Esther 9





          DO NOT LAY HAND ON THEIR GOODS  (vs. 1-16)).


The Jews of all the provinces, having had ample time to prepare themselves,

gathered themselves together in their cities,” as the day fixed by the first

edict approached (v. 2), and made their arrangements. Their “enemies”

no doubt did the same, and for some time before the 13th of Adar two

hostile camps stood facing each other in each of the great towns

throughout the empire. (A moral civil war that turned violent.  A similar

situation seems to be developing in the United States of America with

the secularists hell-bent on eradicating fundamental Christians and Christianity.

Psalm 2:1-4 – CY – 2014)  Mordecai’s position at the capital being known,

and his power evidently established, the Persian governors of all grades

understood it to be their duty to throw their weight into the scale on behalf

of the Jews, and lend them whatever help they could (v. 3). At last the

day arrived, and the struggle took place. The Jews everywhere got the

better of their adversaries. In Shushan the palace” as it was called, or the

upper town, of which the palace formed a part, they killed 500 of them

(v. 6). In the rest of the empire, if we accept the numbers of the present

Hebrew text, as many as 75,000 (v. 16). The Septuagint translators,

however, who would have no reason for falsifying the text, give the

number as 15,000, which seems to be intrinsically more probable. They

also, on the ensuing day, the 14th of Adar, by special permission of

Ahasuerus, contended with their adversaries in Shushan a second time, and

slew on this occasion 300 (v. 15). Among the killed, the only persons

mentioned by name are ten sons of Haman, who were slain in Shushan the

palaceon the first day, while on the second day permission was given to

expose their bodies on crosses (v. 14). A remarkable feature of the

struggle, and one which is noticed three several times (vs. 10, 15-16),

was, that, notwithstanding the clause in the edict which allowed the Jews

to take the spoil of their enemies for a prey” (ch. 8:11), neither in

the capital nor in the provinces did the triumphant Israelites touch the

property of those opposed to them. There was an evident wish to show

that they were not actuated by greed, but simply desirous of securing

themselves from future molestation.


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;)

To have power over them. Or, “to get the mastery over them”

(compare Daniel 6:24, where the same word is used). Had rule. Or, “had

the mastery.”




The Antagonisms of Nations (v. 1)


“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.”) This passage tells a history of vicissitude doubly remarkable.

It may be put thus: there was, in the first instance, a great reverse of

fortune in the experience of each of two nationalities. But this did not end

all. At the same time it constituted a striking reversal of the mutual

relations of those two peoples. In the first instance the people who had

been exalted are cast down; and the people who had been cast down, lifted

up. But this was a little matter compared with the consequence

immediately resulting, and which showed so prominently to view; namely,

a most significant and determined alteration of the attitude of the one to

the other. The lessons suggested by this passage, whatever they may be,

offer themselves on the scale of national magnitude. We are reminded:



OPPORTUNITY — an opportunity which the world’s history shows to

have been ever lamentably improved. The antagonism of the individual is

reproduced on a more terrible scale, and with consequences inconceivably

disastrous. It must be noted that this spirit of national antagonism bears not

only the reproach of the direct sin and miseries, of which war is the

declared manifestation; it is an enemy, the indirect ravages of which add up

to a fearful amount. This may be seen from observing in the place of what

it is, that it so often stands.


Ø      It is antagonism usurping the place of natural and sympathetic love.

Ø      It is antagonism turning out healthy emulation, and stimulating rivalry.

Ø      It is antagonism hindering to an amazing degree that plenty, and wealth,

and cheapness which come of mutual sustentation, of inter-trading, of

each nationality, according to its physical advantages and its genius,

pursuing its own bent, to share the abundance of its consequent

production with other nations.





Ø      They emphatically do not lie in any international necessity of nature.

They mean always fault and sin at some door. They cannot be

justified by any supposed likeness to the natural storms of our earth

and skies, though these may frame into an unhappy analogy with them.

Ø      They do not reside in any international necessity of trade or other


Ø      They are rarely enough owing to the determined will or fitful passion of

the great body of the people. These will adopt them, it is true, and will

soon be heated by false sense of national glory; but they do not

originate them.

Ø      They are rarely enough due to fault on one side alone.

Ø      Even when mingled with some just occasion, they are rarely enough

what could not be averted by the wise treatment of those in high


Ø      They strongly resemble the antagonisms and antipathies of private

individuals in these two respects:

o       that they arise from the smallest matters, and

o       take occasion from temper and pride.




easy to see that nations the largest, the mightiest, the most complex are but

made up of individuals. But it is not so easy to believe, it is not so welcome

to the mind to remember at all times, how the greatest events, for good or

for ill, depend very largely on the character and conduct of individuals.

Thus national life immensely increases the importance of the individual.

(Thus the importance of leadership! – CY – 2014)  It is the highest in an

ascending series of terms. For instance:


Ø      There is the intrinsic importance of individual life to each man.

Ø      There is the importance that inevitably attaches to the head-of-family


Ø      There is the importance that belongs to all public life, in all the

varying and numerous places of Church and of State.

Ø      There is the importance which is inseparable from the place of the

governing, the highest places in the state.


This, though strictly comprehended in the foregoing head, demands to be

classified separately, because of its highest significance, its superlatively

critical issues. Haman had done a world of mischief. To human eye it can

scarcely be said that Mordecai had recovered the balance. The one caused

the intensest hatred of “the enemies of the Jews” to blaze up, to the

unmeasured misery of the Jews. And when things were reversed, and

it was turned to the contrary,” though a lesson of terrible retribution

was displayed, and though justice should seem to have another sacrifice

offered at her shrine, yet LOVE is left as far in the rear as ever. The

whole family of:

Ø      envy,

Ø      jealousy,

Ø      malice, and

Ø      cruelty

have it too much their own way — so far as our human point of

view can see or calculate.




