Esther 3:9
If the king approves, let a decree be issued to destroy them, and I will deposit ten thousand talents of silver into the royal treasury to pay those who carry this out."
Sermons
Costly RevengeG. Lawson.Esther 3:9
Haman's Wealth: Ancient MillionairesW. A. Scott, D. D.Esther 3:9
Superstition and CynicismW. Dinwiddle Esther 3:7-15
Infant lips sometimes utter greatest truths. Shallowest brain sometimes originates most politic scheming. Swine root out and tread underfoot pearls of unpriced value. Bad men often preach good doctrine, Now "the Jews' enemy" (ver. 10) volunteers the highest description, the most complimentary characterisation, of the Jew. And this passage proffers for notice a contrast not only full as remarkable in the depth of it as any of these, but far more remarkable when its subject matter is also taken into account. It might be stated thus: A PEOPLE'S RELIGION RIGHTLY DESCRIBED, WRONGLY CONSTRUED, by one who was "none of them," and who had none of it. The case is that of a man bearing witness against a people and their religion; he is at the same time a willing and an unwilling witness; his words are true; the meaning he wishes to be drawn out of them is untrue. His indictment is verbally correct; the charge he launches out by means of it has no foundation of fact. His description is good for what it says, bad for what it means. And by chance it happens to be so good for what it says that it tempts the thoughtful reader to pause, to ask whether he cannot learn a lesson of value from it. Haman dares a description of the nominal people of God; is he not in truth unconsciously throwing off a telling description of the real people of God, of God's real Church in the world? For this plain, brief description of the people to whom Mordecai belonged, which Haman now offers to the credulity of Ahasuerus, happens to seize three leading facts distinctive of the Church of God. Nor is it altogether to be assigned to the realm of chance. The fact was that, shaded though their race was now, dimmed though their glorious history, the people of Mordecai were the separate people of God, and that Haman had noticed and scrutinised their essential peculiarities. These peculiarities, false as is the gloss he puts upon them, he has in some degree correctly caught. These are the shadows of answering realities in the economy of the Church, the kingdom of God. They remind us of -

I. THE FOOTHOLD THE KINGDOM OF GOD HAS IN THE WORLD. For whatever may be its exact position at any given hour of the world's clock -

1. Its genius is towards ubiquity. "There is a certain, people... in all, the provinces of thy kingdom."

2. Its genius is towards being "scattered abroad," "dispersed," intermingled "among the people." Once for a short time, and for the special need of preparatory education, it is true that God's elect people were locally as well as morally separate from others, i.e. when they sojourned in the wilderness. But this was only a phase, and a transient one, of their national existence. Again, for a longer time, and with fender prospect, they dwelt in comparative seclusion in their own land. But this also was quite as transient a phase of their national life, taking into consideration the settlement there. What a business it was! And the true place of the people of God is not merely to find a settlement and found a colony everywhere, but to mix among men, and to seek health of every sort in work and fidelity, rather than in retirement and the infolding of self. And this actual contact with all the varieties of human character, position, life, is in order to two ends: .first, for the proof and the growth of individual goodness; secondly, for the gradual leavening with a little leaven of the whole lump.

3. Its genius is towards working its way among men, day and night, and growing into their affection and confidence, rather than summoning them to capitulate either to fear or to admiration.

