THE PROVIDENCE OF GOD
|Gentile Setting||Jewess Elevated||Threat to Jews||Influence
of a Jewess
|A Jew Exalted|
|Feasts of Esther
|Location of Events:
Timeline of Ezra-Nehemiah-Esther-See page 28- excellent!
Timeline of Esther related to Ezra & Nehemiah - Parallel lines for Medo-Persian Kings & Daniel, Zechariah, Haggai and Malachi - see page 15
|Modified from Jensen's excellent work "Jensen's Survey of the Old Testament"|
Esther 8:1 On that day King Ahasuerus gave the house of Haman, the enemy of the Jews, to Queen Esther; and Mordecai came before the king, for Esther had disclosed what he was to her.: (the house: Job 27:16,17 Ps 39:6 49:6-13 Pr 13:22 28:8 Eccl 2:18,19 Lk 12:20) (came before: Esther 1:14 2:7,15)
On that day - Whenever you encounter a time phrase, always stop and ask "What time is it?", "To what is the author referring?", etc. This will usually force you to examine (re-read) and ponder (meditate on) the context. In this case we are forced to re-read Esther 6:1-7:10, a day which began with King Xerxes' inability to sleep. And oh what a day it proved to be, one that would impact not only time but eternity! In fact, the events of Esther 3-7 all occurred within a few days
Note the incredible reversal - Esther received the wealth of Haman. Mordecai received the position of Haman. And both "rewards" were from King Xerxes! This is the same king who had not that long ago promoted Haman the enemy of the Jews (Esther 3:1) and who willingly (albeit probably in ignorance regarding the identity of the intended victims) agreed to his plot to annihilate an entire race of people (Esther 3:10-11)! The king who had given Haman's a "thumbs up" to kill the Jews, ends up giving Haman a "thumbs down" condemning him to hang on his own gallows (Talk about reaping corruption after sowing to the flesh! Gal 6:8-note). And NOW (on that day) this same powerful, capricious king changes his mind! Why? Read Pr 21:1 (J Vernon McGee's Comments; F B Meyer's Comments)
What would have happened if Mordecai had bowed to Haman in Esther 3 and Esther 4? Undoubtedly he would still be in power. Mordecai's courage and commitment to not bow set in motion the series of divine "coincidences" in Esther 5-7 which resulted in the death of Haman and ultimately the exaltation of Mordecai to the number two position in Persia!
Omanson comments that...
Haman the enemy of the Jews (Esther 3:10) - One might as well write on his epitaph "Haman the enemy of God!" Anyone who is an enemy of the Jews is by divine default an enemy of the covenant keeping God of the Jews! God's oath in Genesis 12:3 should be inscribed on the door of everyone who seeks God's favor...
"I will bless those who bless you,
Beloved, if you are reading these notes and find yourself bristling or chaffing at God's favor to the Jews (irrespective of whether they believed in Him or obeyed Him), then perhaps you might be guilty of latent (or even overt) Anti-Semitism. And if you find yourself in this unenviable position, I would beg you to implore God to change your heart attitude toward those who He calls the "apple of His eye" (Zech 2:8, cp Dt 32:10) for your good and His glory. Amen
Jews or Jews is a key word in Esther (53x out of a total of 99 OT uses) - Esther 2:5; 3:4, 6, 10, 13; 4:3, 7, 13, 14, 16; 5:13; 6:10, 13; 8:1, 3, 5, 7,8,9, 11, 13, 16,17; 9:1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 10, 12, 13, 15, 16, 18, 19, 20, 22, 23, 24, 25, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31 10:3
Gave the house of Haman ("all the property" = TEV, "the estate" = NET, CSB) - What does this signify? The idea is that Haman's estate was given to Queen Esther, a Jew! All that Haman had collected by "hook or crook" was now forfeited! Indeed, this must have been a great largess, for Haman had himself talked about the "glory of his riches" in Esther 5:11. The riches of a Jew hater to a Jew! Is this not an incredible (providentially inspired and enabled) irony? Haman who had "the world by the tail," ended up on his own gallows with nothing, not even a decent legacy to pass on. In fact the only legacy he left his ten sons was a "death sentence!" (Esther 9:12-14)
Alexander Raleigh notes that
David Guzik quipped that "One might say that he (Haman) had climbed the ladder of success, but it was leaning against the wrong building."
For - A term of explanation. What is the author explaining? He is explaining why Mordecai came before the king.
To every thing there is a season,
The time had come to tell the king about her relationship to Mordecai. Is this not another subtle marker of the providential working of God? Too soon could have been detrimental and too late might have been of no great import as Alexander Raleigh explains below.
Esther had disclosed what he was to her - Esther had told the king that her mother and father had died and that her older cousin Mordecai the Jew had taken her in as her guardian and treated her as his own daughter (Esther 2:7). It is as if the king says "A friend of my dear Esther, is a friend of mine, for not only have you saved her life, but you have saved my life!" The king's action in Esther 8:2 is therefore not surprising to the reader.
Chuck Swindoll sees the events of Esther as something...
Esther 8:2 The king took off his signet ring which he had taken away from Haman, and gave it to Mordecai. And Esther set Mordecai over the house of Haman.: (his ring: Esther 3:10 Ge 41:42 Isa 22:19-22 Lk 15:22 ) (Esther set: 2Sa 9:7-10 Ps 37:34 Ec 2:18,19-26 5:13,14 Da 2:48)
The king took off his signet ring which he had taken away from Haman, and gave it to Mordecai - Apparently before he was hanged, the king had retrieved his signet ring from Haman the enemy of the Jews and, in an amazing (providentially orchestrated) turn of events, gave it to the Mordecai the Jew. The Septuagint translates the Hebrew (abar) "had taken away" with the Greek verb aphaireo which means to take away by force ("cut off" in Lk 22:50).
