Esther 1:19
If it please the king, let there go a royal commandment from him, and let it be written among the laws of the Persians and the Medes, that it be not altered, That Vashti come no more before king Ahasuerus; and let the king give her royal estate to another that is better than she.
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(19) That it be not altered.—Literally, that it pass not away. The order having been committed to writing was, in theory at any rate, immutable. The best illustration is the well-known case of Daniel; see also below (Esther 8:8). Probably a strong-willed monarch would interpret this inviolability rather freely.

Esther 1:19. If it please the king — Which this cunning politician knew it would do. That it be not altered — Which caution was necessary for his own security, lest the king’s anger should cool, and the queen should recover her former state, and the king’s favour, in which case this lord would, most likely, have fallen under his displeasure: but the order being once registered as a law of the kingdom, the king could not alter his decree without disgracing himself.1:10-22 Ahasuerus's feast ended in heaviness, by his own folly. Seasons of peculiar festivity often end in vexation. Superiors should be careful not to command what may reasonably be disobeyed. But when wine is in, men's reason departs from them. He that had rule over 127 provinces, had no rule over his own spirit. But whether the passion or the policy of the king was served by this decree, God's providence made way for Esther to the crown, and defeated Haman's wicked project, even before it had entered into his heart, and he arrived at his power. Let us rejoice that the Lord reigns, and will overrule the madness or folly of mankind to promote his own glory, and the safety and happiness of his people.That it be not altered - Compare the margin reference. This was the theory. Practically, the monarch, if he chose, could always dispense with the law. It was therefore quite within his power to restore Vashti to her queenly dignity notwithstanding the present decree, if he so pleased. 13-19. Then the king said to the wise men—These were probably the magi, without whose advice as to the proper time of doing a thing the Persian kings never did take any step whatever; and the persons named in Es 1:14 were the "seven counsellors" (compare Ezr 7:14) who formed the state ministry. The combined wisdom of all, it seems, was enlisted to consult with the king what course should be taken after so unprecedented an occurrence as Vashti's disobedience of the royal summons. It is scarcely possible for us to imagine the astonishment produced by such a refusal in a country and a court where the will of the sovereign was absolute. The assembled grandees were petrified with horror at the daring affront. Alarm for the consequences that might ensue to each of them in his own household next seized on their minds; and the sounds of bacchanalian revelry were hushed into deep and anxious consultation what punishment to inflict on the refractory queen. But a purpose was to be served by the flattery of the king and the enslavement of all women. The counsellors were too intoxicated or obsequious to oppose the courtly advice of Memucan was unanimously resolved, with a wise regard to the public interests of the nation, that the punishment of Vashti could be nothing short of degradation from her royal dignity. The doom was accordingly pronounced and made known in all parts of the empire. If it please the king, which this cunning politician knew it would do.

That it be not altered; which caution was necessary for his own security; for if the queen should recover her state and the king’s favour, he was most likely to fall into his displeasure. If it please the king, let there go a royal commandment from him,.... Not only a proclamation made, but a law enacted and published by royal authority:

and let it be written among the laws of the Persians and Medes that it be not altered; for so it was, that when a law was made, and signed, and sealed, and registered among the laws of the kingdom, it remained unalterable, Daniel 6:8, this precaution Memucan took for his own safety; for had the king acted upon his advice, without passing it into a law in such form, he might change his mind, and recall Vashti, who would not fail of venting her wrath upon the counsellor, and so he be in danger of losing his life for it:

that Vashti come no more before King Ahasuerus; but be entirely divorced, never to be received any more:

and let the king give her royal estate unto another that is better than she; or "to her companions" (z); that was with her in the house of the women in the seraglio; one that was fairer, as the Targum, or of a better disposition than her; let her be made queen, and enjoy all the honour, and dignity, and marks of royalty Vashti did; her throne, her crown, and royal apparel, as it is interpreted in an ancient Jewish writing (a).

(z) "sodali ejus", Montanus; "sociae ejus", Tigurine version, Drusius, Rambachius. (a) Tikkune Zohar, correct. 21. fol. 59. 2.

If it please the king, let there go a royal commandment from him, and let it be written among the laws of the Persians and the Medes, that it be not altered, That Vashti come {n} no more before king Ahasuerus; and let the king give her royal estate unto another that is better than she.

