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Esther 8:1--10:3

Context
The King Acts to Protect the Jews

8:1 On that same day King Ahasuerus gave the estate 1  of Haman, that adversary of the Jews, to Queen Esther. Now Mordecai had come before the king, for Esther had revealed how he was related to her. 8:2 The king then removed his signet ring (the very one he had taken back from Haman) and gave it to Mordecai. And Esther designated Mordecai to be in charge of Haman’s estate.

8:3 Then Esther again spoke with the king, falling at his feet. She wept and begged him for mercy, that he might nullify the evil of Haman the Agagite which he had intended against the Jews. 2  8:4 When the king extended to Esther the gold scepter, she 3  arose and stood before the king.

8:5 She said, “If the king is so inclined and if I have met with his approval and if the matter is agreeable to the king and if I am attractive to him, let an edict be written rescinding those recorded intentions of Haman the son of Hammedatha, the Agagite, 4  which he wrote in order to destroy the Jews who are throughout all the king’s provinces. 8:6 For how can I watch the calamity that will befall my people, and how can I watch the destruction of my relatives?” 5 

8:7 King Ahasuerus replied to Queen Esther and to Mordecai the Jew, “Look, I have already given Haman’s estate to Esther, and he has been hanged on the gallows because he took hostile action 6  against the Jews. 8:8 Now you write in the king’s name whatever in your opinion is appropriate concerning the Jews and seal it with the king’s signet ring. Any decree that is written in the king’s name and sealed with the king’s signet ring cannot be rescinded.

8:9 The king’s scribes were quickly 7  summoned – in the third month (that is, the month of Sivan), on the twenty-third day. 8  They wrote out 9  everything that Mordecai instructed to the Jews and to the satraps and the governors and the officials of the provinces all the way from India to Ethiopia 10  – a hundred and twenty-seven provinces in all – to each province in its own script and to each people in their own language, and to the Jews according to their own script and their own language. 8:10 Mordecai 11  wrote in the name of King Ahasuerus and sealed it with the king’s signet ring. He then sent letters by couriers on horses, who rode royal horses that were very swift.

8:11 The king thereby allowed the Jews who were in every city to assemble and to stand up for themselves – to destroy, to kill, and to annihilate any army of whatever people or province that should become their adversaries, including their women and children, 12  and to confiscate their property. 8:12 This was to take place on a certain day throughout all the provinces of King Ahasuerus – namely, on the thirteenth day of the twelfth month (that is, the month of Adar). 8:13 A copy of the edict was to be presented as law throughout each and every province and made known to all peoples, so that the Jews might be prepared on that 13  day to avenge themselves from their enemies.

8:14 The couriers who were riding the royal horses went forth with the king’s edict without delay. 14  And the law was presented in Susa the citadel as well.

8:15 Now Mordecai went out from the king’s presence in purple and white royal attire, with a large golden crown and a purple linen mantle. The city of Susa shouted with joy. 15  8:16 For the Jews there was radiant happiness and joyous honor. 16  8:17 Throughout every province and throughout every city where the king’s edict and his law arrived, the Jews experienced happiness and joy, banquets and holidays. Many of the resident peoples 17  pretended 18  to be Jews, because the fear of the Jews had overcome them. 19 

The Jews Prevail over Their Enemies

9:1 In the twelfth month (that is, the month of Adar), on its thirteenth day, the edict of the king and his law were to be executed. It was on this day that the enemies of the Jews had supposed that they would gain power over them. But contrary to expectations, the Jews gained power over their enemies. 9:2 The Jews assembled themselves in their cities throughout all the provinces of King Ahasuerus to strike out against those who were seeking their harm. No one was able to stand before them, for dread of them fell on all the peoples. 9:3 All the officials of the provinces, the satraps, the governors and those who performed the king’s business were assisting the Jews, for the dread of Mordecai had fallen on them. 9:4 Mordecai was of high rank 20  in the king’s palace, and word about him was spreading throughout all the provinces. His influence 21  continued to become greater and greater.

9:5 The Jews struck all their enemies with the sword, bringing death and destruction, and they did as they pleased with their enemies. 9:6 In Susa the citadel the Jews killed and destroyed five hundred men. 9:7 In addition, they also killed Parshandatha, Dalphon, Aspatha, 9:8 Poratha, Adalia, Aridatha, 9:9 Parmashta, Arisai, Aridai, and Vaizatha, 9:10 the ten sons of Haman son of Hammedatha, the enemy of the Jews. But they did not confiscate their property.

