Esther 3:13
And the letters were sent by posts into all the king's provinces, to destroy, to kill, and to cause to perish, all Jews, both young and old, little children and women, in one day, even upon the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, which is the month Adar, and to take the spoil of them for a prey.
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(13) Posts.—Literally, the runners. (See Note on Esther 1:22.)

3:7-15 Without some acquaintance with the human heart, and the history of mankind, we should not think that any prince could consent to a dreadful proposal, so hurtful to himself. Let us be thankful for mild and just government. Haman inquires, according to his own superstitions, how to find a lucky day for the designed massacre! God's wisdom serves its own purposes by men's folly. Haman has appealed to the lot, and the lot, by delaying the execution, gives judgment against him. The event explains the doctrine of a particular providence over all the affairs of men, and the care of God over his church. Haman was afraid lest the king's conscience should smite him for what he had done; to prevent which, he kept him drinking. This cursed method many often take to drown convictions, and to harden their own hearts, and the hearts of others, in sin. All appeared in a favourable train to accomplish the project. But though sinners are permitted to proceed to the point they aim at, an unseen but almighty Power turns them back. How vain and contemptible are the strongest assaults against Jehovah! Had Haman obtained his wish, and the Jewish nation perished, what must have become of all the promises? How could the prophecies concerning the great Redeemer of the world have been fulfilled? Thus the everlasting covenant itself must have failed, before this diabolical project could take place.Present, the Jews keep three days - the 13th, the 14th, and the 15th of Adar - as connected with "the Feast of Purim;" but they make the 13th a fast, commemorative of the fast of Esther Est 4:16, and keep the feast itself on the 14th and 15th of Adar. 12-15. Then were the king's scribes called … and there was written—The government secretaries were employed in making out the proclamation authorizing a universal massacre of the Jews on one day. It was translated into the dialects of all the people throughout the vast empire, and swift messengers were sent to carry it into all the provinces. On the day appointed, all Jews were to be put to death and their property confiscated; doubtless, the means by which Haman hoped to pay his stipulated tribute into the royal treasury. To us it appears unaccountable how any sane monarch could have given his consent to the extirpation of a numerous class of his subjects. But such acts of frenzied barbarity have, alas! been not rarely authorized by careless and voluptuous despots, who have allowed their ears to be engrossed and their policy directed by haughty and selfish minions, who had their own passions to gratify, their own ends to serve. Which was to oblige them to the greater severity and readiness, to execute this edict for their own advantage.

And the letters were sent by post into all the king's provinces,.... Or by the runners (x); by which it seems as if these letters were carried by running footmen, men swift of foot; or rather they were running horses, on which men rode post with letters, and which the Persians called Angari; a scheme invented by Cyrus, for the quick dispatch of letters from place to place, by fixing horses and men to ride them at a proper distance, to receive letters one from another, and who rode night and day (y), as our mail men do now; and nothing could be swifter, or done with greater speed; neither snow, nor rain, nor heat, nor night, could stop their course, we are told (z): the purport of these letters was:

to destroy, to kill, and to cause to perish, all Jews, both young and old, little children and women, in one day, even upon the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, which is the month Adar; see Esther 3:7. The orders were to destroy, by any means whatsoever, all the Jews, of every age and sex, all in one day, in all the provinces which are here named, that they might be cut off with one blow: and to take the spoil of them for a prey; to be their own booty; which was proposed to engage them in this barbarous work, to encourage them in it to use the greater severity and dispatch.

(x) "in manu cursorum", Montanus; so the Tigurine version, Drusius, V. L. Junius & Tremellius, Piscator. (y) Xenophon. Cyropaedia, l. 8. c. 43. (z) Herodot. Urania, sive, l. 8. c. 98.

