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Barnes' Notes on the Bible
1When Mordecai perceived all that was done, Mordecai rent his clothes, and put on sackcloth with ashes, and went out into the midst of the city, and cried with a loud and a bitter cry;
2And came even before the king's gate: for none might enter into the king's gate clothed with sackcloth.
None might enter into the king's gate clothed with sackcloth - This law is not elsewhere mentioned; but its principle - that nothing of evil omen is to be obtruded on the monarch - has been recognized throughout the East in all ages.
3And in every province, whithersoever the king's commandment and his decree came, there was great mourning among the Jews, and fasting, and weeping, and wailing; and many lay in sackcloth and ashes.
4So Esther's maids and her chamberlains came and told it her. Then was the queen exceedingly grieved; and she sent raiment to clothe Mordecai, and to take away his sackcloth from him: but he received it not.
Esther's maids ... told it her - Esther's nationality and her relationship to Mordecai were probably by this time known to her attendants, though still concealed from the king. See Esther 7:4.
5Then called Esther for Hatach, one of the king's chamberlains, whom he had appointed to attend upon her, and gave him a commandment to Mordecai, to know what it was, and why it was.
6So Hatach went forth to Mordecai unto the street of the city, which was before the king's gate.
7And Mordecai told him of all that had happened unto him, and of the sum of the money that Haman had promised to pay to the king's treasuries for the Jews, to destroy them.
8Also he gave him the copy of the writing of the decree that was given at Shushan to destroy them, to shew it unto Esther, and to declare it unto her, and to charge her that she should go in unto the king, to make supplication unto him, and to make request before him for her people.
9And Hatach came and told Esther the words of Mordecai.
10Again Esther spake unto Hatach, and gave him commandment unto Mordecai;
11All the king's servants, and the people of the king's provinces, do know, that whosoever, whether man or woman, shall come unto the king into the inner court, who is not called, there is one law of his to put him to death, except such to whom the king shall hold out the golden sceptre, that he may live: but I have not been called to come in unto the king these thirty days.
The golden scepter - In all the numerous representations of Persian kings at Persepolis the monarch holds a long tapering staff (probably the scepter of Esther) in his right hand. It was death to intrude on the privacy of the Persian king uninvited.
12And they told to Mordecai Esther's words.
13Then Mordecai commanded to answer Esther, Think not with thyself that thou shalt escape in the king's house, more than all the Jews.
14For if thou altogether holdest thy peace at this time, then shall there enlargement and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place; but thou and thy father's house shall be destroyed: and who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?
From another place - i. e. "from some other quarter." Mordecai probably concluded from the prophetic Scriptures that God would NOT allow His people to be destroyed before His purposes with respect to them were accomplished, and was therefore satisfied that deliverance would arise from one quarter or another.
Thou and thy father's house shall be destroyed - i. e. "a divine vengeance will overtake thee and thine, if thou neglectest thy plain duty." Though the name of God is not contained in the Book of Esther, there is in this verse a distinct, tacit allusion to God's promises, and to the direction of human events by Divine Providence.
15Then Esther bade them return Mordecai this answer,
16Go, gather together all the Jews that are present in Shushan, and fast ye for me, and neither eat nor drink three days, night or day: I also and my maidens will fast likewise; and so will I go in unto the king, which is not according to the law: and if I perish, I perish.
Again the religious element shows itself. Esther's fast could have no object but to obtain God's favor and protection in the dangerous course on which she was about to enter.
17So Mordecai went his way, and did according to all that Esther had commanded him.