Signet ring (Esther 3:10, 12, 8:8, 8:10) - This would be Mordecai's visible symbol of his high honor and office. Ultimately the king's signet right conveyed authority to the possessor. Practically the king's signet ring was used to seal official documents that carried the king's authority (cp the edict to destroy all Jews in Esther 3:12). We see that as a result of God's paradoxical, providential working behind the scene, the very ring that had been used by Haman to seal the fate of the Jews was now bestowed on a Jew!
Swindoll quips that giving the signet ring was like saying “Take my credit card. You sign for me. You pass the edicts.”
Esther set Mordecai over the house of Haman - Clearly the queen had authority in the Persian kingdom. As noted above the king gave Haman's estate to Esther and she in turn gave the "glory of his (Haman's) riches" (Esther 5:11) to Mordecai. The king bestowed fame and the queen bestowed fortune on Mordecai. This is another evidence of the providential hand of God. The man who sought to king the Jews and plunder their wealth ends up giving his wealth to a Jew! God is the avenger of the evil that Haman had perpetrated against Mordecai and the Jews.
Mordecai is exalted (receiving both fame and fortune) reminding us of Peter's words
Warren Wiersbe adds a cautionary comment to this great scene of Mordecai's exaltation...
Haman should have lived his life for God instead of self as Solomon (who had everything the world offers but found it empty and ultimately unfulfilling) wrote near the end of his life...
Chuck Swindoll ascribes the heart change in King Ahasuerus' to God's ability to change any heart (Pr 21:1) noting that...
Esther 8:3 Then Esther spoke again to the king, fell at his feet, wept and implored him to avert the evil scheme of Haman the Agagite and his plot which he had devised against the Jews.: (fell: 1Sa 25:24 2Ki 4:27) (wept:, Isa 38:2 Hos 12:4 Heb 5:7) (plot: Esther 3:8-15, Esther 7:4 )
ESTHER'S SECOND INTERCESSION
Then Esther spoke again to the king - This marks a separate encounter, one in which she was not summoned as indicated by the fact that the king extended the golden scepter in Esther 8:4. Esther is interceding at the king's throne which resulted in her people Israel being saved from certain death. How much more should we who know Christ be continually interceding (at the King's throne Heb 4:16-note) for those around us that they might receive the Gospel of Jesus Christ so that they might not die and enter a Christ-less eternity! Are you interceding for souls God has brought providentially into your life? It's a once in a lifetime opportunity!
Warren Wiersbe adds that...
Fell at his feet - This action reflects a different approach to the king by Esther. Earlier the queen was "standing" (Esther 5:2) but now she is falling. Such a prostrate attitude expresses the utmost lowliness and humility before the king. Whether she knew it or not it is eternally true that God is opposed to the proud but gives grace to the humble (Jas 4:6-note). Lxx = prospipto - prostrate oneself before someone, falling at their feet.
Imploring - On this occasion Esther is speaking even before the king's scepter is even extended (Esther 8:4).
Implored (02603) (chanan/hanan) means to be gracious toward, to favor, to have mercy on. It describes gracious acts toward someone in need (Job 19:21; Pr 19:17). The English word implore means to petition, to call upon (in supplication) and includes a suggestion of great urgency or anguished appeal. The Greek translation uses the imperfect tense which vividly pictures her act of imploring as occurring over and over.
Wept - Esther now weeps, something which she had not done in the earlier encounter with the king. Why is she weeping? Surely she knows that there is a chance the king could deny her request. Raleigh adds that "there may be legal difficulties in setting edict against edict in a country where the law is that no duly-enacted law can be reversed."
Matthew Henry comments on Esther's humble attitude...
Guzik comments that...
THE EVIL THAT MEN DO
His plot which he had devised against the Jews - Although Haman had been executed, his edict was still "executable" because Persian law could not be repealed (See Esther 1:19, 8:8) Esther was wise and careful not to implicate the king in the plot, but instead giving Haman full ownership.
Matthew Henry has some wise words concerning Haman's lingering effect noting that...
ESTHER AGAIN FAVORED
Extended the golden scepter (cp Esther 4:11, 5:2) - This statement implies that the Queen came a second time into King Xerxes' presence without being summoned. This is another evidence of her sincerity when she declared "If I perish, I perish!" (Esther 4:16) Indeed death was a real possibility for Esther even at this second royal encounter. However, the king's gesture is a clear sign of his approval and acceptance, and encouraged Esther to present her specific petition.
So Esther arose - Picture her weeping and imploring at his feet. This reminds us of Peter's exhortation alluded to above in reference to Mordecai's exaltation (1Pe 5:6-note) Indeed, Esther's willingness to humble herself, was followed by her arising in due season - the season was the countdown to the extermination of the Jewish race, but God's exaltation of Esther would soon counter the evil countdown!
Esther 8:5 Then she said, "If it pleases the king and if I have found favor before him and the matter seems proper to the king and I am pleasing in his sight, let it be written to revoke the letters devised by Haman, the son of Hammedatha the Agagite, which he wrote to destroy the Jews who are in all the king's provinces.:
Then she said - It is notable that on the first occasion of the king sparing her life, he immediately followed with a query "What is your request?" (Esther 5:2). On this occasion, she speaks immediately after arising before him. It is possible he gave her some non-audible sign but we cannot speculate where the text does not clearly say.
Pleases...found favor...seems proper...pleasing in his sight - Note Esther continues her skillful, yet cautious approach to the king who we have seen has been quick to anger in the past (Esther 1:12, Esther 7:7, 10) Remember also that the king himself had been (albeit unknowingly) party to the plot to kill the Jews, so caution by Esther was the better part of valor.
