| Back to Home Page | Back to Book Index |


Esther Chapter Nine


Esther 9

Chapter Contents

The success of the Jews. (1-19) The feast of Purim in remembrance of this. (20-32)

Commentary on Esther 9:1-19

(Read Esther 9:1-19)

The enemies of the Jews hoped to have power over them by the former edict. If they had attempted nothing against the people of God, they would not themselves have suffered. The Jews, acting together, strengthened one another. Let us learn to stand fast in one spirit, and with one mind, striving together against the enemies of our souls, who endeavour to rob us of our faith, which is more precious than our lives. The Jews, to the honour of their religion, showed contempt of wordly wealth, that they might make it appear they desired nothing except their own preservation. In every case the people of God should manifest humanity and disinterestedness, frequently refusing advantages which might lawfully be obtained. The Jews celebrated their festival the day after they had finished their work. When we have received great mercies from God, we ought to be speedy in making thankful returns to him.

Commentary on Esther 9:20-32

(Read Esther 9:20-32)

The observance of the Jewish feasts, is a public declaration of the truth of the Old Testament Scriptures. And as the Old Testament Scriptures are true, the Messiah expected by the Jews is come long ago; and none but Jesus of Nazareth can be that Messiah. The festival was appointed by authority, yet under the direction of the Spirit of God. It was called the feast of Purim, from a Persian word, which signifies a lot. The name of this festival would remind them of the almighty power of the God of Israel, who served his own purposes by the superstitions of the heathen. In reviewing our mercies, we should advert to former fears and distresses. When our mercies are personal, we should not by forgetfulness lose the comfort of them, or withhold from the Lord the glory due to his name. May the Lord teach us to rejoice, with that holy joy which anticipates and prepares for the blessedness of heaven. Every instance of Divine goodness to ourselves, is a new obligation laid on us to do good, to those especially who most need our bounty. Above all, redemption by Christ binds us to be merciful, 2 Corinthians 8:9.

── Matthew HenryConcise Commentary on Esther


Esther 9

Verse 2

[2] The Jews gathered themselves together in their cities throughout all the provinces of the king Ahasuerus, to lay hand on such as sought their hurt: and no man could withstand them; for the fear of them fell upon all people.

No man — Their enemies, though they did take up arms against them, yet were easily conquered and destroyed by them.

Verse 6

[6] And in Shushan the palace the Jews slew and destroyed five hundred men.

Shushan — In the city so called.

Slew — Whom they knew to be such as would watch all opportunities to destroy them; which also they might possibly now attempt to do.

Verse 10

[10] The ten sons of Haman the son of Hammedatha, the enemy of the Jews, slew they; but on the spoil laid they not their hand.

But, … — Because they would leave it to their children, that it might appear what they did was not done out of malice, or covetousness, but out of mere necessity, and by that great law of self-preservation.

Verse 12

[12] And the king said unto Esther the queen, The Jews have slain and destroyed five hundred men in Shushan the palace, and the ten sons of Haman; what have they done in the rest of the king's provinces? now what is thy petition? and it shall be granted thee: or what is thy request further? and it shall be done.

What — In which doubtless many more were slain. So that I have fully granted thy petition. And yet, if thou hast any thing farther to ask, I am ready to grant it.

Verse 13

[13] Then said Esther, If it please the king, let it be granted to the Jews which are in Shushan to do to morrow also according unto this day's decree, and let Haman's ten sons be hanged upon the gallows.

Let it, … — To kill their implacable enemies. For it is not improbable that the greatest and worst of them had hidden themselves for that day; after which, the commission granted to the Jews being expired, they confidently returned to their homes.

Hanged — They were slain before; now let their bodies be hanged on their father's gallows, for their greater infamy, and the terror of all others who shall presume to abuse the king in like manner, or to persuade him to execute such cruelties upon his subjects.

Verse 26

[26] Wherefore they called these days Purim after the name of Pur. Therefore for all the words of this letter, and of that which they had seen concerning this matter, and which had come unto them,

Pur — This Persian word signifies a lot, because Haman had by lot determined this time to be the time of the Jews destruction.

Verse 27

[27] The Jews ordained, and took upon them, and upon their seed, and upon all such as joined themselves unto them, so as it should not fail, that they would keep these two days according to their writing, and according to their appointed time every year;

As joined — Gentile Proselytes; who were obliged to submit to other of the Jewish laws, and therefore to this also; the rather because they enjoyed the benefit of this day's deliverance; without which the Jewish nation and religion had been in a great measure, if not wholly, extinct.

According — According to that writing which was drawn up by Mordecai, and afterwards confirmed by the consent of the Jews.

