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Bible Commentaries
Esther 8

Dr. Constable's Expository NotesConstable's Expository Notes

Verses 1-2

1. The rewarding of Esther and Mordecai 8:1-2

Haman’s "house" (Esther 8:1) was his estate. Esther received the estate, probably to compensate her for her suffering. The king gave Mordecai Haman’s place as second in authority (cf. Joseph, Genesis 41:42; Nehemiah, Nehemiah 1:11 to Nehemiah 2:8; and Daniel, Daniel 5:7; Daniel 5:29; Daniel 6:3).

Verses 1-19

C. The Jews’ Deliverance 8:1-9:19

Even though Haman was now dead, the Jews were not yet safe. This section of the text records what Esther and Mordecai did to ensure the preservation of the Jews who then lived throughout the vast Persian Empire. The death of Haman is not the major climax of the book.

Verses 3-8

2. Esther’s request for her people 8:3-8

Esther again had to argue her case, this time for clemency for the Jews. Her request involved expense to the king. Esther would not have been sure he would grant it. Ahasuerus could have spared the life of the queen and Mordecai and let the rest of their fellow Jews perish. Esther’s commitment to her people, which jeopardized her own safety, was very selfless and accounts for the high honor the Jews have given her since these events transpired. Mordecai witnessed her plea (Esther 8:7).

"The Book of Esther is set in the reign of Xerxes, who was heavily committed to Zoroastrianism of an orthodox variety and who reversed the practice of religious tolerance of his predecessors. He destroyed the main idol of Bel Marduk, the temple of Marduk, Esagila, and many other Mardukian temples." [Note: Robert J. Littman, "The Religious Policy of Xerxes and the Book of Esther," Jewish Quarterly Review NS65:3 (January 1975):155.]

In view of the king’s religious intolerance, it took great courage for Esther to request mercy for the Jews.

"It is very moving to see the extent to which this young girl, who has everything money can buy, identifies herself with her own kith and kin, and is prepared to risk everything in an attempt to prevent the disaster that threatens them." [Note: Baldwin, p. 95.]

"At the beginning of this story, Esther and Mordecai were hardly exemplary in the way they practiced their religious faith; but now we get the impression that things have changed. Both of them have affirmed their Jewish nationality and both were the means of calling all the Jews in the empire to prayer and fasting. In one sense, they spearheaded a Jewish ’revival’ and made being Jewish a more honorable thing in the empire." [Note: Wiersbe, p. 742.]

The king did not have authority in his government to cancel decrees (cf. Esther 1:19; Daniel 6:17). This awkward policy tended to lend weight to the king’s official pronouncements (as when the pope speaks ex cathedra for Roman Catholics).

Verses 9-14

3. The royal decree 8:9-14

The first decree, to destroy the Jews, had gone out on April 17, 474 B.C. (Esther 3:12). [Note: R. A. Parker and W. H. Dubberstein, Babylonian Chronology 626 B.C.-A.D. 75, p. 31.] Ahasuerus published this second one, allowing the Jews to defend themselves, on June 25, 474 B.C. The Jews had over eight months to prepare for the day their enemies might attack them, which was March 7, 473 B.C.

The king gave the Jews permission even to take the lives of the enemy "which might attack them, . . . [their] children and women" (Esther 8:11). The children and women in view seem to be those of the Jews (cf. Esther 3:13), not the enemies of the Jews. [Note: Gordis, pp. 49-53.] This extreme measure enabled the Jews to defend themselves completely. It neutralized the enemy’s former advantage (cf. Esther 3:13).

"It has often been observed that this [fourteenth verse] provides a remarkably cogent illustration of missionary work today. God’s death sentence hangs over a sinful humanity, but He has also commanded us to hasten the message of salvation to every land (cf. Proverbs 24:11). Only by a knowledge of, and a response to, the second decree of saving grace through the Lord Jesus Christ can the terrible effects of the first decree of universal condemnation for sin be averted." [Note: Whitcomb, p. 107.]

"If a group of pagan scribes and messengers, without modern means of transportation and communication, could take Mordecai’s decree to an entire empire, how much more should Christian workers be able to take Christ’s Gospel to a lost world!" [Note: Wiersbe, p. 745.]

Verses 15-17

4. The joy of the Jews 8:15-17

"Crown" (Esther 8:15) should be "turban." Mordecai’s clothing reflected his important position in the government.

Evidently, Mordecai read the second decree at a public meeting in Susa. Contrast the Jews’ reaction here with their response to the first decree (Esther 3:15). God had blown away the dark cloud that had hung over their heads.

"The Jews killed only those who attacked them; they killed only the men (Esther 9:6; Esther 9:12; Esther 9:15); and they didn’t lay hands on the loot, although they had the right to do so (Esther 8:10; Esther 8:15-16)." [Note: Ibid., p. 744.]

"And the fact that these people were even willing to attack when they knew the Jews would protect themselves is proof that anti-Semitism was very strong throughout the empire." [Note: Ibid., p. 745.]

"Holiday" (Esther 8:17) is literally "a good day" (cf. Esther 9:19; Esther 9:22). It refers to a religious festival. [Note: Moore, Esther, p. 81.] This was not the Feast of Purim but a celebration in anticipation of it. Many Gentiles became proselytes to Judaism as a result of God’s obvious blessing on His people (Esther 8:17). This is the only mention in the Old Testament that Gentiles "became Jews." They became religious Jews, not racial Jews. This testimony to the fact that Gentiles recognized God’s blessing on the Jews would have been a great encouragement to the Jews in the postexilic period (cf. Exodus 19:5-6).

Bibliographical Information
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Esther 8". "Dr. Constable's Expository Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/dcc/esther-8.html. 2012.
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