Esther 8:11
Wherein the king granted the Jews which were in every city to gather themselves together, and to stand for their life, to destroy, to slay, and to cause to perish, all the power of the people and province that would assault them, both little ones and women, and to take the spoil of them for a prey,
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(11) To stand for their life.—It will be noticed that, so far at any rate as the edict authorises, the Jews are not permitted to take the initiative, but merely to stand on the defensive. As it was, it was risking civil war in all the cities of the empire, though the results were considerably lessened by numbers of people taking the hint obviously presented by the second edict. “Many of the people of the land became Jews, for the fear of the Jews came upon them.”

Take the spoil of them.—We find that when the storm actually came, the Jews declined to take advantage of this part of the edict.

Esther 8:11. To stand for their life — To fight for the defence of their lives, against all that should seek to destroy them. To cause to perish the power of the people, &c. — Either governors or governed, without any exception either of age, dignity, or sex. Both little ones and women — Which is here added, to strike the greater terror into their enemies; and according to the laws and customs of that kingdom, whereby children were punished for their parents’ offences: yet we read nothing, in the execution of this decree, of the slaughter of women or children; nor is it probable they would kill their innocent children, who were so indulgent to their families as not to meddle with the spoil.

8:3-14 It was time to be earnest, when the church of God was at stake. Esther, though safe herself, fell down and begged for the deliverance of her people. We read of no tears when she begged for her own life, but although she was sure of that, she wept for her people. Tears of pity and tenderness are the most Christ-like. According to the constitution of the Persian government, no law or decree could be repealed or recalled. This is so far from speaking to the wisdom and honour of the Medes and Persians, that it clearly shows their pride and folly. This savours of that old presumption which ruined all, We will be as gods! It is God's prerogative not to repent, or to say what can never be altered or unsaid. Yet a way was found, by another decree, to authorize the Jews to stand upon their defence. The decree was published in the languages of all the provinces. Shall all the subjects of an earthly prince have his decrees in languages they understand, and shall God's oracles and laws be locked up from any of his servants in an unknown tongue?This fresh decree allowed the Jews to stand on their defense, and to kill all who attacked them. It has been pronounced incredible that any king would thus have sanctioned civil war in all the great cities of his empire; but some even of the more skeptical critics allow that "Xerxes" might not improbably have done so. 11-13. the king granted the Jews … to stand for their life … to slay … all … that would assault them—The fixed and unalterable character claimed for Persian edicts often placed the king in a very awkward dilemma; for, however bitterly he might regret things done in a moment of haste and thoughtlessness, it was beyond even his power to prevent the consequences. This was the reason on account of which the king was laid under a necessity not to reverse, but to issue a contradictory edict; according to which it was enacted that if, pursuant to the first decree, the Jews were assaulted, they might, by virtue of the second, defend themselves and even slay their enemies. However strange and even ridiculous this mode of procedure may appear, it was the only one which, from the peculiarities of court etiquette in Persia, could be adopted. Instances occur in sacred (Da 6:14), no less than profane, history. Many passages of the Bible attest the truth of this, particularly the well-known incident of Daniel's being cast into the den of lions, in conformity with the rash decree of Darius, though, as it afterwards appeared, contrary to the personal desire of that monarch. That the law of Persia has undergone no change in this respect, and the power of the monarch not less immutable, appear from many anecdotes related in the books of modern travellers through that country. To stand for their life; to stand up and fight for the de fence of their lives against all that should seek to destroy them.

All the power of the people; either governors or governed, without any exception, either of age, dignity, or sex, as it follows.

Both little ones and women; which is here added, because it was put into the former decree; and to strike the greater terror into their enemies; and according to the laws and customs of this kingdom, whereby children were punished for their parents’ offences; which also in some cases was allowed and practised in sacred story. Yet we read nothing in the execution of this decree of the slaughter of women or children, nor is it probable that they would kill their innocent children, who were so indulgent to their families, as not to meddle with the spoil.

