Nine months have passed since Mordecai and the king’s edict. The Jews are ready for whoever comes against them. Victory is theirs for their God is STRONGER.
Haman had decreed that this day would put an end to the Jews. He did this because Mordecai wouldn’t bow to him when he passed. Instead of addressing the single problem, Haman made it into a global one. I doubt the king or Ester would have even been involved if Haman had handled the singular source of his displeasure.
Because Haman sought the lives of EVERY Jew, Ester was called upon to intercede on their behalf. She not only got the king’s ear but she saw the death of Haman. Haman’s plan can’t be repealed but the Jews have been granted permission to fight back. And fight they will! Their GREATEST ‘weapon’ is their God. He is the one Who made this victory possible.
The Jews in Persia are not some highly trained military fighting force. They have no advanced weaponry to use against their enemies. What they have is faith in their God and determination to protect their family.
That faith goes farther than just believing there is a God. Their faith is founded on centuries of history with their God. Stories of battles won by HIM on their behalf. Even in the current situation they can clearly point to the ‘fingerprints’ of God in this issue. By God’s plan, Ester was in the right place at the right time to bring about the downfall of their enemy and the salvation of the Jews. Even the other people of Persia recognized God’s hand in all of this. They proclaimed themselves to be Jews too in order to be spared. Too bad not everyone recognized the truth. There would have been no bloodshed on that day if they had.
I wonder how Haman had envisioned this day. Did he see the Jews cowering in their homes, praying they would not be discovered, as armed men from every corner of the kingdom burst in on them and struck them down where they sat? Did he expect that there would be NO resistance at all? His edict clearly gave the rest of the inhabitants of the kingdom the freedom to strike ANY Jew down with impunity. I wonder if some were planning on using this license to ‘accidentally’ strike down other enemies they had. Who would notice an ‘oops’ here and there?
Because of Mordecai’s edict the Jews didn’t cower alone in their homes. They came together in mass, in EVERY city and town. They stood together and struck down ANYONE who came at them. They didn’t go out searching for opponents. Together they stood, waiting for those who would be foolish enough to come at them. And there were PLENTY who did.
They wanted the ‘reward’ promised in Haman’s edict. What they got instead was death. GOD strengthened the arm of these simple people. More than 75,000 people would lose their lives in an effort to cash in on Haman’s offer. Over 800 died in Susa alone with a second day added in that city to enact Mordecai and the king’s edict.
Let’s look in on our players and watch as this day unfolds.
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For nine months the Jews have been preparing. They have met to discuss strategy, stockpiled what ‘weapons’ they could gather, and most importantly prayed. Mordecai has been engaged in rapport building activities with as many officials throughout the land as he can. His status with the king makes this much easier. He has risen higher than even Haman ever did in this short span of time. It is clear that the king thinks highly of him. And that his God is blessing him. Most of the officials have sided with him and the Jews. There will be no action against the Jews coming from them. Several even agreed to loan the Jews swords for this day. The Jews weren’t allowed to own such weapons to prevent an internal uprising.
There is no telling exactly what this specifically appointed day will bring. Will the opposition be too afraid to strike? Will their numbers be so overwhelming that they overwhelm the Jews? Will the Lord perform another miracle that makes it to where His people don’t even have to lift a weapon?
All these thoughts run through the minds of everyone in the kingdom; on both sides of the upcoming event. No one slept well the night before. Last minute preparations continue right up to the moment of sunrise the morning of Adar 13th. (This is of course the Jewish calendar date but the name of the month on the Persian calendar may differ.)
In the Jewish communities, women and children have been moved to defensible positions. Their men are positioned around them with weapons at the ready. Guards have kept watch during the night in case those who seek their lives decided to come early.
On the other side of the battle lines, mercenaries have loosely assembled. Being that they all are competing for the money offered in Haman’s edict, there is little cooperation between anyone on this side. Some groups have formed along old national lines of hatred of the Jews. These nations were happy to see Israel fall and have longed for an end to them for generations. They believe this is their chance to make it happen.
Sunrise brings a roar from the assembled aggressors. What they lack in numbers they try and make up for in intensity. They rush headlong toward the Jewish settlements. In some provinces the numbers are so small that they don’t even encircle the settlements. In other provinces the forces are three and four deep and several waves.
The Jews stand their ground, waiting for the enemy to bring the fight to them. They are NOT the aggressors but they will protect themselves to the last man. Mordecai stands with the Jews of Susa. Ester remains in the palace by the king’s command, for her safety. Mordecai will send word to her later of the outcome.
