Saturday, October 22, 2016

Bible Study Notes in Esther- Chapter 9

Esther 9

-This chapter now details the events of this 13th day of Adar, which was intended for the destruction of the Jews but turned into a day of great victory for God’s people because of His sovereign plan. It also details the creation of the holiday of Purim, which is still very much celebrated by the Jews even to our present time. When the enemies of the Jews had hoped to gain mastery over them, “it was turned to the contrary so that the Jews themselves gained the mastery over those who hated them.” They assembled in their cities throughout all the kingdom of Ahasuerus to lay hands in defense of those whom may try to destroy them or do them any harm. No one could stand before the Jews now, for the tide had turned with the king’s support and the LORD’s dread upon all the peoples. None of the leaders dared to support the uprising purported by Haman for the destruction of the Jews. The princes of the provinces, the satraps, the governors, and everyone doing the king’s business all became allies and assisted the Jews because the dread of Mordecai had come upon them. “Indeed, Mordecai was great in the king’s house, and his fame spread throughout all the provinces; for the man Mordecai became greater and greater.” Because of all of this, the Jews were able to strike all their enemies with the sword, killing and destroying; and they were able to do what they pleased to those who hated them. At the citadel in Susa, 500 men were killed and destroyed by the Jews including Haman’s ten sons. However, in an act of kindness, the Jews did not lay their hands on any plunder in this vindication. This was totally antithetical to the plans and purposes of their enemies who wanted to profit at the Hebrews’ expense (Esther 3:9, 13). On that day when it was reported to the king the number of those that the Jews had killed in his capital city, Ahasuerus asked his queen what had gone on in the other provinces and what else she might want to have happen. He promised to abide with whatever she desired in further requests. Esther only asked that, if it pleased the king (continued mark of respect here for her authority figure), Haman’s ten sons be hanged on the gallows, which was done presumably to deter anyone else from wanting to rise up against her people ever again. The edict was quickly issued and carried out. The next day on the 14th of Adar, 300 more men were killed in Susa as enemies of the Jews, and again no plunder was taken. In the rest of the kingdom, a whopping 75,000 men were killed that had hated the Jews, and no plunder was taken from them as well. For those in the far reaches of the kingdom, all the action did take place on the 13th day of Adar, with the 14th being a day of rest with feasting and celebration. It was a bit different in Susa, since there were still some conflicts going on, but they rested, feasted, and rejoiced by the 15th day of Adar (Esther 9:1-18).

-The issue of commemorating this monumental event was next dealt with in the text. In rural areas, it was immediately celebrated on the 14th day of Adar as a holiday for rejoicing and feasting and sending portions of food to one another in generosity and thanksgiving. Mordecai recorded these events as a prominent man in the kingdom and sent letters to all the Jews who were in all the provinces both far and near. In these letters he obliged them to celebrate on both the 14th and 15th days of Adar respectively and annually, “because on those days the Jews rid themselves of their enemies, and it was a month which turned for them from sorrow into gladness and from mourning into a holiday; that they should make them days of feasting and rejoicing and sending portions of food to one another and gifts to the poor.” The Jews readily undertook all that Mordecai purposed to do in his writings to them, for Haman, the Agagite and enemy of the Jews, had schemed against their people and had cast Pur, that is “the lot,” to disturb and destroy them. When the matter had come before the king’s attention, because of the love he had for his queen and Divine providence, Ahasuerus had commanded by letter that this wicked scheme in opposition to the Jews be returned upon the head of this evil villain along with his ten sons by hanging on the gallows. These days became known as “Purim” after the name Pur (the lot). Because of the instructions in this letter by Mordecai, and what they had seen in this regard and what had happened to them, the Jews readily established and made a custom for themselves, their descendants, and all who allied themselves with them this as a perpetual holiday of celebration according to regulation and appointed time annually. Every generation and every family would remember this occurrence so as to not let the memory of this miraculous event ever fade. Queen Esther ratified this with a second letter herself in full authority to confirm this celebration of Purim. She, with her cousin Mordecai collaborating, sent these letters to all 127 provinces of the kingdom with words of peace and truth to establish these days of Purim with all its instructions for their times of fasting and lamentations (crying out to God). This indicates their willingness to never forget to stop, praise, and exalt their God for helping them in a time of severe crisis. So, the commands of the elevated Queen Esther established these customs for Purim, “and it was written in the book (Esther 9:19-32).”

*Application* What we should take from this Scriptural lesson today is the long-term effects and remembrances of God’s Divine work in helping us escape and prosper. He has set us free from the enemy and given us victory unto victory (1 Corinthians 15:57). We should never go back into slavery of sin as believers in His redemption. He works all things for our good (Romans 8:28). Feasting, rejoicing, worship, giving, peace, and truth should all flow out of us as citizens of the Divine Kingdom.

Verses to Memorize: Esther 9:1, 22

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