9:11 On that same day the number of those killed in Susa the citadel was brought to the king’s attention. 9:12 Then the king said to Queen Esther, “In Susa the citadel the Jews have killed and destroyed five hundred men and the ten sons of Haman! What then have they done in the rest of the king’s provinces? What is your request? It shall be given to you. What other petition do you have? It shall be done.”

9:13 Esther replied, “If the king is so inclined, let the Jews who are in Susa be permitted to act tomorrow also according to today’s law, and let them hang the ten sons of Haman on the gallows.”

9:14 So the king issued orders for this to be done. A law was passed in Susa, and the ten sons of Haman were hanged. 9:15 The Jews who were in Susa then assembled on the fourteenth day of the month of Adar, and they killed three hundred men in Susa. But they did not confiscate their property.

9:16 The rest of the Jews who were throughout the provinces of the king assembled in order to stand up for themselves and to have rest from their enemies. They killed seventy-five thousand 22  of their adversaries, but they did not confiscate their property. 9:17 All of this happened on the thirteenth day of the month of Adar. They then rested on the fourteenth day and made it a day for banqueting and happiness.

The Origins of the Feast of Purim

9:18 But the Jews who were in Susa assembled on the thirteenth and fourteenth days, and rested on the fifteenth, making it a day for banqueting and happiness. 9:19 This is why the Jews who are in the rural country – those who live in rural cities – set aside the fourteenth day of the month of Adar as a holiday for happiness, banqueting, holiday, and sending gifts to one another.

9:20 Mordecai wrote these matters down and sent letters to all the Jews who were throughout all the provinces of King Ahasuerus, both near and far, 9:21 to have them observe the fourteenth and the fifteenth day of the month of Adar each year 9:22 as the time when the Jews gave themselves rest from their enemies – the month when their trouble was turned to happiness and their mourning to a holiday. These were to be days of banqueting, happiness, sending gifts to one another, and providing for the poor.

9:23 So the Jews committed themselves to continue what they had begun to do and to what Mordecai had written to them. 9:24 For Haman the son of Hammedatha, the Agagite, the enemy of all the Jews, had devised plans against the Jews to destroy them. He had cast pur (that is, the lot) in order to afflict and destroy them. 9:25 But when the matter came to the king’s attention, the king 23  gave written orders that Haman’s 24  evil intentions that he had devised against the Jews should fall on his own head. He and his sons were hanged on the gallows. 9:26 For this reason these days are known as Purim, after the name of pur. 9:27 Therefore, because of the account found in this letter and what they had faced in this regard and what had happened to them, the Jews established as binding on themselves, their descendants, and all who joined their company that they should observe these two days without fail, just as written and at the appropriate time on an annual basis. 9:28 These days were to be remembered and to be celebrated in every generation and in every family, every province, and every city. The Jews were not to fail to observe these days of Purim; the remembrance of them was not to cease among their descendants.

9:29 So Queen Esther, the daughter of Abihail, and Mordecai the Jew wrote with full authority to confirm this second 25  letter about Purim. 9:30 Letters were sent 26  to all the Jews in the hundred and twenty-seven provinces of the empire of Ahasuerus – words of true peace 27 9:31 to establish these days of Purim in their proper times, just as Mordecai the Jew and Queen Esther had established, and just as they had established both for themselves and their descendants, matters pertaining to fasting and lamentation. 9:32 Esther’s command established these matters of Purim, and the matter was officially recorded. 28 

Mordecai’s Fame Increases

10:1 King Ahasuerus then imposed forced labor on the land and on the coastlands of the sea. 10:2 Now all the actions carried out under his authority and his great achievements, along with an exact statement concerning the greatness of Mordecai, whom the king promoted, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Media and Persia? 10:3 Mordecai the Jew was second only to King Ahasuerus. He was the highest-ranking 29  Jew, and he was admired by his numerous relatives. 30  He worked enthusiastically 31  for the good of his people and was an advocate for the welfare of 32  all his descendants. 33 

1 tn Heb “house” (so NAB, NASB, NRSV; also in vv. 2, 7). Cf. TEV “all the property.”

2 sn As in 7:4 Esther avoids implicating the king in this plot. Instead Haman is given sole responsibility for the plan to destroy the Jews.

3 tn Heb “Esther.” The pronoun (“she”) was used in the translation for stylistic reasons. A repetition of the proper name is redundant here in terms of contemporary English style.

4 tc The LXX does not include the expression “the Agagite.”

5 tn Heb “my kindred” (so KJV, NASB, NRSV); NAB “my race”; NIV “my family”; NLT “my people and my family.”

6 tn Heb “sent forth his hand”; NAB, NIV “attacked”; NLT “tried to destroy.” Cf. 9:2.

7 tn Heb “in that time”; NIV “At once.”

8 sn Cf. 3:12. Two months and ten days have passed since Haman’s edict to wipe out the Jews.

