ESTHER CHAPTER 9.
The Revenge of the Jews.
THE ENEMIES SLAIN. — V. I. Now, in the twelfth month, that is, the month Adar, the last month of the Jewish church-year, on the thirteenth day of the same, when the king’s commandment and his decree drew near to be put in execution, namely, that which had been engineered by the crafty Haman, in the day that the enemies of the Jews hoped to have power over them, (though it was turned to the contrary, that the Jews had rule over them that hated them, the provisions of the first decree being neutralized by those of the second edict as sent out by Mordecai,) v. 2. the Jews gathered themselves together in their cities throughout all the provinces of the King Ahasuerus, as they had received permission to do, chap. 8, 11, to lay hand on such as sought their hurt, who would take advantage of the original order, which could not be reversed outright. And no man could withstand them; for the fear of them, by virtue of the providence of God, which was so clearly evident in the trend of events, fell upon all people. V. 3. And all the rulers of the provinces, the national princes, and the lieutenants, the satraps of the larger divisions of the empire, and the deputies, the governors appointed by the king, and officers of the king, all persons of rank who were directly in the king’s employ, helped the Jews, furthering their cause in every conceivable manner, because the fear of Mordecai, whose power as grand vizier of the empire was practically limitless, fell upon them. V. 4. For Mordecai was great in the king’s house, and his fame went out throughout all the provinces, making it a dangerous matter for any one to come into conflict with his orders; for this man Mordecai waxed greater and greater. V. 5. Thus the Jews smote all their enemies with the stroke of the sword, inflicting a great defeat upon them, and slaughter, and destruction, and did what they would unto those that hated them, their enemies being helpless before them. V. 6. And in Shushan, the palace, the section of the capital where the royal palace was situated, the Jews slew and destroyed five hundred men. V. 7. And Parshandatha, and Dalphon, and Aspatha, V. 8. and Poratha, and Adalia, and Aridatha, V. 9. and Parmashta, and Arisai, and Aridai, and Vajezatha, v. 10. the ten sons of Haman, the son of Hammedatha, the enemy of the Jews, slew they; but on the spoil laid they not their hand, they did not take advantage of this right which had been given them in the second decree, chap. 8, 11, their only object being to defend themselves. V. 11. On that day the number of those that were slain in Shushan, the palace, was brought before the king. V. 12. And the king said unto Esther, the queen, by way of showing her that he had granted her a great favor in permitting his decree to go forth, The Jews have slain and destroyed five hundred men in Shushan, the palace, and the ten sons of Haman; what have they done in the rest of the king’s provinces? He implied that the number of slain throughout his empire must be very great. Now, what is thy petition? and it shall be granted thee; or what is thy request further? and it shall be done. He was ready to make still greater concessions, to grant still larger favors. V. 13. Then said Esther, If it please the king, let it be granted to the Jews which are in Shushan to do to-morrow also according unto this day’s decree, as a measure to prevent the outbreak of any further aggressions, to subdue the enemies for all time, and let Haman’s ten Sons be hanged upon the gallows, their dead bodies being impaled or crucified with the intention of branding them with public disgrace as the enemies of the Jews. V. 14. And the king commanded it so to be done. And the decree was given at Shushan; and they hanged Haman’s ten sons. V. 15. For the Jews that were in Shushan gathered themselves together on the fourteenth day also of the month Adar and slew three hundred men at Shushan, this fact showing that the party of Haman had still been pretty strong, since fully eight hundred men were destroyed by the Jews; but on the prey laid they not their hand, they did not appropriate any of their property. V. 16. But the other Jews that were in the king’s provinces gathered themselves together, outside of those living at Shushan, and stood for their lives and had rest from their enemies, they succeeded in securing peace for themselves, and slew of their foes seventy and five thousand, but they laid not their hands on the prey, v. 17. on the thirteenth day of the month Adar, this being the one day which the Jews of the provinces took for their revenge; and on the fourteenth day of the same, which was the second day of revenge for the Jews of Shushan, rested they and made it a day of feasting and gladness, rejoicing over their deliverance from the hands of their enemies. V. 18. But the Jews that were at Shushan assembled together on the thirteenth day thereof and on the fourteenth thereof; and on the fifteenth day of the same they rested and made it a day of feasting and gladness. V. 19. Therefore the Jews of the villages, that dwelled in the unwalled towns, outside the capital, made the fourteenth day of the month Adar a day of gladness and feasting, and a good day, a special holiday, and of sending portions one to another, making presents as an expression of joy and thankfulness. God, who is the great Judge and Revenger, has often given His people the victory over their enemies. And on the Last Day all the enemies will be overthrown, and the Church of God will have rest and peace throughout eternity.