(n) Let her be divorced and another made queen.

19. If it please the king] a standing formula in proposing royal decrees. So often in this book: cp. Nehemiah 2:5.

a royal commandment] lit. a commandment of the kingdom, i.e. an edict which, though directed against an individual, should be registered as a public ordinance, in order that it might come under the class of laws which could not be altered. Memucan had reason to insist upon this course, as he and those sympathising with him in the advice tendered to the king, would have good cause to dread the vengeance of Vashti, if she should regain her position as queen. Another case of making into an unalterable edict what from its nature was but a temporary measure is to be seen in Daniel 6:8 f. As regards the whole question, how far the king was bound by any laws, there existed evidently a certain elasticity. Cambyses, desiring to marry his sister (see on Esther 1:13), was told by his advisers that, although there was no law permitting such an act, yet there was one to the effect that the king might do as he pleased.Verse 19. - A royal commandment. Literally, "a command of the kingdom" - i.e. a public, not a domestic, order. Under ordinary circumstances such a matter as the disgrace of a favourite wife would have been settled in the secrecy of the seraglio, without calling general attention to it. In Memu-can's opinion, the publicity of Vashti's disobedience had made it expedient that she should be disgraced publicly. Let it be written among the laws of the Persians and the Medes. A sentence upon an individual was not a very suitable thing to add to a national code of laws; but we see from Daniel (Daniel 6:8, 9) that decrees of quite a temporary character were sometimes attached to the code for the express purpose of rendering them unalterable; and so it seems to have been in this instance. Unto another. Literally, as in the margin, "unto her companion." Memucan assumes that one of the existing inmates of the seraglio will be elevated into the place vacated by Vashti. This was the ordinary course, but on the present occasion was not followed. The king, greatly incensed at this disobedience to his behest, inquired of his wise men what was to be done to Queen Vashti according to law. These wise men are Esther 1:13 designated as those "who knew the times," i.e., astrologers and magi, who give counsel according to celestial phenomena; comp. the wise men of Babylon, Daniel 2:27; Daniel 5:15; Isaiah 44:25; Isaiah 47:13; Jeremiah 50:35. Of these he inquires, "for thus was the business of the king conducted before all that knew law and judgment." דּבר here does not signify word or speech, but matter, business; and the meaning of this parenthetical sentence is, that in every matter, the king, before deciding, applied to those who were skilled in law and judgment to hear their opinions concerning it. With this is joined a second explanatory parenthetical sentence, Esther 1:14 : "And those next him were Carshena, etc., the seven princes of the Persians and Medes, who behold the king's countenance, who hold the first seat in his kingdom." אליו הקּרב is indefinite, and may be understood as expressing the plural. It is perhaps questionable how this clause should be combined with what precedes, whether with ודין דּת כּל־ידעי, before all that knew law and judgment and those next him, or with לחכמים, Esther 1:13 : he spoke to the wise men ... and those next him. In any case the sense is, that the seven princes of the Persians and Medes were also numbered either among the wise men who knew the times, or those who were skilled in the law. These seven princes are the seven king's counsellors of Ezra 7:14, and by their number of seven form a counterpart to the seven Amshaspands. They who see the face of the king, i.e., are allowed direct intercourse with him. Herod. iii. 84 relates of the seven princes who conspired the overthrow of the pretended Smerdis, that they resolved, that it should be permitted them to present themselves unannounced before the future king. Hence many expositors identify these seven princes with the authorities called the seven counsellors, but without sufficient grounds. The number seven frequently recurs, - comp. the seven eunuchs, Esther 1:5, the seven maidens who waited on Esther 2:9, - and refers in the present case to the seven Amshaspands, in others to the days of the week, or the seven planets. ראשׁנה היּשׁבים, who sit first, i.e., in the highest place, i.e., constitute the highest authority in the realm. What the king said (Esther 1:13) does not follow till Esther 1:15 : "According to law, what is to be done to Queen Vashti, because she has not done the word of the king," i.e., not obeyed his command by the eunuchs? כּדת, according to law, legally, is placed first because it is intended emphatically to assert that the proceeding is to be in conformity with the law. עשׂה with בּ, to inflict something on any one.
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