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request to the full extent of her wishes; and as he had reason to suppose many of his subjects would take advantage 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. 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 faithfulness 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 THEIH ENEMIES HAMAN's SONS
HANGED MORDECAl's ADVANCEMENT.
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 (thought it was turned to the contrary thatthe 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.
N 3 lay
lay hand on such as sought their hurt; and iio man could withstand them : for the fear of them fell upon all people.
And all the rulers of the provinces, and the lieutenants, 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 pa'ace the Jews slew and destroyed five hundred men. The ten sons ofHamanthe 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 he 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 Hainan'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 them-' selves 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, ;ind 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 Jev. s that were at Shushan, assembled together on the thirteenth day thereof, and on the four-! teenth 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 eneHues, and the month which was turned unto them fron*. sorrow to joy,and from mourning into a good day: that they should make them days of feasting and joy, and of; sending portions one to another, and gifts to the poor.,,
And the Jews undertook to do as they had begun, and as Mordecaihad written unto them. And the king Ahasuerus laid a tribute upon the land, and upon tfm. isles of the sea. '. . - .
And all the acts of his power, and of his might, and the declaration of the greatness ofMordecai, whereunto the king advanced him, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Media and Persia
For Mordecai the Jew was next unto king Ahasuerus and great among the Jews, and accepted of the multitude of his brethren, seeking the wealth of his people, and speaking peace to-all his seed/
ANNOTATIONS And REFLECTIONS.
The contest between the Jews and the Persians was a very extraordinary one, each party being authorised by a royal decree; had the latter been peaceable no mischief would have ensued.
The sons of Haman were eager for revenge; and they had a strong party oa their side; they attacked the Jews who were obliged to kill them in their own defence. It seems as if their enemies were struck with that fear which is usually stiled in scripture the terror of the Lord; on the other hand, the Jews were strengthened, so that nothing could withstand them.
Esther was of too gentle a disposition to desire another day's slaughter from sanguinary motives; but,. without doubt, she was apprised by Mordecai, that it was necessary for the utter destruction of those who would have continually molested the Jews, and disturbed the peace of the state. It is supposed that the greater number of those who were slain were Amalekites: Haman's sons certainly were so, which is a sufficient reason for Esther's desiring to have their dead bodies hung up, as a terror to others. . .
It is observable, that though the king's decree authorised the Jews to take the spoil of their enemies for a prey, and they had a fair opportunity for enriching themselves; yet they forbore to do so, in order to shew that they acted upon religious principles, and had nothing in view but to save their lives, not to make their fortunes. They slew none but those who took arms against them.
It was in order to perpetuate the remembrance of the signal mercies the Jews had received for the honour of God, that Mordecai wrote letters, and instituted an annual festival; which is still observed among the Jews, but usually in a very riotous manner. The way in which Mordecai recommended it to be kept is deserving of particular attention, namely, in feasting and joy, of which the poor were to be made partakers through the bounty of the rich. Thanksgiving and almsgiving ought always to go together.
From this section we learn, that Mordecai continued good after he became great; and that, instead of seeking his own wealth, he had a constant regard to the welfare of his brethren, for whose sake the Lord graciously exalted him in the Persian court.
The book of Esther shews us how kindly God watched over these Jews, who did not return out of the land of their captivity with the rest. As they had not zear" enough for the Holy City and Temple, to encounter the difficulties of a removal thither, one would have supposed that they would have been excluded from the especial providence of God; but we find, that even those who were scattered among the provinces of the heathen were taken care of, as well as those who were gathered together in the land of Judea, and were wonderfully preserved, when doomed to destruction, like sheep appointed to be slain. Let us now return to the• people in Judea.
THE COMMISSION OF ARTAXEHXES TO EZRA.
From Ezra, Chap. iv.
Now after these things Ezra the son of Seraiah, the son of Azariah the son of Hilkiah,
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