Esther Chapter 9 & 10: A Victory to Win & A Day to Celebrate

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Bible Studies in the Book of Esther

Esther Chapter 9 & 10: A Victory to Win & A Day to Celebrate

by I Gordon


We come now to the last in our series on the book of Esther. And an exciting little story it has been so far don't you think? I do... I love the book of Esther! But then I'm biased. So what have we seen so far? Well, in short, the wicked Haman, an Agagite, worked his way to the top of the Medo-Persian Empire and used this position of power to enforce a decree to annihilate the Jews. God however had other ideas and used His even greater position of power to have Esther elected Queen. And through her influence, Haman was exposed for the slimy villain that he is and ended up swinging on the same gallows that he had constructed for Mordecai, Queen Esther's cousin. Hooray. All is now well within the kingdom. Everyone got to relax and enjoy the rest of their lives. Right? Well... not so fast with the happy endings dear reader! Celebration will come but there is still a certain 'annihilation of the Jews' day to deal with. That is what this study will focus on.

A turning of the tables

Esther 9:1-6 On the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, the month of Adar, the edict commanded by the king was to be carried out. On this day the enemies of the Jews had hoped to overpower them, but now the tables were turned and the Jews got the upper hand over those who hated them. (2) The Jews assembled in their cities in all the provinces of King Xerxes to attack those seeking their destruction. No one could stand against them, because the people of all the other nationalities were afraid of them. (3) And all the nobles of the provinces, the satraps, the governors and the king's administrators helped the Jews, because fear of Mordecai had seized them. (4) Mordecai was prominent in the palace; his reputation spread throughout the provinces, and he became more and more powerful. (5) The Jews struck down all their enemies with the sword, killing and destroying them, and they did what they pleased to those who hated them. (6) In the citadel of Susa, the Jews killed and destroyed five hundred men.

So D-Day had finally arrived. This was the day that the enemies of the Jews, rubbing their hands in glee, had been waiting for. This was the day that 'the Jewish problem' was going to be dealt with. It was a day, thanks to the earlier decree of Haman using the king's authority, when it was perfectly fine to find and kill any Jews and take their property. The first thing that stands out as I write this study is that here we are, 2500 years later, and nothing has changed! If you turn on your television and watch the evening news you will see that there are still more decrees coming forth from Persia (Iran) calling for the total destruction of the Jewish race  [1]  . Crazy. Obviously we are dealing with far more than racial hatred here. There are unseen spiritual principalities and powers  [2]  that maintain this never-ending hatred that will climax at the end of this age and the return of Jesus Christ.

But let us get back to the story at hand! The 13th day of the 12th Month had come. This was the day when the Jews could be legally killed for no particular reason. Yet, thanks to God's intervention and Mordecai's decree, it was now a day when the Jews could legally fight and kill those who would seek to harm them. And as we read in the passage above,  'on this day the enemies of the Jews had hoped to overpower them... the tables were turned and the Jews got the upper hand over those who hated them.'  

The Master table-turner

That, my friend, has one word written all over it and that word is 'God'. There is no doubt about it... the master 'table turner' is the Almighty. He has been doing it for thousands of years and isn't about to stop any day soon!  [3]  It is God who thwarts the plans of the enemy and gains victory in the lives of His people from the clutches of despair and defeat. 

Do you have anything that looks like it is about to swallow you up? Do you have any area where the enemy has been gaining what looks like a sure victory? Then thank God again. Don't beg. Don't plead. Don't moan. Thank God again that He is able to turn the tables and bring hope from despair and life out of death. It is written above that in those days, through the 'turning of the tables', the fame of Mordecai increased greatly throughout the realm. In like manner, may the name of Jesus increase greatly as His acts in the lives of His people are seen.

Haman's Ten Sons 

Esther 9:7-16 They also killed Parshandatha, Dalphon, Aspatha, (8) Poratha, Adalia, Aridatha, (9) Parmashta, Arisai, Aridai and Vaizatha, (10) the ten sons of Haman son of Hammedatha, the enemy of the Jews. But they did not lay their hands on the plunder. (11) The number of those slain in the citadel of Susa was reported to the king that same day. (12) The king said to Queen Esther, "The Jews have killed and destroyed five hundred men and the ten sons of Haman in the citadel of Susa. What have they done in the rest of the king's provinces? Now what is your petition? It will be given you. What is your request? It will also be granted." (13) If it pleases the king, Esther answered, "give the Jews in Susa permission to carry out this day's edict tomorrow also, and let Haman's ten sons be hanged on gallows." (14) So the king commanded that this be done. An edict was issued in Susa, and they hanged the ten sons of Haman. (15) The Jews in Susa came together on the fourteenth day of the month of Adar, and they put to death in Susa three hundred men, but they did not lay their hands on the plunder. (16) Meanwhile, the remainder of the Jews who were in the king's provinces also assembled to protect themselves and get relief from their enemies. They killed seventy-five thousand of them but did not lay their hands on the plunder.