As Raleigh puts it "The fair advocate is full of self-depreciation and self-distrust, and at the same time renders ample reverence and honour to the king and to the law."
If it pleases the king - Esther knows that absolutely nothing can be done against the king's good pleasure!
If I have found favor before him - The Hebrew word is chen (02580) which is translated "grace" 38x in the KJV and 8x in NAS. The Septuagint translates chen with the Greek noun charis, the NT word which signifies unmerited favor. Charis is used 8x in Esther (Esther 2:9, 2:15, 5:2, 5:8, 6:3, 7:3, 8:5), seven times for "favor" and once for "dignity" (Esther 6:3).
The matter seems proper - "if the thing seems right" (ESV).
Matthew Henry comments of Queen Esther's "demure" approach to King Xerxes...
Let it be written to revoke the letters devised by Haman - It is interesting that she asked this. Did she not know the king's edict could not be revoked?
Revoke (07725 - shub/sub) means to turn back, to go back, to withdraw. From Esther 1:19 we know that Persian law could not be revoked.
Destroy the Jews who are in all the king's provinces - This is the first time that the king is told specifically that the people who Haman sought to destroy were the Jews. (Compare Esther 7:3, 4 where she uses the non-specific phrase "my people".)
Destroy/destruction (Key word in Esther) - Esther 3:6 3:9 3:13 4:7 4:8 7:4 8:5 8:6 8:11 9:5 9:6 9:12 9:24)
Daniel's adversaries (much like Haman the enemy of the Jews) attempted to destroy, kill and annihilate the Jew Daniel, a godly man devoted to prayer, by enticing King Darius to issue an injunction that Persian law stipulated could not be repealed...
For (term of explanation) - Esther presents the king the reason for her strongly emotional plea.
How can I endure to see the calamity - The latter half of this verse in the Septuagint is translated into English as "how shall I be able to survive the destruction of my kindred?" It is as if she is saying to the king "If my people die, something inside of me dies" and this seems to be too much for the king to bear.
This is the climax of Esther's appeal. She is appealing to to the king's heart, to his affection for her. Earlier he had said he would give her up to half the kingdom (a figure of speech), but now this final plea moves him to give up in a sense "all the kingdom", for the new edict will effect every province where people are planning on killing and plundering Jews.
We encounter a similar deep sacrificial intercession in Moses' plea for idolatrous Israel who God is threatening to destroy...
We see a similar intercessory pattern in Paul's passion for his people the Jews and yet who had not accepted their Messiah
My kindred - NAB "my race"; NIV "my family"; NLT "my people and my family"; NET "my relatives."
Esther had earlier identified herself with her people for whom she had also interceded...
Esther 8:7 So King Ahasuerus said to Queen Esther and to Mordecai the Jew, "Behold, I have given the house of Haman to Esther, and him they have hanged on the gallows because he had stretched out his hands against the Jews.:
So King Ahasuerus said to Queen Esther and to Mordecai the Jew - Observe that Mordecai apparently was in the room when Esther was falling at the king's feet, weeping and imploring.
Mordecai the Jew - Not Mordecai the prime minister, even though that was in essence his new title (Esther 10:3).
He had stretched out his hands against the Jews - If Esther is a Jew and the law cannot be repealed, theoretically what should happen to Queen Esther? Whether such thoughts entered into the king's reasoning for his following statement is unclear, but is at least possible.
Esther 8:8 "Now you write to the Jews as you see fit, in the king's name, and seal it with the king's signet ring; for a decree which is written in the name of the king and sealed with the king's signet ring may not be revoked.": (Esther 3:12 1Ki 21:8) (revoked: Esther 8:5 1:19 Da 6:8,12-15 2Ti 2:19 Heb 6:17,18 )
Write to the Jews as you see fit - Esther and Mordecai were given a royal "carte blanche!" This is interesting because the Queen had not put words in the king's mouth, but left the next course of action to his discretion. Surely this is once again a manifestation of the providential hand of God as pictured in Pr 21:1.
Edict/decree (key word in Esther) - Esther 1:19, 1:20, 2:1, 2:8, 3:9, 3:14, 3:15, 4:3, 4:8, 8:8, 8:13, 8:14, 8:17, 9:1, 9:13, 9:14
Esther 8:9 So the king's scribes were called at that time in the third month (that is, the month Sivan), on the twenty-third day; and it was written according to all that Mordecai commanded to the Jews, the satraps, the governors and the princes of the provinces which extended from India to Ethiopia, 127 provinces, to every province according to its script, and to every people according to their language as well as to the Jews according to their script and their language.:
As an aside, Esther 8:9 is the longest verse in "The Writings", which is the name for the third major division of the Hebrew Bible.
Sivan - This word was used after the Babylonian Captivity as the name of the third month of the Jewish year, which is roughly equivalent to our modern May-June (some say June-July). Recall that Haman's original decree was written on "the thirteen day of the first month" so that the 23rd day of Sivan would be 2 months and 10 days later. This left 8 months and 20 days until Haman and Mordecai's decrees would both become effective. In other words, the Jews would have almost 9 months to prepare to defend themselves. Remember that the reason they had such a long warning and preparatory time was because superstitious Haman had "rolled the dice" (pur) to determine which day he should carry out the Jewish extermination. And since God controls the roll of the pur (See Pr 16:33), the day of destruction fell 12 months after the actual evil edict was sent to all 127 provinces. Clearly the providence of God was working to save the Jews from total annihilation!
It was written according to all that Mordecai commanded the Jews - The royal "okay" had been given to Esther, but here we see it is actually Mordecai who prepared the actual counter decree (although it is not actually called a decree or edict in this verse).
