Esther 7
Keil and Delitzsch OT Commentary
Haman's Downfall and Ruin - Esther 7:1-10

At this second banquet the king again inquired of the queen what was her petition, when she entreated that her life and that of her people might be spared, for that she and her people were sold to destruction (Esther 7:1-4). The king, evidently shocked at such a petition, asked who was the originator of so evil a deed, and Esther named the wicked Haman as the enemy (Esther 7:5, Esther 7:6). Full of indignation at such a crime, the king rose from the banquet and went into the garden; Haman then fell down before the queen to entreat for his life. When the king returned to the house, he saw Haman lying on the couch on which Esther was sitting, and thinking that he was offering violence to the queen, he passed sentence of death upon him, and caused him to be hanged on the tree he had erected for Mordochai (Esther 7:7-10).

So the king and Haman came to banquet with Esther the queen.
The king and Haman came to drink (לשׁתּות), i.e., to partake of the משׁתּה, in the queen's apartment.

And the king said again unto Esther on the second day at the banquet of wine, What is thy petition, queen Esther? and it shall be granted thee: and what is thy request? and it shall be performed, even to the half of the kingdom.
At this banquet of wine the king asked again on the second day, as he had done on the first (Esther 5:6): What is thy petition, Queen Esther, etc.? Esther then took courage to express her petition. After the usual introductory phrases (Esther 7:3 like Esther 5:8), she replied: "Let my life be given me at my petition, and my people at my request." For, she adds as a justification and reason for such a petition, "we are sold, I and my people, to be destroyed, to be slain, and to perish. And if we had been sold for bondmen and bondwomen, I had been silent, for the enemy is not worth the king's damage." In this request עמּי is a short expression for: the life of my people, and the preposition ב, the so-called בּ pretii. The request is conceived of as the price which she offers or presents for her life and that of her people. The expression נמכּרנוּ, we are sold, is used by Esther with reference to the offer of Haman to pay a large sum into the royal treasury for the extermination of the Jews, Esther 3:9; Esther 4:7. אלּוּ, contracted after Aramaean usage from לוּ אם, and occurring also Ecclesiastes 6:6, supposes a case, the realization of which is desired, but not to be expected, the matter being represented as already decided by the use of the perfect. The last clause, וגו הצּר אין כּי, is by most expositors understood as a reference, on the part of Esther, to the financial loss which the king would incur by the extermination of the Jews. Thus Rambach, e.g., following R. Sal. ben Melech, understands the meaning expressed to be: hostis nullo modo aequare, compensare, resarcire potest pecunia sua damnum, quod rex ex nostro excidio patitur. So also Cler. and others. The confirmatory clause would in this case refer not to החרשׁתּי, but to a negative notion needing completion: but I dare not be silent; and such completion is itself open to objection. To this must be added, that שׁוה in Kal constructed with בּ does not signify compensare, to equalize, to make equal, but to be equal; consequently the Piel should be found here to justify the explanation proposed. שׁוה in Kal constructed with בּ signifies to be of equal worth with something, to equal another thing in value. Hence Gesenius translates: the enemy does not equal the damage of the king, i.e., is not in a condition to compensate the damage. But neither when thus viewed does the sentence give any reason for Esther's statement, that she would have been silent, if the Jews had been sold for salves. Hence we are constrained, with Bertheau, to take a different view of the words, and to give up the reference to financial loss. נזק, in the Targums, means not merely financial, but also bodily, personal damage; e.g., Psalm 91:7; Genesis 26:11, to do harm, 1 Chronicles 16:22. Hence the phrase may be understood thus: For the enemy is not equal to, is not worth, the damage of the king, i.e., not worthy that I should annoy the king with my petition. Thus Esther says, Esther 7:4 : The enemy has determined upon the total destruction of my people. If he only intended to bring upon them grievous oppression, even that most grievous oppression of slavery, I would have been silent, for the enemy is not worthy that I should vex or annoy the king by my accusation.

