Dispatch Two Hundred Seventy-Two

Posted: February 22, 2018 in Fifty-Third Bundle
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ESTHER 7:1-6, 9-10; 9:20-22

So the king and Haman went in to feast with Queen Esther. On the second day, as they were drinking wine, the king again said to Esther, “What is your petition, Queen Esther? It shall be granted you. And what is your request? Even to the half of my kingdom, it shall be fulfilled.” Then Queen Esther answered, “If I have won your favor, O king, and if it pleases the king, let my life be given me—that is my petition—and the lives of my people—that is my request. For we have been sold, I and my people, to be destroyed, to be killed, and to be annihilated. If we had been sold merely as slaves, men and women, I would have held my peace; but no enemy can compensate for this damage to the king.”Then King Ahasuerus said to Queen Esther, “Who is he, and where is he, who has presumed to do this?” Esther said, “A foe and enemy, this wicked Haman!” Then Haman was terrified before the king and the queen.

Then Harbona, one of the eunuchs in attendance on the king, said, “Look, the very gallows that Haman has prepared for Mordecai, whose word saved the king, stands at Haman’s house, fifty cubits high.” And the king said, “Hang him on that.” 10 So they hanged Haman on the gallows that he had prepared for Mordecai. Then the anger of the king abated.

20 Mordecai recorded these things, and sent letters to all the Jews who were in all the provinces of King Ahasuerus, both near and far, 21 enjoining them that they should keep the fourteenth day of the month Adar and also the fifteenth day of the same month, year by year, 22 as the days on which the Jews gained relief from their enemies, and as the month that had been turned for them from sorrow into gladness and from mourning into a holiday; that they should make them days of feasting and gladness, days for sending gifts of food to one another and presents to the poor.

The fifth-century BCE Persian king Ahasuerus (or Xerxes I) had deposed his own queen because she refused to put her beauty on display in the royal pageant. In his search for her replacement, Ahasuerus selected from among the lovely virgins of his kingdom the Jewess Esther. Later, when an assassination scheme was being hatched by conspirators, the plot was overheard by Esther’s cousin Mordecai, who reported the matter to the queen.

“After these things,” as the story goes, Ahasuerus promoted a man named Haman to grand vizier, and at the king’s command all lower officials bowed in his honor as he passed by – which all but Mordecai willingly did. Being a Jew, it was against Mordecai’s religious beliefs to bow before any man. Haman’s reaction was to organize a mass persecution of the Jewish people throughout the Persian kingdom. And this is where queen Esther’s famous intercession on behalf of her people comes into the picture.

At a royal court bash, the tipsy Ahasuerus promised his sexy queen anything she could ask for, even half his kingdom. What Esther requested instead was the release of her people from Haman’s deadly designs, of which apparently the king knew nothing. Once exposed, however, Haman’s fate was to hang from the very gallows he had built for Mordecai. Thus were the Jews saved and a great feast was declared throughout the land and for all time, celebrated to this day on Purim.

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