend, of becoming either a Tshakravartin or an 
ascetic. He chose the last (comp. Matt. iv. 8). 

2 Comp. 1 Cor. xv. 23-28. 


over them. And when Nebuchadnezzar, tlie king of Babylon, 
died, Evil-Merodach succeeded him, and the inhabitants of 
the country did not want to raise him over them. For they 
answered and said to him, " Thy father Nebuchadnezzar had 
not his dwelling with men, and how shall we place thee 
over us ? Thy father Nebuchadnezzar may perhaps of a 
sudden turn up, and come upon us and kill us." When 
Evil-Merodach heard these words of the people of his 
country, he said to them, "My father Nebuchadnezzar is 
surely dead and is removed from the world, and yet until 
now you do not believe it." They rejoined, " Nebuchadnezzar 
thy father made the whole earth tremble, and all the king- 
doms thereof; for concerning him it is expressly written: 
' Is this the man that made the earth to tremble, that did 
shake kingdoms ? ' " (Isa. xiv. 16). What did Evil-Merodach 
do at that time ? He went to the treasuries of the king, and 
brought out from these chains of iron and of brass, and threw 
them upon the soles of Nebuchadnezzar his father,^ and 
dragged him out of his grave. As it is written concerning 
him : " But thou art cast forth away from thy sepulchre like 

1 It was the exposition of Isa. xiv. 19 that gave rise to the above legend, 
which is mentioned by all commentators also on 2 Kings xxv. 27 (comp. 
Munk, p. 12). Nebuchadnezzar appeared as a type of all persecutors and 
destroyers. They saw in him a national warning for all time. Moreover, 
we have here represented historical experiences of the Jews. Nebuchad- 
nezzar, as is seen from Dan. iv. 30, had for a long time been subject to a 
fearful disease which made him incapable of governing. At that time, 
says the legend, Evil-Merodach ruled in his stead. But when Nebuchad- 
nezzar recovered, and found his son upon the throne, he threw him into 
prison. When he again claimed the throne, the Babylonians, as is said 
above, refused to reinstate him, and wanted to be certain that the king 
was dead. The Jews experienced a similar fate when a rumour was spread 
for the purpose of raising a revolt that Herodos had died. They were 
severely punished for that (Josephus, Antiq. xAdi. 6). He also reports 
that similar dangers arose with reference to Agrippa, the favourite of 
Caligula, after the decease of the Emperor Tiberius (Josephus, Antiq. 
xviii. 6). The legend displays national animus when it represents Evil- 
Merodach treating his father in such a manner as only enemies were 
wont to do. The narrative of Herodotus (iii. 16) is also important to the 
expositor of Isaiah. He tells of Cambyses, " That he caused the corpse of 
Amasis to be taken out of the grave . . . and ordered to beat it, to tear 


an abominable branch " (ibid.). And when the people saw 
that Evil-Merodach had done the will of his heavenly Father, 
they all rose up with great rejoicing, and they clothed him 
with the beautiful purple of the kingdom, and rendered him 
much honour and glory. Then Daniel, the man greatly 
beloved, said to Evil-Merodach : " Thy father Nebuchadnezzar 
never in all his days set the prisoners free, for thus Scripture 
says of him, ' that let not loose his prisoners to their home ' 
(Isa. xiv. 17). And when the enemies of the Jews filled up 
their measure of guilt,-^ then Nebuchadnezzar thy father 
equipped himself, and went up against them, and destroyed 
their land, and plundered the city of Jerusalem, and burned 
the holy house with fire, and took the people of Israel captive, 
and brought them to Babylon, and with them Jehoiachin, 
king of Judah, whom he bound and kept in prison for 
thirty-seven years, because he had not submitted to the 
will of his heavenly Father. Nebuchadnezzar was also 
exceedingly haughty, and said. There is no king and ruler 
beside me. As the Scripture expressly says concerning him : 
* I will ascend above the heights of the clouds ' " (Isa. xiv. 1 4). 

out the hairs, to prick it, and to treat it with all possible disgrace." 
Homer narrates at the end of the Iliad that the wrathful Achilles ill- 
treated Hector in a similar manner. The same happened among the 
Eomans. The Koman people thus ill-treated Strabo, the father of 
Pompeius (Plut. Life of Pomp. cap. 1). When the Emperor Commodus 
died, we read (Lampridius, Vit. Oommod. cap. xvii.) : " Corpus ejus 
ut uneo traheretur atque in Tiberim mitteretur senatus et populus 
postulavit." The same was done before to Vitellius, as Suetonius (cap. 
xvii.) reports. Christian Eome and Constantinople have also witnessed 
such scenes. 

[The friendliness with which the legend treats Evil-Merodach has its 
origin in 2 Kings xxv. 27. The Talmud (Berachoth 106) records that 
Hezekiah dragged the bones of his father Ahaz on a bed of ropes. Munk 
may have understood it in a Rabbinical sense, i.e. when the Jews have to 
say something unpleasant of themselves, they speak in the third person. 
See Rashi on Ex. i. 11. — Trans.] 

1 The expression "•j^linn pn"'5<JD U'^^nDNl^l must be translated as we 
have done, and not as Munk (p. 14), " when the measure of the sins of the 
Jews was full." It expresses that when judgment should come upon the 
enemies of Israel they attacked them, for their judgment proceeded from 
their hostility to Israel. 


In that hour Evil-Merodach did^ the will of his heavenly 
Father, and went to the prison and liberated Jehoiachin, son 
of Jehoiakim, king of the tribe of Judah, and they brought out 
all the prisoners with him. What did Evil-Merodach further ? 
He then went to the royal treasuries, and brought out from 
there the best balms and all kinds of aromatics, and then 
washed and anointed him (Jehoiachin), and put royal garments 
upon him, and allowed him to eat at his table all the days of 
his life. From him Darius the Mede received the kingdom. 

That Ahhashverosh, the Persian king, son of Darius, the 
Median king, that Ahhashverosh (is it) who ordered wine to 
be brought from a hundred and twenty-seven provinces for a 
hundred and twenty-seven kings who waited before him, in 
order that every one of them should drink the wine of his 
own country which would not injure him. It is that 
wicked King Ahhashverosh, that fool, w^ho said, " Eather let 
my kingdom be destroyed than that my decree should not be 
obeyed." That Ahhashverosh whose counsels were perverse, 
and whose orders were not right. That Ahhashverosh who 
commanded that Queen Yashti should appear naked before 
him, but she did not appear. That Ahhashverosh in whose 
time the house of Israel was sold for nought, as it is written : 
" Ye were sold for nought." That Ahhashverosh in whose 
time Israel's face became black like the sides of a cooking 
vessel. That Ahhashverosh who ordered to bring cedars 
from Lebanon and gold from Ophir, but it did not come. 
That Ahhashverosh in whose days was fulfilled what is 
written in the law of Moses concerning Israel : " In the 
morning thou shalt say, Would God it were even 1 " (Deut. 
xxviii. 6*7). There are five men in connection with whom 
the relative «in is written who are called wicked, and five 
others who are called righteous. The righteous with whom 
«in is written are : Abraham, Aaron and Moses, Moses and 
Aaron, Hezekiah, Ezra. The five wicked men are : Nimrod, 
of whom it is written, " He (t^in) was a mighty hunter " 
1 Some editions read "i^D instead of l^y. 


(Gen. X. 8). Esau, of whom it is written, " Esau («in) is Edom " 
(Geu. xxxvi. 8) ; that Dathan and Abiram, that King Ahaz, 
that Ahhashverosh. And as the last made promises and did 
not keep them, his days were shortened ; yet he ruled from 
Hodu in the west unto Gush in the east, over a hundred and 
tv/enty-seven provinces. That Ahhashverosh was it who 
killed his wife for the sake of his friend, and who killed his 
friend Haman for the sake of his wife. That Ahhashverosh 
who ruled from Hodu to Gush. But were not Hodu and 
Gush near each other ? The sense is this : As he ruled 
over Hodu and Gush, which are near each other, so he held 
unlimited sway over a hundred and twenty-seven provinces 
and the governments that belonged to them. Similar to 
this, thou findest in reference to King Solomon, " He ruled 
over the whole side of the river from Tiphsah unto Gaza " 
(1 Kings V. 4). Were not Tiphsah and Gaza near to each 
other ? But the meaning is, as he ruled over the Tiphsah 
and Gaza, so he ruled over the whole region of the side of 
the stream of the world. There were four men who ruled from 
one end of the world to the other. Two of them belonged 
to the nations of the world, and two to Israel. Solomon 
and Ahab were of Israel. In connection with Solomon it is 
written as said already. Goncerning Ahab it is said, " Is 
there anywhere a ^people or a kingdom ? " The universal 
kings from the nations are Nebuchadnezzar and Ahhashverosh, 
only the extent of the latter's kingdom was shortened, and 
he ruled but over a hundred and twenty-seven provinces. 
But why did he deserve to rule over a hundred and twenty- 
seven provinces ? Because God said, " He will in the 
future take Esther to wife, who is a descendant of Sarah that 
lived a hundred and twenty-seven years, so she shall rule 
over a hundred and twenty-seven provinces." 

§ II- 

In those days, when the king Ahhashverosh sat upon his 
throne, which was prepared for him in Shushan the capital. 


This throne was neither his own nor that of his father's, but 
it was the throne of Solomon, which Hiram, the son of a 
widow of Tyre, had made with great skill. It was this King 
Solomon whom the Holy One, blessed be He ! set to reign 
from one end of the world to the other. He chose him 
before he was born, loved him when he was yet in his 
mother's womb, revealed to him hidden mysteries, and 
showed him deep hidden things. He gave him knowledge 
and wisdom, and an understanding heart from the very 
beginning. He looked through the persons who came to 
him to adjudicate their differences so that they could not 
say what was false before him, for he knew to distinguish 
between, him who was right and him who was wrong. The 
Lord bestowed upon him splendour and glory, put the royal 
crown upon his head, and invested him with grace and 
mercy, as He did once to his father David all his days. 
He was twenty-three^ years old on the first day when he 
received the kingdom. They called him Jedidiah (beloved), 
because he was beloved of the King of the world, of the 
Lord of hosts. Thus it is written (and the Lord loved him) : 
" And He sent by the hand of IsTathan the prophet, and he 
called his name Jedidiah" (2 Sam. xii. 25). They called 
him Solomon (peace), because there was peace in his days. 
For thus it is written : " And Judah and Israel dwelt safely." 
They called him Ben^ (builder), because he built the temple, 

1 n instead of tD- 

2 The glorifying of Solomon in the Jewish legend has its ground in 
its opposition to Christianity (see my Kaiser und Konigsthrone, p. 60). 
What belonged to the Messiah, the son of David, was transferred to 
Solomon. The names in Prov. xxx. 1, with the exception of Agiir, are 
here applied to Solomon. Ben is taken in the sense of builder (not son), 
to give the idea of stone, px (as Ben and Ibn). For Christ is also called 
stone (lapis herillis^ in Isa.). When the Targumist says that he is called 
Yaka, because he was king and lord over the nations, it is because he 
sees in t?tJ*Dn Np'' a correspondence to X!^Dn "^"O, and derives it from the 
Greek viysu oiya, or we consider Np^ = i<p3 = «j/e6i. In Bemidbar Kabba, 
cap. 10 (ed. Amst. 199a), seven names of Solomon are enumerated : 
Solomon Koheleth, Jedidiah, Agur, Ben, Yaka, Lemiel, and Ethiel, and 
80 Ben and Yaka are not separated. 


as it is written : " I have built Thee an house of habitation " 
(2 Chron. vi. 2). They called him Ethi-el, " God is with 
me/' because the Word of God was his assistance. And 
so it is written : " He was wiser than all men." He was 
called Yaka (commander of obedience) because he was lord 
and ruler over all the kings of the earth, east and west. 
And so it is written : " Solomon sat upon the throne of his 
father David." All the kingdoms feared him, nations and 
languages were obedient to him ; devils, demons,^ and ferocious 
beasts, evil spirits and accidents, were delivered into his 
hands. Imps brought him all kinds of fish from the sea, 
and the fowls of heaven, together with the cattle and wild 
animals, came of their own accord to his slaughter - house 
to be slaughtered for his banquet. He was rich and powerful 
in the possession of much silver and gold. He explained 
parables, solved hidden problems, and made known mysteries 
without end. His enemies and adversaries became his 
friends, and all the kings obeyed him. All came to see 
his face, and longed to hear words of his knowledge. The 
High One elevated and exalted him for the sake of David 
His servant. His fame was spread among the kings, and 
his power among the wise. He was perfect and true, 
shunned evil, understood the mysteries of heaven, and was 
wise in divine things. His kingdom was more powerful 
than all the kingdoms, and his understanding was greater 
than that of all the children of Mahhol (the globe). They 
heard everywhere of his fame and of his wise sayings, and 
all came to salute him. All the kings loved him; all 
governors trembled before him ; they brought him their 
sons and daughters to be his servants, and to run before 
him ; they desired to sit before him, and yearned to hear 
the words of his mouth and his wisdom. When he began 
'^ to speak, they knelt and prostrated themselves before him ; 
all who were about to come to him neglected and despised 
their cities, even hated their places and countries, and came 
1 p^-ii) is by mistake omitted in Amst. ed. 


to hear amiable words of wisdom from his lips with which 
he manifested the j)raise of the Lord of lords. When he 
opened his mouth, he spake like a trumpet the praise to 
the Most High King. To him was given a large key whereby 
to open the gates of wisdom and understanding of the heart. 
He understood the languaires of birds and of animals, staiirs 
and rams ran at his command, lions and tigers seized weapons 
before him. He understood languages better than all nations, 
he instructed all schools, all kings and queens trembled before 
him. All rulers were seized with terror, to him was given 
the crown of victory, he subdued all men, he was the head 
of all kings, and (through his influence) no kingdom could 
take up weapons against another.^ All kings shook before 
him, all countries revealed mysteries to him, so that he 
knew all the secrets of men ; because he did works of 
righteousness and charity, he was from the beginning worthy 
to be king in this world, and he shall be worthy in the 
world to come.^ 

§ HI. 

This King Solomon was it who had caused a glorious 
royal throne to be made, covered with gold from Ophir, 
overlaid with beryl stones, brilliants,^ marble, samaragel, 
carbuncle, diamonds, pearls, and other precious stones.* 

For no king was the throne made like it, and no kingdom 

1 To be read ^n. 

2 The discovery is higlily interesting, that the praise here given to 
Solomon consists of two alphabetical acrostics, which even compilers of 
the Targums had failed to notice. The acrostic is forward and backward, 
and can only be seen in the original. This also is a contrasting imitation 
of the Byzantian acrostical song of praise in reference to Christ. 

3 The SV"*!; ^J3S are lustrous stones. p^ = j^|, as nTJ = 1V3. p^ is 
applied to things white and shining, to the ornament worn by the high 
priest upon his forehead, and to white blossom ; as |>yj, to shine, and 
p, blossom (comp. my treatise on " Nazareth " in IFege nach Damascus, ' 
p. 11). 

* Bead p3113nD and not p:nD13, viz. chalcedony, which the Targum 
has for the Hebrew ubn\ For ontJ^ it has pi)"lU, beryllus. From this is 
derived the French word " briller." 


could produce similar ones. This throne was made as 
follows: Twelve lions of gold stood upon it, and opposite 
to them twelve eagles of gold, a lion opposite an eagle, 
and an eagle opposite a lion. The right paw of the golden 
lion was toward the left wing of the golden eagle, and the 
left wing of the golden eagle was toward the right paw 
of the golden lion. The sum of all the lions upon it was 
seventy - two, and there were the same number of eagles. 
Towards the top, where the king's seat was, the throne was 
round. It had six steps of gold, as it is written : " The 
king made a throne of ivory, and this throne had six steps." 
Upon the first step lay a golden ox, and opposite to it a 
golden lion; upon the second step lay a golden bear, and 
opposite to it a golden lamb ; upon the third step lay a 
golden panther, and opposite to it a golden owl ; upon the 
fourth step lay a golden eagle, and opposite to it a golden 
peacock ; upon the fifth step lay a golden cat, and opposite 
to it a golden hen ; and upon the sixth step lay a golden 
hawk, and opposite to it -a golden dove. Upon the throne 
stood likewise a golden dove, holding a golden hawk in 
its claws. Thus one day will all the nations and languages 
be delivered into the hands of King Messiah, and into the 
hands of the house of Israel. Upon the top of the throne 
stood a candlestick, properly arranged with lamps, ornaments 
(or pomegranates), snuffers, ash-pans, cups, and lilies. To one 
side of the shaft were attached seven pipes, upon which the 
pictures of the seven patriarchs were engraven. The names 
of these are as follows : Adam, Noah, his eldest son Shem, 
Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Job among them. To the 
other side of the shaft were likewise attached seven pipes, 
upon which were represented seven pious men of the world, 
whose names are : Levi, Kehath, Amram, Moses, Aaron, 
Eldad, Medad, and the prophet Haggai among them (or 
rather Hur).^ Upon the top of the candlestick stood a golden 

1 The proper reading is "i"in, for Haggai was not, of course, in the time of 
Solomon. The reading of '•jn must have arisen from the word s-^aj. Hur 


jar filled with the purest olive oil which suj^plied the lamps 
of the temple ; and under it was a great golden vessel con- 
taining the purest olive oil which supplied the lamps of 
the candlestick, and upon it was portrayed the high priest. 
Two branches proceeded from this great vessel, and upon 
them were depicted the two sons of Eli, namely, Hophni 
and Phinehas,^ and out of these branches proceeded two 
pipes bearing the pictures of two sons of Aaron, viz. 
Kadab and Abihu. There were also upon it two seats of 
gold, one for the high priest and the other for the vice high 
priest. Towards the top of the throne were attached seventy 
golden chairs, upon which sat the seventy Synhedrists 
as judges before Solomon. Two doves were sitting, one on 
each side of the ears of Solomon, in order that he should 
not be frightened (at the tumult of the judges). On the 
upper side of the throne were placed twenty -four vines 
of gold, which formed a shade for the king. And wherever 
Solomon wanted to go, the throne moved under him upon 
wheels. When he placed his foot upon the first step, the 
golden ox raised him to the second, and so it went from 
the second to the third, from the third to the fourth, from 
the fourth to the fifth, and from the fifth to the sixth, where 
the eagles took hold of him and seated him upon the throne. 
There was also a serpent of silver around the wheels. 

When the kings heard the fame of the royal throne of 

was the father ot the architect Bezaleel, and stands everywhere near 
Moses and Aaron. The Midrash represents him as a martyr. The 
jjeople wanted him to make the golden calf, which he refused to do, and 
therefore they killed him. Shemoth Kabba, cap. 41, 42, ed. Amst. p. 139. 
inii^ IJim lino bn:> n\i^ HM ^6- The legend seems to have arisen for 
the sake of excusing Aaron, to show that his life also was in danger. 

1 From 1 Sam. ii. it appears clearly that the two sons of Eli were not 
virtuous and exemplary characters. And yet the Midrash (Beresh, cap. 54, 
ed. Amst. 49a) represents God as saying to Abraham : Thou hast offered 
seven lambs, and so the Philistines will slay thy seven righteous (D''pnv), 
among whom Hophni and Phinehas stand first. This legendary view of 
their character, though in opposition to the view of Scripture, occasioned 
their being depicted upon the candlestick. It displays a desire to 
pei^petuate the fame of their priest warriors. 


King Solomon, they assembled themselves and came and 
bowed before him, and exclaimed : No such throne was ever 
made for any king, and no nation can manufacture its like ! 
And when the kings saw its glory, they prostrated themselves 
and praised the Creator of the World. As oft as King 
Solomon ascended the throne and sat down, the crown was 
placed upon his head, and after this a great serpent artificially 
wound itself, and also lions and eagles rose up and artificially 
shaded his head, a golden dove descended from one pillar, 
opened a cabinet and took out the book of the law and placed 
it in his hands, in accordance with the words of Moses : " And 
it shall be with him, and he shall read therein all the days of 
his life," that he and his sons may long reign in Israel. 

When the high priest came to salute King Solomon, and 
all the elders sat on the right and on the left of the throne to 
administer justice, and there appeared witnesses who wanted 
to bear false testimony before Solomon, then the wheels 
moved artificially, the oxen lowed, the lions roared,^ the bears 
growled, the lambs bleated, the panthers yelled, the owls 
hooted, the cats mewed, the peacocks shrieked, the cocks 
crowed, the hawks screamed, and the birds chirped, and caused 
terror in the hearts of the false witnesses, so that they said to 
themselves : " We must bear witness to the truth ; if not, the 
world will be destroyed on account of us." When King 
Solomon went up upon the throne, rivers of spices flowed ; and 
no other king had such a throne. And when the enemies of 
Israel reached the height of their guilt (see above), the wicked 

^ The words describing the voices of the animals are in my edition ot 
the Targum emended, py^ is used of lambs, but of the panther should 
be used pys (boare). In reference to the voice of cats, instead of |''D''"'tD read 
J''D''^D (miza mica, etc.). Of peacocks, instead of p^^''^ read p^^JSO (pupulare). 
Of a bear may be said pat^riD, but of a hawk must be {'•DQDD. as it is called 
pipitare, pipare, piplire. Comp. my Kaiser und Konigsthrone, p. 140. 

|V3 ""J^, elsewhere t<^fJ "13. Levi quotes a MS: on Job xxxix. 29, where 
the last occurs. The expression son of p is somewhat strange. It is 
certainly a kind of Nisus, by which the sea eagle, the sparrow, and the 
hawk is sometimes denominated. The name arises from the rapidity of 
the flight of the bird. 



Nebuchadnezzar equipped himself. He went up against them, 
destroyed their land, plundered the city of Jerusalem, burned 
the temple, took the people of Israel captive, and brought 
them to Diblah in the land of Hamath ; and with them he 
also brought the throne of Solomon, And when the wicked 
King Nebuchadnezzar wanted to ascend and seat himself upon 
the throne, he did not know that an ascent was effected by 
artificial means, and so when he put his foot upon the first 
step, a golden lion stretched out his riglit paw, and gave him 
a blow upon his left foot, so that he became lame until the 
day of his death.^ 

After the Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar, came Alex- 
ander the Macedonian and took the throne of Solomon, and 
brought it to Egypt. When Shishak, king of Egypt, saw this 
throne, and that it surpassed in beauty all the royal thrones, 
he wanted to seat himself upon it ; but he also did not know 
that he must ascend by means of artificial wheels, and so 
when he put his foot upon the first step, a golden lion 
stretched out his right paw and smote him upon his left foot, 
and so he was called the lame Pharaoh unto the day of his 

^ These remarks are legendary, but they contain historical impressions. 
The occasion for them was given by King Necho. He slew Josiah, and 
heavily taxed Jerusalem. The name was translated the lame (as if it had 
been derived from 5^33). Another Egyptian king, p^^% plundered 
Jerusalem in the time of Rehoboam (1 Kings xiv. 26), and the quality of 
lameness was ascribed to him, as if his name is derived from pic^, " a leg.'' 
But although this is said of Nebuchadnezzar, yet a political allusion to a 
later time is easily discerned. Nebuchadnezzar stands for the Roman 
emperor who also destroyed Jerusalem. The war began under Claudius 
Nero, and Claudius is derived from Claudus, " lame." It is interesting 
to note that the leader of the Vandals, Genseric (Geiserich), who took 
away from the Romans the Jerusalem temple treasures and carried them 
to Africa (Procop. Vand. ii. 9 ; comp. Papencordt, Vandalen, p. 350), was 
lame (Jordanes, Get. 53), " equi casu claudicans." A remarkable parallel 
to the throne of Solomon is found in the Mongolian legend (comp. Jlilg, 
Mongalische Miihrehen, p. 206). A golden throne is shown ; upon thirty- 
two steps stand thirty-two wooden figures. It was the throne of the 
god Churmista, and after him the throne of the king Vikramaditja. 
When Ardshi Bordshi wanted to sit down upon it, the wooden figures did 
beat and push him, and said, " If thou dost sit down upon it, thou wilt 
die." Then he and his people prayed. 


death. And wlien Epiphanes/ son of King Antioclms, came 
to Egypt and destroyed it, he took with him the throne of 
Solomon and brought it into a ship. There a leg of the throne 
with the chain of gold was broken, and they brought all the 
artists and goldsmiths of the world to repair it, but they could 
not do it until this day. 

And when his kingdom was at an end, and Cyrus the Persian 
rose up after him, he for the sake of building the temple had the 
merit of being able to ascend and seat himself upon the throne 
of Solomon, the like of which there was not in all the kingdoms. 

§ IV. 

In the third year of King Nebuchadnezzar the house of 
Israel wept, groaned, sighed, and exclaimed : " Woe to us ! 
the enemy has prevailed over us, he has plundered our land, 
destroyed our provinces, carried us into exile, and has done 
every injustice against us. Our old men he put in chains, 
our princes he dragged away, our young men he slew with the 
sword, and our children he took captive ! Ah ! the crown of 
our glory is taken from us." For when the kings of the 
house of David were in existence they reigned over the whole 
world. After David succeeded Solomon his son, whom the 
Holy One, blessed be He ! made to rule over all the beasts of 
the field, and over the fowls of the air, and over the creeping 
things of the earth, and over devils, demons, and spirits, whose 
language he understood as they also understood his. For thus 
it is written: "And he spake of trees" (1 Kings iv. 33). 

And when the heart of King Solomon was once merry with 
wine, he sent to invite all the kings of the East and of the 
West who were near the land of Israel, and he lodged them 
in the royal palace.^ And when again merry with wine, he 
ordered that the violins, cymbals, tambourines, and harps upon 

^ Read instead of D''J"lS^iX. 

^ Concerning the Solomonic legend, I have treated in my "Thron 
Salomo's" {Wissenscfiaftl. Bericht der Erfurter Akadamie, 1851) in my 
Kaiser und Konigsthrone, Berlin 1873, and in the treatise Schamir (Erfurt 


which his father played should be brought to liim. And, 
further merry with wine, he commanded the wild beasts, the 
birds, the reptiles, the devils, demons, and spirits to be brought, 
that they should dance before him, to show his greatness to 
the kings who were staying with him. The royal scribes 
called them all by their names, and they came together with- 
out being bound or ibrced, and without even a man leading 
them. At that time, the cock of the wood was missed among 
the fowls, and was not found. Then the king commanded in 
anger that he should appear before him, or else he would 
destroy him. Then the cock of the wood answered and said 
to King Solomon : " lord of the earth, incline thine ears 
and hear my words. Are there not tln-ee months since thou 
hast put counsel in my heart and words of truth upon my 
tongue ? Since then I have not eaten any food, nor drank 
any water, and have flown all over the world and made an 
inspection. I thought, Is there a country or a kingdom which 
is not subject to my lord the king ? Then I saw a certain 
country, the name of whose fortified town is Kitor,^ whose 

^ "l^DV is from n"lDp, " frankincense." Salja, in Arabia, was famous for 
frankincense. Many authors report of it (comp. Kitter, Weihrauch und 
JVeihrauchland in Arahien, xii. p. 356). The note of Strabo is interesting 
when lie says: "roaxvrcc. o' sari ro ttA'^^o? (of frankincense) coar oivrl (tpvyu- 
uuu Kiel rv]g xxvaif^ov v7^r,i- y^pvjiGui Ktuucifio^urj) kuI "hotii'oc kui roig oeAAo/j . . . 
£% 'hi iy.7:op'iocg ovroi rs (the Sabeans) koci Ysppxlot 'Vhovaiuroirot ttxvtom/ sh'iu, 
£)C<^vai T£ Troif/.TrT^Ti&'yjx, utocoksv^v ^cpviuf^ocTUv T£ Kxl »ypvpa[/,ccro}'j, yJhivov n 

KOCl rpiTTohuV Kul KpoClVipOW GVV '^JCTTUflCtdl KCll T^ TUV OiKUV '7: UKVT ihi'l (X. Kul yup 

ffvpoifiuroe. kolI rdly^ot kocI cpo(pxi Oi t'hi^ct.VTOg kxI 'Kpvaoi' kxI ocpyvpov 'hi6oKO>.- 
TiTiTov rvyxavii li wtt oi Ki'Afii v x" (Mh. xvi. 4, § 19, ed. Paris, p. 662). "There 
is such a great quantity of frankincense that they use cinnamon and cassia 
for fuel instead of faggots and other firewood. Through this commerce, 
the Sabeans and the Gerrhaons are the richest of all, and they have a great 
number of gold and silver vessels, of beds, tripods, basins, together with 
cups and the whole decoration of the houses. Even the doors, walls, and 
ceilings are decorated with gold, silver, and ivory." Kemarkable details, 
which Ritter had overlooked, are in the fragments of Juba (Fragm. Histor, 
Graecor. iii. 479). Strabo says also : " On account of abundance of servants, 
the inhabitants are lazy and careless in their manner of life." The authors 
from which Strabo drew his information tell indeed a strange story of a 
king of Saba : " It has a king who presides over the court of justice and 
other things. He is not allowed to leave the palace, the people would at 


dust is more precious than gold, and where silver lies about 
like dung in the streets. Trees also are there standing from 
primeval times, and are watered from the garden of Eden. 
Great crowds of people are there from the garden of Eden, 
having crowns upon their heads, who know nothing of warfare, 
nor can they draw the bow. For, indeed, I have seen one 

once stone him, in consequence of a saying of an oracle. Not only he, 
but also all his companions live in effeminate luxury." The Targum 
evidently regards Saba as Arabia. A curious oj)inion is found in the 
Targum on Job i. 15, where, on the words, "and the Sabeans fell upon 
tliem," it says : p^TliQ'Tl "IJIIDT D^^O JT'^"'^. This hitherto unexplained 
passage is interesting. It should be read, not }iym2"n, but jliTniOTl, viz. 
the Mauritians. The Targum Jerushalmi on Gen. x. 7 has for Saba and 
Dedan :iTDl 1^112'!- Instead of njiDT should be read IJilJOJ or nnjij, viz. 
Nigrotes, and ||tD for ^fo, the Musones, well-known Mauri tanian nations. 
The Targum on Job understands the peoples who fell upon the sons of 
Job to have been Moors, black people (hence Nigros, from Niger, Mauri- 
tanians). From this is seen why the queen is called n'h*'?, who is also 
vmderstood as a night spectre, from np*"^, night. Such a one appears here 
as queen and murderess, because Satan, who is also called the black one 
(Shahhr), has caused her to be so. There was also a tradition that the 
Queen of Saba came from Ethiopia, as even Josephus reports {Antiq. viii. 
6. 5). An opinion had therefore arisen that Cush stood at the head of the 
whole race. As T\'h'h is here, and ^h'h, spectres, is in the text several 
times spoken of, I shall add a note upon the peculiar story of Jerushalmi 
Hhagiga, because the word D"'"'i< which occurs there was not j)roperly under- 
stood either by Rapaport {Erech Millin, sub wee) or by Wiinsche {Jerus. 
Talmud, p. 181). It is there told that R. Simon ben Shetahh was judging 
eighty witches in Askalon. He went there with eighty young men whom 
he had concealed. He called the witches D''''^, D''''X ; hut the name is not 
Greek, — it is not companions, — but rather refers to Jer. 1. 39. The Arabic is 
bne avri, from morning, as Delitzsch has already explained it, according to 
Bochart (i. 848). Jerome renders this w^ord by Fauni, "a spirit of the forest." 
The Syriac version renders it by Sirens, which on the whole is correct. 

It is also instructive that the Targum on Jer. renders O'lij^ by |''7inn, 
cats. The witches, according to the opinion of the ancients, appeared in 
the form of cats (comp. Grimm, MytJiol. 1051 ; also Ausland, 1855, Nr. 
62, p. 500 ; my Sunem, vol. vii. 256). The people called the witches by 
such and other names (like weather-cats, thunder-cats, etc.). The saying 
also of Simon ben Shetahh to the young men, that they must lift them up 
from the earth in order that they should no more be injurious, wap in 
accordance with the common notion. It was, e.g., taught in connection 
with lawsuits about witches, that they should not be permitted to touch 
the ground, otherwise they would again become transformed (comp. 
Grimm, Mythol. p. 1028). We are reminded of similar ideas in the con- 
flict between Heracles and Antaeus. 


woman who rules over them all, and her name is Queen of 
Saba. Now, if it please my lord the king, I shall gird my 
loins like a mighty man, and shall arise and go to the city 
of Kitor, in the land of Saba, and shall bind its kings and 
governor in chains of iron, and shall bring them to my lord 
the king." This speech pleased the king, and royal scribes 
were called, a letter was written and tied to the wings of the 
cock of the wood, who lifted up his wings and soared up in 
the air, and compelled other birds to fly with it. Then they 
came to the city of Kitor, in the land of Saba. Toward 
morning the queen went out to worship the sea, when the 
birds obscured the sunlight, so that the queen out of astonish- 
ment took hold of her clothes and tore them in pieces. The 
cock of the wood now came down, and she observed that a 
letter was tied to its wings, which she at once opened and 
read what was written therein, as follows : " From me. King 
Solomon, peace to thee and to thy princes. Thou must 
certainly know that the Holy One, blessed be He ! made me 
to rule over the wild beasts, over the fowls of the air, over 
devils, demons, and spirits, and that all the kings of the East 
and of the West, of the South and of the North, come to 
salute me. If thou wilt come and salute me, I shall show 
thee greater dignity than I shall show to all the kings that 
are sojourning with me ; but if thou wilt not come to salute 
me, I shall send kings, legions, and riders against thee. But 
if thou wilt ask. What sort of kings, legions, and riders has 
King Solomon ? So know, that the wild beasts are the kings 
and the legions, and the riders are the birds in the air. My 
army consists of devils, demons, and spirits, who will strangle 
you in your beds, the wild beasts will kill you in your houses, 
and the fowls of the air will devour your flesh in the field." 
When the queen heard the words of the letter she again rent 
her clothes. Then she sent for the elders and prominent men, 
and said to them, " Do you know what King Solomon has 
sent to me ? " They answered, " We do not know Solomon, 
nor do we esteem his kingdom." But she did not trust them, 


nor listen to their words, but caused all the ships to be 
collected and loaded with presents of pearls and of precious 
stones. And she also sent him six thousand boys and girls 
who were born in the same year, month, day, and hour, and 
who were of the same stature and of the same proportion ; 
and they were all dressed in purple.^ 

^ 5<J"i:nX i^K^nf', purple garments, pjnj^ is tlie known Hebrew pi"lX ; the 
p and p are undoubtedly corresponding terminations. The letters m and 
n exchange in all languages (comp. heav-en and himmel, etc.). j-ij5 is 
found again in the Greek ctAoy/iyoV, purple-dyed, namely a A, sea, and g/sy, 
which has nothing to do with soyog, work. Pape's explanation, that it 
means sea- work, is ])eculiar in connection with the significance of dye. It 
surely means the shell-fish from which the purple dye is extracted, just as 
in Latin murex comes from mare. The words Sili"lt< Xt^^3P correspond 
to blatteae vestes ; hlatta is also properly a worm. That hlatteus came to 
mean purple, is to be explained from the use of purple silk. Silk and 
purple-silk are identical, and blatteus of silk is connected with words in 
which it means only purple-dyed, like blatteus colour. Eutrop. speaks of 
Uattei funes. A senator was called blattifer. From this the use has 
arisen of even saying, sericoblatta and pallium hlattoserium (comp. Gerard, 
Joh. Voss. de theologia Gentili, p. 1612). From this promiscuous use of 
purple dye and of silk material arose the expression of " silkworm " and 
" purple worm ; " but we shall touch upon this afterwards. About the 
names of silk there is yet something to be said. In the Mishna (Kilayim, 
§ 9. 1) the word ^^^ stands near D"''T'JJ^, which scholars have long ago 
recognised as related to sericum. But the opinion that D''1"'K^ must be 
read somewhat like sei'is or serie cannot be allowed, for even the 
Armenians also, the great merchants, say sheram for " silk." ^ More 
interesting and difficult is the word which the Jerusalem Talmud has in 
the same passage, viz. &<D3t2C which should be read SD30D, Gr. fiirec^oc 
or fiotTot^ec (ed. Krotoschin, p. 32a). Another passage in which it occurs 
is found in Bereshith Rabba, § 40, p. 35c (ed. Amst.). When Abraham was 
on his journey to Egypt he had locked up his wife in a box, in order to 
conceal her from the Egyptians. Arrived in Egypt, he was asked to pay 
duty for his goods. He said that he was ready to pay for everything, 
only they must not open that particular box. They said to him : " Hast 
thou gold in it (jy^t3 nX3m) ? then j)ay duty ; or hast thou silk (|"'D3DD 
]'^V'^12) '^ pay duty." Metaxa was then here used for valuable articles which 
are taxed, as it stands between gold and pearls, \'hT\0 (comp. Yalkut 
Shimoni, n. 67). There is a curious passage in Bereshith Rabba, chap. 77, 
p. 67c (comp. Yalkut Shimoni, n. 132, ed. Venice, i. 39a), where we read : 
" R. Hhiya Rabba and R. Simon had business with Metaxa, and they also 

^ [This evidently originated from the fact that the shell-fish from which the 
purple dye of the silk was extracted was first found at Tyre, which was pronounced 
in the original Sar or Sur, with a strong sibilant like Sc. The fish was likewise 
called Scar. Hence also the name scarlet.— Trans.] 