We see in this passage that the Jews were able to gain a great victory over those that desired to kill them and Queen Esther even petitioned for a second day to be available on which the fight could continue. This of course was granted by the king. The most important thing to note in this passage though is that Haman had ten sons. Can you remember from earlier studies of whom we said Haman is a type? Spiritually speaking, Haman is a type of the carnal fleshly nature that we are all born with. So this study has shown that the way to victory is to replace Haman (the flesh) with Mordecai (the Holy Spirit). But in this regard, always remember that Haman had ten sons!  [4]  There will never come a time when you do not need to live in dependence upon the Holy Spirit and in thankfulness to God for who He is in you, for Haman (the flesh) had 10 sons and for all we know those 10 sons had 10 more!  [5] 

A prophetic implication!

This passage is also interesting prophetically when looking at Haman as a type of the coming Antichrist. Haman's 10 sons in this regard speak to us of the 10 kings that will rule with the Antichrist in the time of the end. In the book of Esther we see that when Haman falls, his sons were defeated as well. This speaks of the end for the 10 kings will meet their doom as well when the beast (Antichrist) is defeated at the return of Jesus Christ. As it says in Revelation 17:

Revelation 17:12-14 The ten horns you saw are ten kings who have not yet received a kingdom,  but who for one hour will receive authority as kings along with the beast.  (13) They have one purpose and will give their power and authority to the beast. (14) They will make war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will overcome them because he is Lord of lords and King of kings  --and with him will be his called, chosen and faithful followers."

Purim... A day to celebrate!

Esther 9:17-22 This happened on the thirteenth day of the month of Adar, and on the fourteenth they rested and made it a day of feasting and joy. (18) The Jews in Susa, however, had assembled on the thirteenth and fourteenth, and then on the fifteenth they rested and made it a day of feasting and joy. (19) That is why rural Jews--those living in villages--observe the fourteenth of the month of Adar as a day of joy and feasting, a day for giving presents to each other. (20) Mordecai recorded these events, and he sent letters to all the Jews throughout the provinces of King Xerxes, near and far, (21) to have them celebrate annually the fourteenth and fifteenth days of the month of Adar (22) as the time when the Jews got relief from their enemies, and as the month when their sorrow was turned into joy and their mourning into a day of celebration. He wrote them to observe the days as days of feasting and joy and giving presents of food to one another and gifts to the poor.

We see above that after the battle, came the rest. After the victory came the celebration! Finally, after all the anguish, fear and battle that had gone on in the land, we see that God's people could finally celebrate. The enemy had been defeated and there was freedom at last. The sentence of death that hung over their necks had been replaced with unrelenting joy and the spirit of heaviness had been replaced by the garments of praise! In fact, in the 6 verses quoted above, feasting and joy is mentioned 5 times! It is fair to say that I am a fan of both of those! Yes, it was a day to be remembered, that is for sure... and a day to be celebrated. It was also a day to give presents to another in thanksgiving of the wonderful victory and deliverance by God. So Mordecai sent letters to all the Jews instructing them to celebrate this victory each year on the 14th and 15th of Adar.

To this day, even 2500 years on, this celebration and feast is still kept every year by the Jews. It is called the feast of Purim  [6]  and is celebrated in the month of March. So what can we, as God's people today, take from this for our lives? Well, this celebration is a reminder of the hope, joy and thanksgiving that should be ours due to the ultimate victory that was achieved for us on the cross. We can look back on that day when God 'turned the tables' on the enemy and purchased life out of death. It is also a reminder of the day coming when all of our battles will be over and the fullness of joy shall be our lot. And that is something worth celebrating! We should also experience God's 'rest' that is ours as we walk in faith. And this rest is not one that only occurs once the battle is over. God's rest is available in the midst of the difficulty and He commands us to take hold of that peace and rest 'today'.  [7] 