Jews according to their script and their language - What does this statement indicate. especially since the first part of the verse has already specified "to the Jews"? While we cannot be dogmatic, it appears that there were Jews in the provinces who had continued to write in Hebrew script and speak the Hebrew dialect. This detail is not specified in Haman's edict. And it is interesting that the The Septuagint omits the addendum of to the Jews according to their script and their language. See the chart below for the comparison of the two edicts.
Pulpit Commentary adds that...
Esther 8:10 He wrote in the name of King Ahasuerus, and sealed it with the king's signet ring, and sent letters by couriers on horses, riding on steeds sired by the royal stud.: (In the name of King: 1Ki 21:8 Eccl 8:4 Da 4:1)
Sealed it with the king's signet ring - This very same action was taken to authenticate Haman's edict (Esther 3:12)
Sent by couriers on horses, riding on steeds sired by the royal stud - This detail about steeds sired by the royal stud is not mentioned in the context of the distribution of Haman's edict (Esther 3:13).
Esther 8:11 In them the king granted the Jews who were in each and every city the right to assemble and to defend their lives, to destroy, to kill and to annihilate the entire army of any people or province which might attack them, including children and women, and to plunder their spoil,: (to assemble: Esther 9:2-16) (to destroy: Ps 37:14,15 68:3 137:8 146:6-9 Eze 39:10) (spoil: Esther 3:13 9:10,15,16 Isa 10:6)
In them - The letters of the preceding verse.
The right to assemble and to defend their lives ("to gather for self-defense") - This is the key to the counter edict - to give the Jews time (almost 9 months) to prepare to defend themselves from those who were waiting to carry out Haman's edict of extermination!
Defend their lives - Literally “to stand upon their nepesh (soul)“ thus the KJV has "stand for their life." The New Jewish Version renders it "to fight for their lives."
It is worth noting that Mordecai’s decree was in complete harmony with God’s covenant with Abraham
To destroy, to kill and to annihilate - This is the exact phrase used in Haman's decree which also included the right to kill women, children and to plunder spoil (Esther 3:13).
Children and women - The NIV gives a different sense to the passage...
On one day - 13th of Adar, the very same day of Haman's edict (Esther 3:13-14), the day before Passover!
Esther 8:13 A copy of the edict to be issued as law in each and every province was published to all the peoples, so that the Jews would be ready for this day to avenge themselves on their enemies.: (avenge themselves: Jud 16:28 Ps 37:14,15 Ps 68:23 Ps 92:10,11 Ps 149:6-9 Lk 18:7 Rev 6:10)
So that the Jews would be ready for this day to avenge themselves on their enemies -
Hastened and impelled by the king's command - As noted in the chart these specific facts are not mentioned in the courier distribution of Haman's edict (Es 3:13). It as if the king understands the urgency of the matter, and although there was almost 8 months until both edicts would dramatically clash, the more time the Jews had to prepare to defend themselves, the better would be their chances.
Wiersbe contrasts this sense of urgency among the ancients with the often complacent attitude of the church with it's life saving message of the Gospel...
Hastened (0926) (bahal) means to tremble inwardly or palpitate, make alarmed or agitated. Bahal usually expresses an emotion of one who is confronted with something unexpected, threatening or disastrous.
Impelled (01765) (dahap) means to hurry, to hasten, to do something quickly. There are only 4 uses in the OT (2Chr 26:20, Esther 3:15, 6:12, 8:14). The same phrase -- impelled by the king's decree -- was used to describe the distribution of Haman's decree (Esther 3:15).
The Septuagint uses only one verb in place of the two Hebrew verbs. The Greek verb is speudo (present tense) which means to hasten, to hurry, to do something as quickly as possible.
Esther 8:15 Then Mordecai went out from the presence of the king in royal robes of blue and white, with a large crown of gold and a garment of fine linen and purple; and the city of Susa shouted and rejoiced.: (royal robes: Esther 5:1 6:8,11 Ge 41:42 Mt 6:29 11:8 Lk 16:19)
Then Mordecai went out from the presence of the king in royal robes of blue and white - Mordecai's royal apparel befitted his new position as second in command even exceeding his first reward for saving the king. Blue and white were the royal colors of the Persian Empire.
City of Susa shouted and rejoiced - This is the same city that was thrown into confusion by Haman's decree (Esther 3:15)! Haman was proud. Mordecai was humble. It would seem that few lamented Haman's fall. Indeed Proverbs records that...
Rejoiced (08055) (samach; Lxx = chairo = rejoice, be glad or delighted)
For the Jews there was light - Notice that came before the day appointed for the Jews to be attacked and yet able to defend themselves. However, because of the decree of the king, they are confident of victory and thus able rejoice ahead of time. The fear of impending doom is gone, and the Jews find themselves in “lightness.” The dark cloud which had so long hung over them was dispelled; and again the sunshine of prosperity beamed upon them.
Esther 8:17 In each and every province and in each and every city, wherever the king's commandment and his decree arrived, there was gladness and joy for the Jews, a feast and a holiday. And many among the peoples of the land became Jews, for the dread of the Jews had fallen on them.: (a feast: Esther 9:17,19,22 1Sa 25:8 Ne 8:10) (many among the people: Ps 18:43 Zec 8:20-23) (dread: Esther 9:2 Ge 35:5 Ex 15:16 Dt 2:25 11:2)
There was gladness and joy for the Jews - What a contrast this news brought with Haman's edict where "the city of Susa was in confusion." (Esther 3:15) There is another contrast between the beginning of this chapter with Esther in tears (Es 8:3) and the ending in gladness and joy. Notice also that this gladness and joy was probably several months before the day the Jews would be defend and avenge themselves from their enemies. Prior to the second edict, the Jews were doomed and they mourned, but now their mourning had been turned into rejoicing.
Feast - This is the 8th feast mentioned so far in Esther.
