Esther 8:3, 6–8, 11; 9:1–2, 20–22comment (0)
February 22, 2007
By John A. Nixon
Related Scripture: Esther 8:3, 6–8, 11; 9:1–2, 20–22
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Assistant Professor of Christian Studies, School of Christian Studies, University of Mobile
What is Worth Celebrating
Esther 8:3, 6–8, 11; 9:1–2, 20–22
Like so many other stories in the Old Testament, the story of Esther describes God’s providential care for His people. This story, however, does so without ever mentioning God’s name.
He is the unspoken director of this human drama. He is behind the scenes working through Esther and Mordecai to protect the life of His people.
Ultimately the Book of Esther illustrates how “the eyes of the Lord are everywhere, observing the wicked and the good” (Prov. 15:3).
Haman’s Edict is Reversed (8:3, 6–8, 11)
We saw last week that although Haman desired to curse and destroy the Jewish people, he unintentionally blessed them. What’s more, the king had him hung on the gallows that Haman had designed for Mordecai (7:1–10). The reversal of Haman’s evil plot continues in Chapter 8.
The king gave Haman’s estate to Esther and gave Mordecai the same signet ring that had previously been given to Haman (8:1–2). Whereas Haman had acted with pride and malicious intent, Mordecai became an effective, loyal and trusted official of the king (10:1–3).
The king also authorized Esther and Mordecai to write a second edict in his name (8:6–8). This edict authorized the Jews to defend themselves on the day that Haman’s edict permitted their enemies to attack them. Thus Haman’s plans to destroy God’s people were reversed by the king.
God’s People are Victorious (9:1–2)
Although Haman had stirred up hatred in the provinces against the Jewish people, his plans failed.
The king’s decree gave the Jews official authorization to protect themselves and their families. So the writer makes clear that on the very day that Haman had planned to annihilate the Jews, they “overpowered those who hated them.” God’s people were victorious over their enemies.
The writer also clarifies Mordecai’s growing power and influence in the kingdom (9:3–4).
Many of the local authorities “aided the Jews because they were afraid of Mordecai” (9:3). The story even ends somewhat surprisingly with a word about Mordecai and not Esther.
Not only was he loved and respected among his people but also “he continued to seek good for his people and to speak for the welfare of all his kindred” (10:3). It seems that the writer wants us to see God working through Mordecai for the good of His people.
God’s People Celebrate (9:20–22)
Finally Mordecai led the people to celebrate this victory over their enemies. This celebration gave rise to a national Jewish holiday — Purim.
The writer explains that the holiday is called Purim to remind the people of their vindication. Although Haman “cast the Pur (that is, the lot) to crush and destroy them,” the king reversed the edict, executed Haman and allowed the Jews to crush and destroy their enemies (see 3:7; 9:23–28).
This holiday was more than a time of remembrance; it was a celebration of deliverance and victory. As the writer makes clear, it was during this month that the people’s “sorrow was turned into rejoicing and their mourning into a holiday.” Furthermore Mordecai emphasized Purim as a time for feasting and hospitality.
The people were to celebrate and rejoice together, as well as to send “gifts to one another and the poor.” In this way, they could remember and celebrate God’s providential care for them during a time of persecution.