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Esther 3:2-6

Context
3:2 As a result, 1  all the king’s servants who were at the king’s gate were bowing and paying homage to Haman, for the king had so commanded. However, Mordecai did not bow, 2  nor did he pay him homage.

3:3 Then the servants of the king who were at the king’s gate asked Mordecai, “Why are you violating the king’s commandment?” 3:4 And after they had spoken to him day after day 3  without his paying any attention to them, they informed Haman to see whether this attitude on Mordecai’s part would be permitted. 4  Furthermore, he had disclosed to them that he was a Jew. 5 

3:5 When Haman saw that Mordecai was not bowing or paying homage to him, he 6  was filled with rage. 3:6 But the thought of striking out against 7  Mordecai alone was repugnant to him, for he had been informed 8  of the identity of Mordecai’s people. 9  So Haman sought to destroy all the Jews (that is, the people of Mordecai) 10  who were in all the kingdom of Ahasuerus.

1 tn Heb “and” (so KJV, NASB, NRSV). Other modern English versions leave the conjunction untranslated here (NAB, NIV, NCV, NLT).

2 sn Mordecai did not bow. The reason for Mordecai’s refusal to bow before Haman is not clearly stated here. Certainly the Jews did not refuse to bow as a matter of principle, as though such an action somehow violated the second command of the Decalogue. Many biblical texts bear witness to their practice of falling prostrate before people of power and influence (e.g., 1 Sam 24:8; 2 Sam 14:4; 1 Kgs 1:16). Perhaps the issue here was that Haman was a descendant of the Amalekites, a people who had attacked Israel in an earlier age (see Exod 17:8-16; 1 Sam 15:17-20; Deut 25:17-19).

3 sn Mordecai’s position in the service of the king brought him into regular contact with these royal officials. Because of this association the officials would have found ample opportunity to complain of Mordecai’s refusal to honor Haman by bowing down before him.

4 tn Heb “Will the matters of Mordecai stand?”; NASB “to see whether Mordecai’s reason would stand.”

5 sn This disclosure of Jewish identity is a reversal of the practice mentioned in 1:10, 20.

6 tn Heb “Haman.” The pronoun (“he”) was used in the translation for stylistic reasons. Repeating the proper name here is redundant according to contemporary English style, although the name is repeated in NASB and NRSV.

7 tn Heb “to send a hand against”; KJV, NRSV “to lay hands on.”

8 tn Heb “they had related to him.” For stylistic reasons this has been translated as a passive construction.

9 tc The entire first half of the verse is not included in the LXX.

10 tc This parenthetical phrase is not included in the LXX. Some scholars emend the MT reading עַם (’am, “people”) to עִם (’im, “with”), arguing that the phrase is awkwardly placed and syntactically inappropriate. While there is some truth to their complaint, the MT makes sufficient sense to be acceptable here, and is followed by most English versions.



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