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The new law and orders of King Ahasuerus took effect on the 13th day of the 12th month (the month of Adar). It was on this day that those who were enemies of the Jews had planned to overtake them, but that was not the way it happened. Instead, the Jews got the upper hand over those who conspired against them. On that day, the Jews gathered together in their respective cities in all the provinces of King Ahasuerus to fight those who sought their destruction. No army or nation could stand against them, because they were all frightened of the Jews. The nobles and governors of the provinces and also the king’s officials did what they could to help the Jews, but that was because they feared what Mordecai might do to them. In King Ahasuerus’ palace, Mordecai grew more powerful. Word spread quickly throughout the provinces about Mordecai’s authority and influence. The Jews took this opportunity to attack their enemies with swords, killing them. And then they did whatever they deemed reasonable with those who despised them. Just in the city of Susa, the capital of the empire, the Jews killed 500 men. 7-10 That didn’t include the 10 sons of Haman (son of Hammedatha, enemy of the Jews): Parshandatha, Dalphon, Aspatha, Poratha, Adalia, Aridatha, Parmashta, Arisai, Aridai, and Vaizatha. They were also put to death. All of them were considered enemies of the Jews. But they did not touch the assets of their victims. 11 When the day was over, the number of those killed in his capital, Susa, was reported to King Ahasuerus. 12 Then the king spoke to Queen Esther.

King Ahasuerus: The Jews have killed 500 men in the capital of Susa alone, and also the 10 sons of Haman. How many must they have killed in the other provinces? Now, do you want anything more? Whatever you ask will be given to you. So, tell me; what further do you need? I will grant whatever that is.

Queen Esther: 13 If it pleases the king, allow the Jews in Susa one more day to exact justice on their enemies according to your decree. And let Haman’s 10 sons be displayed on the pole.

14 The king honored Queen Esther’s wishes. An order was issued in the city of Susa, and the dead bodies of the 10 sons of Haman were displayed. 15 So on the 14th day of the month of Adar, the Jews killed 300 men in Susa. But they didn’t touch any of their assets.

16 In the meantime, the Jews who lived outside Susa in the king’s provinces also gathered together to defend themselves and find freedom from their enemies. In total, the rural Jews killed 75,000 of their enemies, but they didn’t touch any of their assets. 17 All of this took place in the provinces on the 13th day of the month of Adar, and on the 14th day the Jews rested and celebrated with food and drink.

According to custom and Persian law, the Jews have every right to seize the assets of those they kill in this battle. But it is important to note that they do not. The reason for this odd behavior may well lie in history: Hundreds of years earlier, Saul and the Israelites defeated King Agag (the ancestor of Haman) and helped themselves to the plunder, violating God’s clear directive. That violation brought them irreparable harm. So now, when they have the opportunity, the Jews leave the Agagites’ assets alone. Obedience deferred is still obedience.

18 Since the Jews in Susa had gathered together to defend themselves on the 13th and 14th days of the month of Adar, they rested on the 15th and celebrated with food and drink. 19 (This explains why the Jews who live in rural areas and villages continue to celebrate on the 14th day of Adar with food and drinks and send gifts to one another.)

20 Mordecai kept a detailed journal of all these events, and he corresponded often with all of the Jews from every corner of King Ahasuerus’ kingdom, regardless of its distance from Susa. 21 He reminded them to remember and celebrate the 14th and 15th days of Adar every year (based on the day of each group) 22 and to celebrate as faithfully as they did on the days in which the Jews were granted relief from their enemies. He wanted them to savor the month of Adar as a time when their sadness turned into gladness and their mourning into celebration. He encouraged them to celebrate with food and drink, to send gifts, and to offer help to the poor. 23 The Jews in every part of the kingdom took Mordecai’s advice and celebrated on the 14th and 15th days of the month of Adar, making it an annual custom.

24 In short, Haman (son of Hammedatha, the Agagite), the enemy of all Jews everywhere, had schemed against the Jews to destroy them. He did so by casting the lot (also known as the “pur”).[a] That was the beginning of the plan to annihilate them and bring about their ruin. 25 But King Ahasuerus learned about his evil plot and wrote an order that Haman should receive the very punishment that he himself wanted the Jewish people to suffer. So the king directed that Haman and all ten of his sons be killed and displayed on the pole. 26 So this is why they call these days of feasting “Purim,” from the word “pur,” which means “lot.” It is also because Mordecai’s correspondence had instructed Jews across the empire to remember what they had seen and what had happened to them. 27 So, the Jews made it their custom that every family, and every descendant, and every future convert would observe these two days each year in the way that Mordecai asked. 28 (This explains why these days were remembered and celebrated by all Jews in all places, and at all times; the days of Purim would never be forgotten and their celebration would never stop.)

29 Queen Esther (daughter of Abihail) utilized her full authority as queen to affirm a second letter by Mordecai the Jew regarding Purim. 30 So Mordecai sent letters to all the Jews in the 127 provinces of King Ahasuerus’ kingdom. His letter included encouraging words of peace and truth; 31 and it was his hope to establish these days of Purim permanently on the calendar as days of mourning and fasting for future generations as it was for themselves. 32 Esther’s authority affirmed the tradition of Purim and it was written down in the official records.

Footnotes

  1. 9:24 Esther 3:7