The Turning of the Tables (Esther 8:15-9:19)

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.

 

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About Randy Buchman

I live in Western Maryland, and among my too many pursuits and hobbies, I regularly feed 3-4 hungry blogs. I played college baseball, coached championship cross country teams at Williamsport (MD) High School, and am the editor of a Baltimore/Maryland sports blog called "The Baltimore Wire." My main profession is as the lead pastor of a church in Hagerstown called Tri-State Fellowship. And I'm active in Civil War history and work/serve at Antietam National Battlefield with a Guides organization. Occasionally I sleep.

One thought on “The Turning of the Tables (Esther 8:15-9:19)

  1. This is another good reason not to lose hope when things look bad. The Book of Esther certainly lays out a very bad future for the Jews. Then later things changed to the positive.

    If Yogi Berra was around when the the first decree went out he could have used his now famous line, “The future ain’t what it used to be.” Indeed for the Jews the future looked terrible.

    Now your Civil War story of the slave that came out on top … it is just one of many things that changed in the Civil War.

    Prior to the war, Grant and Sherman were struggling business failures … not doing too well.
    And also the Civil War didn’t start out too well for these men. Sherman was borderline insane — a chain-smoking nervous wreck. And Grant started out with a string of victories, only to get knocked off his game, by a military superior who did not let him attack. Instead while waiting for permission to attack, the confederates attacked him and attacked him hard. He was so rocked back at the first day of Shiloh that Sherman came to Grant thinking to propose a retreat. Grant though had others ideas. He somehow knew that if he started fighting first the next day that he would carry the day. And so at three in morning he started the battle and had a strong victory that day.

    Grant’s aggressive tactics weren’t liked by a regional military superior who then assigned Grant to a desk job. Grant felt it was hopeless and intended to resign. Sherman urged Grant to hold on a bit longer and not resign. He extracted a promise from Grant that Grant would not resign without first talking with him. Sherman’s support therefore helped Grant not to throw in the towel.

    It wasn’t that much later, that Abraham Lincoln found out Grant was taken off the battle field. Abraham Lincoln then reinstated Grant and promoted him … I think over those who were against his tactics.

    In any case, crazy Sherman later brought the victory that Lincoln needed to get re-elected. Sherman and Grant, two men that were once down-and-out respective “losers” were the ones that brought the military victories to the North, keeping the Union together.

    I’m very familiar with Bible, having listened to it on tape more than twenty times from end-to-end, but sometimes a lesson can be drawn from events outside the Bible that can impact someone deeply. In my case, reading the book Grant and Sherman – The Friendship That Won The Civil War gave me a much greater sense of calm when facing uncertain times in my life.

    There are also many Christians who have read biographies of great Christians. Perhaps it is to my detriment that I haven’t read them. Many Christians are also inspired by biographies of other Christians. I don’t know if God will have me read them. As an almost 50 year old family guy, I’ve got a lot on my plate … lot of things that need fixing, praying, resolving, and I’m highly familiar with James 3:2 that says “we all stumble in many ways.”

    Putting up all these thoughts here in these comments — even that might be a distraction from other important things that I should be doing.

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