She wrote a letter and sent it through them, which ran as 
follows : " From the city of Kitor to the land of Israel is 
indeed a journey of seven years, but owing to the questions 
which I have to ask thee, I shall come in three years." After 
three years, the Queen of Saba really came to King Solomon, 

found a forgotten parcel of silk (pD3DC"l N^''^nD)." The word ^b^^riD has 
not yet been explained. It is Persian and Arabic, ^r\ is quilts and other 
utensils. D?no is in Arabic volumen, "a book," as well as sform (comp. 
Freytag, Lex. Arab. i. 290a). Interesting is the mention of Metaxa by Gush 
Chaleb of Giscala in Koheleth Rabha (ed. Amst. 65&). The mentioning of 
the word in these passages is important, because it shows how groundless 
is the doubt which ancient scholars have thrown upon the use of metaxa 
in the title of Marcianus which was received in the Pandects {De Publi- 
canis et Vediglibus, lib. 39, iv. 16. 7), and which they held as interpo- 
lated. They assert that, in the enumeration of metaxa vestes serica sub 
serica vel attinda, Tribonian has interpolated the word metaxa. This 
opinion is groundless when contemporaries of Marcian (R. Hhiya) use the 
word. Rather are the words " Vestis serica " to be considered as a gloss. 
The word also occurs in Cod. Theod. (lib. 10, tit. xx. de Murilegibus ; comp. 
Jus. Gib. Antejustin, ed. Hugo, p. 777) in an edict of the year 406, and — 
which is not surprising — in Cod. Justin (lib. 8, tit. xvi. 28, de pignoribus) 
in an edict of the year 528. All these quotations are older than those 
which Du Cange has {Gloss. Graec. p. 917), where Hesychius and Menander 
occupy the first rank. Michaelis (in Castelli, Lex. Syr. p. 495) quotes it 
Syr. {<D3D?D, without giving the source of the quotation. It must not be 
overlooked that metaxae is used by Vitruvius, vii. 3, in the senses of 
" coil " and " skein." In Turkish Tartaric also, silk was originally called 
ipek jipek ( Vambery, Die primitive Cultur der Turktataren, p. 88). Metaxa is 
also twisting {stria taenia), like twisting of hair (com p. Reiske, Zu Constant 
Forphyr. ii. 791). Festus quotes it from Lucillius, as is further to be seen 
by Alberti on Hesychius, sub voce avic. A sufficient etymological explana- 
tion of the word is not yet given. Ritter has found none in his sources 
{Geogr. viii. 708), and Lassen says {Ind. Alterthumskunde, i. 321, note): "The 
word f^iTu^oc is still of obscure origin among the later Greeks." Salmasius 
(comp. Vopisc. Aurelian, ed. Haack, ii. p. 540) is of opinion that the name 
that was applied to a silk thread afterwards signified silk in general. This 
is improbable. He thought of a formation of /airoi: (from /icia) like 
7,spta(roi, and TTipt^ from tso/, and like af^i'Kog and a^/Aa^. Braun, De 
Vestitu Sac, Hebr., approved of this, and thought that fA-iTu^a, is for 
fiiTu^i;, which is unacceptable. I think that the explanation of metaxa has 
its analogy in the other names which silk had in the East and in the West. 
The spinning of silk by a worm has ever been the astonishment of nations. 
Legend and fiction are connected with it. Gervasius of Tilbury has the 
strangest story in his Otia Imprialia, chap. Ivi. (Leibnitz, i. 978) : " Est 
enim a sui principio quasi semen sinapis minutissimum cumque tempus 
panniculum inclusum coactum illud semen in sinu dominarum ac virginum 


who, when he heard of her arrival, sent Benayahu, son of 
Yehayada, to meet her. He was beautiful as sunrise (or like 
Venus the lustrous star), and like the white lily which stands 
by brooks of water. Now when the Queen of Saba saw 
Benayahu, son of Yehoyada, she dismounted from her riding 

tenetiir ; beneficio caloris vivifactum foliis mori siipponitiir et super 
tabulam vernucuh extensi nutrimentuni folium mori in brevi crescunt ad 
grossorum vermium quantitatem," etc. According to the Arab legend, 
Solomon wanted to have a thread l)rought through a diamond, so he com- 
manded Satan to bring a worm to do it. He brought the worm, which, 
after accomplishing the work, left a silk thread behind. When Solomon 
wanted to reward the worm, it besought him to be allowed to choose a 
fruit tree for its dwelling, and he assigned to it the mulberry tree {TFeil 
bibl. Legenden, p. 263). Paulus Silentarius poetizes of silk, " Als dem 
Gespiunst der fremden emsigen WUrmer " (ed. Kortiim. near Salzenberg, 
AUchristl. Bandenkm. p. xlvi.). In a Roman Catholic book of songs 
(Bamberg, 1628, p. 483, v. Degen) we read, — 

" Was ist der Seyden Pracht, 

Wer hat die Pracht gemacht ? 

Es haben Wurm gemacht 

Den ganzen Seydenpracht." 
Even the traveller Olarius exclaims, "What wonderful work of nature 
there is in such a little worm in its variation, work, and production ! " 
Owing to this, most of the names of silk are called after the worm. In 
Mahabarata,, silk is called Kitaga, worm-product (comp. Lassen, Ind. Alterth. 
ii. pp. 564, 614, note). The well-known Sericum has long ago been derived 
from the name of the worm, called in Mongol, sirkek, in Mandshu sirghi, 
in Corean sir, in Chinese sze or szu (the Chinese have no r). From the 
Greek bomhyx, caterpillar, silk dresses were called homhycinias. Hesy- 
chius adduces a name (ipv6oc^ (fipv^ociag) for silk stuff, from a form 
iSovTouy which is a worm (perhaps the German Brut) (comp. Salmasius 
on Tertidlian de Fallio, p. 240). 

The Latin hlatta, " moth," is in well-known use applied to materials of 
silk. As already remarked, we meet with hlattei funes, blattei, blattifer 
senatus, with which the idea of purple-dyed is connected (comp. Voss, De 
theologia gentili, p. 1012). The best known name was Seide (silk), derived 
from the Greek ttis (in older forms, gen. aeog and then ff'^ro;), originally 
also the moth. In the Middle Ages it was called Seta, and the name 
came with the silk from Byzantium (comp. Du Cange, and Bitter, viii. pp. 
708-9). The Aruch also mentions the name as i^T\^ i^i the twelfth century 
in Italy. The name passed then over into French, as soie (from sida, like 
foi from fides, and vair from videre). It is found as n5<"'''1t^ in Bashi on 
Ezek. xvi. 10. The Greek avu is the same as the Hebrew DD, for which 
also it is given in the Greek version on Isa. li. 8. Elsewhere it stands for 
^]} (Isa. 1. 9 ; Job iv. 19, xxvii. 18), and for 3p-| (Prov. xiv. 32, etc.). 
Doubtful is the Persian Ebrisim (Vullei'.^ Lex. i. 67), Armenian aprsoum 

282 ^ APPENDIX 1. 

animal. " Why," asked Benayahu, son of Yelioyada, " dost 
thou dismount from thy riding animal ? " She rejoined, " Art 
not thou King Solomon ? " He replied, " I am not King 
Solomon, but one of his servants who attend upon him." 
Thereupon she turned to her great men, and said this pro- 
verbial saying: "If you do not see the lion, you see his lair; 
though you do not see King Solomon, yet you see a handsome 
man who stands before him." Then Benayahu conducted her 
to the king, who, when he heard that she was coming, went 
and sat down in an apartment of glass. When the queen saw 
the king sitting there, she thought in her heart, and in fact 

(eprsoum), which also passed into Arabic (Freytag, i. pp. 2, 3). Also 
Ahreshum {Ehreshum) in Georgian (Guldenstadt, Reise nach Georgien, ed. 
Klaproth, p. 93). The extensive and interesting explanation of Haug in the 
Gottinger gelehrten Anzeigen, 1854 (26, 27, Stiick vom, 11 Feb. p. 259), is not 
decisive. DD"'"l35< is nothing else than the Greek h-mrov, "worm," "reptile." 

According to these analogies, which show that the name for silk was 
derived from the name that was given to " worm " and " moth," there 
can now be no doubt that we must in the same way explain the word 
metaxa, and that from a name which was widely known, namely from the 
moth itself (with which probably the German word Made, " maggot," 
is related). It is called in Old North German madkr, Swedish madk, 
Danish madike, maddik. The Low German forms sound maddik, meddike, 
metke. It was rightly supposed that it is connected with the Sanscr. form 
matka and the Persian miteh, moth (comp. Vullers, ii. 1250). This 
derivation has also ethnographical value. When one meets in the East a 
name for silk having an Old Germanic origin, he is reminded of the Sers, 
who were always merchants of silk, of whom Pliny {Hist. Nat. vi. chap, 
xvii. No. 88, ed. Sillig, i. 434) says, that they were on this side of the 
Emodos : " Seras ab ipsis adspici notos etiam commercio . . . ipsos vero 
excedere hominum magnitudinem, rutilis comis, caeruleis oculis, oris sono 
truci, nullo commercio lingu de," which indicates a Germanic type. What 
Lassen says (ii. 359) cannot militate against this. The remarkable traits 
of nations often indicate names. The Germanic nations now call silk 
by a Greek name. The Byzantian ages transmitted a name which was 
essentially Germanic. 

In English, silk is rightly supposed to have received the name from 
Sericus, which has come from the Chinese and Tartar peoples. In the 
Old Testament the word ""t^D appears. This also has not been known 
until now. I hold it to be the same as ^grafse, also that '•EJ'D = ''E^tDD, like 
the Persian miteh, Greek fAilocg, Old High German mizo, French mite, 
motte, English moth, mite, and must be like the similar forms mentioned 
above which had received the letter k (comp. Dieffenbaeh, Goth. Worterh. i. 
p. 6). In '^'^J2 is clearly seen the meaning of worm. 


said, that he was sitting in water, and she raised her 
dress to cross the water, when the king noticed that her 
foot was full of hair. He said to her, "Thy beauty is the 
beauty of women, and thy hair is the hair of men ; hair is 
becoming to a man, but to a woman it is a shame." The 
Queen of Saba then said : " My lord king ! I will give thee 
three riddles,^ which if thou shalt solve, I will acknowledge 

^ The riddles which Solomon here solves are not like those which the 
Muhamedan tradition relates (comp. Hammer, Rosenol, pp. 159, 160 ; Weil, 
Bihl. Legenden, p. 260), nor like those in the Midrash Mishle (comp. 
Wiinsche, Hcithsehueisheit, p. 16). The Arabic riddles are poetic. That 
of the tear is also mentioned in the fable of Tewedud (The Thousand and 
One Nights of Hammer and Zinserling), which contains, apart from this, 
plenty of Arabian riddles. Of the riddles which are stated here, the 
author of a German translation of the Targiim in the year 1698 says that 
he does not give them because they are different in various places, and also 
because he does not understand them. The same has happened to many 
others. The author of the \'^T[^ nVD (FUrth 1768) explains the first 
thus : " It is a reed made of wood, in which is put dye for colouring the 
eyes ; and this dye is very hard, like a stone ; and when one wants to take 
out the stone, he must use an iron spoon to extract the colour, and when 
the eye is smeared over, then water comes out. Of the second he says, 
this is pitch, which is extracted from the earth like water, because it is 
thin and it will stick to a house." In imperfect language he rightly gives 
the old interpretations. But, on the other hand, he did not understand 
the beginning of the following riddle, which is the most interesting one. 
I must here remark that for the reading of pjjpis, which Eapaport (Erech 
Millin, p. 229) considered for oraculum, and was also obscure to Buxtorf, 
must be read jvpIS, viz. procella, and the passage should be translated : 
" In the storm moves and arises a great bitter cry." This reminds us of 
the praise given to flax by Pliny in his Introduction to Bib. 19, where he 
says : " Andax vita, scelerum plena, aliquid seri, at ventos procellas 
recipiat." But, also in the other passage which Eapaport quotes under 
^p-lX, the reading is false. In Shirhashirim Kabba 3a, the Kiss of God 
must be spoken of. The reading therefore must be |"'S<i31pDfc< for oscula, 
instead of pxi'lplX- Again, for sonn, or 5<D^nn, should be read fc<Dn5<, viz. 
sponsio. For the passage speaks of the kiss and the betrothal of God to 
man. The riddle itself is very suggestive. As a sail flaps violently in the 
storm the linen made of flax it bows low its head like a rush (comp. Isa. 
Iviii. 5). Linen is a cause of dignity to the rich and free who wear 
byssus (there is a play upon the word p-ilH, free, with -nn, white), a cause 
of shame to the poor who wear rags, an ornament for the dead in their 
shrouds — which are white as angels, and a mockery to the living (the 
rope of flax), a joy to the birds, who pick up the seed of flax, and a vexa- 
tion to the fish on account of the nets. Flax is called in Greek and in 
Latin linouj linum. Hence it was that Yashua ben Levi (Bereshith Rabba, 


that thou art a wise man ; but if not, then thou art a man 
like all the rest." 

She asked, " What is berries of wood and buckets of iron 
which draw up stones and pour out water ? " He answered, 
" A tube of paint." " What is," she asked again, " a thing 
which comes as dust from the earth, eats dust, is poured out 
as water, and sticks to a house ? " He answered, " It is 
naphtha." She further asked, " What is that which as an 
oracle (or as a storm) goes at the head of all, cries loudly and 
bitterly with its head bowed down like a rush, is a cause of 
praise to the free, of shame to the poor, of honour to the 
dead, of disgrace to the living, of joy to the birds, and of 
grief to the fish?" He answered, "It is flax." She ex- 
claimed, " I would not have believed it had I not come here 
and seen it with mine own eyes ; and behold the half has not 
been told me, for thy wisdom and thy goodness surpass the 
report I have heard. Blessed are thy people, and blessed are 

§ 20) said : " God had made for them garments of '•{<:f3, ' linen ; '" for which 
Wlinsche (Midrash Eabba, p. 95), curiously enough, read ^^'^^ " garments 
of the skin of a hare." The riddle which we have here is more in- 
telligible and instructive than that contained in the symposium which is 
ascribed to Lactantius, — 

"Major eram longe quondam, dum vita manebat 
Sed nunc examinis lacerata, ligata, revulsa 
Dedita sum terrae, tumulo sed condita sum." 

Simrock made a peculiar mistake in his German book of riddles. In 
No. 13 he gives us the riddle thus : — 

" In days gone by when young I was green, 
A robe for counts and princes I've been ; 
And when I am old and not much use, 
My learning then is great and profuse." 

This is evidently flax. Linen becomes at last rags, and rags become 
paper. But in the list of the solutions of the riddles, the cherry is given 
for No. 13. On the other hand, riddle No. 22 is as follows : — 
" A damsel sits upon a tree, 
Her gown is red as red can be, 
Within her heart a stone I see, 
Guess now, I pray, what this may be." 
The solution is a cherry ; but in Simrock's list, flax is given for it. The 
copyist must have confounded the two solutions. 


these thy servants who are about thee ! " Thereupon he 
brought her into the tribunal^ (or an apartment) of the royal 
palace. 'Now, when the Queen of Saba saw his greatness and 
glory, she praised the Creator, and said : " Blessed be the 
Lord thy God, wdiom it has pleased to set thee upon the 
throne of the kingdom to do justice and right." She then 
gave the king plenty of gold and silver, and he gave her what 
she desired. And the kings of the West and of the East, of 
the North and of the South, who heard of his fame, came 
tremblingly from their various places with extraordinary 
dignity, and they presented him with much gold and silver, 
and with pearls and precious stones. 

§ V. 

And when the enemies of Israel filled up the measure of 
their guilt (or when Israel were guilty), the prophet ^ Jeremiali 
uttered many prophecies to them ; and as they did not listen 
to him, the Holy Spirit persuaded hira, and led him away 
into the land of the tribe of Benjamin. Thus it is written : 


^ W1D"1D can best be explained by reading S^UItO, trihnna = trihimsi\, of 
which Reiske (Constant. Forphjr. ii. p. 83) says : " Tribunal est omne 
aedificium excelsiim, illustre, non taiitnm /3^,mo6 in quo causae aguntur." 
In the same way explains Raslii : p^l^TIH pD^S ""DIX \\^hl WmD i?D1 
Twiyy?' That which Munk adduces (p. 24) does not explain it. 

^ This narrative about Jeremiah is owing to a curious homily upon two 
sentences in his prophecy. Tradition assumed that he really did what is 
told in the above quotation from Jer. xxxvii. 12, and it therefore under- 
stood by the " gate of Benjamin," not a city gate by which people went to 
Benjamin, but a gate in the country of Benjamin itself. It connected 
with this Jer. xx. 7, where the prophet exclaims : " O Lord, Thou hast per- 
suaded me, and I was persuaded ; Thou hast forcibly taken hold upon me, 
and hast prevailed," and understood by these words that Jeremiah was led 
by the Spirit to go to Benjamin, but his heart failed him, and he went 
instead to Jerusalem, and therefore it was conquered by the enemy. For 
this the prophet laments, " Thou hast persuaded me." A similar tradition 
is in Midrash Echa (i. 5, ed. Amst. 47a) concerning R. Zadok. About 
him said R. Johhanan to Vespasianus : " If such a man were yet in Jeru- 
salem, thou wouldest not be able to take the city with double thy force." 
Another like saying is told of the siege of Bether, which, so long as R. 
Eliezer ^VTl^H (not of Modin, as Wiinsclie says), lived in it, was preserved 
on account of his piety (Midrash Echa, ii. 1, ed. Amst., p. 526). 

286 APPENDIX 1. 

" Tlien Jeremiah went forth out of Jerusalem to ^o into the 
land of Benjamin." But so long as Jeremiah was in Jeru- 
salem he prayed to the heavenly Father, and the city was not 
delivered into the hands of the Chaldeans, and they did not 
destroy it. But when he went into the land of Benjamin, 
then came up Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, and 
destroyed the land of Israel, plundered the city of Jerusalem, 
and burned the temple with fire. While yet the tyrant 
Nebuchadnezzar was dwelling in Antiochian Eibla, he sent 
the chief executioner, Nebuzaradan, who razed the walls of 
the city Jerusalem to the ground. And when the prophet 
Jeremiah arrived, and saw that the city was destroyed, and 
that the Chaldeans surrounded it on every side, he cried aloud, 
and wept much and bitterly, and said : " Thou, Lord, hast 
persuaded me, and I was persuaded ; Thou hast forcibly taken 
hold upon me, and hast prevailed." And when the wicked 
Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, heard that Jerusalem was 
conquered, he assembled all the troops of the Chaldeans, and 
came to avenge himself against the temple. He thoughtfully 
shook his head, and pointed with his hands here and there, 
as the fate of Sennacherib's camp was known to him, against 
which angels from heaven w^ere sent, who slew eighteen 
myriads and five thousand riders, so that of Sennacherib's 
camp only he remained. 

Then a Bathkol (an echoing voice) was heard, which ex- 
claimed : " Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, arise, and return 
to Kibla in the land of Hamath." ^ 

Ribla is the place where Nebuchadnezzar encamped, where Zedekiah's 
eyes were taken out, and his sons killed before him. It is supposed to be 
the same as the present Eibleh, 10 to 12 hours distant from Homs, on the 
Orontes (El Asy), in the northern part of Bekoa (comp. Robinson, Pales- 
tine^ iii. 747). The Rabbis have identified it with Antioch, or Daphne 
near Antioch, where they think Nebuchadnezzar sojourned for a time. 

The Midrash Echa states twice that he tarried 5<"'D'it3JX h'^ ^JQIQ (ed. 
Anist., 51a at the close of the Introduction, and 58c), where, by the way, 
Wiinsche has not correctly rendered it by Daphne Antiocliena. It is called 
in Greek, as byJosephus {Jewish Wars, i. 13. 5, etc.), '' kuTio'^na. Axipvyi, and 


He cast arrows/ consulted the oracle ; lie threw an arrow 
westward, and it fell in the direction of Jerusalem ; then east- 
ward, and it fell in the direction of Jerusalem ; and then 
again he threw an arrow towards the guilty city (i.e. Eome) — 

not seldom ' kvnl-^noi. Wi ^oi(pu-^ (see Kitter, xvii. 1163). The reason wliy 
the Rabbis identify Ribla with Daphne is more of an ethical than a historical 
character. What Eibla was for Nebuchadnezzar, the same was Daphne 
for the Syrian and the Eoman kings. There in the Orient was their seat. 
Thence issued all the misery that came upon the besieged. 

1 In Ezek. xxi. 25 we have that grand passage which informs us that 
Nebuchadnezzar was in doubt whether he should march against Rabbath 
Ammon or against Jerusalem. 

" He stood at the parting of the way, at the head of two ways, to use 
divination ; he shook the arrows " (D"'Vn h\hp)- Upon the meaning of the 
word ^\h\> a good deal has been conjectured. It is of an onomatopoetic 
kind, and is connected with BaAA?/;/, " to throw." Throwing was used in 
the sense of casting a die (comp. balloter), like the Latin Alea, has arisen 
from the Greek iu'K'ka, " to throw " (comp. my Spielhaus auf Monte Carlo^ 
p. 23). The commentators have mostly been influenced by what Jerome 
says on this passage, but they overlooked that he (ed. Migne, v. p. 206) 
confounded helomantia, " arrow-divination," with mace-divination, which 
was not, nor could be, the same. The examples of Arabic usage by Van 
Dale (Be Orig. et Progr. Idolatriae^ etc. p. 456), and quoted from Herbelot, 
do not appear to be applicable ( Voc. Acda.). It was, on the other hand, 
overlooked that Haman cast the lot, and chose the thirteenth day, which 
was called Tir, " an arrow," for issuing his destructive decree. See my 
Commentary on Esther, p. 103. There would be more ground for Chwol- 
sohn's reminder of Sabian usage (Sabier, ii. 200) if he had not laid stress 
upon the extinguishing of the torch. The ancient JeAvish expositors are 
light when they speak of "the shooting of the arrow." The decision 
depended upon the direction in which the arrow fell. Rashi has well 
translated the words "shooting an arrow" by the French ri"'5< KIJO, which 
should he read n'''1D i<"iDj " t'i'fer trait." It was a kind of casting the lot 
when Jonathan shot an arrow to give a sign to David (1 Sam. xx. 21), and 
Elisha prophesied by the shooting of arrows concerning the victory of 
Joash over Syria (2 Kings xiii. 15). The Targum uses the homily of the 
Midrash as in Echa Rabbathi (ed. Anist. p. 39a), but gives it more cor- 
rectly than it is in Midrash Echa. The latter appears to have taken the 
word ^p5?p in the sense of calculari, " to reckon " the arrows. The Targum 
is more explicit when it says, " He shot towards the west and the east, and 
it fell towards Jerusalem ; he then shot towards the city which is guilty, 
that it should soon be rooted out from the world (by which it means Rome, 
as is expressly said in Midrash Echa), and it rebounded towards Jerusalem." 
The time for its destruction had come, and Nebuchadnezzar, as the tradi- 
tion tells, was directed by his oracle to undertake the siege reluctantly, 
for he remembered what had happened to Sennacherib. The Midrash Echa 
speaks also of a divination, upon which both Ezekiel and the Targum are 


may it soon be rooted out from the world ! — and this also fell 
towards Jerusalem. 

Then he arose and sent his generals against Jerusalem, 
whose names were Nargal, Sharezer, Shamgar, Nebosar, Sechim, 
Kabsaris, and Eabmag, i.e. Chief-eunuch, and Chief-magus. He 

silent. It says : " Nebucliadnezzar lit candles and torches (d"'D3D'I HPi), 
and appointed them for Eome, and they were extinguished ; for Alex- 
andria, and they were again extinguished ; finally, he appointed them for 
Jerusalem, and they burned." Chwolsohn would have been right in connect- 
ing this with the Sabian custom, according to which an arrow was fastened 
to a torch, and if it burned, it bore an omen of good fortune ; and if it was 
extinguished, it bore an omen of misfortune {Sabier, ii. 26 and p. 201). 

D32, Syriac 5<Dj2, occurs also in compounds, as in Midrash Koheleth, 
p. 63a (ed. Amst.), DiD?Dp, viz. ^v'ho(Pa,yYi:, ^v\o(pa.viov, a wooden torch 
{^v'KoT^uxvo;, comp. Spanheim, de Praest. Numism., ed. Amst., iv. p. 128). 
Through this rare word a passage in Hesychius is explained. He says 
there, under " I;),j^o:' : unrpov . . . ^v'ho'Pxvio'j. Some, like Spohn, corrected 
this by aKOL'Tzccvyi, which is altogether unnecessary, as the passage in the 
Midrash shows. ^v^.o(pa,viou is, like |yAo^«!/>3?, "a piece of wood which 
was applied to torches." DiSpDp is here used in contrast to DJDDIpJO. 
They are lanterns with net-laces. The Greeks also used with the word 
'Kvy/joc such words as Viy.v^rt- and Tzohv^L^a; (see Stephanus, suh voce 
/^l^ocj and Wlistemann, T)e7' PalasL des Scaurus, p. 133). Indeed, we also 
know from mediaeval legends, that arrows were applied to purposes of 
witchcraft. In the Gesta Bomanorum, n. 102, we read of a certain cleric 
who wished to marry a man's wife during his absence in a distant place, 
so he placed a wax figure and shot an arrow upon it, intending thereby to 
kill the man in the distance. This man was just then in Eome, where he 
was warned by a wise man of the danger he was in. He showed it to him 
in a magic mirror while he was in the bath. He then dipped his head 
under the water, and thus escaped the danger, while the arrow which the 
cleric shot rebounded upoi;i himself Another wonderful story is told in 
Gesta Piomanornm, cap. 10 f There was once a beautiful secret chamber 
which contained an image with precious stones, into which a cleric entered 
clandestinely, with the intention of stealing. Then the image upon which 
was sculptured an arrow and a bow, shot an arrow upon a luminous car- 
buncle, and this caused thick darkness as in the night. In the eleventh 
narrative of the English edition (ed. Grasse, ii. 339) it is told : A knight 
once shot a beautiful bird that sang gloriously, in consequence of which a 
mountain was cleft in two, and then sank into the abyss. In the Image 
du Monde it is told that the Apostle Paul had visited the grave of Virgil 
to find his books. He entered it, and saw a lamp hanging from the roof, 
and an archer stood before Virgil ready to shoot. When he was about to 
take the books, the archer shot an arrow upon the lamp, and then every- 
thing was turned into dust (comp. Virgili im Mittelalter iihersetzt von 
Ddtschke, p. 265). 


followed his generals and entered the temple, and thus 
exclaimed, " Art Thou the great God who has stirred us up, 
and brought us against Thy city and against Thy temple ? " 

But when the gate of the temple saw the unclean people 
standing against it, it shut itself, and would by no means open. 
Then came all the army of the Chaldeans, and brought with 
them three hundred and sixty camels laden with iron axes ; 
but the external gates of the temple destroyed them, and con- 
tinued not to open themselves until Parnitus ^ came and slew 
a swine, and sprinkled its blood upon the temple, and defiled it. 

After the temple was defiled, the gate opened, and then 
the wicked Nebuchadnezzar went in and sat down in the 
hall of Zechariah, son of Yohoiyada the high priest, and he 
saw his (Zechariah's) blood moving upon the ground. So he 
asked the elders of Israel, " Whose blood is this ? " They 
answered, " We had a prophet amongst us who reproved us ; 
but we did not hearken to his words, but rose up and slew 
him in the temple." ^ 

1 This cannot be thought of Ptolemaeus Euergetes, for he was kind 
towards the Jews. Josephus acknowledges this {Contra Ajpionem,^ ii. 5, 
ed. Havercamp, ii. 472). The one who offered swine in the temple was 
Antiochus Epiphanes, as it is narrated in the book of the Maccabees and 
by Josephus. The Greeks called him instead of Epiphanes, Epimanes, 
viz. " the mad one." The same is expressed by the above name D"lt3"'3"iS, 
the effrenatus, " the wild and unrestrained." We should gain the same 
sense if we should read D1p"'D:J1D, phreneticuSj " Until the mad and the 
bokl one come." 

2 The awful story about the blood of the prophet is in allusion to 
2 Chron. xxiv. 22, where it is recorded that Zechariah, the slain prophet, 
uttered these last words : " The Lord look upon it (i.e. my blood), and 
require it." They connected this passage with Hos. iv. 2 : " Blood 
toucheth blood." The underlying thought is, that blood boils up when 
the murderer comes near it. The blood of Zechariah continued to boil 
until Nebuchadnezzar came. Even then it was not pacified, however 
many were slain, — for the murderer was still there, — and only at last out 
of pity it became still (see my Symboliks des Blutes, p. 22, etc.). The story 
is told in various ways in Echa Rabbathi, p. 39a, b. Comp. Bab. Gittin, 
576; Sanhedrin 96b. [He appears to have been the same as in Matt, 
xxiii. 35. The first component parts interchange as in Jehoiakim, who was 
called Eliakim. Jerome says that the Gospel of the Nazarenes read the 
son of Jehoiada. — Trans.] 



When the wicked Nebuchadnezzar heard these words, 
he said to them : " Go and bring me four thousand young 
priests." These he slew over that blood, and yet it would 
not enter the earth, until Nebuchadnezzar rebuked it by 
saying, " Shall thy whole people be destroyed for thy sake ! " 
After this it was absorbed by the earth. Then the high 
priest, seeing that the priests were killed, put on his upper 
garment and the ephod, took the keys of the temple in his 
hands, and went upon the roof of the temple and called out : 
" The house is now given back to its Lord, and the keepers 
are no more in it ! " Thereupon he threw himself into the 
burning pile and was consumed. When the remaining priests 
saw that the high priest was burned, they took their violins 
and harps, and all their other musical instruments, and like- 
wise threw themselves into the fire, and were burned. 

When Nebuchadnezzar wanted now to enter the Holy of 
Holies, the doors closed and would not open until an echoing 
voice from heaven exclaimed, and said, " Open, Libanon, thy 
gates ! " After this a door opened itself, and the wicked 
Nebuchadnezzar defiled the Holy of Holies by entering into 
it ; and he saw there the glories of the King of all the 
worlds, of the Lord of hosts. But when he saw that the 
holy vessels which the priests and the kings of the house of 
David used were sunk into the earth, he was very wroth, and 
hastened away and slew a great number; and many others he 
took captive, and led the people of Israel into exile, bound in 
iron chains, naked, and carrying sand upon their necks. 
The prophet Jeremiah went with them until he reached the 
graves of the patriarchs. Here he wept, and cried : " our 
merciful fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob ! arise from your 
graves and behold your children, the people of Israel, are led 
into captivity ! " Then answered the Holy Spirit and said 
to him : " I have long ago told thee, prophet Jeremiah, 
that I have withdrawn my peace." He then rose up from 
the graves of the fathers and went to the graves of the 
mothers, and prostrated himself, and cried, " merciful 


mothers, Sarah, Eebekah, Eachel, and Leah ! arise from 
your graves and see your sons and daughters, the people of 
Israel, whom you have brought up in the truth, are going 
barefoot into captivity 1 " The Holy Spirit then answered : 
" A voice was heard in Eamah," etc. He then arose from 
the graves of the mothers, and went to the graves of the 
prophets, and prostrated himself, and cried : " merciful 
prophets, Moses and Samuel ! arise from your graves and 
see the people of Israel, whom you have led in the truth, are 
going barefoot into captivity." The Holy Spirit answered and 
said : " I have long ago told thee, prophet Jeremiah, ' If 
even Moses and Samuel should stand before me,' " etc. He 
then rose up from the graves of the prophets, and went and 
prostrated himself in the house (or upon the graves) of the 
mourners, and said : " Bring me ' the bread of the mourners to 
eat, and the cup of comfort to drink,' for I mourn for the 
people of Israel who went into captivity." The Holy Spirit 
answered and said : " Do not go into the house of mourning." 
Thus Jeremiah mourned, wept, and groaned concerning the 
people of Israel who went into exile naked, and carrying 
sand upon their necks, they and their kings and princes and 
governors, until they reached a place which is called Beth- 
Coro,^ where they changed their garments. Then Jeremiah 
said to Nebuchadnezzar the wicked, and to all the army of the 
Chaldeans who came with him, " Do not go to your idols and 
praise them. Eather know that you have only killed and taken 
captive a people which was already captured and killed." They 
then went on until they reached a certain country, where Jere- 
miah bitterly wept and sobbed. Two tears fell from his eyes, 
which became there two fountains that exist to this day. 

^ 1113 n"'3- It would be difficult to identify this place. But the legend 
of the Jews has made the figurative prophecies of the prophets a reality. 
11D n""! is " a furnace," of which the prophet says that the children of 
Israel must he refined in it (Isa. xlviii. 10). The legend considers this as a 
place. The exclamation of Jeremiah, " Oh that my head were waters, and 
mine eyes a fountain of tears ! " was also made to refer to a place. Like- 
wise the harps of which Ps. cxxxvii. speaks are historically placed together. 


When the people of Israel had arrived at the rivers of 
Babylon, the wicked King Nebuchadnezzar said to them : 
" Let those singers who used to sing before your Lord in 
Jerusalem come and sing before me." When the Levites 
heard this, they hung up their harps on the willows which 
stood by the rivers of Babylon. For thus it is written : 
" By the rivers of Babylon," etc. The Levites, moreover, said 
to Nebuchadnezzar the tyrant : " Had we done the will of our 
heavenly Father, and had we praised Him in Jerusalem, we 
should not have been delivered into thy hands. But how can 
we now sing the praise of our Lord before thee ! " For thus 
it is written : " How shall we sing the Lord's song," etc. 
When Nebuchadnezzar the wicked heard this, he said : " Kill 
them, for they have transgressed the command of the king ! " 
Then an Israelite, by the name of Pelatya, son of Yohoiyada, 
said to him : " When one delivers his flock to a shepherd, 
and a bear comes and snatches away a sheep, of whom will 
it be required ? " He answered, " From the shepherd will it 
be required." Pelatya then said : " Let thy ears hear what 
thy mouth has spoken." Then the king ordered to bring 
Zedekiah before him, and they removed the chains of iron 
and of brass from him, and changed his captive garments for 


" In the third year of his reign, he made a feast for all 
the princes and ministers of Persia and Media, and for 
all the governors of the districts. They were clothed in 
silk and pur'ple garments, ate and drank, and rejoiced 
before him." 

