ESTHER CHAPTER 8.
The Jews Receive Permission to Revenge Themselves.
MORDECAI ADVANCED. — V. 1. On that day did the King Ahasuerus give the house of Haman, the Jews’ enemy, unto Esther, the queen; his property having been confiscated, the king gave it to Esther as a kind of compensation for the peril which she had suffered. And Mordecai came before the king; for Esther had told what he was unto her; on the strength of his relationship to the queen he was made one of the officers belonging to the inner circle surrounding the king. V. 2. And the king took off his ring, his seal-ring, which he had taken from Haman, and gave it unto Mordecai, thereby promoting him to the position and the dignity which Haman had formerly held. And Esther set Mordecai over the house of Haman, as her steward, to manage the big estate which had been given to her by the king. V. 3. And Esther spake yet again before the king and fell down at his feet, in an attitude of the most humble pleading, and besought him with tears, imploring him as she wept, to put away the mischief of Haman the Agagite, and his device that he had devised against the Jews, for the murderous decree was still in force, having not been repealed. V. 4. Then the king held out the golden scepter toward Esther, to indicate that he was ready to grant her request. So Esther arose and stood before the king, in order to discuss ways and means of undoing the mischief wrought by Haman’s scheme, V. 5. and said, If it please the king, and if I have found favor in his sight, and the thing seem right before the king, her prudence, as usual, causing her to be most modest in presenting her request, and I be pleasing in his eyes, her appeal to his regard for her coming last, let it be written to reverse the letters devised by Haman, the son of Hammedatha, the Agagite, which he wrote to destroy the Jews which are in all the king’s provinces; for unless the decree would be repealed, the enemies of the Jews would still be able to effect their destruction; v. 6. for how can I endure to see the evil that shall come unto my people? Or how can I endure to see the destruction of my kindred? Her words state, in the most emphatic manner, that she would never be able to stand it, to live through such a calamity. That is the proper attitude for a Christian to take, a real live, personal interest in the welfare of those of the household of faith, a true grieving with those that weep.
THE DECREE OF AHASUERUS AND ITS EFFECT. — V. 7. Then the King Ahasuerus said unto Esther, the queen, and to Mordecai, the Jew, in granting the request of Esther, Behold, I have given Esther the house of Haman, and him they have hanged upon the gallows because he laid his hand upon the Jews. V. 8. Write ye also for the Jews as it liketh you, as they thought best in the circumstances, in the king’s name and seal it with the king’s ring, which had a seal on it; for the writing which is written in the king’s name and sealed with the king’s ring may no man reverse. It seems, then, that the king could not directly reverse or recall the decree which had been issued; but he could have a second decree issued, which would have the effect of annulling the provisions of that sent out at Haman’s suggestion. V. 9. Then were the king’s scribes called at that time in the third month, that is, the month Sivan, on the three and twentieth day thereof, fully two months after Haman’s edict of extermination; and it was written according to all that Mordecai commanded unto the Jews, and to the lieutenants, and the deputies and rulers of the provinces which are from India, on the eastern boundary of the great Persian empire, unto Ethiopia, in Northeastern Africa, an hundred twenty and seven provinces, for the larger satrapies were divided into smaller sections, unto every province according to the writing thereof, and unto every people after their language, and to the Jews according to their writing, and according to their language. Cp. chap. 1, 22; 3, 12. V. 10. And he, Mordecai, wrote in the King Ahasuerus’ name, and sealed it with the king’s ring, as he had been empowered to do, and sent letters by posts on horseback, and riders on mules, camels, and young dromedaries, for the post-system of the empire was both extensive and effective, v. 11. wherein the king granted the Jews which were in every city to gather themselves together, such an act not being accounted a disturbance of the peace, and to stand for their life, to destroy, to slay, and to cause to perish, all the power of the people and province that would assault them, whose enmity would cause them to make use of the provisions of Haman’s decree, both little ones and women, and to take the spoil of them for a prey, v. 12. upon one day in all the provinces of King Ahasuerus, namely, upon the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, which is the month Adar, the very day which had been named for the destruction of the Jews in the original decree. V. 13. The copy of the writing for a commandment to be given in every province was published unto all people, made known to them by means of the copies posted throughout the empire, and that the Jews should be ready against that day to avenge themselves on their enemies, not merely in self-defense, but with the right to attack any hostile party. V. 14. So the posts, the king’s messengers, that rode upon mules and camels went out, being hastened and pressed on by the king’s commandment. And the decree was given at Shushan, the palace, being sent forth from this residence of the king. V. 15. And Mordecai went out from the presence of the king in royal apparel of blue and white, these being the royal colors of Persia, and with a great crown of gold, a golden band, or coronet, and with a garment of fine linen and purple, his state robes as first minister of the court. And the city of Shushan rejoiced and was glad, the sympathy of the inhabitants evidently being on the side of Esther. V. 16. The Jews had light, and gladness, and joy, and honor, in contrast to the darkness of the pall which had but recently hung above them. V. 17. And in every province and in every city whithersoever the king’s commandment and his decree came the Jews had joy and gladness, a feast and a good day, for the threatening peril had been averted, which was reason enough for a holiday. And many of the people of the land became Jews, became proselytes to the Jewish faith; for the fear of the Jews fell upon them, they saw in all these events the ruling hand of God and therefore acknowledged Him who was so evidently on the side of the Jews. In the time of the New Testament also there are special times of grace, when God does great things for His Church, and therefore many hearts are turned to Him in true faith.