PRESENTS. Two centuries before the history contained in this narrative,

the prophet had said, “When thy judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants

of the world will learn righteousness.”  (Isaiah 26:9)  There are given to us

all the quiet, urgent, infinitely numerous lessons of providence in our

individual lives.  How are they unobserved, lost, smothered in the

thoughtless course, the hurried rate of our lives! They look in vain into our

very eyes; they whisper in vain in our very ears; they knock in vain at our

very doors; they plead in vain with our reason, our self-interest, our conscience.

But with overwhelming effect come at times national providences. These speak

sometimes as with the voice of thunder, and they are seen sometimes with

the vividness of the lightning’s flash by hundreds of thousands at one and

the same moment. The great subject suggested by our present history,

then, demands the attention of statesmen, of legislators, of all public men in

their degree, and may obtain many a valuable cross light from the subject

already considered of patriotism.


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.  The Jews gathered themselves together. Acting on

the first clause of the edict (ch.8:11). In their cities. By “their cities” the

writer means not cities exclusively Jewish, but cities where Jews formed an

element in the population, as Susa, Babylon, Damascus — perhaps Rhages

and Ecbatana — and no doubt many others. Cities exclusively Jewish, like

Nearda, in later times (Joseph., ‘Ant. Jud.,’ 18:9, § 1), scarcely existed as

yet out of Palestine. To lay hand on such as sought their hurt. The

defensive character of the Jews’ action is again noted. Only if their hurt

was sought (compare Psalm 71:13, 24) did they lay hand on any; only

against those who sought their hurt did they lift a finger. The fear of

them. Not now such fear as is mentioned in ch. 8:17, ad fin., but a

downright coward fear of their prowess. Fell upon all people. Rather, “all

the people,” i.e. all the many subject nations of the Persian empire among

which the Jews were scattered.  (Fulfilling God’s policy of “When a man’s

ways please the Lord, He maketh even his enemies will be at peace with him.” 

Proverbs 16:7 - verified early in their history – Exodus 23:27-28.  Compare

His workings in Deuteronomy 2:25 – Will He not do the same for His

people throughout history? Even today!  “Jesus Christ, the same yesterday,

today and for ever.”  Hebrews 13:8 – CY – 2014)


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.  Compare ch. 3:12 and 8:9, where the same

enumeration is made, though not quite in the same order. And officers of the king.

Literally, “they who did the work of the king.” The Septuagint renders by

βασιλικοὶ γραμματεῖς basilikoi grammateis -  royal scribes; but officials of all

classes seem to be intended. Helped the Jews. Rather, “upheld, supported”

Active physical help does not seem to be meant, but rather the moral aid and

support that a government easily gives to the side which it favors in a civil

disturbance. The fear of Mordecai fell upon them. It would give the sense

better to translate “had fallen.”


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.  Mordecai was great. Compare ch.8:2, 15 and



6 And in Shushan the palace the Jews slew and destroyed five

hundred men All the rulers of the provinces, and the lieutenants, and the

deputies. In Shushan the palace. i.e. the upper city, where the palace

was. The area of the hill is above a hundred acres, and there are many

remains of residences on it besides the palace. It was probably densely



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.

Haman’s ten sons have unmistakably Persian names, so that no countenance is

given by them to the theory that he was a foreigner. Formerly it was customary

that they should be written in each manuscript of the Book of Esther in three

perpendicular lines, to signify (as it was said) that they were hanged on three

parallel cords. In reading them the ten names were uttered in one breath,

in memory of the supposed fact that they all died in one instant. It would be

wrong, however, to attach credit to these traditions, which simply show the

persistent hatred with which the Jews regarded their great enemy. Slew they.

With the sword, probably (see v. 5), and in fair fight.


11 On that day the number of those that were slain in Shushan the

palace was brought before the king.  The number… was brought before the king.

It was customary in all wars for the number of the slain to be carefully made out

and recorded. In the Babylonian transcript of the Behistun Inscription the

numbers are given with extreme exactness — e.g. 546, 2024, 4203, etc. On

this occasion it would seem that only a rough calculation was made. Still

the king took care to be informed on the subject, and the Jews, aware of

this, were not left absolutely uncontrolled.


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.

What have they done in the rest of the king’s provinces?

Not an inquiry, but an exclamation. How many must they not have killed in

the whole empire if they have slain 500 in Susa alone! Now, what is thy

petition? Still, if this is not enough, if anything more is needed for the

Jews’ security, ask it, and “it shall be done.”


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.

Esther’s request for a second day of slaughter has a

bloodthirsty appearance; but, without a more complete knowledge of the

facts than we possess, we cannot say that it was unjustifiable. It would

seem that the Jews in Susa gathered themselves in the upper town on the

appointed day, and were engaged there the whole day with their enemies.

Esther asks that they may be allowed a second day — either in the upper or

the lower town, it is not clear which to complete their work, and free

themselves from all danger of further persecution from their foes. She is

not likely to have made this request unless prompted to make it by

Mordecai, who must have had means of knowing how matters really stood,

and, as the chief minister over the whole nation, is likely to have been

actuated rather by general views of policy than by a blind spirit of revenge.

Still it must be granted that there is something essentially Jewish in

Esther’s request, and indeed in the tone of the entire book which bears her



14 And the king commanded it so to be done: and the decree was

given at Shushan; and they hanged Haman’s ten sons.

They hanged the ten sons of Haman. Exposure on a cross

was regarded as a deep disgrace, and was a punishment often inflicted by

the Persians on persons killed in some other way (see Herod., 3:125;

7:238; Xen.,Anab.,’ 3. 1, § 17; Pint.,Vit. Artax.,’ § 17).


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.

For the Jews. Rather, “and the Jews,” or “so the Jews.” The

Hebrew has the vau conjunctive, which is here certainly expressive of a

sequence, or consequence.


