On that night could not the king sleep, and he commanded to bring the book of records of the chronicles; and they were read before the king.
Verse 1. - The book of records of the chronicles. Compare Esther 2:23, where the title is given more briefly, as "the book of the chronicles." See also Esther 10:2. The character of the book has been already explained (see comment on Esther 2:23). They were read. Either because the king could not read himself ('Ancient Monarchies,' vol. 4. p. 184), or because the sound of a man's voice might (it was thought) induce drowsiness.
And it was found written, that Mordecai had told of Bigthana and Teresh, two of the king's chamberlains, the keepers of the door, who sought to lay hand on the king Ahasuerus.
Verse 2. - It was found written. See the last words of ch. 2. Bigthana. "Bigthan" in Esther 2:21; "Bigtha" in Esther 1:10. The Persian name would be best represented by the fullest form of the three.
And the king said, What honour and dignity hath been done to Mordecai for this? Then said the king's servants that ministered unto him, There is nothing done for him.
Verse 3. - The king said, What honour and dignity hath been done to Mordecai for this? The discoverer of a conspiracy against the life of the king would in any country have been regarded as entitled to some reward. In Persia, where "royal benefactors" formed a distinct class, and had their names inscribed on a special list (Herod., 8:85), it was especially incumbent on the monarch to see that every such person received a return proportioned to the value of his service. Ahasuerus seems to have supposed that some honour or dignity must have been conferred upon Mordecai, though he could not recollect what it was; and it is difficult to understand how the omission to reward him had occurred, unless there was a prejudice against him among the high court officials, who may have known that he was a Jew, though his fellow-servants did not (Esther 3:4).
And the king said, Who is in the court? Now Haman was come into the outward court of the king's house, to speak unto the king to hang Mordecai on the gallows that he had prepared for him.
Verse 4. - The king said, Who is in the court? Probably some high officer of state was required to be always in attendance upon the monarch, to take his orders at any moment. Now Haman was come. Early morning is a common time for the transaction of business at an Eastern court. Haman was so anxious to get the business on which he was bent despatched, that he had come perhaps even before daybreak, and was waiting in the outer court, to get, if possible, the first audience. This haste of his to effect Mordecai's destruction led to his being the person deputed to do him the highest honour.
And the king's servants said unto him, Behold, Haman standeth in the court. And the king said, Let him come in.
Verse 5. - And the king's servants said unto him, Behold, Haman standeth in the court. The servants looked into the court, and seeing, somewhat to their surprise, Haman there, mentioned him to the king. They would naturally mention the highest official whom they saw in attendance.
So Haman came in. And the king said unto him, What shall be done unto the man whom the king delighteth to honour? Now Haman thought in his heart, To whom would the king delight to do honour more than to myself?
Verse 6. - Haman thought in his heart. Literally, "said in his heart" i.e. "thought."
And Haman answered the king, For the man whom the king delighteth to honour,
Let the royal apparel be brought which the king useth to wear, and the horse that the king rideth upon, and the crown royal which is set upon his head:
Verse 8. - Let the royal apparel be brought. To wear a dress previously worn by the king was, under ordinary circumstances, a breach of Persian law (Plut., 'Vit. Artax.,' 5); but the king might allow it (Herod., 7:17) or condone it (Plut., 1. s.c.). The horse that the king rideth upon. Rather, "a horse that the king hath ridden." And the crown royal which is set upon his head. Rather, "and that hath a crown royal set on his head." Some peculiar ornament by which the royal steed was made conspicuous is intended, not his own crown, which even Xerxes would scarcely have allowed another to wear. See vers. 9 and 11, where the dress and the horse are referred to, but the crown, as an adjunct of the horse, not particularised.
And let this apparel and 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 delighteth to honour, and bring him on horseback through the street of the city, and proclaim before him, Thus shall it be done to the man whom the king delighteth to honour.
Verse 9. - Bring him on horseback through the city, and proclaim before him. Compare the honours given to Joseph in Egypt (Genesis 41:43).
Then the king said to Haman, Make haste, and take the apparel and the horse, as thou hast said, and do even so to Mordecai the Jew, that sitteth at the king's gate: let nothing fail of all that thou hast spoken.
Verse 10. - Make haste. The king will have no more delay in a matter which has been delayed far too long. Haman is to "hasten, and confer the honour at once. Mordecai the Jew, that sitteth in the king's gate. Mordecai's nationality and his employment were probably mentioned in the book of the chronicles. From these the king has learnt them, and he uses probably the very phrase of the records. Let nothing fail. Observe every particular of honour that you have mentioned; let there be no omission of one jot or tittle.
Then took Haman the apparel and the horse, and arrayed Mordecai, and brought him on horseback through the street of the city, and proclaimed before him, Thus shall it be done unto the man whom the king delighteth to honour.
Verse 11. - Then took Haman the apparel. It was impossible for Haman to excuse himself; there was no ground on which he could decline the office thrust upon him. Reluctantly, without a word, he performed the king's bidding. HAMAN RETURNS HOME. DESPONDENCY OF HIMSELF AND HIS FRIENDS (Esther 6:12-14). There was as yet no real reason for Haman to feel depressed, or to regard himself as having lost favour with the king. He had been made an instrument in another man's honour, and had suffered a disappointment; but otherwise he was situated as on the day preceding, when he "went forth" from the palace "joyful and with a glad heart" (Esther 5:9). But he seems to have had a presentiment of impending calamity. All had as yet gone so well with him that the first vexation seemed like a turn in the tide, ominous of coming evil. And the fear of his own heart found an echo in the hearts of his wife and friends. Among the last were some who had the reputation of being "wise men" - perhaps Magians, acquainted with arts from which it was supposed they could divine the future. These persons ventured on a prediction. "If Mordecai, before whom thou hast begun to fall, be of the seed of the Jews, thou shalt not prevail against him, but shalt surely (or utterly) fall before him." With this evil presage ringing in his ears, Haman quitted his house, and accompanied the palace eunuchs who had been sent to conduct him to Esther's second banquet.
And Mordecai came again to the king's gate. But Haman hasted to his house mourning, and having his head covered.
Verse 12. - And Mordecai came again to the king's gate. Returned, i.e., to his former condition and employment. The high honour done him was regarded as sufficient reward. Having his head covered. Like David when he fled from Absalom (2 Samuel 15:30; comp. Psalm 44:15).
And Haman told Zeresh his wife and all his friends every thing that had befallen him. Then said his wise men and Zeresh his wife unto him, If Mordecai be of the seed of the Jews, before whom thou hast begun to fall, thou shalt not prevail against him, but shalt surely fall before him.
Verse 13. - His wise men. Magians, perhaps, whom he was in the habit of consulting concerning the future. On the supposed prophetic powers of the Magians see Herod., 1:107, 120; 7:19; Duris, Fr. 7, etc. If Mordecai be of the seed of the Jews. It is difficult to understand how this could any longer be regarded as doubtful. His fellow servants knew it (Esther 3:4); Haman knew it (ibid. ver. 6); Ahasuerus knew it (supra, ver. 10). The "wise men" profess to regard it as uncertain, perhaps to give their words a more oracular character. Thou shalt surely fall. Rather, "thou shalt utterly fall."
And while they were yet talking with him, came the king's chamberlains, and hasted to bring Haman unto the banquet that Esther had prepared.
Verse 14. - Came the king's chamberlains, and hasted to bring Haman. This is a custom not elsewhere mentioned as Persian, but quite in accordance with Oriental ideas. The polite host sends his servants to escort guests of importance from their own homes to the place of entertainment.