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Esther - Chapter 9
Jews prevail, Verses 1-11
The fateful twelfth month, Adar, eventually came, and as the thirteenth day drew near the Jews began to assemble in their cities, in every province of Ahasuerus where they lived. On that day the law still stood by which the Jews might be slaughtered, and the enemies of them still hoped to have power over them. However the decree of Mordecai had put a far different face on the matter, they being allowed to stand with their weapons to defend themselves against those who would kill them.
The Jews intended to use their power against those who would lay a hand on them, or who had sought their hurt in former times. So fiercely did they stand, and so spectacular had been the turnabout of fortune for the Jews, that the people had a fearful respect for them and could not withstand the belligerent Jews. All the officials of the provinces turned their power to the Jews, willingly helping them because they deemed it expedient for their own welfare. They were afraid of Mordecai, of whose spectacular rise they were aware.
Mordecai had become a great one in the king’s palace, the fame of which had now reached the provinces. His power became greater and greater, so that those lesser officials dared not oppose him. So on the thirteenth of Adar the Jews won a mighty victory over their enemies. It seems they may not have been actually attacked, but they took the occasion to destroy those who had intended to exterminate them. The Scripture says, they "did what they would unto those that hated them."
The Jews in Shushan disposed of five hundred of their enemies, among whom were the ten sons of Haman. These are the many children about whom Haman had boasted to his congregated audience when he returned from Esther’s first banquet (Ezra 5:11). They bore proud names, with meanings like "inquisitive," "the very first," "liberal," "sons of the atmosphere." Their father had boasted of this fine family and of his great riches, which modern scholars have calculated in the millions, based on the amount he agreed to pay into the treasury for the privilege of exterminating the Jews. Now they had lost everything because of the wickedness of their father, and even forfeited their lives. God’s Word aptly describes what happens to people like Haman (Job 27:16-17).
Mordecai’s law permitted the Jews to take the spoil of their enemies as a prey, but they did not lay a hand on it. There could be no later resentment because they had enriched themselves at the expense of their enemies’ lives. When the day was ended the number of those slain was tallied and the total certified to Ahasuerus.
Opposition Quelled, Verses 12-19
King Ahasuerus continued willing to accomodate Esther in all she required against those who sought to kill the Jews. This time he seems to address her without the necessity of her having to approach him. He seems to be reporting to her the outcome of the Jews’ thirteenth of Adar stand. His report of five hundred slain by the Jews in Shushan itself seems to be considered a large number proportionally. Yet how many more must have been killed out in the provinces? The report from there was not yet in. What else did Esther require of him? He was ready to grant it her that the matter might be finally settled.
Esther had further request for vengeance of her people in Shushan for the next day, the fourteenth, that they might be allowed to continue their search for enemies who had escaped on the thirteenth and to put them to death. Also she asked that the bodies of Haman’s ten sons should be hanged on the gallows. The public display of the enemy corpses would further discourage those who opposed the Jews and bring further ignominy to the infamous Haman.
Thus on the following day the bodies of Haman’s sons were hanged on the gallows, and the Jews succeeded in despatching another three hundred of their enemies in Shushan. Again they made no move to aggrandize themselves by seizing the spoils of those they slew. Whereas Haman’s plans included his recoupling of the vast sum he had put into the treasury of Persia by seizing the wealth of the Jews, the Jews themselves sought no self-serving aggrandizement. Thus they might escape any accusation that they had killed for their own enrichment rather than in self-defense. The Jews must have agreed on this, for those in the provinces did not touch the spoil of the seventy-five thousand they killed there either.
The rejoicing which broke out with their initial success on the thirteenth turned to feasting and gladness in the villages and unwalled towns on the fourteenth. In Shushan it continued to the fifteenth day, for there the slaughter of the enemy consumed two days, the thirteenth and fourteenth, with the ultimate feasting occurring finally on the fifteenth. The fourteenth was known as "a day of gladness and feasting, and a good day, and of sending portions one to another." Is this not an accurate foreview of the final victory of God’s people over the Devil (Revelation 12:7-12)?