It is not said here, he showed them his riches, but " he 
showed them the riches of his glorious kingdom." By which 
riches is to be understood, that which came from the temple. 
For a mortal eye has no riches, but all riches belong to God ; 
as it is written, " Mine is the silver and the gold, saith the 


Lord of hosts." During a hundred and eighty days he showed 
them daily six treasuries, as it is written, " riches, honour, 
dominion, glory, majesty, greatness " (Esther i. 4), — so then six 
expressions. But when the Israelites saw there the vessels of 
the temple, they did not remain any longer. The king was told 
that the Jews did not want to take refreshment, because they 
saw there the vessels of the temple, and so he ordered that 
they should have another banquet for themselves. 

When those days were ended, the king said : " Now I will 
make a feast for all the inhabitants of my city, for all the 
people that are found in Shushan, both small and great." 
They were brought to the royal garden where fruit and 
spice trees stood, some of which were broken and arranged 
for arbours, and others were planted for shades ; seats also were 
prepared, and the paths were strewn with costly stones and 
pearls. — And they drank out of golden cups and bowls ; and 
when one drank of a cup, he did not drink of the same again, 
but he was given a new cup. The cups were of various 
descriptions, as it is written : " And the vessels were diverse 
from one another." But when they brought out the vessels 
of the temple, and the heathen began to pour wine into them, 
the appearance of the vessels became different from what they 
were. And for this reason it is said : " The vessels being 
diverse from one another;" "And royal wine was (pr\) in abun- 
dance." That is, the wine was older than the person who drank 
it. For example, the butlers asked a man how old he was, and 
he said forty years, and so they gave him wine forty years 
old ; and thus they did with every man. For this reason it is 
written : " And royal wine was in abundance." And the 
drinking was according to regulation, so that it could hurt no 
one. Why could it not hurt ? Because when at royal feasts 
generally, a cup was given to a Persian containing from four 
to five Hemins (a certain measure that was called Pithka^), 

^ Xpn"'S. Neither Buxtorf nor Micliaelis nor Levi has properly- 
explained this word, the reading of which is unassailable. It is the 
Persian drinking vessel ^xtiuk-zi, '''' 'TnpifjKvi ts (piaM vj fiocTixx.^ ;" comp. 


he had to drink the whole out in one breath. Owing to this 
the butlers used to become rich, for no Persian guest could 
be found able to drink the whole cup at once, and therefore 
they used to beckon to the butlers to take it away for a 
certain sum of money. But Ahhashverosh gave order that 
no such cups should be given this time, but that every one 
should drink as much as he liked. Therefore it is written : 
" And the drinking was according to law." Vashti also made 
a feast for the women, and gave them red wine,^ and seated them 
in the palace, in order to show them its riches. They asked 
her various question, for they wanted to know everything, e.g. 
where the king eats, drinks, and sleeps ; and she showed them 
all the places. Therefore it is written : " In the royal house." 
On the seventh day, when the king and the hundred and 
twenty-seven crowned princes who were with him were merry 
with wine, a dispute arose among them about indecent things. 
The kings of the West said, Our women are the handsomest. 
The others said the same of their women. Ahhashverosh also 
took part in the dispute, and in his drunken freak said: 
"There are no more beautiful in the world than the Babylonian; 
but if you will not believe me, I shall send for the Baby- 
lonian wife which I have in the palace, and you shall see 
that she surpasses in beauty all your wives." Immediately 
King Ahhashverosh sent seven eunuchs to the queen. He 
said : " Go and say to Queen Vashti : Arise from thy royal 
throne, strip thyself naked,^ put the crown upon thy head, 
take a golden cup in thy right hand and another in thy left, 
and thus appear before me and the hundred and twenty-seven 
crowned kings, that they may see that thou art the fairest 
of all women." She refused. Vashti answered to the seven 
eunuchs : " shame. Go and tell your master, the fool, — 

Casaubon on Athenaeus (pp. 484, 494). In passing, I may remark that 
bJIlD has no connection with >joy?, as Levi says. It is the Greek Kva&og, 
cup. Conip. Athenaeus, p. 480. T stands for 6, th. 

^ [Read KpDID instead of J^DDIN- — Trans.] 

2 [This reminds one of the story of Lady Godiva, whom Leofric, her 
-husband, ordered to ride naked through the town of Coventry. — Trans.] 


you also are fools like him, — I, Queen Vasliti, am the daughter 
of Babylonian kings of more ancient times. My ancestor 
Belshazzar drank as much wine as a thousand persons, and yet 
the wine never made him so silly as to utter such improper 
words as thou hast to me." Then they went and told the king 
the reply of Queen Vashti. And when he heard it, his anger 
was kindled, and he again sent the seven eunuchs, saying to 
them : " Go and say to her, If thou dost not hearken to me, 
and dost not appear before me and before these kings, I shall 
cause thee to be slain, and thy beauty will perish." The 
nobles came to her with the message, and she did not honour 
them, but said : " Go and tell the foolish kins^, whose counsel 
is as much folly as his command is unjust, I am Queen 
Vashti, the daughter of Evil-Merodach and granddaughter of 
Nebuchadnezzar. Ever since I was born no man has seen 
my body except thou alone, and if I now appear before thee 
and before the hundred and twenty-seven crowned kings, the 
end will be, they will slay thee and marry me." Now a noble 
Persian lady said to Queen Vashti : " Even if the king should 
kill thee, and cause thy beauty to perish, thou must by no 
means dishonour the name of thy ancestors, and thou must 
not show thy body to any man, except to the king alone." 

At the same time the nobles told the king that Vashti 
refused to obey the command which he sent to her by the 
eunuchs, and his wrath quite overpowered him. Then the 
king laid the matter before the sages and statesmen, for royal 
affairs are brought before those who are acquainted with laws 
and statutes. There were some in the cabinet council who 
were from near, and others who were from a distance. Those 
from near were Carshena-^ from Africa, Shethar from India, 

1 The information about the countries of the seven officials is merely 
for the purpose of showing the world-wide empire of the Persian king, 
Carshena was an African, according to the meaning of the name. 

The Targum does not use a scientific method in its explanation, but 
rather bases it upon a fanciful hypothesis, that the names of these men 
indicate the places they came from. Thus SJIDIS has some similarity 
with DIIK, therefore he must be an Edomite. So also Carshana or 


Admatha from Edomaea, Tarshish from Egypt, Meres-Marsena 
from Meres, a distant country, Mem u can from Jerusalem. To 
those seven great Persians and Medes, who looked upon the 
king's face and were of the first rank, he communicated the 
royal order which he sent to Yashti by the eunuchs. Then 
said Memucan, who is Daniel. But why is he called Memucan ? 
Because when the tribe of Judah were taken captive to Babylon, 
— Hananiah, Mishael, Azariah were among them, — Daniel also 
was exiled, through whom great, wonderful, and mighty works 
were done, and again through whom heaven determined that 
Queen Vashti should be killed, in consequence of which he 
was called Memucan, i.e. " establisher." And Memucan spake 
to the king and governors — there was a royal statute at the 
time which provided, that in the cabinet consultations the 
younger ministers should give their advice first. If it was 

Carshena must be an African, because it sounds hke Carthage. Near this 
stands IT)^, and he is said to have come from "•plin. This is done on the 
ground of the explanation of the Targum of the words " sons of Cush," 
viz. ''K:i:n ••Nmi'l, "-Nn^DD, V^^n 'K1^:"'D. The last ^xjjt are the Tingitani. 
Zinghi. tx3i^ are the Libyans. For ^S"lDD must be read '•J^IDJ, the 
Numidians. "'pn^n are the Hindoos = Ethiopians ; and for ''j<ni''D must be 
read "'N3''1D, the Cyrenians. On account of the vicinity of these in Africa, 
the Targumist has assigned '•p"ijn to "iriE^, by which he thought of the real 
India. In consequence of this he assigns D''^VD, Egypt, to K^''tJ>"in- In 
another place (1 Kings xxii. 49 ; Jer. x. 9) the Targum has for Tarshish, 
Africa ; and the LXX., too, renders it by Carthage. But this has already 
been assigned to Carshena, and could not be made use of again for the 
other ministers, who were all supposed to be sons of Cush, with the excep- 
tion of Memucan. The explanation also of DID by j^JDID shows this. >It 
is Maurusia, and the Greek name for Mauretania is to be understood by it. 
The Targum also explains ncj?"l (Cen. x. 7) by this word. The name 
Memucan is very artificially explained. Because the fate of Vashti was 
decided through him, therefore he is compared with Daniel, and is called 
Memucan, " the one who was appointed to this work." For the Hebrew 
p^n, part, Mucan is usually reproduced in the Targum by jpn, hence ppno 
= p"IDD. This connecting of Memucan with Daniel is more remarkable 
than that which the Targum ascribes to Daniel, which does not redound 
to his honour. The explanations in Midrash Esther are quite different. 
Memucan is not there identified with Daniel. In the first Targum he is, 
on the contrary, compared with Haman (comp. Megill. j). 126). Mordecai 
is explained by S''3"IX1D, "pure balm," in allusion to Ex. xxx. 23 (comp. 
Bab. Chulin 139&). 


a proper one, they carried it into execution ; but if not, the 
older ministers gave their advice. And as Memucan was the 
youngest of them all, he gave his advice first. It so happened 
that Memucan had married a Persian wife who was richer 
than himself, and she refused to speak to him in any other 
language but her own, and so he thought to himself, now 
is the opportunity to compel the wives to honour their 
husbands. Therefore he said to the king and the nobles : 
" IS^ot against the king alone has Queen Vashti failed, but 
also against all the nations and governors that are in the 
empire of Ahhashverosh. For the answer of the queen will 
be spread among all the women who now honour their 
husbands, and every woman will say to her husband, ' Art 
thou perhaps worthier than King Ahhashverosh, who com- 
manded that Queen Vashti should come before him, and she 
refused to come ? ' Even this day the noble women of Persia 
and Media repeat the language of the queen to the royal 
governors in such a manner that it causes contempt and 
occasion for wrath." But at the very time when Memucan 
gave this decision, he was anxious about himself. He thought, 
perhaps the king will not issue a decree, and Queen Vashti 
may hear of my advice concerning her, and she will judge me 
severely, and cause me to be killed. I will therefore see that 
the king should not order her to appear before him, by bind- 
ing him by an oath which the Persians and Medes fear (to 
break). Hence he further said : " If it please the king, let 
this decree be issued, and this oath be written in the statute 
book of the Medes and Persians that it should not be 
invalidated, namely, that Vashti should no more come before 
the king, and that her kingdom should be given to her com- 
panion, who is better than she. And let this decision be 
proclaimed in all the empire, however great it may be, and 
all the women, great and small, will honour their husbands." 
This advice pleased the king and his governors, and he acted 
according to the words of Memucan. The king sent letters to 
all the provinces, to each according to its writing, and to 


every people in its own language, to the effect that every 
husband should be honoured in his house, and that he should 
speak his native tongue. 

§ VII. 

After these things, when the wrath of King Ahhashverosh 
was pacified, he sent and called his nobles, and said to them : 
" I am angry, not against Vashti, but against you ; I have 
spoken a word when drunk with wine, but why have you 
provoked me that I should kill Vashti, and blot out her name 
from the kingdom ? Now I shall also kill you, and blot out 
your names from the kingdom." After the nobles were 
killed, Vashti was remembered, and that which was decreed 
concerning her, that she herself did not deserve punishment of 
death, but that it was so determined in heaven, in order that 
the posterity of Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, should perish. 

Then said the royal young men and servants : " Let fair 
young virgins be sought for the king, and let the king appoint 
officers and trustworthy men in all his dominion who should 
collect fair virgins and bring them to Shushan to the harem, 
and that Hega, the royal eunuch, be appointed to guard them 
and to provide for them. And the virgin that shall please 
the king shall reign in place of Vashti." The king was 
pleased with these words, and he did so. There lived a Jewish 
man in the capital Shushan, and his name was Mordecai. But 
why w^as he called a Jewish man ? Because he feared to 
commit sin. Concerning him David prophesied when he 
said : " Shall there die on this day a man of Israel ? " And 
from that man descended the man Mordecai, son of Yair, son 
of Shimei, son of Shmida, son of Baanah, son of Elah, son of 
Micah, son of Mephibosheth, son of Jonathan, son of Saul, 
son of Kish, son of Abiel, son of Zeror, son of Becorath, son of 
Aphia, son of Shehharim, son of Uziah, son of Sheshak, son 
of Mica, son of Elyael, son of Amihud, son of Shephatyah, son 
of Pethuel, son of Pithon, son of Malich, son of Yerubaal, son 


of Yeruhbam, son of Hhanayah, son of Zabdi, son of Elpaal, 
son of Shimri, son of Zecharyah, son of Merinioth, son of 
Hhushim, son of Shehhorah, son of Gazah, son of Azah, 
son of Gera, son of Bela, son of Benjamin, son of Jacob, wbo 
was also called Israel. But why was Mordecai called the 
son of Shimei ? Tor this reason. When Shimei despised 
David, king of Israel (on his flight), and said to him, " Go 
away, thou wicked man, who deservest to be slain ! " then 
Abishai, son of Zeruyah, said to David, " I shall go and take 
off his head." But David saw prophetically that Mordecai 
would descend from him. And foreseeing this, he commanded 
his son Solomon that he should only then kill Shimei in case 
he would cease to beget a son who would be worthy to bring 
him to the world to come (he should spare him), because 
from him would come a righteous son, by whose instru- 
mentality wonders would be done to Israel in four exiles ; and 
this is Mordecai, i.e. pure myrrh, son of Yair, son of Shimei, son 
of Kish, of the tribe of Benjamin. But Shimei did indeed 
deserve punishment of death, as it is written in the law of 
Moses : " A righteous judge shalt thou not vex, and a prince 
of thy people shalt thou not curse." Yet David had pity on 
him and spared him, because he foresaw that two righteous 
persons would one day descend from him, through whom 
Israel would be delivered. Mordecai and Esther were from 
Jerusalem, and were banished into exile together with 
Jeconiah, king of Judab. Mordecai returned with those 
people who volunteered to go up and build the temple a 
second time, when Nebuchnadnezzar again banished him. 
Yet again in the country of the children of the exile he did 
not cease from doing wonderful and mighty works. Mordecai 
brought up Hadassah. This is Esther; and she was called 
Hadassah, because as the myrtle spreads fragrance in the 
world, so did she spread good works. And for this reason 
she was called in the Hebrew language Hadassah, because 
the righteous are likened to a myrtle. In reference to her 
Isaiah prophesied, saying : " Instead of the Naazuz (the thorn) 


shall come up the Berosh (fir-tree), and instead of the Sarpard 
(briar) shall come up an Hadassah." That is to say, instead 
of Naazuz, the thorn, shall grow up a tamarinth, i.e. instead 
of the pious Mordecai the wicked Haman shall ascend the 
scaffold. Sarpard is a willow ; ^ instead of the willow shall 
grow up the myrtle, i.e. instead of Vashti, Esther shall ascend 
the throne. 

For the sake of this Esther, Mordecai went into exile. 
He said : " I will rather go into exile and educate Esther than 
remain in the land of Israel." She was called Esther, because 
she was like the planet Venus, which is called in Greek 
Astara. But her name Hadassah was on account of her piety, 
for the righteous are called so, like Hananiah, Mishael, and 
Azariah, of whom it is said : " And he stood among the 
myrtle trees that were in the captivity " (E. V. " bottom " or 
*' shady place") (Zech. i. 8). And Zula, " bottom," "shady 
place," is Babylon, for thus it is written, " that saith to the 
deep. Be dry "^ (Isa. xliv. 27). She was also called Hadassah, 
because as the myrtle does not dry up either in summer or in 
winter, so the righteous have a share in this world and in the 
world to come. This Esther was the daughter of Mordecai's 
father's brother ; she remained the same in her youth and in 

^ X:"'3'Tl&5- About the various forms, see Low, Aram. Pflanzennamen, p. 
54, who yet overlooks that the Lat. Eubus is connected with it. I cannot 
agree with him in finding fault with Kohut in the Aruch because he 
placed acantha for snm, for it is no other word (p. 145). 

2 The explanation that nblV is Babylon, is a figurative rather than a 
verbal one. They took this idea from the context of the above passage, 
which speaks of Cyrus as the deliverer. With the word nh^ they identi- 
fied ni5"iVD of Zech. i. 8 [see also D. Kimchi, m loco. — Trans.], where 
myrtle trees are spoken of, and hence the Targum applied it to Esther, 
who came from Babylon. In reference to the meaning of the word nhv> 
it is generally in modern times translated by " the bottom," " the deep," 
which meaning is to my mind an improbable one. It surely refers to the 
wonderful conquest of Babylon by Cyrus, when he dried up the inunda- 
tion which protected it, as Vitringa already has inferred this from Hero- 
dotus and Xenophon. ni?1^ cannot mean anything else but "water," 
" sea," and is connected with da,'h{xaax). K Moses ha Cohen (quoted by 
Ibn Ezra on Zechariah) considered the word n^lVD as equivalent to 
CD n3''"l2, " a pool of water." 


her old age, and never ceased from doing good. She had 
neither father nor mother, was fair in appearance and graceful 
in figure, and when her father and mother died, Mordecai 
adopted her as his daughter. 

Now when the royal decrees were made known, and virgins 
were gathered to Shushan through Hega the royal eunuch 
and keeper of the women, and when Mordecai heard that 
virgins were forcibly demanded, he took Esther and with- 
drew her from the royal messengers, that they should not 
carry her away. He hid her in a summer-house, that they 
should not see her. The daughters of the heathen used to 
dance and show their beauty through the windows when the 
royal messengers passed by, therefore the messengers brought 
many virgins from the provinces. And the messengers knew 
Esther, and when they saw that she was not among these 
virgins, they said one to another : " In vain have we exerted 
ourselves to bring virgins from the provinces, when we have 
in our province a virgin who surpasses in beauty all those 
whom we have brought." And when search was made for 
Esther and she was not found, they made it known to the 
king. When the king heard it, he issued an order ^ that 
every virgin who shall conceal herself from the royal mes- 
sengers, shall be punished with death. Mordecai, hearing 
this order, was afraid, and he conducted his uncle's daughter 
to the market, and so Esther was brought by Hega, the 
keeper of the women, unto the king. And the girl pleased 
him, and was by him rewarded with favours ; he was zealous 
in giving her presents of ornaments and portions, like- 
wise seven virgins were appointed for her from the royal 
house. Yet she gave her portions away to the heathen 
virgins, because she did not want to taste of the wine which 
came from the house of the king. He distinguished her as 
the best of all the women. Esther did not tell who her 
people or her family were, for Mordecai had commanded her 
not to tell. Day by day Mordecai passed by the seraglio, in 
^ Instead of D^DDjn read D^DJD"''!, ^.<?. lixrxit;. 

302 . APPENDIX I. 

order to learn how Esther fared, and what wonderful thincs 

were accomplished through her. IsTow when the time had 

come that these virgins should appear before King Ahhash- 

verosh, for according to the custom the women had to remain 

twelve months, of which six months were spent in using 

unguents and oil of myrrh, and six months in using spices 

and other female preparations. Then the girl came before the 

king, and whatever she wished to take from the harem to the 

king's house was given her. In the evening she went there, 

and in the morning she returned to the harem, accompanied 

by Shaashgaz, the royal eunuch and keeper of the women. 

Her name was inscribed in a book, and she could not come 

again to the king unless he wanted her, and called her by her 

name. But when the time had arrived that Esther, the 

daughter of Abihhayil, Mordecai's uncle — who had in truth 

brought her up like his own daughter — had to appear before 

the king, she did not ask for anything but what Hega, the 

royal eunuch, wished her to have ; and Esther found favour 

in the eyes of all who saw her. Esther was then led to the 

King Ahhashverosh into the royal palace, in the tenth month, 

the month Tebeth, in the seventh year of his reign. And the 

king loved Esther more than all the wives, and she was 

rewarded by him with more grace and favour than all the 

virgins ; and he caused her to reign in tlie place of Vashti. 

The king made a great feast, the feast of Esther, for all his 

lords and statesmen, and distributed many presents in the 

provinces. On the occasion, he said to her : " Pray tell me, 

who are thy people, and what is thy family ? " She replied : 

" I am ignorant both concerning my people and concerning my 

family, because when I was quite a child, my father and 

mother died and left me." Now when the king heard these 

words, he universally remitted the taxes, and gave presents to 

the provinces, because he thought and said to himself, I will 

do good to all the nations and governments, among whom is 

certainly the people of Esther. 

When the virgins were again gathered, and this second 


gathering was only because Esther was living in the palace 
of the king, and he loved her more than all the wives, and 
had put the royal crown upon her head. Yes, the second 
gathering was, because the governors said to the king : "If 
thou wilt that Esther should reveal to thee her nation and 
family, cause her to be jealous by gathering other women, 
and then she will reveal both." So the virgins were gathered 
a second time, and, just then, Mordecai sat at the royal gate. 
Nevertheless, Esther did not tell concerning her people and 
her origin, but was doing just what Mordecai commanded 
her ; for as she was modest in her youth, so she remained 
even when she became queen. Therefore Scripture says : 
" Esther did the commandment of Mordecai, like as when she 
was brought up with him." 

In those days when Mordecai sat at the gates of the royal 
house, Bigthan and Teresh, two of the royal eunuchs and 
keepers of the wardrobe, were wroth, and wanted to lay 
violent hands upon and to kill King Ahhashverosh, having 
devised a plan of putting a poisonous snake ^ in the golden 
cup from which Ahhashverosh drank, in order that it might bite 
and kill him. This affair was revealed to Mordecai by the 
Holy Spirit, and he told it to Esther, who communicated to 
the king in Mordecai's name. The matter was investigated 
and found true, and they were both hanged on a scaffold ; and 
the event was recorded in the chronicle of the king. 

§ VIII. 

After these events. King Ahhashverosh promoted Haman,^ 

^ p"l"in, a snake. The expression in Syro-Chald. came from Persia. It 
is nothing else than " Agramainyus," "Aharman," "Ahriman," the evil 
spirit, who, especially as a serpent, was thought to bring death. This is 
well to be assumed, and not the contrary (Spiegel, Eranische Alterthums- 
kunde, ii. 122). 

2 The genealogy of Haman is most interesting, because it enumerates 
all the enemies and oppressors of the Jews who have oppressed them in 
the Holy Land. It discloses impressions which date from before the 
destruction of Jerusalem. It is not indeed very easy to restore the 


son of Hamdatha the Agagite, son of Stench, son of Eobbery, 
son of Pilate, son of Lysius, son of Florus, son of Fadus, son 
of riaccus, son of Antipater, son of Herod, son of Kefuse, son 
of Decay, son of Parmashta, son of Vajasatha, son of Agag, 
son of the Ked, son of Amalek, son of the concubine of 
Eliphaz, the eldest son of Esau. He made him great, and 
placed him upon a throne higher tlian all his nobles and 
ministers. And all the servants of the king who sat at the 
gate of the royal palace bowed down and prostrated them- 
selves before Haman, because the king had commanded it ; 
but Mordecai did not kneel before him, nor salute him. 
Then the servants of the king who sat at the gate of the 
royal palace said to Mordecai : " What privilege hast thou 
above us, that we should make obeisance before Haman, and 
that thou shouldst not kneel before him ? Why dost thou 
transcfress the command of the kinsj ? " Mordecai answered 
and said to them : " You are foolish, and without under- 
standing ! Hear me, and tell me, you hypocrites (or coal 
blacks), Where is there a man who dares to be so proud 
and haughty ? He a man born of a woman, and his dura- 
tion but a few days ! He who at his birth weeps and cries, 

corrupted names, yet the whole underlying thought supports and confirms 
the emendation. Instead of Dltoi'DX must be read Dlt^^S, Pilatus the 
governor, who was not the less hated by the Jews when he assumed 
the fatal position in the history of Christ. Instead of D^DIH must Felix 
(D'^D^S) be placed (Joseph. Ant. xii. 7. 3 ; 1 Mace. chap, iii.), the remarkable 
and cruel brother of Pallus. Instead of D1"lS is to l3e read D"11^2» Florus. 
Under Gessius Florus broke out the Jewish war (Joseph. Ant. xx. 10. 
11). For '»lj;o is to be read "i^VSj Fadus the procurator of Judea under 
Claudius (Joseph. Ant. xx. 1. 1, etc.). For Ipyi^n is to be read jpvi^a, Flaccus 
the governor of Syria (Joseph. Ant. xviii. 6. 2). For D'^"^D''tD3^< is to be 
read D11DS''£33i<, Antipater, as this clearly appears from his being con- 
nected with Herod. Agag is called "'pOlD 12, the son of the red, viz. 
Kufus. The name Rufus was not merely the name of the enemy in the 
Jewish war, but it is a translation of Edom, Esau himself. Rome was 
understood to be a successor to Edom (com p. my Chazar. Konigsbrief, 
Berlin 1876, p. 53). n^ 13 means a young calf, and refers to Vitellius. 
"^33 12 refers to Cestius Gallus, for njj means a cock (j^niD 1^2, cock 
of the wood). "With respect to the meaning of the names of Haman's 
sons, see the commentary. 


in his youth mourns and sighs, and during all his days is 
full of trouble and vexation, and at last returns to his dust ! 
And shall I kneel before him ? Never ! I only bow before 
the one great and living God in heaven, who is a consuming 
fire and whose angels are fire, who holds the earth in His 
arm, who spread out the heavens by His mighty power, 
who by His will makes the sun to be darkness and the 
darkness to be light, who by His wisdom surrounded the 
ocean with sand, provided the sea with odorous salt and 
with banks, keeping the waves bound in the deep as with 
chains that they should not overflow the land and not pass 
their limit. By His word He created the firmament and 
spread it as a cloud in the air, yea. He spread it as a 
vapour upon the world, and a tent upon the surface of the 
earth, and by His power He carries the things that are above 
and below. Before Him the sun, the moon, and the Pleiades 
run their course, and the stars and planets are not for a 
moment inactive. None of them rest, but all run before 
Him as His messengers, who go right and left to do His 
will. To Him who created them belongs praise, and before 
Him one must bow." They replied to Mordecai : " Neverthe- 
less, one of thy fathers bowed before one of the fathers of 
Haman ! " " Who was it," exclaimed Mordecai, " who bowed 
before the ancestor of Haman ? " Tbey rejoined : " Was it 
not thy father Jacob who bowed before his brother Esau, 
the ancestor of Haman ? " He in reply said, " I am of the 
posterity of Benjamin,^ and when Jacob bowed before Esau, 

1 It appears from the above that in the days of the Targum Jacob's 
bowing before Esau, who was identified with Rome, was not looked upon 
by the Jews with a favourable eye. But this happened when Benjamin 
was not yet born, therefore Mordecai his descendant was justified in 
refusing homage to Haman, Esau's descendant. Nor was Benjamin 
present when the children of Jacob sold Joseph, therefore his descendant 
Mordecai becomes the deliverer of Israel whom Haman had sold. The 
silence of Esther concerning her origin was referred to as typified in 
the silence of Rachel when Jacob searched for the teraphim of Laban, 
and especially to Benjamin. The latter was on the ground, that the stone 
for his [Benjamin's] tribe in the breastplate of Aaron (Ex. xxviii. 20) 



Benjamin was not yet born, and he never in all his life 
bowed before a man. Hence an eternal covenant was made 
with him while he was yet in his mother's womb, until the 
time that Israel shall go up to their land and build the 
temple in his territory, and that the Shechinah shall dwell 
in his border, and that all Israel shall rejoice there, and that 
the nations shall bow and prostrate themselves in his land. 
But I shall not bow before the wicked Haman, this 
enemy ! " 

Day by day they thus spake to him, and he did not 
hearken to them. They then reported him to Haman, to 
see whether the words of Mordecai will stand, in that he 
told them that he was a Jew. When Haman saw that 
Mordecai refused to bow before him, he was full of wrath 
against him. — But he was too despicable an object in his 
eyes to lay violent hands on him alone, and he wanted 
rather to destroy all those Jews who were sojourning in the 
empire of Ahhashverosh. In the first month, which is the 
month Msan, in the twelfth year of the reign of Ahhashverosh, 
he cast the lot, in order to destroy the holy people. Then 
an echoing voice from heaven resounded, and said : " Fear 
not, congregation of Israel ! If you turn with repentance 
to God, then the lot will fall upon him instead of thee." 
The scribe Shamshai began to cast the lot before Haman day 
by day. He began on the first day of the week, but did not 
succeed, because on that day were the heavens and the earth 
created. The second day was likewise unpropitious, because 
on it the firmament was created. He failed on the third day, 
because on it the garden of Eden was created. The fourth 
day was unfavourable to him, because on it were created the 
sun, the moon, the seven stars, and the twelve planets. The 

was a jasper (Heb. nSK^''), which was interpreted as composed of two 
words na K'N "he had a mouth," and yet he was silent (Midrasli 
Esther 926; comp. K. Behhai on Yalkut Keuheni 104c). From this 
etymology plainly comes that which Pliny observes (lib. 37, § 118) : 
"Libet obiter sanitatem magicam hie qiioque coarguere, ipioniam hanc 
utilem esse concionantibus prodiderunt." 


fifth day ^ did not serve liis purpose, because on it were created 
the leviathan and the cock of the wood, which have been ap- 
pointed for a feast to the congregation of Israel on the great day. 
The sixth day was unfavourable, because on it Adam and 
Eve were created ; and likewise the seventh day, because it is 
a covenant between the word of the Lord and the people of 
Israel. He then left the days and began with the months. 

^ The legend of the leviathan and cock of the wood being created on 
the fifth day, in order that Israel should feast on them on the great day 
(X3"l NJDV), is very remarkable, and betrays Christian influence. In 
Gen. i. 21 we read that on the fifth day were created the ocean monsters 
(D^J^^n). The Targum Yerushalmi adds, that the leviathan was also 
created on the fifth day for the purpose of serving a feast on the great 
day. But no mention is made of the cock of the wood (j<"i3 t^^lJin). The 
passages which are generally adduced from the 0. T. for the great feast, 
viz. Isa. xxvii. 1, Job xl. 26, etc., do not give in the slightest way 
any information concerning a banquet of leviathan and the cock of the 
wood. The passage here is to be understood as a contrast to Christian 
symbolism. The leviathan is the opposite of ichthys [fish], which is the 
emblem of Christ, and contains the acrostic of His name. Joshua (yiK^), 
the conqueror of Canaan, was also the son of Nun, which means fish. On 
the fifth day — on Thursday, which is called the great fifth (^£y«?i>j 
-TrifiTrrYi) — Christ constituted the Lord's Supper, when He said, "Take, 
eat, this is my body." The idea of the feast of the leviathan was started 
as a counterpart to the supper of the ichthys. That this is really so, is 
seen from the addition of the 5^13 ^JilD, which is only found in this place. 
The cock of the wood, or "wild cock," stands for the cock in general. 
It is well known that the Jews have on the eve of the Day of Atonement 
a cock for every male as an atonement, when they say : " This is my 
substitution, this is my vicarious sacrifice, this is my atonement, this 
cock shall go to death, and I shall enter into life." That this act is 
vicarious may be seen from the fact that the cock is called Geber, i.e. 
" man," and has special reference to Christ, who is called Geber in Zech. 
xiii. 7. Certainly most Jews are not acquainted with the fact that these 
Christian ideas are contained in that ceremony ; but learned Jews have 
perceived the hidden meaning, and have consequently discouraged the use 
of the ceremony altogether. It is remarkable that it was customary to 
use a fish for the same purpose, in case a cock was wanting. It had the 
same symbolism. Julius Africanus says also : " Christ is the fish who 
nourishes the world." Upon pictures of the Lord's Supper are found a 
fish instead of a lamb on the dish. It is likewise the custom among the 
Jews to have fish and cock in their Sabbath meals. The feast of the 
leviathian represented the same as that of the cock. The Targumist 
unites the two, in order to indicate that the feast will consist of fish and 
meat. Concerning the symbolism of the fish, see my Eddischen Studien 
pp. 118-121. 


Nisan was not appropriate, because of the meritorious influence 
of the feast of the Passover. Nor lyar, because during this 
month fell the manna. Nor Sivan, because in it was the 
Law given on Mount Sinai. Nor Tamuz, because in it were 
the walls of Jerusalem broken, and two evils cannot take 
place in the same month. Nor Ab/ because in it the 
Israelites in the desert ceased from dying away, and the 
Shechinah of the Lord of the universe began again to speak 
with Moses. Nor Elul, because in it Moses went up on 
Mount Sinai to bring down the second tables. Nor Tishri, 
because in it the sins of Israel are forgiven. Nor Marh- 
heshvan, because the flood ceased in the same month, when 
Noah and all his were saved. Nor Kislev, because in it was 
laid the foundation of the temple. Nor Tebeth, because in it 
the wicked Nebuchadnezzar went up against Jerusalem, and 
this tribulation was sufficient. Nor Shebat, because this 
month is the new year for the trees, of which the first-fruits 
are offered. When he finally came to the twelfth month, the 
month Adar, he said : " Now they are caught by my hands like 
the fish of the sea." But he did not know that the children 
of Joseph are likened to fish, as it is written : " They shall 
multiply like the fish of the sea, among men upon the earth." 
And Haman spake to King Ahhashverosh : " There is a 
certain people of the Jews, scattered and thrown about among 
the nations in all the provinces of the empire ; they are proud 
and haughty, they bathe in Tebeth in tepid water, and in 
Tamuz they sit in cold baths. They practise laws and 
customs which are different from those of every other nation 
and country, and do not walk according to our laws, nor have 
pleasure in our customs, nor do they serve the king. When 
they see us they spit on the ground, and consider us in the 
light of an unclean thing. When we go to them and order 
them to do some service to the king, then they jump down 
the walls, break down the fences, and make their escape 
through the gaps. When we try to catch them, they turn 
^ This significance of the month Ab appears only in this place. 


round and stand staring at us, gnash with their teeth, stamp 
with their feet, and so frighten us that we are not able to 
take hold of them. We do not marry their daughters, and 
they do not marry ours. Is any of them taken for the 
service of the king, he passes the day in idleness, with all 
kinds of excuses, such as to-day is the Sabbath, to-day is 
Passover. The day on which they want to buy from us they 
call a lawful day, and the day on which we want to buy 
something from them they call an unlawful day, and they 
close the market for us. In the first hour of the day they 
say, ' We must read the Shema ' (Deut. vi. 4) ; in the second 
hour they say, * We must pray ; ' in the third, ' We must 
eat ; ' in the fourth they say, ' We must thank the God of 
heaven for having given us bread and water.' In the fifth 
they go out for a walk. In the sixth they come back. In 
the seventh they go to meet their wives, who say to them, 
* Here is some soup to refresh you after the heavy toil which 
the tyrannical king put on you.' One day in the week they 
keep as a day of rest, in which they go to their synagogues, 
read in their books, interpret their prophets, curse our king, 
imprecate our rulers, and say : ' This is the seventh day, in 
which the great God rested.' 

