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Bible Commentaries

Coffman's Commentaries on the Bible

Esther 8

Verse 1

THE PRACTICAL REVERSAL OF THAT IRREVOCABLE DECREE

This chapter deals with the danger that yet remained. Yes, Haman was dead, but that decree which he had devised was still in force, backed up by the power of that "Law of the Medes and Persians that altereth not." This meant that all the Jews in the Persian empire were still subject to general slaughter and the confiscation of their property on the thirteenth of Adar. Something had to be done about that.

CONSEQUENCES OF HAMAN'S EXECUTION

"On that day did the king Ahasuerus give the house of Haman unto Esther the queen. And Mordecai came before the king;for Esther had told what he was unto her. And the king took off his ring, which he had taken from Haman, and gave it to Mordecaiø And Esther set Mordecai over the house of Haman."

"The house of Haman" (Esther 8:1). "Confiscation of goods and properties of the condemned accompanied executions in Persia, as in other Oriental countries."[1] The house of Haman included not merely the castle and its furnishings but also the host of servants, retainers, and attendants that went along with it.

The king gave this vast estate to Esther; and she might well have desired to give it to Mordecai; but what she did was even better. She placed him in absolute control over it, thus providing him with a residence and dignity that were appropriate to his new office as Prime Minister.

Summarizing the consequences in evidence here: (1) Haman's vast properties were conferred upon Esther; (2) Mordecai was given the management and control of them; (3) Ahasuerus bestowed the office of Prime Minister upon Mordecai when he gave him the ring that had been worn by Haman. (4) The ring gave Mordecai the power to seal documents and to convey with them the authority of law.

"It was perfectly natural for the king to confer this great authority upon Mordecai. The king had already delighted to honor him for exposing the plot against the king's life."[2] Also, he had learned that Mordecai was the foster father of the queen.

Verse 3

ESTHER ENTREATS THE KING TO CANCEL HAMAN'S EDICT

"And Esther spake yet again before the king, and fell down at his feet, and besought him with tears to put away the mischief of Haman the Agagite, and his device that he had devised against the Jews. Then the king held out to Esther the golden sceptre. So Esther arose, and stood before the king. And she said, If it please the king, and if I have found favor in his sight, and the thing seem right before the king, and if 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 that are in all the king's provinces: for how can I endure to see the evil that shall come upon my people? or how can I endure to see the destruction of my kindred?"

It is of interest that Mordecai does not carry this urgent request to the king. He was the new First Minister of the empire; but he might have felt that Esther would be more likely to have a favorable reply from the king. At any rate, Esther did it.

"And the king held out to Esther the golden sceptre" (Esther 8:4). This seems to imply that Esther had again approached the king unbidden."[3]

"And (if) I be pleasing in his eyes" (Esther 8:5). Esther's appeal was prefaced with the usual stereotyped phrases used by petitioners; but these words stress Esther's personal attractiveness to the king. This was indeed a delicate feminine touch.

"Reverse the letters devised by Haman" (Esther 8:5). This was indeed exactly what should have been done; and this exceedingly intelligent and tactful queen here gave Ahasuerus a valid reason why he should have done so; but that silly rule about the "Law of the Medes and Persians that altereth not," prevented the king from taking such action. Note the tact of Esther here. "She was careful not to put any blame on the king for Haman's wicked letters."[4]

"Many have accused Esther and her race of cruelty because of their slaughter of their enemies, but without justification. She implored for the bloody edict of Haman to be reversed (Esther 8:5); and if she had been heard, no blood at all would have been shed; but the Gentile mind was not of the kindly sort. Oh no. The king likes to see blood; he is a sportsman. Blood must flow. You Jews defend yourselves. Fight!"[5]

Verse 7

UNABLE TO REVERSE THE DECREE; THE KING DID THE NEXT BEST THING

"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 to the Jews, as it pleaseth 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."

