The Day of Reckoning
9 On the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, the month of Adar, the edict commanded by the king was to be carried out. On this day the enemies of the Jews had hoped to overpower them, but now the tables were turned and the Jews got the upper hand over those who hated them. 2 The Jews assembled in their cities in all the provinces of King Xerxes to attack those determined to destroy them. No one could stand against them, because the people of all the other nationalities were afraid of them. 3 And all the nobles of the provinces, the satraps, the governors and the king’s administrators helped the Jews,because fear of Mordecai had seized them. 4 Mordecai was prominent in the palace; his reputation spread throughout the provinces, and he became more and more powerful.
5 The Jews struck down all their enemies with the sword, killing and destroying them, and they did what they pleased to those who hated them. 6 In the citadel of Susa, the Jews killed and destroyed five hundred men. 7 They also killed Parshandatha, Dalphon, Aspatha, 8 Poratha, Adalia, Aridatha, 9 Parmashta, Arisai, Aridai and Vaizatha, 10 the ten sons of Haman son of Hammedatha, the enemy of the Jews. But they did not lay their hands on the plunder.
11 The number of those killed in the citadel of Susa was reported to the king that same day. 12 The king said to Queen Esther, “The Jews have killed and destroyed five hundred men and the ten sons of Haman in the citadel of Susa. What have they done in the rest of the king’s provinces? Now what is your petition? It will be given you. What is your request? It will also be granted.”
13 “If it pleases the king,” Esther answered, “give the Jews in Susa permission to carry out this day’s edict tomorrow also, and let Haman’s ten sons be impaled on poles.”
14 So the king commanded that this be done. An edict was issued in Susa, and they impaled the ten sons of Haman. 15 The Jews in Susa came together on the fourteenth day of the month of Adar, and they put to death in Susa three hundred men, but they did not lay their hands on the plunder.
16 Meanwhile, the remainder of the Jews who were in the king’s provinces also assembled to protect themselves and get relief from their enemies. They killed seventy-five thousand of them but did not lay their hands on the plunder.17 This happened on the thirteenth day of the month of Adar, and on the fourteenth they rested and made it a day of feasting and joy.
18 The Jews in Susa, however, had assembled on the thirteenth and fourteenth, and then on the fifteenth they rested and made it a day of feasting and joy.
19 That is why rural Jews—those living in villages—observe the fourteenth of the month of Adar as a day of joy and feasting, a day for giving presents to each other.
(Esther 9:1-19 NIV)
The dreaded day had finally arrived – the day that Haman’s evil plot to annihilate the Jews was to be carried out. But it was also the day when, due to God’s Divine Providence, the Jews were able to defend themselves against their enemies.
Verse 1 says that the enemies of the Jews were confident they would win, but the Jews fought back and prevailed. Note that the Jews did not attack their enemies, but simply defended themselves against their enemies, and God gave them the victory. Haman’s ten sons were among the attackers, and were all killed.
Note verses 10, 15, and 16… “but did not lay their hands on the plunder.” The author is careful to point out that the Jewish people were not in this fight for the plunder (money or property), as Haman had planned in his evil schemes (Esther 3:9). Instead, the author notes that the Jewish people defended themselves and sought relief from their enemies (v. 16). The word “relief” is the same word as “rest” that Jesus offered:
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.
(Matthew 11:28 NIV)
When we read about 75,000 people being killed, that sounds like a mighty battle. Considering for a moment that Persia had 127 provinces (states) at the time, that averages out to about 600 people per province picking a fight with the Jews (and losing, thanks to God’s protection and support of the Jewish people). From this, we see that Haman’s hatred was shared across the whole Persian empire, even more so in the provinces than in the capital city of Susa (v. 12).
Once again, we see God’s Providence at work to protect and care for His own – a promise He extends to us as followers of Christ as well. That does not mean an absence of battles, but it does mean that God’s justice prevails in the end.