Ether

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Ahasuerus
REV. THOMAS S. MILLINGTON.—The name Ahasuerus is, in one of its Greek forms, Xerxes, which is explained by Herodotus (lib. vi., c. 98) to mean a warrior.—Test. of Heath., p. 245.
PROF. GEORGE RAWLINSON, M. A.—It, is now generally allowed by critics, that Xerxes, the son and successor of Darius, is the monarch at whose court is laid the scene of the Book of. Esther. The character of this monarch, so graphically placed before us by the sacred historian, bears the closest possible resemblance to that which is ascribed by the classical writers to the celebrated son of Darius. Proud, self-willed, amorous, careless of contravening Persian customs; reckless of human life, yet not actually blood-thirsty; impetuous, facile, changeable—the Ahasuerus of Esther corresponds in all respects to the Greek portraiture of Xerxes; which is not (be it observed) the mere picture of an oriental despot, but has various marked peculiarities that distinctly individualize it. And so with respect to his actions.—Hist. Illust., p. 200.
HERODOTUS.—Sir, (said Mardonius to Xerxes,) you are not only the most illustrious of all the Persians, who have hitherto appeared, but you may securely defy the competition of all posterity. You have reduced to our power the Sacæ, the Indians, the Ethiopians, and the Assyrians, with many other great and illustrious nations.—Herodt., 1. vii., c. 9.
Shushan
Esth. 1:22That in those days, when the king Ahasuerus sat on the throne of his kingdom, which was in Shushan the palace, (Esther 1:2).—In those days, when the king Ahasuerus sat on the throne of his kingdom, which was in Shushan the palace.
PROF. GEORGE RAWLINSON, M. A.—That Susa (or Shushan) was the ordinary seat of the Persian Court is apparent from Herodotus, Ctesias, and the Greek writers generally, while it was fixed during part of the year at Babylon, is declared by Xenophon, Plutarch, and others.—Hist. Illust. of O. T., p. 209.
HERODOTUS.—In this province, Cissia, you see the river Choaspes marked, and likewise the town Susa upon its banks, where the Great King holds his court, and where the treasuries are in which his wealth is stored.—Herodt., lib. v., c. 49.
Royal Feast and Palace
Esth. is 5-7.—And when these days were expired, the king made a feast unto all the people that were present in Shushan both unto great and small, seven days, in the court of the garden of the king's palace; where were white, green and blue hangings, fastened with cords of fine linen and purple to silver rings and pillars of marble: the beds were of gold and silver, upon a pavement of red and blue and white and black marble. And they gave them drink in vessels of gold, (the vessels being diverse one from another,) and royal wine in abundance, according to the state of the king.
DIODORUS SICULUS.—Susa, the royal city, and the most beautiful palace in the universe.—Diod. Sic., 1. xvii., c. 7.
PROF. GEORGE RAWLINSON, M. A.—The magnificence of the Susian Palace is evidenced, not merely by the accounts of ancient authors, but by the existing iv remains, which exhibit four groups of " marble pillars" exquisitely carved, springing from a pavement composed chiefly of blue limestone, and constructed (in the opinion of the excavators) with a view to the employment of curtains or hangings between the columns, an arrangement thoroughly suitable to the site and climate. Greek writers describe at length the splendor of the palace furniture, whereon the precious metals were prodigally lavished.— Hist. Illust., p. 210.
IDEM.—The magnificent palace which had so great a fame in antiquity, and of which the best account is to be found in the Book of Esther, occupied the northern portion of the great mound, an irregular rectangle, two sides of which measure 1,200 feet, while the remaining two fall somewhat short of 1,000. It has been recently exhumed in a great measure by Sir W. Williams and Mr. Loftus, and is found to have consisted of a great hall of stone pillars, of the same size and on the same plan as that of Persepolis, and of a number of inferior buildings behind the hall, the material of which is brick. The pillars are arranged into a central group of thirty-six, standing in six rows of six each, so as to form an exact square, one hundred and forty-five feet (nearly) each way; and into three outlying groups or porticoes, flanking the central group on three sides, the east, the north, and the west. These porticoes, which are exactly paralled to the sides of the inner square, are formed of two rows of six pillars each, in line with the pillars of the central group, the distance between the outermost pillars of the central group and the inner pillars of the porticoes being sixty-four feet. The pillars are of two kinds—those of the central group or phalanx have square bases, while those of the porticoes have round or bell-shaped bases. Both sorts appear, however, to have been surmounted by the same capital. The central group is supposed to have been covered with a roof, but the space between that group and the porticoes was probably only shaded by curtains, answering to the description given in the Book of Esther. It appears by a trilingual inscription upon four of the pillars, that the palace was commenced by Darius and finished by Artaxerxes Mnemon.—Rawlinson's Herodotus, Vol. III., p. 208.