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,  Gathered themselves together, and

stood for their lives. i.e. did as the edict directed them (ch.8:11). And had

 rest from their enemies. The idea of “rest” seems out of place when the

subject of the narrative is slaughter, and the number of the slain has still to

be told. Some suspect corruption, others an interpolation. And slew of their

foes seventy and five thousand. The Septuagint had in their copies fifteen for

seventy-five, or one-fifth of the received number. The smaller number is

more in harmony with the 500 killed at Susa than the larger one.




Natural instinct led the Jews, so soon as their triumph was

accomplished, to indulge themselves in a day of rest and rejoicing (v. 17).

After toil there is need of repose; and escape from a great danger is

followed, almost of necessity, by “gladness.” The writer of the Book of

Esther, practicing his usual reticence, says nothing of the character of the

gladness;” but we can scarcely be wrong in believing it to have been, in

the main, religious, and to have included gratitude to God for their

deliverance, the ascription of praise to His name, and an outpouring of the

heart before Him in earnest and prolonged thanksgiving. The circumstances

of the struggle caused a difference, with regard to the date of the day of

rejoicing, between the Jews of the capital and those of the provinces. The

metropolitical Jews had two days of struggle, and could not “rest” until the

third day, which was the 15th of Adar (v. 18); the provincial Jews began

and ended their work in one day, the 13th, and so their thanksgiving-day

was the 14th, and not the 15th of the month (v. 17). The consequence

was, that when Mordecai and Esther determined on commemorating the

wonderful deliverance of their time by an annual festival, analogous to that

of the passover, to be celebrated by all Jews everywhere throughout all

future ages, some hesitation naturally arose as to the proper day to be kept

holy. If the 14th were kept, the provincial Jews would be satisfied, but

those of Susa would have cause of complaint; if the 15th were the day

selected, the two parties would simply exchange feelings. Under these

circumstances it was wisely resolved to keep both days (v. 21). Nothing

seems to have been determined as to the mode of keeping the feast, except

that both days were to be “days of feasting and joy,” and days upon which

the richer members of the community should send “portions” and “gifts” to

the poorer ones (v. 22). The name, “feast of Purim,” was at once

attached to the festival, in memory of Haman’s consultation of the lot, the

wordPur” meaning “lot” in Persian (v. 24). The festival became a

national institution by the general consent of the Jews everywhere (v. 27),

and has remained to the present day among the most cherished of their

usages, it falls in early spring, a month before the passover, and occupies

two days, which are still those fixed by Mordecai and Esther, the 14th and

15th of Adar. The day preceding the feast is observed as a fast day, in

commemoration of Esther’s fast before going in uninvited to the king

(ch. 4:16).



Deliverance and Victory (vs. 1-16)


The history of “the chosen nation” is full of Divine deliverances. The

present is only one of the many instances in which, by faith, the Israelites

escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed

valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens.”   (Hebrews 11:34)


  • THE MEANS of the deliverance and victory here related. Royal

authority primarily accounts for it. Only by the sanction of the king could

the Jews dare to draw the sword and withstand their foes. Ministerial

encouragement supported this sanction. It was known that Mordecai, the

chief minister of Ahasuerus, was thoroughly earnest in the matter, and

would countenance his countrymen in their proceedings. Official help was

given. (Today the official help of the United States of America seems to

be directed towards those who would undermine morality; i.e. homosexuality,

anti-family issues, legalization of recreational drugs, anti-Christmas, anti-

Christ, etc.  Probably the enemies of the Jews were among the idolatrous

tribes, and the Persian officers and rulers were instructed to favor the Jews

against their heathen foes. National courage explains the valiant stand

which was made by the children of the captivity. “A good cause, a good

conscience, and a good courage” secured the victory.


  • THE COMPLETENESS of the deliverance and victory. Fear, panic,

dread of the Jews seized their enemies, and the oppressed “had rule over”

the oppressors. The enemies were slain in great numbers wherever an

encounter took place. Mordecai and his party triumphed over their foes in

the public hanging on the gibbet of the dead bodies of Haman’s ten sons.

The magnanimity of the victorious was shown in their not laying hand upon

the spoil, which was wise, inasmuch as it was thus made apparent that their

only aim was security, and that they sought not plunder, and also that they

did not wish to avail themselves of the king’s generosity, but to replenish

his treasury rather than their own.


  • THE MARVEL of the deliverance and victory. How contrary to the

designs of Haman, the most powerful personage in the realm! How

contrary to the expectations of the Jews themselves, who were naturally

enough oppressed with the sense of their danger, and the prospect of their

extermination! How contrary to the forebodings of the neighbors of the

Jews, who had joined in their distress and lamentations with true and

friendly sympathy. “God’s ways are not as our ways, neither our thoughts

as his thoughts.”  (Isaiah 55:8)  This is the appropriate benediction which

the reader of the Megillah, at the feast of Purim, pronounces at its close:

“Blessed art thou, O Lord our God, King of the universe, who hast contended

Our contest, judged our cause, hast avenged our wrongs, requited all the

enemies of our souls, and hast delivered us from our oppressors. Blessed

art thou, who hast delivered thy people from all their oppressors, thou

Lord of salvation.”


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.  The Jews which were at Shushan assembled together. i.e.

gathered themselves together to bathe.” The verb is the same as that used

in vs. 2 and 16 of this chapter; and in ch.8:11.


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 of the villages, that dwelt in the unwalled towns.

Rather, “the Jews of the country, who dwelt in the country towns.” There

are places where the word translated “unwalled” connotes that idea — e.g.

Ezekiel 38:11; Zechariah 2:8; but the main notion which it

expresses is always that of a “country region.” Here walls are not at all in

the thought of the writer, who intends a contrast between the Jews of the

metropolis and those of the provinces. Ecbatana and Babylon are “country

towns” to a Jew of Susa, such as the writer. A good day. Compare

ch.8:17, with the comment. Sending portions one to another.

