BIBLE: Esther Chapter 9 – Headline “An ‘Up’ Rising”

Words in italic type have been added for clarity. They are not found in the original Hebrew or Aramaic.

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Esther 9

Esther became Queen in 459 BC
On Adar 13, 453 BC the Jews overcame their enemies.

The Jews Destroy Their Tormentors

Esther 9:Now in the twelfth month, that is, the month of Adar, on the thirteenth day, the time came for the king’s command and his decree to be executed. On the day that the enemies of the Jews had hoped to overpower them, the opposite occurred, in that the Jews themselves overpowered those who hated them.
Esther 9:The Jews gathered together in their cities throughout all the provinces of King Ahasuerus to lay hands on those who sought their harm. And no one could withstand them, because fear of them fell upon all people.
Esther 9:And all the officials of the provinces, the satraps, the governors, and all those doing the king’s work, helped the Jews, because the fear of Mordecai fell upon them.
  • The same trembling they had for Haman, they now had for Mordecai since Mordecai was promoted and took his place.
Esther 9:For Mordecai was great in the king’s palace, and his fame spread throughout all the provinces; for this man Mordecai became increasingly prominent.
Esther 9:Thus the Jews defeated all their enemies with the stroke of the sword, with slaughter and destruction, and did what they pleased with those who hated them.
Esther 9:And in Shushan (Or Susa) the citadel (palace) the Jews killed and destroyed five hundred men.
Esther 9:Also Parshandatha, Dalphon, Aspatha,
Esther 9:Poratha, Adalia, Aridatha,
Esther 9:Parmashta, Arisai, Aridai, and Vajezatha—

(The map of Persian looks like an angel with a shofar declaring the protection of the Jews.)

  • On horses, the two decrees were sent from the extent of Egypt to the boundary of India.
Esther 9:10 the ten sons of Haman the son of Hammedatha, the enemy of the Jews—they killed; but they did not lay a hand on the plunder (spoil).
Esther 9:11 On that day the number of those who were killed in Shushan (Or Susa) the citadel (palace) was brought to the king.
Esther 9:12 And the king said to Queen Esther, “The Jews have killed and destroyed five hundred men in Shushan the citadel, and the ten sons of Haman. What have they done in the rest of the king’s provinces? Now what is your petition? It shall be granted to you. Or what is your further request? It shall be done.”
Esther 9:13 Then Esther said, “If it pleases the king, let it be granted to the Jews who are in Shushan to do again tomorrow according to today’s decree, and let Haman’s ten sons be hanged on the gallows.”
  • Haman’s ten sons were already killed. Now they are going to be hung on the gallows. The “gallows” and being “hung” were for a crucifixion: In this case, the sons, already being dead were displayed.
Esther 9:14 So the king commanded this to be done; the decree was issued in Shushan, and they hanged Haman’s ten sons.
Esther 9:15 And the Jews who were in Shushan (Or Susa) gathered together again on the fourteenth day of the month of Adar and killed three hundred men at Shushan; but they did not lay a hand on the plunder.
Esther 9:16 The remainder of the Jews in the king’s provinces gathered together and protected their lives, had rest from their enemies, and killed seventy-five thousand of their enemies; but they did not lay a hand on the plunder.
Esther 9:17 This was on the thirteenth day of the month of Adar. And on the fourteenth of(Lit. it) the month they rested and made it a day of feasting and gladness.

The Feast of Purim

Esther 9:18 But the Jews who were at Shushan (Or Susa) assembled together on the thirteenth day, as well as on the fourteenth; and on the fifteenth of (Lit. it) the month they rested, and made it a day of feasting and gladness.
Esther 9:19 Therefore the Jews of the villages who dwelt in the unwalled towns celebrated the fourteenth day of the month of Adar with gladness and feasting, as a holiday, and for sending presents to one another.
  • The notation of “unwalled towns” in the above verse indicate the vulnerability of the Jews. Likewise; a prophecy concerning the war of Gog and Magog when the Jews are once again vulnerable:
  • Ezekiel 38:11 You will say, ‘I will go up against a land of unwalled villages; I will go to a peaceful people, who dwell safely, all of them dwelling without walls, and having neither bars nor gates’—
Esther 9:20 And Mordecai wrote these things and sent letters to all the Jews, near and far, who were in all the provinces of King Ahasuerus,
Esther 9:21 to establish among them that they should celebrate yearly the fourteenth and fifteenth days of the month of Adar,