Within minutes the sounds of fighting filled the air. Swords striking one another, shields being struck, cries of pain as participants fell, and orders shouted between positions. Even orders of retreat could be heard in many of the provinces.
Fighting continued throughout the day as one group of attackers would be defeated by the Jews and another would step up to take its place. Not once did the attackers break the defensive lines of the Jews. Nor did any attacking group survive unscathed. Most lay dead at the feet of the Jews, their bodies untouched after they fell. The Jews didn’t take the spoils and they allowed unarmed men to retrieve the bodies of their fallen comrades.
Sounds of the battle in Susa reached the palace. Ester stood watch and prayed while it raged. By evening the sounds of battle were replaced with victory cheers. The opponents were no more. These same victory cheers resound throughout all the provinces of Persia. The Jews have been victorious over those who hated them.
Mordecai came from the battlefield with a report for the king. He stopped long enough to wash his face and hands before entering the palace. He still wore the stains of battle on his clothing; the blood of the enemies of the Jews. He would have liked to dress in clean robes before approaching the king but he was commanded to come as soon as the fighting had ended with a report. He carried with him a hastily written report.
Mordecai waited to be recognized before entering the throne room of the king. Ester followed closely on his heels. Ester stood to the side while Mordecai handed the king his report. Ahasuerus read the numbers and his eyes grew wide. He turned to Ester and shared with her.
“In Susa the citadel the Jews have killed and destroyed 500 men and also the ten sons of Haman…” He shakes his head in amazement. “…What then have they done in the rest of the king’s provinces!…” With an open hand he offers Ester more. “…Now what is your wish? It shall be granted you. And what further is your request? It shall be fulfilled” (verse 12).
Ester thought for only a moment before giving her answer. “If it please the king, let the Jews who are in Susa be allowed tomorrow also to do according to this day’s edict. And let the ten sons of Haman be hanged on the gallows” (verse 13).
“So shall it be” replied Ahasuerus. He quickly called for his scribe and wrote out the decree. “Read this at once in the square” he instructed his courier as soon as the scroll was sealed.
The courier relayed the king’s message in the city center in both the language of the Jews and the province. Those who heard it on both sides of the issue prepared through the night for a second day of fighting.
Reports came in from the other provinces and a total tally for the fighting came that day to more than 75,500. The king was grateful the numbers had not been higher. He was also very pleased with the integrity of the Jews in that they did not plunder their enemies. Their only spoils of this day of battles were their lives. He is certain it would have been much different if Haman had his way.
The Jews in the other provinces proclaimed a feast to celebrate the day’s victory. It took place the very next day; Adar 14. In Susa, on the 14th the events of the day before were repeated. This time Mordecai came from the battlefield bearing the names and count of the day totaling 300 more.
Jubilant from the battles, the Jews of Susa proclaim a feast and celebration after their second day of victories. Ester and Mordecai both join in, as does the king. The king is saddened by the loss of life but he is overjoyed that Ester and her people have survived. He offers praises to their God at the feast.
(to be continued)
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I have a couple of questions raised by this story. The first on is, why were Haman’s sons hanged? The second is, who were they fighting in Susa on the second day?
In the story we are told that the ten sons of Haman were killed on the first day of fighting but Ester asks that they be hanged on the second day. They were already dead so why hang them? Was it just to show what happened to them? Was it to deter more enemies of the Jews? It seems like ‘overkill’ to me.
My question about the opponents in Susa. Where did they come from? Were there some there that wanted the Jews dead but were afraid to come out the first day? Were they the survivors of the first day’s fighting? I doubt they could be new enemies of the Jews. I doubt anyone would be that brave to jump in where everyone else failed but apparently there were some. I don’t understand people sometimes.
I don’t think it was possible that the Jews took the offensive on the second day and went out looking for enemies. The king’s edict said they could defend themselves, not go out looking for a fight.
I was wondering what to take from today’s story. What occurred to me in that moment was that the Jews had to have faith as they prepared for those nine months that no matter what came at them, God had their back. And when the time came they had to grab hold of the sword and start swinging. They had to work to be ready and see the task through. God didn’t make their enemies disappear. Instead He helped them face them and be victorious.
Father God, help me prepare for the battles ahead. I don’t know of any that loom on the horizon personally but I know that Satan hasn’t sat down. He has plans that do NOT include good things for those who love You. BUT YOU are stronger than he is and You have promised victory to Your children. I need to hold tight no matter the storm and trust in You to bring me safely through. AND do all I know to do to be ready.
I need to spend time with You each day, in prayer and in Your word. I need to know Your promises and be aware of the tricks of the enemy. And I need to grow my faith in You by remembering ALL the things You have done already! Together, we will see the end in victory.