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©Laura Haverkamp

Chapter 8:9-17 (ESV)

Posted on December 03, 2023  - By Chris LaBelle  

Chapter 8:9-17 (ESV) - The king's scribes were summoned at that time, in the third month, which is the month of Sivan, on the twenty-third day. And an edict was written, according to all that Mordecai commanded concerning the Jews, to the satraps and the governors and the officials of the provinces from India to Ethiopia, 127 provinces, to each province in its own script and to each people in its own language, and also to the Jews in their script and their language. And he wrote in the name of King Ahasuerus and sealed it with the king's signet ring. Then he sent the letters by mounted couriers riding on swift horses that were used in the king's service, bred from the royal stud, saying that the king allowed the Jews who were in every city to gather and defend their lives, to destroy, to kill, and to annihilate any armed force of any people or province that might attack them, children and women included, and to plunder their goods, on one day throughout all the provinces of King Ahasuerus, on the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, which is the month of Adar. A copy of what was written was to be issued as a decree in every province, being publicly displayed to all peoples, and the Jews were to be ready on that day to take vengeance on their enemies. So the couriers, mounted on their swift horses that were used in the king's service, rode out hurriedly, urged by the king's command. And the decree was issued in Susa the citadel.

Then Mordecai went out from the presence of the king in royal robes of blue and white, with a great golden crown and a robe of fine linen and purple, and the city of Susa shouted and rejoiced. The Jews had light and gladness and joy and honor. And in every province and in every city, wherever the king's command and his edict reached, there was gladness and joy among the Jews, a feast and a holiday. And many from the peoples of the country declared themselves Jews, for fear of the Jews had fallen on them.

Question to consider: Why would Mordecai write a decree that allowed for the destruction of the enemies of Israel (including women and children)?

Having been given the king’s signet ring by Ahasuerus, Mordecai proceeded to enact a law of the Persians and the Medes to counteract the one created by Haman against the Jews, for there was no way of revoking the original decree. Mordecai’s decree basically said that the Jews had the full support of Ahasuerus to defend themselves and crush anyone who would attempt to carry out the original decree. 

Originally, all of those who hated the Jews and wanted to kill them could do so without fear of retaliation because the Jews were not able to gather together and protect themselves. Mordecai’s decree allowed them to defend themselves and retaliate in such a way that those who acted against them would not only lose their lives but could have their families destroyed and goods plundered. 

I’m sorry if this sounds ghastly, but the greatest deterrent to a crime is the fear that the consequences will be severe. This is a concept that is honestly lost on people today. Criminals no longer have a threat of consequences that give them pause before committing a crime. Empathy has been weaponized to the point where the criminal is given more compassion than the victim of a crime.

With the burden of one group of people seeking to annihilate the other lifted, the result was gladness and joy and people turning to the God of Israel. As scripture says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.” (Proverbs 9:10) Even if some declared to be Jews out of fear rather than faith, it was a start. Those who learn to fear the Lord begin to learn His ways. In the process of learning His ways, they begin to know Him, and eventually their knowledge of the one true God turns into love for Him.

People will remark about the sword of God in the Old Testament scriptures, but this scene was the reality. Those who received vengeance deserved it, but God offers the promise of mercy to those who repent and turn to Him. All of this pointed to Christ who would perfectly fulfill the Law and receive the vengeance we deserve in order that we can receive His righteousness and be justified before God. As Job once said, “My Redeemer lives.” (Job 19:25)


Dear heavenly Father, thank You for Your Law which causes us to fear doing evil and pursue what is good. Please let it do its work in us so that we recognize our need for redemption in Christ. Thank You for giving us Your Holy Spirit to convict us of sin and point us to the one who has paid for it. Amen.