"I have given Esther the house of Haman, and him they have hanged" (Esther 8:7). "Ahasuerus, anxious to show Esther that he did indeed love her, here recounted the favors already bestowed upon her; but he added that no one, not even the king of Persia, had the right to reverse a decree signed and sealed with the king's ring."[6] "The king was saying that his refusal to reverse the decree was not due to his lack of desire, but to his lack of ability."[7]

Nevertheless, as Cook stated it, "Ahasuerus did, in fact, practically reverse the wicked decree."[8] This he accomplished by allowing Mordecai to write whatever letters he pleased to the Jews, giving them full authority to unite, gather together, arm themselves, and defend themselves against all attacks.

Verse 9

A COUNTER-EDICT WAS SENT FORTH BY MORDECAI

"Then were the king's scribes called at Then were the king's scribes called at that time, in the third month, which 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 satraps, and the governors and princes of the provinces which are from India unto Ethiopia, a hundred twenty and seven provinces, unto every province according to the writing thereof, and unto every people after their language, and to the Jews according to their writing, and according to their language. And he wrote in the name of king Ahasuerus, and sealed it with the king's ring, and sent letters by posts on horseback, riding on swift steeds that were used in the king's service, bred of the stud: wherein the king granted the Jews that were in 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, their 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. A copy of the writing, that the decree should be given out in every province, was published unto all the peoples, and that the Jews should be ready against that day to avenge themselves on their enemies. So the posts that rode upon swift steeds that were used in the king's service went out, being hastened and pressed on by the king's commandment; and the decree was given out in Shushan the palace."

"In the third month, which is the month Sivan" (Esther 8:9). "The name Sivan is another Babylonian name, the third month being sacred to the moon god. It corresponded to our May-June."[9] "The date was June 25,474 B.C., a little over two months after the first decree was issued,"[10] thus allowing over eight months for the Jews to prepare their defenses.

"To destroy, to slay, and to cause to perish" (Esther 8:11). This decree followed very closely the language of the edict of Haman (Esther 3:13) in order to nullify it to the fullest extent possible. "The exact treatment intended for the Jews was to be meted out for their enemies."[11] "The irrevocability of Haman's decree made it necessary for Mordecai to duplicate in reverse all of its provisions, thus inevitably giving the impression of a very harsh decree. When the day came, it stressed that the Jews did not plunder their enemies."[12]

The Jews were authorized to take the property of their attackers, but when the time came they waived that right.

"All the power of the people and province" (Esther 8:11). "This is a reference to the military forces."[13]

Verse 15

THE GREAT REJOICING OF THE JEWS EVERYWHERE

"And Mordecai went forth from the presence of the king in royal apparel of blue and white, and with a great crown of gold, and with a robe of fine linen and purple: and the city of Shushan shouted and was glad. The Jews had light and gladness, and joy and honor. And in every province, and in every city, whithersoever the king's commandment and his decree came, the Jews had gladness and joy, a feast and a good day. And many from among the peoples of the land became Jews; for the fear of the Jews was fallen upon them."

"Mordecai went forth ... with a great crown of gold" (Esther 8:15). "The Hebrew has two different words for crown, namely, [~kether] which referred to the type of crown worn by the monarch, and [~'atarah], a crown of an inferior kind frequently worn by nobles."[14] Mordecai's crown was the latter. His great authority, symbolized here by his apparel and the crown, was, however, one of the primary reasons for the Jews' rejoicing.

"The Jews ... had a feast and a good day" (Esther 8:16). "This celebration was in anticipation of the feast of Purim, which was first celebrated eight months later (Esther 9:17-19)."[15]

"And many among the peoples of the land became Jews" (Esther 8:17). "Such a providential outworking of events in favor of the Jews convinced many of the power of God, and caused them to become proselytes."[16] Some scholars have interpreted this acceptance of Judaism as merely a political maneuver, not based upon any sincere belief in God; but Keil wrote that, "This might have been true of some of the inhabitants of Shushan, but the majority certainly acted from more honorable motives."[17]

Copyright Statement
Coffman's Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.
Bibliographical Information
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Esther 8". "Coffman's Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/bcc/esther-8.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.