Compare Nehemiah 8:10; and for the precept on which the practice

was founded see Deuteronomy 16:14. In modern times the Jews keep

up the practice, and on the 15th of Adar both interchange gifts, chiefly

sweetmeats, and make liberal offerings for the poor (compare v. 22, ad



20 And Mordecai wrote these things, and sent letters unto all the Jews

that were in all the provinces of the king Ahasuerus, both nigh and

far,  - Mordecai wrote these things. Mordecai seems, in the first

instance, to have written to the provincial Jews, suggesting to them the

future observance of two days of Purim instead of one, and explaining the

grounds of his proposition, but without venturing to issue any order. When

he found his proposition well received (vs. 23, 27) he sent out a second

letter, “with all authority” (v. 29), enjoining the observance.


21 To stablish this among them, that they should keep the fourteenth

day of the month Adar, and the fifteenth day of the same, yearly,

To stablish. i.e. “with a view to establishing” — not actually doing so.


22 As the days wherein the Jews rested from their enemies, and the

month which was turned unto them from sorrow to joy, and from

mourning into a good day: that they should make them days of

feasting and joy, and of sending portions one to another, and gifts

to the poor. The month which was turned unto them from sorrow to

joy. This was the key-note of Purim, the dominant idea, to which all else

was secondary and subordinate — sorrow turned into joy, “mourning into

dancing,” utter destruction into a signal triumph. Psalm 30. might well have

been written at this time.



The Feast of Purim (20-22)


Other Jewish festivals, as the Passover and Tabernacles, were instituted by

express Divine authority. The feast of Purim was instituted by the authority

of Mordecai and Esther. Yet its observance was undoubtedly sanctioned by

the God whose merciful interposition it commemorated. The festival has

been observed by the Jews from that day to this; the observance consisting

of a preliminary fast; of a sacred assembly in the synagogue, when the

Megillah (or roll) of the Book of Esther, is unfolded and solemnly read

aloud; and of a repast at home, followed by merry-making, and the sending

of presents. The feast of Purim was, and is:


  • A REMINDER OF AN ERA OF CAPTIVITY. The Jews are put in

memory of the fact that a large portion of their nation was once in exile in

Persia, and that, although their captivity must be regarded as a sign of their

sin and of God’s displeasure, yet they had not been as a nation forsaken,

but had been spared and recalled to the land of promise.



OF THE NATION. When, in the reading, Haman’s name is mentioned, the

synagogue is filled with the noise of stamping and rattling, and with shouts

of “Cursed be Haman! may his name perish!” At the same time the memory

of the great benefactors of Israel, Esther and Mordecai, is cherished with

gratitude and warmth.



“Purim” means “lots,” because Haman cast lots for a lucky day for the

execution of his malignant project. “The lot is cast into the lap, but the

disposal thereof is of the Lord.”  (Proverbs 16:33)  No wonder that the

joy of salvation was too great to find expression in one celebration. It

was felt that one generation might well speak God’s praises to another,

and declare His mighty works. Purim may serve as an emblem of the

deliverance which the God of all grace has wrought on behalf not of

Israel only, BUT OF ALL MANKIND!   He is, in Christ Jesus, a God

mighty to save.”  (Zephaniah 3:17)



Sending Portions and Gifts (v. 22)


This usage is quite a carrying out of the principle of the Divine law, which

prescribed remembrance of the widow and fatherless upon those who were

prosperous in Israel. We find an interesting parallel to the present passage

in Nehemiah: when the law had been read and expounded in the hearing of

the people, they “went their way to eat, and to drink, and to send portions,

and to make great mirth.”  (Nehemiah 8:10)  These presents were sent by the

people to one another in friendship and courtesy; to the poor in charity. It is a

usage which, though it may be carried too far and abused, has yet its advantages.




neighborly gift is, in some cases, better than a mere message of inquiry, or

congratulation, or condolence.



gifts of Providence with the less fortunate opens the heart and enlarges its

sympathies. It is a check to natural selfishness.


  • IT IS BENEFICIAL TO THE RECEIVER. A friend’s gift is a token

of that friend’s remembrance and love. And many a poor household is, at

Christmas-tide, made bright by the presents thought appropriate to the

season. Children especially are pleased with such gifts, and their pleasure is

worth our consideration.




SAVIOUR. “He openeth His hand, and supplieth the wants of every living

thing.”  (Psalm 145:16)  Christ gave bread to the hungry, and turned water

into wine for the enjoyment of the guests at a wedding-feast.




BROTHERHOOD. How much better to carry out such usages upon the

suggestion of Christian motive, and in connection with Christian

fellowship, than for worldly display, or policy, or from ordinary good




The Elements of Perfect Joy (vs. 19, 22)


“A good day, and of sending portions one to another:.., days of feasting

and joy, and of sending portions one to another, and gifts to the poor.”

Twice then, among the other particulars of the people’s glad celebration of

their deliverance from a savage massacre, is this detail included, that they

sent “portions one to another;” and once it is added that they sent “gifts to

the poor.” This was no ancient prescription of the law, so far as literal

command is concerned. But the spirit of it is no doubt to be detected even

there, especially in those passages which urge the principle of taking care

that days of general joy should be felt in their warming influence by “the

stranger, the fatherless, and the widow.” In the same spirit we read in

Nehemiah (Nehemiah 8:10), however, what comes verbally much

nearer our present passage. A day of deep feeling and special cause of joy

was to be observed as a day of feasting, and of sending “portions unto

them for whom nothing is prepared.” There can be no question that we

have here a portion of the genuine history of the human heart. We seem to

hear some of the better and simpler utterances of human nature. The joy of

the saved people of God is before us. And whatever other marks it may

have, it certainly has those which make it a type of Christian joy on earth.