And many among the peoples of the land became Jews - The non-Jews became proselytes, embracing the religion of the Jews. Why did they become Jewish proselytes? The text plainly gives us the reason (for is a term of explanation) explaining that "the dread of the Jews had fallen on them." The key term is "dread" (see Ge 35:5 Ex 15:16 Dt 2:25 Dt11:25) which is discussed in more detail in Esther 9:2 which gives an almost identical explanation for why the enemies of the Jews could not stand before them. The short answer is that God was with the Jews. Yes, they had the royal edict to defend themselves and yes they exuded gladness and joy, but ultimately the King of kings was their commander and their strong Warrior! In the final analysis the Battle was the Lord's, for the enemies of the Jews had invoked the curse of Genesis 12:3, a curse that God had sworn He would fulfill.
Proselyte is from the Greek word prosēlytos/proselutos (from proserchomai = to come near in turn derived from pros = near + erchomai = to come [-ēlytos akin to ēlythe = he went]). Proselyte is strictly speaking one who comes from his own people to another. The Greek Septuagint used this word proselutos to describe a stranger or foreigner who came to dwell among the Jews and embraced their religion (Ex 12:48, 49; Ex 20:10; Lev 17:8, 10, 12, 15; Nu 9:14) In short, a proselyte was one who converted from heathenism to Judaism (cp Mt 23:15; Acts 2:10; Acts 6:5; Acts 13:43, cp Jn 12:20)
Several passages help us understand what becoming a proselyte entailed...
For (term of explanation) the dread ("fear" - ESV) of the Jews had fallen on them - I do not like the NET translation which says " Many of the resident peoples pretended to be Jews." In fairness to the NET, they do admit that the Greek Septuagint version favors these as legitimate conversions to Judaism. Thus the NET Note adds that...
John A Martin comments on that the rise to power of the Jews...
Esther 9:1 Now in the twelfth month (that is, the month Adar), o n 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.:
THE TWO EDICTS
SUMMARY OF THE MAJOR PROVIDENCES
Here is a review of some (not all) of the "coincidences" that reveal the providential workings of the "hidden" God, Who although behind the scene (the "seen"), is nevertheless, in control of the scenes He is behind!
Now in the twelfth month (that is, the month Adar), on the thirteenth day - The thirteenth day of the twelfth month, Adar, arrived for the carrying out of both edicts (cf. Esther 3:7, 13; 8:12). The nine months that elapsed since the second decree was signed are passed over in silence (cf. Esther 8:9).
Adar (means glorious, high, large) - The name Adar was first used after the Babylonian Captivity and was in fact the Babylonian name for the twelfth month of the year. Adar was the sixth month of the civil and the twelfth of the ecclesiastical year of the Jews (Esther 3:7, 13; 8:12; 9:1, 15, 17, 19, 21, only other use Ezra 6:15). Adar includes the days extending from the new moon of our March to the new moon of April.
Another indication of the sovereign providence of God.
The Jews carry out the edict of Mordecai eight months and 20 days later.
It was turned to the contrary (literally "it was turned over") - The 13th day of Adar had originally been set aside for evil but God turned it out for good! (cp Ge 50:20) Now because of Queen Esther's intercession and Mordecai's intervention and "counter" edict, the outcome "was turned to the contrary." As we would say today, "the tables were turned"! The "shoe is now on the other foot!" Yes a woman and man are recorded as the instruments, but the Master artist in this great drama is our Great God of Providence!
Gained mastery (literally gained power) - The Jews now had "the upper hand" over those who hated them. Esther 9 assumes a universal hatred of the Jews (i.e., all the provinces were implicated! = Esther 9:2, 16) a truth we had not seen expressed previously in this book. Indeed, worldwide Anti-Semitism is increasing in these last of the last days and will climax when the Anti-Christ makes a seven year covenant of "peace" with Israel and then proceeds to break it at the midpoint (3.5 years), which marks the beginning of Jacob's distress (Jer 30:7), a time of distress (Da 12:1), the time Jesus referred to as the Great Tribulation. (Mt 24:15, 21, See Da 9:27)
Those who hated them - Who are those who hated them? This refers to peoples in all 127 provinces. In other words, in Esther 3:6 only Haman expressed hatred of the Jews, but now in Esther 9 it is clear that there is widespread (127 provinces) Anti-Semitism (Read Esther 9:2, 5, 16) How apropos is this truth to our present day when we find that worldwide Anti-Semitism is on the rise. There is little doubt that Israel is the most hated nation in the history of the world. Theologically this is reasonable because Satan is "the god of this world" (2Corinthians 4:4) and “the whole world lies in the power of the evil one” (1Jn 5:19). Satan's hatred of Israel is implacable not only because she preserved God's Scriptures, the Word of Truth and Life, but also because it was Israel that gave us Jesus the Messiah, a Jew Who "is indeed the Savior of the world" (John 4:42) and Who also defeated the devil (Heb 2:14, 15).
What is in the Jew's and modern Israel's future? According to an article in the Jerusalem Post of June 17, 2011, Israel is at a "do-or-die moment." (See A do-or-die moment - Jerusalem Post) "As was the case in May, 1967, when the combined Arab armies gathered with the express purpose of wiping the Jewish state off the map – today again, Israel is alone in its hour of greatest peril."
John Weldon writes that...
Esther 9:2 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.: (Assembled: Esther 9:10,16 Esther 8:11 ) (sought: Dt 2:30 Jos 11:20 Ps 71:13,24 Isa 8:9) (dread: Esther 8:17 Ge 35:5 Ex 23:27 Jos 2:9)
Those who sought their harm - There was a strong Anti-Semitic sentiment in all 127 provinces, so strong that it motivated the haters to seek the death of the Jews.