THE PURIM FESTIVAL INSTITUTED. — V. 20. And Mordecai wrote these things, a full account of all these happenings, and sent letters unto all the Jews that were in all the provinces of the King Ahasuerus, both nigh and far, wherever there were colonies and congregations of his countrymen, V. 21. to stablish this among them, that they should keep the fourteenth day of the month Adar and the fifteenth day of the same, yearly, making the celebration of the festival an event occupying two days, V. 22. as the days wherein the Jews rested from their enemies, when their deliverance from their oppressors brought them lasting peace, and the month which was turned unto them from sorrow to Joy and from mourning into a good day, that they should make them days of feasting and Joy, and of sending portions one to another and gifts to the poor, as manifestations of their great thankfulness. V. 23. And the Jews undertook to do as they had begun, the first celebration having already taken place in an outburst of spontaneous joy, and as Mordecai had written unto them, V. 24. because Haman, the son of Hammedatha, the Agagite, the enemy of all the Jews, had devised against the Jews to destroy them, and had cast Pur, that is, the lot, this being done through the astrologers and magicians, chap. 3, 7, to consume them, crush them out of existence, and to destroy them; v. 25. but when Esther came before the king, he commanded by letters that his, Haman’s, wicked device which he devised against the Jews should return upon his own head, that he be caught in his own net, and that he and his sons should be hanged on the gallows, these two commands, as they were directed to the queen, being given in direct speech. V. 26. Wherefore they called these days Purim after the name of Pur, the word for the lot which Haman had used in trying to carry out his murderous scheme. Therefore, for all the words of this letter, which was sent out by Mordecai, and of that which they had seen concerning this matter, their own experience agreeing with the account as given by Mordecai, and which had come unto them, which they found out from other reliable sources, V. 27. the Jews ordained and took upon them and upon their seed, all their descendants, and upon all such as joined themselves unto them, so as it should not fail, not be passed by and forgotten, that they would keep these two days according to their writing and according to their appointed time every year, the time of celebration being determined by the order of Mordecai; V. 28. and that these days should be remembered and kept throughout every generation, every family, every province, and every city; and that these days of Purim should not fail, should never cease, from among the Jews, nor the memorial of them perish, come to an end, from their seed. V. 29. Then Esther, the queen, the daughter of Abihail, and Mordecai, the Jew, wrote with all authority, with all emphasis, to confirm this second letter of Purim, the name of Mordecai giving the document full weight and legal power. The contents of this letter are not given, its existence being known to all Jews. V. 30. And he sent the letters unto all the Jews, to the hundred twenty and seven provinces of the kingdom of Ahasuerus, with words of peace and truth, since they were aimed at the welfare of Israel and ware based upon facts, V. 31. to confirm these days of Purim in their times appointed, according as Mordecai, the Jew, and Esther, the queen, had enjoined them, and as they had decreed for themselves and for their seed, themselves perfectly willing to agree to the establishment of the new festival, the matters of the fastings and their cry, in remembrance of the lamentations which the Jews indulged in before they were delivered by the decree of Mordecai. V. 32. And the decree of Esther confirmed these matters of Purim; and it was written in the book, that which related the events connected with the establishment of the festival. The Feast of Esther, or that of Purim, is celebrated by the Jews to this day. “On both days of the feast the modern Jews read over the Megillah, or Book of Esther, in their synagogues. The copy read must not be printed, but written on vellum in the form of a roll; and the names of the ten sons of Haman are written on it in a peculiar manner, being ranged, they say, like so many bodies on a gibbet. The reader must pronounce all these names in one breath. Whenever Haman’s name is pronounced, they make a terrible noise in the synagogue. Some drum with their feet on the floor, and the boys have mallets with which they knock and make a noise. They prepare themselves for their carnival by a previous fast, which should continue three days, in imitation of Esther’s; but they have mostly reduced it to one day.” 2) It is perfectly right and proper that Christians celebrate also such festivals on which they remember some great teacher of the Church and the great things which the Lord did through such a chosen instrument of His grace, as in the case of Martin Luther.