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Esther 8

 

PARAGRAPH DIVISIONS OF MODERN TRANSLATIONS

NKJV NRSV TEV NJB
Esther Saves the Jews The Rise of Mordecai and the Revocation of the Edict The Jews are Told to Fight Back The Royal Favor Passes to the Jews
8:1-2 8:1-2 8:1-2 8:1-2
8:3-6 8:3-8 8:3-6 8:3-6
8:7-8   8:7-8 8:7-12
8:9-14 8:9-14 8:9-10  
    8:11-14  
      8:13-17
8:15-17 8:15-17 8:15-17  

READING CYCLE THREE (from "A Guide to Good Bible Reading")

FOLLOWING THE ORIGINAL AUTHOR'S INTENT AT THE PARAGRAPH LEVEL

This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects. Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired but it is the key to following the original author's intent which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

1. First paragraph

2. Second paragraph

3. Third paragraph

4. Etc.

 

WORD AND PHRASE STUDY

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 8:1-2
 1On that day King Ahasuerus gave the house of Haman, the enemy of the Jews, to Queen Esther; and Mordecai came before the king, for Esther had disclosed what he was to her. 2The king took off his signet ring which he had taken away from Haman, and gave it to Mordecai. And Esther set Mordecai over the house of Haman.

8:1 "On that day King Ahasuerus gave the house of Haman, the enemy of the Jews" It was a common practice during the Persian period for the property of condemned people to revert to the crown (cf. Herodotus 3.128-129). The King gave Haman's property to Esther because he was her enemy also.

"for Esther had disclosed what he was to her" This could refer to their racial connection (cf. 6:10 and 7:3-4) or Esther may have shared more about Mordecai with the king (cf. 2:5-7). The context implies the second option.

8:2 "the king took off his signet ring. . .and gave it to Mordecai" Mordecai assumed the role of the second-in-charge (like Joseph, cf. 10:3), which had once been assigned to Haman. This was symbolized by the king's own signet ring. There is significant parallelism between chapters 3 and 8.

"Esther set Mordecai over the house of Haman" This refers to his property, which must have been extensive. The king gave it to Esther (cf. v. 1) and she makes Mordecai its administrator.

The VERB (BDB 962, KB 1321, Qal IMPERFECT) is used several times in Esther:

1. The king set the crown on Esther's head, 2:17.

2. The king set Haman over all the princes, 3:1.

3. Esther set Mordecai over Haman's house.

4. The king (apparently through Mordecai) assesses taxes on all the land (which may have made up for the tribute lost in Haman's scheme).

 

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 8:3-8
 3Then Esther spoke again to the king, fell at his feet, wept and implored him to avert the evil scheme of Haman the Agagite and his plot which he had devised against the Jews. 4The king extended the golden scepter to Esther. So Esther arose and stood before the king. 5Then she said, "If it pleases the king and if I have found favor before him and the matter seems proper to the king and I am pleasing in his sight, let it be written to revoke the letters devised by Haman, the son of Hammedatha the Agagite, which he wrote to destroy the Jews who are in all the king's provinces. 6For how can I endure to see the calamity which will befall my people, and how can I endure to see the destruction of my kindred?" 7So King Ahasuerus said to Queen Esther and to Mordecai the Jew, "Behold, I have given the house of Haman to Esther, and him they have hanged on the gallows because he had stretched out his hands against the Jews. 8Now you write to the Jews as you see fit, in the king's name, and seal it with the king's signet ring; for a decree which is written in the name of the king and sealed with the king's signet ring may not be revoked."

8:3 "spoke. . .fell. . .wept and implored" These are a series of IMPERFECT VERBS which describe Esther's continuing supplication of the king to stop the slaughter of her people.

▣ "Haman the Agagite" It is uncertain if "Agagite" is related to (1) Agag, the king of the Amalekites; (2) a family name; or (3) a geographical location or an unknown entity. See note at 3:1. The literary nature of the book suggests #1. Surprisingly, the phrase, "the son of Hammedatha, the Agagite" is missing from the Septuagint.

8:4 "the king extended the golden scepter to Esther" This was a common sign of welcome and graciousness extended by the court (cf. 4:11; 5:2).

8:5 "then she said" Esther wanted the king, in court language, to rescind the previous edict. However, this was impossible because the law of the Medes and Persians could not be changed (cf. 1:19; Dan. 6:8,12,15). Therefore, the king gave Mordecai the authority to write a second law which, to some extent, would counteract Haman's first letter.

Again the literary style of this author is seen in the threefold repetition:

1. If it pleases the king.

2. If I have found favor (twice).

3. The matter seems proper.

 

8:6 This verse has two parallel phrases using the same VERB "endure" (BDB 407, KB 410 Qal IMPERFECT). Esther is emotionally unable to experience the murder of her kinsmen.