For the dread (fear) of them had fallen on all the peoples - For is a term of explanation and in this context explains why no one could stand before them. Earlier we read that many among the peoples of the land became Jews, for the dread of the Jews had fallen on them. (Esther 8:17)
The teaching that those who try to destroy the Jews will be destroyed appears repeatedly in the Scriptures.
As an aside, believers though persecuted and killed and despised and hated today, will like the hated Jews of Persian, one day no longer be the victims but the victors, for the unrepealable royal edict has been issued stating that we are
More than conquerors
We see a similar providential protection by God of His people in Genesis after Simeon and Levi had killed the males in Shechem (avenging Shechem's rape of Dinah - Ge 34:2) which incited the Canaanites against Jacob (cp Ge 34:30)...
In another parallel passage God tells Moses...
Finally we should note that Rahab the harlot (in the line of Messiah = Mt 1:5) understood the fear of God when she declared to the two Hebrew spies that had entered Jericho...
Esther 9:3 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.: (princes: Esther 3:12 8:9 Ezr 8:36 Da 3:2 6:1,2) (Dread: Esther 3:2-6 8:5)
Neighbours records another interesting historical deliverance...
Esther 9:4 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.: (great: Ps 18:43) (his fame: Jos 6:27 1Sa 2:30 1Ch 14:17 Zep 3:19 Mt 4:24) (became greater: 2Sa 3:1 1Ch 11:9 Ps 1:3 Pr 4:18 Isa 9:7)
Esther 9:5 Thus the Jews struck all their enemies with the sword, killing and destroying; and they did what they pleased to those who hated them.: (Ps 18:34-40,47,48 20:7,8 149:6-9 2Th 1:6) (sword: Jer 18:21)
This verse gives a summary overview of all the fighting that took place in Persian on this monumental day.
While the Jews carried out the task of defending themselves and killing their enemies, we must remember that behind the scenes is the God Who alone is the Avenger. Through a series of coincidences He had orchestrated this final lethal blow at Haman's evil plan of extermination. And yet we must always remember Paul's words of warning and not seek revenge for wrongs committed against us...
God is the Avenger and unless extraordinary circumstances occur in our lives as did in the Book of Esther, we are to leave it to God to extract the appropriate retribution at the perfect time. We can rest assured He will. In the meantime we must pray (present imperative) for those who persecute us (Mt 5:44-note). As an aside don't try to obey this command from Jesus in your own strength. You cannot do it! Only as you submit to the Spirit, will you be given the desire and the power to pray for those who persecute you!
Breneman writes that...
Barry Davis adds that...
Kill (02026)(charag/harag) is first used in Ge 4:8 (Cain killing Abel) implies violent killing and means to murder (Ex 21:14, Jezebel's killing of the prophets = 1Ki 18:13), as well as to carry out judicial execution or to kill animals (butchering cattle - Isa 22:13). Esther 9 is a "bloody chapter" for the word Kill is a "key word" being used six times (Es 9:6 Es 9:10 Es 9:11 Es 9:12 Es 9:15 Es 9:16, also in Es 3:13 Es 7:4 Es 8:11) In Amos 4:10 has God as the subject carrying out the act of slaying.
And - Now the writer lists 10 specific names, the names of the sons of Haman. Remember Mordecai's edict allowed the Jews to assemble and defend. It follows that the 10 sons of Haman must have attacked the Jews and for this reason were killed.
Wiersbe notes that
Why are they specifically named? One cannot be sure except that their names will live in infamy, much like 10 of Hitler's top associates who were put to death by hanging after their trial at Nuremberg in 1946. One of Hitler's henchmen, Julius Streicher, expressed an awareness of the parallel with the events of Esther, for as he was on the way to the gallows, he shouted "Purim Fest 1946!" Here is the account in Wikipedia...
Judaism 101 also records that...
Esther 9:10 the ten sons of Haman the son of Hammedatha, the Jews' enemy; but they did not lay their hands on the plunder.: (ten sons: Esther 5:11 Ex 20:5 Job 18:18,19 27:13-15 Ps 21:10 109:12,13) (enemy: Esther 3:1 7:4,6 Ex 17:16) (plunder: Esther 9:15,16 Esther 8:11 Ge 14:23 Ro 12:17 Php 4:8)
Esther 9:12 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.":
The outcome for Haman’s wife Zeresh and his wise men is unknown (Esther 5:14; 6:12, 13).
Now what is your petition? - The king seems to be relatively unperturbed by the casualty report!
Esther 9:13 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.":
If it pleases the king (Esther always defers to the king), let tomorrow also be granted - Esther has a two fold request: (1) an extra day (14th of Adar) for the Jews in Susa to assemble and defend themselves. The reason is not stated but the clear implication is that there are enemies in Susa who desire to kill the Jews and somehow Esther is aware of this. (2) Haman's 10 sons hanged. Recall that ancient hanging was more like being impaled on a post that swinging from a rope.
Guzik comments that...
Let Haman's ten sons be hanged on the gallows - Why? The sons had already been killed. Hanging in addition at first glance seems excessive, even vindictive on Esther's part, but was it? Herodotus tells us that this was a common practice in the Persian period, especially for those who were convicted of insurrection (Herodotus 3:125). Hanging a criminal's corpse from a tree or post attached a further humiliation to capital punishment. Clearly the display of the hanging corpses of Haman's sons would serve as a powerful deterrent to any who might contemplate further attacks against the Jews.
Swindoll comments on the display of the dead bodies of Haman's sons...
Moses alluded to hanging in Deuteronomy...
Haman's ten sons were hanged - They had already been killed that same day, but now would be impaled for all to see (and be warned) for the remainder of the day, presumably being taken off the posts before sunset (in accordance with Dt 21:22-23).