In this light principally we may now regard it. We notice here:


  • A GENERAL AND SIMULTANEOUS JOY. It was not in every

respect equal. But in one respect it was equal, in that wherever it spread it

was the joy of life, of life rescued from the brink of destruction. Joy need

not be equal all round a family; nor all round the world’s family; for there

are in hearts exceedingly various degrees of susceptibility, and these by

themselves are sure to govern largely the exact amount of what can be

called happiness or joy. All that is necessary to the one largest, purest,

most loving heart in the whole circle is, that all others be blessed and happy

at the same time, and according to the full measure of their capacity. But a

joy that is not general, that is exposed to overhearing the sounds of

complaining, or the sighs of those who mourn alone, or the echoes of the

outcry of pain, is deeply felt to be imperfect.


  • A JOY FULL OF MUTUAL KINDNESS. Quite independently of the

differences in human life that show one man rich and possessing all things,

and another poor and needy, there are differences within a far less range of

compass, and yet innumerable. These do not show the extremes of

condition; and by Divine wisdom they do make the room for all the play of

sympathy, for all the works of mutual kindness. These save hearts from

stagnation, and make the healthful ripples and movement after movement

of life, stirring the affections within. Were all this at an end, the dead level

of human life and feeling would be appalling indeed. The joy that does not

find this room for mutual service, for “readiness to good works” (Titus 3:1),

for interchange of the offices of affection and friendship, if general, would

nevertheless be selfish to the last degree. How happy that short reign of

community of goods in the early apostolic history, when all “of them that

believed were of one heart and one soul: neither said any of them that

aught of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things

common.” (Acts 4:32)  And that would be inferior to the conscious pleasure

of a constant exchange of the tokens of sympathy and of the deeds of

kindness.  In the joy that should shut out the prizes of mutual service it

would be felt that there was something wanting.



doubt that the kindness of charity is in reality an easier exercise and a less

rare grace than that of a perfect mutual kindness. Yet we know the special

honour put upon poverty both by the life and the lip of Jesus. And we

know the abounding promises that His word makes to those who pity and

give to the poor. There is indeed a certain subtle danger that may lurk in

the perpetual exercise of charitable kindness. The giver can almost always

reckon on the exaltation of position which belongs to the patron. He may

be injured by what underlies the beautiful and ever-welcome words of the

regretful Job: “When the ear heard me, then it blessed me; and when the

eye saw me, it gave witness to me.” (Job 29:11)  Nevertheless, men little need

at present to be warned of the danger; they seldom come near enough to this

temptation. And, meantime, must not the joy that knows not the spirit of

charity to the poor fatally want? There must be something different from

vacant want indeed, bad as that should be. That joy must feel itself “a

guilty thing.” But now in this typical joy of God’s suddenly-rescued people

in the days of Esther all these elements were present. The people:


Ø      had all been in one danger,

Ø      had all enjoyed one deliverance, and

Ø      they all experience one general pervading joy.


Common suffering while it lasts draws us near to one another by a proverb;

it is rather the index of cowardice of heart.  But when the return of common

mercy finds us drawing near to one another in the works of practical fellowship,

and showing compassion to the poor in the works of charity, then a happiness

is kindled of the best that earth knows. The companions in danger and in

rescue are found still companions in prosperity. In woe and in weal they

have learned to be one.  The common escape from danger quickens a sincere

compassion. And this history cannot be judged to fall short of portraying

the one danger of the whole race of mankind, the one rescue open to them,

and the one united life of joy, of love, of charity that Christians ought to

live here on earth.


23 And the Jews undertook to do as they had begun, and as Mordecai

had written unto them;  24 Because Haman the son of Hammedatha, the

Agagite, the enemy of all the Jews, had devised against the Jews to destroy

them, and had cast Pur, that is, the lot, to consume them, and to destroy

them;  The Jews undertook to do as they had begun. i.e. “to

observe the 14th day.” And as Mordecai had written to them. i.e. “and

to observe also the 15th.”


25  But when Esther came before the king, he commanded by letters

that his wicked device, which he devised against the Jews, should

return upon his own head, and that he and his sons should be

hanged on the gallows.  But when Esther came before the king. Rather,

when the matter came before the king.” It is impossible to supply a proper name

which has not occurred once in the last eleven verses. We must suppose

the feminine suffix attached to the verb bo, “came,” to be superfluous, as it

is in Ezekiel 33:33. His wicked device should return upon his own

head. Compare Psalm 7:16. The device of Haman to massacre all the

Jews turned to the destruction of the Jews’ chief enemies, and of Haman

himself and his sons among them.


26 Wherefore they called these days Purim after the name of Pur.

Therefore for all the words of this letter, and of that which they had

seen concerning this matter, and which had come unto them,

Wherefore they called these days Purim after the name of

Pur. They took the Persian word, that is, and gave it a Hebrew plural,

either because the Persian method of casting involved the use of several

lots, or because Haman cast “Pur” several times (ch.3:7). For all

the words of this letter. i.e. “on account of what was said in Mordecai’s

letter to them” (v. 20). And of that which they had seen, etc. “And on

account of what they had themselves seen and suffered.” Mordecai’s

arguments were backed up by their own personal experience, and the

recollection of what “had come to them,”


27 The Jews ordained, and took upon them, and upon their seed, and

upon all such as joined themselves unto them, so as it should not

fail, that they would keep these two days according to their writing,

and according to their appointed time every year;

All such as joined themselves to them. i.e. “all who should

become proselytes to their faith” (see above, ch.8:17). According

to their writing. According to the writing concerning the days which they

had received from Mordecai (v. 20).


28 And that these days should be remembered and kept throughout

every generation, every family, every province, and every city; and

that these days of Purim should not fail from among the Jews, nor

the memorial of them perish from their seed.

