Devotional # 86. 5/12/14. Esther 9:1 – 10:3.
Intro: As we finish the book of Esther in this Devotional it is important to remember what has happened previously in the book. The king had been duped by Haman into making a law to kill all of the Jews in Persia. Esther stood up for her people, Haman was executed and Mordecai was allowed to make a law where the Jews were allowed to defend themselves. Chapters 9-10 tell us the details of the fight.
9:1-5. The author (probably Mordecai) tells us the specific date of this fight, “the thirteenth day” of “Adar” would have been during our current February – March (Source 1). The people with common sense not only didn’t attack the Jews but “helped” them. However, there were still those “enemies” who “hated” the Jews and wanted to kill them. God protected the Jews so much that the Jews “did what they pleased with those who hated them.”
I find it interesting that the position you take on history has a lot to do with your national perspective. As they say, “history is written by those who win the wars.” Herodotus, a Greek historian notes that “Ahasuerus (Xerxes) returned home after his defeat in the Greek campaign, about 480 B.C., and that his wife, Amestris, was a cold and vindictive queen. That would be Esther, of course; and to an outsider it is understandable that she would appear vindictive and cold” (Source 2).
9:6-14. It says that “Five hundred” of the Jews enemies were killed but notice this is only in Shushan, the next day there will be another 300 men killed in Shushan (Es. 9:15) and outside of Shushan: 75,000 total (Es. 9:16). So all of Haman’s sons are killed by the Jews. I think it should be mentioned that some say God says not to kill, and although it may seem like semantics it is important to know the words used. Here in Esther the word is harag (H2026) and means, to “kill” but as Gesenius’ Lexicon says it is used of those slain in battle or “enemies in war” (Source 3). In Exodus 20:13 it says “You shall not murder” (in KJV, “thou shalt not kill”), “murder” in Hebrew is ratsach (H7523) and means “premeditated” or “slayer (intentional)” (Source 4).
You probably noticed that Esther requested that the ten dead sons be hanged on the gallows. This was to publicly display their bodies. It just occurred to me that Esther could have been trying to discourage other enemies from attacking the Jews the next day (for both groups safety). It is interesting that the king offers Esther a “further request.” The king was serving God’s original command from Ex. 17:14 to wipe out the Amalekites “by allowing a second day of killing in Shushan to eliminate all Jewish enemies (Source 1).
9:15-19. Why does the author split up the storytelling for the same days from the first part of the chapter and then again here? Because he ismaking the point that God had “promised to curse those who curse Abraham’s descendants (Gen. 12:3)” (Source 1). We find that a feast is made to celebrate this victory for the Jews. Here we are given the explanation why the feast takes place over two days: some fought on the 13th day of Adar and others had to fight the 13th and 14th so they didn’t have victory until the end of the 14th. God had granted victory to some on one day and others the next day so they combined them together!
9:20-23. Mordecai makes the holiday official. Some religions that claim to be Christian say that it is wrong to celebrate a holiday chiefly because Jesus didn’t tell anyone to do so. First, read Romans 14:5-6, but also what if Jesus celebrated holidays Himself? The following is a great paragraph on whether Jesus celebrated Purim: “Most people are unaware of this, but Jesus celebrated the feast of Purim! In John 5, the Lord Jesus is up in Jerusalem for an unnamed feast. Scholars have debated whether the feast was Passover, Purim, Succoth or even Pentecost (Bowman 1971). Some have objected to Purim because it is a “minor” feast and not one of the three “major” pilgrimage festivals (Deut. 16:16). That argument is irrelevant because Jesus also celebrated another “minor” holiday, Hanukkah (John 10:22; Franz 1998:25,26). Chronologically, the only feast that makes sense is Purim in AD 28. The feast of John 5 fell on a Sabbath (5:9). The only feast day to fall on a Sabbath between AD 25 and AD 35 was Purim of AD 28 (Faulstich 1986). The Spirit of God intentionally left out the name of the feast because the Lord’s name was deliberately left out of the Book of Esther. In John 5, Jesus healed a man who had an infirmity for 38 years near the Pools of Bethesda (John 5:1-9). It is also the first time in His public ministry that He declared that “God was His Father, making Himself equal with God” (5:18). He also said that He was the “Son of God” (5:25) and the “Son of Man” (5:27)” (Gordon Franz, Source 5).
Verse 22 is a beautifully poetic (and very accurate) way of describing God’s work in this situation: mourning was turned into a holiday! This is what God does for all of us. Many times we are severely saddened but God turns that mourning into dancing (Psalm 30:11) for those who trust and obey Him. I love that they gave “gifts to the poor”! There is no better way to recognize the blessings God has given you then to share with the less fortunate.
9:24-25. This section is re-capping the story that the book of Esther tells. It is important to condense and remind the reader of some of the specifics to make the following more impactful.
9:26-32. Mordecai and Esther institute a feast to remember the salvation of the Jews by God. Verse 26 gives us three reasons for celebrating Purim: 1. The Scripture (“words of this letter”), 2. Visual evidence (“seen”), 3. Actual physical threat and salvation (“had happened to them”). It is interesting that it was “imposed” on “themselves and their descendants”, this ensured that all Jews in Persia would remember the story and continue praising God for His salvation. It seems like it would also ensure that Jews (and Gentiles) all over the world would eventually hear the story and praise God.
10:1-3. Mordecai is called “second” to the king, joining the ranks of Joseph (Gen. 41:37-45) and Daniel (Dan. 2:46, 5:29) as being number two in kingdoms (Source 1). It is amazing how God raises up who He will and decreases whom He will. I like that Mordecai is found “speaking peace” for 10 years, which is something that Jesus will do for eternity! (Source 1).
Conclusion: What an amazing testament Esther is! We see the irony that God uses when He teaches His people that He is their Savior, that He alone will provide for them. Esther 9:30 says, that Mordecai sent letters with “Peace and truth.” It cannot be overstated that the Jews had dismally looked towards this time as destruction but after a blip of two days of fighting they were saved. They truly looked on truth winning out which always brings the peace that passes understanding.
Source 1: John MacArthur, The MacArthur Study Bible, p. 691-692.
Source 2: J. Vernon McGee, Ezra, Nehemiah & Esther, p. 245.
Source 5: http://www.ldolphin.org/jpurim.html