Then Esther the queen answered and said, If I have found favour in thy sight, O king, and if it please the king, let my life be given me at my petition, and 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 tongue, although the enemy could not countervail the king's damage.
Then the king Ahasuerus answered and said unto Esther the queen, Who is he, and where is he, that durst presume in his heart to do so?
The king, whose indignation was excited by what he had just heard, asks with an agitation, shown by the repetition of the ויּאמר: "Who is he, and where is he, whose heart hath filled him (whom his heart hath filled) to do so?" Evil thoughts proceed from the heart, and fill the man, and impel him to evil deeds: Isaiah 44:20; Ecclesiastes 8:11; Matthew 15:19.

And Esther said, The adversary and enemy is this wicked Haman. Then Haman was afraid before the king and the queen.
Esther replies: "The adversary and enemy is this wicked Haman." Then was Haman afraid before the king and the queen. נבעת as in 1 Chronicles 21:30; Daniel 8:17.

And the king arising from the banquet of wine in his wrath went into the palace garden: and 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.
The king in his wrath arose from the banquet of wine, and went into the garden of the house (קם is here a pregnant expression, and is also combined with אל־גּנּת); but Haman remained standing to beg for his life to Queen Esther (על בּקּשׁ as in Esther 4:8), "for he saw that there was evil determined against him by the king" (כּלה, completed, i.e., determined; comp. 1 Samuel 20:7, 1 Samuel 20:9; 1 Samuel 25:17, and elsewhere); and hence that he had no mercy to expect from him, unless the queen should intercede for him.

Then the king returned out of the palace garden into the place of the banquet of wine; and Haman was fallen upon the bed whereon Esther was. Then said the king, Will he force the queen also before me in the house? As the word went out of the king's mouth, they covered Haman's face.
The king returned to the house, and found Haman falling (נפל as in Joshua 8:10; Deuteronomy 21:1, and elsewhere) at or on the couch on which Esther was (sitting), i.e., falling as a suppliant at her feet; and crediting Haman in the heat of his anger with the worst designs, he cried out: "Shall also violence be done to the queen before me in the house?" The infin. לכבּושׁ after the interrogatory particle signifies: Is violence to be done, i.e., shall violence be done? as in 1 Chronicles 15:2 and elsewhere; comp. Ewald, 237, c. כּבשׁ, to tread under foot, to subdue, used here in the more general sense, to offer violence. Without waiting for an explanation, the king, still more infuriated, passes sentence of death upon Haman. This is not given in so many words by the historian, but we are told immediately that: "as the word went out of the king's mouth, they covered Haman's face." הדּבר is not the speech of the king just reported, but the judicial sentence, the death warrant, i.e., the word to punish Haman with death. This is unmistakeably shown by the further statement: they covered Haman's face. The subject is indefinite: the attendants present. To cover the face was indeed to begin to carry the sentence of death into execution. With respect to this custom, expositors appeal to Curtius, vi. 8. 22: Philetam - capite velato in regiam adducunt; and Cicero, pro C. Rabirio iv. 13: I lictor, colliga manus, caput obnubito, arbori infelici suspendito.

And Harbonah, one of the chamberlains, said before the king, Behold also, the gallows fifty cubits high, which Haman had made for Mordecai, who had spoken good for the king, standeth in the house of Haman. Then the king said, Hang him thereon.
Then said Harbonah (already mentioned Esther 1:10), one of the eunuchs before the king, i.e., who held office before the king: "Behold also the tree which Haman made (comp. Esther 5:14) stands in the house of Haman." גּם points to the fact that the other eunuchs had already brought forward various particulars concerning Haman's crime. Mordochai, who had spoken good for the king, viz., when he gave information of the conspiracy, Esther 2:22; Esther 6:2. On this tree the king ordered that Haman should be hanged, and this sentence was executed without delay. - "And the king's wrath was pacified." With this remark the narrative of this occurrence is closed, and the history pursues its further course as follows.

So they hanged Haman on the gallows that he had prepared for Mordecai. Then was the king's wrath pacified.
Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament, by Carl Friedrich Keil and Franz Delitzsch [1857-78].
Text Courtesy of Internet Sacred Texts Archive.

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