Verse 29

[29] Then Esther the queen, the daughter of Abihail, and Mordecai the Jew, wrote with all authority, to confirm this second letter of Purim.

Wrote — The former letter, verse 20, did only recommend but this enjoins the observation of this solemnity: because this was not only Mordecai's act, but the act of all the Jews, binding themselves and posterity.

Verse 30

[30] And he sent the letters unto all the Jews, to the hundred twenty and seven provinces of the kingdom of Ahasuerus, with words of peace and truth,

Peace — With peace, friendship and kindness to his brethren, and truth, sincerity.

Verse 31

[31] To confirm these days of Purim in their times appointed, according as Mordecai the Jew and Esther the queen had enjoined them, and as they had decreed for themselves and for their seed, the matters of the fastings and their cry.

Cry — For those great calamities which were decreed to all the Jews, and for the removing of which, not only Esther, and the Jews in Shushan, but all other Jews in all places, did doubtless fly to God by fasting, and strong cries.

Verse 32

[32] And the decree of Esther confirmed these matters of Purim; and it was written in the book.

Either — Who had received authority from the king.

The book — In the records which the Jews kept of their most memorable passages.

── John WesleyExplanatory Notes on Esther



09 Chapter 9


Verses 1-4

Verse 1

Esther 9:1

Now in the twelfth month, that is, the month Adar.

Hope and foreboding

I. Hope blighted. In the day that the enemies of the Jews hoped to have power over them. The human reasonableness of this hope may be shown--

1. From their own numbers.

2. From the insignificance of the Jews.

3. From the known unchangeableness of Persian law.

II. Foreboding reproved. How often we look forward to a month Adar, and see it shrouded with ominous darkness. But the month Adar may, after all, be the month of rejoicing.

III. True hope rewarded. (W. Burrows, B. A.)

The method of providence

1. Although, then, as has been already said, the grand design of this whole Book of Esther is an illustration of a retributive providence in working out the deliverance of the chosen people, still it is better for us to note the proofs of such a providence, as they occur, in detail.

2. We see here, as well, indeed, as also in other portions of sacred history, and as the lessons of all history and of every-day life also demonstrate, that God, in the exercise of His sovereignty, uses men of very different characters as instruments for fulfilling His supreme purpose. Both Esther and Ahasuerus, both Mordecai and Haman, were Divine agents for bringing about the Hebrew deliverance.

3. These pictures show us that we are to construct men’s reputation for character out of their whole life and principles, and not from any one moment, nor from any word or act.

4. We are here taught to feel the deepest interest in the welfare of our fellow-men, especially of those who may be associated with us, or be bound to us by social ties, or by blood and nationality.

5. I am perfectly sure that in the lives of the men and women as illustrated in the sacred writings we are taught the mind of God Himself, as to the precepts and principles which are agreeable to Him; and that it is in the teachings of the Word of God, and in it alone, that we can find the true principles of all proper reforms. It is in the Bible, and in the Bible alone, we have the principles of happiness--the only true principles of reformation.

6. We see here how great a blessing we enjoy in having mild, equitable, salutary laws, and in having a written constitution, that provides for its amendment, and points out the way for the repeal or alteration of any laws that may be made in haste, or in ignorance, or through party zeal, that are found to be unconstitutional and not for the good of the people.

7. The difficulties of the Persian monarch, growing out of his rash decree, even after the author of it has been punished, are a warning to us to beware of the consequences of our words and actions.

8. This history teaches us to trust in God for the vindication of His own ways and the justification of His judgments against the wicked; as well as in His faithfulness to His people, in remembering to keep and fulfil, at the right time, all His promises to them.

9. The delay of judgment against evil-doers, instead, therefore, of encouraging them to boldness in sin, should melt them to penitential sorrow.

Providence-as seen in the Book of Esther

From the narrative of the preceding chapters we learn--

I. That God places His agents in fitting places for doing His work.

II. That the Lord not only arranges His servants, but He restrains His enemies.

III. That God in His providence tries His people.

IV. That the Lord’s wisdom is seen in arranging the smallest events so as to produce great results.

V. That the Lord in His providence calls His own servants to be active.

VI. That in the end the Lord achieves the total defeat of His foes and the safety of His people. Lessons--

1. It is clear that the Divine will is accomplished, and yet men are perfectly free agents.

2. What wonders can be wrought without miracles! In the miracles of Pharaoh we see the finger of God, but in the wonders of providence, without miracle, we see the hand of God.

3. How safe the Church of God is!

4. The wicked will surely come to an ill end.

5. Let each child of God rejoice that we have a Guardian so near the throne. Every Jew in Shushan must have felt hope when he remembered that the queen weal a Jewess. To-day, let us be glad that Jesus is exalted. (C. H. Spurgeon.)

