The Word Made Fresh
1On that very day King Ahasuerus gave the house of Haman, the enemy of the Jews, to Queen Esther. And Mordecai was presented to the king because Esther told the king how they were related. 2The king removed his signet ring which he had recovered from Haman and gave it to Mordecai. Queen Esther then appointed Mordecai over Haman’s house.
3Then Esther approached the king again, falling at his feet in tears, pleading with him to nullify the wicked plans of Haman the Agagite against the Jews. 4The king held out the golden scepter to her, 5and Esther rose and stood before the king. “If it pleases the king,” she said, “and if I have won his favor, and if the king agrees it is right and gives his approval, let an order be written to turn aside the letters Haman son of Hammedatha the Agagite sent, giving orders to destroy all the Jews within the king’s provinces. 6I cannot bear to see the death of my people.”
7King Ahasuerus said to her and Mordecai, “I have given the house of Haman to Esther, and they have hanged him on the gallows because of his plan to kill the Jews. 8You may write in the king’s name whatever you please regarding the Jews, and seal it with the king’s seal. An order written in the king’s name and sealed with the king’s seal cannot be canceled.”
9So, the king’s secretaries were summoned on the twenty-third day of the third month, the month of Sivan, and an order was written according to Mordecai’s wishes. The order was sent to the Jews and to the governors and other officials of the one hundred twenty-seven provinces from India to Ethiopia. It was sent to each province in its official script and to each group of people in their own language, including the Jews. 10Mordecai wrote the letters in the name of King Ahasuerus, sealed them with the king’s seal, and sent them by mounted couriers on fast steeds from the royal stalls. 11In these letters the king allowed the Jews in every city to organize and defend themselves. They were authorized to kill their enemies, and to wipe out any armed force from any quarter that might attack them and their women and children, and to take whatever they pleased. 12This was authorized for the thirteenth day of Adar, the twelfth month. 13Copies were to be issued as royal commands in every province and published for all the people, and the Jews were to be prepared that day to defend themselves from their enemies. 14The messengers mounted their swift steeds and hurried to spread the king’s command. And the command was also issued in the capital of Susa.
15Mordecai left the king’s presence wearing royal blue and white robes with a large golden crown and a wrap of fine linen and purple while the city shouted with joy. 16There was brightness and joy, honor and happiness. 17In every province and city where the king’s new orders were taken there was joy and happiness among the Jews, and they celebrated as if it was a holiday festival. Not only that, but a lot of the people throughout the country claimed to be Jews, because now they were afraid of the Jews.
1-2: Esther reveals her relationship to Mordecai and the king promotes Mordecai to Haman’s vacated spot in the royal government. Esther puts Mordecai in charge of Haman’s house.
3-8: Esther asks King Ahasuerus to revoke Haman’s earlier decree, and as he had done with Haman, the king himself refrains from doing so but gives his signet ring to Mordecai and tells him he can write anything he wants with regard to the Jews. Why the king simply doesn’t revoke Haman’s decree is explained; a decree issued in the king’s name with the king’s seal cannot be revoked.
9-14: So, instead of revoking Haman’s decree, Mordecai’s decree, carried all through the empire by couriers on horseback, gives the Jews permission to defend themselves on the 13th day of the 12th month of Adar. The description of the distribution of the decree is identical to the description of Haman’s decree, even down to the last line about it being delivered to the capital of Susa.
15-17: Suddenly it is good to be a Jew in Persia. The Jews rejoice all over the kingdom and their celebration is joined by lots of Jewish wannabes.
What? The king cannot revoke his own decree? God will use these strange circumstances to rescue the Israelites, now known as the Jews. (The word “Jew” is probably a shortened way of referring to the people of Judah.) Human folly is never a match for God’s grace.