Esther 9:1-10 - The Jew's Victory On The 13th Day Of Adar
Our text this morning is Esther 9:1-10,
Now in the twelfth month, which is the month of Adar, on the thirteenth day of the same, when the king's command and edict were about to be carried out, on the very day when the enemies of the Jews hoped to gain the mastery over them, the reverse occurred: the Jews gained mastery over those who hated them. 2 The Jews gathered in their cities throughout all the provinces of King Ahasuerus to lay hands on those who sought their harm. And no one could stand against them, for the fear of them had fallen on all peoples. 3 All the officials of the provinces and the satraps and the governors and the royal agents also helped the Jews, for the fear of Mordecai had fallen on them. 4 For Mordecai was great in the king's house, and his fame spread throughout all the provinces, for the man Mordecai grew more and more powerful. 5 The Jews struck all their enemies with the sword, killing and destroying them, and did as they pleased to those who hated them. 6 In Susa the citadel itself the Jews killed and destroyed 500 men, 7 and also killed Parshandatha and Dalphon and Aspatha 8 and Poratha and Adalia and Aridatha 9 and Parmashta and Arisai and Aridai and Vizatha, 10 the ten sons of Haman the son of Hammedatha, the enemy of the Jews, but they laid no hand on the plunder.
In the book of Esther we have seen how affliction has tested the character of the Jewish people who lived throughout the Persian Empire. At the onset of their trial they turned to the LORD for deliverance and they have continued to look to the LORD throughout.
Charles Spurgeon once said, “Not only does affliction try our characters, but prosperity does the same…For he who could have borne opposition gallantly too often yields at the touch of praise, and is found to be empty, vain and devoid of stability.”1
We have seen the Jews tested by affliction; but now we begin to see them tested when they are given power, authority, success, and victory.
What will we see in them as these changes come?
Will they continue to be faithful to the LORD?
Will they use their new power to act mercilessly towards their enemies?
Today we will see a complete reversal of the status of the Jews in Persia. At one time they were doomed to die and to be plundered by their enemies; but now they are victorious over their enemies. The book of Esther describes this reversal in Esther 9:1 when he writes, “Now in the twelfth month, which is the month of Adar, on the thirteenth month of the same, when the king’s command and edict were about to be carried out, on the very day when the enemies of the Jews hoped to gain mastery over them, the reverse occurred: the Jews gained mastery over those who hated them.”
A week ago Jim Feigelson and I went to watch six basketball games at the state tournament. I remember two games the best. In both of those games the team that won was behind by 10 points throughout the whole game but they ended up winning with only seconds left on the clock. They never gave up, they never quit, they never got discouraged; and in the end they won the game.
This is what we see happening to the Jews in Persia at this time. Instead of them being on the defensive, they are on offense. Throughout this ordeal they could have given up, been discouraged, and quit; but they didn’t. As a result, God gives them the victory and even the king of Persia takes notice. We read in Esther 9:11-12, “That very day the number of those killed in Susa the citadel was reported to the king. And the king said to Queen Esther, ‘In Susa the citadel the Jews have killed and destroyed 500 men and also the ten sons of Haman. What then have they done in the rest of the king’s provinces?”
The king knows that something remarkable has just happened throughout his kingdom. God has delivered His people from danger.
This brings us to verse Esther 9:2 which says, “The Jews gathered in their cities throughout all the provinces of King Ahasuerus to lay hands on those who sought their harm. And no one could stand against them, for the fear of them had fallen on all peoples.”
You can see in this verse that the Jews did not hide for a day or escape somewhere safe till this was over. They did not adopt the philosophy that it would be each man for himself! No, the Jews gathered together in their cities to lay hands on those who sought their harm.
We are told that no one could stand against them because fear of them had fallen upon the peoples. This is a fear that has a divine origin. God has made their enemies fear them in this moment so that no one was able to stand against them.
The mighty fell before them that day.
The well financed fell before them that day.
Those who were trained in military strategy fell before them.
Those that had experience in battle fell before the Jews that day.
Esther 9:2 shows us a ‘fear’ which made their enemies tremble in terror at the sight of the Jews; but Esther 9:3-4 shows us a different kind of ‘fear’. This ‘fear’ causes people to draw close to the Jews, to stand with the Jews, and to fight alongside them. Specifically in these verses we see that those in government supported the Jews. We read verse 3, “All the officials of the provinces and the satraps and the governors and the royal agents also helped the Jews, for the fear of Mordecai had fallen on them.”
some gave supplies
some gave military weapons
some may have fought along side of them
This is a sharp contrast from what we saw in Haman. People did not fear Haman in the way that the Jews are being feared here. He knew that he would have to hire soldiers to fight his war against the Jews. This is why he offered King Ahasuerus 10,000 talents of silver. Haman knew that soldiers would need to be paid and costs would have to be covered.