Verse 2-3

Esther 9:2-3

The Jews gathered themselves together in their cities.

The wise conduct of the Jews

The Jews acted--

1. Wisely. They acted in unison. “They gathered themselves together, and stood for their lives.” Union is power: concentration of strength is mighty for good and for evil. How awful the extent of the mischief perpetrated by the evil spirits, because they act it, concert--unitedly: whereas disunion would cause even their kingdom to fall. Union and co-operation are likewise powerful for the production of good. Hence copies of the Divine writings are flying to all parts of the world, and missionaries to unfold their precious contents to those who are perishing for lack of knowledge. What would individual efforts do in eases like these?

2. Manfully. “They laid hands on all such as sought their hurt, and no man could withstand them.” They were acting legally: for the royal law permitted them to defend themselves. Trust in God, in His power and faithfulness, is the only source of true magnanimity. It is this alone that makes man undaunted on rational grounds. St. Paul tells us of the ancient believers, that “out of weakness they were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, and turned to flight the armies of the aliens.” And this, he tells us, was the effect of relying on God.

3. Moreover, they acted forbearingly, or self-denyingly. They merely defended themselves, and Seized not upon the spoils of their enemies: “On the spoil they lay not their hand.” They wanted only their lives and their own possessions, and not the riches of their neighbours. We find that great believer, Abraham, acting thus self-denyingly in Genesis 14:1-24. The victory which the Jews obtained on this occasion was a very signal one. “The Jews smote all their enemies with the stroke of the sword, and slaughter and destruction, and did what they would unto those that hated them.” “In Shushan, the palace, the Jews slew and destroyed five hundred men.” At the request of the queen, three hundred more were slain in the royal city. And in the different provinces of the empire they slew of their foes seventy and five thousand. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth! Behold the fruits of the wickedness of one individual! (J. Hughes.)

Self-help brings help

I. Divine help. In this narrative we see all along that the Jews were helped of God.

II. Divine help fosters and succeeds self-help. Divine help must first work, and then there can be successful self-help. These Jews helped themselves--

1. By cooperation.

2. By active agency.

3. By a name of power.

4. By aggressive measures.

III. Self-help secures the help of others. (W. Burrows, B. A.)

Verse 10

Esther 9:10

But on the spoil laid they not their hand.

Leaving the spoilt

It is not always good to seize all the money to which one has a legal right. There are many cases in which a regard to one’s own credit, and there are others in which a sense of duty, should bind up our hands from receiving what we might otherwise take without injustice. The king’s edict gave the Jews the right to take the spoil of their enemies. If they had done so, the tongue of slanderers might have alleged that they had slain innocent persons to enrich themselves. (G. Lawson.)

Verse 12-13

Verses 17-28

Esther 9:17-28

On the thirteenth day of the month Adar.

A national memorial

This national memorial--

I. Was established by supreme authority.

II. Was approved by a grateful people.

III. Was sanctioned by the marvellous nature of the events celebrated.

IV. Was hallowed by the manner of its celebration.

V. Was preserved by a wise method.

VI. Is perpetuated with good result. (W. Burrows, B. A.)

The memorial

It would--

1. Keep in remembrance an interposition of the Almighty, without which the Jewish nation and religion had been in a great measure, if not wholly, extinct in the world.

2. Mark a striking fulfilment of prophecy in the destruction of the Amalekites, who were the hereditary enemies of the Jews.

3. Stimulate confidence in God in the most critical circumstances, and refusal to pay such homage to the creature as is due to God only.

4. Foster that recognition of God in history and providence which men are ever liable to overlook and forget. In these respects it was an institution which should prove as advantageous to after-generations, and even more so, than to the people of God who were then living. “The Lord God omnipotent reigneth.” (T. McEwan.)

Memorial days, their obligation and manner of observance

I. Take a view of the reasons here assigned for the establishing the observation of the days mentioned in the text.

1. They were delivered from the entire extirpation of themselves and their religion out of the dominions of the Persian king.

2. The destruction with which they were threatened was in all human appearance inevitable.

3. The Jews might plainly discern a special hand of God in the deliverance which was granted them.

4. As this was a signal instance of God’s special favour towards them, so it was but one instance among many others which they continually had from one generation to another.

II. Consider the manner in which the Jews are here commanded to observe their festival. It includes three parts.

1. The natural. Feasting, rejoicing, etc.

2. The religious. Thanksgiving and praise.

3. The charitable. Sending portions one to another.

If our gratitude to God on memorial days be sincere, we shall go on to express our sense of great deliverances.

