Resources » Asbury Bible Commentary » Part II: The Old Testament » ESTHER » Commentary » III. Mordecai's Rise To Power (Chs. 8–10)

III. Mordecai's Rise To Power (Chs. 8–10)

This time Xerxes was quick to hand out awards. First, Esther was given Haman's possessions. The estates of criminals automatically reverted to the crown and were at the disposal of the king. Next, Mordecai was rewarded, for Esther had revealed her relationship to him. The presentation of the royal signet ring symbolized an important promotion. Note that when Haman received the ring, he was given charge of royal funds (3:10-11). Queen Esther took her turn and granted Mordecai supervision of the newly acquired estate that had belonged to Haman.

The salvation of the Jewish people was not yet assured. Again, Esther dared to approach the throne. The gold scepter was extended to her, and she presented her plea with many tears. The decree issued by Haman could not be annulled, so it remained a threat to the existence of her people. Esther was overburdened with concern for them. She pleaded with great effectiveness.

Xerxes had a solution: to issue another decree in behalf of the Jews. Queen Esther and Mordecai could word the decree as they wished. Work on the decree began immediately. The date given in 8:9 is the same as June 25, 474 b.c. The decree granted the Jews the right to defend themselves against any who might attack them on the date mentioned in Haman's decree. Jews could also plunder the possessions of their enemies.

The Persians had an excellent communications system, a “pony express” that could reach all parts of the empire in the span of a few days. The decree was proclaimed and posted by royal heralds for all to hear and read.

Mordecai was no longer a low-level official sitting in the city gates. He now wore royal garments of blue and white and a purple robe of fine linen along with a crown of gold.

In sharp contrast to the lack of joy in any of the several banquets reported in the story (they always seem to end in tragedy), a burst of joyful celebration erupted among the Jews. Their neighbors were so amazed that they began to identify themselves with the Jews.

At last the thirteenth day of the twelfth month (March 7, 473 b.c.) arrived. It was the date designated in the first decree for the slaughter of all Jews in the empire (3:13). But the tables were turned. Instead of Jews being slaughtered by the thousands, their enemies fell before the sword. Amazingly, the officials of the empire and their military forces helped the Jews. They were taking no chances. The man who had issued the first decree died as a criminal; the man who issued the second decree ruled with great power. The text repeatedly takes note that the Jews refused to plunder their enemies.

The scene was not a pretty sight, for thousands of bodies lay everywhere. Among the bodies were those of the ten sons of Haman. Prejudice in Susa was so strong that Esther requested one more day for the Jews to resist their enemies. Xerxes granted the request, and when the extra day ended, the Jews were free of threat from the old enemies. To emphasize their victory, the Jews displayed the bodies of Haman's sons on gallows. The source of evil had been wiped out. To the Jews these were days of justice, not days of mercy.

The extra day the Jews of Susa spent defending themselves created a disjunction of celebration of victory in the empire. The results caused confusion; Jews outside Susa celebrated on Adar 14 and Jews in Susa on Adar 15.

Mordecai noted this difference as he considered making the celebration an annual event. He sent out letters establishing both Adar 14 and 15 as days of celebration. These were to be days of joy and generosity to each other and to the poor.

The section 9:23-28 seems to be a later summary of the reason behind the Feast of Purim (casting of lots) and an exhortation that the celebration should be observed in every generation by every family. And, indeed, this has been the case to the present time.

Queen Esther joined with Mordecai to send out another letter with full authority to confirm the legitimacy of the Feast of Purim. This was dutifully recorded in the royal annals.

Chapter 10 is an appendix to the main story and summarizes the importance of Mordecai during the reign of Xerxes. First, the power of this monarch to tax his subjects is stressed, and then it is noted that a full record of the deeds of both men was preserved in annals of the empire.

Mordecai served the king as second in command, a grand vizier. Throughout his tenure he was noted for his protective support of all Jews.

Bibliography

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Brockington, L. H. “Introduction to the Book of Esther.” NCBC. London: Thomas Nelson, 1969.

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Clarke, Adam. “The Book of Esther.” A Commentary and Critical Notes. New York: Abingdon, n.d.

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