Esther 3:3
Then the king's servants, which were in the king's gate, said unto Mordecai, Why transgressest thou the king's commandment?
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
3:1-6 Mordecai refused to reverence Haman. The religion of a Jew forbade him to give honours to any mortal man which savoured of idolatry, especially to so wicked a man as Haman. By nature all are idolaters; self is our favourite idol, we are pleased to be treated as if every thing were at our disposal. Though religion by no means destroys good manners, but teaches us to render honour to whom honour is due, yet by a citizen of Zion, not only in his heart, but in his eyes, such a vile person as Haman was, is contemned, Ps 15:4. The true believer cannot obey edicts, or conform to fashions, which break the law of God. He must obey God rather than man, and leave the consequences to him. Haman was full of wrath. His device was inspired by that wicked spirit, who has been a murderer from the beginning; whose enmity to Christ and his church, governs all his children.Mordecai probably refused the required prostration, usual though it was, on religious grounds. Hence, his opposition led on to his confession that he was a Jew Esther 3:4. 2. all the king's servants, that were in the king's gate, bowed, and reverenced Haman—Large mansions in the East are entered by a spacious vestibule, or gateway, along the sides of which visitors sit, and are received by the master of the house; for none, except the nearest relatives or special friends, are admitted farther. There the officers of the ancient king of Persia waited till they were called, and did obeisance to the all-powerful minister of the day.

But Mordecai bowed not, nor did him reverence—The obsequious homage of prostration not entirely foreign to the manners of the East, had not been claimed by former viziers; but this minion required that all subordinate officers of the court should bow before him with their faces to the earth. But to Mordecai, it seemed that such an attitude of profound reverence was due only to God. Haman being an Amalekite, one of a doomed and accursed race, was, doubtless, another element in the refusal; and on learning that the recusant was a Jew, whose nonconformity was grounded on religious scruples, the magnitude of the affront appeared so much the greater, as the example of Mordecai would be imitated by all his compatriots. Had the homage been a simple token of civil respect, Mordecai would not have refused it; but the Persian kings demanded a sort of adoration, which, it is well known, even the Greeks reckoned it degradation to express. As Xerxes, in the height of his favoritism, had commanded the same honors to be given to the minister as to himself, this was the ground of Mordecai's refusal.

No text from Poole on this verse.

Then the king's servants, which were in the king's gate,.... Observing the behaviour of Mordecai towards Haman from time to time:

said unto Mordecai, why transgressest thou the king's commandment? of giving reverence to Haman, which they knew he could not be ignorant of.

Then the king's servants, which were in the king's gate, said unto Mordecai, Why transgressest thou the king's commandment?
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Verses 3, 4. - The king's servants, which were in the gate with Mordecai, were the first to observe his disrespect, and at once took up the matter. Why were they to bow down, and Mordecai not? Was he any better or any grander than they? What right had he to transgress the king's commandment? When they urged him on the point day after day, Mordecai seems at last to have explained to them what his objection was, and to have said that, as a Jew, he was precluded from prostrating himself before a man. Having heard this, they told Haman, being curious to see whether Mordecai's matters (or, rather, "words") would stand, i.e. whether his excuse would be allowed, as was that of the Spartan ambassadors who declined to bow down before Artaxerxes Longimanus (Herod., 1. s. c.). Esther 3:3When the other officials of the court asked him from day to day, why he transgressed the king's commandment, and he hearkened not unto them, i.e., gave no heed to their words, they told it to Haman, "to see whether Mordochai's words would stand; for he had told them that he was a Jew." It is obvious from this, that Mordochai had declared to those who asked him the reason why he did not fall down before Haman, that he could not do so because he was a Jew, - that as a Jew he could not show that honour to man which was due to God alone. Now the custom of falling down to the earth before an exalted personage, and especially before a king, was customary among Israelites; comp. 2 Samuel 14:4; 2 Samuel 18:28; 1 Kings 1:16. If, then, Mordochai refused to pay this honour to Haman, the reason of such refusal must be sought in the notions which the Persians were wont to combine with the action, i.e., in the circumstance that they regarded it as an act of homage performed to a king as a divine being, an incarnation of Oromasdes. This is testified by classical writers; comp. Plutarch, Themist. 27; Curtius, viii. 5. 5f., where the latter informs us that Alexander the Great imitated this custom on his march to India, and remarks, 11: Persas quidem non pie solum, sed etiam prudenter reges suos inter Deos colere; majestatem enim imperii salutis esse tutelam. Hence also the Spartans refused, as Herod. 7.136 relates, to fall down before King Xerxes, because it was not the custom of Greeks to honour mortals after this fashion. This homage, then, which was regarded as an act of reverence and worship to a god, was by the command of the king to be paid to Haman, as his representative, by the office-bearers of his court; and this Mordochai could not do without a denial of his religious faith.
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