That these days should be remembered and kept

throughout every generation, every family, etc. The universal adoption

of the Purim feast by the Jewish nation, originating as it did at Susa,

among the Persian Jews, never a very important part of the nation, is a

curious fact, and is certainly not satisfactorily accounted for by the beauty

and popularity of the Book of Esther, nor by the dignity and

power of Mordecai. Mordecai had no ecclesiastical authority; and it might

have been expected that the Jews of Jerusalem would have demurred to the

imposition of a fresh religious obligation upon them by a Jew of the

Dispersion, who was neither a prophet, nor a priest, nor even a Levite. The

Jews of Jerusalem, in their strongly-situated city, which was wholly theirs,

and with their temple-fortress complete (Ezra 6:15), can scarcely have

felt themselves in much danger from an attack which was to have begun

and ended in a day. But Joiakim, the high priest of the time (Nehemiah

12:10-12), to whom, as was mentioned in the Introduction, the Book of

Esther was attributed by some, must have given his approval to the feast

from the first, and have adopted it into the ceremonial of the nation, or it

would scarcely have become universal. Hooker (‘Eccl. Pol.,’ 5:71, § 6)

rightly makes the establishment of the feast an argument in favor of the

Church’s power to prescribe festival days; and it must certainly have been

by ecclesiastical, and not by civil, command that it became obligatory.

That these days… should not fail,… nor the memorial of them perish.

As a commemoration of human, and not of Divine, appointment, the feast

of Purim was liable to abrogation or discontinuance. The Jews of the time

resolved that the observance should be perpetual; and in point of fact the

feast has continued up to the present date, and is likely to continue, though

they could not bind their successors.



A Holy Memorial (v. 28)


Memory is a Divine gift, to be used for the glory of the Giver. Every

individual has his memories; for his past life has been marked by events

important to himself, and worthy of being now and again recalled to

awaken gratitude, humility, confidence. Every family has its memories; and

domestic anniversaries may be observed with advantage, especially to the

young. Every nation has its memories — of great reigns, great

deliverances, great conquests, etc. Every religion has its memories — of its

founder, its fundamental facts, its triumphs. The Jews had reason to

remember Purim.




Ø      Our deliverances.

Ø      God’s mercies.




Ø      To encourage us to the exercise of devout gratitude.

Ø      To foster our trust and faith in Him whose mercies we call to mind.

Ø      To honor God. “Forget not all His benefits.”  (Psalm 103:2)




Ø      With sacrifices of praise. “Let us exalt His name together.”

(Psalm 34:3)  “The Lord hath done great things for us, whereof

we are glad.”  (Ibid. 126:3)

Ø      With gatherings of fellowship. Where mercies have been experienced in

common they should be acknowledged in common. There is something

inspiring and elevating in the celebration, by a multitude, of a great

event, a signal mercy. So with the observance of the Lord’s Supper.

Ø      With tokens of practical kindness. Festivals are holy in proportion as

those who take part in them are unselfish, disinterested, and kind.

Ø      With especial reference to the young. In youth public observances

impress themselves upon the memory. The Jews took pains to instruct

their children in the meaning of the Passover and the other national

festivals.  Thus the perpetuity of the memorial is secured. We should

celebrate God’s loving-kindness, and “tell it to the generation

 following.”  (Ibid. 48:13)


Memorial institutions have a great evidential value. Just as the Lord’s Supper and the

Lord’s day at once commemorate and attest the facts of our Lord’s death and

resurrection, so the feast of Purim is a testimony to the truth of the narrative

contained in the Book of Esther. Memorials of past deliverances should:


Ø      Keep alive our sense of gratitude.

Ø      Teach us our dependence on God.

Ø      Strengthen our faith in God.

Ø      Warn us against the temptations and dangers of sin, and

constrain us to lead a holy and God-fearing life.


To have our “names written In heaven in the Book of Life” (Revelation 20:12)



29 Then Esther the queen, the daughter of Abihail, and Mordecai the

Jew, wrote with all authority, to confirm this second letter of

Purim.  The unusual designation of Esther as “daughter of Abihail can only be

accounted for by her having so designated herself in the letter. With all

authority. Rather, “with all earnestness,” or “impressiveness.” Literally,

the word used means “strength.” To confirm this second letter of

Purim. The first letter is the one which is mentioned in vs. 20 and 26.

That letter having elicited the favorable reply contained in vs. 26-28, a

second letter of Purim” was now issued, “confirming” and establishing

the observance. It went forth not as an edict, or in the king’s name, but as a

letter, and in the names of Esther and Mordecai.


30 And he sent the letters unto all the Jews, to the hundred twenty and

seven provinces of the kingdom of Ahasuerus, with words of peace

and truth, And he sent the letters. Rather, “he sent letters.” In addition

to the formal “letter of Purim,” which was of the nature of an ordinance,

though not of legal force, Mordecai sent informal letters, which embraced

other topics besides the Purim feast, as, for instance, words of salutation,

and perhaps a reference to the keeping of a fast before the two Purim days

(v. 31). These he sent to all Jews throughout the whole empire, inclosing

with them the formal “letter of Purim.” With words of peace and truth.

Perhaps beginning thus: “Peace and truth be with you” — a modification of

the usual, “Peace,” etc. (Ezra 4:17), or, “All peace” (ibid. 5:7), with

which letters ordinarily began.


Words of truth are the surest foundation for words of peace!

The peace brought about by false words is hollow, temporary only, and vain.

But the full truth being declared, a sound and lasting peace may follow,

heralded and assured by appropriate words. The Christian revelation exactly

agrees with the description of these words; it brings:


  • truth to our understanding and
  • peace to heart and life.


31 To confirm these days of Purim in their times appointed, according

as Mordecai the Jew and Esther the queen had enjoined them, and

as they had decreed for themselves and for their seed, the matters

of the fastings and their cry.  As they had decreed for themselves and their seed.

“As they — i.e. the Jews generally — had decreed” (see v. 27). The matters

of the fastings and their cry. These words stand in no clear grammatical

relation to the preceding, and are otherwise very difficult to explain. They

are thought to allude to the establishment by the provincial Jews, apart

from Mordecai and Esther, of the 13th of Adar as a day of fasting and

wailing; but if so, it is strange that nothing has been previously said of this

ordinance. The plural form of the word for fastings is also suspicious,

since it does not occur elsewhere in the Old Testament. Altogether, it is

perhaps most probable that the words were originally the gloss of a

commentator, written in the margin, and that they have been accidentally

transferred to the text. They do not occur in the Septuagint.



