Any of you reading this would have to be nearly as old as I am to remember much of anything about the 1967 Israeli Six Day War. I would have been age 12 at the time, and I remember it dominating the news and the conversation of my parents. I also recall the universal amazement everywhere as to the rapid nature by which Israel was able to defeat their foes from Egypt, Syria, and Jordan, being outnumbered by huge numbers of people in those surrounding lands. It seemed impossible.
And so it was in Persia 2500 years earlier. The original decree that would eventuate in the wipeout of the Jewish people looked to be incontestable. It was motivated by the legal opportunity that presented those attacking the Jews to plunder their belongings.
The second decree to match the first was written in a one-to-one fashion, allowing the Jews to do the same, though we see that they did not do this in the end. This demonstrated their pure motives as simply that of defense. Though some of this reading today has the sound of aggression on the part of the Jews, it is actually speaking of their proactive moves to defend themselves from those intent upon bringing harm to the Jewish people.
As well, the public display of the sons of Haman was not a vindictive move by Esther and the Jews. Rather it was, as throughout times of antiquity, a visual statement to others to not attempt the same behavior that originally emboldened those who were executed to perform their dastardly deeds.
God was preserving the nation of Israel. Through it would come the Savior of the world. And God yet has a future for this people. The support of Israel is a principle of truth that arises from an accurate understanding of biblical interpretation and God’s plan of the ages and the end times. This does not mean that everything Israel does in the modern era is fully just, but as a nation it remains central in God’s plans. Some of these ideas will be discussed in an 11:00 Sunday series for five weeks that begins on October 25th — talking about end times themes.
I especially like the phrase today in 9:1 where it says that “now the tables were turned and the Jews got the upper hand over those who hated them.” I told the following story in church on Sunday about a Civil War event … A slave had run away from the brutality of his Southern plantation, joined the Union Army, and over time was with their advance into the south, near his old home. While assigned to guard some Confederate prisoners, in the lineup he sees his former master, and in greeting him says, “Hello Massa, the bottom rail be on top this time!”
God is good at putting the bottom rails on the top when His mighty hand is involved.
8:15 — When Mordecai left the king’s presence, he was wearing royal garments of blue and white, a large crown of gold and a purple robe of fine linen. And the city of Susa held a joyous celebration. 16 For the Jews it was a time of happiness and joy, gladness and honor. 17 In every province and in every city to which the edict of the king came, there was joy and gladness among the Jews, with feasting and celebrating. And many people of other nationalities became Jews because fear of the Jews had seized them.
9:1 — On the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, the month of Adar, the edict commanded by the king was to be carried out. On this day the enemies of the Jews had hoped to overpower them, but now the tables were turned and the Jews got the upper hand over those who hated them. 2 The Jews assembled in their cities in all the provinces of King Xerxes to attack those determined to destroy them. No one could stand against them, because the people of all the other nationalities were afraid of them. 3 And all the nobles of the provinces, the satraps, the governors and the king’s administrators helped the Jews, because fear of Mordecai had seized them. 4 Mordecai was prominent in the palace; his reputation spread throughout the provinces, and he became more and more powerful.
5 The Jews struck down all their enemies with the sword, killing and destroying them, and they did what they pleased to those who hated them. 6 In the citadel of Susa, the Jews killed and destroyed five hundred men. 7 They also killed Parshandatha, Dalphon, Aspatha, 8 Poratha, Adalia, Aridatha, 9 Parmashta, Arisai, Aridai and Vaizatha, 10 the ten sons of Haman son of Hammedatha, the enemy of the Jews. But they did not lay their hands on the plunder.
11 The number of those killed in the citadel of Susa was reported to the king that same day. 12 The king said to Queen Esther, “The Jews have killed and destroyed five hundred men and the ten sons of Haman in the citadel of Susa. What have they done in the rest of the king’s provinces? Now what is your petition? It will be given you. What is your request? It will also be granted.”
13 “If it pleases the king,” Esther answered, “give the Jews in Susa permission to carry out this day’s edict tomorrow also, and let Haman’s ten sons be impaled on poles.”
14 So the king commanded that this be done. An edict was issued in Susa, and they impaled the ten sons of Haman. 15 The Jews in Susa came together on the fourteenth day of the month of Adar, and they put to death in Susa three hundred men, but they did not lay their hands on the plunder.
16 Meanwhile, the remainder of the Jews who were in the king’s provinces also assembled to protect themselves and get relief from their enemies. They killed seventy-five thousand of them but did not lay their hands on the plunder.17 This happened on the thirteenth day of the month of Adar, and on the fourteenth they rested and made it a day of feasting and joy.
18 The Jews in Susa, however, had assembled on the thirteenth and fourteenth, and then on the fifteenth they rested and made it a day of feasting and joy.
19 That is why rural Jews—those living in villages—observe the fourteenth of the month of Adar as a day of joy and feasting, a day for giving presents to each other.