And the letters were sent by posts into all the king's provinces, to destroy, to kill, and to cause to perish, all Jews, both young and old, little children and women, in one day, even upon the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, which is the month Adar, and to take the spoil of them for a prey.
13. And letters were sent by posts] Xenophon tells us (Cyr. viii. 6. 17) that these were carefully organised by Cyrus in the Persian Empire, and continued after his time. Stations were established at convenient distances apart, and supplied relays of horses and men, that the transmission of letters might be as rapid as possible, the forwarding of correspondence being often continued by night.[71] The Heb. for ‘posts’ here is literally the runners. The Greek word is angaros (ἄγγαρος), which, as denoting compulsory service, supplies a verb used three times in the N.T. (Matthew 5:41; Matthew 27:32; Mark 15:21) in the sense ‘to compel.’

[71] “Along the whole line of road there are men (they say) stationed with horses, in number equal to the number of days which the journey takes, allowing a man and a horse to each day; and these men will not be hindered either by snow, or rain, or heat, or by the darkness of night from accomplishing at their best speed the distance which they have to go. The first man delivers his despatch to the second, and the second passes it to the third; and so it is borne from hand to hand along the whole line like the light in the torch race” (Herod. viii. 98).

both young and old, little children and women] It was customary among the Persians (see Herod. iii. 119), and even among the Jews in early times (Joshua 7:24 f.; 2 Kings 9:26), to put to death the families of criminals. So too Appian (xii. 22) tells us that Mithridates, king of Pontus, sent out orders for the indiscriminate slaughter of Romans and all others of Italian birth. In European history the massacre of St Bartholomew is a conspicuous example of similar cruelty.

upon the thirteenth day] The LXX. has simply upon one day, and in that which purports to be the letter itself, as given in the apocryphal Additions to the Book of Esther (Esther 13:6), the date is given as ‘the fourteenth,’ as given also by the LXX. in Esther 3:7 (see note there). In Esther 9:1, however, the Greek supports the Hebrew date here given.

Verse 13. - And the letters were sent by posts. The Persian system of posts is thus described by Xenophon, who attributes its introduction to Cyrus: - "Stables for horses are erected along the various lines of route, at such a distance one from another as a horse can accomplish in a day. All the stables are provided with a number of horses and grooms. There is a post-master to preside over each, who receives the despatches along with the tired men and horses, and sends them on by fresh horses and fresh riders. Sometimes there is no stoppage in the conveyance even at night; since a night courier takes up the work of the day courier, and continues it. It has been said that these posts outstrip the flight of birds, which is not altogether true; but beyond a doubt it is the most rapid of all methods of conveyance by land" ('Cyrop.,' 8:6, § 17). To destroy, to kill, and to cause to perish. The writer quotes from the edict, which appears to have had as many surplus words as a modern English law paper. Young and old, little children and women. "To take the father's life and spare the child's" was thought to be an act of folly in ancient times. Wives and children of criminals were, as a matter of course, put to death with them. This was anciently even the Jewish practice (Joshua 7:24, 25; 2 Kings 9:26; 2 Kings 14:6), and was quite an established usage in Persia (Herod., 3:119). The thirteenth day. The Septuagint has "the fourteenth day" in its professed copy of the decree, but confirms the Hebrew text here by making the thirteenth the actual day of the struggle (Esther 9:1). The fourteenth and fifteenth are the days now kept by the Jews; but it is suspected that an alteration has been made in order to assimilate the Purim to the passover feast, which began on the 14th of Nisan. Esther 3:13And the letters were sent (נשׁלוח, infin. abs. Niph. instead of the verb. fin.) by posts. הרצים are the post-riders, the aggaroi, who were stationed on the high roads of the realm, generally four parasangs apart, to transmit with the more speed the royal letters and messages. Herod. 5.14, 8.98 (Berth.), comp. Brisson, de reg. Pers. princ. i. c. 238f. וגו להשׁמיד, to destroy, to kill, and cause to perish all Jews from the youth to the old man, children and women, in one day, on the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, and to deprive them of their spoil. The three verbs are combined to give strength to the expression. שׁללם is their property, which is called spoil because it was delivered up to plunder. Haman having held out the prospect of a large sum as the result of exterminating the Jews, and the king having bestowed this upon Haman, the plundering of the Jews, thus permitted to all the inhabitants of the kingdom who should assist in exterminating them, must be understood as implying, that they would have to deliver a portion of the booty thus obtained to Haman.
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