Esther 9:22 as the days on which the Jews had rest from their enemies, as the month which was turned from sorrow to joy for them, and from mourning to a holiday; that they should make them days of feasting and joy, of sending presents to one another and gifts to the poor.
Esther 9:23 So the Jews accepted the custom which they had begun, as Mordecai had written to them,
Esther 9:24 because Haman, the son of Hammedatha the Agagite, the enemy of all the Jews, had plotted against the Jews to annihilate them, and had cast Pur (that is, the lot), to consume them and destroy them;
Esther 9:25 but when Esther (Lit. she or it) came before the king, he commanded by letter that this (Lit. his) wicked plot which Haman had devised against the Jews should return on his own head, and that he and his sons should be hanged on the gallows.
Esther 9:26 So they called these days Purim, after the name Pur (Lit. Lot). Therefore, because of all the words of this letter, what they had seen concerning this matter, and what had happened to them,
Esther 9:27 the Jews established and imposed it upon themselves and their descendants and all who would join them, that without fail they should celebrate these two days every year, according to the written instructions and according to the prescribed time,
Esther 9:28 that these days should be remembered and kept throughout every generation, every family, every province, and every city, that these days of Purim should not fail to be observed among the Jews, and that the memory of them should not perish among their descendants.
Esther 9:29 Then Queen Esther, the daughter of Abihail, with Mordecai the Jew, wrote with full authority to confirm this second letter about Purim.
Esther 9:30 And Mordecai sent letters to all the Jews, to the one hundred and twenty-seven provinces of the kingdom of Ahasuerus, with words of peace and truth,
Esther 9:31 to confirm these days of Purim at their appointed time, as Mordecai the Jew and Queen Esther had prescribed for them, and as they had decreed for themselves and their descendants concerning matters of their fasting and lamenting.
Esther 9:32 So the decree of Esther confirmed these matters of Purim, and it was written in the book.
  • The 101st Airborne Division, nicknamed the “Screaming Eagles,” fought on the front lines during all the wars: World War I, World War II, the Korean War, and Viet Nam. Only a fraction of the early ranks had ever returned alive.
  • Which is why David Zuk’s mother said “Oh, no,” to her son as he sank into the glass of the telephone booth with the news he was going to Saudi. Her “no” echoing in his head. He was 20 years old.
  • The Gulf War had broken out a month earlier, on January 17, 1991.
  • He closed the door of the phone booth and ambled back to his barrack. Gazing at the snow-covered hills surrounding Fort Knox Army Base in northwestern Kentucky, he was awe-struck by their quiet beauty, as if seeing them for the first time. He wondered if he would ever see them again. He thought of the preposterous story circulating around the army base that someone had predicted the war would end by Purim, the Jewish holiday instituted to thank and praise God for saving the Jewish people from a decree of annihilation some 2,300 years ago.
  • Purim was only a month away. No way would it be over by then! David said to himself.
  • As David thought about it, Saddam Hussein fit the character of Haman, the villain of the story of Purim. The wicked Haman got the king of Persia to issue a royal decree to command the populace to massacre all the Jews in the Persian Empire. Similarly, for a whole year Saddam Hussein had been boasting that he would “burn half of Israel” with SCUD missiles laden with deadly chemical gas. Those missiles aim were to maim and kill thousands of Israelis.
  • Saddam Hussein wanted to prove to the Arab nations that Israel was vulnerable. Then the world would clearly see that God had forsaken the Jews as the “Chosen People,” and that Saddam Hussein instead had been chosen to rule the world. The scenario sounded preposterous… until Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait.
  • Back at the barracks, David stood beside his cot and daavened (prayed) the evening prayer.
  • Before falling asleep, he vividly recalled news clips of the SCUD missiles fired at cities in Israel. These 40-foot Soviet-made missiles had been enhanced with a 600-pound, European-made payload of explosives, designed to flatten buildings. The explosion of a SCUD warhead creates a frontal pressure wave that blasts away concrete and sends shattered glass flying up to 1,400 feet away in all directions, creating a torrent of lethal “knives.”