No one would fight a war for free would they? If God is involved people will fight without the promise of being given spoils. Consider Esther 9:10, “...but they laid no hands on the plunder.”
The Jews were enjoying universal support throughout every level of Persian government. God made the national and local governments work together to accomplish His will for the deliverance of His people. Every province gave them their support. In every city the Jews found friends who were willing to help them.
Wouldn’t it be great to see something like this happen in our day? So often the church is tempted to compromise in some way so that we can get the support of other unbelievers. But we see here that if we will honor the LORD He can incline the hearts of people toward His righteous cause (Proverbs 16:7). We need to believe this truth today and not compromise against the Word of God!
We also see that Mordecai’s reputation began to spread throughout the kingdom. We read in verse 4, “For Mordecai was great in the king's house, and his fame spread throughout all the provinces, for the man Mordecai grew more and more powerful.” Mordecai did not make this happen through a royal decree. He did not have to hire a PR firm. His reputation spread by word of mouth.
We often see this happening in the New Testament with the gospel. For example, Paul said this was happening to the Thessalonians as their reputation for having become Christians whose lives had been radically changed spread everywhere. He says, “For not only has the word of the Lord sounded forth from you in Macedonia and Achaia, but your faith in God has gone forth everywhere, so that we need not say anything. For they themselves report concerning us the kind of reception we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.” (1 Thessalonians 1:8-10) As the gospel is received and lives are transformed the news of it will spread quickly in all directions.
There are three things that I would like to consider about Mordecai from verse four and compare Him with Jesus Christ.
First, Mordecai was great in the king’s house.
Second, Mordecai’s fame spread throughout the empire.
Third, Mordecai’s became more and more powerful.
First, we see that the Jews were blessed because of Mordecai’s position in King Ahasuerus house. Similarly, the church is blessed because of Jesus’ position in the household of God. Jesus is greater than Mordecai because he is not a servant in the house but the faithful Son over God’s house. The author of Hebrews makes a similar argument in Hebrews 3:5-6 when he says, “Now Moses was faithful in all God's house as a servant, to testify to the things that were to be spoken later, but Christ is faithful over God's house as a son.”
If the people feared the Jews because Mordecai was great in King Ahasuerus’ house, then how much more should the church boast and proclaim that Jesus is the Son of God? As we do this the church will be blessed!
Secondly, we see that the Jews were blessed because Mordecai’s fame was increasing. Similarly, the church’s responsibility is to speak and act in such a way that Jesus’ fame increases everywhere. We are not here to promote ourselves but Christ. Peter speaks of this in 1 Peter 2:9 when he says, “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.”
Third, we see that the Jews are blessed because of the power Mordecai had been given. Similarly, the church is blessed because of the power that Jesus Christ has been given at the right hand of the Father.
Consider Paul’s prayer in Ephesians 1:15-23, “For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.”
Let’s look at Esther 9:5-10. We read these words, “The Jews struck all their enemies with the sword, killing and destroying them, and did as they pleased to those who hated them. In Susa the citadel itself the Jews killed and destroyed 500 men, and also killed Parshandatha and Dalphon and Aspatha 8 and Poratha and Adalia and Aridatha 9 and Parmashta and Arisai and Aridai and Vizatha, 10 the ten sons of Haman the son of Hammedatha, the enemy of the Jews, but they laid no hand on the plunder.”
Verse 5 begins with these words, “The Jews struck all their enemies with the sword…”. The New American Translation translates verse 5 in this way, “So the Jews struck all their enemies with the sword…”. The NKJV translates these words as, “Thus the Jews destroyed all their enemies with the stroke of the sword...”
Do you see the subtle difference? The NASV and the NKJV helps us to see that verse five is tied to what has come before.
The grammar in the Hebrew connects these two contexts together. The action in verse 5 is connected to the action in verse 4.2In other words, As the Jews looked to Mordecai they became courageous in their fight against their enemies and overcame them. When the Jews saw that Mordecai had been promoted by King Ahasuerus they took courage. When they received the royal decree from Mordecai they were strengthened in their hearts.
In a similar way, Christians are to always to look at Jesus and receive courage. Christians are to consistently come to the Word of God and let their hearts be strengthened. When we loose sight of Jesus and when we neglect His Word we will begin to falter in our faith and the fight will not go well with us.
I mentioned earlier that Jim and I went to a basketball tournament. I am no coach and there is a lot about the game of basketball that I do not understand but I know enough to see that two things are important.
First, if a player stops looking at the right things they loose the ball and eventually that could keep them from winning the game.
