Esther 9 and 10 (NRSV)
Destruction of the Enemies of the Jews
Now in the twelfth month, which is the month of Adar, on the thirteenth day, when the king’s command and edict were about to be executed, on the very day when the enemies of the Jews hoped to gain power over them, but which had been changed to a day when the Jews would gain power over their foes, 2the Jews gathered in their cities throughout all the provinces of King Ahasuerus to lay hands on those who had sought their ruin; and no one could withstand them, because the fear of them had fallen upon all peoples. 3All the officials of the provinces, the satraps and the governors, and the royal officials were supporting the Jews, because the fear of Mordecai had fallen upon them. 4For Mordecai was powerful in the king’s house, and his fame spread throughout all the provinces as the man Mordecai grew more and more powerful.
Considering the fates of Mordecai and Haman:
Proverbs 11:5-6 (New Living Translation)
The godly are directed by honesty;
the wicked fall beneath their load of sin.
The godliness of good people rescues them;
the ambition of treacherous people traps them.
5So the Jews struck down all their enemies with the sword, slaughtering, and destroying them, and did as they pleased to those who hated them. 6In the citadel of Susa the Jews killed and destroyed five hundred people. 7They killed Parshandatha, Dalphon, Aspatha, 8Poratha, Adalia, Aridatha, 9Parmashta, Arisai, Aridai, Vaizatha, 10the ten sons of Haman son of Hammedatha, the enemy of the Jews; but they did not touch the plunder.
11That very day the number of those killed in the citadel of Susa was reported to the king. 12The king said to Queen Esther, “In the citadel of Susa the Jews have killed five hundred people and also the ten sons of Haman. What have they done in the rest of the king’s provinces? Now what is your petition? It shall be granted you. And what further is your request? It shall be fulfilled.”
13Esther said, “If it pleases the king, let the Jews who are in Susa be allowed tomorrow also to do according to this day’s edict, and let the ten sons of Haman be hanged on the gallows.”
Her people are saved.
On the gallows
He prepared for the Jews.
The people rejoice and
The Feast of Purim
But Queen Esther reflects,
“Haman is hanged.
His ten sons are hanged.
His followers are slaughtered.
But I cannot rejoice.
Lord, send a better way
To achieve Salvation.”
–Fr. Jim Hasse
14So the king commanded this to be done; a decree was issued in Susa, and the ten sons of Haman were hanged. 15The Jews who were in Susa gathered also on the fourteenth day of the month of Adar and they killed three hundred persons in Susa; but they did not touch the plunder.
16Now the other Jews who were in the king’s provinces also gathered to defend their lives, and gained relief from their enemies, and killed seventy-five thousand of those who hated them; but they laid no hands on the plunder.
It is disconcerting, at best, all the death and hangings. The battles at the end of Esther remind us that violence can be rooted in the desire for peace and security. Yet human experience teaches that peace is a precious, fleeting commodity, rarely won by escalated aggression. The Hamans of the world must be exposed and brought to justice, and providential forces may yet redeem what is out of joint in the messy circumstances of life.
–Patricia K. Tull
17This was on the thirteenth day of the month of Adar, and on the fourteenth day they rested and made that a day of feasting and gladness.
The Feast of Purim Inaugurated
18But the Jews who were in Susa gathered on the thirteenth day and on the fourteenth, and rested on the fifteenth day, making that a day of feasting and gladness.
19Therefore the Jews of the villages, who live in the open towns, hold the fourteenth day of the month of Adar as a day for gladness and feasting, a holiday on which they send gifts of food to one another.
The most festive of the Jewish holidays, when fun is not only permitted, it is commanded! The entire Esther scroll (the Megillah) is read aloud! Whenever Haman’s name is mentioned, the listeners make as much noise as possible with shouts or noisemakers to drown out the name of that evil man! Kids put on masks,
dress up in costumes, and stage skits! Special three-cornered pastries called Hamantashen are made, filled with poppy seeds or prunes or fruit jellies!
20Mordecai recorded these things, and sent letters to all the Jews who were in all the provinces of King Ahasuerus, both near and far, 21enjoining them that they should keep the fourteenth day of the month Adar and also the fifteenth day of the same month, year by year, 22as the days on which the Jews gained relief from their enemies, and as the month that had been turned for them from sorrow into gladness and from mourning into a holiday; that they should make them days of feasting and gladness, days for sending gifts of food to one another and presents to the poor.
Psalm 116:12-13 (New International Version)
How can I repay the LORD
for all his goodness to me?
I will lift up the cup of salvation
and call on the name of the LORD.
23So the Jews adopted as a custom what they had begun to do, as Mordecai had written to them. 24Haman son of Hammedatha the Agagite, the enemy of all the Jews, had plotted against the Jews to destroy them, and had cast Pur—that is “the lot” —to crush and destroy them; 25but when Esther came before the king, he gave orders in writing that the wicked plot that he had devised against the Jews should come upon his own head, and that he and his sons should be hanged on the gallows. 26Therefore these days are called Purim, from the word Pur. Thus because of all that was written in this letter, and of what they had faced in this matter, and of what had happened to them, 27the Jews established and accepted as a custom for themselves and their descendants and all who joined them, that without fail they would continue to observe these two days every year, as it was written and at the time appointed. 28These days should be remembered and kept throughout every generation, in every family, province, and city; and these days of Purim should never fall into disuse among the Jews, nor should the commemoration of these days cease among their descendants.
29Queen Esther daughter of Abihail, along with the Jew Mordecai, gave full written authority, confirming this second letter about Purim. 30Letters were sent wishing peace and security to all the Jews, to the one hundred twenty-seven provinces of the kingdom of Ahasuerus, 31and giving orders that these days of Purim should be observed at their appointed seasons, as the Jew Mordecai and Queen Esther enjoined on the Jews, just as they had laid down for themselves and for their descendants regulations concerning their fasts and their lamentations. 32The command of Queen Esther fixed these practices of Purim, and it was recorded in writing.
Psalm 30:8-12 (New International Version)
To you, O LORD, I called;
to the Lord I cried for mercy:
“What gain is there in my destruction,
in my going down into the pit?
Will the dust praise you?
Will it proclaim your faithfulness?
Hear, O LORD, and be merciful to me;
O LORD, be my help.”
You turned my wailing into dancing;
you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy,
that my heart may sing to you and not be silent.
O LORD my God, I will give you thanks forever.
10) King Ahasuerus laid tribute on the land and on the islands of the sea. 2All the acts of his power and might, and the full account of the high honor of Mordecai, to which the king advanced him, are they not written in the annals of the kings of Media and Persia? 3For Mordecai the Jew was next in rank to King Ahasuerus, and he was powerful among the Jews and popular with his many kindred, for he sought the good of his people and interceded for the welfare of all his descendants.
Can I be like Esther and Mordecai, and step forward on behalf of people that I care for with small acts of courage and grace, even when I can hardly see that it will do any good? O Lord, be my help!
Although the name of God is never mentioned in the book of Esther, God is clearly present throughout the unfolding of the events. We close our reading of Esther praising the name of the Lord! “Blessed Be Your Name,” by Matt Redman.
And now you’ve been given the whole Megillah! Praise God! What in Esther’s story spoke in a new way to you? Share your impressions at “Reply” below!
The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.