  • The news had covered the incidents of the war.The first night that SCUDS were fired at Israel, one of them made a direct hit on an apartment house in a crowded Tel Aviv neighborhood. As a result of this midnight strike, 400 apartments housing 1,200 people were either destroyed or damaged. Tel Aviv hospitals were prepared to handle mass casualties, as had been the experience in Teheran, Iran, when Iraq fired SCUDS into Teheran’s neighborhoods in 1988 during the Iran-Iraq War.
  • The ambulances arrived at a Tel Aviv hospital. One young man had some scratches from broken glass; a woman had a sprain; the injuries were all minor. “The ‘victims’ could have doctored themselves,” said one of the hospital staff. “Even the non-religious declared it a miracle.”
  • “Against All Odds”
  • During the first week of war, Iraq fired about two dozen SCUDS at Israel and damaged or destroyed thousands of apartments and other buildings. On the first Saturday of the attacks, one SCUD scored a direct hit on a bomb shelter, which was used as a makeshift synagogue on Saturday morning; two hundred worshippers were packed inside. The blast flung the people around like rag dolls. Only the shelter’s eastern wall, upon which the ark housing the Torah scroll leaned against, remained standing. When Prime Minister Yitzchak Shamir visited the site he asked if there were any people in the bomb shelter. “Yes,” replied Tel Aviv Mayor Shlomo Lahat, “Two hundred. They were saved by a miracle.” No one was injured.
  • “Against All Odds”
  • To protect Israel, David was ready to risk his life, but how long would their mazal (good fortune) last? With that thought, David whispered the Shema Yisrael (“Hear O’ Israel”) prayer and fell asleep.
  • The next morning David and more than 300 other soldiers boarded a chartered 747 headed towards Saudi Arabia. From Rome to Dhahran the 747 jet landed after six hours.
  • At 5:30 the next morning, nerve-shattering alarms blasted the dawn. In a heartbeat, David reached for his gas mask, took the required quick breath, and strapped the mask to his face. The maximum time limit for this procedure was 15 seconds; David did it in 3 seconds flat. Thousands of gas mask rehearsals had finally paid off. Like a machine gun firing into the dark, David’s heart pounded uncontrollably at an invisible enemy. Three minutes later, an officer came into the tent and announced, “The Iraqis fired a SCUD, and our Patriot missile intercepted it. No gas has been detected. Keep your masks on until the signal is given.”
  • No gas was detected and no one was injured, but Saddam won a round on the psychological battlefield. Besides the constant fear of chemical weapons, Hussein had another silent ally: the desert. The first troops sent in August had all become sick with heat strokes. Even in the “winter,” the midday temperature always rose above 110 degrees Fahrenheit. The desert proved to be a harsh, foreign environment. Water had to be rationed. Showers were allowed only once a month.
  • Every day, just before sunset, the hot, white sun would turn bright red, and at sunset, it would appear to melt into the sand — an orangish red lava flowing off a huge ball of fire across the white sand. Then, within minutes, the temperature would drop 50 degrees. Everyone would have to wear thermal gloves and a warm jacket to keep from shivering. The temperature would be only 60 to 70 degrees, yet because of the rapid and drastic change in temperature, the soldiers would feel as if they were freezing.
  • Hussein was proving himself to be more cunning and his soldiers more entrenched than originally thought. Dave heard reports that Hussein could drag out the war for years.
  • Saddam Hussein kept firing SCUDS into Israel. Civilian targets were hit, buildings were destroyed, but the human injuries were surprisingly light. Back in the States, many Americans were concluding that the SCUDS were basically harmless, giant firecrackers.
  • Then, on the morning of February 25, David and 100 other soldiers received orders to fly that evening to Al-Khobar. They would be staying in the nearby Army barrack, which had originally been a large, steel-framed warehouse. Later that evening, during suppertime, a fragment of a SCUD blasted through the barrack’s metal roof, followed by a gigantic explosion which was heard for miles around. Nothing was left of the barrack, except an eight-foot deep crater. Twenty-eight soldiers were killed in the ensuing explosion; 89 others wounded.
  • But David and 100 fellow soldiers weren’t there…
  • At the last moment, the plane scheduled to transport David and 100 fellow soldiers to Al-Khobar the previous evening had malfunctioned. The “malfunction” saved their lives.
  • “I’m supposed to be dead,” David said to himself.