Guzik writes that...
Spurgeon adds that...
The fourteenth day of the month Adar - The original "target" date was the 13th day, but Esther had requested and received an extension of one day (Es 9:13).
But they did not lay their hands on the plunder - As in Esther 9:10, 16 the failure to take spoils from their victims shows that the Jews were not out to pillage and enrich themselves, but only to defend their lives. This also suggests that the Jews did not kill women and children but instead left the property for them.
Esther 9:16 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.:
KILLING FIELDS IN
Rid themselves - Literally this reads "to have rest from" (their enemies)
Rid (05118) (nuach) refers to a resting place, a freeing of oneself from something. This noun is also used in Es 9:17 (rested), Es 9:18 (rested) and Es 9:22 (rid). Every use in the Septuagint is translated with anapauo which means to cause one to gain relief from toil and thus to refresh or revive them. This is the word Jesus used of spiritual rest in Mt 11:28.
75,000 of those who hated them - Given 127 provinces, the number killed averages out to about 600 per province. Remember that the Jews were not the aggressors. Those killed attacked the Jews. They did not have just a minor case of Anti-Semitism but a hatred which drove them to seek to murder the Jews. And so we see that Anti-Semitism was not restricted to the capital city but was throughout the kingdom, much like Anti-Semitism today is worldwide.
They...made it a day of feasting and rejoicing - This jubilant atmosphere continues to this very day when Jews annually celebrate the Feast of Purim.
Banquet/feast (key word in Esther) - Esther 1:3, 1:5, 1:9, 2:18, 5:4, 5:5, 5:6, 5:8, 5:12, 5:14, 6:14, 7:2, 8:17, 9:17, 9:18, 9:19,9:22
Assembled on the thirteenth and the fourteenth of the same month - Because of the extra day to defend themselves as requested by Queen Esther and granted by King Xerxes.
Esther 9:19 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.:
Make the fourteenth day of the month Adar a holiday - The Jews outside of Susa celebrated on the day the Jews in Susa were still assembling.
Holiday - Literally "a good day" (yom tov). Our English word holiday is (from halig = holy and d + g = day) is literally a "holy day!" It is a day marked by a general suspension of work in commemoration of the event being celebrated.
These events - What events? Surely the historical events that led up to the day which saw the Jews victorious over their enemies.
Mordecai's letter called for the Jews to set aside two days of celebration, but the modern feast of Purim is generally only celebrated on one day.
Esther 9:22 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.: (those days: Es 3:12,13 Ex 13:3-8 Ps 103:2 Isa 12:1,2 Isa 14:3) (sorrow: Ps 30:11 Mt 5:4 Jn 16:20-22) (sending portions: Es 9:19 Ne 8:10-12 Lk 11:41 Acts 2:44-46 Gal 2:10)
Because - A term of explanation, in this case explaining why two days were set aside.
Sorrow to gladness....mourning into a holiday (literally "good day") - reminds one of the words of David...
Thou hast turned for me my mourning into dancing;
Gladness (08057) (simchah) refers to joy, rejoicing, gladness, pleasure, especially the experience and the manifestations associated with joy and gladness. Thus it signifies a celebration of something with activities filled with joy and cheer. In some uses simchah functions as a synonym for the feasting (translated as "festival" in Neh 8:12). Simchah is used 6x in Esther (Es 8:16, 17, Es 9:17, 18, 19).
Gifts to the poor - This is a practice continued by Jews in the modern version of the Feast of Purim.
PURIM NAMED &
The author now presents a recapitulation of the events that led to the establishment of the annual celebration of Purim.
Wiersbe notes that...
Esther 9:24 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.:
For - term of explanation = This verse introduces the explanation of why the celebration came to be named Purim, an explanation that continues through Es 9:26.
Esther 9:25 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.:
But - A term of conclusion, which in this case marks one of the greatest "reversals" in the history of the Jewish people, one that impacted the destiny of the all mankind!
PURIM HONORS GOD WHO
Therefore - (term of conclusion) The conclusion of Haman's evil edict and Mordecai's clever counter leading to Jewish victory and preservation of their race was the establishment of a feast to commemorate this great reversal of fortunes with the feast being named Purim, because of the central role played by the providential casting of the pur (see below).
MacArthur says Purim is "The first and last biblically revealed, non-Mosaic festival with perpetual significance."
Modern Jews celebrate Purim by reading the Book of Esther in the synagogue and whenever Haman's name is mentioned, they boo, hiss, stomp their feet and rattle their gragers (Click to hear a grager)
Here's a great song that portrays the story of Esther and subsequent celebration associated with the festive day of Purim - The Maccabeats - Purim Song
Purim - This is the plural of pur, because there are two days (purim), not one (pur). Why might they have named this feast Purim? Ultimately Who was behind the casting of the pur? Although man casts the lot, but God directs the "decision" (Pr 16:33-Spurgeon's devotional + notes; Sermon by Charles Simeon), so the providential hand of God is behind the scene of the "seen." Had He not directed the decision to have the specific date of the Jewish annihilation be 12 months after Haman's initial "death warrant" was sent, the Jews would not have had sufficient time to prepare to defend themselves from their enemies who hated them! So in the final analysis the name Purim gives praise and glory the One Who directed the "decision" of the pur!
PLAY THIS SONG THAT REMINDS US THAT...
The celebration of Purim usually falls in the month of March. Here are the dates for the next 4 Purim - sunset February 23, 2013 - nightfall February 24, 2013, sunset March 15, 2014 - nightfall March 16, 2014, sunset March 4, 2015 - nightfall March 5, 2015; sunset March 23, 2016 - nightfall March 24, 2016. Notice that in accord with Mordecai's letter, the festival of Purim takes place on two successive days!
