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away the mischief of Haman the Agagite, and his de vice that he had devised against the Jews.
Then the king held out the golden sceptre towards Esther. So Esther arose, and stood before the king,
And said, If it please the king, and if I have found favour in his sight, and the thing seem right before the king, and I be pleasing in his eyes : let it be written to reverse the letters devised by Haman the son of Hammedatha the Agagite, which he wrote to destroy the Jews which are in all the king's provinces.
For how can I endure to see the evil that shall come unto my people? or how can I endure to see the destruction of my kindred?
Then the king Ahasuerus said unto Esther the queen, and to Mordecai the Jew, Behold I have given Esther the house of Haman, and him they have hanged upon the gallows, because he laid his hand upon the Jews.
Write ye also for the Jews, as it liketh you, in the king's name, and seal it with the king's ring: for the writing which is written in the king's name, and sealed with the king's ring may no man reverse.
Then were the king's scribes called at that time in the third month, that is the month Sivan, on the three and twentieth day thereof; and it was written according to all that Mordecai commanded unto the Jews, and to the lieutenants, and the deputies, and rulers of the provinces which are from India unto Ethiopia, an hundred and twenty seven provinces, unto every province according to the writing thereof, and unto every people after their language, and to the Jews accord. ing to their writing, and according to their language.
And he wrote in the king Ahasuerus' name, and sealed it with the king's ring, and sent letters by posts on horseback, and riders on mules, camels, and young dromedaries: Wherein the king granted the Jews which were in N 2
every city, to gather themselves together, and to stand for their life, to destroy, to slay, and to cause to perish all the power of the people and province that would assault them, both little ones and women, and to take the spoil of them for a prey.
Upon one day, in all the provinces of king Ahasuerus, namely upon the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, which is the month Adar.
The copy of the writing, for a commandment to be given in every province, was published unto all people, and that the Jews should be ready against that day to avenge themselves on their enemies.
So the posts that rode upon mules and camels went out, being hastened, and pressed on by the king's commandment. And the decree was given at Shushan the palace.
And Mordecai went out from the presence of the king in royal apparel of blue and white, and with a great crown of gold, and with a garment of fine linen, and purple: and the city of Shushan rejoiced and was glad.
The Jews had light, and gladness, and joy, and ho
And in every province, and in every city, whither. soever the king's commandment and his decree came, the Jews had joy and gladness, a feast and a good day. And many of the people of the land became Jews; for the fear of the Jews fell
ANNOTATIONS AND REFLECTIONS. Esther had a greater object in view than the downfall of Haman. This was but a necessary prelude to the design she had formed for effecting the deliverance of her countrymen, whom his malice had devoted to destruction. Ahasuerus kept his royal word. He granted her
request to the full extent of her wishes; and as he had reason to suppose many of his subjects would take ad. vantage of his first decree, which was issued by Haman; and which he could not reverse, and attack the Jews, he issued another by which he gave them liberty to defend their lives and properties. It is likely that this counteracting of a decree, a thing unusual in Persia, occasioned much commotion in the state ; and it is not at all improbable that Haman had actually formed a conspiracy for transferring the kingdom to the Greeks, as was hinted in the letters which were sent to the provinces in the king's name *
What a happy, as well as astonishing revolution now took place in favour of the Jews! Well might they rejoice and be glad at this fresh proof of the faithful. ness of the LORD God, who, according to his Divine promise to Moses, had compassion upon them in the land of their captivity, whenever they called upon Him with all their heart, and with all their soul.
THE JEWS SLAY THEIR ENEMIESHAMAN'S SONS.
From Esther, Chap. ix, x. Now in the twelfth month (that is the month Adar,). on the thirteenth day of the same, when the king's commandment and his decree drew near to be put in execution, in the day that the enemies of the Jews hoped to have power over them (though it was turned to the con-, trary that the Jews had rule over them that hated them.)
The Jews gathered themselves together in their cities throughout all the provinces of the king Ahasuerus, to
* See Book of Esther in the Apocrypha, chap. xiii.
lay hand on such as sought their hurt; and no man could withstand them: for the fear of them fell upon all people.
And all the rulers of the provinces, and the lieute. nants, and the deputies, and officers of the king, helped the Jews: because the fear of Mordecai fell upon them.
For Mordecai was great in the king's house, and his fame went out throughout all the provinces : for this man Mordecai waxed greater and greater.
Thus the Jews smote all their enemies with the stroke of the sword, and slaughter, and destruction, and did what they would unto those that hated them.
And in Shushan the palace, the Jews slew and destroyed five hundred men. The ten sons of Haman the son of Hammedatha, the enemy of the Jews, slew they; but on the spoil laid they not their hand.
On that day the number of those that were slain in Shushan the palace, was brought before the king.
And the king said unto Esther the queen, The Jews have slain and destroyed five hundred men in Shushan the palace, and the ten sons of Haman; what have they done in the rest of the king's provinces? now what is thy petition and it shall be granted thee: or what is thy request further? and it shall be done.
Then said Esther, If it please the king, let it be granted to the Jews which are in Shushan, to do tomorrow also according unto this day's decree, and let Haman's ten sons be hanged upon the gallows.
And the king commanded it so to be done; and the decree was given at Shushan, and they hanged Haman's ten sons.
For the Jews that were in Shushan gathered themselves together on the fourteenth day also of the month Adar, and slew three hundred men at Shushan : but on the prey they laid not their hand.
But the other Jews that were in the king's provinces, gathered themselves together, and stood for their lives, and had rest from their enemies, and slew of their foes seventy and five thousand; but they laid not their hands on the
prey. On the thirteenth day of the month Adar, and on the fourteenth day of the same, rested they, and made it a day of feasting and gladness.
But the Jews that were at Shushan, assembled together on the thirteenth day thereof, and on the fourteenth thereof; and on the fifteenth day of the same they rested, and made it a day of feasting and gladness,
Therefore the Jews of the villages, that dwelt in the unwalled towns, made the fourteenth day of the month Adar a day of gladness and feasting, and a good day, and of sending portions one to another.
And Mordecai wrote these things, and sent letters unto all the Jews that were in all the provinces of the king Ahasuerus, both nigh and far.
To stablish this among them, that they should keep the fourteenth day of the month Adar, and the fifteenth day of the same yearly :
As the days wherein the Jews rested from their enemies, and the month which was turned unto them from sorrow to joy, and from mourning into a good day: that they should make them days of feasting and joy, and o sending portions one to another, and gifts to the poor.
And the Jews undertook to do as they had begun, and as Mordecai had written unto them. And the king Ahasuerus laid a tribute
the isles of the sea.
And all the acts of his power, and of his might, and the declaration of the greatness of Mordecai, whereunto the king advanced him, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Media and Persia ? N 4