King Xerxes imposed tribute throughout the land, even to its farthest shores.
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.
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
(A. Raleigh, D. D.)
(A. Raleigh, D. D.)
(W. M. Taylor, D. D.)
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