Fasting and Crying Remembered amidst Feasting and Singing (v. 31)


It is not good to banish from the mind perils and sorrows through which

we have passed, and from which we have been delivered. (Thus bitter

herbs were associated with the Passover  to remind the Jews of slavery

in Egypt – Exodus 12:8 - CY – 2014)  In times of prosperity and rejoicing

it is well to keep before us the mutability of all earthly things. Life is a

checkered scene, a changing landscape. To-day is unlike yesterday, and

unlike to-morrow. Undue elation and undue depression are alike unworthy

of the Christian. By remembering past griefs, troubles, and dangers:


  • WE DISPOSE OURSELVES TO HUMILITY. Such was our lot, such

our position, such our apprehensions and alarms but a short time since. Let

us not then be puffed up with self-satisfaction because the cloud has blown

over and the sky is blue again.


  • WE ENCOURAGE GRATITUDE. Who has turned fasting to feasting,

and crying to songs? God is our deliverer; He has “turned again our

captivity.”   (Psalm 126:1)  To Him be praise!


  • WE SEASON AND BRIGHTEN OUR JOYS. It is pleasant to look

back upon the shipwreck from which we have been rescued, the battle out

of which we have come unscathed; it gives a zest to the enjoyments of today

when we remember the bitterness and the anguish of days gone by.



IN GOD. Unmixed prosperity is not favorable to spiritual life. “Sweet are

the uses of adversity.” Remember your complaints and prayers, and how

they were heard and answered from above. “He drew you out of many

waters.”  (II Samuel 22:17; Psalm 18:16)  So shall your trust be steadfast

and sustaining.



HEAVEN. When we come to the rest above, we shall look back

wonderingly, gratefully, upon the scene of conflict from which we shall

then be delivered; it will seem perhaps largely a scene of fasting and of

crying. And the retrospect will surely enhance the “pleasures which are for

evermore.”  (Psalm 16:11)




The Religion of National Gratitude (vs. 21, 27-28, 31)


Mordecai and Esther were not the people to receive great blessings and

then at once to forget them. We not unfrequently see those who have had

hair-breadth escapes from the worst of calamities recover in a moment

their previous light and jaunty spirits. They seem insensible to the risk

which had so imperiled them, and certainly are not grateful for the mercy

which had rescued them. They do not return either to give thanks to man

or glory to God. It is far otherwise now with Mordecai, with Esther, and,

at their initiative, with the mass of the people. Wherever Mordecai had sent

to his people the messages of relief and the warrants to resist, there he now

sends proposals which, if acceded to, will insure the perpetual memory of

their deliverance, and will suggest ever new gratefulness for it. Esther joins

heart and hand in the same, and the people themselves warmly approve the

suggestion. They solemnly and enthusiastically adopt the proposal. They

undertook to do as they had begun, and as Mordecai had written to

them.” The method of observing an anniversary to all generations is

accepted as the means by which “the memorial” of their deliverance “shall

never perish” from them or “their seed.” It is evident that a deep religious

interest was thrown into this matter, and the account of it is repeated as

many as four times, and with minuteness of detail. The example is good for

individuals. The precedent is good for nations. We have here:



great danger of the fit occasions of national gratitude passing by

unimproved. This may often arise simply from the fact that “what is every

one’s business is no one’s.” The danger needs to be counteracted, and

sometimes it is effectually counteracted. Three conditions present, will

exhibit, the fair and happy display of national gratitude.


Ø      The benefit must be in its character such as reaches the heart. Whether

cheap bread, cheap health, or cheap Bible; whether free laws, free

knowledge, or free conscience, it must be what is adapted to all, and

can be appreciated by all. The blessing called life had perhaps never

been considered in this light by the Jews till they were so near to

losing it.  But it was what every one of them, young and old, and

of every class, appreciated.


Ø      The benefit must be such as has reached, either directly or indirectly,

every class of the people. In highly-developed communities it should

form part of the self-imposed work of all kinds of public and religious

teachers to show the value of benefits which may be only indirect, and

how they claim gratitude. In the present instance, the benefit for which

such gladness and joy had sprung up had penetrated not only to every

class, but to every individual.


Ø      The call to celebrate the benefit must be made so as to win the hearty

approval and cooperation of the people. The moral influence of

Mordecai and Esther was evidently very great. Their own example,

their own deep interest in the course suggested, was contagious.

The urgency with which they wrote helped to throw conviction of

duty and enthusiasm toward its performance into the hearts of all

the people. God never loves a cheerful giver more than when the

cheerful giving is in very simple matters — that of thanks, or praise,

or grateful adoration presented to Himself.



NATIONAL GRATITUDE. Much kindly feeling passes away for want of

embodiment. It dies down within, and there comes “no second spring” for

it. Certainly gratitude is liable soon to die away. The most solemn claim of

affection that the world knows is couched in the language of the claim of

gratitude: “Do this in remembrance of me.”  (Luke 22:19)  In this

perpetuation of national thanksgiving we may notice:


Ø      The wise method by which it was obtained.


o       The happy moment was seized by the moral leaders of the

people for giving a religious character to the joy that already

possessed them.  Mordecai made use of the excited state of

feeling to say, Let it take the direction of thanksgiving.


o       The right moment was seized, when the “willing mind” of a

whole people would be inclined to make a day into an

anniversary ever to be observed. After the people had once

pronounced assent, as it were with one voice, and their

chief men had put their hand to the engagement, they

would not be likely to turn back. The resolution of that

critical time has lasted and has borne fruit now over

twenty-five centuries.