" Their unclean wives go after seven days, in the middle 
of the night, and defile the water. On the eighth day they 
circumcise their sons, without any pity upon them, in order, 
as they say, thereby to differ from other nations. Thirty 
days they call a month, and they say one month is complete 
and another is defective. In the month of Nisan they keep a 
feast, lasting eight days, when they remove and burn every- 
thing that is leaven, and cleanse their utensils, and say, 
' This is the day in which our fathers were redeemed from 
Egypt ; ' and they call this day Passover, and go to their 
synagogues, read their books, interpret their prophets, curse 
the king, imprecate the governors, and say, * Like the leaven 
is removed from that which is unleavened, so may the king- 
dom of the tyrant be removed from among us, and so may we 


be delivered from this foolish king.' In the month Sivan 
they keep a feast of two days, in which they go into their 
synagogues, read the Shema, pray, read their law, interpret 
their prophets, curse the king, imprecate the governors, and 
call it the day of convocation/ They then go up to the 
roof of the house of their God, and throw down pomegranates 
and apples, and then collect them, and say, ' Like as we 
gather these pomegranates and apples, so may their sons be 
gathered out from amongst us.' They also say, 'This is 
the day in which the Law was given to our fathers on Mount 
Sinai.' A certain time they call new year, viz. the first of 
Tishri, in which they go to their synagogues, read their 
books, interpret their prophets, curse the king, imprecate the 
governors, blow the trumpets, and say, 'On this day the 
remembrance of our fathers comes up before our Father in 
heaven. May our remembrance conduce to our good, and 
that of our enemies conduce to their evil.' On the ninth of 
the same month they slaughter geese and animals, eat and 
drink sumptuously — they, their wives, their sons, and their 
daughters. The tenth of this month they call a great fast 
day, on which they, their wives, and their sons and daughters 
fast; and they harass even their children and sucklings, 
without pity upon them, and they say, ' On this day are our 
sins atoned, yea, our sins are collected and added to the sins 
of our enemies.' They go to their synagogues, read their 
books, interpret their prophets, curse the king, imprecate the 
governors, and say, 'May this foolish kingdom be blotted 
out from the world ; ' and they pray and supplicate that the 

1 On the t^mvyi XDI^ they go to their synagogues and throw apples. 
The Feast of Weeks was called Azereth, " convocation," like the last day 
of the Feast of Tabernacles. The former is a commemoration of the giving 
of the Law, the latter is devoted to rejoicing for the Law. In the West 
the throwing of apples takes place on the latter feast, on miD nniOSJ^, 
which is in the autumn. The Tania (p. 129a) speaks of DHJO, "fruit," 
which the min |nn caused to be thrown. Of this also speaks the Minhagini 
(p. 47), and therefore the pTl, the priestly benediction, does not take place 
at C]D1D, "the supplementary service." The use of tl)Zr\ was chosen in 
allusion to Pro v. xxv. 11. 


king may die, and that his government may be destroyed. 
On the fifteenth day of the same month they erect booths 
on the roofs of their houses, then they go into our orchards, 
cut down our palm leaves, pluck down our citrons, break our 
willows (or spice trees), destroy our gardens and our fences with- 
out any pity, and then they make of the branches hosannas,^ 
and say, 'As the king does among the arrayed army, so do 
w^e/ Then they go to their synagogues, read their books, pray, 
rejoice, go around wdth their hosannas, jump and dance like 
goats, and we do not know whether they curse or bless us- 
They call this feast the Feast of Tabernacles, and do not 
perform the work of the king, saying to us, ' This is a 
forbidden day/ Thus they spend the year, with the excuse of 
' Sheehy, Pheehy,' i.e. ' To-day is a Sabbath, to-day is a feast.' ^ 

^ [Hosanna means, Save now. It was first used as a prayer in Ps. cxviii. 25. 
Secondly, as a Messianic acclamation when Jesus entered triumphantly 
into Jerusalem. Thirdly, the five twigs of willow tied with a palm leaf, 
and smitten in the synagogue on the Feast of Tabernacles to symbolize the 
defeat of the Satanic kingdom by the Messiah, are called hosanna. — Trans.] 

^ The speech of Haman before the king, as given by the Targum, is 
very remarkable. It vividly describes the accusations which were 
brought against the Jews in the time of the Targumist, and which are 
still brought against them by their enemies. Whatever they did is taken 
amiss. They are represented to live extravagantly, because, forsooth, 
they bathe in the summer in cold, and in the winter in tepid water. 
They are reproached for feeding upon roast geese before the fast day. 
They are further reproached that they have no relish for the service of 
the king, that they hate other nations, curse the kings, and that they 
continually have holidays as an excuse for not doing loyal service to the 
government. We must remark upon some of the items of this speech, 
because they are not without historical interest. It is said twice that they 
spent their time with TID MEJ' instead of doing some useful service. The 
same expression is found in Bab. Megilla 136 (MtJ'n i<n^ ifh)2b SpD^T 
MDl). Eashi explains the words as initial letters of n3K^ DVn riDS 
DVn, as if they always excused themselves with the saying, " To-day is 
iBabbath, to-day is Passover." Though this explanation is given above, 
yet I do not agree with it. Levy in Chald. Lex.^ voce TID, says that Rashi's 
explanation is forced. I now think it an impossible one. First, because 
the feast of the Passover happens only once in the year, and they could 
not excuse themselves the whole year round by saying : " To-day is 
Passover." Secondly, such an acrostic abbreviation may look well to the 
Rye, but sounds badly to the ear. It is plainly an alliterative formula, 
expressing "doing nothing," or "doing useless things," as we have in 


" Fifty years they call a jubilee ; seven years, a jubilee week ; 
twelve months, a year ; thirty days, a month ; the seventh day 
they call a day of rest, and they keep it as a feast day, in which 
the Lord of the universe rested. When their kingdom was 
yet standing, there arose a king among them whose name was 
David, who harboured thoughts of evil against us, and wished 
to kill us and to exterminate us from the world. Two parts of 
us he killed and rooted out, and one part he left. Yet of 
those he left he made servants. As it is written: *And he 
measured them with the line, making them to lie down on 
the ground ' (2 Sam. viii. 2). After him rose up one of the 
kings w4io were thy predecessors ; his name was Nebuchad- 
nezzar, and he went against them, destroyed their temple, 
plundered their city, and led them into captivity, and still 
they are high-spirited and have not given up their haughti- 
ness till now, but say : * We are the children of renowned 
fathers, and we have never subjected ourselves nor bowed to 
liings, neither have we obeyed governors.' They send letters 
to every place, asking for prayers to God that the king may 
die, and that our rule may be destroyed ; and this they do 
without our knowledge. When their forefathers came down 
to Egypt they were only seventy persons, but when they 
went up (out of Egypt) they were sixty myriads. And even 
now, though they are likewise in captivity, and have nothing, 
yet they say : ' We are the children of pious and good people.' 
But, in fact, there is not a more poor and faulty people in the 
world than they are. This people is in all the towns ; some 
of them are dealers in wax^ and candle provisioners, and some 

German Larifari and SchnicJcschnack, and in English shilly-shally and 
helter-skelter. I remark, in passing, that Larifari comes from the Greek 
7.i^pog, which Grimm and others have overlooked. The Komans said 
hutu batta. It is, moreover, interesting to note that such meaningless 
alliterations, like Phehy, generally begin with F, thus : Foxen, Jloccus, 
flyaros, larifari, and therefore Sheehy, Pheehy, may mean useless words in 
reference to Pe, month. 

•^ fc^lV "•33T- When the Targumist makes Haman complain that some 
are dealers in wax and candles, and that others are rich, but that they 
obtain their riches in a wrong way, he shows that Haman's intention 


of them are great men. Everything they sell, they sell at an 
overcharged price, and everything they buy, they do not pay 
its value ; they do not observe the laws and ordinances of the 
king, and the king has no advantage in tolerating them or in 
allov^ing them to exist. 

" If it please the king, let him write an order for their 
extermination, and I will give thee for every one of them a 
hundred zuzin ; and as the total number of their ancestors 
when they went out from Egypt was six hundred thousand 
men, and ten thousand kikar silver are equal to six hundred 
thousand zuzin, so if it please the king I will deliver this 
money from my treasury into thy treasury. It needs only a 
stroke of the pen, and the silver in full weight shall be 
delivered through the officers of the mint into the treasury of 
the king." Then the king of kings answered and said : " They 
have long ago paid a sela (half a shekel) per head, when they 
went out of Egypt, and the sum amounted to one hundred 
kikar, and one thousand seven hundred and seventy-seven selas. 
Thou hast therefore no right to sell them, nor has Ahhash- 
verosh a right to buy them." Then the king took off his ring 
from his hand and gave it to Haman, son of Hamdatha the 

was to make the Jews appear contemptible. He represents them on the 
one hand as poor miserable people, who maintain themselves as dealers 
in a small way, and on the other hand as usurers. The trade in wax, ii,i^p 
(cera), did not bring large profits. The Jews were in the habit of using 
many wax candles in their service in the synagogue as well as at home, 
especially on the Day of Atonement ; and the singling out of this trade 
seems to be a mocking allusion to it. This is seen in Sanhed. 95a .• " Thy 
grandson buys wax, and art not thou sorry ? " In the Minhagim of the year 
1692 (Dyhernfurt), p. 38, we read : " On the eve of the Day of Atonement 
it is necessary to light a candle, for the candle atones ("1D3D) for the soul 
(niDtJ^j), which is also a candle. It is also an honour for the synagogues 
to have many candles." A curious story is told that in t^^t^'Ji, Germany, 
candles were only lighted for men and not for women. The man has 258 
members in his body ; add to this his soul and spirit, nil and HDK^J, 
the initials of which are ^j, candle, and numerically also 250. In other 
countries, candles are lighted for the women also, though they have four 
members more in their bodies than the men. As iCi'^p "^^Tj "buyers of 
wax," and j'tviQ ptTlj " those who hang up candles," are connected together, 
so in the usage of the Byzantine Church KYipoi and v'h^''^' stand together. 

314 . APPENDIX I. 

Agagite, the oppressor of the Jews. And the king said to 
Haman : " The money is given to thee, and the people too, to 
do with them as it seems best in thy sight." 

But thou, Ahhashverosh, hast neither acted like a buyer 
nor like a seller, for a buyer gives money and a seller takes 
money ; but thou hast given thy ring to Haman, and hast said 
to him : " Thy money is given thee and the people, to do 
with them as it seems best in thy sight." In thee is the 
verse verified whicli says : "As a ring of gold in a swine's 
snout (Prov. xi. 22). As rings do not befit swine, so the 
kingdom does not befit thee, and thou art like a beautiful 
woman of bad morals." 

Then the scribes of the king were called together on the 
thirteenth day of the month Nisan, and everything which 
Haman commanded concernincr the Jews was written down, 
for all the dignitaries of the king, and for all the great men 
in every province, and for the rulers of every people. In the 
writing and language of each country and people it was 
written in the name of King Ahhashverosh and sealed with 
the royal seal. And letters were sent by swift messengers 
to all the provinces of the king to destroy, to kill, and to 
exterminate all the Jews, from boys to old men, infants and 
women in one day, namely, on the thirteenth day of the 
twelfth month, the month Adar, and also to plunder their 
houses. The writing was explained, and its object was 
revealed and published to all the nations in every province, 
that they should be prepared for that day. All this happened 
that thou (reader) mayest know that God never fails to 
punish with measure for measure. You have seen that 
because the brethren of Joseph sold him into a strange land, 
therefore their descendants were likewise sold into a strange 
land ; but as Benjamin did not take part in this transaction 
with his brethren, for that reason two of his descendants, viz. 
Mordecai and Esther, became redeemers of Israel. The swift 
messengers hastened on with the decree of the king, and it 
was also published in the capital Shushan, while the king and 


Haman sat down to eat and to drink, and the city of Shushan 
was in a state of lamentation. 

§ IX. 

And Mordecai, the righteous, saw by the Holy Spirit 
everything that had been done, viz. that the king had sent 
word from his palace by his servants to the righteous 
Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachai, who were in the chamber 
of hewn stones, and were prophesying on the great wall of 
Jerusalem, that they should stop the w^ork of building 
after seventy-two towers were already built. The wicked 
Ahhashverosh also fetched a hundred and twenty -seven 
scribes from a hundred and twenty-seven provinces, every 
one of whom had a roll and a book in his hand. They 
sat at the gates of Shushan and wrote, and sent out 
grievous decrees concerning the Jews and their laws. The 
first letter written in the name of the king, and sealed with 
his signet-ring, they despatched by swift messengers, and the 
contents were as follows : — " From me. King Ahhashverosh, 
to all peoples, nations, and languages who live in all the 
land, peace be multiplied. I make known to you, that a 
certain man came to us, who is not from our place nor from 
our province, and he came for the purpose of joining us, that 
we might prevail against our enemies. We have made 
investigation concerning him, and (we find) that his name is 
Haman, son of King Agag, son of the great Amalek, son of 
Eeuel, son of Eliphaz the first-born of Esau, in fact, a 
descendant of prominent lords and wealthy people. This 
man asked of me a small and insignificant petition, and 
informed me concerning the Jews and their blameworthy 
laws and affairs. He said, *When they came out from 
Egypt they numbered six hundred thousand men, and so I 
will give thee six hundred thousand minas ^ of silver, a 

^ [Mina was a certain weight of silver, variously estimated as consisting 
of from fifteen to one hundred shekels. Comp. 2 Chron. ix. 16 ; 1 Kings 
X. 17 ; Ezek. xl. 12, etc.— Trans.] 

316 . APPENDIX I. 

mina for every man ; ' for which sum he desired that I 
should sell this people to him to be killed. Then I, 
Ahhashverosh, greatly rejoiced, and after mature deliberation, 
I took the money from him and sold the people to him to 
be slauf^htered. Therefore, eat and drink and be merry, as I 
eat and drink and am merry. He that understands to 
handle the bow, let him use the bow ; and he that can fight 
with the sword, let him seize the svvord, and go you out and 
overpower them on the fourteenth and fifteenth days of the 
month, which is called in our language Adar. Do not spare 
either their princes, their rulers, their great men, nor even 
their little children, but kill them and spoil their goods. I, 
King Ahhashverosh, do therefore hereby decree for all 
nations, languages, places, provinces, and for every tribe and 
family and town, that wherever a Jewish man-servant or a 
Jewish maid-servant is found, their masters shall slay them 
at the gate of the city, because they have not obeyed the 
order of the king which was issued by me, that no Jews 
should be found upon the soil of my empire." 

And when Mordecai, the righteous, heard of the decree 
which was issued, and of the letters which were sealed, he 
rent his garments in the front and behind, and put on 
sackcloth and rolled himself in ashes, and lifted up his voice 
and cried, " Woe ! how great is this decree which the king 
and Haman have decreed against us ! Not a half of us has 
he condemned and a half spared, no not even a third or a 
fourth part has he spared, but the king and Haman have 
determined that we should all as a body be killed, destroyed, 
and rooted out." Now, when the people of Israel saw the 
righteous Mordecai, who was a greatly esteemed Eab ^ over 
them, they assembled together and came to him in very 
large multitudes. Then Mordecai stood up in the midst of 
the assembly and addressed them as follows : " People of 

^ [This title may also help us in deciding as to the age of the Targum. 
It shows that it was written outside of Palestine, for there the same title 
was Mar. — Trans.] 


Israel, beloved and dear to the Father in heaven I Do you 
not know, and have you not heard, that the king and Haman 
have determined to destroy us from off the face of the earth, 
and to exterminate us from under heaven ? Alas ! we have 
no king on whom we can rely, nor a prophet who should 
pray for us, nor a place into which we can flee, nor a 
country where we would be safe, for to every place it was 
written, and to every province a message was sent concerning 
us ! We are like sheep without a shepherd, and like a ship 
without a pilot. Yea, we are like orphans without a father, 
and like suckling babes whose mother has died." Immedi- 
ately the holy ark was brought out to the gates of Shushan, 
and the book of the Law was taken out, and they covered 
it with sackcloth, and ashes spread upon it, and then they 
read therein : " When thou art in tribulation, and all these 
things have come upon thee, etc., thou should turn to the 
Lord thy God ; for the Lord thy God is a merciful God " 
(Deut. iv. 30, 31). Mordecai again rose in the midst of the 
congregation and said : " People of Israel ! Beloved and dear 
people ! Beloved and precious to God 1 Let us look for 
an example to the people of Nineveh ! When the prophet 
Jonah, the son of Amittai, was sent to announce to them that 
the city of Nineveh would be destroyed, and when the tidings 
reached the king of Nineveh, he arose from his throne, laid 
aside the royal throne, put on sackcloth, rolled himself in 
ashes, and issued a proclamation in Nineveh, saying : * The 
decree of the king and his nobles commands thus: Let 
neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste anything; let 
them not feed nor drink water. Let them turn from their 
evil ways, and from the violence that is in their hands.' 
' And the Lord turned by His word from the evil which He 
thought He would do unto them, and He did it not.' Let 
us also do as they did, and institute and proclaim fasts, 
because we are banished from Jerusalem ; and because of 
Israel's guilt, an echoing voice called upon wicked Nebuchad- 
nezzar, and said : ' Nebuchadnezzar, king of Chaldea ! Arise 


and go against Jerusalem, and destroy it, and burn the 
temple with fire I ' At that time Nebuchadnezzar shook 
his head and wrung his hands, knowing well what was the 
fate of Sennacherib's army, when an angel was sent down 
from heaven who killed eighteen myriads and five thousand 
of them, so that none remained alive but he himself." While 
Mordecai was thus speaking, he rent his garments, put on 
sackcloth, sat down in the dust, rolled himself in ashes, and 
burst into tears, and cried : " Woe to you, house of Israel, 
that such a decree has been issued against you ! " He then 
went into the city and cried loudly and bitterly. Then he 
went to the gate of the royal palace, because there was a 
decree which ordered that no man should come to the gate 
of the house of the king clothed in sackcloth. When, now, 
an Israelite came to a heathen and said to him : " I pray 
thee, let me and my wife and children be thy slaves, only 
that we may be delivered from being killed," then the 
heathen answered : " Seest thou not what is written in the 
decree which King Ahhashverosh has published, that if a 
Jew is found with any of our people, that man shall be 
killed like him." Whereupon the Jew went home in great 
distress. At this time was verified that which is written in 
the law of Moses concerning Israel : " Ye shall sell yourselves 
unto your enemies for bondmen and bondwomen, and no 
man shall buy you " (Deut. xxviii. 68). Day by day every one 
of them went and read the published royal decree, and then he 
knew how long he had yet to live in the world. Thus again 
was realized what is written in the law of Moses : " And thy 
life shall hang in doubt before thee ; and thou shalt fear 
night and day, and shalt have none assurance of thy life ; in 
the morning thou shalt say, Would God it were even 1 and at 
even thou shalt say, Would God it were morning ! for the 
fear of thine heart which thou shalt fear, and for the sight of 
thine eyes which thou shalt see" (Deut. xxviii. 06, 67). 

In every place and province where the king's decree came, 
there was great lamentation amongst the Jews, consisting of 


fasting, weeping, wailing, mourning, sackcloth, and, among 
many of them, lying in ashes. 

And Esther's maidens and her chamberlains came and told 
it her; and the queen was exceedingly grieved, and she sent 
raiment to clothe Mordecai, and to take his sackcloth from off 
him, but he received it not. Then called Esther for Hathach, 
one of the king's chamberlains, whom he had appointed to 
attend upon her, to charge him to go to Mordecai, to know 
what this was, and why it was. So Hathach went forth to 
Mordecai, unto the broad place of the city, which was before 
the king's gate. And Mordecai told him of all that had 
happened unto him, and the exact sum of the money that 
Haman had promised to pay by weight to the king's 
treasuries for the Jews to destroy them. And he gave him 
an explicit copy of the writing of the decree that was 
published in Shushan, to destroy them, to show it unto 
Esther, and to declare it unto her ; and to 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 
Hathach came and told Esther the words of Mordecai. 
Then Esther spake unto Hathach,-^ and charged him to say 
to 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 for him, that he be put to death, 
except such as to whom the king shall hold out the golden sceptre, 
that he may live. And behold, I have been praying for thirty 
days, that the king should not ask for me and cause me to sin ; 
for as I was trained by thee, thou didst say to me, that every 
woman of the daughters of Israel who of her own free will co- 
habits with a heathen, has no part among the tribes of Israel." 
And because Hathach was a messenger between Esther and 
Mordecai, Haman was very wroth against him, and killed 
him. The words of Esther were then reported by writing to 

^ It is inferred that Haman caused Hathach to he killed, because he 
is no more mentioned. But in Megilla 15a he is identified with Daniel. 


Mordecai. And Mordecai said in reply to Esther as follows : 
" Perhaps thou imaginest that thou at any rate art safe, and 
sayest to thyself, I need not pray for Israel ; but when only 
a foot of one Jew is struck, do not think that thou, of all 
Jews, shalt escape. For thy ancestor Saul caused this evil to 
Israel, because if he had done what the prophet Samuel told 
him, then the tyrant Haman would not have sprung from the 
children of the house of Amalek ; and if he had killed King 
Agag, this son of Hamdatha would never have risen against 
us, and would never have sold us for ten thousand kikar of 
silver to King Ahhashverosh, and the Holy One, blessed 
be He ! would not have delivered Israel into the hands of 
two tyrants. Nor, at the beginning (of our history) would 
Amalek, the ancestor of Haman, have come against Israel and 
carried on war against Joshua, son of Nun, at Eephidim, 
though, through the prayer of Moses, the memory of Amalek 
was blotted out from the world. Arise, therefore, and pray 
to thy heavenly Father for the people of Israel. He who did 
justice to the first generation will also do justice to those 
who came after them. Is, then, Haman the tyrant stronger 
than another ? Or is his decree of greater duration ? Is he 
stronger than his ancestor Amalek, who came against Israel, 
but whom the Lord removed from the world ? Is he stronger 
than those thirty-one kings who likewise came against Israel, 
but against whom Joshua, instructed by a word from heaven, 
went and killed them ? Is he stronger than Sisera, who 
came against Israel with nine hundred iron chariots, and closed 
the cisterns against them, in order that their wives should 
not bathe, . . . that they should not multiply and increase 
in the world, but whom God delivered into the hand of a 
woman, and she killed him ? Is, indeed, this wicked Haman 
stronger than Goliath, who came and blasphemed the armies 
of Israel, but who was delivered into the hands of David, and 
he killed him ? Is he stronger than the sons of Orphah, who 
came and carried on war against Israel, but who were delivered 
into the hands of David and of his servants, and they killed 


them. Therefore withhold not thy mouth from prayer, nor thy 
lips from interceding for mercy from thy Creator. And pray that, 
for the sake of the righteousness of our fathers' Israel, we may 
be delivered from slaughter ; and He who has at all times done 
wonders for them will also deliver our enemies into our hands, 
and we shall do with them as we please. But, Esther, do not 
fancy that thou, of all the Jews, shalt be saved in the house 
of the king. For if thou neglectest thy opportunity at this 
time. He who is the Holy One, and the Eedeemer of the Jews 
at all times, will cause redemption to spring up for them from 
another place, but thou and thy father's house shall perish. 
And who knows whether thou hast not come to the kingdom 
because the sins of thy father's house are called to account." 

Then Esther answered Mordecai by letter : " Go gather 
together all the Jews that are found in Shushan, and fast for 
me, and neither eat nor drink three days and three nights ; 
and I also and my maidens will fast in like manner, and so 
will I go in unto the king without being summoned ; and if 
I perish in this world for your sake, I shall have a portion 
in the world to come. Hitherto I went to the king against 
my will, but now I go willingly. And a daughter of Israel 
who is violated by a Gentile is a lawful wife to her husband. 
Let the bridegroom go out from his sleeping-room covered 
with sackcloth, and let the bride likewise leave her nuptial 
chamber with her head covered with ashes. Let men and 
beasts and sheep not taste anything for three days, and let 
the babes be separated from the breasts of their mothers." 

Immediately they inspected the assembly, and they found 
in it twelve thousand young priests. These seized trumpets 
with their right hand and the books of the law with their 
left, and then wept and cried towards heaven, and said : " O 
God of Israel ! behold the law which Thou hast given us. 
Behold, Thy beloved people is about to cease from the world. 
Who will read therein and speak of Thy name ? The sun and 
moon will be dark, and not give their light, for they were 
created but for Thy people Israel." They then fell upon their 


faces, and cried: "Answer us, Father, answer us ! Answer 
us, King, answer us ! " And they blew the trumpets, and 
the people cried aloud after them, so that the hosts of heaven 
wept, and the patriarchs were moved in their graves. 

Mordecai went and did everything which Esther charged 
him to do. And it was on the third day, after Esther had 
three successive fasts, she arose from the earth where she was 
sitting, bowed down in dust and ashes, not having changed 
her raiment, and she put on royal apparel, which was em- 
broidered with gold of Ophir, adorned herself with a fine silk 
dress wrought with diamonds and pearls that were brought 
from Africa,^ and put the golden crown upon her head, and 
shoes of pure refined gold ^ upon her feet. After this she 
prayed thus : " Thou who art the great God of Abraham, of 
Isaac, and of Jacob, and the God of my father Benjamin, it 
was not because I was right before Thee that I came to this 
foolish king, but for the sake of Thy people Israel, that they 
should not perish from the world. For the sake of Israel the 
whole world was created, and if Israel should perish from the 
world, who will say before Thee thrice every day, ' Holy, holy, 
holy ' ? Save me from the hand of this foolish king, as Thou 
didst once save Hananiab, Mishael, and Azariah from the 
burning furnace, and Daniel from the den of lions, and cause 
me to find favour and grace in his eyes." She broke forth 
into tears, and further prayed and earnestly supplicated : " I 
beseech Thee, hear this prayer, hearken to my supplication 
at this time, when we are banished and removed from our 
land. Ah ! on account of our sins hast Thou delivered us, 
that that which is written might be fulfilled in us : ' And 
then ye shall sell yourselves unto your enemies for bondmen 

^ That pearls should have been brought from the land of ''p''lDX would 
he surprising, were it not that in the ethnographical tables, Gen. x., the 
Targuin Yerushalrni in some copies puts under sons of Cush the countries 
lying between Cyrene and Numidia. The Indian pearls were considered 
in ancient times as the most famous (Pliny, lib. ix. c. 45). Aelian says 
{Thiergesch. x. 13) that the pearls of India and the Red Sea are the best. 

^ [r"i3K is probably derived from Ophir ; the Q is changed into a 3. — 


and bondwomen, and no man shall buy you.' A law has 
been issued to kill us, and we are all appointed to the sword 
and to utter extermination. The children of Abraham are 
clothed in sackcloth, and they have thrown ashes upon their 
heads. If our forefathers have sinued, why are the children 
guilty ? If we are destroyed, who will then praise Thee ? If the 
children have sinned and provoked Thine anger, what have the 
sucklings done ? The inhabitants of Jerusalem have moved 
from their graves because Thou hast delivered their children 
to the slaughter. Thou makest us vanish away like the clouds 
of heaven. How few are our days of joy ! To the wicked 
Haman hast Thou delivered us — to our enemy — to be slaugh- 
tered. I will remember before Thee the deeds of Thy beloved. 
Of Abraham I will begin to say : Thou hast tried him with 
all trials ; Thou hast proved him, and found him faithful. 
Oh, assist and support his beloved children, whom Thou hast 
brought to Thyself by the seal of the covenant. Demand an 
account from Haman for our disgrace, and take vengeance on 
the son of Hamdatha by the hands of Thy people Israel, whom 
he wants to cut off like a lamb, and wdiom he oppresses 
grievously in all their places. 

" Thou hast made an everlasting covenant with us. By the 
binding (sacrifice) of Isaac do thou raise us up ! Behold, 
Haman has offered the king ten thousand talents of silver to 
buy us ! Hear us, and bring us out from tribulation into 
freedom. Break down the mighty, yea, break down Haman, 
that he should not rise from his fall." And Esther lifted up 
her voice and cried aloud, and lamented bitterly. With tears 
she prayed fervently, so that her throat and lips became dry, 
and her eyes became dim from weeping. Esther thought in 
her heart, and said : " It may be when I go to the king he 
will not listen to me. Nevertheless, I shall go to the king 
to pray for mercy upon mine inheritance, and may an angel 
of mercy go before me, and grace and favour accompany me, 
the righteousness of Abraham prevent me, the sacrifice of 
Isaac support me, the goodness of Jacob be given into my 


mouth, and the gracefulness of Joseph upon my tongue. 
Happy is the man who trusts in God, for he that trusts in 
Him shall not be confounded. He will extend to me His 
right hand and His left, with which He created the whole 
world. You, all you Israel, pray for mercy for me (for I rely 
upon your kindness), as I also pray for mercy on your behalf. 
For whatever a man asks in the time of his distress from the 
Holy One, blessed be He ! his prayer is heard. Let us see 
that we do the (good) deeds of our fathers, and He will 
answer our petition. The left hand of Abraham seized Isaac 
by the throat, and his right hand held the knife. He will- 
ingly did the will of Thy word, and did not delay to carry 
out Thy message. Heaven opened its windows to give place 
to the angels from on high who cried bitterly, and said thus : 
* Woe to the world if this deed be done ! ' I also call upon 
thee, answer me ! For Thou answerest the prayer of him 
who is oppressed and afflicted. Thou seest the afflicted soul. 
Thou art called the merciful and the gracious ; Thou art slow 
to anger, and plenteous in mercy and truth, and forgivest 
iniquity and transgression ; Thou keepest the covenant of grace 
to those who love Thee and keep Thy commandments for a 
thousand generations. Yea, by our fathers wast Thou called 
the merciful. This covenant which Thou hast made was with 
them. Thou hast heard the voice of Jonah, when he sat and 
wept like a woman in childbirth ; hear also our voice and 
answer us, and bring us out from tribulation into freedom. 
Three days I have already fasted before Thee, what can I do 
more ? Lord of the universe ! I have forgotten the fast of the 
fourth and the fifth, but I fasted three days according to the 
three days in which Abraham went to bind his son upon the 
altar before Thee. Thou didst then make a covenant with him, 
and didst promise him : ' Whenever thy children shall be in 
tribulation, I will remember them favourably for the sake of 
the sacrifice of their father Isaac, and will redeem them.' 
Again, I fasted three days in reference to the three divisions, 
the priests, Levites, and Israelites, who stood at the foot of 


Mount Sinai when they said : ' All that the Lord hath spoken, 
we will do and obey.' Therefore redeem them from this oppres- 
sion!" And Esther continued to pray, and said : " God, Lord 
of hosts ! Thou that searchest the heart and reins, remember 
in this hour the righteousness of Abraham, of Isaac, and of 
Jacob, and do not turn away from my petition, nor delay an 
answer to my request ! " Esther then put on royal apparel 
and stood at the gate of the royal palace of the inner court, 
opposite to the royal palace, and the king sat upon his throne 
opposite the gate. And when the king saw Queen Esther 
standing in the court, she found favour and grace in his sight. 
But the royal executioners^ who stood there were ready to 
kill Esther ; then the king stretched out the golden sceptre 
which he held in his hand to her, and she approached and 
touched the top of the sceptre. 

Then the king said to her: "What wilt thou, Queen 
Esther ? and what is thy request ? It shall be given thee 
even to the half of the kingdom." When Esther heard these 
words she trembled, and said : " I ask for nothing else, but if 
it please the king, let the king and Haman come this day 
unto the banquet that I have prepared for him." 

And the king said : " Call Haman, and make him hasten 
to do as Esther has said." So the king and Haman came to 
the banquet that Esther had prepared. And the king said 
to Esther while drinking wine : " What is thy petition ? and 
it shall be granted thee ; and what is thy request ? even 
to the half of the kingdom it shall be performed." Then 

1 The ni^f'pDDX of the king would have killed Esther had not the 
king intervened, because she came to the king without being summoned. 
Levy in his Chald. Lex. reads speculator. But it must be spiculator, the 
lance-bearers which the Greek Onomasticon calls lopvOvpot, of whom we 
read in Sueton. Claud, cap. xxxvi. : " Neque convivia inire ausus est, 
nisi ut spiculatores cum lanceis circumstarent " (comp. Sueton. Galba, 
cap. xviii.). It is, indeed, true that we find in manuscripts speculator and 
spiculator are often interchanged, hut in no place is speculator used for a 
lance-bearer. The ideas of spy (speculator) and of bodyguard (spiculator) 
are quite different. Even Salmasius on Spart Hadrian (cap. xi. ed. Haack, 
i. 107) has not clearly distinguished the one from the other. 


answered Esther and said : " My petition and my request ? 
Thou, king, art good without parallel, and if I have found 
favour and grace and mercy before thee, and if it please the 
king to grant my petition and to perform my request, let the 
king and Haman come to the banquet that I shall prepare for 
them, and I will to-morrow do as the king has said." For three 
reasons Esther invited Haman to the banquet. Eirst, because 
Esther knew that Haman was angry against Hathach, and 
was about to kill him, for his going on errands between her 
and Mordecai, and therefore she thought : " I will invite him 
to the banquet in order to appease him." Secondly, she 
thought : ■' I may eradicate the hatred from his heart, and again 
I shall excite the jealousy of Ahhashverosh against Haman, 
for the king will say : ' What must be the reason that of 
all my governors Esther invited none but Haman to the 
banquet ? ' " Thirdly, she thought : '* The eyes of all Israel 
are directed towards me, that I should request the king to 
kill Haman ; I will therefore invite him to the banquet, in 
order that the heart of Israel may be changed and directed 
to the heavenly Father to ask for mercy from Him." Then 
went Haman forth that day joyful and glad of heart ; but 
when Haman saw Mordecai in the king's gate, that he stood 
not up nor moved for him, he was filled with wrath against 
Mordecai. Nevertheless, Haman restrained himself and went 
to his house, and he sent and fetched his friends and Zeresh 
his wife. And Haman recounted unto them the glory of his 
riches, and the multitude of his children, and all the things 
wherein the king had promoted him, and how he had 
advanced him above the princes and servants of the king. 
Haman said, " Moreover, yea, Esther the queen allowed no man 
to come in with the king unto the banquet that she had pre- 
pared but myself ; and to-morrow also I am invited by her 
together with the king. Yet all this gives me no joy, and I 
am not pleased so long as I see Mordecai the Jew sitting 
at the king's gate." Then said Zeresh his wife and all his 
friends unto him : " Thou canst not throw him into fire, be- 


cause his ancestor Abraham was delivered out of it. Thou 
canst not kill him with the sword, because his ancestor 
Isaac was delivered from it. Thou canst not drown him in 
water, because from water were Moses and .the children of 
Israel saved. Thou canst not throw him into a den of lions, 
because Daniel was saved from it. Therefore, make a gallows 
fifty cubits high, and in the morning speak to the king that 
Mordecai may be hanged thereon. For thus far not one of 
them who was hanged on the gallows was delivered. After 
that, go with the king to the banqueting-house with joy." 
This advice pleased Haman, and he made a gallows for 

§ X. 

