Haman’s Decree Superceded
8 That same day King Xerxes gave Queen Esther the estate of Haman, the enemy of the Jews. And Mordecai came into the presence of the king, for Esther had told how he was related to her. 2 The king took off his signet ring,which he had reclaimed from Haman, and presented it to Mordecai. And Esther appointed him over Haman’s estate.
3 Esther again pleaded with the king, falling at his feet and weeping. She begged him to put an end to the evil plan of Haman the Agagite, which he had devised against the Jews. 4 Then the king extended the gold scepter to Esther and she arose and stood before him.
5 “If it pleases the king,” she said, “and if he regards me with favor and thinks it the right thing to do, and if he is pleased with me, let an order be written overruling the dispatches that Haman son of Hammedatha, the Agagite, devised and wrote to destroy the Jews in all the king’s provinces. 6 For how can I bear to see disaster fall on my people? How can I bear to see the destruction of my family?”
7 King Xerxes replied to Queen Esther and to Mordecai the Jew, “Because Haman attacked the Jews, I have given his estate to Esther, and they have impaled him on the pole he set up. 8 Now write another decree in the king’s name in behalf of the Jews as seems best to you, and seal it with the king’s signet ring—for no document written in the king’s name and sealed with his ring can be revoked.”
9 At once the royal secretaries were summoned—on the twenty-third day of the third month, the month of Sivan. They wrote out all Mordecai’s orders to the Jews, and to the satraps, governors and nobles of the 127 provinces stretching from India to Cush. These orders were written in the script of each province and the language of each people and also to the Jews in their own script and language. 10 Mordecai wrote in the name of King Xerxes, sealed the dispatches with the king’s signet ring, and sent them by mounted couriers, who rode fast horses especially bred for the king.
11 The king’s edict granted the Jews in every city the right to assemble and protect themselves; to destroy, kill and annihilate the armed men of any nationality or province who might attack them and their women and children,and to plunder the property of their enemies. 12 The day appointed for the Jews to do this in all the provinces of King Xerxes was the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, the month of Adar. 13 A copy of the text of the edict was to be issued as law in every province and made known to the people of every nationality so that the Jews would be ready on that day to avenge themselves on their enemies.
14 The couriers, riding the royal horses, went out, spurred on by the king’s command, and the edict was issued in the citadel of Susa.
(Esther 8:1-14 NIV)
So much has happened on this day! God has been at work, upholding His promise to protect His own (Genesis 12:3). The king’s heart was softened toward Esther and hardened toward Haman, quite the reversal from 30 days ago, when Haman had more face time with the king than Esther. Truly, God changed the king’s heart (Proverbs 21:1).
As was true in ancient Middle Eastern culture, a traitor’s property was seized by the king. The king exercised this custom, and immediately gave Haman’s property to Queen Esther. Esther then put Mordecai in charge of Haman’s former property, as the estate was quite large (Esther 5:11).
But the day is not over yet. The Jewish people were relieved that Haman was gone, but his death sentence still hung ominously over their heads. The king, thinking that he had set all things right by having Haman put to death, giving Haman’s estate to Queen Esther, and elevating Mordecai to Haman’s former position of top noble, leaves Esther and Mordecai and goes back to his throne.
Verse 3 tells us that Queen Esther goes back to see the king, again uninvited. This time, she does not wait for the king to invite her in – she humbly places herself, weeping, at the king’s feet, begging for mercy on behalf of all Jewish people in Persia. The king extends his scepter to her, and hears her plea.
Once again, God is working in His Divine Providence – the king’s heart is softened again toward Esther. The king addresses Mordecai and tells him to take care of the matter. The king can’t go back on his word – once a matter is signed and sealed, it stands forever.
So Mordecai gathers the scribes and issues another decree to counteract Haman’s decree. This decree did not contradict the king’s original order, but instead, gave the Jews across Persia the right to fight back and protect themselves. Mordecai trusted God’s promises, and wisely found a way to empower the Jewish people in this difficult matter of life and death.
May we be like Esther, and humbly, yet boldly approach God’s throne of grace in our time of need (Hebrews 4:16).