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Esther 9

Esther 9

9 Now in the twelfth month (that is, the month Adar), on the thirteenth day when the king’s command and edict were about to be executed, on the day when the enemies of the Jews hoped to gain the mastery over them, it was turned to the contrary so that the Jews themselves gained the mastery over those who hated them. 2 The Jews assembled in their cities throughout all the provinces of King Ahasuerus to lay hands on those who sought their harm; and no one could stand before them, for the dread of them had fallen on all the peoples. 3 Even all the princes of the provinces, the satraps, the governors and those who were doing the king’s business assisted the Jews, because the dread of Mordecai had fallen on them. 4 Indeed, Mordecai was great in the king’s house, and his fame spread throughout all the provinces; for the man Mordecai became greater and greater. 5 Thus the Jews struck all their enemies with the sword, killing and destroying; and they did what they pleased to those who hated them. 6 At the citadel in Susa the Jews killed and destroyed five hundred men, 7 and Parshandatha, Dalphon, Aspatha, 8 Poratha, Adalia, Aridatha, 9 Parmashta, Arisai, Aridai and Vaizatha, 10 the ten sons of Haman the son of Hammedatha, the Jews’ enemy; but they did not lay their hands on the plunder.

The thirteenth day of the twelve month was when both Haman’s law and Mordecai’s law came into effect.  The Jews were ready to fight and to subdue those who hated them and wanted them dead, and those who were still bold enough to attack the Jews could do so.  There were some who hated the Jews so much that they wanted to regain mastery over them, but what happened was that the enemies of the Jews were killed.  The Jews regained mastery over their enemies.  No one could stand before the Jews even though some tried, and the dread of them spread across the land.  Even the Persian authorities assisted the Jews out of fear and respect for Mordecai, who was in a great position of power and whose fame and influence grew greater and greater.  On the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, it was the Jews who killed their enemies, not the other way around.  Five hundred of the enemies of the Jews were killed in the citadel in Susa alone including the ten sons of Haman.  Though the Jews had the right under the Persian law to plunder them, they chose not to.  Their mission was not to try to take riches from Persia and provoke a fight but only to preserve their nation and to kill those who were continually and actively trying to kill them. 

11 On that day the number of those who were killed at citadel in Susa was reported to the king. 12 The king said to Queen Esther, “The Jews have killed and destroyed five hundred men and the ten sons of Haman at the citadel in Susa. What then have they done in the rest of the king’s provinces! Now what is your petition? It shall even be granted you. And what is your further request? It shall also be done.” 13 Then said Esther, “If it pleases the king, let tomorrow also be granted to the Jews who are in Susa to do according to the edict of today; and let Haman’s ten sons be hanged on the gallows.” 14 So the king commanded that it should be done so; and an edict was issued in Susa, and Haman’s ten sons were hanged. 15 The Jews who were in Susa assembled also on the fourteenth day of the month Adar and killed three hundred men in Susa, but they did not lay their hands on the plunder.

That five hundred were killed at the citadel in Susa was reported to the king.  If that many were dead just there, there had to be thousands of others dead throughout the empire.  The king wanted to know if all of what had already transpired had satisfied the request of Queen Esther.  She asked that those in Susa be given also the fourteenth, that is, one more day in order to finish the job.  The Jews killed three hundred more men who still wanted them dead, but they did not plunder them.  They wanted only their lives and freedom, not their riches.  Haman’s ten sons were also hanged that day. 

16 Now the rest of the Jews who were in the king’s provinces assembled, to defend their lives and rid themselves of their enemies, and kill 75,000 of those who hated them; but they did not lay their hands on the plunder. 17 This was done on the thirteenth day of the month Adar, and on the fourteenth day they rested and made it a day of feasting and rejoicing.

Altogether, the Jews killed 75,000 of their enemies, those who wanted them dead.  They did not plunder them, seeking only their lives, their future safety, and not their enemies’ riches.  While those in Susa also fought on the fourteenth, the killing throughout the rest of the empire was completed on the thirteenth.  The Jews throughout the rest of the empire made the fourteenth a day of feasting and rejoicing. 

18 But the Jews who were in Susa assembled on the thirteenth and the fourteenth of the same month, and they rested on the fifteenth day and made it a day of feasting and rejoicing. 19 Therefore the Jews of the rural areas, who live in the rural towns, make the fourteenth day of the month Adar a holiday for rejoicing and feasting and sending portions of food to one another.

