Now that we’ve finished reading and reflecting on the book of Esther, let’s take a step back to see how it fits into the storyline of the whole Bible. In particular, we’ll focus on God’s crucial promises to Abraham (who was known as Abram at that time). We find these promises near the beginning of the Bible’s storyline (Genesis 12:2-3, 7)
About Peter Lau
Peter Lau has been lecturing at Seminari Theoloji Malaysia since 2010. He is a trained medical doctor, and also holds a Ph.D. in Old Testament. He has published on Ruth, Ezekiel, and Psalms. Peter is married to Kathryn and they have three children.
Entries by Peter Lau
As the narrative ends, we are reminded of the power and reach of the Persian Empire. Remember, this is an empire that extends across 127 provinces (Esther 1:1). It has the power to grant a suspension of taxes (2:18 ESV), and then re-impose taxes on everything under its power, all the way to the distant coastlands (on the eastern Mediterranean; Esther 10:1).
Today’s passage continues the description of how Purim was established. An interesting aspect is how the festival got its name. Haman plotted against the Jews and cast the lot (pur) to find the most auspicious day to carry out his plot (Esther 9:24). Purim is the plural of pur (v. 26). Yet in the Old Testament, the lot is also cast to find out God’s will.
God’s deliverance of the Jews is such an important event that it is commemorated each year. The description of the festival emphasises the reversal: from fasting, mourning, and sadness to feasting, relief, and gladness (Esther 9:22).
In the citadel of Susa, the Jews kill 500 men, along with the sons of Haman (Esther 9:6-10). The king then asks Esther what she would like to do next (vv. 11-12). She asks for permission for the Jews to defend themselves the next day in the rest of Susa (v. 13). She also asks for the bodies of Haman’s sons to be impaled and displayed as a deterrent (v. 13).
And so, the day arrives for the two decrees to be put into effect (Esther 9:1). The Jews gather together in all the cities to defend themselves against those who hate them. They overpower their enemies, those throughout the Persian Empire who try to harm them (v. 2).
Mordecai writes an edict to counteract the first one. If you read it carefully, you’ll notice that it counters Haman’s edict (see Esther 3) almost word-for-word.
The archenemy of the Jews is dead, but the jaws of death are still open. How is Haman’s edict going to be dealt with?
On the same day that Haman falls, Mordecai rises. The impaling of Haman probably provided the chance for Esther to reveal to the king that Mordecai was her relative (Esther 8:1). Haman is again described as ″the enemy of the Jews″ (v. 1), but now he has been executed as an enemy of the Persian Empire.
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