Esther 10:1
These concluding verses give a brief and comprehensive view of the results of Mordecai's advancement to power. The influence of the great Jew soon made itself felt to the utmost boundaries of the wide empire.

I. A UNIVERSAL TAXING. The laying of "a tribute on the land and the isles of the sea" may seem very arbitrary, but it was probably in the manner of a notable reform. It is to be attributed to Mordecai, and is given as a special instance of his wisdom and power. Despots have many ways of extracting money from those whom they govern, but the only proper way of supporting government is through just and systematic taxation. If the satraps or governors of provinces send in abundant supplies, shahs and sultans are content; they pay no heed to the manner in which the supplies have been secured. From this cause corruption and oppression still abound in the East. Mordecai adopted a system of direct taxation which embraced the whole empire, and for this he succeeded in getting the king's sanction. Let us remark -

1. That tribute is necessary. Government cannot be efficiently maintained without adequate support; it is worth paying for.

2. Tribute should only be raised for necessary purposes; not for selfish indulgences or vainglorious conquests, but for the legitimate needs of the state.

3. Tribute should be equitable in its incidence. It should be borne by all, but at the same time it should exhibit a just regard to the varying conditions and abilities of citizens.

4. Tribute should be levied openly, and only through legally-appointed channels. Otherwise injustice and corruption are encouraged.

5. Tribute is most satisfactory when estimated and determined by a people themselves through appointed representatives. Self-government and self-taxation are in all respects better than an irresponsible despotism.

6. Tribute when just or necessary should always be cheerfully given. We have a duty to our rulers. The protection, freedom, and peace secured to us by a good government are cheaply purchased by a taxation that is equally levied on all.

7. Tribute is due to the heavenly King as well as to earthly monarchs and states. Whilst rendering to Caesar what is Caesar's, we should be careful to render to God what is God's (Matthew 22:21).

II. OTHER ACTS OF WISDOM AND GREATNESS. These are only noted, not described They were many and illustrious. But though our narrative passes by these acts with a simple allusion to them, it refers us for detailed and complete information to a good authority - "are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Media and Persia?" No doubt the writer thought that archives of the great empire would outlive his little story.. But where now are they? Where is the empire itself? Where are other empires, greater and more brilliant, that succeeded it as the dominant world-power? All vanished, and their records with them! The only chronicle preserved of Mordecai's doings is that given in the Book of Esther, and its preservation is owing to its having been bound up with the word of God to men. Let us learn -

1. The evanescent character of all worldly things.

2. The indestructibility of God's truth and kingdom (Matthew 5:18; 1 Peter 1:24, 25).

III. A PLEASANT RECOGNITION OF HONEST AND HONOURABLE GREATNESS. Mordecai was powerful not only with the king and his heathen subjects, but with "the multitude of his own brethren" throughout the empire. His power, however, was not forced, or grudgingly acknowledged. He was "great among the Jews" because he was "accepted of," or acceptable to them. All power that relies on force and exacts an unwilling submission is bad and precarious; that power only is legitimate and secure which is based on the confidence and affection of a willing people. Mordecai's acceptableness with his brethren of Israel sprang from two things: -

1. He sought their wealth. In other words, he studied their prosperity. All the laws of the empire were so framed as to secure their freedom of industry and commercial intercourse.

2. He spoke peace to them. His acts had the effect of delivering them from the fear of their enemies. He held over them the shield of the king's protection, and enabled them to live and work in quiet contentedness. We have here an emblematic picture of Christ's kingdom. Prosperity and peace are the two great blessings promised to the people of Zion (Psalm 122:6, 7). "Quietness and assurance for ever" is "the effect of righteousness" (Isaiah 32:17, 18). Christ is the "King of glory" and the "Prince of peace." "The good Shepherd" watches, defends, guides, and feeds his sheep; he makes them "lie down in green pastures," and leads them "beside the still waters" (Psalm 23:2). - D.







And the drinking was according to the law; none did compel
It is not entirely, however, in moral recoil that sanction is thus given in law to the better practice. There is a touch of political prudence in it. For here at the feast are princes from all parts, with their retainers and tribes. There are men here from the mountains who are famous for their temperance and for the strictness and simplicity of their manners. Such men would not be won, but dis. gusted rather and alienated from the royal cause, by anything like Bacchanalian excess. In prudence, therefore, as well as from possibly higher motive, the principle of temperance must have the reinforcement of public law.

(A. Raleigh, D. D.)

Did an absolute prince pay such regard to the laws of his country, and to the liberty of his subjects, and shall not Christians pay an equal regard to the laws of their religion? Are these laws less obligatory upon us at feasts them on other occasions? Shall we requite the liberal Giver of all good things with insults on His authority, at the very time that our table is covered by His bounty?

(G. Lawson.)

Whether we do not, on a wider scale, as a people in fact, and with the force of law, practise compulsion still, sad that on the weakest and most helpless part of our people, is a very serious question, and one which, to say the least, we cannot answer with the same confidence. If places where drink is sold to the common people are multiplied much beyond the reasonable needs of the community; if exceptional privileges are given to the sellers; if their houses, with many exits and entrances, are planted in the most conspicuous spots; if they burn the brightest lights in the streets, and are allowed to keep open long after other trades and industries are closed and silent, does not all this and more of the same kind amount to a sort of compulsion to working-people, and trades-people, and thoughtless young people of both sexes?

(A. Raleigh, D. D.)

The statement here made reminds us of an incident which is said to have occurred at the table of Queen Victoria in one of the early years of her reign. The temperance movement was just beginning to make its way into the upper classes of English society, sad on the occasion to which I refer a British nobleman, well-known for his activity in all good causes, declined to comply with the request of one of his fellow-guests that he should drink wine with him, whereupon the appeal wait made to her Majesty that she should exert her authority in the case; but she nobly replied, in the spirit of this Persian law, "There shall be no compulsion at my table"; and that reply did much to discountenance the old custom of badgering, and browbeating and insisting upon guests drinking out of regard for their hosts, until they felt themselves in a position where it was difficult to refuse, and were virtually compelled either to act against their better judgment or to do that which was considered rude and unmannerly.

(W. M. Taylor, D. D.)

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