Conclusion - A recap and decree to establish Purim forever 

Esther 9:23-32 So the Jews agreed to continue the celebration they had begun, doing what Mordecai had written to them. (24) For Haman son of Hammedatha, the Agagite, the enemy of all the Jews, had plotted against the Jews to destroy them and had cast the pur (that is, the lot) for their ruin and destruction. (25) But when the plot came to the king's attention, he issued written orders that the evil scheme Haman had devised against the Jews should come back onto his own head, and that he and his sons should be hanged on the gallows. (26) (Therefore these days were called Purim, from the word pur.) Because of everything written in this letter and because of what they had seen and what had happened to them, (27) the Jews took it upon themselves to establish the custom that they and their descendants and all who join them should without fail observe these two days every year, in the way prescribed and at the time appointed. (28) These days should be remembered and observed in every generation by every family, and in every province and in every city. And these days of Purim should never cease to be celebrated by the Jews, nor should the memory of them die out among their descendants. (29) So Queen Esther, daughter of Abihail, along with Mordecai the Jew, wrote with full authority to confirm this second letter concerning Purim. (30) And Mordecai sent letters to all the Jews in the 127 provinces of the kingdom of Xerxes--words of goodwill and assurance-- (31) to establish these days of Purim at their designated times, as Mordecai the Jew and Queen Esther had decreed for them, and as they had established for themselves and their descendants in regard to their times of fasting and lamentation. (32) Esther's decree confirmed these regulations about Purim, and it was written down in the records.

Finally in this chapter we are given a quick recap on the whole story... and what a story it has been. A nasty villain and a wicked plan... a beautiful queen and position of power... a decree of death and a city perplexed... a sleepless night and an enemy exposed... an annihilation averted and a victory gained. To be honest there is far too much to sum up with a few words. But in it all we have seen the hand of the invisible God moving providentially on behalf of His people  [8]  . And, like any good story, sometimes it was only at the very last minute! But move He did.

So Queen Esther sent a second letter out to the Jews in all 127 provinces of the Medo-Perisan kingdom reconfirming the importance to always remember the days of Purim for all generations to come. And remember it they have. We too need to remember what the Lord has done in the many different areas in which the Lord helps us. As the Psalmist said:

Praise the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits-- who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's. (Psalms 103:2-5)

PS The last word - Mordecai's and Jesus' fame

Esther 10:1-3 King Xerxes imposed tribute throughout the empire, to its distant shores. (2) And all his acts of power and might, together with a full account of the greatness of Mordecai to which the king had raised him, are they not written in the book of the annals of the kings of Media and Persia? (3) Mordecai the Jew was second in rank to King Xerxes, preeminent among the Jews, and held in high esteem by his many fellow Jews, because he worked for the good of his people and spoke up for the welfare of all the Jews.

The book finishes with a wee little chapter of three verses. In it we read of the ongoing fame of Mordecai, for he was held in high esteem throughout the kingdom and was second in rank to King Xerxes only. He worked on behalf of his people and not for his own gain. And, as the NKJV says, he spoke 'peace to all his countrymen'. In his fame and his actions, in his words and establishment of peace, we see that Mordecai here is a picture of the Lord Jesus who shall one day rule over the entire world. His fame will be great, His work selfless and His peace never-ending! Let's end with a small glimpse into a coming day which all true believers long and hope for... The reign of the Lord Jesus.

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David's throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this. (Isaiah 9:6-7)

[1] ↩  As an example, here is an email that I got while I was preparing to write this study. It was sent out from 'The Berean Call' and has yet another call from Iran (Persia) for the destruction of Israel:

 'The Iranian government, through a website proxy, has laid out the legal and religious justification for the destruction of Israel and the slaughter of its people. The doctrine includes wiping out Israeli assets and Jewish people worldwide. Calling Israel a danger to Islam, the conservative website Alef, with ties to Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said the opportunity must not be lost to remove "this corrupting material. It is a "'jurisprudential justification" to kill all the Jews and annihilate Israel, and in that, the Islamic government of Iran must take the helm."

 On Friday, in a major speech at prayers, Khamenei announced that Iran will support any nation or group that attacks the "cancerous tumor" of Israel.'

So it seems that times change in the Middle East but hearts do not. Not unless they are touched by the kings of kings. This thankfully is happening more and more throughout this region. I am currently reading Joel Rosenberg's book 'Inside the revolution'. It is a very good read! In it he notes the revival that is going on in many of the Middle Eastern countries where many are coming to Christ through dreams and visions as well as conventional evangelism. One such example is from Iran. In the book, Taheer, one of the nation's leading evangelists, says  'It's ironic that when the Ayatollah Khomeini took power in Iran with his style if Islamic Shiite extremism that the true face of Islam was finally exposed... Before 1979, the demand for Bibles in Iran was never that great. Today, Iranians can't get enough of the Bible or biblical teaching.'  Another Iranian Pastor reported that  'In the last 20 years, more Iranians have come to Christ than in the last 14 centuries... We've never seen such phenomenal thirst... I believe this phenomenon will snowball into a major avalanche.'  Some of the testimonies in this book are simply fantastic with Jesus appearing to Muslims and calling them to follow Him!

