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was certain death to all unless the king averted the sentence by holding out the golden sceptre. But when the king saw Esther, she obtained favor in his sight, and the king held out to Esther the golden sceptre that was in his hand; so Esther drew near and touched the top of the sceptre, perhaps as an expression of gratitude for this unusual favor, and in token of her submission to the king. Then said the king unto her, “What wilt thou, queen Esther? and what is thy request? it shall be given thee to the half of the kingdom.” And Esther answered, “ If it seem good unto the king, let the king and Haman come this day unto the banquet I have prepared for him.” Though the warm

reception she received might seem to encourage her to open her whole heart, yet she knew too well the temper of the king, and felt too sensibly the delicacy of the case, to venture the expression of her feelings. With admirable wisdom she avails herself of the king's ruling passion, luxury, and by extending her invitation to Haman renders it doubly welcome to the king. She hoped, probably, that He to whom she had committed her cause would open some door for the presenting of her petition. The banquet is called a banquet of wine, because, it is supposed, it consisted not of meats, but of fruits and wines, and was to serve as dessert after a full meal. Then the king said, “Cause Haman to make haste, that he may do as Esther hath said.” At the banquet the king again said to Esther, “What is thy petition? and it shall be granted thee, and what is thy request ? even to the half of the kingdom, it shall be performed." He knew she had some matter of importance to bring before him, or she would not have taken her life in her hand, and ventured without a command into his presence. But He, who turneth the hearts of all men as the rivers of water are turned, made her feel that the favorable moment had not yet arrived, and she asks of the king only a farther pledge that he would grant her petition when presented. Her reply is, “ If I have found favor in the sight of the king, and if it please the king to grant my petition, and to perform my request, let the king and Haman come to the banquet that I shall prepare for them, and I will do tomorrow as the king hath said." Here she was evidently under divine guidance; for God had determined, that very night by a singular providence, one of those events which we irreligiously call a fortunate circumstance or accident, to prepare her way before her, almost to perform her work for her.

Haman, in the mean time, goes forth from the royal banquet joyful and with a glad heart; the sight of Mordecai, however, sitting in the king's gate, still unmoved, notwithstanding his new honors, fills him with indignation, and he was tempted at once to destroy him, which he might easily have done, invested as he was with royal authority; but thinking that vengeance soon awaited him, he refrained himself. Returning to his home, he calls together his friends and Zeresh his wife, and boasts to them of the glory of his riches, of the multitude of his children, and all the things wherein the king had promoted him, and how he had advanced him above the princes and servants of the king. Haman said, moreover, “Yea, Esther the queen did let no man come in with the king unto the banquet that she had prepared but myself, and to-morrow am I invited unto her also with the king.” Poor Haman! he knows not what shall

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