HERODOTUS.—Xerxes (Ahasuerus), when he fled away out of Greece, left his war-tent with Mardonius; when Pausanias, therefore, saw the tent with its adornments of gold and silver, and its hangings of diverse colors, he gave commandment to the bakers and the cooks to make him ready a banquet in such a fashion as was their wont for Mardonius. Then they made ready as they were bidden, and Pausanias, beholding the couches of gold and silver daintily decked out with their rich covertures, and the tables of gold and silver laid, and the feast itself prepared with all magnificence, was astonished at the good things set before him. —Herodt, I. ix., c. 82.
Esther 1:88And the drinking was according to the law; none did compel: for so the king had appointed to all the officers of his house, that they should do according to every man's pleasure. (Esther 1:8).—And the drinking was according to the law; none did compel: for so the king had appointed to all the officers of his house, that they should do according to every man's pleasure.
CICERO.—The custom which is common among the Grecians at their banquets should, in my opinion, be observed in life. "Drink," say they, " or leave the company."—Tusc. Disp., 1. v., c. 40.
PLUTARCH.—Cleomenes used, after supper, to have a three-legged stand brought in, on which were placed a brass bowl full of wine, two silver pots, that held about a pint and a half each, and a few cups of the same metal. Such of the guests as were inclined to drink made use of these vessels, for the cup was not pressed upon any man against his will.—Cleomen., c. 13.
LUCIAN.—Let none refuse to drink a health when he is challenged, and let everybody drink whenever he pleases. On the other hand, let no man be forced to drink more than he can.Chronosol., c. 18.
Esth. 1:99Also Vashti the queen made a feast for the women in the royal house which belonged to king Ahasuerus. (Esther 1:9).—Also Vashti the queen made a feast for the women in the royal house which belonged to king Ahasuerus.
PROF. GEORGE RAWLINSON, M. A.—Greek writers describe at length the seclusion of the women among the Persians.—Hist. Illust., p. 210.
PLUTARCH.—The barbarians in general, especially the Persians, are jealous of the women even to madness, not only of their wives, but of their slaves and concubines; for besides the care they take that they shall be seen by none but their own family, they keep them like prisoners in their houses.—Themist., c. 26.
DR. JOHN Kam, D. D., F. S. A.—Existing oriental usages oblige women to feast separately from the men, even on the same occasions of rejoicing.—Pict. Bible, In loco.
DR. JOHN KITTO.—Vashti's refusal to comply with the king's order was natural, for, according to oriental notions, a woman of reputation would consider it an ignominy worse than death to appear thus before a society of men with her face uncovered. None but courtesans do, or ever did, appear at the entertainments of men in Persia.—Pict. Bible, In loco.
The Wife's Turn
HERODOTUS.—Phædima, therefore, Otane's daughter, bent on accomplishing what she had promised her father, when her turn came, and she was taken to the bed of the Magus (in Persia a man's wives sleep with him in their turns), waited till he was sound asleep, and then felt for his ears.—Lib. iii., c. 69.
Sitting at the Gate
XENOPHON.—It was determined that the men of note and quality should always attend at Cyrus's doors, and yield themselves to his service in whatever he thought fit, till he himself dismissed them; and according as it was then determined, so do those in Asia, that are under the king, even to this day; they attend at the doors of their princes.—Cyrop., 1. viii., c. 1.
HERODOTUS.—Orestes sitting at the gate of the palace with another Persian, whose name was Mitrobales.—Herodt., 1. iii., c, 120.
The Highest Seat
Esth. 3:11After these things did king Ahasuerus promote Haman the son of Hammedatha the Agagite, and advanced him, and set his seat above all the princes that were with him. (Esther 3:1).—After these things did king Ahasuerus promote Haman the son of Hammedatha the Agagite, and advanced him, and set his seat above all the princes that were with him.
XENOPHON.—Let the best men with you be honored with the principal seats, as they are with me. Cyrop., 1. viii., c. 6.