The term "destruction" (BDB 2, cf. 8:6 and 9:5) spells out what "calamity" means.

8:7-8 The king recounts for Esther what he has done for her cause:

1. gave Haman's house to Esther

2. impaled Haman on his own gallows

3. allowed Mordecai to write another edict to counteract Haman's

 

8:7 "because he had stretched out his hands against the Jews" In 7:8, the king said that Haman was going to be executed because he violated the queen, but here the true reason for Haman's death is divulged.

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 8:9-14
 9So the king's scribes were called at that time in the third month (that is, the month Sivan), on the twenty-third day; and it was written according to all that Mordecai commanded to the Jews, the satraps, the governors and the princes of the provinces which extended from India to Ethiopia, 127 provinces, to every province according to its script, and to every people according to their language as well as to the Jews according to their script and their language. 10He wrote in the name of King Ahasuerus, and sealed it with the king's signet ring, and sent letters by couriers on horses, riding on steeds sired by the royal stud. 11In them the king granted the Jews who were in each and every city the right to assemble and to defend their lives, to destroy, to kill and to annihilate the entire army of any people or province which might attack them, including children and women, and to plunder their spoil, 12on one day in all the provinces of King Ahasuerus, the thirteenth day of the twelfth month (that is, the month Adar). 13A copy of the edict to be issued as law in each and every province was published to all the peoples, so that the Jews would be ready for this day to avenge themselves on their enemies. 14The couriers, hastened and impelled by the king's command, went out, riding on the royal steeds; and the decree was given out at the citadel in Susa.

8:9-13 "it was written according to all that Mordecai commanded" This parallels 3:12-15.

8:9 "the month of Sivan" This would be our May or June. The listing of these specific dates in these last few chapters adds to the historicity of the book. See Special Topic: Ancient Near Eastern Calendars at Ezra 3:1.

8:10 "riding on steeds sired by the royal stud" This is another example of the importance of the king's horse (cf. 6:8).

8:11 This seems cruel but in context, it was an eye for eye and tooth for tooth response (cf. Exod. 21:23-25) to what Haman had planned to do to them. This is more a case of self defense than vengefulness. It possibly relates to the total judgment of holy war (cf. Josh. 10:13; I Sam. 14:24; 18:25). Enemies of God's people are enemies of God (cf. Gen. 12:3; 27:29; Num. 24:9).

Although this edict allows the Jews to plunder their enemies, they apparently did not do this (cf. 9:10,15,16). Possibly they also did not execute "holy war" on their enemies' families (i.e., women and children). They could have legally because this is what Haman wanted to do to the Jewish families (cf. 3:13).

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 8:15-17
 15Then Mordecai went out from the presence of the king in royal robes of blue and white, with a large crown of gold and a garment of fine linen and purple; and the city of Susa shouted and rejoiced. 16For the Jews there was light and gladness and joy and honor. 17In each and every province and in each and every city, wherever the king's commandment and his decree arrived, there was gladness and joy for the Jews, a feast and a holiday. And many among the peoples of the land became Jews, for the dread of the Jews had fallen on them.

8:15 "in the royal robes of blue and white" Ancient colors are hard to be specifically defined. Possibly, the blue is royal purple. However, it is obvious that these two colors were the royal colors of Persia.

There are many aspects of this book that remind one of Joseph (cf. Gen. 41:42) and Daniel (cf. Dan. 5:7,29).

▣ "with a large crown of gold" There is a distinction made between the large, royal crown and these lesser crowns of gold which were worn by the Persian nobles.

"and the city of Susa shouted and rejoiced" This seems to show the proper interpretation of 3:15 that, although the king reacted with such vengeful wrath against the Jews, the general population did not feel this way.

8:16 These four terms (possibly two sets of hendiadys) are an attempt to describe the emotional joy of the Jewish population of Persia (cf. v. 17).

The last term "honor" (BDB 430) implies a grant from the king. The king's support insured their victory! The Persian king's concern and care mimics the King of king's concern and care!

8:17

NASB, NKJV,
TEV, NJB"became Jews"
NRSV, JPSOA "professed to be Jews"
REB"professed Judaism"
NAB"embraced Judaism"
LB, NET"pretended to be Jews"

Whether this refers to circumcision, baptism, sacrifice and thereby full proselytism (cf. LXX), or simply that the populace supported the Jewish cause and pretended to become Jews is uncertain. The VERB (BDB 397, KB 393, Hithpael PARTICIPLE) is found only here in the OT. Haman's plot not only failed, but actually increased the power, prestige, and numbers of the Jewish population. The unseen hand of God was guiding all things!