Esther 9:2
The Jews gathered themselves together in their cities throughout all the provinces of the king Ahasuerus, to lay hand on such as sought their hurt: and no man could withstand them; for the fear of them fell on all people.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(2) To lay hand on such as sought their hurt.—How far the Jews acted according to the strict letter of the edict, and “stood for their lives” only when attacked, is perhaps to be doubted. They had on their side all the executive of the empire (Esther 9:3), and evidently to all intents and purposes the second edict was considered virtually to repeal the first. The Jews, therefore, being in favour at Court, and, as was not unnatural after their alarm, being now full of indignation and vengeance, were probably resolved to use their opportunities while they had the chance. If so, who could object so long as they did nothing against the authorities? and they, we have seen, were on their side. That they did make a bloody use of their opportunity is shown clearly by Esther 9:16.

Esther 9:2. The Jews gathered themselves together in their cities — Imbodied and stood upon their defence, offering violence to none, but bidding defiance to all. If they had not had an edict to warrant them, they durst not have done this; but, being so supported, they strove lawfully. If they had acted separately, each family apart, they would have been an easy prey to their enemies; but acting in concert, and gathering together in their cities, they strengthened one another, and were able to face their enemies. And no man could withstand them — Their enemies, though they took up arms against them, yet were easily conquered and destroyed by them. For the fear of them fell upon all people — Because they had such potent friends at court, and so great a God on their side, who, by such unusual and astonishing methods, (of which, doubtless, they had been particularly informed,) had brought about such a mighty and unexpected deliverance for them.9:1-19 The enemies of the Jews hoped to have power over them by the former edict. If they had attempted nothing against the people of God, they would not themselves have suffered. The Jews, acting together, strengthened one another. Let us learn to stand fast in one spirit, and with one mind, striving together against the enemies of our souls, who endeavour to rob us of our faith, which is more precious than our lives. The Jews, to the honour of their religion, showed contempt of wordly wealth, that they might make it appear they desired nothing except their own preservation. In every case the people of God should manifest humanity and disinterestedness, frequently refusing advantages which might lawfully be obtained. The Jews celebrated their festival the day after they had finished their work. When we have received great mercies from God, we ought to be speedy in making thankful returns to him.Drew near - Or, "arrived," or "reached the time" specified Esther 3:13; Esther 8:12. 2. The Jews gathered themselves … no man could withstand them—The tables were now turned in their favor; and though their enemies made their long meditated attack, the Jews were not only at liberty to act on the defensive, but through the powerful influence enlisted on their side at court together with the blessing of God, they were everywhere victorious.

the fear of them fell upon all people—This impression arose not alone from the consciousness of the all-powerful vizier being their countryman, but from the hand of God appearing so visibly interposed to effect their strange and unexpected deliverance.

No man could withstand them; their enemies, though they did and were allowed to take up arms against them, yet were easily conquered and destroyed by the Jews.

The fear of them; who had such potent friends at court, and so great a God on their side, who by such unusual and prodigious methods (whereof doubtless they had been particularly informed) had brought about such a mighty and unexpected deliverance. The Jews gathered themselves together in their cities, throughout all the provinces of King Ahasuerus,.... Wherever they lived:

to lay hand on such as sought their hurt; who not only threatened them what they would do on this day, but were risen up in arms in quest of them:

and no man could withstand them, for the fear of them fell upon all people; when they understood that Haman was hanged, and Mordecai the Jew advanced, and that the queen herself was a Jew, and that the Jews had the royal grant to act both defensively and offensively; and no doubt but the panic was of God.

The Jews gathered themselves together in their cities throughout all the provinces of the king Ahasuerus, to lay hand on such as sought their hurt: and no man could withstand them; for the fear of them fell upon all people.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
2. to lay hand on such as sought their hurt] Thus it was open to the Jews to assume the offensive, and not necessarily await an attack. They would no doubt be guided by their familiarity with the circumstances of each locality and consequently with the most advisable tactics to adopt.

the fear of them was fallen upon all the peoples] Hence the resistance was half-hearted.Verse 2. - The Jews gathered themselves together. Acting on the first clause of the edict (Esther 8:11). In their cities. By "their cities" the writer means not cities exclusively Jewish, but cities where Jews formed an element in the population, as Susa, Babylon, Damascus - perhaps Rhages and Ecbatana - and no doubt many others. Cities exclusively Jewish, like Nearda, in later times (Joseph., 'Ant. Jud.,' 18:9, § 1), scarcely existed as yet out of Palestine. To lay hand on such as sought their hurt. The defensive character of the Jews' action is again noted. Only if their hurt was sought (comp. Psalm 71:13, 24) did they lay hand on any; only against those who sought their hurt did they lift a finger. The fear of them. Not now such fear as is mentioned in Esther 8:17, ad fin., but a downright coward fear of their prowess. Fell upon all people. Rather, "all the people," i.e. all the many subject nations of the Persian empire among which the Jews were scattered. These 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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