In that night orreat lamentation of the infants of Israel 
went up to heaven, and it resounded before the Lord of the 
universe like the voice of kids and goats, so that the angels 
from on high were moved and trembled, and said to one 
another : " Has, perchance, the time come that the world 
should be destroyed ? " Then they assembled and went before 
the Lord of the universe, the Lord asked them : " What is 
this voice of kids that I hear ? " Then the attribute of mercy 
answered : " It is no voice of kids which Thou hearest, but the 
voice of the infants of Israel, against whom the wicked Haman 
issued a decree that they should be killed." Immediately, the 
Lord of the universe was full of compassion and goodness, and 
He commanded to tear the seal which sealed Israel's evil 
destiny, and ordered the angel who is in charge of confusion 
to confound Ahhashverosh, and to deprive him of his sleep. 
Very early in the morning Ahhashverosh rose with a sad 
countenance, and gave order to Shimshe the scribe to bring 
the Chronicle in which were recorded the events that took 
place in Medo-Persia from the earliest times. When Shimshe 
the scribe saw what was told concerning Mordecai in the 
affair of Bigthan and Theresh, he turned over the leaves and 
did want to read them ; but it was the will of the Lord of the. 


world that the leaves should open and read of themselves 
before the king the record written on them. He then saw 
and considered what was written in the Chronicle, that it 
revealed concerning the deed of Mordecai in the matter of 
Bigthan and Theresh, two officers of the king, keepers of his 
head, that they wanted to stretch out their hands and kill 
King Ahhashverosh. And the king said : " What honour and 
dignity hath been done to Mordecai for this ? " Then said 
the young men of the king that ministered unto him : 
" Nothing was done for him." And the king said : " Who is 
in the court ? " Haman was come into the outward court of 
the king's house to speak to the king to hang Mordecai on the 
gallows that he had prepared for him. And the young men 
of the king said to him : " Behold, Haman stands in the court." 
And the king said : " Let him come in." So Haman came in. 
Then the king said to him : " What shall be done to the 
man whom the king desires to honour ? " Now Haman 
thought in his heart, who among all the king's servants are 
so worthy as I am, and to whom would the king delight to 
do honour more than to myself ? Haman answered and said 
to the king : " For the man whom the king wishes to honour, 
let royal apparel be brought which the king is accustomed to 
wear, and the horse that the king is accustomed to ride, and let 
the crown of the kingdom be placed on his head, and let the 
apparel and the horse be delivered to the hand of one of the 
king's most noble princes, that they may array the man withal 
whom the king delights to honour, and cause him to ride on 
horseback through the street of the city, and proclaim before 
him : ' Thus shall it be done to the man whom the king 
delights to honour ! ' " Then the king gazed upon Haman, and 
thought in his heart : " Haman wants to kill me and to reign 
in my stead, as I see in his face." And the king said to 
Haman: "Make ready, and go into the royal treasury and 
take from the wardrobe a purple covering, an apparel of fine 
silk, adorned with fringes and costly stones and pearls, having 
bells of gold on its four corners, and pomegranates on every 


side. Bring also from there the great golden Macedonian 
crown ^ which was brought to me from the province on the 
first day that I was raised to the kingdom. Further, bring 
from there the sword and the coat of mail which were brought 
to me from the country of Cush, and the two royal veils 
embroidered with pearls which were brought to me from 
Africa ; then fetch from the royal stables the horse whose 
name is Hippus Kegius^ (royal horse) which I rode on my 
coronation day, and go and invest Mordecai with all these 
marks of distinction." Haman answered and said : " There 
are many Jews in Shushan, the capital, by the name of Mor- 
decai, to which of them shall I go ? " The king said : " Go 
to Mordecai, the Jew who spoke good about the king, and 
who sits at my gate." When Haman heard these words he 
was in great trouble, his countenance was changed, his sight 
became dim, his mouth became distorted, his thoughts con- 
fused, his loins languid, and his knees beat one against the 
other. He then addressed the king : " My Lord King, there 
are many Mordecais in the world, and I do not know of which 
of them thou hast spoken to me." The king in reply said : 
" Have I not told thee that I mean Mordecai who sits at my 
gate ? " " But," rejoined Haman, " there are many royal gates, 
and I do not know of which gate thou hast spoken to me." 

^ t<"'i*Tp1D N3m i^h'^h^ must be read /xxKpvKopav^. See the Introduction 
to my edition of this Targum. Though, indeed, Macedonia was famous 
for gokl, as Strabo expressly says (Hb. vii. fragm. 33, ed. Paris, p. 280), 
especially the territory of Datum (Axtop), whence came the saying Aecroif 
clyxduv, in reference to the Lat. daturrij from dare. Comp. 34 on the gold 
mines in the neighbourhood of Philippi. Yet this is not the case of the 
imperial time ; and the name " Macedonian " is not found for the above 
word, "a golden crown." 

^ TJ"IDn should be read instead of tJ"iS"'K^. The lexicographers — Levy 
also — have given up the interpretation of this word in despair. My 
suggested reading stands for iV-ro; prtyog, horse of the king. The word 
rex has passed into Greek (comp. Du Cange, Gloss. Ch\). Of the horse 
of the King of Byzantium, says Codin {de officiis, cap. xvii., ed. Bonn, 
p. 97), that it wore pearls and diamonds -^spi rpct,-)Cfihov^ and upon the back 
the so-called ^c'^-tuf^.ccrx. Around the ankles were tied red silk ribbons, 
which were called rovtlict. 


" Have I not told thee," said the king, " that I mean the gate 
which is passed from the harem to the palace ? " Haman 
said : " This man is my enemy, and the enemy of my fathers ; 
I will rather give him ten thousand talents of silver, only let 
this honour not he done to him." The king replied : " Go 
and give him ten thousand talents, and he shall rule over thy 
house, and this honour also shall not he withheld from him." 
Haman said to the king : " I have ten sons, let them run 
before the horse (another reading, thy throne), hut let not this 
honour be done to him." The king replied : " Thou and thy 
sons and thy wife shall be slaves to Mordecai, and this honour 
shall not be withheld from him." Haman continued : " He 
is only a common man; place him over a province or over a 
district,^ but let not this honour be done to him." The king 
answered : " I make him to rule over provinces and districts, 
and all my possessions upon land and sea shall obey him, and 
this honour shall not be withheld from him." " My fame and 
thy fame," said Haman, " is spread in all the country, may 
thy fame and his be spread in all the world, only let not this 
honour be done to him." The king answered : " A man who 
spoke good of the king, and has saved him from being killed, 
his fame shall be spread all over the world, and this honour 
shall not be withheld from him " Haman said again : " Mes- 
sengers with letters are already sent out to all the provinces 
of the king to destroy the people of Mordecai, and yet this 
honour shall be done to him ? " The king answered : " The 
messengers and the letters which I sent out I invalidate, and 
this honour shall not be withheld from him." Then the king 
for the second time rebuked him, and said : " Haman, make 
haste ! Be quick ! Do not fail to do all that I command 
thee ! " Now when the wicked Haman saw how his words 
were received by the king, and that he did not pay any atten- 
tion to his speech, he went to the royal treasuries bowed 

^ The word KpHDl, which appears to be used for an estate, has not this 
sense, nor is the reading j^priDH, hut KpinOI, viz. districtus, district. So 
are all the passages in which j^pflD"! or fc^pnOT are found to be explained. 


down and sad, his head being covered like that of a mourner, 
his ears deafened, his eyes dim, his mouth distorted, his heart 
oppressed, his bowels aching, his loins weakened, and his 
knees beating one against the other. And he took from there 
the apparel of the king which was brought to him on the first 
day of his reign, and all sorts of royal things, according as he 
was commanded, and hastened to the royal stables and fetched 
the king's horse, which stood at the head of the stable, upon 
which were suspended stirrups of gold. He then took hold 
of the horse's bridle, and carried the saddle and harness upon 
his shoulder, and went to Mordecai, and said to him as fol- 
lows : " Arise, righteous Mordecai, thou son of Abraham, of 
Isaac, and of Jacob. Thy sackcloth and ashes have won the 
victory over the ten thousand talents of silver which I pro- 
mised to deliver from my treasury into the royal treasury, but 
which were not accepted, because you are beloved by your 
Father in heaven, who hears your prayers at all times when 
you come before Him, and delivers you from your enemies. 
Now arise from your sackcloth and ashes, and put on the 
royal garment, and ride upon the royal horse." The righteous 
Mordecai answered and said to the wicked Ham an : " Haman, 
wicked descendant of Amalek, wait one hour, that I may eat 
food of wormwood and drink bitter waters, and then lead me 
out and hang me on the gallows." Haman answered and 
said : "Arise, righteous Mordecai, descendant of a noble genera- 
tion ; so long as you exist, miracles were done for you. The 
gallows which I erected I have erected to my misfortune. 
Now stand up, and put on the royal apparel and ride the 
royal horse, and do not frustrate the words of the king." But 
Mordecai answered and said to Haman : " He that fasted three 
days and three nights, how can he mount the royal horse?" 
When Haman heard these words he went to the royal stores, 
and brought from there all kinds of spices and ointment, and 
anointed him and bathed him, put the royal apparel upon him, 
dressed him up in the nicest fashion, and brought him food 
which Esther had sent for him. 


But before he mounted the royal horse there were sent to 

him twenty-seven thousand choice young men from the king's 

house, who carried golden cups in the right hand and golden 

goblets in the left, and they went before Mordecai and praised 

him, and proclaimed : " This is done to the man whom the king 

delighteth to honour I " When the Israelites saw this they 

went on his right and left hand, and cried : " This is done to 

the man whom the King who created heaven and earth 

delighteth to honour ! " And when Esther observed Mordecai, 

the son of her father's brother, dressed in royal apparel, 

wearing the royal crown upon his head and riding upon the 

royal horse, she thanked and praised the God of heaven for 

this redemption, and she said to Mordecai : " In thee is fulfilled 

the Scripture which says : ' He raiseth up the poor out of the 

dust, and lifteth the needy from the dunghill, that He may 

set him with princes, and put him in possession of a throne of 

honour.' " Mordecai also praised, and said : " Thou hast turned 

my mourning into joy ; Thou hast taken away the sackcloth 

from me, and hast clothed me with royal apparel. I praise 

Thee, God, for my redemption, and that Thou hast not caused 

mine enemies to rejoice over me." Then Mordecai returned 

to the gate of the palace with great honour and dignity ; but 

Haman went to his house covered with leprosy, sad, and his 

head wrapped up. He had at that time to perform four 

offices for Mordecai — (1) He was his barber, and had to shave 

him; (2) he then was his attendant at the bath ; ^ (3) his groom, 

for he led the horse ; (4) his herald, for he proclaimed : " This 

is done to the man whom the king delighteth to honour." 

Haman told Zeresh his wife and all his friends what had 

happened unto him. Then said his wise men and Zeresh his 

wife to him : " Hast thou never heard of the three Jewish 

men in the country of Babylon, Hananiah, Mishael, and 

^ t5''iN3 is one who washes in a bath or baptizes another. John was a 
fc5"'3Xn. His imitator was Banus, whom Josephus mentions as his teacher 
— while at the same time he gives a true copy of John {Life of Josephus^ 
chap. i.). "T'^'^ii, Galearius, probably caballarius, cavalarius, groom, and is 
to be read i'»fj"i3 


Azariah, who, because they did not obey the command of 
Nebuchadnezzar, were thrown by him into a burning furnace ; 
but they came out from the flames without being hurt, yea, 
the flames consumed their oppressors, but they were delivered. 
Now, if this Mordecai is a descendant of these men, his deeds 
are like theirs ; and if thou hast begun to fall before him, thou 
shalt not prevail over him, but shalt continue to fall and 
not rise any more." While they were yet speaking, the king's 
courtiers came and hastened Haman on to come to the banquet 
which Esther had prepared. And the king and Haman went 
to dine with Queen Esther. And the king said to Esther 
also on the second day of the banquet of wine : " What is 
thy petition ? and it shall be granted thee ; and what is thy 
request ? even to the half of the kingdom it shall be performed." 
Then answered Esther and said : " If I have found favour and 
mercy in thy sight, king, and if it please the king, let my 
life be granted to me at my petition, and the life of my people 
at my request: for we are sold, I and my people, to be destroyed, 
to be slain, and to perish. But if we had been sold for bondmen 
and bondwomen, I had held my peace. Verily, the adversary 
does not care for the king's vengeance (or jealousy)." King 
Ahhashverosh then spake to an interpreter, and the interpreter 
asked Queen Esther : " Who is this man, and whose son is he, 
that durst presume in his heart to do so ? " And Esther 
said : " A bad man and an adversary, even this wicked Haman! " 
And why is he called Haman, because it means |n*d 5<n, i.e. 
" this one who wanted to lay violent hands " on the people of 
the Jews, who are called the children of the Lord of All, and 
to kill them. Then Haman was afraid before the king and 
the queen. And the king arose in his wrath from the banquet 
of wine, and went into the palace garden, where beautiful 
trees were cut down to appease his wrath ; but it would not 
be appeased. Haman stood up to make request for his life to 
Esther the queen, for he saw that there was evil determined 
against him by the king. When the king returned from the 
palace garden to the place of the banquet of wine and saw 


that Haman was fallen upon the couch whereupon Esther was 
sitting, he said to him : " Dost thou also want to force the 
queen before me in my palace ? " Scarcely had the words 
gone out from the king's mouth when they covered Haman's 
face. Then said Hharbonah, one of the king's eunuchs — this 
Hharbonah is elsewhere mentioned for evil, because he was in 
the counsel of Haman for hanging Mordecai, but here he is 
mentioned for good ; for when he saw that misfortune had 
befallen Haman and his house, he went of his own accord to 
the king, and said : " Thee also Haman wished to kill, and to 
take the kingdom from thee ; but if thou wilt not believe me, 
send some one to see the gallows which Haman had erected 
for Mordecai, who spake good for the king. It stands in his 
house, and is fifty cubits high." Then said the king to 
Mordecai : " Hang him thereon." In Mordecai was the 
Scripture verified which says : " When God is pleased with 
the ways of a man, He makes his enemies also his supporters." 
The king then said further to Mordecai, who had saved the 
king from being killed : " Go and take Haman, the enemy and 
the oppressor of the Jews, and hang him on the gallows which 
he has now prepared for himself, punish him terribly, and do 
with him as it seems good to thee." Presently, Mordecai went 
from the king and fetched Haman from the gate of the palace, 
and said to him : " Come with me, Haman, thou wicked enemy 
and oppressor of the Jews, and I shall hang thee on the gallows 
which thou hast erected for thyself." Then the wicked Haman 
answered righteous Mordecai : " Before I am brought to the 
gallows, I ask of thee, righteous Mordecai, do not hang me on 
the same gallows on which common criminals are hanged. 
For I have not held in esteem famous men, and governors of 
countries were subject under me. I have made kings tremble 
by a word of my mouth, and countries to be afraid by an 
utterance of my lips. I, Haman, had the title of viceroy, and 
was called father of the king. I am afraid that thou wilt do to 
me as I intended to do to thee. pity my nobility, and do not 
kill nor destroy me in the same manner as my ancestor Agag 



was destroyed ! Mordecai ! show me kindness in not slaying 
me as a murderer does, for there are no murderers among you ! 
Eemember not the hatred of Agag and the envy of Amalek 
against me. Take no vengeance of me as an enemy, and do not 
have a rancorous feeling against me, as my ancestor Esau had 
[against Jacob]. Great wonders have been accomplished for 
thee, as once for thy forefathers when they passed through the 
sea. My eyes are too dim to see thy face, and I cannot open 
my mouth before thee that I should take counsel concerning 
thee from my friends and from my wife Zeresh. I pray thee 
lord, righteous Mordecai, to have compassion upon my soul, 
and not to blot out my name so quickly as they blotted out 
that of my ancestor Amalek, and do not hang my grey head 
upon the gallows. But if thou art determined to kill me, 
then cut my head off with the sword of the king, with which 
all the nobles of the kingdom are beheaded ! " Then Haman 
began to cry and to weep, but Mordecai gave no heed to him. 
And when Haman saw that his words were not heeded, he 
lamented bitterly in the midst of the palace garden, and cried : 
" Hearken unto me, ye trees and plants which I have planted 
of old, when I, the son of Hamdatha, wanted to go to the 
Exedra^ to Bar-Panthera ! Assemble yourselves together and 

1 Levy is of opinion that we must read Alexandria ; but this is impos- 
sible (comp. my " Jiid. Gesch." Ersch u. Gruber, xxvii. p. 28, Nr. 40). Instead of 
t5''"n3DD5< the reading is evidently X^ilDDJ^, a well-known word for Exedra, 
" hall," "lecture-room." The passage in Shabhath (104a) about witchcraft 
of Bar-Pandira has no reference either to Alexandria nor to Haman. The 
sense of the above address of Haman to the trees is as follows : " I have 
planted you when 1 went for instruction to Bar-Pandira, consequently I 
must be hanged on one of you, as he was." We have here a latent attack 
upon Jesus, whom the Jews call son of Pandira. The Targum insinuates 
that all the Hamans were educated in the Exedra, or school of Pandira. 
One can understand the national ill-humour in the midst of dire persecu- 
tions, but it is deplorable enough to remember that those who treated Him 
whom they call son of Pandira, like Haman, have suffered worse than the 
latter. At the destruction of Jerusalem there were not sufficient trees on 
which to crucify all of them. Those who bear the character of Haman do 
not go to the Exedra of the son of Pandira, but rather keep far away from 
it. pn is in Gematria = j*n, Judenhetze. I have written a special treatise 
concerning son of Pandira and son of Stadah. Suffice it here to say that 


take counsel, if any of you has fifty cubits in height, upon it 
Ilaman's head shall be hanged." The vine said : " I am too 
short, and, besides, he cannot be hanged upon me, because 
from me is taken wine for oblations." The fig tree^ said : " He 
cannot be hanged on me, because from me was taken the first 
fruit-offerinof, and from me Adam and Eve were clothed." 
The olive tree said : " He cannot be hanged on me, because 
from me was taken the oil for the lampstand in the temple. 
Besides, He to whom all the mysteries are not hid created me 
to pay the bill of debt of the prophet Obadiah. Let, therefore, 
another be taken to hang him on." The palm tree said to 
his keeper (God) : " All men know that the tyrant Haman is 
descendant of Agag and of Amalek, and all kings acknowledge 
that Thou alone art God, and none beside Thee, and it behoves 
Thee to redeem Thy children as Thou hast once redeemed their 
fathers." God answered : " Thou art right in what thou hast 

these names originated in the early times of Christianity. ^^"miS n3 
stands for s:n~lD "13, "the son of the virgin" {Trocpdiuog), and mtDD ^2 
stands for Bar, miDD, " the son of the star." 

^ i<"nN. From what follows, it undoubtedly appears that the fig tree is 
meant, and therefore the reading must be {<3"IN, viz, opvog^ opvioc, the later 
Greek name for the wild fig tree. The remarks of Levy (Chald. Lex. p. 
12) are not to the point. I embrace this opportunity to explain an 
important passage about the names of trees, the reading of which has thus 
far not been understood. It is in Eosh Hashanah 23a, where we read : 
" There are four sorts of cedars." These are : \ir\^2, jrDK^ yVj Dnnp, PN. 
Dlinp is citrus (citron orange). When we there read that Rav says Dlinp 
is X"nK, and the school of Shila say it is KJ''i33D, we must read for the 
former 5<"np, viz. Kelpx or Kilpec ; for the latter must be read j<3li?DD, 
malon, or rather lemon. Malus lemon, ^iiXou T^i/icauiov. Further on, XJT'K^ 
is explained by fc^n^Jlin, which should be read xrT'iin, viz. ocpKsvhg, the 
juniper tree. For J<J5<SJ> must be read i^Hi^Zi, fagus, beech tree ; for Xin*""!"!!^ 
must be read fc^riQISJ', viz. suher, the cork tree. For K^''dS"I3, which Low 
{Aramaische PJlangennamen, p. 60) leaves unexplained, must be read Jj^ijot'llj 
viz. keltis, the other name for lotus (Columella de re rust. ix. 76) ; comp. 
Langkawel, Botanik der Spdtern Griechen, p. 93. 

In Shabb. 157a occur the words TlltJ'&^l PJ^- It appears to me that ^nitJ't? 
is meant for the ash tree. The jiyopS, which Low quotes from Tanchum 
is to be taken as fraxinus, and therefore the reading is pjiDplQ. The 
word |lDni£DJ< in Tanch. is (T(psvlx,u,voi, the maple in Sinope. Acer pseudo 
platanus occurs in forms like airhov^vov^ cia(psu'hvvoc, and s<psi/loifiuos. 
Langkawel, p. 16. 


said, and in hesitating to be the gallows for Haman, because 
thou art considered as the companion of the congregation of 
Zion." The citron tree or paradise apple said : " He cannot 
be hanged on me, because from me all the people come to take 
my fruit wherewith to praise Thee " (on the Feast of Taber- 
nacles). The myrtle then opened its mouth, and said : " He 
cannot be hanged on me, because with me they say joy and 
gladness,^ and I am also an associate of the paradise apple 
tree." The terebinth cried : " On me he cannot be hanged, 
because Deborah, the nurse of Eebekah, was buried under me." 
The oak called out : " On me he cannot be hanged, because 
Absalom, the son of David, remained suspended upon me." 
The pomegranate tree said : " On me he cannot be hanged, 
because the righteous are likened to me." The cedar then 
said : " Hearken to me. Hang the wicked Haman and his 
ten sons upon the gallows which I have prepared for him." 
So they hanged Haman upon the tree which he had prepared 
for Mordecai, and the wrath of the king was pacified. And in 
Mordecai was fulfilled what is written in Scripture, " The 
righteous is delivered from oppression, and in his place comes 
the wicked." 

§ XL 

On that day did the king Ahhashverosh give the house of 
Haman, the Jews' enemy, unto Esther the queen. And 
Mordecai came before the king ; for Esther had told what he 
was unto her. And the king took his ring, which he had 
taken from Haman, and gave it to Mordecai. And Esther set 
Mordecai over the house of Haman. And Esther spake yet 
again before the king, and fell down at his feet, and besought 
him with tears to put away the mischief of Haman the Agagite, 
and his devices that he had devised against the Jews. Then 
the king held out to Esther the golden sceptre. So Esther arose, 
and stood before the king. And she said: "If it please the king, 
and if I have found favour in his sight, and the thing seem 
^ [Here is allusion to weddings, in which myrtle was used. — Trans.] 


right before the king, and I be pleasing in his eyes, let it be 
written to reverse the letters devised by Haman the son of 
Hamdatha the Agagite, which he wrote to destroy the Jews 
which are in all the king's provinces : for how can I endure 
to see the evil that shall come unto my people ? " Then the 
king Ahhashverosh said to Esther the queen, and to Mordecai 
the Jew : " Thou hast from the outset committed a fault, for 
when I asked thee from what nation thou art, in order to 
make of them kings and princes, and from wliat family thou 
art, in order to make some of them governors and generals, 
thou saidst to me, * I have not known father and mother, for 
they died and left me when I was a little child.' But now, 
behold, I have given Esther the house of Haman, and him they 
have hanged upon the gallows, because he laid his hand upon 
the Jews. Write to the Jews, as you think best, in the name 
of the king, and seal it with the king's ring ; for a writing thus 
written and sealed is irrevocable." Then were the king's scribes 
called at that time in the third month, which is the month 
Sivan, on the twenty-third day thereof; and it was written, 
according to all that Mordecai commanded, unto the Jews, and 
to the satraps, and the governors and princes of the provinces 
which are from India unto Cush, a hundred and twenty-seven 
provinces, unto every province according to the writing thereof, 
and unto every people after their language, and to tlie Jews 
according to their writing and language. And he wrote in 
the name of the king Ahhashverosh, and sealed it with the 
king's ring; and sent letters by posts on horseback, riding 
on swift steeds and young dromedaries : Wherein the king 
granted the Jews which were in every city to gather them- 
selves together and to stand for their life, to destroy, to slay, 
and to cause to perish, all the power of the people and pro- 
vince that would assault them, and to take their little ones 
and women, and households and servants for a prey, upon one 
day, in all the provinces of the king Ahhashverosh, namely, 
upon the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, which is the 
month Adar. The contents of the published royal circular 


were as follows : " King Ahhasliverosh sends a letter to all the 
inhabitants of the isles and countries, to all the rulers of 
districts, nobles, and generals who dwell in every country. 
May your peace be multiplied. I have written this document 
to apprise you, that although I rule over many nations, and 
upon the inhabitants of land and sea, yet I am not proud 
about my power, but will rather walk in lowliness and meek- 
ness of spirit all my days in order to provide for your peace 
and prosperity, and to all who live in my dominion, that there 
may be free intercourse between those who want to trade by 
land or by sea between the various peoples and languages. 
I am the same from one end of the land to the other. It is 
further made know^n to you, that in spite of the sincerity and 
truthfulness of those who love all the nations, revere all kings, 
and are loyal to all the governors, there are others who stand 
near to the king, and to whose hands the government was 
entrusted, who have by their intrigues and falsehoods led the 
king astray, and have written letters which are not right 
before heaven, and which are bad before men, and cruel before 
the king. And this is the petition wliich they asked from 
the king, that righteous men should be killed, and much 
innocent blood should be shed of people who have neither 
done any evil nor were guilty of death, but were rather 
righteous. Such are Esther, who is famous for all virtues, 
and Mordecai, who is expert in every science ; and there is no 
blemish to be found in them nor in their people. I thought 
to myself that I was requested concerning another nation, and 
did not know that it concerned the Jews who are called the 
children of the Lord of all that created heaven and earth, and 
who led them and their fathers in greater and mightier king- 
doms than mine. Haman also, the son of Hamdatha from 
India,^ a descendant of Amalek, who came to us and enjoyed 

^ In this peculiar letter the king says tliat Hanian is from j^"'"!;]?!. This 
is to be distinguished from the t52"i fc5''n:n by which the Targumist trans- 
lates nn. This India, ''pljn, is identical with Ethiopia, and is therefore in 
.^ome copies of the Jerusalem Targum put in the ethnographical table as 
the son of Cush. Cush is the son of Ham. It should be said of Haman 


mucli kindness, praise, and dignity from us, whom we made 
great, and called him ' father of the king,' and who sat at the 
right of the king. He did not know how to appreciate his 
dignity and how to conduct himself in the kingdom, but 
harboured thoughts in his heart to kill the king and to take 
the kingdom from him. Therefore we have caused the son of 
Hamdatha to be hanged, and all that he deserved we have 
brought upon his head ; and the Creator of heaven and earth 
brought his machinations upon his own head." 

The swift messengers upon dromedaries hastened on with 
the king's commandment, and the decree was published in 
Shushan the capital. 

And Mordecai went forth from the presence of the king in 

royal apparel of blue and white, and with a great crown of 

gold, and with a robe of fine linen and purple : and the city of 

Shushan rejoiced and was glad. The Jews had light, and 

gladness, and joy, and honour. And in every province, and 

in every city, whithersoever the king's commandment and his 

decree came, the Jews had gladness and joy, a feast and a 

good day. And many from the peoples of the land became 

proselytes ; for the fear of the Jews was fallen upon them. 

Now, in the twelfth month, which is the month Adar, in the 

thirteenth day of the same, when the king's commandment 

and his decree were to be put in execution, in the day when 

the enemies of the Jews hoped to have rule over them, in the 

same day the opposite happened — the Jews ruled over their 

enemies. The Jews gathered themselves together in their 

cities, throughout all the provinces of the king Ahhashverosh, 

to lay hand on such as sought their hurt, and to kill them : and 

no man could withstand them ; for the fear of them was fallen 

upon all the peoples. And all the princes of the provinces, 

and the magistrates, and the governors, and they that did the 

that he came from the land of Ham, and was a descendant of Amalek. 
He was called ND^DT K3&5, "father of the king." It is well known that father 
was a title of honour, and the Arab women call their husbands " father." 
So also the Turkish sultan called Ferdinand III. father after the war, when 
he took Hungary from him (Hammer, Gesch. des osman. ReichSy iii. 140). 


king's business, praised the Jews ; because the fear of Mordecai 
was falkn upon them. For Mordecai was mighty in the 
king's house, and his fame went forth throughout all pro- 
vinces : for the man Mordecai waxed greater and greater. And 
the Jews smote all their enemies with the stroke of the sword, 
and with slaughter and destruction, and did what they would 
unto them that hated them. And in Shushan the capital, the 
Jews slew and destroyed five hundred men. And they slew 
also the ten sons of Haman, son of Hamdatha, the oppressor 
of the Jews ; but on the spoil they laid not their hand. And 
on the same day the number of the slain in Shushan the 
capital was given to the king. , . . And the king commanded 
to do so, and the command was explained in Shushan. Haraan 
was hanged within three cubits. Parshanandatha a cubit dis- 
tant from him. Parshanandatha was hanged within three 
cubits. Dalphon a cubit distant from him, and was hanged 
within three cubits. Aspatha a cubit distant from him, and 
was hanged within three cubits. Poratha a cubit distant 
from him, and was hanged within three cubits. Adalya was 
hanged within three cubits. Aridatha a cubit distant from 
him, and was hanged within three cubits. Parmashta a cubit 
distant from him, and was hanged within three cubits. Arisa 
a cubit distant from him, and was hanged within three cubits, 
Arida a cubit distant from him, and was hanged within three 
cubits. Vaisatha, the tenth, a cubit distant from him, and was 
hanged within three cubits. And so all the ten sons were 
hanged on the gallows. The gallows was sunk in the earth 
three cubits, and Haman's last son was three cubits distant from 
the earth, and so they were hanged within forty-four cubits ; 
for the length of the gallows was fifty cubits. 

Now, when Mordecai came and saw Haman and his sons 
hanging on the gallows, he addressed him as follows : " Thou 
hast thought to do evil to the people of Israel, but He who 
knows the hidden and the revealed things has brought thy 
design upon thine own head. Thou hast desired to kill us, 
and to remove us from under the wini^s of our Father in 


heaven ; but now have we dealt kindly with thee, and have 
hanged thee, and thy sons nnder thy wings." And the Jews 
that were in Shushan the capital again assembled themselves 
on the fourteenth day of the month Adar, and killed in 
Shushan three hundred men ; but on the spoil they laid not 
their hand. And the rest of the Jews that were in the king's 
provinces gathered themselves together, and stood as masters 
for their lives, and had rest from their enemies, and slew of 
them that hated them seventy and five thousand ; but on the 
spoil they laid not their hand. These are the men whom 
they killed in Shushan, namely, those of their enemies who 
had said to them : " In a few days from now, we shall 
kill you, and shall dash your children to the grou.nd." This 
was done on the thirteenth day of the month Adar, and on 
the fourteenth day of the same, they rested and made it a 
day of feasting and gladness. Therefore the Jews who were 
in the villages and in the small towns, made the fourteenth 
day of Adar a day of feasting and gladness and a good day, 
and sent portions one to another. And Mordecai wrote these 
events, and sent letters unto all the Jews that were in all the 
provinces of the king Ahhashverosh, both nigh and far, to 
enjoiu them that they should keep the fourteenth day of the 
month Adar, and the fifteenth day of the same, yearly, as the 
days wherein the Jews had rest from their enemies, and the 
month which was turned unto them from sorrow to gladness, 
and from mourning unto a good day, that they should make 
them days of feasting and gladness, and of sending portions and 
presents one to another, and gifts to the poor. And the Jews 
undertook to do as they had begun, and as Mordecai had 
written on their behalf. Because Haman the son of Ham- 
datha, the descendant of Agag, the oppressor of all the Jews, 
had devised against the Jews to destroy them, dipped the dice 
(^.e. cast the lot), threw the ring, that is, " the lot," in order 
to confound and to exterminate them. 

When the royal scribes of Haman saw him and his sons 
hanging many days on the gallows, they asked : " Why does 


Esther transgress what is written in the law, * Thou shalt 
not let his body remain all night upon the tree ' ? " Esther 
answered them : " Because King Saul had killed the proselytes 
of the Gibeonites, his sons hung upon the gallows from the 
beginning of barley harvest until the day when rain came 
down upon them, which lasted six months; and when the 
Israelites came up to appear before the temple, the nations 
asked them : ' Why do these hang ? ' The Israelites answered 
them : ' Because their father has laid his hand upon the pro- 
selytes of the Gibeonites and killed them.' How much more 
does the wicked Haman and his sons, who wanted to destroy 
all Israel, deserve to hang on the gallows — yea, for ever ! " 
When Esther came to the king, she said what is written in 
the book : " Ye shall blot out the remembrance of Amalek 
from under heaven;" and as Haman was of the seed of Amalek, 
and had devised an evil device against Israel, it fell upon his 
own head, and he and his sons were hanged on the gallows. 

Therefore, because this has happened to them, they called 
these days Purim, on account of the lot and of the oppression 
which befell them, as it is written and explained in this letter 
(concerning all that the fathers had seen, which led them to 
appoint a day in commemoration of the miracles which the 
Lord of heaven did for them), and that their children might 
know of the past events. The Jews took upon themselves 
and their children, and the proselytes that shall be added 
to them, that they shall never cease to keep these two days, 
in their season, year by year, according .to Scripture. And 
these are remembered and kept in every generation by every 
family, in every province and in every city; and these days 
of Purim shall not pass away from the Jews, and their 
remembrance shall not cease from their children. Then 
Esther the queen, the daughter of Abihhail, and Mordecai the 
Jew, wrote with all authority, to confirm for the second time 
the ordinance of Purim ; and they ordained that in a leap year 
the scroll (of Esther) should not be read in the first, but in 
the second Adar. 


He sent letters to all the Jews, to tlie hundred and twenty- 
seven provinces of the kingdom of Ahhashverosh, which con- 
tained words of peace and truth, to confirm these days of 
Purim in their appointed times, according as Mordecai the 
Jew and Esther the queen had enjoined them, and as they 
had ordained for themselves and for their seed in the matter 
of their fastings and prayers. And the commandment of 
Esther confirmed the matters of these days, and it was written 
in the book of the Scroll (of the Chronicle). And the king 
Ahhashverosh put a tribute upon the inhabitants of the land ; 
but when he knew who the people and family of Esther were, 
he declared them free, and set them over all the nations 
and over the whole kingdom, and laid that tribute upon the 
inhabitants of the land and upon the merchants of the sea. 
And all the acts of his power and of his might, and the 
full account of the greatness of Mordecai, whereunto the king 
advanced him, are they not written in the books of the 
Chronicles of the kings of Media and Persia ? For Mordecai 
the Jew was viceroy of King Ahhashverosh, president and 
elder among the Jews, and supreme over all the nations. 
Kis fame was from one end of the world to the other. All 
kings were afraid of him, and trembled when they saw him. 
This is that Mordecai who is like the star Noga that glitters 
among the stars, and like the dawn of the morning. He was 
the Master of the Jews, who had pleasure in the greatness of 
his brethren, who sought the good of his people, and spoke 
peace to all his seed. 


1. There can be no more erroneous opinion with regard to the 
book of Esther than that given by Zung in his Gottesd. 
Vortrdge (pp. 14, 15), where he remarks : " The book of Esther 
is especially a monument of obscurity and of deficiency in the 
prophetic spirit. For although it was scarcely necessary to 
mention the Persian king and kingdom 187 times, and his name 
twenty-six times, yet it found no opportunity to mention the 
name of God even a single time." This very fact, that it 
omits to mention the name of God, is rather to be taken 
as the best testimony concerning the age and the originality 
of the little book. The name of God could not have been 
mentioned without awakening a sense in the heart of Israel 
that the king is far heiicath His glory and power. The 
reproach which Haman made to the Jews consisted just in his 
saying, " that they do not keep the king's laws," chap. iii. 8. 
This could not have referred to their not paying taxes, or to 
their refusal to render any other service to the State which 
they were obliged to render, but it referred to the religious 
laws of the country, according to which the Persian king was 
to be regarded by the people as the human representative of 
Mithra the sun-god, and they could not possibly so regard him. 

That the king of Persia was so regarded, and that Mithra 
was the image of the sun,-^ will be seen in the following : — 

All qualities which occur in the Zendic writings, especially 

^ The treatise of Windisclimann, Mithra ein Beitrag zur Mythengeschichte 
des Orients, Leipzig 1875, which was considered of first-rate importance 
among the treatises on the Orient, is a distinguished book, and is still of 
great value. Just with respect to it, or, properly speaking, against it, are 


346 APPENDIX 11. 

in the Mihryast, are such as are everywhere ascribed to 
the sun. The same can be observed in the accounts of the 
Greek and Eoman writers. The Mihr (Mithra) yast (Win- 
dischmann, 1; S'piegel, Avesta, iii. 79) reads: " Ahuramazda 
spake : * When I created Mithra, who possesses wide 
pasturages, I created him as laudable as myself.' " Ahura- 
mazda signifies the " lord of liglit," and not " wise lord," as 
Spiegel, Uran. AlthertJmmsk. i. 10, says, for it is derived from 
"11{<, light, just as NairyoQagha connects nj with fire. 

