Alright, now before we start into this Esther 9 sermon, we’ve seen Haman’s edict written and sent out. Then we saw the reaction to it. Likewise, we’ve seen Mordecai’s edict written and sent out. And we just saw the reaction to it. But what’s left to see? Both edicts are authorizing some serious conflict and destruction. And that’s what we finally see played-out in 9:1-5.
Esther 9 Commentary (1-5)
9:1 ¶ Now in the twelfth month, that is, the month Adar, on the thirteenth day of the same, when the king’s commandment and his decree drew near to be put in execution, 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;) 2 The Jews gathered themselves together in their cities throughout all the provinces of the king Ahasuerus, to lay hand on such as sought their hurt: and no man could withstand them; for the fear of them fell upon all people. 3 And all the rulers of the provinces, and the lieutenants, and the deputies, and officers of the king, helped the Jews; because the fear of Mordecai fell upon them. 4 For Mordecai was great in the king’s house, and his fame went out throughout all the provinces: for this man Mordecai waxed greater and greater. 5 Thus the Jews smote all their enemies with the stroke of the sword, and slaughter, and destruction, and did what they would unto those that hated them.
The text mentioned that the Jews attacked those who “sought their hurt”. So, I’m trying to picture the scene. I’m not sure if the enemies still gathered themselves together to fight the Jews, based on Haman’s original edict. Remember, that still wasn’t revoked because it was written with the king’s authority. Or did the Jews seek out their enemies who were in hiding throughout the kingdom? Whatever the case, the Jews themselves gathered together. And whether they attacked groups of enemy fighters or whether they had to search for and find those who had been hostile to them in various ways, the Jews attacked and destroyed their enemies – the ones who would have liked to see the Jews themselves destroyed. And no one could stand before them. Why? Because the peoples feared them.
Even the government officials joined hands with the Jews and assisted in the fight. Why? The text says that they were afraid of Mordecai. Let this sink in. Powerful government officials all over the kingdom feared Mordecai – this previously inconsequential Jew living in the capital of Shushan; this man who just that year had faced near-certain death. But now rulers are fearing him. The people, great and small, feared the Jews and their leader.
So, we have some general information about this 13th day of the 12th month. But how many people are we talking about dying here? Let’s read 9:6-12.
Esther 9 Commentary (6-12)
9:6 And in Shushan the palace the Jews slew and destroyed five hundred men. 7 And Parshandatha, and Dalphon, and Aspatha, 8 And Poratha, and Adalia, and Aridatha, 9 And Parmashta, and Arisai, and Aridai, and Vajezatha, 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. 11 ¶ On that day the number of those that were slain in Shushan the palace was brought before the king. 12 And the king said unto Esther the queen, 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? now what is thy petition? and it shall be granted thee: or what is thy request further? and it shall be done.
The writer intentionally notes that the Jews didn’t take any spoil. Greed wasn’t their motivating factor. The edict issued by Mordecai told them that they could take the spoil if they wanted to. But they didn’t do it. The Jews were simply trying to defend their lives against their enemies.
Now, it says the Jews killed 500 men in Shushan including Haman’s 10 sons whom he bragged about before. Honestly, if I was king Ahasuerus I’d be a little concerned, I think. Maybe I’m not thinking right. I mean, I know that the Jews are in the right and they’re defending themselves. And I’m all for that. But I’m just a little apprehensive of all the death and destruction. But you know who wasn’t, at all? Ahasuerus wasn’t! Did you hear his statement to Esther? He’s impressed that the Jews have it in them to defend themselves! I can imagine the new admiration this brutal pagan monarch now has for the Jews. He’s like “Wow! 500 people in Shushan alone? What have they done throughout the rest of the kingdom?!” And then you can sense his enthusiastic elation and excitement – almost like a little kid – and he asks Esther what she would like further from him. He’s completely on her side. So, what does she ask? Read 9:13-15.
Esther 9 Commentary (13-15)
9:13 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, and let Haman’s ten sons be hanged upon the gallows. 14 And the king commanded it so to be done: and the decree was given at Shushan; and they hanged Haman’s ten sons. 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; but on the prey they laid not their hand.
Does Esther’s request strike you as ungodly? She asks for a one-day extension of the Jews’ ability to defend themselves and to destroy their enemies. You know, I think she’s doing right. This is how things worked in the Old Testament when God’s people were a national entity and God’s command was to destroy the enemies. The New Testament believer is told now that we don’t wrestle as individual believers against flesh and blood. We are a kingdom of priests, yes. But — just like it was for Christ on this earth — our kingdom is not of this realm. We’re told on the personal level to not take our own vengeance. So, is Esther’s additional request a godly one? I think it was for her. It would have been completely appropriate for an Old Testament believer to seek the welfare of her nation through the permission to defend against those who would try to destroy that nation.
She adds to this her request to hang Haman’s 10 sons on the gallows. And so that happens. They were dead already, so I guess this was just a symbolic gesture.
So the Jews in Shushan killed about 800 people between the 13th and 14th days of the 12th month. So we know what happened in Shushan. But Ahasuerus’ original question still stands unanswered – What happened in the rest of the kingdom? Let’s read 9:16-19 for the end of the action in this story.
Esther 9 Commentary (16-19)
9:16 ¶ But the other Jews that were in the king’s provinces gathered themselves together, and stood for their lives, and had rest from their enemies, and slew of their foes seventy and five thousand, but they laid not their hands on the prey, 17 On the thirteenth day of the month Adar; and on the fourteenth day of the same rested they, and made it a day of feasting and gladness. 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. 19 Therefore the Jews of the villages, that dwelt in the unwalled towns, made the fourteenth day of the month Adar a day of gladness and feasting, and a good day, and of sending portions one to another.
The Jews outside of Shushan killed 75,000 of their enemies. But again, their motivation wasn’t greed. They didn’t take the spoil. But they only had one day – the 13th of the 12th month to do their work. Whereas the Jews in Shushan had two days – the 13th and 14th of the 12th month. The Jews in Shushan then rested on the 15th day while the Jews elsewhere rested on the 14th day. The Jews today typically celebrate this feast on the 14th day only. Though there are some exceptions.
At any rate, we reached the end of the action of this story. The rest (9:20-10:3) is a conclusion to the whole narrative. It basically explains how this historical event that we just studied through is the reason that the Jews celebrate Purim and have done so for 2500 years now. Haman sought to destroy all the Jews. But in the end his plan was turned right back on him so that he was the one who was destroyed.