1. By living as becomes those who have received such great favours from the hands of God.

2. We shall be zealous to maintain and secure the inestimable blessings hitherto continued to us. (Samuel Bradford.)

A national memorial

The feast instituted by Mordecai was designed to be--

I. A memorial of rest.

II. A memorial of joy.

III. A memorial of triumph. (J. S. Van Dyke, D. D.)

The Feast of Purim

Looking at the establishment of Purim, we are struck--

I. With the historical value of a feast of this sort.

II. There is also an educational value in such a feast. All the education of a child is not comprised in what he receives at school. He learns much in the home. He is greatly affected by what he sees on the streets. Dr. Andrew Reid tells us how profoundly he was moved by the sight of the statue of John Howard in St. Paul’s Cathedral, and traces to that the benevolent purpose of his life, which ended in the establishment of so many asylums for orphans and imbeciles. So we ought to be careful what sort of men those are whom we allow to be honoured in that way. For every one who looks upon a statue is moved to ask, “Whose is it? what was his character? what was his history? and why has he been honoured thus?” And the answers will be a part of the education of those who put the questions, stirring their ambition or firing their enthusiasm. It is the same with national holidays. The Passover, etc. (W. M. Taylor, D. D.)

Different means of commemorating great events

Different means have been employed by different nations and in different ages to perpetuate the memory of great events. We are told (Genesis 31:45): “Jacob took a stone and set it up for a pillar.” Again (Genesis 35:14). Achan and his family. The king of Ai. Absalom. Alexander the Great caused a tumulus to be erected over the grave of his friend Hephaestion, costing million and a half of dollars. Virgil makes mention of memorial stones, as does also Homer. Standing-stones, or “menhirs,” were also erected in memorial of particular events; and stone circles, constructed with the same design most probably, were so numerous that they may be found even yet in almost every country--in the Orkneys, in Russia, in Hindustan, in Africa, in Greenland, in America, in all parts of Europe. The most remarkable are Stonehenge and Abury, in England. As a means of transmitting events to succeeding generations, a simple ceremony committed to those who sympathise with the cause in which the observance originated is far more effective than even the most imposing monumental structure which art has devised, strength erected, or wealth adorned. The latter is dumb; the former has loving hearts and living tongues to perpetuate the memory of deeds that once stirred human souls and distilled blessings upon the world. The celebration of the 4th of July is likely to prove more satisfactory, as a memorial of a national birthday, than any other monument which the energy and liberality of the American people could have reared. In the rites connected with the Feast of Purim, Mordecai and Esther have a more enduring monument than the Egyptian monarch who erected the pyramid of Gizeh, or the Pharaoh who constructed the marvellous labyrinth. In confirmation of the theory that ceremony is more effective as a memorial than dolmens, cromlechs, etc., I have only to remind you that the touching incidents connected with the life and death of Christ have been conveyed to the human family in a most remarkable way by the Eucharist. (J. S. Van Dyke, D. D.)

And that these days should be remembered.

Days to be remembered

I. Our birthdays.

II. Days of awakening and conversion.

III. Days of darkness.

1. Days of bereavement.

2. Days of mental depression.

3. Days of perplexity.

IV. Days of deliverance.

V. Times of refreshing and seasons of communion with God.

VI. The day of death and the day of judgment. (J. Bolton, B. A.)

A memorial day

In these words we have an account of the founding of the Jewish national memorial day. It was not so much a religious as a national memorial day. It celebrated a day of victory and triumph; and they made it memorable by annual observance.

I. Let us think of it as a memory day. There are those who think it unkind to recall the memory of the dead, or even to speak to the bereaved of their losses. There are some who think that the only way to console is by diverting the thoughts from all memory of that which occasioned pain. There is no more mistaken treatment for the human heart than to prescribe oblivion for its cure. The very memory of the loved one blesses us and makes us more gentle and tender toward the living. It is neither manly nor womanly nor human to be either hard-hearted or forgetful. Then, do you think that the heart of our nation is softened, and that sympathy, sensibility, and true greatness are promoted by our observance of a national memorial day?

II. That our memorial day is a day with very important lessons.

1. It teaches Christian patriotism. Love of country is not only a natural sentiment in every true heart, but it is right in the sight of God. No man can ignore his relation to his country and not sin against God.

2. Again, our memorial day teaches the value of peace. Memorial day is a constant reminder of the terrible price paid.

3. The day also brings lessons of gratitude and hope. Memory is the mother of gratitude. So when we recall our national blessings how much cause we have for gratitude to God! “The Lord hath done great things for us whereof we are glad.” (Southern Pulpit.)

──The Biblical Illustrator