9 tn Heb “it was written”; this passive construction has been converted to an active one in the translation for clarity and for stylistic reasons.

10 tn Heb “Cush” (so NIV), referring to the region of the upper Nile in Africa. Cf. KJV and most other English versions “Ethiopia.”

11 tn Heb “He”; the referent (Mordecai) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

12 tn Heb “children and women.” As in 3:13, the translation follows contemporary English idiom, which reverses the order.

13 tn Heb “this” (so NASB); most English versions read “that” here for stylistic reasons.

14 tn Heb “making haste and hurrying”; KJV, ASV “being hastened and pressed.”

15 tn Heb “shouted and rejoiced.” The expression is a hendiadys (see the note on 5:10 for an explanation of this figure).

16 tn Heb “light and gladness and joy and honor” (so NASB). The present translation understands the four terms to be a double hendiadys.

17 tn Heb “peoples of the land” (so NASB); NIV “people of other nationalities”; NRSV “peoples of the country.”

18 tn Heb “were becoming Jews”; NAB “embraced Judaism.” However, the Hitpael stem of the verb is sometimes used of a feigning action rather than a genuine one (see, e.g., 2 Sam 13:5, 6), which is the way the present translation understands the use of the word here (cf. NEB “professed themselves Jews”; NRSV “professed to be Jews”). This is the only occurrence of this verb in the Hebrew Bible, so there are no exact parallels. However, in the context of v. 17 the motivation of their conversion (Heb “the fear of the Jews had fallen upon them”) should not be overlooked. The LXX apparently understood the conversion described here to be genuine, since it adds the words “they were being circumcised and” before “they became Jews.”

19 tn Heb “had fallen upon them” (so NRSV); NIV “had seized them.”

20 tn Heb “great”; NRSV “powerful”; NIV “prominent”; NCV “very important.”

21 tn Heb “the man Mordecai” (so NASB, NRSV).

22 tc For this number much of the Greek MS tradition reads “fifteen thousand.” The Lucianic Greek recension reads “70,100.”

23 tn Heb “he”; the referent (the king) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

24 tn Heb “his”; the referent (Haman) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

25 tc The LXX and the Syriac Peshitta omit the word “second.”

26 tc The present translation is based on the Niphal form וַיּשָּׁלַח (vayyishalakh, “were sent”; so also NRSV, TEV, CEV, NLT) rather than the reading of the MT וַיּשְׁלַח (vayyishlakh, Qal, “and he sent”). The subject of the MT verb would have to be Mordecai (cf. NAB, NIV, NCV), but this is problematic in light of v. 29, where both Esther and Mordecai are responsible for the letters.

27 tn Heb “peace and truth.” The expression is probably a hendiadys (see the note on 5:10 for an explanation of this figure).

28 tn Heb “written in the book” (so NASB); NIV, NLT “written down in the records”; NRSV “recorded in writing.”

29 tn Heb “great among the Jews” (so KJV, NASB); NIV “preeminent among the Jews”; NRSV “powerful among the Jews.”

30 tn Heb “brothers”; NASB “kinsmen”; NIV “fellow Jews.”

31 tn Heb “he was seeking”; NAB “as the promoter of his people’s welfare.”

32 tn Heb “he was speaking peace to”; NRSV “and interceded for the welfare of.”

33 sn A number of additions to the Book of Esther appear in the apocryphal (or deuterocanonical) writings. These additions supply further information about various scenes described in the canonical book and are interesting in their own right. However, they were never a part of the Hebrew Bible. The placement of this additional material in certain Greek manuscripts of the Book of Esther may be described as follows. At the beginning of Esther there is an account (= chapter 11) of a dream in which Mordecai is warned by God of a coming danger for the Jews. In this account two great dragons, representing Mordecai and Haman, prepare for conflict. But God responds to the prayers of his people, and the crisis is resolved. This account is followed by another one (= chapter 12) in which Mordecai is rewarded for disclosing a plot against the king’s life. After Esth 3:13 there is a copy of a letter from King Artaxerxes authorizing annihilation of the Jews (= chapter 13). After Esth 4:17 the account continues with a prayer of Mordecai (= part of chapter 13), followed by a prayer of Esther (= chapter 14), and an account which provides details about Esther’s appeal to the king in behalf of her people (= chapter 15). After Esth 8:12 there is a copy of a letter from King Artaxerxes in which he denounces Haman and his plot and authorizes his subjects to assist the Jews (= chapter 16). At the end of the book, following Esth 10:3, there is an addition which provides an interpretation to Mordecai’s dream, followed by a brief ascription of genuineness to the entire book (= chapter 11).



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