Ø      The good ends which it would serve. Love and thankfulness, and

praise and gratitude, are all alike in one respect, that they ask no

utilitarian questions. Their motive lies in themselves. And probably it

was never more so than in this history. Yet we are permitted to observe

the many directions in which they bear good fruit. The perpetuation of

national thanksgiving on the right occasion — that is to say, not after

every bloody battle, to which the Lord never sent forth His people;

and in the right method — i.e. not in such a way as will gratuitously

wound the feeling of another nation, — is adapted to produce great

and good results.


o       The acknowledgment is a direct act of glorifying God.

o       It keeps Him in the memory of the people as the Giver

of all good, as the Sovereign Ruler and the beneficent


o       It reminds again and again of the need once felt so keenly,

of the poverty once so trying, of the exceeding peril which

once threatened, of the boundless relief once experienced.


God’s people were bidden to remember how “they were bondsmen

in Egypt  (Deuteronomy 15:15), to “look to the rock whence they

were hewn, and to the hole of the pit whence they were digged.”

(Isaiah 51:1)  And these are the memories that chastise the pride

of the human heart, and raise the tone and level of the character,

and lead gradually nearer real safety and real prosperity. They are

also the memories which for the future guide to the right source of

confidence and of help. Of whatever advantage we know these

things to be in any individual life, the advantage is one immensely

multiplied in the case of a nation — multiplied, that is, by

the whole number of those who go together to compose it.


32 And the decree of Esther confirmed these matters of Purim; and it

was written in the book.   The decree of Esther. Rather, “a commandment

of Esther.” Some fresh act seems to be intended — something beyond the

joint letter of Esther and Mordecai; though why it was needed, or what

additional authority it could give, is not apparent. And it was written in

 the book. i.e. “this commandment of Esther was inserted in the book of the

chronicles,” where the writer probably found it. No other book being

mentioned in Esther but this, “the book’’ can have no other meaning (see

ch. 2:23; 6:1; 10:2).


“Written in the book.”  Tradition is the simplest mode of transmitting what is

memorable from generation to generation. Ordinances, festivals, celebrations,

are a kind of acted tradition, and have always been in use among nations and

religious communities. But there are certain respects in which literature is

preferable to either oral tradition or commemorative festival, and certainly these

receive force and point and power from what is written in their

explanation. The origin of the feast of Purim was committed to the form

and keeping of literature. Whether the reference is to the Book of Esther,

or to the chronicles of the Persian kingdom, or to some other document, is

matter of dispute. In any case, the story was “written in a book” — in a

scroll of manuscript, from which copies were made for use and information

of those interested in the events recorded.  (It is incomprehensible how

that such a celebration as Christmas could be under attack in America!

Whoever heard such a thing?  (Jeremiah 2:9-13 – CY - 2014)



The Effects of Deliverance (vs. 17-32)


Our narrative closes with a bright picture, in which all clouds are scattered;

it is as sunshine after rain. Among the results of Israel’s triumph we notice:


  • REST. All the Jews in the empire, except those in Shushan, rested on

the 14th of Adar. The Jews in Shushan, after their two days’ conflict,

rested on the 15th of Adar. Then all had rest. So utterly broken was the

power of their enemies that they had rest not only from a past fear, but

from anxiety as to the future. How sweet is rest after the agitation of a

long-threatened peril — to the soldier when the battle is fought and won;

to the nation when the foes who sought to destroy it are bereft of power.

The soul-rest of a victory over sin and death is the gift of Christ to those

who follow Him  (Matthew 11:28-30; John 14:27); and when all the

conflicts of earth are over, “there remaineth a rest to the people of God,”

(Hebrews 4:9-11), AN ETERNAL HEAVEN!


  • JOY.  It is natural that joy in its inward emotion and outward

manifestations should be proportionate to the benefit that has occasioned

it. The wonderful deliverance of the Jews filled them with a wonderful joy;

their hearts ran over with gladness. So also to the man who appropriates

Christ and His redemption there is a “joy of salvation,” “a joy which is

unspeakable and full of glory” (I Peter 1:8). John the Baptist’s “joy

was fulfilled” at the hearing of “the Bridegroom’s voice” (John 3:29).

Jesus explained His object, in teaching His disciples the truth, as being

that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full” (John

15:11). The religion of God is A RELIGION OF JOY!   It slays fear and

banishes gloom. It turns all things into channels of a joy that is heaven-born.

Sackcloth may be the symbolic garb of the penitent, but robes washed

white and shining are the symbolic clothing of the true believer. “Songs of

deliveranceencompass the saved (Psalm 32:7; Philippians 4:4; I

Thessalonians 5:16).


  • UNITY. Common trials and common triumphs have great power in

binding men together. Both in their grief and in their joy the Jews became

as one family. Heart flowed into heart, and all stood up and drew close in

compact oneness. The deliverance would add immensely to the sense of

brotherhood which the common terror had excited. In presence of such

experiences minor differences in opinion and practice vanish. The more

that Christians realize their own need, and God’s mercy in Christ, the more

readily will they regard each other as brethren of the “household of faith.”

The history of the Church of God shows in a signal way how God often

sends alternate tribulations and triumphs just to bring His people closer to

Himself, and thereby closer to each other against their common foes.


  • LARGE-HEARTEDNESS. A true joy enlarges the heart; a sense of

goodness received excites a desire to do good. Grace is communicative. If

we love Christ, we shall love all whom Christ loves. If we have joy in God,

we shall long to impart that joy to others. The gladness of a God-saved

soul diffuses itself like the light. This effect of deliverance was shown by

the Jews in three ways:


Ø      In their “feasting’’ together. Social gatherings in connection with

great events or interests, when wisely conducted, afford a good

opportunity for mutual encouragement and edification.


Ø      In their “sending portions one to another.” Not content with words

or messages, they exchanged presents, as tokens of thankful

congratulation and sympathy. A sense of the Divine favor should

make the heart generous and liberal.


Ø      In their presenting “gifts to the poor.” It was remembered that there

were many who had not the means of celebrating the common

deliverance; so the poor received gifts, that all might rejoice together.

“Freely ye have received, freely give” (I John 3:17).




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