If Esther 9:1-5 was a declaration of the grand reversal, verses 6-15 serve as the description of the reversal of fates. And boy what a description it is. I always appreciate when history/narrative books of the Bible are thorough in describing events. Bible book authors don’t shy away from details. The author of Esther is no exception. Though the battle descriptions aren’t too graphic, they aren’t exactly the best bedtime story either. These verses may not be “family friendly,” but they are factual. And the facts before us tell a story of God’s judgment, faithfulness, and mercy.
Esther 9:6-15 describe the bloodshed that commenced on the thirteenth of Adar between the Jews and their attackers. When you think of this war don’t think of the invasion of Normandy in World War II. As Allied forces stormed the beaches of Normandy on June 6, 1944 there was vicious fighting and gunfire from both sides. Both sides suffered many casualties. Many men on both sides of the fight were killed. The fighting that occurred in Susa and all the Persian Empire was unlike most wars. This war was completely one-sided. The Jews completely conquered their enemies. It was a sweeping annihilation of all those who attacked them.
When we read or hear of the Jews killing over 800 Persians in Susa alone, it makes our eyes and ears quite uncomfortable. The original readers of Esther would have been cheering at this point in the story. We just sit quietly and scratch our heads. In thinking about Persian bloodshed at the blades of Jewish swords, we need to keep a few things in mind.
First, the Jews were participating in what we would call “just war.” The Jews’ attackers were not innocent bystanders. Persian followers of Haman instigated an unjust war because their fighting was based on hatred. The Jews, on the other hand, were right to defend themselves against their enemies. So, the Jews weren’t bloodthirsty mongrels, but rather a people fighting for their lives.
Second, the Lord had given the Persian attackers into the hands of his people. As he has done throughout the history of his people, God judged his enemies at the hands of his people.
Third, God displays his steadfast love and mercy toward his people. At just the right time and just the right way, God preserved his people from annihilation. His commitment to his people is not his response to their righteousness, but rather an outworking of his. If you belong to God in Christ, he is forever and always committed to you, and none of your enemies will be able to ultimately succeed against you.
Main Idea: God judges his enemies and shows mercy to his people.
Discussion Starter: Do you think it was right for the Jews to kill all their enemies? Why?
Prayer Points: Thank God for his merciful commitment to you despite your sin against him.
Mathew Gilbert is Associate Pastor for Children and Preschool at The Church at Trace Crossing in Tupelo, MS. He is a student at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and the author of Come to the Well: 50 Meditations to Fuel Your Joy in God. Mathew and his wife, Erica, live in Tupelo with their two boys, Jude and Jack.