[2] ↩  Just as a reminder of the principalities assigned over different areas, when the angel Gabriel was sent to Daniel with an important message you may remember that Gabriel was obstructed for 21 days by the 'prince of Persia'. It wasn't until the archangel Michael came to help that Gabriel was able to prevail and get through to Daniel. An amazing scene really and one of which we know too little. The Bible Knowledge Commentary notes:

 God has arranged the angelic realm in differing ranks referred to as 'rule, authority, power, and dominion' (Eph 1:21). Gabriel and Michael have been assigned authority over angels who administer God's affairs for the nation Israel (cf. Michael in Dan 10:21; Dan 12:1; Jud 1:9). In imitation Satan has also apparently assigned high-ranking demons to positions of authority over each kingdom. The prince of the Persian kingdom was a satanic representative assigned to Persia. To seek to prevent Gabriel's message from getting to Daniel, the demonic prince attacked Gabriel as he embarked on his mission. This gives insight into the nature of the warfare fought in the heavenlies between God's angels and Satan's demons to which Paul referred (Eph_ :12): 'Our struggle is not against flesh and blood but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of the dark world, and against spiritual forces of evil in heavenly realms.' 

[3] ↩  Where do I start with examples of this? The Bible is littered with them. The children of Israel faced sure death at the Red Sea before God turned the tables and gained victory for them and defeat for the enemy. Gideon, with only 300 men, some clay jars and a trumpet or two, had to face an entire Midian army! Unbelievable odds... Yet they won (because of God!). All of Israel was shaking at the prospect of facing Goliath. So who does God use? A small shepherd boy. Sure defeat was turned into an unbelievable victory! We could talk about the vast army that came against Jehoshaphat when he sent out his 'singers' against them! Or the overwhelming odds that Hezekiah and Elisha faced. So many examples. Satan thought he had won the ultimate victory by killing the Son of God! Unbelievable. You can see the Devil hardly able to contain himself. And yet the tables were turned and his so-called victory became his total and utter defeat! Come the end of this age and the whole world, under the evil rule of the Antichrist, will hate the Jews and desire to wipe them off the map. With sure defeat again looming, the remnant of Israel will cry out for the Messiah... And Messiah will come! The tables again will be turned and the enemy will have victory wrenched from his hands once again!

[4] ↩  Ray Stedman writes about the meaning of the names of the 10 sons. I should note that I haven't been able to verify this however and the meanings are different to what I find. But if correct, they are interesting in relation to the different aspects of the fleshly nature so I'll include it for your further study if interested. He writes:

 'I found that in the Hebrew the names of the ten sons are given in a very peculiar fashion: To each one of these names the Hebrew word self is attached. The names are written in a parallel column and on the opposite column the word self is repeated after each name. I tried to discover the meaning of these names -- for this is always worthwhile with Hebrew names -- and I was able to find eight of them, though two of them I could never trace down fully. But let me give you the names of the eight, in relationship to this word self: 

Parshandatha  means "curious-self," that is nosiness, a desire to pry into other people's matters. Dalphon means "weeping-self," self-pity, in other words. Aspatha I could not find. Poratha means "generous-self," or, in the bad sense intended here, "spend-thriftiness." Adalia I could not find. Aridatha means "strong-self," i.e. assertiveness. Parsashta means "preeminent-self," ambition. Arisai means "bold-self," which would be impudence. Aridai is "dignified-self," that is pride. And vaizatha means "pure-self," pure while everyone else is polluted. 

 Now in this interesting account all these were put to death, or, in terms of Romans 7, they were put in the place of death. Victory meant that all these manifestations of self-turned-awry, distorted, were put in the place where God puts them, the place of death and refused any right to live. Anything less than this is defeat! 

[5] ↩  Major Ian Thomas, in his book 'If I Perish, I Perish' is very good on these 10 sons and what it means for us. Here you go:
 'I wonder if, as you have been reading these pages, some such thoughts as these have been passing through your mind -"I understand the picture quite clearly. Just as Haman was hanged upon the gallows, so in the purpose of God my old sinful nature was nailed to the cross with the Lord Jesus Christ -executed and buried. Now that Haman is hanged, however, is that the last that will ever be heard of him? "Does this mean that my old, sinful nature is wholly eradicated the moment I claim by faith my identity with Christ in death? Is the new Israel that Christ creates in me, never to be troubled again by the old Jacob; and is Peter never again to be confronted by Simon?" If this is what you have been thinking, then these are good questions, and I believe the answer is to be found quite easily... That's the answer! Haman had ten sons!

