A Happy Ending
1Before the end of the day, King Xerxes gave Esther everything that had belonged to Haman, the enemy of the Jews. Esther told the king that Mordecai was her cousin. So the king made Mordecai one of his highest officials 2and gave him the royal ring that Haman had worn. Then Esther put Mordecai in charge of Haman's property.
3Once again Esther went to speak to the king. This time she fell down at his feet, crying and begging, “Please stop Haman's evil plan to have the Jews killed!” 4King Xerxes held out the golden scepter to Esther, 5and she got up and said, “Your Majesty, I know that you will do the right thing and that you really love me. Please stop what Haman has planned. He has already sent letters demanding that the Jews in all your provinces be killed, 6and I can't bear to see my people and my own relatives destroyed.”
7King Xerxes then said to Esther and Mordecai, “I have already ordered Haman to be hanged and his house given to Esther, because of his evil plans to kill the Jews. 8 I now give you permission to make a law that will save the lives of your people. You may use my ring to seal the law, so that it can never be changed.”
9On the twenty-third day of Sivan, the third month, the king's secretaries wrote the law. They obeyed Mordecai and wrote to the Jews, the rulers, the governors, and the officials of all 127 provinces from India to Ethiopia. The letters were written in every language used in the kingdom, including the Jewish language. 10They were written in the name of King Xerxes and sealed with his ring. Then they were taken by messengers who rode the king's finest and fastest horses.
11-13In these letters the king said:
On the thirteenth day of Adar, the twelfth month, the Jews in every city and province will be allowed to get together and defend themselves. They may destroy any army that attacks them, and they may kill all of their enemies, including women and children. They may also take everything that belongs to their enemies.
A copy of this law is to be posted in every province and read by everyone.
14-15Then the king ordered his messengers to take their fastest horses and deliver the law as quickly as possible to every province. When Mordecai left, he was wearing clothes fit for a king. He wore blue and white robes, a large gold crown, and a cape made of fine linen and purple cloth.
After the law was announced in Susa, everyone shouted and cheered, 16and the Jews were no longer afraid. In fact, they were very happy and felt that they had won a victory.
17In every province and city where the law was sent, the Jews had parties and celebrated. Many of the people in the provinces accepted the Jewish religion, because they were now afraid of the Jews.
Haman’s death does not put an end to terror. The law enacted for the genocide of the Jewish people was still in play, ready to take place in the twelfth month of Adar. So even though the King passes on to Esther and Mordecai all of Haman’s wealth and makes Mordecai one of his highest officials, Esther urges the King to do the right thing. He must stop what Haman has set in motion – to kill every Jewish person in the kingdom.
Most of Esther 8 focuses on King Xerxes and all that he does to do the right thing, with the support of Esther and Mordecai, his new leadership team. The laws of the Medes and Persians are perverse, in that once a law is passed, it cannot be revoked. Xerxes gives permission to Esther and Mordecai to make another law that can save the lives of their people.
By the third month of the year, King Xerxes’ secretaries write and translate the new law into all the languages used in the kingdom. The law bears the authority of the King’s name and the King’s signet ring and is sent out by mounted messengers to every part of Persia.
The new law, read everywhere and to everyone, counters the genocide already authorized. It gives permission to the Jews to defend themselves against any army that attacks them and permission to kill all enemies, including women and children, and to plunder their enemies’ belongings.
The new law for Jewish self-defense transforms the people. In Susa, all the inhabitants cheer at the good news. The Jewish inhabitants feel like they have already won a victory! In the provinces, the Jews who had fasted and mourned now partied and celebrated. Some of the non-Jewish people in the provinces even accept the Jewish religion, because they are awestruck by what has happened for the Jews, whom God has not left defenseless.
God, Arm me with courage, stamina, and wisdom, that I might not go part ways with my circle of influence, but that I do the right thing, go the distance, so that people might know you and live lives that flourish. Amen.