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Monday, 19 September 2011

Day 264: The Jews triumph

The victory of the Jews is complete. And they all lived happily ever after.
The king’s edict
Esther 8:1-14
The Jews rejoice
Esther 8:15-17
Their revenge and triumph
Esther 9:1-15
Days of rejoicing
Esther 9:16-10
The Feast of Purim
Esther 9:20-27
Its perpetual celebration
Esther 9:28-32
Mordecai’s promotion
Esther 10:1-3
Ezra’s commission
Ezra 7:11-20

Fortunes are neatly reversed - Mordecai inherits Haman’s lands, he is given the king’s signet ring, which previously had been give to Haman, and with it comes the authority to issue commands in the king’s name. Mordecai uses it to rescind Haman’s decree to destroy Jews, and gives them legal protection instead. Suddenly, Jews are able to come into the open, and their rejoicing an new found confidence inspires many people to join them. This is an interesting detail, which I’ve never seen before -  “many people of other nationalities became Jews because fear of the Jews had seized them.” (8:17) Nowhere before in Jewish history have I noticed other nationalities actually becoming Jews.
Esther’s story becomes a national festival in Israel - kept to this day - in which Jews remember the way they got one over evil Haman and swayed the King of Persia to show them favour. This is the last story of the exile, and that sorry episode in Israel’s history ends with joy and optimism.

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