Reading through the Bible together
The day had come, the day that Haman and his advisors had cast lots to determine when the Jews should be killed. With this new decree the Jews had a government-mandated right to defend themselves. The war began. Government officials throughout the land were eager to please the king’s new right-hand man, Mordecai. They readily helped the Jewish people and the Jews defeated all their enemies.
In the capital city, 500 enemies were killed, including all ten of Haman’s sons. Mordecai’s decree said that the Jews were free to take the plunder of this war. The Jews did not take anything—no property, money, jewels—from their enemies. Their purpose in fighting was not war. Their purpose was only to save their lives, and the lives of their family members.
The havoc and destruction in the capital city caught the attention of the normally indifferent king. At the end of the day he asked Esther if she was pleased, and if she had any further requests. Esther asked that the decree extend another day in Susa, and that Haman’s sons’ dead bodies be hanged on the gallows. Was she worried that on the second day some of Haman’s family and friends would try to step outside of the law and the Jews would be unprepared to defend themselves? Perhaps. Or in a moment of human weakness did she seek justice overzealously. On the second day 300 more enemies were killed and the bodies of Haman’s sons were hanged.
The war in the countryside ended with 75,000 of the Jew’s enemies dead. The Jewish people came through unscathed, and they gratefully celebrated. They spread their joy with little presents to one another, and with gifts to the poor.
Mordecai declared a holiday, and established a feast. Elsewhere in the Bible, God declared such festivals, but here, Mordecai appears to be God’s voice. The Feast of Purim—named after pur (lots) that were cast—was established. For two days each year, the Jewish people were to celebrate this great reversal. Sorrow was turned to joy, and mourning to feasting. Mordecai acted as the official voice of the Jewish people, and Esther confirmed it, endorsing his instructions.
Mordecai and Esther were adored and admired across the empire. They had essentially overruled the law of the Medes and the Persians, whose laws can never be changed. Many lives were spared. God used Esther and Mordecai as willing, humble vessels. The Feast of Purim is little known, and rarely celebrated today. It may have fallen out of favor, but Esther’s story, and the story of the struggle of her people, remains dear to young and old alike. It will never be forgotten.
Voice of Prophecy