You may die today to your own ability to put Haman into the place of death, thus allowing the Holy Spirit to celebrate in you the victory of the Lord Jesus, putting Haman on the cross - but this will not do for tomorrow! You will discover that Haman has ten sons. That is not all, for the Haman of your own heart not only has ten sons, but everyone of these ten sons has ten sons more! There is no climactic experience by which the evil influence of the flesh may be eradicated once and for all, though the flesh itself in its subtlety would like you to believe it - in the interests of its own self-preservation! Only be persuaded that the flesh no longer exists, and you are not likely to cause it any further inconvenience as it perpetuates its wicked activities in your soul. Nothing could please the devil more than that! Appropriation of the victory of Christ demands more than just one act of faith -it requires an attitude of faith. It is a moment-by- moment reckoning, and your reckoning for this moment is never adequate for the next. "Walk in the spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lusts of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh" (Galatians 5: 16,17). Walking in the Spirit is a continuous process, one step at a time. It means that for every new situation into which every new step brings you, you must reckon positively with the Holy Spirit, to keep the flesh in the place of death. I want to emphasize the need to reckon positively, for we are not only to reckon ourselves "to be dead indeed unto sin," but we are to reckon ourselves "alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord" (Romans 6: 11). It is our enjoyment of the resurrection life of the Lord Jesus Christ, through reckoning positively with His presence, which sets us free from the law of sin and death. The surest way of reckoning yourself to be dead to sin (that old Adamic nature), is to reckon yourself alive in Jesus Christ and be utterly dependent upon Him. He then will take care of the consequences.'

[6] ↩  Bible Knowledge Commentary states:  'The Feast of Purim was not established by the Mosaic Law. It was commanded by Mordecai (Est_9:20-28) and by Esther (Est_9:29-32). The two-day feast was for remembering the goodness of God working through a number of circumstances to protect His people from extinction. Mordecai wrote a proclamation that the Jews were to celebrate the event annually with eating, rejoicing (cf. Est_8:17), giving... food, and sharing with the poor. 

 The feast was called Purim (Est_9:26) because of Haman's use of the pur... the lot to determine the time of the execution (Est_3:7). The pur became a symbol of God's using circumstances to deliver His own.' 

[7] ↩  Just for a personal example, at home group lately we have been reading about this 'rest' from Hebrews chapter 4. At the end of one night I prayed that God would teach us more about the rest. Later that night I thought to myself 'that can be a dangerous prayer because God's rest normally only comes when things are far from at rest in the natural.' So I wondered to myself whether I would be tested in this. Now, it may have been coincidence, maybe it wasn't... but I didn't have to wait long for my own personal 'storm'. The next night I was lying on my bed when I started getting bad abdominal pains. I ended up in hospital where I was in full-on pain right through the night (till finally falling asleep at 5am with, according to the nurse, enough morphine to put a horse to sleep). I was later told that there was a 25% chance of death. Oooops. The interesting thing is that while being in extreme pain right throughout the night, I wasn't frightened. That's not to say I am brave. Far from it! : ) But I had an awareness that only that which God allowed could actually happen to me. So I was able to be at 'rest' - even in the midst of the uncertainty and pain throughout the night. So praise God. (And I'm fine now btw... Thanks for asking!)

[8] ↩  It is interesting to note that Esther is the only book in the Bible where God is not mentioned. Yet we see His hand in so many areas working behind the scenes for His people. David Guzik lists the following incidents (there is no doubt many more!):

  • God arranged for the noble Queen Vashti to lose her place. 
  • God arranged for a competition to replace Queen Vashti. 
  • God arranged for Esther to enter the competition.
  • God arranged special favor for Esther among the other women. 
  • God arranged for Mordecai to have access to both Esther and the affairs of the kingdom. 
  • God arranged the lot that was cast to give 11 months warning before the evil event (Est_3:12-13). 
  • God arranged that the decree command that the Jews be killed by private hands, instead of by the army of Persia - which would have been much more difficult to stop. 
  • God arranged that Haman restrain his anger and not kill Mordecai immediately (Est_5:10). 
  • God arranged for Esther to delay her request; first asking for a banquet with the king and then another banquet. 
  • God arranged for Haman's anger to come to a peak on one particular day. 
  • God arranged for Ahasuerus to have a sleepless night.
  • God arranged for Ahasuerus to pick up a certain book in his sleepless night. 
  • God arranged for Ahasuerus to read the passage about Mordecai in that particular book.