Esther 8:17
And in every province, and in every city, whithersoever the king's commandment and his decree came, the Jews had joy and gladness, a feast and a good day. And many of the people of the land became Jews; for the fear of the Jews fell upon them.
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(17) Became Jews.—That is, embraced their religion as proselytes.

Esther 8:17. A feast and a good day — That is, a time of feasting, rejoicing, and thanksgiving. Not only in Shushan, but in all other places where they resided, they entertained one another at their houses, and feasted together, being full of joy at this unexpected alteration of their affairs. For they doubted not that this new decree of the king would be observed by his people; and they were resolved to defend themselves against those that did not observe it, but attempted to destroy them. And many of the people of the land became Jews — Many of the Persians became proselytes to the Jewish religion, but that they were circumcised is not probable. It is likely, however, that they renounced idolatry, and became worshippers of the true God. Such proselytes there were in all times, especially in the days of David and Solomon, when the affairs of the Jews were very prosperous. Haman thought to extirpate the Jews: it proves, in the issue, that their numbers are greatly increased, and many added to their church. Observe, reader, when the Jews had joy and gladness, then many of the people of the land became Jews. The holy cheerfulness of those that profess religion is a great ornament to their profession, and will invite and encourage others to be religious. Another reason, however, is here given why so many became Jews at this time; for it is said, the fear of the Jews fell upon them. When they observed how wonderfully the divine providence had owned them, and wrought for them, in this critical juncture, they thought them great, and those happy that were among them, as was foretold Zechariah 8:23, We will go with you; for we have heard, we have seen, that God is with you. And they thought them formidable, and those miserable that were against them. They plainly saw, in Haman’s fate, that if any offered an injury to the Jews, it was at their peril; and, therefore, for their own security, they joined themselves to them. It is folly to think of contending with the God of Israel, and therefore it is wisdom to think of submitting to him.

8:15-17 Mordecai's robes now were rich. These things are not worth notice, but as marks of the king's favour, and the fruit of God's favour to his church. It is well with a land, when ensigns of dignity are made the ornaments of serious piety. When the church prospers, many will join it, who will be shy of it when in trouble. When believers have rest, and walk in the fear of the Lord, and the comfort of the Holy Ghost, they will be multiplied. And the attempts of Satan to destroy the church, always tend to increase the number of true Christians.Became Jews - Joined the nation as proselytes, so casting in their lot with them. Es 8:15-17. Mordecai's Honors, and the Jews' Joy.

15. Mordecai went out … in royal apparel—He was invested with the khelaat of official honor. A dress of blue and white was held in great estimation among the Persians; so that Mordecai, whom the king delighted to honor, was in fact arrayed in the royal dress and insignia. The variety and the kind of insignia worn by a favorite at once makes known to the people the particular dignity to which he has been raised.

A feast and a good day, i.e. a time of feasting and rejoicing, and thanksgiving,

The fear of the Jews; when possibly they had irritated by their former threatenings, and now gave this evidence of their repentance, that they were willing to submit to that severe precept of circumcision.

And in every province, and in every city, whithersoever the king's commandment and his decree came,.... As they did to every province in the realm, and to every city in the province, where there were any Jews:

the Jews had joy and gladness, a feast and a good day; they expressed their joy on this occasion by keeping a festival, which in their language is called a good day; and such an one is annually kept by them unto this day, on account of their deliverance; of which see Esther 9:27

and many of the people of the land became Jews; or were proselyted, as both the Targums and Jarchi interpret it; they embraced the Jewish religion, and submitted to the rites and ceremonies of it; were circumcised, as in the Septuagint version, and so were proselytes of righteousness; and indeed no other could they be, dwelling in their own land; many of them very probably were serious in it, observing the wonderful manner in which the Jews were delivered; wherein manifestly appeared to them the providence of God, the hand of the Supreme Being, and from hence concluded their God must be the true God, and they his favourite people, and their religion most correct; though others might only do it to gain the favour of Esther and Mordecai, who had now such great power and influence at court:

for the fear of the Jews fell upon them; lest they should be slain by them, in virtue of this new edict.

And in every province, and in every city, whithersoever the king's commandment and his decree came, the Jews had joy and gladness, a feast and a good day. And many of the people of the land {m} became Jews; for the fear of the Jews fell upon them.

(m) Conformed themselves to the Jew's religion.

17. a good day] The expression, occurring also in Esther 9:19; Esther 9:22, is found elsewhere only in 1 Samuel 25:8.

became Jews] The LXX. have, ‘were circumcised and became Jews.’ They became proselytes in order to secure themselves, in the face of the increased importance and position which the Jews were attaining through Mordecai. Owing, however, to the apparent improbability of a large number of actual proselytes to Judaism among the Persians—an occurrence of which there is no record outside this passage—it has been suggested that by a very slight change in one Heb. letter we should obtain the meaning, united themselves (to the Jews), i.e. took their side in the conflict. Cp. ‘joined themselves unto them’ (Esther 9:27). It is however possible that the verb in the Hebrew[78] might mean, pretended to become Jews.

[78] Being in the Hithpa‘el voice.

Verse 17. - A feast and a good day. The provincial Jews made the whole day on which they heard the news into a holiday, and not only rejoiced, but feasted. Many of the people of the land became Jews. Applied for and obtained admission into the Jewish nation as full proselytes (comp. Ezra 6:21, with the comment). The fear of the Jews fell upon them. There was about to be in each great city where there were Jews a day of straggle and bloodshed. The Jews would have authority on their side (Esther 9:3), and might be expected to be victorious. Persons feared lest, when victorious, they might revenge themselves on all who had not taken their part, and thought it safer to become Jews than remain neutral. But it can only have been a small minority of the population in each city that took this view. There was no sudden great increase in the numbers of the Jewish nation.

Esther 8:17And in every province and city ... there was joy and a glad day, a feast day, comp. Esther 9:19, Esther 9:22, while Haman's edict had caused grief and lamentation, Esther 4:3. "And many of the people of the land (i.e., of the heathen inhabitants of the Persian empire) became Jews, for the fear of the Jews fell upon them." מתיהדים, to confess oneself a Jew, to become a Jew, a denominative formed from יהוּדי, occurs only here. On the confirmatory clause, comp. Exodus 15:16; Deuteronomy 11:25. This conversion of many of the heathen to Judaism must not be explained only, as by Clericus and Grotius, of a change of religion on the part of the heathen, ut sibi hoc modo securitatem et reginae favorem pararent, metuentes potentiam Mardechaei. This may have been the inducement with some of the inhabitants of Susa. But the majority certainly acted from more honourable motives, viz., a conviction, forced upon them by the unexpected turn of affairs in favour of the Jews, of the truth of the Jewish religion; and the power of that faith and trust in God manifested by the Jews, and so evidently justified by the fall of Haman and the promotion of Mordochai, contrasted with the vanity and misery of polytheism, to which even the heathen themselves were not blind. When we consider that the same motives in subsequent times, when the Jews as a nation were in a state of deepest humiliation, attracted the more earnest-minded of the heathen to the Jewish religion, and induced them to become proselytes, the fact here related will not appear surprising.
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