IDEM.—Hystaspes, after asserting his readiness to do service to Cyrus, which the latter readily acknowledged, exclaimed, In the name of all the gods, then, Cyrus, by what means is it that Chrysantas has prevailed on you to place him before me in the more honorable seat?—Cyrop., 1. viii., c. 5.
The Scattered Jews
Esther 3:8.—And Haman said unto king Ahasuerus, There is a certain people scattered abroad and dispersed among the people in all the provinces of thy kingdom; and their laws are diverse from all people; neither keep they the king's laws: therefore it is not for the king's profit to suffer them.
CICERO.—While Jerusalem was flourishing, and while the Jews were in a peaceful state, still the religious ceremonies and observances of that people were very much at variance with the splendor of this empire and the dignity of our name and the institutions of our ancestors. And they are the more odious to us now, because that people has shown by arms what were its feelings towards our supremacy. Orat. Pro Flac., c. 28.
JUVENAL.—Trained to look with scorn upon the laws of Rome, they study and observe and reverence all those Jewish statutes that Moses in his mystic volume handed down.—Sat. XIV v. 101.
Royal Signet
Esther 3:1010And the king took his ring from his hand, and gave it unto Haman the son of Hammedatha the Agagite, the Jews' enemy. (Esther 3:10).—And the king took his ring from his hand and gave it unto Haman.... In the name of king Ahasuerus was it written, and sealed with the king's ring.
HERODOTUS.—Then Bagæus caused many letters to be written on diverse matters, and sealed them all with the king's signet; after which he took the letters with him, and departed for Sardis.—Herodt., 1. iii., c. 128.
Persian Posts
Esth. 3:13, 15.—And the letters were sent by posts into all the king's provinces, to destroy, to kill, and to cause to perish, all Jews, both young and old, little children and women, in one day... The posts went out, being hastened by the king's commandment.
XENOPHON.—Cyrus originally established couriers, places for post-horses on all the high roads, and offices where they might deliver their packets to each other. This they did night and day, faster than cranes can fly.—Cyrop., VIII., 6, § 1-6.
HERODOTUS. —Nothing mortal travels so fast as these Persian messengers. The entire plan is a Persian invention, and this is the method of it. Along the whole line of road there are men stationed with horses, in number equal to the number of days which the journey takes, allowing a man and a horse to each day; and these men will not be hindered from accomplishing at their best speed the distance which they have to go, either by rain, or snow, or heat, or by the darkness of night. The first rider delivers his dispatch to the second, and the second passes it to the third; and so it is borne from hand to hand along the whole line, like the light in the torch race, which the Greeks celebrate to Vulcan. —Herodt., I. viii., c. 98.
Golden Scepter
Esther 4:1111All 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. (Esther 4:11).—All 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 him to put him to death, except such to whom the king shall hold out the golden scepter, that he may live: but I have not been called to come in unto the king these thirty days.
HERODOTUS.—Deioces was the first who instituted that kind of pomp which forbids access to the royal person, and only admits communication to him by intermediate agents, the king himself being never publicly seen.—Herodt., 1. i., c. 99.
IDEM.—The seven Persian princes who killed the Magian, before electing one of themselves to be king, mutually agreed that access to the royal palace should be permitted to each of them without the ceremony of a previous messenger, except when the king should happen to be in bed.—Herodt., 1. iii., c. 84.
XENOPHON.—Know, Cambyses, that it is not the golden scepter which can preserve your kingdom; but faithful friends are a prince's truest and securest scepter.—Cyrop., 1. viii., c. 7.
Obeisance
REV. JOSEPH ROBERTS.—This is, indeed, a graphic sketch of Eastern manners. The colors are so lively and so fresh, that they might have been but the work of yesterday. See the native gentleman at the head of his courtly train: he moves along in pompous guise, and all who see him arise from their seats, take off their sandals, and humbly move in reverence to him. To some he gives a graceful wave of the hand; to others not a word or a look. Should there be one who neither stands up nor moves to him, his name and place of abode will be inquired after, and the first opportunity eagerly embraced to gratify the proud man's splenitic feeling.... The proud Modeliar was one day passing along the road, where was seated on his carpet the Reuter of the pearl-fishery. He arose not, moved not to him, when passing by; and the proud Modeliar's soul was fired with indignation. He forthwith resolved upon his ruin; and, by deeply-formed intrigues, too well succeeded—his money and his estate were taken from him, and himself sold as a bondman.—Oriental Illustrations, p. 247.