He perfectly resembles the Greek Zeus, who no less 
signifies the heavenly light, and is like him the father of 
Apollo, and of noble sun heroes (Hermes, Bacchus, Heracles, 
Perseus), and of Yulcan, — so also the progenitor of Mithra 
as sun and of fire. 

Of Mithra it is said in the Mihryast, as well as in the 
Quarret-nyasis (Spiegel, iii. 9) and elsewhere, that " he has 
1000 eyes and 10,000 ears," who sees all and hears every- 
thing, as Aelios is called the shining eye (Sophocles, Antig. 
870, etc.), and as we read of him in Homer: "Who seest 
and hearest all" (09 nravr e<f>opa<i koI irdvr liraKovei^). 
The horse in the sun-car is called in the Edda, Alswidr, 
" Omniscient." Therefore is Mithra also called " wide rang- 
ing," for he shines and sees over all, just as Odin sees over all 
with the eye of the sun. 

Hence he is called a sleepless, vigilant scout, a penetrating 
one, and a thousand scout (Wind. Mihryast, x. p. 6), like as the 

the above remarks written. Space is wanting to enter upon an extensive 
exposition. It would become an Oriental mythology ; but I believe the 
task is in a manner accomplished — to refute the opinions and elucidations 
of Windischmann, particularly in reference to the identity of Mithra 
and the sun. This might also be done according to Spiegel's Eranische 
Alterthumskunde, ii. 70. Further proofs are reserved s.d.v. for another 
occasion. For more information, which owing to the brief space granted 
me I cannot here adduce, I refer to my following writings : — " Esmun eine 
archaeologische Untersuchung aus der Geschichte Phmiciens und Kenaans " ; 
2. "Kaiser und Konigsthrone," in Geschichte, Symbol und Sage; 3. Drachen- 
kampfe, Berlin 1878 ; 4. Der Phonix und seine Aera ; 5. Lowenkdmpfe von 
Nemea his Golgotha; 6. Weihnachten XJrsjprunge, BrciuchCy Aberglauben ; 
7. Kittim Chittim, Berlin 1887, etc. 

. MITHRA. 347 

sun is called in Homer : " Who espies the gods and men " 
(delov aKOTTOf; rjBe Kal dvBpcov, Hymn in Ceres, 63). The 
ten thousand eyes are only the images of affluence and power, 
as Ardvigura Anahita has 1000 canals, the three-legged ass 
needs as much space with his feet as 1000 sheep, or the tree 
at the Bouru- Kasha produces every year 1000 branches 
(Spiegel, AUerth. p. 118). 

Very remarkable is the passage in the Mihryast which 
speaks of the eight friends of Mithra, but which neither Wind, 
nor Spiegel could explain. Damascius says (comp. my 
Esmun, p. 35): " To Sadukos are born sons, which they call 
Dioscuri and Kabires, but the eighth is called Esmunus." 
TheKabires (onnn) are none else than " the friends" spoken of 
above. The number eight was that of the stars, including 
Esmun. We read ah^eady in Xenophon that they used to swear 
by Mithra (Ma ruu MlOpTjv, Cyrop. viii. 5. 53 ; Windischm. 
p. 55). Plutarch reports that Artaxerxes swore also by 
Mithra ; and Darius demanded of the eunuchs to give 
testimony, looking reverently at the great light of Mithra 
(cre/9oyLtez;o9 MiOpou re (pm (jLeya). Just so was in Homer the 
sun invoked at taking an oath (comp. Preller, Myth. p. 292 ; 
Nitzsch, Nachhomerische Theol. p. 118, etc.). In the Mihr- 
yast, § 15, we read: "Mithra the espy, . . . who causes the 
water to stream, the trees to grow, and who makes the fur- 
rows," which is a more correct translation than that of Spiegel. 
In Aeschylus {Agamemnon, 633) it is said that no one can 
announce this but Helios, who nourishes the nature of the 
earth (" rpicpovTo^ 'HXiov ')(dovo<i <\>vaLv "). 

He cannot be deceived, he is called Adaoyamna ; as the 
proverbial saying of the sun is : " Nothing is so finely spun, 
but what is exposed to the light of the sun." Innocent people 
can in their sufferings call the sun to witness. The sun has 
seen the act of murder, and brought about its punishment. 
Pindar speaks of the sun as the measure and the source of 
all wisdom. 

Mithra is an enemy of long sleep. Owing to this, the cock, 


who, as the watch and the symbol of the sun, drives away evil 
spirits and wakes men, is his type. In the Vendidad (Spiegel, 
Avesta, i. 237) we read : "This bird raises his voice on every 
divine dawn crying : Get np, ye men, praise the best purity, 
drive away the Daevas ; Daeva Bushyancta daregliogava is 
running towards you ; he lulls again to sleep the whole 
corporeal world when it awakes. Long sleep is not becoming 
to thee." In all folk-lore the cock is the symbol of the sun, 
and by his crowing drives away evil spirits (comp. my Eclcl, 
Studien, pp. 53, 54, etc.). Mithra goes as a victorious warrior 
to battle against the evil spirits, with a carriage of four white 
horses, which calls to mind the sun-carriage of Helios. White 
horses are always everywhere symbols of light. The sun was 
always a warrior, and Apollo no less then Heracles and Perseus 
were combatants against the dragons and lions of the night. 

2. The Persian king manifests himself as the image of the 
sun-god Mithra. The king had also " eyes and ears," namely, 
officers through whom he was made cognizant of everything 
that was going on. Apuleius says : " He was believed by 
men as a god, as he through the report of those eyes and 
ears knew what happened everywhere." No event in his 
country could be hid before him, as before the sun. 

It was a witty remark of Vespasian, who said of a comet 
with long hair that appeared in his time, that it belonged 
to the king of Persia, cui capillus effusior, — just as Helios 
is represented with curly hair. They used to worship the 
king from a distance, as if by reason of the glow which 
proceeded from him. Even modern etiquette in the Persian 
court requires that no one come near before the order to do 
so is repeatedly given. A young courtier made his fortune, 
because on the occasion when he was called to come near, he 
replied : " Misusum (I burn) ; I pray not to command me to 
come near." The king appeared upon the golden throne 
like the sun in the sky ; behind him stood umbrella carriers, 
[as depicted] upon Persepolitan and Assyrian monuments. 
Of the education of Minuntshehr, Firdussi muses, — 


''A silk umbrella shaded his head." But not for the sake 
of the shade which he needed, but for the sake of the world, 
which without the shade would be consumed by the sun. 
The servants held the sunshade over him as a perpetual sign 
that he as a sun might, if he were so disposed, burn up 
the world. All royal usage was transferred from Persia to 
the modern Oriental lords ; just as the carriage of Mithra was 
drawn by white horses, so are the carriages of kings — as it 
is more specially told of Cyrus and Xerxes that their 
carriages were drawn by Nysaeic white horses. He sat 
behind his seven councillors, as the sun behind the stars. 
So general became this image, that even a German monk 
describes an audience which the Greek Embassy had with 
Charlemagne in this manner : " They saw the emperor at the 
splendid window, covered with gold and precious stones, 
shining as the rising sun, and surrounded as by a heavenly 
host." Strabo has a remarkable notice, to the effect that 
owing to the continual sun in Shushan, no serpents nor 
lizards are found there. This is a misunderstanding of the 
author, who understood in a literal sense what was meant 
figuratively. Of all the cities of the sun and of Apollo, the 
saying was, that no serpents could live in them, neither in 
Delos, nor in Claros, nor in Crete. This is also in Christian 
legend said to have been the case in more famous spiritual 
places, and especially in Jerusalem.^ 

3. Much more significant appears the identity of the king, 
Mithra, and the sun, upon important figures and in customs, 
which are generally misunderstood. In the great hall of 
the ruins of Persepolis, the king is represented as carrying on 
a combat with three animals, which stand erect and defend 
themselves with their forelegs as with hands ; all three have 
each one horn and wings. The king seizes with one hand 
the horn, and with the other he thrusts the sword into the 
body. They are now photographed in the great work of 

1 [The Talmud asserts that serpents and scorpions never hurt any one 
in Jerusalem (Yoma, p. 2a). — Trans.] 


Stolze, thougli they were very clearly portrayed in former 
works, such as of Ker Porter and Chardin, and also nicely 
reproduced by Kossowitz. The opinions about them are 
curious enough. The whole tableau indicated that the king 
fio-hts against an enemy endowed with animal qualities and 
symbolized by it. The wings are everywhere signs of an 
inhuman nature. With peaceable animals they refer to 
holy divine nature, but with wild creatures they are signs of 
demoniac and Daeva nature. So likewise the horns in them 
are not merely natural signs, but also symbolic. They signify 
the destructive will of force, for which we have an instructive 
example in Dan. vii. The horn indicates evil thoughts ; the 
king breaks it : the belly is the seat of carnal lust and 
uncleanness ; the king pierces it with the sword. 

It is Mithra the sun-hero who is depicted in the king ; — - 
of the animals is represented the nature of the wolf, the lion, 
and the dragon, which are representatives of the night, and of 
the enemies of the gods of light. So Odin in the northern 
doctrine combats the evil spirit in the wolf ; and the wolf 
is also characterized as a special enemy in the thirteenth 
Fargard of the Avesta. In the dream of Astyages there 
appear three hostile men riding respectively upon a lion, 
a leopard, and a dragon with wings. Diodorus describes 
monuments in Babylon which represent Semiramis fighting 
with a leopard, and Ninus with a lion. In the vision of 
Daniel, also, appear lions, bears, and leopards with wings. 
The wild creatures are the attributes of the national as well 
as of the spiritual antithesis. The lion especially is the type 
of Ahriman, as the king is depicted upon a seal fighting a 
lion ; and he is in various other groups represented as seizing 
the bull, the sacred animal of Iranian thought. Hence 
Apollo combats the dragon, and Heracles combats both the 
lion and the dragon. 

Apollo is especially surnamed *' the archer ; " the arrows 
were figures of the sunbeams : therefore he is called e/caro^;, 
€Kdepyo<;, €KaTi]l3o\o<;, to^lo^; ; the arrows rattle in his quiver, 

MITHRA. 351 

he shoots and sends arrows for deliverance and for destruc- 
tion. It is therefore interestinsj to observe that the coins 
of the Arsacide kings usually bear the image of the king 
carrying a bow in his hand. Mithra was particularly much 
spoken of at that time, and he appears in names of kings. 
One of the kings calls himself Mitraetus {Vaillant Imp. 
Arsac. p. 246). The king intimates that he is the image of 
the sun Mithra with the bow, and the more so as the use 
of the bow was nmch in vogue among the Persians and 
Parthians. It is to be assumed that the name Mithra also 
signifies this. 

By •the transition of Mithra into Mihr, one is reminded 
not only of the Hebrew verb "ino (to hasten), as the arrow 
tlies, but even more so of miD, meaning an archer. One may 
also compare the Latin mittere, which is used to denote 
sending an arrow, as missile itself means arrow, dart. 

Though, indeed, we read in Plutarch (De Is. et Os. cap. 46) : 
" Therefore the Persians call Mithra a fiea-LTrj^;, mediator ; " 
yet this is not to be understood verbally, but essentially. To 
ascribe the meaning of mediator to the name Mithra, would 
be just as erroneous as to explain Christ by fie<ji77]<;, because 
He is called so. The sun is a mediator, because he is the 
visible light of Ahuramazda, who manifests himself through 
his medium. What is called here Mesites is given in the 
surnames of the Parthian and Syrian kings as Epiphanes, 
as the one Arsaces calls himself " ApaaKo^ fjurpdr^To^ 
iiTK^avri^" namely, he is the visible representative of Mithra 
himself. That was, too, the arrogance of that Antiochus, who 
as Epiphanes wanted to destroy the religion of Israel. Just 
as the throne-culte was transplanted from the Persians to the 
Western nations, so also the opinion that kings are visible 
representatives of the sun, or aped the gods — like Mithra the 
Mesites of Ahuramazda. The name Mesites has had indeed a 
great significance in Christian doctrine. When the apostle 
(Gal. iii. 20) says: " o jiecrijr]^ evo^ ovk eanv^ 6 Be 0ec9 eh 
iaTLv," we obtain from the use of the word a clear idea of 


Mithra. Neither is he kvo^, for he is only as sun the 
visible operating agent of Ahuramazda ; nor is Christ €1/09, for 
what He is, that He lives and works as the visible and incar- 
nate Logos. The apostle could therefore say : Tor there is one 
God, one Mesites also between God and men (1 Tim. ii. 5) ; 
just as Jesus says to His disciples, " He that hath seen me, 
hath seen the Father " (John xiv. 9). Precisely from this 
idea of Mithra is seen that his name included the essence of 
the visible sun. 

4. A peculiar but instructive report is given by Ctesias in 
Athenaeus (corap. Ctesiae fragm. p. 79, ed. Paris), that it is 
permitted to the king of Persia to get drunk on the day 
when offerings are made to Mithra ; and from Duris it is 
reported, that the king does this on the feast Mithra, when 
he also dances the Persian dance. This report has not been 
quite understood. The month Mihr (Mithra) corresponded 
to the month Tishri in the Jewish calendar, and was the 
beginning of the civil year. I have through this circum- 
stance explained the name itself {Lit. u. Gesch. p. 319); it 
corresponded to October, which was everywhere the proper 
month for vintage. It is indeed called by the Anglo-Saxons 
Vinterfylled, that is, vintage month, and also Vindumemanoth 
or Winmanoth, from the Latin vindemia. The feast of the 
sixteenth day in the month Mihr is called mihr rHz, and 
lasted to the twenty-first, which was high festival. These 
days correspond to the Feast of Tabernacles, which obviously 
was originally a nature feast, and only through the Mosaic 
law was elevated to the position of a religious feast. It is 
at any rate interesting that Plutarch in his Table-talk speaks 
of the Feast of Tabernacles " as falling in the midst of the 
time of vintage," and is of opinion that it was dedicated to 

So then we see that the king's conduct on the Mithra- 
feast was connected with the feast of vintage. The vine 
thrives through the sun ; he produces the juice in the grape ; 
Mithra, the sun, drinks the wine, his production, — this the 

MITHEA. 353 

king as his representative imitates ; it is the portion of 
victory by which Mithra celebrates the victory of the sun 
over the nightly darkness. Of such a feast of victory the 
Persian tradition rightly reminds. It is said, that on this 
day the kings were anointed with oil, and adorned with the 
crown upon which was to be seen the image of the sun. 
Then a dish containing fruit, white grapes, seven berries, 
myrtle, citrons, sugar, and other things was brought to the 
king — all signs of productiveness which the sun caused to the 

The tradition, that on that day Feridun was victorious 
over Dahak agrees with this; they saw in it an act of 
emancipation and deliverance, which has its Biblical coun- 
terpart in the words of the Psalmist : " I will take the cup 
of salvation, and call upon the name of the Lord" (Ps, 
cxvi. 13). 

The dance of the king on the Mithra feast signifies the 
dance of the sun himself. 

Mithra rejoices over his victory. So King David dances 
before the ark ; and a Latin hymn calls upon the east and the 
west, upon heaven and earth, mountain and river, to move 
their hands for joy. On this rests the old popular notion, that 
on the feasts of Christ the sun dances and leaps for joy. In 
Silesia and other places they used to place a tub of water in the 
court, in order to see in it the skipping of the lamb-offering. 
People were so sure that the leaping of the sun became signs of 
the calendar, as to be quite certain that the introduction of the 
Gregorian calendar was faultless. In the Christian Church 
the Peast of Tabernacles was not preserved, and its place is 
occupied by Christmas. This has occurred not without deep 
thought. When paganism was still prevalent, there was a 
repeated attempt to dedicate Christmas day to the sun instead 
of to Christ. Indeed, it was notably Julian, who fell in the war 
against the Persians, who exerted himself to make January 1 
as a sun -feast, in order thereby to displace Christmas day, 
which was then on January 6. It is probable that a trans- 


ference of New Year from October to January had also taken 
place among the Persians. When Golius says the Arabs 
called the feast Mihragzan, the sixth day of the feast, " night 
of the kindling of the fire," he appears to confound this with 
January 6, viz. Epiphany, which was in fact called Phota 
(feast of lights). The drinking of the king on the Mihragzan 
illustrates a peculiar popular custom in connection with Janu- 
ary 6, which was especially preserved in the Netherlands in 
quite a different manner. They proceed to the election of a 
king ; and that person is chosen who finds a bean in the royal 
cake given to him, or who draws a royal figure from a bag 
containing other figures. The chosen king is then duly 
crowned and his court established ; after which follows feast- 
ing on good and sweet things, as on the day of Mithra ; and 
when the king raises his glass, all shout with joy, " The king 
drinks." Thus the Occident gives a mirror of ancient Oriental 

A much-spoken-of myth of Mithra is, that he was born of 
a rock, e/c Trerpa? 'ye'yivrjcrOaL, as Justin says. The poet 
Commoedianus calls him " Invictus de petra natus." Even 
John Lydus calls him irerpoyevij^i. It did not suggest itself to 
the expositors that the same is said of the Greek gods of light. 
Apollo was born in Delos, an unsightly rocky island. The 
island in which Aesculapius, son of Apollo, was worshipped, 
DD, Cos, means a rock. The Dioscuri were born upon a cliff 
near Pephnos. I^arallel to this, might be considered the 
reported solemnities as held in his honour in a cave {o-irrfKaLov) 
out of which he came forth. " Everywhere," says Porphyrins, 
*' where Mithra is known, God is propitiated by a cave." 
And he adds that such caves were consecrated to Zeus in Crete, 
to the moon and Lightpan in Arcadia, and to Dionysus in 
Naxos. The writer overlooked that Hermes was in a hidden 
grotto of a hill ; and that Perseus, who appears as a Greek 
Mithra, of whom the oracle speaks as of "a winged lion," 
whose name reminds the ancients of Persia, came into the 
world in a subterranean dungeon. The births in rocks and in 

MITHRA. 355 

caves represent both the battle and the victory of the god of 
light. As the demigods must fight against the giants of the 
rocks to secure their existence. The sun rises out of obscurity. 
Out of the crags of the rocks, where nothing thrives, rises the 
light, in order to make everything fruitful, just as the spark 
issues from the stone. 

This is spiritualized in the Old Testament. The whole of 
theology had its birthplace in isolated localities. The whole 
doctrine about God was hidden at the beginning. Moses 
came from the rigid desert in order to educate his people in 
the desert. On a hidden rocky mountain (Sinai-rock) God 
was revealed. 

What could be more hidden than Bethlehem and Nazareth ? 
The stable is like a cave, out of which came the Light. As 
Moses brought forth water out of the rock, so Jesus says that 
He will make disciples of stones if men will not hear. Peter 
was a man of flint. 

The report of Elisaeus the Armenian, that Mihr was a divine 
incarnation, and that he was a king of divine descent, has its 
origin in the tendency to find Mithra again in Christ. The 
sun comes forth out of the obscure deep, just as the spiritual 
light of the nations comes out of the hidden corners of the 
nations. That which is told of the cattle robbery which 
Mithra has committed, certainly signifies the deliverance of 
the fertility of the earth from the hands of darkness and 
frigidity. For, as we saw above, cattle and earth mean the 
same thing. So Perseus delivers Andromeda, who represents 
the earth as sustaining men. The sun has herds of cattle 
with which Hermes has his lively game. Geryon is a lord 
of the nether world, from whom Heracles robs his flock, and 
gives back to the earth, as agriculture, fertility. 

Least of all, in our opinion, has the so-called Mithra- 
offering, whose relief is in the Louvre in Paris, been under- 
stood. Mithra as a youth, dressed in Oriental costume, pierces 
with his sword the neck of a bull, while he lifts the head 
upwards. Blood streams. There are the words : Nama sehesio. 


A dog, a serpent, and a scorpion are present. The tail of the 
bull ends in the form of a bundle of corn. A raven sits upon 
a rock behind Mithra. Two genii with erected torches stand 
there, upon one the sun with the morning star, upon the other 
the moon with the evening stars. There was always the mis- 
take committed in assuming that Mithra does violence to the 
bull, which is otherwise ascribed to Ahriman. Just the con- 
trary is the case. What he does is a benefit. Therefore he is 
worshipped. It represents the consecration of his life. The 
bull is the earth, his blood is the water, without which the 
earth cannot thrive. Mithra is the sun, who with golden 
sword, his ray, opens the earth. Its being apparently wounded, 
is its safety. The bull has therefore a sheaf of corn on his 
tail, as a sign of the fruit which Mithra produces. The wolf 
(which may more properly be instead of the dog), the serpent, 
and the scorpion are hostile creatures which defile the earth 
and desire to destroy Mithra's work. The raven behind 
Mithra belongs to the sun - worship. It is the servant of 
Apollo, as Coronis, the crow, is his beloved. Where there is 
a service of Apollo tliere are ravens, as hence two ravens, 
" Hugin and Munin," accompany Odin. Nama sehesio is not 
difficult to explain. Nama expresses celebration, sehesio is 
equivalent to Sabazios. It well belongs to the Hebrew nntJ', 
not because it contains the idea of rest, but of celebration. 
It is Mithra's feast, — the deeds of his power, the nature of his 
life, that he displays when he kills the bull from morning till 

5. Much has been written and copied about the mysteries 
and the solemnities of the worship of Mithra. The central 
point in all the writing is Mithra as a sun. This is recog- 
nised in the names of the animals, or in the masks of animals 
in which the initiated appeared. The famous passage of 
Porphyrins (Be Abst iv. 16) has from this side not yet been 
understood. What is remarkable in it is, that it is influenced 
by Persian as well as Egyptian interpretations. In Egypt 
especially the lion was sacred to the sun, because when he 

MITHEA. 357 

entered the zodiacal sign of the lion, the Nile began its 
fertilizing inundation. Horapollo says, that when the 
Egyptians pray for a full Nile, they bring the image of a lion. 
It is therefore the image of the Sphinx, as Arnobius calls it : 
" that of a fruit - producing lion " (leonis frugiferi). The 
Egyptian hieroglyphic has no connection with the general 
nature of the animals, so also not here with the rapacious 
lion, but only with the one thought, that it is the sign of the 
happy inundation ; hence all wells spring from the jaws of 
lions. Indeed, Heracles also, who conquers the lion, wears 
his stamp ; and Dionysus, too, appears as a terrifying lion. 
The initiated went to meet the novice in masks of lions ; the 
mysteries themselves were types of nature's production 
through the sun. Of these TertuUian says, the lions philo- 
sophize {Ad. Marcion, i. cap. 13) ; but they were not destitute 
of a natural ethic. As Tertullian reports, the warrior of the 
mysteries was obliged to throw away his usual wreath, for 
Mithra was his wreath. There rests upon him to a certain 
extent the disc of the sun, like a nimbus (as Porphyry 
narrates, iv. 16);^ the attendants were called ravens. We 
have already explained the ravens before. The fathers they 
call eagles and hirakes (hawks). Of the eagle, who is called 

^ The passage literally reads : " While they call those who are initiated 
into the sacred acts {Spyioju (/.iaroc;) lions, the women hyenas, the servants 
have the name of ravens. As concerning the fathers {kxi n rau 'Trotripuv 
. . .), they are called eagles and hawks (UpocKtg). And who that takes 
upon himself the order of the lions {T^iovrtKoi 'TroipxXecu.^ocvav), invests him- 
self everywhere with the appearance of the animals." The supposition 
that T^ictivcc; is to be read for voe,iua.i originated with Felicianus, who trans- 
lated Porphyry into Latin, but did not, like Hercher, insert the conjectural 
reading into the text. Hercher states that he has done it on the authority 
of Kircher. He thinks that the vxiviko. of Salmasius rests only upon 
this passage, which may not be correct, for the old inscription has also 
hienocoracica (comp. the Coram, of Hieronymus, ii. 869, ed. Migne ; 
the edition of Porphyry, Trajedi ad Rhenum, ed. Jacob, de Ehoer, 
p. 350). 

With respect to the marks of the animals, compare especially (p. 351) 
with the passage of Diodors. i. 62, where he narrates : " It is the custom, 
among the lords of Egypt to put on masks of the head of lions, bulls, and 
dragons as symbols." 


aero^ (d^v), as of the rapacious bird in general, it was thought 
to resemble the sun in seeing at a distance. The eagle, says 
Aristotle, compels his young ones to gaze at the sun. When 
the Egyptians, says Horapollo, wished to designate a far- 
seeing man, they called him a vulture (yvyjr). Sacred above 
all was the hierax, " hawk." Horapollo says : " When one 
wants to draw the victory of the sun-god, it is done by 
drawing the hawk." Therefore the image of the Phoenix as 
a figure of the course of the sun is represented by a crowned 
eagle, or hierax.-^ 

Why the Egyptians regarded birds of prey so sacred was, 
as it is taught, because these birds have a great relish for 
carcases, around which gather ravens, eagles, and hawks. 
Among the quadrupeds is the hyena, which has relation to 

It is interesting information that the female initiates 
appeared in masks of hyenas ; though, indeed, E. Hercher 
(in the Paris edition, 1856) read XeatW? instead of valvar, 
but he only followed a conjectural reading ; the codices have 
rightly valvar;, There is in themselves no difference between 
the masks of lions and lionesses, but the myth which touches 
iipon the hyenas gives sufficient support to the idea, that just 
they were the proper images for the initiated. Of them it is 

1 Jerome writes to Laeta (Ejjp. n. 107, ed. Migiie, ii. p. 869 (679)): 
"Nonne specum Mithrae et omnia portentosa simulacra, quibiis Corax 
Nymplius (al. Nyplius, Gryplms), Miles, Leo, Perses, Helios, Dromo, 
Pater initiantur." The text is not quite clear. For Niplius, Nymplius, 
Gryphus, should be read Eniphus, namely, the Egyptian Cneph, which is 
connected with Pj33, "wing" (D''DiD hv2), and signifies here the hawk of 
which Porphyry speaks. Perses is Perseus. Dromo is explained by the 
commentators of Jerome as hpofiog, crab. The crab lias indeed some 
relation to the sun, but only a hostile one, for it helps the hydra against 
Heracles. Again, dromos is only a sea-crab, in reference to which there 
are certainly quite other legends (comp. my Drachenkampfe, p. 50). 
Apart from this, it is improbable that the name of an animal stood 
between Perseus, Helios, and Pater. It must be read : Bronios, viz. 
Dionysus, who would stand well, near Pater (Pater Liber). It is also 
false that Dionysus has no relation to the mysteries of Mithra. The sun, 
Mithra, Dionysus, were one there. They all merged in the sun-worship. 

MITHRA. 359 

said that they are of a double gender, and can be man and 

The hyena appears in the legend a decided enemy of the 
dog, and the dog again was, as an animal of the nether world, 
obnoxious to the sun and his heroes. 

It was said that even the shadows of the sun made dogs 
dumb. We have indeed but one notice of Porphyry which 
speaks of the hyena in the mysteries of Mithra; but Salmasius, 
too, cites vaivLKa. In the Latin translation of Palladius 
{Histor. Zausiaca, cap. 20 ; comp. Bochart, Hieroz. i. 835) 
there is an anecdote told, that he once healed a young hyena, 
and out of gratitude its mother brought him a sheep-skin. 
The saint said : " Where didst thou get the skin, if thou didst 
not rob the sheep from some one ? What is wrongly obtained 
I do not accept." The hyena with dejected head prostrated 
itself before the feet of the saint, and laid down the skin. 
The saint said again : " I do not accept it unless thou swearest 
solemnly not to vex the poor by devouring their lambs." 
The hyena bowed its head as a sign of consent to the words 
of the saint. It appears to me that this is a story of the 
conversion of a hyena which originated among the adherents 
of Mithra. 

I was thus far concerned to prove that Windischmann 
is mistaken in his opinion that Mithra was ever anything 
else but the sun, and invoked independently from the sun. 
They are both identified everywhere, although it cannot 
be contested that some authors have not understood the 
significance of Mithra. Even if the passage in Curtius {et 
Solem et Mithrean invocans, iv. 48. 12) were genuine, it could 
only prove their identity, but not their distinctiveness — 
because it speaks only of the sun and fire. Strabo is surely 
a sincere witness to this when he plainly says : " They 
worship the sun, which they call Mithras." When some say 
that Mithra was also held as fire, it is to be understood that 
Mithra was the visible representative of Ahuramazda, who 
was identified with fire. Mithra, as sun, was identified with 


Titan (with Osiris, as Statins calls him torquentem cornua, 
which may just as well refer to the sun as to the bull, the 
symbol of the fertile earth). And the heretical early Chris- 
tians found that Mithra signified as much numerically as the 
mystical Abraxas, namely 365, as the number of the days in 
a solar year. The Church Fathers have rightly laid stress 
upon the fact that the heathen of the first centuries, like 
Julian, upheld the sun-worship in opposition to the doctrine 
of Christ. Justin Martyr affirmed that there was an imitation 
of the Communion in the mysteries of Mithra. Tertullian is 
of opinion that there was also in them an imitation of baptism, 
the signing of the forehead and of the resurrection of Christ. 
Dionysius the Areopagite speaks also of such an imitation 
among the Magi, who celebrated the memory of a threefold 
Mithra {rpLifKaalov), which was obviously only borrowed 
from Christianity. But not only was the sun everywhere 
understood by Mithra, but also the opinion was universally 
held, that the king, and therefore also the Eoman emperor, 
assumed to himself the attributes of Mithra. Dio Cassius 
narrates that Kiug Tiridates, at his coronation in Eome, said 
to Nero that he came to worship him as Mithra (irpoa- 
Kvvrjaayv ere w? Kal rov MlOpav). 

Specially noteworthy is the fact that the inscriptions which 
were designed for Mithra : Deo soli invido Mithrae, were 
by Eoman emperors entirely appropriated to themselves. 
Particularly since Commodus they called themselves invictus 
— a term with which even a month was designated. Cara- 
calla was addressed : invide im'perator ! Constantine still 
bore that title, and Arcadius and Honorius were called 

Joined to this by way of a brief reminder, is the strange 
opinion which wandered from one book to the other, that the 
Eomans kept a Mithra-feast on the 25th of December, which 
is not merely a fable, but also a striking testimony of the 
rapidity of bookmaking. The remark of the Eoman Calendar 
of the year 354 to the VIII. Cat. Jan., which read N. Z, was 

MITHEA. 361 

understood as Natalis Liocti, viz. Solis, regardless of the fact 
that this is the only designation of this day — as there is no 
similar notice in existence. But N. I. only signifies invidi 
imperatores, and refers to Constantine, who celebrated on the 
25th December 351 the decisive day of his assuming the 
government. Yet even at present one can find in compiled 
books that Christmas is for this reason observed on the 25th 
of December, because it was once the day of the Mithra- 

^ [The autlior has, in the above essay, thrown much light on the 
omission of the name Jehovah or Elohim from the book of Esther. Had 
they inserted the sacred name, it would either at once have provoked the 
just appeased king, or it would have been associated with Mithra, and 
perhaps have been perverted into the same. We know that the heathen 
have turned the ineffable name into Jove. Macrobius quotes an oracle : 
loca 6 TTxurai/ vTrccro; Qto;. According to Jerome, the cultus of Mithras 
lasted till 377 a.d. It has left its traces even in Germany on the 
monuments at Hedernheim, near Frankfort- on -the -Main. What a 
wonderful providence it was which caused the Jews to exercise their usual 
cleverness in omitting both the name of their God and of the god of the 
country from this book ! Had they done the latter, we should have had 
many Jews named Mithridates, as we have many named Jehoshua. — 



The monuments which were discovered in the last century 
in Persia, and in recent years in Assyria, have received great 
and well-deserved attention, but the knowledge of them is yet 
incomplete. Those of Persepolis and Nineveh, around which 
all the monuments of every place may be grouped, have for 
the culture of all times another importance than is the case 
with the Greek monuments. Almost all of them disclose in- 
dications of the intellectual life of great nations. No writings 
existed to give us in any way these indications before the 
monuments were discovered and- deciphered. No trace of 
them is found in all the rich literature which reflects Hellenic 
art. The scanty information which we possess about some 
feature of these nations, is not derived from their sentiments, 
and shows only the smallest part of their spiritual nature. 

That the Iranic nations excel the Assyrian by means of 
religious writings of the Avesta, is of great importance to us ; 
but these writings, owing to the difficulty of the idiom, are 
still of little use. Therefore a thorough examination of these 
monuments reveals to us, as it were, antiquity alive again. 
Sixteen hundred years ago, when Charon, the ferryman in the 
infernal regions (Lucian), paid a visit to the world, in order 
to see for himself whether it was so magnificent as the dead 
had described it to him, his guide, Mercurius, had then to 
report to him about the monuments of Nineveh. " Nineveh, 
my dear ferryman, is destroyed, and one cannot even say 
where it stood. That large city with many towers and high 
walls is Babylon, whose locality will soon be sought as that 


of Mneveh." But fortunately Mercurius can now receive 
information from us. We now know more of Nineveh than 
it ever seemed probable that we should. Our old philologians 
were not in a position to regard the artistic monuments of 
Greece in their relation to the history of the country. They 
had indeed the hoary sketcher of Grecian art, Homer, whose 
pictures and statues date of the most ancient time. But this 
is quite different with respect to the mentioned Asiatic nations. 
The Oriental monuments not only supply us with the lost 
literature of poets and describers of art, but they have also 
done this in ancient times. They were themselves a kind 
of art literature. Everything may be described in a few 
words. To express one's thoughts properly and in elegant 
language is the highest art. So also it is the greatest diffi- 
culty with the artist to give a complete expression to the 
general idea which his mind has grasped, and at the same 
time to delineate beautifully all the qualities. Homer was 
the teacher of all the artists of Greece. With the artist in 
colour and marble, who has carried out his thoughts in the 
minutest stroke and shade, the general idea is uppermost in 
his mind. Of this Schiller says, " that it is the germ in the 
plant which produces the w^ork of art and gives an inexpres- 
sible charm to the whole." This cannot be otherwise. The 
descriptive arts do not in their works create books, in which 
one should so read that nothing etherial should remain. The 
silent beauty which does not need letters and syllables, 
and which speaks in summary forms, can be more easily 
brought nearer to completion than the speaking and syllabic 
beauty. Hence the language in figures is the elementary 
language of man, and therefore hieroglyphics are attempts of 
thoughtful people to express their ideas in a beautiful and 
tangible manner. They have hence become the elements of a 
sacred language, because they appeal to the soul Avithout 
effacing the tender pain of the idea through a disguised and 
confused manner. Next to them was no literature which either 
did or could communicate what they expressed. Therefore a 


symbol is like a fleeting hieroglyph of life, and the language 
of the greatest master is not capable so much as to fathom 
the depth of this word and reproduce it in a plain and perfect 
definition. Therefore it would be to make life shallow and 
dam up its streams, if its symbol should be removed. They 
would destroy the copious activity of the musing soul, who, if 
it were possible, could have dissolved it by sober reflection. 
From this deficiency of language, which is the characteristic 
of all uncultured nations, but which does by no means imply 
a want of ideas, much of the life and of the views of the 
ancient nations is to be explained. In considering the 
sources of art, we are unable to pursue here all the stand- 
points which suggest themselves, but it is certain that the 
chief source of pagan aH in all its religious and national 
relations lies in the need felt of giving utterance hy its means. 
In the Orient especially, which was the cradle of man and 
of his thoughts, this cradle remained, and in its elementary 
conditions. This also accounts for the Oriental languages 
being in relation to ours what a figure of speech is in relation 
to a word. Hence a metaphor was more used in the East by 
way of making clear an idea symbolically, than as an object 
in which a word is incorporated for the sake of its beauty. 
In communicating his religious views the Oriental was satis- 
fied with a symbolic representation, and had no other intention 
in it. So, then, we also mean when we speak of the relics 
of Mneveh and Persepolis, that in their discovery we have 
not lost such descriptive writers as Pausanias and Philostratus, 
for such writings as these produced, did not exist. The want 
of such was essential to the mode of life in the East. There 
was no literature to excite their production, the monuments 
were the only literature. Some things have been found, 
dating from later times, which might illustrate the past, but 
they are only isolated ruins which remain from the flourishing 
time of life — groups upon a tablet, representations in relief 
upon disinterred walls of a palace, monumental stones which 
form a path to themselves, and in which we recognise remains 


of another alphabet of ancient thoughts than that of the 
cuneiform which our experts have deciphered. This is not 
the case with all, and indeed the same rule and test cannot 
to most of them be applied. But the already accomplished 
investigation of single monuments establishes the fact, that 
they offer us a greater insight into ancient views and fancies, 
than even was possible to have by the writers of monumental 
inscriptions themselves. We shall consider one such single 
monument by way of attempt. 

