We have previously briefly discussed Esther and the attempt of Haman to destroy the Jews. After the king granted Esther’s request to spare her life and ordered Haman to be hanged on the gallows which he had prepared for Mordechai, Esther and Mordechai were allowed by the king to write whatever they wished about the Jews in the king’s name and seal it with the king’s ring, to counteract the decree that Haman had previously issued allowing the Jews to be destroyed.

So what was this new decree that Mordechai and Esther drafted? Let’s break it down.

“the king had granted the Jews in every single town the right to come together”

First they had to come together.  This was not a situation where it was each man for himself, but they had to be united.

“to stand up”

Secondly they had to stand up.  They could not hide, but they had to declare themselves Jews.

“and defend their lives,”

So then they were given the right to defend themselves.  They were not the aggressors.

“to kill, destroy, and annihilate all the armed hordes of the peoples and provinces who threatened them,”

However, as part of this defense, they were allowed to kill, destroy and annihilate ALL THE ARMED HORDES… who threatened them.  They did not kill indiscriminately, but anyone who was armed and threatened them could be destroyed.

“even the children and women,”

Wow. This included the children and women who were armed and threatened them!  There was a specific recognition that the enemy was NOT limited to the men. This seems to be forgotten in looking at the current situation with Gaza.

“and to loot plunder …”

They were also given the right to plunder the enemy.

Esther 8:8-12.

So the decree went out throughout the land, and the law was displayed for everyone to see, “that the Jews should make themselves ready for that day to wreak vengeance on their enemies.” Esther 8:13.

What happened? There was much joy and rejoicing as the Jews heard of the king’s word,

“and many of the local people joined the Jews, for awe of the Jews had overwhelmed them.”  Esther 8:17.

This is an important point. There were many who join with the Jews.

So anyway, “On the day when the Jews’ enemies had hoped to overcome them — it was all turned around, as the Jews themselves overcame those who hated them.” Esther 9:1.

“The Jews dealt all their enemies a terrible blow, of sword and slaughter and destruction; they did whatever they pleased to those who hated them.” Esther 9:5-6.

But although they put an end to those who would destroy them, they did not touch the plunder.  This is much like Abraham (still Avram at that time), who after defeating the five kings and rescuing Lot, “said to the king of Sedom, ‘I raise my hand in oath to the Lord, God Most High, Maker of heaven and earth, that I will not accept anything of yours, not even a thread or a shoe strap, so that you never shall say, ‘I made Avram rich.’ ‘ ”  Genesis 14:22-23.

After a second day that the Jews were given to kill the rest of their enemies, they rested, and had a day of feasting and happiness.  And so it is written, that each year on the 14th and 15th days of Adar, in the month in which the days of mourning are turned into joy, there shall be feasting, happiness, sending one another good things to eat, and giving gifts to the poor.

So let it be written; so let it be done.

 

Translations are from The Koren Tanakh (The Magerman Edition, published by Koren Publishers Jerusalem, 2021)