Feast of Purim, Verses 20-32
Verse 20 may be an indication of Mordecai’s authorship of the Book of Esther. The Hebrew word is ca-thav, and as used here means to record. The same word and construction is found in verse 29, with reference to the establishment of Purim by the order of Mordecai and Esther. In comparison the form used in verse 23, 27, and 32 indicates a writing, or an edict. This is not a conclusive evidence of Mordecai’s authorship, but is an interesting possibility.
The record of Mordecai, and of Esther (verse 29), was sent in letters to all the Jews in all the one hundred twenty-seven provinces of Persia, along with the writing proposing the feast of Purim. The proposal would oblige the Jews to make the feast of annual celebration on the fourteenth and fifteenth days of Adar, the same days as the rejoicing of the Jews in their victory over their enemies in the days of Ahasuerus. In their letters Mordecai and Esther reviewed the events of those original days.
They told how the month which originally portended sorrow and gloom for the Jews was turned into a day of gladness and rejoicing.. Instead of mourning they had a holiday, feasting, celebrating, and exchanging gifts, and giving to the poor. They reviewed the plans of Haman, how he had issued letters conveying his wicked scheme to all the provinces, of how he had cast the Pur to determine the most opportune day to extinguish the Jewish nation.
But when the king’s eyes were opened to the actual intent of Haman, the awful curse he had intended for others fell on the perpetrator’s own head. Haman died on the gallows, and his ten sons were eventually also hanged there. Other letters were prepared and sent out, and the Jews’ intended misfortune turned to a bountiful blessing of God on them through Mordecai and Esther.
Mordecai proposed that the festival be known as the feast of Purim, after the demonic, foolish casting of the lot by Haman to assure the utter extinction of the Jewish race. It turned about diametrically, so that the result was the utter removal of Haman, his family, friends, and all the enemies of the Jews. The dates would be established perpetually, so that the Jews who accepted the new holidays bound both themselves and their descendants after them to the keeping of the feast. It was to be kept in every city and province by all Jews.
As kept by modern-day Jews the celebration begins on the thirteenth with a day of fasting, called the fast of Esther. Certain selections are read from the law, then at twilight, the beginning of the succeeding day in Hebrew accounting, they light candles and proceed to the synagogue. There the book of Esther is read. Every time Haman’s name is read the people stamp the floor and cry out, "Let his name be blotted out. The name of the wicked shall roll" The benediction is said, then, and they return home to partake of eggs and milk, ending their fast. On the next morning they go again to the synagogue and have prayers, read from Exodus 17:8-16 (the account of Israel’s defeat of Amalek in the wilderness, under leadership of Moses and Joshua), and read the book of Esther again. Then the rest of the time is devoted to celebration, exchange of gifts, and gifts for the poor. (See account in Unger, Bible Dictionary, Page 362).
The spiritual import of this festival may be found in the Jews’ ultimate victory over all their enemies in the end of time. Read Isaiah 66:7-24 by way of parallel.
Some lessons to be noted: 1) when the forces of Antichrist array themselves they shall be totally destroyed by the might of the Lord; 2) evil fathers provoke their children to wrath and condemnation (Ephesians 6:4); 3) the people of the Lord are to abstain from every appearance of evil (1 Thessalonians 5:22); 4) everlasting shame awaits those who oppose God and His people (cf. Job 8:22); 5) it is good to have times of special remembrance of the Lord’s special blessing; 6) there will come a time of everlasting joy for the people of God (Isaiah 35:10).
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Text Courtesy of Blessed Hope Foundation and the Baptist Training Center.
Garner, Albert & Howes, J.C. "Commentary on Esther 9". Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary. https://studylight.org/
the Fifth Sunday after Epiphany