II. THE OUTSIDE APPEAL WHICH THE SUBJECTS OF THE KINGDOM OF GOD EVER CLAIM AND EVER HOLD IN RESERVE. Their special laws are, and are to be, "diverse from all people" who are not of themselves. And when these clash with any other, they are not to "keep the king's laws," but to keep their own distinguishing and esoteric laws (Acts 4:19; Acts 5:29). To know well, to do well, these "diverse laws" is the sustained aspiration of the Church of God. There is such a thing as unity in variety, and there is, and is to be, on the part of the Church of God, the close union of all its own members, by one common fellowship, by obedience to one common code of laws, by acknowledgment of one standard Bible authority, amid all their intermixture, in every conceivable relationship, with all the rest of the world and "the kingdoms of the world." The genuine, hearty, living obedience of a thousand, of a hundred persons to "laws diverse from all people" is an enormously strong link of connection among themselves, and an enormously significant testimony to the outside world of something special at work. If we as Christian people rose to this conception, to the eager veneration of it, to the hearty practice of it, what a witness ours would be! Meantime Haman's allegation against the certain people scattered abroad that while their own laws were diverse from all people, they did not keep the king's laws" - was untrue. Mordecai had indeed withheld obedience to the law which "the king had commanded" (ver. 2), that "all the king's servants in the king's gate should bow and reverence Haman," and his non-obedience was no doubt covered, by his fealty to the "diverse laws;" but this was by no means enough to cover a charge against all the Jews, or even against Mordecai in his general conduct and life. The kingdom of God then does glory to follow the lead and command of "laws diverse from all people," to claim the ultimate appeal as lying always to these; and in any conceivable case of option to decide in one moment for obedience to God rather than to men.

III. THE FORESEEN DESTINY OF THE CHURCH OF GOD, Haman's apprehension was perhaps not very genuine, and any way was premature, but his instinct in the real matter at issue was only too unerring and correct. The Church of God - "that certain people scattered abroad among the people," with their diverse laws, and their first heed given to them - beyond a doubt has its eye on all other kingdoms, is not what those other kingdoms would now think "for their profit," is destined to absorb them, gives evidence of that destiny as a very intention in those same manifestations of its genius, and in its appeal to the unseen, and in its first obedience thereto. Oh for the time when the chorus shall indeed open, "The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ, and he shall reign for ever and ever." - B.







I will pay ten thousand talents of silver.
Crassus owned a landed estate valued at more than one million and a half pounds sterling, and Ridorus, after having lost a good deal in the civil war, left an estate worth one million forty-seven hundred pounds. And Lentulus, the augur, died worth three millions, three hundred and thirty-three thousand, three hundred and thirty-three pounds sterling. Apicius was possessed of above nine hundred and sixteen thousand, six hundred and seventy-one pounds. His wealth, however, was by no means satisfactory or sufficient for him. For after having spent vast sums in his kitchen, he was so miserable that he put an end to his own life by poison. These rich old Romans were not bankers or mere merchants and traders. These amounts did not merely pass through their hands in the way of trade. They were worth so much in hard money. Nor were all the millionaires of ancient times Romans. Herodotus says that Xerxes, in going to Greece, the father of Ahasuerus — or as some say, Ahasuerus himself — found Pythius, the Lydian, possessed of two thousand talents of silver and four millions of gold darics; that is, about twenty-seven and a half millions of dollars (Lib. 7.). And Plutarch informs us, that after Crassus, the Roman general, had given the tenth of all he had to Hercules, he entertained ten thousand people at his tables, and gave to every citizen as much corn as would support him three months; and then had seven thousand one hundred Roman talents remaining; that is, about twenty-eight millions of dollars. Surely, then, there is nothing incredible in our history because it speaks of ten thousand talents of silver. The wealth and luxury of the old world, in many particulars, surpassed our own times. The enormous debts contracted in the days of Alexander and of the Caesars prove that the wealth of those times was great, although this is a way to prove one's wealth by that is not at all to my mind, especially for a Church. Anthony owed, we are told, at the ides of March, £333,333 13s. 4d., which, however, it is said he paid before the calends of April, every penny of it.

(W. A. Scott, D. D.)

His revenge was so dear to him, that he would not only hazard the king's favour by the horrid proposal of murdering a whole nation, but expose himself to a severe loss in his fortune, rather than suffer the hated race to live. What liberal sacrifices will men make to their passions! They will give a great part of the substance of their house to the gratification of their hatred or their lust. Why then should we think it a hard matter to give a part of our substance to God? If our desires are as eager for the advancement of virtue and purity, if we are as earnest in our wishes to have the wants of the poor supplied, and the afflictions of the unfortunate relieved, as revengeful men, like Haman, are to gratify their ill-nature, it will give us pleasure to honour the Lord with our substance, and to minister to the needs of our fellow-men.

(G. Lawson.)

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