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ESTHER'S PEOPLE NOT KNOWN.

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charmed with the Hebrew maid at first sight, and before the king saw her, his chief officer had decided she should be the queen. He accordingly gave her the best apartments of the Seraglio, and special attention to prepare her for the king.

In the tenth and eleventh verses of the second chapter, we find that Esther did not make known her people. Mordecai had told her not to show that she was a Jewess. The reason usually given for Mordecai's command does not seem to me to be correct.

This reason is, that if she avowed herself a Jewess, she would have been pronounced a slave, and thrown out of the list of competitors at once. History does not sustain this view. Slaves were eligible to the harem, and still are in the East, and from being an odalisque may become a sultana. And besides, Esther was not a slave in any

other sense than were all the Hebrews that had been transferred from the Babylonian empire to the Persians as captives. The true reason no doubt was that Mordecai wished to prevent the unnecessary raising up of any prejudice to her disadvantage—that she might have at least an equal opportunity with the rest. The knowledge that she was of the Hebrew race would have been against her. It was more expedient not to put her success in peril by unnecessary disclosures as to her nation. After her crown is more firmly settled, and she has a stronger hold on the heart of the king, then it may be safer to bring to light that she belongs to a despised race. I do not, however, see here any compromise of principle, nor any prevarication. Anything of this kind would have been sinful. For an untruth is never to be uttered, either by gesture or by silence

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no more than by words; but all truths are not suitable at all times. Nor is it necessary always to tell all that we know to be true. As no question was made about her parentage, or her religion, Mordecai told Hadassah not to volunteer to make any communications on the subject. This was a very different thing from telling her to deny her race and religion. He did not command her to tell a lie. Nor did she violate

any sin against any moral obligation by not telling these things in advance. She sanctions no fraud, for her race and religion were no bar to her entrance into the harem, if known. And when duty calls, we find her avowing that she is a Jewess, and of the faith of Abraham. As no question was raised in gathering the fair virgins for the king's harem, as to their race or religion, so there was no deception practiced. Those who find fault with our record, and with Esther for entering the king's seraglio, and becoming the queen of a heathen king, overlook altogether the customs of those times and countries. The moment she entered the king's harem, she was elected to be his wife, just as Hagar was Abraham's secondary wife. She was a captive–a subject, and the will of the king was the supreme law. And the moment she was called to the king's seraglio, she was engaged to him, and when she was taken to his bed, she was married to him, as the secondary wives of the patriarchs were to them, and when she was crowned she was queen.

It is a common saying that all marriages are made in heaven, but that some how sometimes there is a mistake in their coming down to earth. Yet the Bible does certainly teach that a good wife is from the Lord, and

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A HAPPY MARRIAGE.

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that the way for young people to expect happiness in wedded life is to marry in the Lord. In this case it is easily seen that the God of Abraham is engaged in providing the great king of Persia with a wife. He is not indeed to be charged with the drunken revelry of the king, nor with Vashti's haughty disobedience, nor with the rash and heavy judgment of Memucan; yet it was His hand that gave incomparable beauty to this Jewess, and it was His spirit that gave her favor in the eyes of the keeper of the women, and caused her also to obtain favor in the sight of the king.

CHAPTER VIII.

ESTHER CROWNED QUEEN.

" And the king loved Esther above all the women, and she obtained grace and favor in his sight more than all the virgins; so that he set the royal crown upon her head, and made her queen instead of Vashti. Then the king made a great feast unto all his princes and his servants, even Esther's feast.”

Esther ii : 17, 18.

As Vashti lost her husband and her crown at a feast, so it is with a feast and royal behests that Esther is proclaimed to have gained a husband and a crown, the very same that Vashti lost.

The king seems desirous to show the courtiers and princes of all his provinces that, as they had seen his mortification and revenge on one queen, so they should see his victory and magnificence in crowning another younger and more beautiful. And he is determined the whole empire shall rejoice on account of her coronation. « And he made a release to the provinces, and gave gifts according to the state of the king." Verse 18. In our day, sometimes an amnesty is proclaimed, prisoners are released, debts forgiven, and political offenders pardoned, in honor of the birth of a prince, or the proclamation of peace after a terrible war, or in honor of the coronation of a sov

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