Esther Chapter 9 a narrative commentary
We insert a quote from bible scholar William Struse for consideration of the value of the Book of Esther and existence of Queen Esther along with her elder cousin Mordecai who eventually became the Prime Minister of Persia under King Ahasuerus:
“Without the efforts of Esther and her Persian [husband] king the social, political, and prophetic conditions necessary for the Messiah Yeshua to come would not have been in place. Without the efforts of Esther and her king, there would have been no temple, no priesthood, no sacrificial service, and no Torah observance – all of which were prerequisites for the coming of the Messiah.” [Where History & the Bible Meet]
Esther 9:1-5 set the stage for what was about to happen due to the conflict in decrees written by the former Prime Minister of Persia, Haman, and the new Prime Minister of Persia, Mordecai. 9:1b puts it well [NKJV] “On the day that the enemies of the Jews had hoped to overpower them, the opposite occurred, in that the *Jews themselves overpowered those who hated them.” This indicates that the Jews were not small in defensive numbers. An insight or aha moment is that multitudes of their later ancestors remain in and around this area today. There are still multitudes of Persians so what has changed? This area today is called Iran and the god of the country is no longer Murdoch, but Allah.
*The Jews had some Persian help in defending themselves.
JIV NOTE: [Ecclesiastes 9:12] For man also does not know his time: Like fish taken in a cruel net, Like birds caught in a snare, So the sons of men are snared in an evil time, When it falls suddenly upon them. Our confidence is in one source… Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit, and the Father God.
Esther 9:2 can be misunderstood if doing a simple read through of the Bible. Within this verse it states that the Jews gathered together in their cities [NKJV]. One might conclude these are Jewish cities. Not so. It means those Jews who lived inside the city populations. Each given city gathered themselves together to defend their lives and properties. There are very few Jewish only cities in existence anywhere during this time in history.
JIV NOTE: As we continue in chapter 9, bear in mind that the Jews could protect themselves only against those with ill intent. This fact is stunning later in this chapter. Even King Ahasuerus is taken aback.
Esther 9:3 is also a bit of a challenge. “And all the officials of the provinces, the satraps, the governors, and all those doing the king’s work, helped the Jews, because the fear of Mordecai fell upon them.”
“all of the officials” (within the kingdom) The use of the word “all” (v3) in the Hebrew is Kole. This means without exception. None stood on the sideline. This is significant to remember for what we address a few verses later in chapter 9.
“because the fear of Mordecai fell on them” This is like the history of Daniel in his latter life as second in command of Babylon. As did Daniel, Mordecai grew more and more powerful within the kingdom/empire of Persia. We need to know this information to better understand a later verse in this chapter.
Esther 9:5 might be a result of a communication gap of some Persians not knowing of the second decree OR, [most likely] it spells out the hate for the Jews within the Persian Empire. How many times has one said or been confronted with the claim, “But you promised, or you said….” even though conditions had changed, and the accuser knows it has changed.
There were many Persian citizens who took full advantage of the first decree and attacked their hated Jewish neighbors. Mankind will use something unwise to explain or excuse his or her actions. Jews were only permitted to defend, not aggress.
[ESV] “There were many Persian citizens who took full advantage of the first decree and attacked their hated Jewish neighbors…” By decree the Jews could defend themselves.
JIV NOTE: It is interesting that both the WEBA and Brenton translations skip verse 5.
Esther 9:6 points out the number of Jew-hating Persians that got themselves killed in the capital city of Susa (Shushan). It didn’t end here.
Esther 9:7-10 lists the names of the 10 sons of the now deceased Haman. This can get a bit confusing due to what happens a few verses later. The potential confusion and actuality will be explained shortly. Verse 10 points out that no “spoils” were taken by the Jews. Why is this? Think about it as a thoughtful learning process.
Esther 9:11 On that day the number of those who were killed in Shushan the palace was brought before the king. Esther 9:12 And the king said to Esther the queen, The Jews have killed and destroyed five hundred men in Shushan the palace, and the ten sons of Haman. What have they done in the rest of the provinces of the king? [LITV]
It appears King Ahasuerus is somewhat depending on reports through Esther and perhaps Mordecai, not only his own people or advisors regarding this historical moment within his empire. This may hint to the fact he knew too little about the allegiances within his own kingdom. He will soon learn that the hate of Jews was widespread. It is curious how he has sided with the Jewish population still residing within the Persian Empire. We could speculate but that serves little purpose since speculation can be rumor, unfounded gossip, one-sided, and little more than conjecture.
King Ahasuerus (Xerxes) continues by asking if there is anything else his Queen Esther desired.
Here is where some Bible critics point out as do some “read through the Bible” people might fail to recognize the stated facts. Esther realized all who wished to take up arms against her kin had not yet appeared, taken up arms against the Jews, or escaped the previous day’s judgement. Of course, there may now be those who seek revenge for what had happened throughout Persia.
Esther 9:13 says that the ten sons of Haman were to be hanged upon the gallows. This seems to be at odds with the verse stating that the sons of Haman had been slain the previous day. The purpose for this request was to make a strong statement to those who still carried a hate for the Jews or desired revenge. Haman’s sons had already died the prior day, but a public display is the punctuation mark after the decree by Mordecai and sealed with the King’s signet ring.
For what it is worth, the Hebrew word for this hanging is tâlâh. It does not mean by the neck but suspended as in a display.
Esther 9:15 & 16 show the slaughter was not over. 300 more were slain the next day and in total, 75,000 Persian men were killed for their armed aggression against the Jews of Persia. This speaks loudly. This had to be a huge shock to King Ahasuerus. We have no information to make us believe he recognized such hate existed within his kingdom empire.
JIV NOTE: Go back to verse #3. Reread that the 127 provinces put forth support for the Jews. This must mean it was more than verbal. These princes, satraps, Lieutenants, and governors HELPED with the slaughter. Mostly for fear of the power now welded by Mordecai. This may also confirm the huge number of Jews still living within Persia. We do not know how many of them died during these armed conflicts.
We continue with the rest of Esther in our next narrative commentary. It will help clear up perhaps some additional lack of understanding.
Rev. Dr. Jstark