James Gray - Concise Bible Commentary
On that day did the king Ahasuerus give the house of Haman the Jews' enemy unto Esther the queen. And Mordecai came before the king; for Esther had told what he was unto her.Esther 8:1-10:3
THE KING’S DECREE (Esther 8)
The “house” of Haman meant his possessions (Esther 8:1). His death, however, and Mordecai’s distinction did not mean that the decree against the Jews had been annulled, which, indeed, could not be annulled, according to Persian law. This is the problem, now before Esther and Mordecai (Esther 8:3-5), and which the king solves by granting permission to the Jews to arm themselves against their executioners (Esther 8:8-11).
The effect of this measure on the Jews was what might have been expected (Esther 8:15-17). The meaning of the last sentence of the chapter is illuminated by Exodus 15:16 and Deuteronomy 11:25. The Persians felt that the God of the Jews was ruling over their destiny in a peculiar way.
THE HEATHEN MASSACRE (Esther 9:1-15)
The first part of this chapter records the successful stand made by the Jews against those who ventured to oppose them, and demonstrates that the God of their fathers was still their God. It reads like a chapter in Judges or Kings.
Rawlinson calls attention to the importance of verse three as bearing on verse 16. That the Jews should have been allowed to slay 75,000 Persians has been pronounced incredible, but it is not so when we see that the leaders of the nation took their side. The probability is, however, that the slain were people of other, subject nations the Persians did not particularly care for.
How does Esther 9:10 show that the Jews’ motive was not avarice but self- defense? The king’s inquiry and Esther’s reply (Esther 9:12-13) indicate that danger still threatened the Jews in Shushan at least, unless further measures were taken. Haman’s sons were to be hanged after death. “Hanged” here really means “crucified,” which was the Hebrew and Persian custom.
THE FEAST OF PURIM (Esther 9:16-32)
It seems that the Jews outside of Shushan celebrated on the fourteenth of Adar, but those within could not do so for obvious reasons until the fifteenth. This gave rise to different memorial days until Mordecai settled the matter as in verse 21. The whole writing of Mordecai here spoken of (Esther 9:20-25), may have included the substance of the book we are considering. Nevertheless a second document by Esther herself seems to have been necessary to finally determine the perpetuity of the feast (Esther 9:28-32). The feast is still kept by the Jews, proving the authenticity of this book.
MORDECAI’S GREATNESS (Esther 10)
The greatness of the Persian king (Esther 10:1) reflects on Mordecai (Esther 10:2), who is recognized even in the kingly chronicles, and whose exalted privilege becomes a benefit to all his race in Persia (Esther 10:3).
1. To what tribe and family did Mordecai belong (Esther 2:5)?
2. What is Haman called (Esther 3:5)?
3. What correspondence do you see between the above and what is recorded in 1 Samuel 15?
4. Have you compared the passages of the Pentateuch named in this lesson?
5. Why is the feast called Purim?
6. Who may have been the author of this book?
7. How is its authenticity attested?