1That day King Ahasuerus gave the house of Haman, enemy of the Jews, to Queen Esther; and Mordecai was admitted to the king’s presence, for Esther had revealed his relationship to her.a 2The king removed his signet ring that he had taken away from Haman, and gave it to Mordecai; and Esther put Mordecai in charge of the house of Haman.b
VI. THE JEWISH VICTORY AND THE FEAST OF PURIM
The Second Royal Decree. 3Esther again spoke to the king. She fell at his feet and tearfully implored him to revoke the harm done by Haman the Agagite and the plan he had devised against the Jews. 4The king stretched forth the golden scepter to Esther. So she rose and, standing before him, 5said: “If it seems good to the king and if I have found favor with him, if the thing seems right to the king and I am pleasing in his eyes, let a document be issued to revoke the letters that the schemer Haman, son of Hammedatha the Agagite, wrote for the destruction of the Jews in all the royal provinces.c 6For how can I witness the evil that is to befall my people, and how can I behold the destruction of my kindred?”
7King Ahasuerus then said to Queen Esther and to the Jew Mordecai: “Now that I have given Esther the house of Haman, and they have impaled him on the stake because he was going to attack the Jews, 8d you in turn may write in the king’s name what you see fit concerning the Jews and seal the letter with the royal signet ring.” For a decree written in the name of the king and sealed with the royal signet ring cannot be revoked.*
9At that time, on the twenty-third day of the third month, Sivan, the royal scribes were summoned. Exactly as Mordecai dictated, they wrote to the Jews and to the satraps, governors, and officials of the hundred and twenty-seven provinces from India to Ethiopia: to each province in its own script and to each people in its own language, and to the Jews in their own script and language. 10These letters, which he wrote in the name of King Ahasuerus and sealed with the royal signet ring, he sent by mounted couriers riding thoroughbred royal steeds. 11e In these letters the king authorized the Jews in each and every city to gather and defend their lives, to destroy, kill, and annihilate every armed group of any nation or province that might attack them, along with their wives and children, and to seize their goods as spoil 12on a single day throughout the provinces of King Ahasuerus, the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, Adar.
“The great King Ahasuerus to the governors of the provinces in the hundred and twenty-seven satrapies from India to Ethiopia, and to those who are loyal to our government: Greetings!
2“Many have become more ambitious the more they were showered with honors through the bountiful generosity of their patrons. 3Not only do they seek to do harm to our subjects but, incapable of dealing with such greatness, they even begin plotting against their own benefactors. 4Not only do they drive out gratitude from among humankind but, with the arrogant boastfulness of those to whom goodness has no meaning, they suppose they will escape the stern judgment of the all-seeing God.
5“Often, too, the fair speech of friends entrusted with the administration of affairs has induced many placed in authority to become accomplices in the shedding of innocent blood, and has involved them in irreparable calamities 6by deceiving with malicious slander the sincere good will of rulers. 7This can be verified in the ancient stories that have been handed down to us, but more fully when you consider the wicked deeds perpetrated in your midst by the pestilential influence of those undeserving of authority. 8a We must provide for the future, so as to render the kingdom undisturbed and peaceful for all people, 9taking advantage of changing conditions and always deciding matters coming to our attention with equitable treatment.
10“For instance, Haman, son of Hammedatha, a Macedonian,* certainly not of Persian blood, and very different from us in generosity, was hospitably received by us. 11He benefited so much from the good will we have toward all peoples that he was proclaimed ‘our father,’ before whom everyone was to bow down; and he attained a position second only to the royal throne.b 12But, unable to control his arrogance, he strove to deprive us of kingdom and of life, 13and by weaving intricate webs of deceit he demanded the destruction of Mordecai, our savior and constant benefactor, and of Esther, our blameless royal consort, together with their whole nation.c 14For by such measures he hoped to catch us defenseless and to transfer the rule of the Persians to the Macedonians. 15But we find that the Jews, who were doomed to extinction by this archcriminal, are not evildoers, but rather are governed by very just laws 16and are the children of the Most High, the living God of majesty, who has maintained the kingdom in a flourishing condition for us and for our forebears.
17“You will do well, then, to ignore the letter sent by Haman, son of Hammedatha, 18for he who composed it has been impaled, together with his entire household, before the gates of Susa. Thus swiftly has God, who governs all, brought just punishment upon him.d
19“You shall exhibit a copy of this letter publicly in every place to certify that the Jews may follow their own laws 20and that you may help them on the day set for their ruin, the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, Adar, to defend themselves against those who attack them. 21For God, the ruler of all, has turned that day from one of destruction of the chosen people into one of joy for them. 22Therefore, you too must celebrate this memorable day among your designated feasts with all rejoicing, 23so that both now and in the future it may be a celebration of deliverance for us and for Persians of good will, but for those who plot against us a reminder of destruction.
24“Every city and province without exception that does not observe this decree shall be ruthlessly destroyed with fire and sword, so that it will be left not merely untrodden by people, but even shunned by wild beasts and birds forever.”e
* [E:10] Macedonian: throughout the book Haman is identified with terms of contempt—in the Hebrew text as an Agagite (3:1, 10; 8:3, 5; 9:24; cf. note on A:17), thus making him a descendant of Agag, king of the Amalekites, a group hated by the Israelites; in the Greek additions Haman is identified as a Macedonian, reflecting the enmity between the Persians and the Macedonians after Macedonia’s conquest of Persia in the fourth century B.C.
13A copy of the letter to be promulgated as law in each and every province was published among all the peoples, so that the Jews might be prepared on that day to avenge themselves on their enemies. 14Couriers mounted on royal steeds sped forth in haste at the king’s order, and the decree was promulgated in the royal precinct of Susa.
15Mordecai left the king’s presence clothed in a royal robe of violet and of white cotton, with a large crown of gold and a mantle of fine crimson linen. The city of Susa shouted with joy,f 16and for the Jews there was splendor and gladness, joy and triumph. 17In each and every province and in each and every city, wherever the king’s order arrived, there was merriment and joy, banqueting and feasting for the Jews. And many of the peoples of the land identified themselves as Jews, for fear of the Jews fell upon them.g
* [8:8] A decree written…cannot be revoked: the king cannot directly grant Esther’s request (v. 5) to revoke the previous decree against the Jews because of the irrevocable character of the laws of the Medes and Persians (see 1:19 and note). He can, however, empower Esther to issue another decree in his name to counteract the earlier one. The second decree authorizes the Jews to defend themselves against those who would kill them, which is what they do in 9:2. This is why the outcome of the two decrees is that the attackers are killed instead of the Jews, rather than a simple cancellation of all hostilities.