Wherein the king granted the Jews which were in every city to gather themselves together,.... In some part of the city they should choose, and remain in a body, being sufficiently armed:

and to stand for their life; to defend themselves, and fight for their life, should any attack them, or attempt to take it away; in such case they might act offensively:

so as to destroy, to slay, and to cause to perish, all the power of the people and province that would assault them; every army of them, or as many as should join in a body to attack them, any mighty or powerful mob; and not men only:

but both little ones and women, and to take the spoil of them for a prey; the same words are used, and the same power is given them as were to their enemies, Esther 3:13, not that they made use of it to the utmost extremity, it is certain they did not in one point, in taking the spoil, Esther 9:10, and, since they spared that, it is highly probable they spared women and children.

Wherein the king granted the Jews which were in every city to gather themselves together, and to stand for {h} their life, to destroy, to slay, and to cause to perish, all the power of the people and province that would assault them, both little ones and women, and to take the spoil of them for a prey,

(h) That is, to defend themselves against all who would assail them.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
11. The LXX. express the permission in much gentler form, viz. ‘to defend themselves and to treat their adversaries and foes as they please.’ But the author of the Book evidently means to bring out forcibly the fact that the parts which by the first decree had been assigned respectively to the Jews and their foes are now reversed.

Verse 11. - Wherein the king granted. Rather, "that the king granted." Mordecai sent "letters," which said "that the king granted to the Jews to gather themselves together," etc. To gather themselves together. Union is strength. If all the Jews of a province were allowed to collect and band themselves together, they would at once be a formidable body. Scattered in the various towns and villages, they might easily have been overpowered. To stand for their life. The Jews have sometimes been spoken of as the aggressors on the actual 13th of Adar, but there is no evidence to support this view. The edict clearly only allowed them to stand on the defensive. Of course, when fighting once began, both sides did their worst. In repelling attack the Jews had the same liberty to destroy, to slay, and to cause to perish as their adversaries (Esther 3:13). Little ones. Rather, "families." Take the spoil of them for a prey. i.e. "seize their property." The earlier edict had given the same permission to the Jews' enemies (Esther 3:13). Esther 8:11These letters were prepared in the same manner as those of Haman (Esther 3:12-15), on the 23rd day of the third month, the month Sivan, and sent into all the provinces. "And it was written according to all that Mordochai commanded." They were sent to the Jews and to the satraps, etc., of the whole wide realm from India to Ethiopia (see Esther 1:1), while those of Haman had been issued only to the satraps, etc. The rest coincides with Esther 3:12. ויּכתּב, and he (Mordochai) wrote. To show the speed with which the letters were despatched, (messengers) "on horseback, on coursers, government coursers, the sons of the stud," is added to הרצים בּיד. רכשׁ is a collective, meaning swift horses, coursers; comp. 1 Kings 5:8. אחשׁתּרנים (Esther 8:11 and Esther 8:14) answers to the Old-Persian kschatrana, from kschatra, government, king, and means government, royal, or court studs. So Haug in Ewald's bibl. Jahrb. v. p. 154. The older explanation, mules, on the other hand, is founded on the modern Persian estar, which, to judge from the Sanscrit avatara, must in ancient Persian have been apatara. רמּכים, ἁπ. λεγ. from רמּך, answering to the Syriac remakaa', herd, especially a herd of horses, and to the Arabic ramaka, stud, is explained by Bertheau as a superlative form for the animal who excels the rest of the herd of stud in activity, perhaps the breeding stallion, while others understand it of the stud in general. The contents of the edict follow in Esther 8:11 and Esther 8:12 : "that the king allows the Jews in every city to assemble and to stand for their life (i.e., to fight for their lives, comp. Daniel 12:1), to destroy, to slay, and to cause to perish all the power (חיל, military power) of the people and province that should assault them, children and women, and to plunder their property, upon a certain day," etc. The appointed time is thus stated as in Esther 3:13. The Jews were thus authorized to attack and destroy all enemies who should assault them on the day appointed for their extermination. Esther 8:13 coincides with Esther 3:14, with this difference, that the Jews are to be ready on this day to avenge themselves on their enemies. Esther 8:14 also is similar to Esther 3:15, except that the expression is strengthened by an addition to הרצים as in Esther 8:10, and by that of דּחוּפים, urged on, to מבהלים, hastened, to point out the utmost despatch possible.
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