Our study of the Book of Esther closes with a stunning example of God’s sovereignty overriding the plots and schemes of the wicked. Briefly, Esther 7 concluded with Haman, the enemy of God’s people being hanged from the “gallows that he had prepared for Mordecai” (7:10). Esther 8 recorded a remarkable turn of events as Esther the queen was bequeathed “the house of Haman the Jews’ enemy” (8:1). She in turn promoted Mordecai “over the house of Haman” (8:2).
Nevertheless, the edict inscribed by Haman that determined the death of all the Jews, hung over Esther and her people. Once again, the queen appealed to the king “and fell down at his feet, and besought him with tears to put away the mischief of Haman the Agagite, and his device that he had devised against the Jews” (8:3).
Because the “Law of the Medes and Persians” made it impossible for the king to rescind his royal edict, Ahasuerus determined to grant the Jews favor to defend themselves and their households (8:7-11).
The new edict was sent throughout the kingdom by couriers, and stated the Jews had authority to put to death any who purposed to harm them or their households (8:12-14). The death of Haman, and the promotion of Mordecai in his place, gave cause for the citizens of Shushan to rejoice (8:15-16), and fear took hold of any who might seek to harm the Jews (8:17).
On the day Haman determined the genocide of the Jews, the king’s new edict took effect, and thousands were slain who determined to harm them and their households (9:1). Gathering together as one, the Persians feared the Jews (9:2), and Mordecai was feared by all the leaders, for he had become powerful in Persia and “waxed greater and greater” (9:4).
All who meant to harm the Jews were slain, including 500 men within the palace, and the tens sons of Haman were slain and then hanged on their father’s gallows (9:7-14). On the day after the initial attack, 300 Persians were slain in Shushan (9:12-15), in addition, another 75,000 men of Persia were slain, as the Jews “gathered themselves together…and slew of their foes seventy and five thousand, but they laid not their hands on the prey” (9:16).
Celebrating victory over their adversaries, a perpetual feast was established for the Jews known as the “Feast Days of Purim” (“pur” meaning the “lot” that was cast). To this day, those who keep the Feasts of the Lord, celebrate the “Feast of Purim,” which coincides with the date Haman’s decree was to take effect (“the thirteenth day of the month Adar,” 9:17), and continues to the fourteenth and fifteenth day of the same month (9:18-21).
Closing thoughts – The Feast of Purim serves not only as a lasting memorial, but also as a means of teaching children this great story of God’s loving care of His people. The Book of Esther is read in the synagogue on the 13th and 14th days of the feast, and each time Haman’s name is mentioned, the congregation cries out, “May his name be accursed” or “May his name be erased.”
Esther 10 – We have seen how the LORD promoted a Jewish maiden (Esther) to the pinnacle of power in the Persian empire, and used her influence as queen to preserve her people from genocide. Yet, the closing verses of the Book of Esther do not focus on Esther, but on Mordecai (10:1-3). In contrast to wicked ways of Haman (whose focus was his own self-promotion), we find Mordecai faithfully serving “next unto king Ahasuerus…[and] seeking the wealth of his people, and speaking peace to all his seed” (10:3).
Every believer should be inspired by Mordecai’s integrity and devotion to the LORD.
Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith
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