On the plain of Merdosht, thirty-five English miles north- 
east of Shiras, lie the grand ruins of Persepolis. He that 
was so fortunate as to see them was quite struck by their 
phantastic bulk. The ruins stand upon an artificial even 
platform, hewn out of the rock; on the south side 802, on 
the north 926, and on the west 1425 feet long. The plat- 
form is ascended from the plain by means of double marble 
steps, which travellers describe as the finest in the world. 
On the front of the gate, which is reached after climbing up 
the steps, there are figures in bass-relief of animals of colossal 
dimensions, which deserve special attention. The columns 
upon which they appear are immense blocks of marble of 27^ 
feet in length, 5 feet in width, and 30 feet in height. The 
animals cover them almost entirely, and only the heads, which 
are now broken plastically, protrude. Various opinions have 
been expressed as to the kind of animals they are. But a 
careful inspection of the cloven hoofs, the powerful jaws, and 
of the form of the tails, shows to a certainty that they are 
bulls. This is confirmed by a similar bass-relief of the hinder 
gate. Here huge bulls are clearly recognised. The legs and 
bodies are those of bulls, the neck is sfcriped, the ears have 
ornaments in them. On the head appears a tiara in the form 
of a cylinder, at both of whose sides are clearly-marked horns, 
rising from near the eyebrows upwards to the heads of the bulls 
which, though injured, still disclose human faces, and from 
their backs proceed gigantic wings ; and they are adorned with 

366 APPENDIX 11 r. 

curled beards. The true meaning of these rare and artistically 
splendid figures has become more apparent since the finding 
of similar winged bulls in Chorsabad and Nineveh. The 
attempts at an explanation hitherto made are acknowledged 
by the learned themselves as unsatisfactory, because they 
proceeded from too narrow a standpoint. For it has been 
disproved that the Persians adored the bull, seeing that in 
Egypt they scoffed at the worship of Apis, and destroyed the 
idols. That these winged bulls represent any specific heroes 
is doubtful, as they are also found in Assyria. Again, to 
assume, with Lassen, that they are of Babylonian- Assyrian 
origin, because the Assyrians are older than the Persians, 
would explain very little why the palace of the Persian kings 
was chosen as the place for these monuments. 

We have already made some remarks above on the figu- 
rative language of the Orient. Its soul speaks in images, 
symbols, and hieroglyphics. Life in the East has from very 
ancient times another relation to the animal world than it 
has in the West, not only because of the want of culture 
there, but also because of the abundance and the variety of 
animals which are within reach of man. Language, by means 
of animal designation, or the expression of one's thoughts 
through animal symbols in a simple or complex form, is 
therefore of Oriental origin, and is to be considered as a 
contrast to the Greek Mythos, which first issued from man, 
and was then applied to the animal symbol. The difference 
between the Hellenic and Oriental culture is especially to 
be seen in the different manner in which the Greeks and the 
Orientals did speak. The Greek spoke, the Oriental symbol- 
ized. Hence the conceptions of the Greek became men, those 
of the Oriental became animals. The fulness of thought 
which in Greece found its expression in language, was repro- 
duced by the Asiatic in nature, in especially exhausting the 
animal and vegetable kingdoms. Herodotus says, the Persians 
had no gods which they thought to be in the form of men. 
Quite right. But the Persians, who paid homage to the 


Iranic idea of God, expressed their views in reference to the 
origin and conditions of the world, in the same manner 
through the medium of symbolic animals as the Greeks did 
through symbolic men. The figure of language and of the 
word was to them still merely an image. Just as the 
Egyptian wrote by means of figures, notably figures of ani- 
mals, so the Oriental generally thought that the bird, horse, 
wolf, lion, etc., are terms capable of containing and giving 
expression to a whole series of thought. N"ow, without 
pursuing this subject in its wide range, we return to the 
bull-figures, concerning which we are of opinion that they 
do not represent animals as objects of idolatrous worship, but 
hieroglyphs and symbols typifying and portraying ancient 
thought. It is not difficult to recognise which thought the 
hull was symbolically intended to express when it could not 
fail to be on the portals of Persepolis. The bull was especially 
the symbol of the Iranic-Zoroastrian Theology, which we have 
still preserved in a remarkable though covered and obscure 
manner in the Zendavesta. The doctrine of Zoroaster, in so 
far as we gather it from these books, represents a warfare, 
not merely between virtue and vice, but a strife especially 
between the civilised agricultural life and the wild, rough, 
natural, hunting life. Ahuramazda, i.e. Ormuzd, therefore 
always appears under the figure of tame domestic animals, 
and when we read in the Third Fargard of the Avesta : 
Creation of world filled with bodies. What is the third most 
a^ireeable thimr to this earth ? Ahuramazda answers as 
follows : Where agriculture mostly abounds, and holy Zara- 
thustra blesses the land with corn and fruitful trees. What 
is the fourth thing most agreeable to this world ? When there 
is plenty of cattle and beasts of burden, etc. All things, 
therefore, that are sinful, injurious, and imperfect in life are 
expressed through animals, which are hindering and destruc- 
tive to agriculture. Therefore Ahuramazda declares that 
the animals which are most disageeable to this world are 
those which Ahriman created, like the wolf and the serpent. 


Hence it was imposed upon the Persians as an atonement 
for a sin, to kill ten thousand lizards (which evidently means 
a great many sexcents), ten thousand ants, which carry away 
the grain, and ten thousand gnats. The regular order of 
things, rich possession of fields and animals, health, good 
weather, everything which is favourable to the villager and 
townsman, was created by Ormuzd, and was represented in 
such images ; and the opposite, the mortality of man, and 
adversity in life in every possible form, was considered as 
the creatures and weapons of Ahriman. All existent things, 
only Ahriman hinders their prosperous development. Accord- 
ing to these ideas the bull was the picture of happiness, and 
peculiarly appropriate to designate the earth itself. In the 
thousands of years before power was given to Ahriman, there 
lived through Ormuzd, Willca the original bull, i.e. the world 
v/as without sin and misery. When the wicked appeared, 
he poisoned the bull, that he died. From his ribs proceeded 
man, and from his tail fifty-five kinds of corn, and also the 
good trees sprang forth. From the seed of the original bull, 
when purified by the light of the moon, proceeded again a pair 
of bulls of both sexes, from which all the animals descended. 
The soul of the first bull after being poisoned went to Ormuzd 
and said : Whom hast thou appointed for the globe ? Ahri- 
man hastened to destroy the earth. Is it man of whom thou 
hast said, I will create him, that he may learn to protect 
himself against evil ? Ormuzd replied : The bull has become 
weak through Ahriman's weakness, but man is preserved for a 
globe, and a time when Ahriman will not be able to exercise 
his power. Ormuzd is therefore called also in prayers the 
protector of the soul of the bull, and the seed of the latter is 
called effulgent, holy, and exalted. It is not the place here 
to show fully the analogous views of other ancient nations, 
and we shall only touch upon what is necessary to our pur- 
pose. One who was well acquainted with Egypt has 
collected many passages, according to which Isis, by which 
name the Egyptians understood the earth, was designated by 


the picture of a cow. Plutarch phiinly says that /Sou?, the 
ox, was among the Egyptians a symbol of Isis and the earth. 
It has also long ago been noticed that the Greek word 7?), 
earth, comprises the Sanscrit ga, the common name for kine, 
masculine and feminine. Jacob Grimm has noticed the con- 
nection between Old High German Rinta, " earth," and Rind, 
" kine." So likewise the Sanscrit hhumi, " earth," reminds one 
of the Greek ^ov<{. The old doctrine as, e.g., it is manifested 
in the Zendavesta, has expressed the bull, but understood the 
earth. It was an ancient hieroglyphic picture, which the 
language perhaps occasioned, and later on drew a view from 
the picture. It was at all times the custom to borrow such 
hieroglyphic pictures and symbols from analogy of language. 
Well-known instances are the emblems of many cities of 
antiquity, which were later called in heraldry " speaking coats 
of arms," " armes parlantes." Euboea had for its emblem 
a bull, or a bull's head, ySoi)? Evj^oia ; the island Aegina was 
represented by a goat, which is in Greek al'f, al<y6<;. Rhodes 
had the rose {pohov) ; the city of Cardia, in Thracia, was symbol- 
ized by a heart ; Melos by an apple ; Myrina by a wolf, which 
is in Greek fivpivrj ; Selimos by parsley (aeXivoi/) ; Side, in 
Pamphylia, by a pomegranate (crtS?;), as also Granada in 
Spain. With this is to be compared the better known coats 
of arms, as of Berlin and Berne, which are represented by 
a bear, and Bieberach by a beaver. It is an established fact 
that the bull, as it represents the sense of yrj in the Zend- 
avesta, is always called by corresponding words which have a 
similar sound in Zend, Pehlevi, and in Persian. Only in 
later times was the symbol petrified, and the literal sense of 
the bull was received into the cult. This appears in the 
ceremonies which the Avesta prescribes, and which is still 
carried out by the Parsees, namely, the use of the water of 
the bull for purification. It almost excites merriment when 
reading through the treatises concerning this custom, and 
applying to it the rule of decency. Undoubtedly the ancient 
idea was, that the water of the bull purifies, viz. in the sense 



that the bull and the earth are the same. The vrnter that 
springs from the earth was meant. In this sense the bull 
became the emblem of the Iranic-Zoroastric faith, and it can 
be established and explained in various ways. One of the 
badges of the Persian kingdom is still the club-shaped part of 
a bull's head. With it Feridun killed the old Persian hero, 
the wicked Zohak. The later legend explained the origin of 
the club as coming from the cow which he sucked as a child. 
In the sacred writincrs of the Persians the tauriform club is 
mentioned with which Guershasp killed the demons. It was 
the chivalrous adornment of all the ancient Persian lords and 
kings. They bore it on their thrones and into war. It was 
the formidable weapon of Eustem when he accomplished his 
herculean deeds, as Pirdussi sings, — 

" Brandishing the tauriform club with his right hand, 
He gave them no respite or ground to stand, 
But fiercely attacked the whole band." 

In connection with this we mention for the present that 
the Indian Ciwa is likewise joined with productive nature. 
Therefore he is called Pa^upati, the " lord of the animals," 
and the bull is his symbol ; whence comes his name Vrishadh- 
vaga, the bearer of the bull banner. To this may be added 
the hitherto unexplained image of a bull's head upon old 
Indian coins. Images of Minerva have the shield-emblem of 
a bull's head, of which the explanation of our well-known 
student of art Gerhard, is certainly insufficient. Less obscure 
is it upon the shield of the Geryones who defend themselves 
against Heracles. An Etruscan bronze figure at Gori has a 
bull's head ; whilst Pausanias tells of a statue of Apollo on 
which the foot of the god stands upon a bull's head. From 
this is explained the heads of oxen on coins of Phocis. Coins 
of Caligula have sometimes the impression of a whole bull, 
and sometimes only the head of a bull. We know a coin 
with a fine bull's head, having upon the shield a female figure 
and circular inscription : Britannia, After these apparently 
iinconnected notices, we cannot leave unmentioned that in 


the description of the throne of Solomon, which seems to 
have been after the model of a Persian one : a bull is at the 
liead of the whole order of tame animals which stand under 
the protection of the king. 

Be it also noted that Mirkhond narrates that the Byzantiau 
emperor had caused the Sassanide king Shapur (Sapor) to be 
sewn up in a skin of a bull and there imprisoned. That tlie 
bull w^as really considered as symbol of the Iranic-Zoroastrian 
system, and that other nations and tribes had certain animals 
as symbols upon coins, as, e.g., the Greek-Indian kings were 
depicted on coins in Cabul hunchbacked upon elephants, 
which signified the Indian Peritapotamia,^ is clearly evident 
from the combination in the bull statues of human heads with 
wings. The figures are to be regarded as congruous symbols 
with hieroglyphics. The union of attributes in various kinds 
of animals upon one figure indicates a union of various 
thoughts in one symbol. The human head with horns in 
the front signifies that the enormous strength of the bull is 
also symbolized in man. Man has and comprehends that 
which is inherent in the bull. So also was the symbol 
of the king who represented the land and the Zoroastrian 
faith. Only heads of such figures appear on coins as that 
which is ascribed to Pacorus the Arsacide. A coin of the 
Bactric king Eukratides shows a king with ear and forehead 
of a bull. Eckhel reports of a fighting bull with a human 
face upon a Parsee figure, and also refers to the existence of 
such upon other coins of Cretan colonies, as upon those of 
Gela, Agyrium, and Tauromenium. The attribute of the 
wings is likewise significant. It signifies the connection of 
the celestial with the terrestrial. By their medium the 
possibility of harmony between heaven and earth is indi- 
cated. For this reason superhuman beings have wings, as 
also Bundehesh expressly says is the case with daevas. On 
the other hand, they are expressive of the possession of the 
power over the kingdom of the air. As the bull's head with 
^ [This name still appears in the name of Punjab. — Trans.] 


the tiara was the symbol of royal power over the Iranian 
empire, inasmuch as the bull comprised the possessions, the 
crop, and the eartli, so the wings on the same indicated that 
the king claimed to have dominion over the air. This 
Firdussi expresses when he represents King Kaikawus, who 
Tuled over the whole world, as being persuaded by a daeva to 
conquer also the heaven,^ — 

" O Lord (spake the daeva), tliy will caused the earth to shake ; 
As a shej)herd does his flock, so leadest thou mankind in thy wake. 
To only one thin<^ thou may est lay claim, 
Then shall all the universe be filled with thy fame. 
Hast thou observed the course of the sun, 
And knowest thou how his rise and set do run ? 
Thy rule upon eartli thou dost well accomplish, 
What is wanting is that thou dost also heaven vanquish. 
The heart of the king is thus enticed to undertake the deed. 
And he meditates whether somehow he will succeed 
To reach the air with wingless feet ; 
Then inquires of his sages how far 
From here to the moon, and thence to some star." 

Then he ordered to catch eagles and to tie them to a throne, 
and thus to be carried to heaven. This perhaps gave rise to 
Lucian's representation of the philosopher Menippus catching 
an eagle and a vulture, and severing the right wing from the 
one and the left from the other, and then fastening them with a 
string strapped to his shoulders, and thus flying to the assembly 
of the gods in heaven. Lucian further narrates, that Jupiter 
did not receive Menippus in a very friendly manner, for fear 
that in a short time all mankind might in this way fly to him ; 
and so when he was to depart he clipped his wings and let 
him be carried by Mercury to the earth. 

It is remarkable that the use of wings in Grecian art came 
only in vogue in the Persian war. But when the scholiast 
on Aristophanes, whom Gerhard quotes, mentions that only in 
later times did Nike and Eros appear with wings, he means 

1 [A similar though somewhat different story is told in the Talmud 
Tamid, p. 32a, about Alexander the Great, and had perliaps this for its 
source. — Trans.] 


just simply that wings represent heavenly might. For Nike 
the goddess of victory, and Eros the god of love, have special 
rule over man. 

We will not further enter fully into the domain of Greek 
and Eoman works of art, and upon thoughts in connection with 
them, which apply wings in manifold w^ays, but one thing 
which has remained obscure we must add. An Etruscan 
vase picture represents the giant Geryon and winged bulls 
carrying on war against Heracles, as if the same was attributed 
to them as to the daeva and demon, though this is only 
corroborated elsewhere by a reported observation upon an 
Egyptian two-handled vessel called ampJiora. Wings appear 
upon other figures of animals, in so far, which we here do not 
consider, as they in the views of the nations represented the 
symbol of heavenly or demoniac power. 

But the bull, with or without wings, appears as the symbol 
of Iranic Zoroastrianism, as it is represented in its sacred 
books. So likewise the opponents of this faith and state, are 
designated by animal symbols that are hostile to the bull. 
Here, too, the opposition of the religious and political state is 
compressed into one element and picture. The traveller Ker 
Porter found depicted upon the bas-relief on the west end of 
the platform, a king in the act of fighting with animals, a 
closer description of which we here omit, and only remark 
that they represent tlie lion, the wolf, and the ass, with wings 
and heads of the eagle. The king appears as the conqueror. 
Of course the wings do also signify service, civility, or 
respect, but the political enemy is no less emblematically 
expressed in them. To this may be compared the dream 
of King Astyages, of which Moses of Chorene speaks. In 
it he saw a woman who had three sons. One riding 
upon a lion hastened to the west, the second upon a leopard 
ran to the east, and the third upon a dragon, with tlie 
wings of an eagle, rushed towards him. Attention needs only 
be called to the wonderful prophecy of Daniel. A lion with 
the wings of an eagle, a bear, and a panther, together with a 


strange wild animal, rise from the sea. The prophet himself 
interprets them as symbols of great empires and kings. In 
the second dream this is still more clearly represented, — the 
Ayil (ram) with two horns, as it appeared to him one higher 
than the other, and he saw him push westward, northward, 
and southward, so that no beast could stand before him. But 
a he-goat with two horns came against him from the west, and 
vanquished him, and brake his two horns. Of his conquest it 
is said : " he touched not the ground," as if he had a swift- 
winged victory. It is the war of Alexander (Deul Karnain) 
against Media and Syria which Daniel predicts. All who 
have seen the winged bulls and lions, or who have read a 
description of the same, have been reminded of the prophetic 
mysterious vision of Ezekiel in its entire greatness and wonder- 
ful spiritual application. He speaks of figures of animals with 
wings which had the face of a man, the face of a lion, the face 
of an ox, and the face of an eagle, upon which the glory of 
God passed. It is remarkable about this, that while in the 
first chapter of the prophecy which proceeded by the river 
Chebar, the word cherubim is not even named, on the other 
hand, in chap, x., in which the prophetic vision in Jerusalem 
gets an insight into the mystery, the animals are called Cheru- 
bim. Although it was the same animal which he saw by the 
river Chebar, in the place of an ox appears a cherub, while the 
lion, man, and eagle are also so called. The significance of 
this symbolizing, which expressed at the same time the worldly 
power and the religious view, had an extensive influence 
upon ancient legends as far as the West. Through its 
elucidation the monuments of Nineveh will gain in light ; its 
contents are the more important the higher one ascends into 
the obscure walks of antiquity. And there could not have 
been merely the simple combination of art and artists, which 
created figures and porticoes in Nineveh and in Persepolis. 
The combination and the contrast that there exist between a 
lion and a bull, as they are represented in a Persepolitan figure, 
engaged in battle with one another, testify, what may be more 


fully dwelt upon elsewhere, to the contrast of principles at 
stake, of which the one which is hostile is always considered 
as the evil and Satanic one. Art gave expression to the 
language of these symbols, and without it symbolic repre- 
sentation would have remained inexplicable. On the other 
hand, the artistic monuments upon which the symbols of 
remarkable animals are portrayed, elucidate a series of his- 
torical information which till then had remained obscure ; of 
which we only mention a few. It has been affirmed of Grecian 
monuments of art, that they reacted upon life, as representa- 
tions upon marble were transported into fancy and knowledge. 
This also Oriental art has done. The symbol w^hich it has laid 
down in the figures of the above description, passed into 
legendary lore without being understood and explained. 
Eustem the great hero was so strong, that he engraved with 
his nails figures of eagles and the like upon rocks. The 
wonderful animals which natives and strangers long centuries 
after have seen in their gigantic and violent forms upon walls 
and rocks, were taken up by fancy and by this winged mes- 
senger carried farther. After they were found in isolated places, 
they came forth, loosed the bonds which had kept them tied 
to the marble, and passed into actual life as pictures of former 
living and wonderful creatures. Much of the truth of this 
kind which ancient tales and legends contain has arisen in 
this manner. The stranger who travelled in the country 
looked upon the figures as types of existing animals, and could 
speak of them at home without properly saying what was 
false. What effect ancient art in the Orient as well as in the 
Occident produced through the influence of human fancy upon 
the culture of the nations, has not yet been sufficiently proved, 
nor applied by authors in criticism. Old Berosus says this in 
Eusebius clearly enough : " Once when all things were yet 
in obscurity and chaos, there were also animals of other 
sorts . . . men with two wings, others with a double pair of 
wings and two faces, others again who had one body and two 
heads, one of a man and one of a woman ; other men had a 


sort of roebuck's legs upon their heads, others had legs of 
horses, and again others were half horse and half man. Bulls 
had human heads, and dogs had four bodies with tails of fish ; 
there were horses with dogs' heads, men and animals with 
heads of horses, and their lower parts were formed like a fish ; 
and still many more creatures which united in themselves 
the appearance of animals of many sorts. There were also fish, 
dragons, serpents, and other wonderful kinds of animals, 
whose images were severally preserved in the temple of Bel" 
Berosus evidently assumed, that the images of the various 
symbols of animals were such as had actually existed 
and lived in hoary antiquity. So misunderstood things 
become by and bye false, the more so when one takes a false 
way to establish their truth. Only a few years ago, the 
famous Indologian Lassen declared Ctesias to be a liar, because 
he says he had seen the Martichoras with the king of Persia, 
to whom the Indian king gave it as a present. I believe 
that he may be freed from this reproach. " Here is," says he, 
" an Indian animal of enormous strength, larger than the 
largest lion, red of colour like vermilion, and with thick hair 
like dog's. Among the people of India it is called Martichoras, 
which translated means ' man.' The head is not like that 
of an animal, but it has a human-like face. Its legs are 
like those of a lion, on its tail it has a sting like that of a 

Who does not see in this a description of some old image of 
a lion with a human head such as is still found on the monu- 
ments of Persia and Assyria ? The notice becomes more 
interesting from the addition of the name. Martichoras is 
unanimously explained as Martijakara, " killer of man." We 
have thus an image of an evil demon for the Iranians, as is also 
clear from the scorpion-like tail. The form of a lion, as already 
remarked above, indicated in the animal kingdom hostility. 
Grotefend has long since found upon an ancient seal Ahriman 
depicted in a lion. According to the Bundehesh, Ahriman 
created the scorpion. Its title in the Avesta is : " He is the 


fulness of death, the destroyer of man, the briiiger of unhappi- 
iiess generally." Ctesias had seen such an image : and when 
he asked what it meant, he was told that it was Martichoras ; 
and he went home with the impression and the name of an 
animal which he had never known. In this it is very in- 
teresting to notice that we definitely learn to know Ahriman 
in the form which Heeren wished to explain the Persepolitan 
giant animals. 'Now we can explain Martichoras more 
accurately from the figures. So here also the world since 
1814 has turned round. The ancient authors whose credi- 
bility has beeii much doubted, because true descriptions of 
actual life was missed in them, will receive a new charm 
when they shall be regarded as guides {Pcrigeten) and 
reporters of the truth of art. They made of the picture, life : 
we shall do well if we make life a picture.^ 

1 The above essay could not be carried out so far as it deservedly 
requires. It was also not possible to add the scientific references and 
(quotations. Much of that which is above indicated is more fully explained 
than I could do in the continuation of the Hierozoxkous {Lowenkdm'pfe). 



The name Eran (Iran) does not occur in the book of Esther. 
Classic authors also are unacquainted with it as a title applied 
to the entire Persian empire. It could not possibly have been 
so used at the times of Graeco-Persian wars. Doubtless it 
would otherwise have been mentioned in the records of the 
Old Testament and by Herodotus, as there seems to be no 
scarcity of personal names even in the book of Esther, in 
whose composition it occurs as aTi = ariya. — Now, just as 
Strabo makes record of a province called Ariana, so also we 
should surely have heard of the name for the whole empire if 
it had been of a like sound. It is therefore not extraordinary 
that Spiegel should have found no trace that already in the 
ancient times such a name was used for the whole empire. 
It is quite true that, according to the cuneiform versions, 
King Darius calls himself an Aryan ; but he does not give a 
like term to his whole empire. It is not simply by chance, 
but for political reasons, that only the title King of Persia 
or Persia and Media ('•^Dl D"id) occurs in the proper official 
documents and inscriptions. But taken on its own merits, 
the name Aryan seems to me to give the best proof that in 
researches for the home of the Aryan tribe the account of 
the O. T. has been unreasonably neglected. The cognate 
sound in the name Ararat {\Tr\^) is beyond doubt. 

1. The Scriptures describe the nations as coming down from 
Ararat. That Ararat means high land is indisputable, especi- 
ally when one takes into account the various names, such as 


Aram and Armena, which that district has borne in the past 
and present. And to interpret Aryans as highlanders is 
certainly possible, which in later times appears by an abstract 
form as high, or the honourable one. 

Whatever of common culture and religion Aryans and 
Indians had in common proceeded thence. Aryan conquerors 
descended to India, just as Mahmud of Gazna and Islam have 

Herodotus has the remarkable memorial that the Medians 
were called Aryans in former times, and connects the myth of 
Medea and Colchis with the change of name. And this is not 
preserved by him alone. — Diodorus also gives us the sayings 
of others about a Medus, a son of Medea, who was said to 
have become king of Media. — That, however, there really are 
Aryan traces in the legend of Medea is quite clear from the 
report of Pausanias. He tells us that in Corinth, where 
Medea lived with Jason, she hid each of her children in the 
temple of Juno, being under the impression that they would 
become immortal ; that Jason had discovered her engaged in 
the act, and that their separation followed thereupon. We 
should not be able to understand what constituted Medea's 
offence in Jason's eyes if we did not remember the Indian 
story of Ganga, who, reborn as a human being, weds 
Santanu, the son of Pratipa. She puts her children into the 
river to make them immortal ; and when Santanu surprises 
her, she has to separate from him. 

It is also noticeable that in the ethnographic table of 
Genesis, Media ('•id) alone appears as the son of Japhet, and 
that in the immediate neighbourhood of |V (Javan), that is to 
say, of the Ionic- Greek nation. Up to the time of Cyrus it 
has the palpable precedence of Persia. Its name also points 
to the meaning of central position which it possesses. With- 
out doubt Media (nD) signifies Zend, maidhya = medius, maidh- 
yana^ the middle, a meaning which may have been not alone 
local, but national and religious as well. A land specially 
praised and holy, situated between the Jam una and the 


Ganges, is called Madyadeqa by the Indians, i.e. " land of the 

A name of like meaning is applied to China (Tschung Kue). 
The Greek Messene stands for Middleland (legend tells of a 
woman of this name, as of Medea). It was said of Delphi, 
that Apollo there inhabited the earth's navel, which, however, 
Varro somewhat prosaically denies. So the Jewish com- 
mentators called the Holy Land the navel of the earth 
("iud), — ideas which seem to have been held concerning the 
Kaaba in Mecca by the adherents of Islam. 

The ancient central place occupied by the Medes is proved 
by this circumstance, that even during the most flourishing 
period of the Persian empire and during the Persian wars the 
word " Median " was used by the Greeks, and interchangeably 
for Persian, in the same sense as one now uses " Iranic " or 
" Aric." This application is not limited to poetic usage, as 
when Aeschylus says, " Such an host as has already inflicted 
great damage on the Medes," or as it occurs in Eoman poets 
(cf. CatuU. 67:" Cum Medi irrupere novum mare," etc. ; cf. 
again, " Otimu Medi pharetra decori," which was also poetic 
usage, even when historians like Arrian and Aelian and others 
use " Media7i " for " Persian "). So also it is only poetic 
metaphor when TertuUian exclaims, ''Alexander vicerat medi- 
cam gentem et victus est medica veste." 

But the word has a deeper signification when Herodotus 
not only makes Themistocles speak of a "king of the 
Medes " (viii. 5), but also places a Greek and a Median party 
spirit in antithesis. He tells us, for instance, that the 
Phocians would not become " Median " because they were 
hostile to the Thessalians, the latter being Median. Had 
these been of the Greek party, he surmises that the Phocians 
would have become "Median'* (viii. 30). In like manner he 
says later on of the Boetians that they are " Median " in 
their entirety. This is the more peculiar as it is Herodotus 
specially who records the distinction between the Persians 
and Medes. 


2. The fall of the Median supremacy was, as is well 
known, brought about by Cyrus. — But it was obviously no mere 
political revolution. Just as in later times the Sassanides 
introduced not only a new dynasty, but also a new religious 
era, so did also the Persians when they became masters of the 
Median dominion. The folk-lore and science-system, which 
we call (Zarathustra) after Zoroaster, first came to power over 
the whole empire with Cyrus. 

Through him a political and religious revolution of extra- 
ordinary importance in Asiatic and general history was intro- 
duced, and which was only fully accomplished by Darius 
Hystaspes. — I think that even a few historical fragments and 
legends should suffice to make this probable. 

We read in Herodotus (i. 20) that the Magi address 
Astyages in the following fashion : " King, it is very impor- 
tant to us that your mastership should continue. — For in the 
other case we shall become slaves of the Medes and lightly 
esteemed by the Persians. But as long as you are king we 
participate in the government, and win honour from you." 
And when, as Herodotus further records, after the death of 
Cambyses, pseudo-Smerdes the Magus usurped the throne, it 
was considered as an attempt on the part of the Medes to 
regain the mastery, — e.g. Gobryas says (iii. 73) : " For now ive 
Persians are being ruled by a Mede, a Magus!' 

For this reason the discovery of the fraud caused a universal 
bitterness among the Persians. 

The Magi that could be reached were put to death ; and 
like a Persian Purim, the death of the Magi was long 
celebrated as a national liberation festival. 

According to Herodotus, the Magi formed a tribe of 
Medes ; they represented a sort of priest caste. In the Old 
Testament, on one occasion Kab-Mag, a Magus, appears in the 
train of the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar. When later 
authors call also the Zoroastrian priests by the name Magi, 
it is only a general term in accordance with old habits. — In 
itself it was not a name for them. Eather with the mastery 


of Cyrus there was introduced a Persian hatred against the 
Magi, as they were identified with the Medes. Could one 
rely on the interpretation of the Bisutun cuneiform inscription, 
this would be strikingly confirmed. Darius recounts in it his 
conquest of pseudo-Smerdes (Bartiya). 

" The mastery, which had been snatched from our race, I 
have brought back again ; I restored it happily as it had 
ibrmerly been ; I ordered that what Gumata the Magus had 
professed should not be honoured ; I have the service and 
temple of the protector of the state, and have given back to 
the gods what Gumata the Magus had robbed them of . . . 
and so through the grace of Ahuramazda I have won back 
that which was lost." 

This much is certain, that in this inscription a victory of 
Ahuramazda over his enemies is celebrated for the reason that 
Darius had dethroned the Magus. 

The historic legend of the rise of Cyrus, as it is recounted 
by Herodotus and in later Persian poetry, doubtless supports 
the view that the victory of the old Persian empire was also 
shared by the Zoroastrian system. 

Firdussi recounts from the traditions known to him that it 
was Kai Khosru (Khosrav) who built the temple in Bahmandiz 
for the " Adar Gushasp " (the holy fire). The w^orship of the 
latter is always preferred before his. The Bundehesli says 
that (cap. 17) the fire Adar Gushasp was a friend of Kai 
Khosru, and that when he destroyed the idol-temple, the fire 
took its seat on the mane of his horse. Only through his 
service to the fire Kai Khosru gains the right of succession to 
the throne. He is the first shah of whom this is told. 

There is no doubt that Herodotus's accounts of Cyrus are 
reflected in the legends of Kai Khosru. It is not only the 
name that reminds one of this. Kai Khosru is the grandson 
of the ruler whom he serves, just like Cyrus. As a child he 
is placed amongst shepherds, and is brought up unrecognised. 
His royal demeanour soon shows itself. A dream declares 
his royalty. Kai Khosru alone has the Quareno, the divine 


nimbus, which proves him to be a destined king. His grand- 
father Kai Kans has no nimbus, and indeed retires deeply into 
the background as one who has injured his grandson. Quareno 
is derived from Khar, " to shine." It is connected with the 
Hebrew ^ip (Karan), which is used (Ex. xxxiv. 29) when 
Moses's face shone so divinely that every one feared to draw 
near to him. It is manifestly from this that Apollo derives 
his name Karneios, Karnose, the shining god. It is certain 
that from this the house of Cyrus or t^ns is derived, who 
manifested himself as the rightful and appointed sovereign. 
Of course many details diverge in the brilliant mixture of 
Firdussi's poem, but the groundwork of similarity cannot be 
mistaken. — The fact that Herodotus's account declares Cyrus 
to have been reared by the woman Spako, or bitch, may be 
referred to the honours which, as we shall see later on, are 
paid to the dog in Zoroastrianism. By the action of youthful 
Cyrus in causing the Persians to till a thorny field one day 
and enjoy its fruits the next, the essence of Zoroastrianism is 
really portrayed, which represents the cleansing of the earth 
from thorns and vermin as religion, in order to have a joyful 
life later on. 

As regards Cambyses, one must not overlook the fact that 
his killing of apes and burning of the Hephaestos image recall 
the ideas of the bull and the fire which appear in Zoroas- 
trianism, and concerning which the necessary remarks are given 
in the preceding Appendix. One must also notice the words 
which, according to Herodotus (iii. 65), Cambyses addressed 
to the Persians on his deathbed : " ^N'ow therefore, whilst 
invoking the royal gods (Oeovs tov? ^aaiXiKw^i einKakeoDv), 
I lay it on your consciences — that you do not allow 
the supremacy to pass again to the Medes. If ye observe 
this, may the earth bring forth fruit for you, and may 
you have fruitful vines and herds, and may you be free 
(in this consists the blessing of Zoroastrianism). And if 
not, then I invoke on you the contrary of all this." 

3. In a special sense Darius is called the son of Hystaspes. 


Darius is the real architect of tlie great Persian empire, and 
under him also Zoroastrianism attained its permanent success. 
The name Hystaspes (ViqtaQpa, Gustasp) is connected with 
the origin of Zoroastrian teaching. We do not think that 
he could have been the father of Darius ; but this is certain, 
that through the circumstance that he is called the son of 
Hystaspes, his adherence to Zoroastrianism receives accentua- 
tion, and through that, attainment of royal dignity became easy. 

In VigtaQpa appears the connection with asp, horse. Ac- 
cording to the legend of Herodotus, Darius becomes king 
through the neighing of his horse. 

In one of the legends of his life Zoroaster demonstrates upon 
a horse of Gustasp the truth of his doctrine. Its four feet 
shrinking into its body disappear ; Zoroaster restores to the 
horse its natural existence ; on account of this, Gustasp enlists 
himself and his son Isfendiar in the service of the new 
teaching. The consequence of this is that the separate feet 
emerge again. 

I consider in these legends the horse to be the symbol of 
Persia itself. Many records of the ancients show that Persia is 
a very special horse-raising country. In the legends of heroes 
the horse is a prominent associate of the Iranian conquest. 
Kai Khosru could not become king unless he obtained the horse 
Behzad which had served his father Siawusch (Syawaksch). 
The horse, however, quickly allowed the son to catch it when 
it saw the rein and saddle that had belonged to the father. 

But this is not the case with Vigta^pa alone ; also his father 
Lohrasp and the chief antagonist of Zoroastrianism are named 
after horses in the legend " Arzasp of Turan," just as the 
good and the bad genii Tistrya and Apaosha contend with 
each other in the shape of a white and a black horse. 