Secondly, if they stop listening to their coach and begin listening to the taunts of the opponent, to the opposing crowd, or to their own doubts then things will go terribly wrong.
In one of the games we watched the team was down by ten points with one minute left. During a timeout the kids came to the bench and they seemed tired and discouraged. But during that timeout they listened to their coach who encouraged them and instructed them and they won the game.
Are you keeping your gaze upon Jesus?
Are you strengthening your heart by meditating upon His Word?
After we are done looking at the book of Esther we are going to begin studying Hebrews. The book of Hebrews was written to Christians who had begun to turn away from Christ and His Word. As a result, their spirit’s were fainting, their enthusiasm was dying out, and their hearing of God’s Word had become dull.
How were they helped by the book of Hebrews?
They were reminded that God has spoken to them divine revelation.
They were reminded that this revelation was now revealed through His Son Jesus Christ.
And they were reminded of all the things that Jesus accomplished for them.
By doing these three things the author of Hebrews strengthened their weak faith and got them to consider Jesus so that they could be victorious.
When we look to Jesus and obey His Word we can overcome our greatest enemies of indwelling sin, this pull of this sinful world, and the attacks of the devil.
Finally, notice how Esther 9:10 ends, “...but they laid no hands on the plunder.” When the Jews defeated their enemies they did not take their houses, their cattle, their lambs, or anything else of value.
This is interesting because in the decree that was sent out in Esther 8:11-12 the Jews were told by Mordicai that they could plunder their enemies goods.
So why didn’t they plunder the goods?
We are not told how all the Jews throughout the land all did the opposite of what the decree had said, but can I suggest that in this we again see the sovereign hand of God directing His people by His Word? It is always amazing to see God doing a sovereign coordinated work across continents and among many languages and cultures.
Can I also suggest that this also shows the fruit of the Jews sincere repentance as they turned to Him?
These Jews wanted to right a wrong from their past. Even though Mordecai had authorized them to take the plunder of their enemies they did not avail themselves to this. Instead these Jews wanted to honor a command that God had given to Israel did not obey.
To see this we will need to consider 1 Samuel 15. There the LORD commanded Saul to strike down the Amalekites, the descendants of Haman, and devote all the plunder to destruction. In other words, they were not to keep anything of the Amalekites as their own. Despite this command from the LORD the Israelites did not obey. We read in 1 Samuel 15:9, “But Saul and the people spared Agag and the best of the sheep and of the oxen and of the fattened calves and the lambs, and all that was good, and would not utterly destroy them. All the despised and worthless they devoted to destruction.”
Because of Israel’s disobedience Samuel confronts Saul. At first he denied that he had disobeyed the command of the LORD but eventually he says, “I have sinned, for I have transgressed the commandment of the LORD and your words, because I feared the people and obeyed their voice.” Saul’s generation had dishonored God and disobeyed His command; but the Jews in Mordecai’s day honor God by obeying that command.
We began this sermon by quoting Spurgeon who said, “Not only does affliction try our characters, but prosperity does the same…For he who could have borne opposition gallantly too often yields at the touch of praise, and is found to be empty, vain and devoid of stability.”
The Jews have show in all of these things that they fear God now more than men.
They fear God’s word more than the decree’s of men.
Their godly character has been revealed under affliction; and now we see that their godly character is revealed when they are blessed. Their faith in the LORD is not empty, vain and devoid of stability.
We also will be tested in times of affliction and affluence.
What are these things revealing about our faith?
Are we looking to Christ or have we become distracted?
Are we listening to His Word or are we listening to someone else speak contrary to His Word?
Are we looking to our eternal inheritance or are we sacrificing everything for plunder found in this world?
I like what David Strain writes, “We are locked in a deadly spiritual battle...Our conflict, unlike Esther’s, is not waged against the backdrop of our king’s past failures; No, we fight in light of a better King’s perfect victory. We are fighting a battle day by day with sin and the flesh and the devil...But we do not do so in any doubt about the final outcome, for we know what Esther did not know. We know that the victory has already been won. Christ has ‘disarmed the enemy, putting them to public shame, triumphing over them in the cross’.”3
There are so many times when a believer wonders if they can have victory over their enemies. Can we have victory over indwelling sin? Can we achieve victory in this sinful world? Can we have victory over the devil?
Esther 9 reminds us that as we look to Jesus and respond to His Word we can experience victory. The Lord will strengthen us with His mighty power for our good and His glory. And we can experience a complete reversal. Jesus has saved us and Jesus is sanctifying us.
1Charles Spurgeon, Flowers from a Puritan’s Garden: Knocking the Barrel, p. 195
2David Thompson, Exposition of Esther, p. 55
3David Strain, Ruth and Esther, p. 161-162