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Study Resources :: Text Commentaries :: H. Hastings Weld :: The Women of the Scriptures

H. Hastings Weld :: Esther

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Mourning within her palace, in her room
The young queen sits alone. A soft perfume
Mingles its odours with the evening breeze,
As steals it through the garden's fragrant trees,
Ere fanning her white brow. Soft music floats
Upon the air-the wild bird's joyous notes
Are gushing forth. A jewelled coronet
Is gleaming close beside her. Not as yet
Have tears bedimmed its lustre, nor has care
Made that light crown too wearisome to bear.
The skies wear twilight's dimness-here and there
A few faint stars seem struggling to maintain
Their seats till all of day‐light fades away,
And darker hours give them an easy reign.
Within, no other light gives out its ray
Save that which flashes from those brilliants rare,
Or gleams from her drooped lids. So young and fair,
A queen and well beloved; and yet her brow
Is sad, and in calm, motionless despair,
Her small white hands are clasped: Why mourns she now?
Not always dwelt she thus in regal state:
Once, years ago, when in her infancy,
She was a captive orphan, desolate
And unprotected: yet Heaven's sympathy
Bestowed an earthly friend to be her guide,
To give her purest counsel, truest love-
No more: for he was poor in all beside.
How oft with tearful eye, upturned above,
She sat beside him, listening to some tale
Of captive suffering, when from father‐land,
Its holy hills and gently sloping vale,
Their people had been forced by stern command
And hostile forces of a foreign foe:
And how e'en now they bow in spirit low
Subject to bondage-quailing as in fear
Of other, newer suffering. Then the tear
Would leave her eye, and in its place would burn
A brighter ray, lit by some purpose stern,
Reflected from her soul. Time fled apace-
The captive won a monarch's heart-a queenly place
Within the realm. Affectionate and mild,
She loved her guardian and obeyed him still;
Recalled his precepts, strove to do his will,
And rendered reverence as a little child.

And this is why she mourns. Her kinsman gained
The malice of a man who had attained
A place of confidence within the state,
And won high honours from her regal lord.
He, with a spirit full of deadly hate,
Besought the king in favour to afford
This boon: the lives of all that race. Intent
To have revenge, his scorn was not content
With less. The boon was granted: edicts sent
Through all the kingdom, told the fearful news
Of sudden death awaiting all the Jews.
'Twas her own nation. Heaven's peculiar trust,
In years long past; now bowing to the dust,
Condemned to die to gratify the pride
Of one weak man. And she, the monarch's bride,
Was of the number, though he knew it not.
She thought he loved her, and her gentle tone
Might plead prevailingly before the throne,
If leave were given; but to approach that spot
Unbidden, none-not even she-might dare
On risk of death; unless the king, perchance,
Extend his sceptre to the suppliant there,
In silent token that he might advance,
And offer his petition. Yet can she
Thus venture in his presence tremblingly?
A thousand doubts and fears pass through her mind-
Not lately has she seen him-would she find
His heart unchanged to her? How can she go
Perhaps to meet his anger? In deep woe
Her head is bowed. Better it is to die-
To have the shining weapon pierce the heart,
Away from him, than see his deep, dark eye
Fixed coldly on her, as he says, "Depart,
Rash one, to death!" Then comes another thought
Of sterner, deeper purpose. It is fraught
With early teachings: not herself alone
Must perish thus. All selfish feelings gone,
No more with woman fears her spirit quails.
A nation's welfare! Easy 'tis to brave
Even his anger, if she thus might save
Her tribe. "I'll go, and if the effort fails
I can but perish. 'Tis not hard to die
Thus in the right," she reasons. This reply
Is sent through Hatach to her childhood's friend,
In answer to his charge, that she defend
Her people to the monarch. "Make you prayer
And fasting for me, that Jehovah's care
Be round about me; then, against the law,
Nerved by the courage which from thence I draw,
I'll go into his presence. I can die
If thus it is decreed: so I will try."

Thus she found strength in weakness. Timidly,
And with due reverence, though from selfish fear
Her spirit in its purpose now is free,
Yet unpresumptuously, her feet draw near
Into his presence. There she calmly stands
Within his sight, awaiting his commands.
The sceptre is extended. "Esther, queen,
What wilt thou have?-Make thy petition known,
And it is granted-e'en to half the throne."
Thus is she greeted by a voice serene.

So by a feeble, timid woman's power,
Were numbers saved, unjustly doomed to die;
And 'neath the glancing of her gentle eye
A weak, inglorious tyrant forced to cower.


The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.


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