Esther 9

This chapter details the triumph of the Jews and the establishment of the feast of Purim to remember the day.

The story of the tables being turned, of Esther/Mordecai and Haman, is repeated throughout the empire, enemies who thought they would destroy the Jews are in fact themselves destroyed.

It’s a dog eat dog world I suppose, this makes political sense. A lot of outright enemies died. Jesus would say love your enemies. Repeatedly they say they refused to take plunder, which differentiates it. It supports the idea that they were doing what they had to to survive, not seeking to personally benefit from their attacker’s destruction, despite the edict saying they could.

Matthew Henry the commentator resorts to contemporary Jewish history to give a sense of justification. A king’s edict was hard to revoke, so Haman’s sons and some ethnic groups (amelikites) formed a war front to enforce the first edict, which only hardened as Mordecai became more and more successful. The Jews were acting in self defence by this account, which doesn’t come out in this text so clearly.

Though also the bible is a book where you can’t assume the “goodies” are necessarily doing God’s work. It is also observational, I think. People often behave in a second best way: god chose Moses to speak to Pharaoh, but he said he was too shy, and Aaron did the talking. God’s choice wasn’t wrong. But Moses refusal didn’t block his plans. I don’t doubt that if the Jews had decided on a path of passive resistance, Jesus would have still been a Jew who died in Jerusalem, not a Persian living in Susa.

And the victory is absolute. Their enemies are routed.

The feast of Purim became the only Jewish feast where people were expected to drink to excess, mirroring that open bar at the Kings feast which opened the book which I admired. It really is a book of feasts !

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