The Jews who were in Susa continued fighting on the fourteenth, so they used the fifteenth as a day of feasting and rejoicing.  Thus, the Jews of the rural areas and town celebrated on the fourteenth, while the rest celebrated one day later.  In contrast to the feasting of the king as described in chapter 1 where it was pagan in nature, focused on fleshly indulgences, and not considerate of those who were less fortunate, the Jewish feasting involved the sharing of food with one another and with the poor (v. 22). 

20 Then Mordecai recorded these events, and he sent letters to all the Jews who were in all the provinces of King Ahasuerus, both near and far, 21 obliging them to celebrate the fourteenth day of the month Adar, and the fifteenth day of the same month, annually, 22 because on those days the Jews rid themselves of their enemies, and it was a month which was turned for them from sorrow into gladness and from mourning into a holiday; that they should make them days of feasting and rejoicing and sending portions of food to one another and gifts to the poor.

In a letter concerning the celebration called Purim (v. 26), Mordecai formalized the celebration by obliging the Jews to celebrate on both the fourteenth and fifteenth days of the month Adar.  They were to remember how they were able to rid themselves of their enemies and how God turned their sorrow into gladness.  It was to be a time of feasting and rejoicing and sending food to one another as well as gifts to the poor.  This was to be a celebration for all of the people of Israel, not just those who could afford to do so.  It was also a good example to pagan people and other downtrodden nations within the kingdom that the poor mattered to God, even if they weren’t Jewish by birth.  Their celebration was not just a remembrance for themselves but a testimony to the rest of the kingdom concerning the faithfulness, power, love, justice, and mercy of their God.

23 Thus the Jews undertook what they had started to do, and what Mordecai had written to them. 24 For Haman the son of Hammedatha, the Agagite, the adversary of all the Jews, had schemed against the Jews to destroy them and had cast Pur, that is the lot, to disturb them and destroy them. 25 But when it came to the king’s attention, he commanded by letter that his wicked scheme which he had devised against the Jews, should return on his own head and that he and his sons should be hanged on the gallows. 26 Therefore they called these days Purim after the name of Pur. And because of the instructions in this letter, both what they had seen in this regard and what had happened to them, 27 the Jews established and made a custom for themselves and for their descendants and for all those who allied themselves with them, so that they would not fail to celebrate these two days according to their regulation and according to their appointed time annually. 28 So these days were to be remembered and celebrated throughout every generation, every family, every province and every city; and these days of Purim were not to fail from among the Jews, or their memory fade from their descendants.

Here we are given a more in depth record of the reason behind Purim concerning Haman’s plot and defeat and the deliverance of the Jews.  Mordecai made a record of all of the events so that the Jews would commemorate and remember God’s faithfulness to deliver them.  He did not want the memory of the events to fade away.  Thus, he established an official holiday for them on the fourteenth and fifteenth days of the month Adar so that they would remember how God delivered them from their enemies and how He turned those dates from sorrow into gladness, from annihilation into victory.  They were to feast and rejoice on those days, taking care of one another and not failing to remember the poor.  This was not to be a feast only for the well-off of Israel, but all the Jews were to be part of the celebration.  God had delivered them all, and they all could participate.  Though they were the conquered people, given Mordecai’s and Esther’s high positions of power, God had shown Himself strong to give them protection, much like He had done with allowing Joseph to rise to power in Egypt and preserving Israel’s future then (Genesis 50:20). 

29 Then Queen Esther, daughter of Abihail, with Mordecai the Jew, wrote with full authority to confirm this second letter about Purim. 30 He sent letters to all the Jews, to the 127 provinces of the kingdom of Ahasuerus, namely, words of peace and truth, 31 to establish these days of Purim at their appointed times, just as Mordecai the Jew and Queen Esther had established for them, and just as they had established for themselves and for their descendants with instructions for their times of fasting and their lamentations. 32 The command of Esther established these customs for Purim, and it was written in the book.

Queen Esther and Mordecai wrote a second letter concerning Purim to add in a time of fasting and lamentation.  Perhaps they were concerned that future generations would just throw a party and forget about the incredible sorrow that had preceded the victory.  Thus, by fasting first the Jews would remember how they were about to be killed, and then they could feast and celebrate God’s deliverance.  This second letter confirmed the importance of Purim, for God had turned their fasting into rejoicing and their mourning into feasting.