Court Chronicles
Esther 6:11On 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. (Esther 6:1).—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.
PROF. GEORGE RAWLINSON, M. A.—The Royal Chronicles of Persia seem to have consisted not only of grand public inscriptions upon pillars, rocks, tombs, and palaces, but also of more private and more copious documents, preserved in the treasuries of the empire, and written upon skins or parchments, which contained a variety of details concerning the court and empire, such as all decrees made by the king, all signal services of any subject, etc. The royal scribes seem to have been in constant attendance upon the king, ready to record any remarkable occurrence.—Rawlinson's Herodotus, Vol. I., p. 46.
Esther 6:22And 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. (Esther 6:2).—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.
HERODOTUS. —Xerxes conceived a wish to go himself throughout the forces, and with his own eyes behold everything. Accordingly he traversed the ranks seated in his chariot, and going from nation to nation, made manifold inquiries, while his scribes wrote down the answers; till at last he had passed from end to end of the whole land army, both the horsemen and likewise the foot. This done, he exchanged his chariot for a Sidonian galley, and, seated beneath a golden awning, sailed along the prows of all his vessels, while he made inquiries again, as he had done when he reviewed the land forces, and caused the answers to be recorded by his scribes.Herodt., lib. vii., c. 100.
IDEM —During the whole time of the battle, Xerxes sate at the base of the hill called Ægaleôs, over against Salamis; and whenever he air any of his own captains perform any worthy exploit he inquired concerning him; and the man's name was taken down by his scribes, together with the names of his father and his city.—Herodt., 1. viii., c. 90.
The King's Benefactors
Esther 6:33And the king said, What honor 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. (Esther 6:3).—And the king said, What honor 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.
PROF. GEORGE RAWLINSON, M. A.—The recognition of a distinct class of “royal benefactors " appears to have been a special Persian institution. The names of such persons were entered upon a formal list; and it was regarded as the bounden duty of the monarch to see that they were adequately rewarded.— Histor. Illust., p. 209.
HERODOTUS.—Phylacus was enrolled among the king's benefactors, and presented with a large estate in land.—Herodt., lib. viii., c. 85.
Esth.: 7-11.—For the man whom the king delighteth to honor, 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; etc.
XENOPHON. —To one whom Cyrus wished to honor he gave one of the horses that followed in his train, and ordered one of the staff officers to conduct the horse for him wherever he should command. This appeared to those who saw it to be a very great honor; and after this many more people made their court to this man.—Cyrop., 1. viii., c. 3.
IDEM. —Demaratus, the Lacedemonian, who was at court, being ordered to ask a favor, desired that he might be carried through Sardis in royal state, with a diadem upon, his head.—Themist., c. 29.
The Fatal Covering
Esther 7:88Then the king returned out of the palace garden into the place of the banquet of wine; and Haman was fallen upon the bed whereon Esther was. Then said the king, Will he force the queen also before me in the house? As the word went out of the king's mouth, they covered Haman's face. (Esther 7:8).—Then the king returned from the palace garden into the place of the banquet of wine; and Haman was fallen upon the bed whereon Esther was. Then said the king, Will he force the queen also before me in the house? As, the word went out of the king's mouth, they covered Haman's face.
ALEXANDER THE GREAT.—Do you not understand how much more fortunate you are in your government than the Persians? For them to sit in the seat of their king would be death; for you it has been life.—Q. Curt., 1. viii., c. 4.
QUINTUS CURTIUS.—Philotas having conspired against Alexander, was brought before him with his hands tied behind him, and his head covered with an old veil. It was evident that they who had but a short time before envied him were now touched with pity at his miserable appearance. They had seen him the day before the leader of the horse, and knew that he had supped with the king, and now suddenly they beheld him not only accused, but condemned and bound. Q. Curt., 1. vi., c. 9.
Royal Apparel
XENOPHON.—Cyrus appeared without the gates wearing a turban raised high above his head, with a vest of a purple color half-mixed with white; and this mixture of white no one else is allowed to wear. —Cyrop., 1. viii., c. 3.
Feast of Purim
PROF. MOSES STUART.—The fact that the feast of Purim has come down to us from time almost immemorial proves as certainly that the main events of the book of Esther happened, as the Declaration of Independence and the celebration of the Fourth of July prove that we separated from Great Britain and became an independent nation. The book of Esther is an essential document to explain the feast of Purim.—As quoted in Rawlinson's Hist. Illust., 218.