May your study of the Book of Esther serve as a bridge to dialogue with your Jewish co-workers and friends regarding the significance of this miraculous event and how it made possible the greatest event in the history of the world, the Coming of the Messiah from the lineage of the Jews.
Judaism 101 site has the following note on Purim...
Wiersbe has this note on the celebration of Purim...
Esther 9:27 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.:
Those who allied themselves with them - This describes proselytes who took up the Jewish religion. They also were instructed to celebrate the two days of Purim.
Allied (03867) (lavah) means to join or accompany and conveys the idea of one attaching himself to some one or some thing.
Esther 9:28 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.: (Remembered: Ex 12:17 Ps 78:5-7 Ps 103:2) (Memory fade: Ex 13:8,9 Jos 4:7 Zec 6:14)
These days of Purim were not to fail from among the Jews - That is they were not to fail to observe the two days of Purim.
Memory (02143) (zeker) is a noun which means remembrance. Zeker - 23x in OT - Ex 3:15; 17:14; Deut 25:19; 32:26; Es 9:28; Job 18:17; Ps 6:5; 9:6; 30:4; 34:16; 97:12; 102:12; 109:15; 111:4; 112:6; 135:13; 145:7; Pr 10:7; Eccl 9:5; Isa 26:8, 14; Hos 12:5; 14:7 and is translated memorial-name(1), memory(12), mention(1), name(4), remembered(2), remembrance(2), renown(1).
What effect would (should) this memorial day have on the Jews? To remind them that God is in Control. Do you believe that is true in your life? Have you set up any "memorial stones" to remind you and your children of His past deliverances? Listen to Twila Paris' song "God Is In Control" (it has some good words), thank Him for His manifold deliverances in your life and worship His hand of providence in your life.
After the children of Israel passed through the Jordan River on dry ground under the leadership of Joshua, they were instructed to establish a memorial of this great event...
Second letter about Purim - While we cannot state with absolute certainty why there were two letters regarding Purim, there is no doubt that one effect on the Persian Jewish recipients would have been to add an extra measure of assurance that they would indeed now be able to experience peace and truth (security)! And now not only did the letter have the backing of the Prime Minister (Mordecai) but it was also affirmed by the Queen herself. Surely the effect on the Jews who had been appropriately anxious and fearful for their lives for many months could now put their anxious thoughts and fears to rest.
The NET renders it "Letters were sent to all the Jews in the hundred and twenty-seven provinces of the empire of Ahasuerus– words of true peace" with an explanatory note that...
Peace and truth (NIV = "goodwill and assurance") - This phrase is found 3 other times in Scripture - 2Ki 20:19 (repeated in Isa 39:8) is in the form of a question (actually a declaration in most of the other major translations - ESV, NET, NIV - which translate the Hebrew word as "security" rather than as "truth") from Hezekiah to the prophet Isaiah. In Jeremiah the words are in the form of a promise of Jehovah to faithless, exiled Judah and Israel...
Peace (07965)(shalom from salam/salem/shalam = to be safe, sound, healthy, perfect, complete [1Ki 7:51, Neh 6:18) signifies a sense of well-being and harmony both within and without (A message Esther and Mordecai would surely want to convey in their second letter!) It also signifies completeness, wholeness and peace.
Think about what this great Hebrew word meant to the Jewish recipients who had only months before been faced with the threat of total annihilation. Now they receive a communication that spoke of shalom to their hearts, for they understood the many great nuances of shalom including health, welfare, safety, soundness, tranquility, rest, harmony, absence of agitation or discord, state of calm without anxiety or stress. These attitudes and emotions were possible now that Haman's edict had been effectively countered!
Truth (0547) ('emeth) is derived from the word aman (related to amen) which describes firmness, certainty, and stability, thus the noun 'emeth describes firmness, faithfulness, truth with the nuances of stability, sureness, reliability, continuance. 'Emeth is frequently coupled with hesed (lovingkindness - Pr 3:3, Hos 4:1). The epitome and essence of truth is of course God Who is fittingly referred to as "the God of truth" (Ps 31:5).
In the context of Haman's recent threat of annihilation and disturbance of peace and tranquility, taking 'emeth as speaking of "security" might be a more contextually appropriate rendering than "truth."
W A Criswell comments that...
Esther 9:31 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.:
See Spurgeon's Sermon - Esther 10:3 He worked for the good of his people
Tribute (04522) (mas) referred to forced labor or unpaid labor from a vassal to a lord or as in the present context forced payment of submissive peoples to a superior ruler. Webster defines our English word tribute as "a payment by one ruler or nation to another in acknowledgment of submission or as the price of protection."
HCSB Study Bible writes that...
Esther 10:2 And all the accomplishments of his authority and strength, and the full account of the greatness of Mordecai to which the king advanced him, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Media and Persia?:
And all the accomplishments of his authority and strength - This refers to King Ashasuerus "epitaph."
Are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Media and Persia? - A rhetorical question. Yes they are written in the Book.
Henry Morris has an interesting thought on "the Book" noting that...
Esther 10:3 For Mordecai the Jew was second only to King Ahasuerus, and great among the Jews and in favor with his many kinsmen, one who sought the good of his people and one who spoke for the welfare of his whole nation.:
Mordecai the Jew was second only to King Ahasuerus - Mordecai joins other renowned Jewish statesmen like Joseph, who ranked second in the Egyptian dynasty (Ge 41:37–45), and Daniel, who succeeded in both the Babylonian (Da 2:46–49; 5:29) and Medo-Persian Empires (Da 6:28).
Spurgeon exhorts us...
HCSB Study Bible writes that...
Ryrie has a historical note...
Here is David Guzik's summary of God's providential hand in Esther and what He arranged to transpire...
Spurgeon sums up the book of Esther...