  • Before that attack, the American soldiers felt no anger towards the Iraqis, but now they were enraged. They wanted Saddam Hussein dead. Hussein became their Haman, the very embodiment of evil. They felt like the Jews who stamp their feet when the name of Haman is mentioned during the public reading of the Scroll of Esther on the Purim holiday: they wanted him stamped out, once and for all.
  • On the quiet nights, when sorties were not taking off from the Army’s makeshift runway, David often gazed at the stars. There were no lights for hundreds of miles and David could see thousands of stars in the Milky Way. Here God’s blessing and promise to Abraham, “I will increase your seed as the stars of the heaven” (Genesis 22:17), had great meaning.
  • By now Saddam’s army had fired more than 30 SCUDS which struck Israel. If only he could drag Israel into the war, then the other Arab nations would unite with him, and he would rule the oil-rich Middle East and the world would be at his mercy.
  • Suddenly, then the long-awaited land war was underway. The Allies marched into Kuwait and invaded Iraq. Then, on February 27, after a mere 100 hours of Allied fighting, the BBC announced that the Persian Gulf War was over. Not for a moment did any of the soldiers believe it. Two weeks later, on March 11, 1991, Newsweek published a cover story on the war and called the Persian Gulf War “a triumph of almost Biblical proportions.” Only after returning to the United States, did David find out that the War had actually ended on Purim!
  • With David, every single soldier in the 101st Airborne Division returned home, alive! Like in the days following the miracle of Purim, joyous celebrations and prayers of thanksgiving were held in towns throughout America, and “the days of darkness were transformed to light, joy and happiness.”
  • Thirteen months after the Gulf War ended, while stationed at Fort Campbell, David spent Shabbat at the home of Rabbi Zalman Posner in Nashville, Tennessee. “Have you seen this booklet?” his host asked. David glanced at it, and saw it was entitled, “I Will Show You Wonders: Public Statements of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, Before and During the Gulf Crisis.”
  • On that Shabbat, David learned about Lubavitcher Rebbe’s predictions regarding the Gulf War, how the Rebbe publicly proclaimed that the Land of Israel would be safe and that nobody in Israel would need gas masks, and that it was said in the Rebbe’s name that the Gulf War would end by Purim.
  • Sources: Private First-Class David Zuk; “Missiles and Miracles: The SCUD Story” David Rothschild (Nefesh Magazine, 1992); “Why Were SCUD Casualties So Low?” S. Fetter, G. Lewis & L. Gronlund (Nature, Jan. 1993).
  • God’s deliverance of the Jews continues to happen on this date in history! On Purim in 1946, ten Nazis were hanged at the Nuremberg Trials after World War II as war criminals. Hitler tried to annihilate the Jews in Europe just like Haman plotted to annihilate the Jews in Persia (Iran)!  Queen Esther exposed Haman to the King, and he was hanged on the gallows he had erected for Mordecai. Esther also requested that Haman’s ten sons be hanged on the gallows, a foreshadowing of the ten Nazis hanged on the gallows on the same day of Purim.  “Vengeance is Mine,” saith the Lord, “I will repay.”
  • One of the ten Nazis to be hanged on the day of Purim in 1946 was Julius Streicher, the Nazi editor of the anti-Semitic Das Strumer newspaper.  Evidently he grasped this link to Purim, because with the noose about his neck just seconds before his hanging, he shouted, “Purim Fest 1946!”
  • There is also a Purim connection to the first and second Gulf Wars. This time God dealt with Saddam Hussein, not Haman. In the first Gulf War, Iraq fired Scud missiles into Israel on January 18, 1991. Miraculously, no Israelis were killed. Israel did not retaliate, but God did! You don’t touch “the apple of God’s eye” and get away with it! The first Gulf War ended on February 28, 1991.  This was Purim, and the fleeing Iraqi soldiers were slaughtered!
  • At the beginning of the second Gulf War on the first day of Purim, March 18, 2003, President George W. Bush ordered Saddam Hussein to surrender in 48 hours or face war. Just months later Hussein was captured on December 14, 2003.  Hussein was also hanged!  His execution date was December 30, 2006.
  • The moral of this story is, “Don’t mess with God’s Chosen People, the Jews, especially on their celebration day of Purim!” This warning goes for Iran, ISIS, Hamas, Hezbollah, Fatah, and all the other terror groups and nations who hate the Jewish people and Israel. They should learn a lesson from Haman, Hitler, and Hussein!

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