Persia itself as DID signifies nothing but horse-land, and is 
identical with tJ'iQ (horse, horseman), just as in modern Per- 
sian it means horse and Persian. 

In like manner in the various terms of the Hebrew records 
tri3 (Cyrus, shine) and Din (sunshine) converge. But con- 


tainecl therein is a deeper symbolical thought. The horse, 
especially the white one, was the type of the sun. Sun-steeds 
were known to all Oriental nationalities. 

In the march of Xerxes and his army, Herodotus describes 
(vii. 40 and 55) the holy chariot of Zeus drawn by eight 
white horses, which was followed by the royal chariot. — What 
Herodotus here ascribes to Zeus is told of Mithra in the 
Persian sacred scriptures, before whose chariot four gleaming 
steeds are harnessed ; a like chariot is ascribed to Ardvigura 
Anahita, who resembles Mithra in conception. 

It is therefore no wonder that the sun is said to be possessed 
of swift steeds. Xenophon also expressly calls the chariot 
that preceded the king's that of the sun. It was a most 
ingenious combination of the ancients which joined together 
the name of Perseus with Persia. The lesjend of this hero is 
Oriental. Perseus is nothing but ens, the knight. He comes 
from heaven a sun-hero on the steed which overcomes the 
dragon. So the Persian heroes overcome the Azhis dahaka, the 
evil serpent, of which it is said that it slays men and horses, 
even as Andromeda is called the rescued " bearer of men." 

The famous hero Keregaspa, who conquers the terrible 
Cruvara, signifies perhaps nothing else than the horse, as we 
shall see farther on. 

Also when Herodotus has the statement that the Persians 
had formerly been called Kephenes by the Greeks, we must 
not regard this as simply a playful idea. We are reminded 
of the legends about the conquering smith Kawi and the 
royal family of Kawi Kawata (Kai Kobad), Kaviuca (Kai 
Kaus), and Kawi Hugrava (Kai Khosru). The father of 
Zoroaster is called Purushagpa (comp. Prexaspes). The 
translation, " possessing many horses," does not seem to be the 
correct one. I would rather suggest here "purus," pure, and 
TTvp, fire, if indeed the name is ancient. But when the 
Persians have the names of their horses as symbols of the 
victory of the sun, it is only natural that in the time of their 
power they should emphasize these names. 

2 B 


Of Qraoslia, who in reality is perhaps nothing else than 
Mithra, we are therefore told in the 11th Yagna (after 
Spiegel), " whom the four horses guide (carry), without speck 
(pure), hrightly shining, beautiful, holy, wise, swift, obeying 
the heavenly behest." What he sees in Eastern India (hendu, 
nin), he seizes ; what in the Western (c'n), he strikes (conquers). 
He is the type (ensample) of the king of Persia, who from out 
of his chariot judges (governs) the Oriental world. 

Hitherto I have frequently, and I think justly, used the 
treasures of the Semitic languages for the explanation of 
Persian names. It is legitimate ;per se, because the real 
relations of men and nations were much freer and wider 
than the modern science of language seems to be inclined 
to assume. But there is a reason for it in a narrower 
sense. It is remarkable that while Media (no) appears 
already in the table of nations in Genesis, the name of 
Persia (dis) appears only late in the time of the captivity, 
when Israel got into relations with the great empire. 
Instead of it, however, we find another. At the head of 
the sons of Shem appears, on the side of Ashur, Arpachshad, 
Lud and Aram, the name of Elam (Dh^]}). It occurs in 
Gen. xiv., in company of Amraphel king of Sliinar, Arioch 
king of Elasar, Tidal king of Goyim, as -iD3;b~n3, king of 
Elam. It is the opinion of all tradition that this Elam 
stands here for D"ia, Persia. Scripture itself gives us a proof. 
In Isa. xxi. 2 and Jer. xxv. 25, Elam stands in the same 
conjunction with Media as usually is the case with Persia. 
In Isa. xxii. 6 it stands in conjunction with Kir, reminding 
us either of the Kuran, a tributary from Khusistan to the 
lower Schatul - Arab, or perhaps of Kur, Kyros, another 
tributary from the Bhaktegan lake in Ears. The prophet 
depicts the Elamites as Persians with quivers, chariots, and 
horses. Finally, Daniel sees his vision in Susa, in the land 
of Elam, on the river ''fjis (Eulaeus or Choaspes). 

The Scriptures, in counting Elam amongst the descendants 
of Shem, and Media amongst those of Japhet, wish to indi- 


cate thereby a difference in language and people. Every 
Elamitic signification can be explained by Semitic language. 
In Elam we find high land or plateau, as the name seems to 
be derived from nbv, to mount, and brings us to Asia, just 
as Elyon means high or exalted (as it is explained of Ariya). 
Shushan (p)^) gets its name from the lily, combined with 
tj'tj^, white. In Eulaeus we find another form of a Semitic 
name, Uval, ''i'i5<=''i5n5<, Juval, the river; while Choaspes was 
the Arian name, mountain-horse, since the horse was com- 
pared to rivers springing from hills. 

Highly interesting is the explanation of nny^-na. Schrader 
has compared with it kings' names from other inscriptions; 
so Kudur - nanhundi ; he also thinks Kudur - Mabuk an 
Elamitic king. It is related of Kudur-nanhundi that he 
had robbed an image of the goddess Nana, which returned 
again to Babylon, and that he laid hands on the temple 
at Akkad. Kudur -Mabuk calls himself Euler of the 
West country. Schrader, however, has not interpreted the 
name itself. Thirty years ago I called attention to the 
fact that the names of the ancient kings of Mesopotamia 
are compounded with those of the gods. This is seen in 
Kudurlaomer. Kudur occurs in ivnauj = "iV"n3l23. Benfey 
reads Nabucodrossor ; in the inscriptions, Nabokudurriussur ; 
in Schrader's version, Nabu Khadrachara. It is composed 
out of Nabo, Zar or azar and Kudur, Kudan, or Adon, Lord ; 
Adir, mighty one. In Laomer we recognise El Amir, " God, 
Prince." In Kudur-nanhundi, who robbed Nana, I see a 
composition with the name of the goddess Anahita, the same 
as Nana, called in the Avesta, Ardvigura Anahita, the goddess 
of fertility. For this reason I consider the Semitic derivation 
of D"iQ as the most likely. 

In Persia, Elam was the Semitic element ; through the 
preponderance of the Median- Arian tribe, the Arian language 
became the prevailing one. However, it was only by means 
of the old reminiscences of Persian life as far as the spirit 
of the matter required it, especially in worship, which 


seems to have proceeded from Elam, that the Semitic vocabu- 
lary was used. 


When Aristagoras came to Sparta to persuade Kiug 
Kleomenes to war against the Persians, he described to him 
the condition of the great empire : " They have more good 
things than all others taken together ; beginning with gold, 
silver, brass, many-coloured garments, cattle, and slaves." 

The empire was indeed well cultivated, not only in the 
Provinces of Asia Minor, but also in Mesopotamia and 
Persia. All the gifts of the earth were well cultivated. 
Through good communication the nations were joined to 
each other. Roads led, as Herodotus describes (v. 25), 
through inhabited and safe countries. Even the way 
through the desert to Egypt was made easy by the quantity 
of water led into the desert (Herod, iii. 6). The remark 
of Xenophon, that the Persians, wherever they are or come 
to, have gardens laid out, and make the land beautiful and 
fertile, characterizes Persian life in manners and morals.^ 
The so-called Paradises (D"ns, fenced gardens) show more than 
the desire after luxury and pleasure. The chase of wild 
animals was not only a warlike game. When Lysander, 
visiting the younger Cyrus, found him in his garden, he 
was astonished at the costly culture, the beauty of the 
trees, the careful tilling of the ground, fertility, and beauty. 
Hearing that the prince had ordered all, and even worked 
at it himself, he burst out in the foUowiog words : " Eightly 
I call thee happy, because thou joinest virtue to riches ; not 
understanding that Cyrus followed a still higher motive — 
a kind of moral obligation. When Xenophon depicts Dascy- 
lium, the capital of a mere satrap, Pherenbazes, as wonder- 
fully cultivated, endowed with gardens and lakes, fit for 

1 [The Talmud testifies to this by representing the Persians pleading on 
the day of judgment before God that they were busy in making bridges, 
etc., for Israel Abvodah Zarali, p. 26.— Trans.] 


chase and fishing, with its rich landscape, what must the 
royal gardens of Susa have been, which the book of Esther 
praises ! Everywhere were trees and gardens found in the 
splendour of Persian royalty. Firdussi sketches them in his 
poetical traditions. Art imitated nature in poetry and reality. 
Firdussi says that when Kai-Khosroe gave a feast, — 

" A tree was erected, opaque in its branches, the summit 
inclining to the throne, the stem of silver, the branches 
of gold, rubies formed the flowers, fruits of carniol and 
sapphire smiled out of the dark-green leaves of emeralds." 

The splendour of the palaces and thrones of the caliphs 
later on, was only a remembrance of the old Persian glory. 
Caliph Al Moktader had a silver tree ; in its branches 
sat birds of silver and gold, which sang automatically, and 
were able to move about. Hammer considers the gardens 
of Chumaruye in Egypt as the first botanical garden, and 
the type of those in the Arahian Nights. But the Persian 
kings, in doing these things, did not think of splendour 
and pleasure only ; not of pleasure - gardens only, but the 
tilling of fields, the culture of meadows, — and not only 
profit even, but the profit to religion was the real motive. 

The teaching of Zoroaster is the religion of a national 
tilling of the land. To plant trees, make use of forests, to 
plough the land, to regulate rivers, were the fundamentals 
of their religion. 

What was serviceable to this culture was good; what 
contrary to it, bad. Animals helping therein were good ; 
those that hindered, demoniac. For a rational, well-con- 
ducted life they wanted fire, water, the plough, the ox, the 
horse, and the dog. P>efore all, they symbolized the idea 
of good. Only the useful was good. The Persians explain 
Mipana, one of their deities, as " a ^perpetual usefulness." 
One of the attributes of Ahuramazda was Cevista, " the most 
useful." The Anushagpentas have the cognomen "always 
useful ; " Arstat, " helping on the world ; " fire, " affording use 
to all." Spiegel thinks "Qaoka" is nothing but utility. The 


egoism peculiar to the farmer, according to which weather, 
time, the field and animals are good according to their 
usefulness, is the chief doctrine of Zoroastrianism, out of which 
has been developed its dualism, ethical and historical, social 
and historical. 

A similar view of nature appears, indeed, among all 
heathen nations. Originally there was a contrast in Zeus 
and Hera, night ; their children were enemies ; Zeus repre- 
sented Ahuramazda ; Heracles was victorious over serpents. 
As the hero of civilisation, he conquers rapacious night, 
waterless deserts, poisonous swamps, and illness. In the 
Greek view of the world, these contrasts are united harmoni- 
ously. Hera and Zeus marry. Hephaestus becomes a member 
of the Olympic " round table." Prometheus is taken into 
i'avour with an iron ring on his hand. The contrast is also 
harmonised in Indian mythology, for even the serpents are 
made alive again through the Amrita. 

Neither does the northern legend maintain the full contrast. 
Loki is one of the Asi, i.e. demigods. In order to free the 
world -views of the other Aryans of these irreconcilable 
contrasts, historical events had to take place in them and 
around them. I^owhere else do we find this sharp contrast 
but in the dualism of the Persians. Tlie same corresponds 
only with the view of Holy Scripture. But here the contrast 
is between spirit and nature. Creator and creature ; but there, 
within nature — profit or hurt of the agriculturist. 

This doctrine was brought to a height through the Persians, 
whose first dynast was Cyrus, and was in opposition to the 
Hamitic Baal service, ruling from the Euphrates to the Medi- 
terranean, from Babylon to Egypt, with which, however, it 
must have had, notwithstanding the antagonism, many features 
in common. This doctrine is ascribed to Zoroaster, who is said 
to have lived in the time of Gustasp (Hystaspes). IS'obody, 
however, is able to give the meaning of his name, his home, or 
his generation with certainty. The legend of Zoroaster in- 
dicates this doctrine in all its points. His mother has dreams 


in which lions, tigers, wolves, and dragons attempt to rob her 
of her child ; they can, however, do nothing to her, for all wild 
animals are driven away by his doctrine. The child is the 
only one, born, not only without tears, but coming laughing into 
the world. This legend is told already by Pliny and Solinus. 
Tears and pains belong to that hostile nature which he attempts 
to conquer. Other miracles related of his youth have all the 
character of his teaching. He sleeps quietly in the fire ; cows 
and horses minister to him ; the former give him their milk ; 
wolves have to flee ; as man he has to contend with countless 
serpents, which dare not hurt him. Vohu-mano commands 
him to tell the people to take good care of useful animals, and 
especially not to kill young lambs. Another genius tells him 
to plant (extend) fire and fire-altars. Cpenta-armaiti tells him 
not to defile the earth with blood, nor to heap impure matter 
upon it, but to cultivate it diligently at any price. The care 
of water, plants, and trees is recommended to him. 

In one legend we have a peculiar notice. His mother is told 
she will be pregnant with her child five months and twenty- 
three days, i.e. on the twenty-third day of the fifth month she 
will become mother of a great man. The first month from 
which to reckon the time of his development can only be 
December, when the sun appears smallest ; the fifth is the 
spring month (Ardibihist), corresponding to our April. On 
the 23rd the Mohammedans celebrate the feast of Khisr, when 
the horses are taken to the pastures ; spring-day has conquered. 
Khisr corresponds with St. George, the George of farmers 
and gardeners, who conquers the dragon — winter. On his day, 
the 25th of April, the Emperor of China celebrates the initia- 
tion of spring, guiding with his own hand the agricultural 
plough. In the legend also the victory over winter is thereby 
transferred to Zoroaster. His name also can alone be explained 
out of the spirit of his doctrine. Many attempts, it appears 
to me, have been made to do this, without having regard to 
harmonious connection with the spirit of his doctrine. 

Windischmann and, following him, Spiegel reject the deriva- 


tion generally given, without putting something more satis- 
factory in its place. Windischmann, following Burnouf, demon- 
strates that in the name Zarathustra the last part, ustra, 
may mean camel. As there are names composed with agpa, 
horse, or ukhsan, ox, so also may Zarathustra be a compound of 
usthra, camel. Fr. Mliller translates therefore : " possessing 
courageous camels," which Spiegel thinks the most likely. 
But horse and bullock frequently occur in the teaching of 
Zoroaster, while camel never occurs in his writings. One 
ought to find some traces of it; but, on the contrary, it 
appears to me that the camel, as the animal of the desert and 
of the hostile Arabs, is repugnant to Zoroaster's views. The 
name has still less an ideal sense, as "rich in gold," which Bar 
Bahlul gives; or "gold pure," which Hyde quotes from a Persian; 
or " gold-star," which Windischmann thinks not problematical, 
as adduced by Lassen. The opinion of Deinon (fourth century 
B.C.) inclines to star, who suggests dcrrpoOvTrj^;, " sacrificing to 
stars ; " while Bochart reads aaTpodeaTr}^. One cannot agree 
to this, as it does not regard the nature of the name ; but 
Bochart is right, that the reading of Deinon is capable of 
emendation. Had Deinon known anything of Zoroaster's 
cultus, he would not have called him daTpo6vTr)<;, " a sacrificer 
to stars." Most likely his true reading is acnpo(f)VT7}(;, born 
of stars. Windischmann wonders why the Greeks have not 
pronounced Zarathystres for Zarathustra, rather than Zoroastros 
or Zoroastres. The reason is, that they recognised in thustra 
the name of the star, and indeed that of Sirius the Dog-star, 
as Anquetil and Wahl thought, Tistrya or Teshtri. Sirius 
was frequently called simply aster, as, e.g., sunstroke is called 
aa-TpofiX7}(na, from Sirius, under whose light is the greatest 
heat. I am the more inclined to this interpretation, because 
Sirius plays an important part in the doctrines of Zoroaster. 

It is well known which signification it had in Egypt. People 
saw in it the forerunner of the Nile-flood and the guardian 
of its approach. They saw in the manner of its rising a sign 
of the year's fertility brought about by the flood. Prom thence 


began the world's birthday. Thence Jablonski explains its 
name, Sothi, " beginning." Thence also Plutarch derives the 
name from Kveiv, to bear, and therefore was called Kvwv, Canis 
Major. But we cannot doubt that the star got the name of 
Dog from being heaven's guardian. Kvetv and kvcov not only 
depend upon each other, but in Sanscrit also gua and gvajate, 
to swell, are related to gvan, gvni, dog, as Plutarch himself, 
speaking of Horomazes (Ahuramazda), the god of the Persians, 
says, " he placed a star, Seirios, as guardian, <^v\aKa, and over- 
seer." The name Seirios itself is very instructive. It is 
specially brilliant; in 3rd Yagna, "the brilliant shining;" in 
I7th Ya^na, "the splendid, majestic." In the Khordavesta 
its splendour is praised repeatedly. The name is derived from 
the Semitic int ("ino, Syr. fc^ino, similar to the Arabic word for 
moon = Isis, whence the connection of Isis and Sirius). Comp. 
Jablonski, Pantheon, ii. 25. The Greek creipio^;, "hot, burning," 
is taken from the Dog-star. I am the more astonished that 
Spiegel could doubt whether Sirius and Tir are different in 
Persian names and texts. Sirios and Tir stand to each other as 
nnr and "into (Sir — Tir), splendid and pure. The names of Tiri- 
bazus and Tiridates are taken from Sirius = Tir. That Tir 
appears as Counter-Sirius may be explained in the same way as 
that Mithra occurs as an opponent, on account of the damage 
which the Dog-star heat sometimes occasions. While it brings 
blessing as "lord of the water," its heat is burning and 
hurtful. Por this reason are the old Bactrian texts right to 
translate the month Tir with Tistrya. . This identity appears 
plainly in the Tistar-yast of the Khordavesta. Tir is "the 
arrow," and of Tistrya it is said therein, according to Spiegel, 
" who is a fearfully flexible arrow, very supple, gliding along 
like an arrow." 

The festival of Tiraghan is therefore most likely placed in 
the month of Tir, which festival is otherwise called " abriza- 
ghan," sprinkling of water ; reckoned from April, the month 
of Tir falls into the Dog-star season. I see in Tistrya, 
" Tistar," a compound of Tir and aster (stara), and it means 


nothing else than Sirius-star, as (in Greek) Astrokyon = Dog- 

The importance of Tistar for the teaching of Zoroaster is 
eminent. He is praised like Ahuramazda himself. For him 
the highest genii prepare the way. Above all things his is 
the task to further fertility by water, like the Egyptian 
Sothi ; he draws out the clouds ; animals and plants yearn 
for him (cf. Spiegel, Avesta, iii. 22). Zoroaster is, so to say, 
his image. As he, Zoroaster, is overseer over men, so is he 
over stars ; it is therefore natural that Zoroaster's name as 
benefactor and teacher is taken from him. I see in tlie name 
of Zoroaster a formation similar to that of Zerubbabel. hiyrsi 
is derived from jnt, seed, sperma, Zerubbabel, therefore son, 
seed, or power from Babel. The same word appears Iranic in 
Bundehesh as zor, zormed., powerful, zors, power ; cf Justi on 
Bundehesh, 170. 71 ; in modern Persian "iir, power, just as vnt 
means both power and arm. The son and offspring is a sign of 
manhood, as Jacob says. Gen. xlix. 3 : " Thou marrow and 
firstling of my power." Zarathustra-Zoroaster might therefore 
express the meaning that he should be a " Son of, or power 
of, the star;" just as the celebrated pseudo-Messiah of the 
Jews called himself Barcochba (Son of a Star), referring to 
the words of Balaam, Num. xxiv. 17: " There shall come 
a Star out of Jacob," and like the star seen by the Magi 
standing over the hut of Jesus. 

In the foregoing I have changed the reading by Deinon 
into aGTpo^vTT]^. It would mean the same, offspring of [a] 
star ; but the meaning found in the Recognitions of Clement 
has hitherto not been regarded profoundly enough. — If there 
the name of Zoroaster is expounded by vivum sidus, it does 
signify " living bodily and incarnate star," which is, indeed, 
the true sense of the name. This is made plainer still when 
it is said in the Clementines (1. ix. c. 51), "He is called thus, 
because a living river of the star had come upon him." 
Zoroaster is, as it were, the incarnation of the Tistar-spirit. 

As in Tistar is understood the fertilizing of the earth and 


watcher over the earth-blessmg in heaven, so Zoroaster is 
to be understood as he who by his doctrine fertilizes the 
earth and watches over its safety. It may be asserted with 
almost certainty that thence is derived the honour shown to 
the dog in the cultus of the Persians. 

We cannot agree with the researches made by Windischmann 
on the other names which appear to have been in use about 
Zoroaster. Porphyry confounds him with the Chaldeans when 
he says : " In Babylon he met with the Chaldeans and came 
to Zabratos " (read Zaratos). The dualistic doctrine quoted 
by Aristoxenus as the teaching of Zaratas, who taught 
Pythagoras, can only be referred to the opinion held con- 
cerning the teaching of Zoroaster. This dualism was known 
as his peculiarity. Whenever the name of Nazaratos occurs, 
Zaratos is not to be read, for otherwise he could not have 
been held to be the prophet Ezekiel. When Clement says, 
Pythagoras has been a zealous follower of Zoroaster, he 
means nothing else than that he had been his disciple. There 
is therefore no reason why Zaratus, Zarades, or Zaras should not 
be considered identical. Windischmann might, indeed, think 
Apuleius an offensive talker, but he is not the only one who 
considers Pythagoras a disciple of Zoroaster. The formation 
of the names Zaratus and Zarades are interesting even in a 
higher degree. They indicate that the sources from which 
they are drawn knew the name of Zarathustra, and as they 
recognised in itstra or astra the sense of star, they obtained 
by omitting ustra the abbreviation in Zarath. 

It seems to have escaped Windischmann that the narration 
given by Plato of a man of the name of Er, son of Armenios, 
killed in battle, picked up uninjured ten days later on the 
battlefield, revived after two days on the funeral pyre, telling 
what he had seen in the other world, is, indeed, given by 
Moses of Chorene as an Armenian tradition. Ara, son of 
Aram (from whom Armenia derives its name), was loved by 
Semiramis on account of his beauty, but he rejected her offer. 
In the subsequent war Ara fell in battle, though the queen 


had given orders to spare him. Moses of Chorene relates, 
though he disapproves of it, that the queen by incantations 
and sorcery had brought Ara again to life. When Clement 
Alexandrinus, telling the story of Er (Ara), adds, " this is 
Zoroaster," it proves that the learned Father knew the legend 
of Zoroaster which is left to us. 

There is one account, that Turberatus, a warrior of the 
army of Aryasphad, killed Zoroaster with the sword. Another 
relates that Ahuramazda, in compensation for not having made 
him immortal, had given Zoroaster, a moment before his death, 
the gift of omniscience, so that he (Zoroaster) had seen the 
joys of Paradise and the torments of hell, and gained an 
insight into the wisdom of Ahuramazda. 

The accounts of his home, indicate Aramean influences in 
his teaching. When we are told in Avesta and Bundehesh, 
that Zoroaster had lived in Airiyana Vaeja, i.e. in the country of 
the sources, Airyana (cf. Justi, p. 265), we have a reference to 
the country of Ara in Armenia, which is also a land of springs. 
He is born near the river Daraja, flowing out of this Airyana. 
This seems to be the Tigris, called justly the Master of the 
Bara rivers. The name in modern Persian is Tir, the arrow, 
as Tigris is explained by the ancients, just as Tir is Sirius. 

It may be added to the above notices on Er, son of Armenius, 
that he is called a Pamphylian. Such a statement cannot be 
without reason ; but it seems that he became a ird/n^vXo^^ 
because he was TrdfKpiXo, dilectissimits, much beloved, as he 
appears in the legend. 

Pliny has a remarkable notice, that Zoroaster came from 
Prokonnesos, which is the same as Elaphonnesos, isle of stags. 
Prox signifies stag (hinnuhcs), which is a sun-animal, the 
enemy of the serpent; its skin was the garment of the 
Eleusinian Mysteria. Mithridates, calling himself Dionysus, 
had a stag in his coat of arms on his coins. The horn was an 
old symbolical image for light. Alexander was called the 
two-horned, because he wore the Persian Quareno, the divine 
nimbus of royalty. Zoroaster descends, according to the 


legend, out of the country of this light. The doctrine 
of Zoroaster may have appeared as a reformation of the 
Babylonian Magismus. The enmity against the Magi, of 
which there are still traces under Darius, is certainly much 
older. The remembrance thereof is shadowed in the accounts 
which we have of the contest of Semiramis with Zoroaster. 
Ctesias tells of a war of Ninus and Semiramis with Oxyartes, 
a king of the Bactrians, in whom appears no identity with 
Zoroaster. When later writers tell the same of Zoroaster, we 
can only explain that Babylonian enmity of the teaching of 
Zoroaster was identified with this Bactrian as it had proceeded 
as far as Bactria (Balkh). Moses of Chorene tells of a war 
of Semiramis with the Median magus Zoroaster, in which she 
is beaten. Arnobius says in his remarkable notice, that there 
had been contests between Assyria and Bactria, not only with 
the sword, but also witli different religions. According to a 
later legend, Zoroaster is killed by Aryasp at the conquest of 
Balkh (Bactra). The whole story of the Bactrian origin of 
Zoroaster arose out of this interpretation of Ctesias. Later 
religious phenomena were by historical learning transferred 
to these early days. 

But into what times ought we to place the actual rise of 
Zoroaster's teaching, and therefore also his life ? I have 
already stated above that Windischmann attempts to make 
Apuleius alone responsible for the statement that Pythagoras 
had been a disciple of Zoroaster. But how should Apuleius 
get this notion ? It cannot be denied that Porphyry means 
the same ; Clement Alexandrinus communicates the same in 
his learned collections. Other circumstances agree to make it 
likely that at the beginning of the sixth century before Christ 
the new movement had arisen. It is Kyros whom I have 
placed with Kawe U^rawa (Khosru), who founds the Persian 
empire. Under Khosru the services of Adar Gushasp become 
paramount. That the restorer of the Zoroaster-cultus is called 
a Darius, the son of Hystaspes, shows at least that the doctrine 
which arose in the time of an Hystaspes cannot have been 


very far off. From this we can explain how not only 
Apuleius, but also later writers like Abulfarage and Eutychius 
make him live under Cambyses. The question is, whether 
their sources do not refer to Cambyses the father of Cyrus, 
as Cambyses, in the cuneiform inscriptions Kabuyija, is surely 
the same as Kave-U9a = Kai Kaus. Agathias relates that 
he lived under an Hystaspes, but does not know whether he 
was the father of Darius. 

I should like to add another consideration, resting on the 
spirit of Zoroaster's doctrine, affording an important proof 
that Zoroaster lived in the beginning of the sixth century. 
It is not necessary to speak here of the high importance 
of astronomy and astrology amongst both Chaldeans and 
Persians. Horoscopy and belief in a man's nativity reach 
surely into high antiquity. Zoroaster w^as the Star- son. 
Upon him flowed the Star-soul. He was the animated 
Tistrya or Sirius. His life also must come in contact with 
the Dog-star. Just as the star of the Magi appeared at 
Christ's birth, so likewise is for Zoroaster's appearance obtained 
the division of a star period. The cycle of a Dog-star period 
is, according to Tacitus, well known. He confounds it indeed 
with the Phoenix period from which it differs. But similar 
things are predicted of either. Geminus says, that the 
festival of Isis (identical with Sirius) ran in 1460 years 
through the whole cycle of the seasons. Ideler, according 
to Censorinus, has determined that in the year 1322 B.c. 
a Dog-star period began, which closed 139. But these 
periods fell into divisions in which the same was celebrated. 
When, e.g., Tacitus relates that there had been Phoenix appear- 
ances under Sesostris, Amasis, Ptolemaeus, and Tiberius, the 
times which lie between are not full Phoenix periods, but 
only portions of the same. Between Amasis and Ptolemaeus 
elapsed as much time as between Ptolemaeus and Tiberius, 
i.e. 280 years, in round numbers the twenty-ninth portion of a 
period of 7000, according to Chaerephon, or the hundred and 
twenty-fifth portion of one taken at 35,000 years. Half of a 


Dog-Star period is 730, which, beginning at 1322, would bring 
us to about the year 590. Eegarding this as the beginning 
of Zoroaster, this would agree with all the given data, easily 
bringing out the contemporaneous existence of Pythagoras. 
The other notices about the life of Zoroaster teach us that these 
hypotheses delivered to us by antiquity are not without reason, 
and are more valuable than has hitherto been supposed. 

These are three : the first, according to which Hermodor 
places in a highly valuable note, Zoroaster 5000 years before 
the destruction of Troy; the second, according to which 
Eudoxus and Aristotle have fixed the same 6000 before the 
death of Plato ; the third, where Xanthus states Zoroaster's life 
6000 years before the campaign of Xerxes. These dates can 
be judged rightly, only if one calculates them as cycles, having 
formed a foundation for the teaching of Zoroaster. The 
events which with the Greeks were used as aids of calculation, 
are in themselves very interesting. People saw in the Trojan 
and the Persian war political combinations, the latter as a 
kind of revenge for the former ; both were regarded as 
conflicts of the East with the Greek West. Plato's pre- 
visions, and the opinions about his divine origin, make him, 
as a Greek prophet, appear as counterpart of Zoroaster the 
Oriental. In effect, the death of Plato forms an epoch in 
the Dog-star period, closing 139 B.C. The period, consisting 
of 1461 years, is divided in halves (730^ years), thirds of 
487 years, and sixths of 243^ years. That they fixed the 
death of Plato correctly at 348 B.C. is evident. For from 
B.C. 348 to A.D. 139 is just 487 years, i.e. a third of a Sirius 
period. By the exact mention of the death of Plato it 
appears that the above dates have reference to the Dog-star 
chronology. When Hermodor places Zoroaster 5000 years 
before the fall of Troy, one must remember that the same 
was believed in ancient times, as Clement Alex, tells 
us to have happened 417 before the first Olympiad, i.e. 
1192 B.C. Four Dog-star periods amount to 5844. Take 
their beginning as the commencement of Hermodor's 5000 


years, and deduct 844 from 1192, you obtain 348, the 
year of Plato's death, from which it is evident that this date 
is also reckoned by the Sirius cycle. From its beginning 
till A.D. 139 four periods and a-half have elapsed. 

The death of Plato has a still nearer relation to the year 
indicated above as the eventual time of Zoroaster. Half of 
the Sirius period beginning B.C. 1322 falls in 591^. Thence 
to the death of Plato, 348 B.C., elapse 243:|- years, just one- 
sixth of the Sirius period. When one sees the death of 
Plato reckoned as an epoch in this chronology, one is 
entitled by the hypothesis (it being two-thirds of the Sirius 
period) to find therein Zoroaster, " the son of Sirius." When 
Eudoxus and Aristotle speak of 6000 years before the death 
of Plato, they make use of a round number instead of 5844, 
where, indeed, the accuracy of Hermodor is not shown. Such 
round numbers in chronological data are not uncommon, as 
when the divisions of the Phoenix period are given at 500 
years, while they really amount to 560. 

Very remarkable is the statement by Xanthus, who gives 
6000 before Xerxes' campaign, anno B.C. 480, showing a 
richer knowledge of the current Persian chronology. Ideler 
has shown it probable that the Persian before Mohamed had 
a cycle consisting of twelve intercalary periods of 120 years. 
In a cycle of 1440 years the intercalary month ran through 
the whole year. This cycle stood to the Sirius cycle, having 
also 365 days, but without intercalation 1440-1461, or every 
intercalary period of 120 years counted 12 If in the Sirius 
cycle. Xanthus has surely made use of this chronology. 
6000 is 50x120, and it is remarkable that B.C. 480 is 
made the boundary whence four intercalary periods run to 
the star of the Magi. This star, place it exegetically where 
you like, must be considered not only as a heavenly star, but 
also as characterizing a new era, and it could also not have 
been without a reason that the Magi had seen it. It is not 
without interest that the reign of Cyrus is 560 years, a period 
of the Phoenix cycle before it. 

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Volume I. Volume II. 



Volume III. Volume IV. 


' A useful, valuable, and instructive commentary. The interpretation is set forth with 
clearness and cogency, and in a manner calculated to commend the volumes to the 
thoughtful reader. The book is beautifully got up, and reflects great credit on the 
publishers as well as the writers.' — The Bishop of Gloucester. 

' I have looked into this volume, and read several of the notes on crucial passages. 
They seem to me very well done, with great fairness, and with evident knowledge of 
the controversies concerning them. The illustrations are very good. I cannot doubt 
that the book wiU prove very valuable.' — The Bishop of Winchester. 

' We have already spoken of this commentary with warm praise, and we can certainly 
assert that the enterprise has now been brought to a close with really admirable work.' 
— English Churchman. 

' We congratulate Dr. Schaff on the completion of this useful work, which we are now 
able to commend, in its complete form, to English readers of the Scriptures. ... It will 
be seen that we have a high opinion of this commentary, of the present volume, and also 
of the whole work. In this last respect it is perhaps of more uniform excellence than 
any of its rivals, and in beauty of appearance it excels them all.' — Church Bells. 

' External beauty and intrinsic worth combine in the work here completed. Good 
paper, good type, good illustrations, good binding, please the eye, as accuracy and 
thoroughness in matter of treatment satisfy the judgment. Everywhere the workman- 
ship is careful, solid, harmonious.' — Methodist Recorder. 

' There are few better commentaries having a similar scope and object ; indeed, within 
the same limits, we do not know of one so good upon the whole of the New Testament.' 
— Literary World. 

' We predict that this work will take its place among the most popular of the century. 
. . . The publishers have spared no pains to secure volumes that shall be worthy of the 
theme, and of the scholarship of the age.' — Freeman. 

Just published, in crown Svo, jirice 2s. 6d., 



A Reply to the Right Rev. Dr. Lightfoot, Bishop of Durham. 
By W. D. KILLEN, D.D., 



In demy Svo, price 9s. , 


T. and T. Clark's Publications, 

Just published, in crown 8vo, price 3-9. 6d., 





Being one of the 'Cunningham Lectures.' 
By JAMES WALKEE, D.D., Caknwath. 

CONTENTS.— Chap. I. Survey of the Field. II. Predestination and Provi- 
dence. III. The Atonement. IV. The Doctrine of the Visible Church. 
V. The Headship of Christ and Erastianism. VI. Present Misrepresenta- 
tion of Scottish Religion. VII. Do Presbyterians hold Apostolical 
Succession ? 

* These pages glow with fervent and eloquent rejoinder to the cheap scorn and 
scurrilous satire poured out upon evangelical theology as it has been developed north 
of the Tweed.'- British Quarterly Review. 

' We do not wonder that in their delivery Dr. Walker's lectures excited great interest ; 
we should have wondered far more if they had not done so.' — Mr. Spurgeon in Sword 
and Trowel. 

' As an able and eloquent vindication of Scottish theology, the work is one of very 
great interest — an interest by no means necessarily confined to theologians. The history 
of Scotland, and the character of her people, cannot be understood without an intelligent 
and S3^Tnpatlietic study of her theology, and in this Dr. Walker's little book will be 
found to render imique assistance.' — Scotsman. 

Just published, in demy B>vo, price lOs. 6rf., 




I^ntrotmction antr Commentarg. 



Just published, in demy 8vo, price 7s. 6d., 







' A glorious book. We know not when we had such a treat as we have enjoyed in 
reading this fine exposition. ... It is the production of a scholarly man, and cannot fail 
to be an enrichment to the intelligent reader.' — Methodist New Connexion Magazine. 

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