On the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, the month of Adar, the edict commanded by the king was to be carried out. On this day the enemies of the Jews had hoped to overpower them, but now the tables were turned and the Jews got the upper hand over those who hated them. 2 The Jews assembled in their cities in all the provinces of King Xerxes to attack those determined to destroy them. No one could stand against them, because the people of all the other nationalities were afraid of them. 3 And all the nobles of the provinces, the satraps, the governors and the king’s administrators helped the Jews, because fear of Mordecai had seized them. 4 Mordecai was prominent in the palace; his reputation spread throughout the provinces, and he became more and more powerful.
5 The Jews struck down all their enemies with the sword, killing and destroying them, and they did what they pleased to those who hated them. 6 In the citadel of Susa, the Jews killed and destroyed five hundred men. 7 They also killed Parshandatha, Dalphon, Aspatha, 8 Poratha, Adalia, Aridatha, 9 Parmashta, Arisai, Aridai and Vaizatha, 10 the ten sons of Haman son of Hammedatha, the enemy of the Jews. But they did not lay their hands on the plunder.
11 The number of those killed in the citadel of Susa was reported to the king that same day. 12 The king said to Queen Esther, “The Jews have killed and destroyed five hundred men and the ten sons of Haman in the citadel of Susa. What have they done in the rest of the king’s provinces? Now what is your petition? It will be given you. What is your request? It will also be granted.”
13 “If it pleases the king,” Esther answered, “give the Jews in Susa permission to carry out this day’s edict tomorrow also, and let Haman’s ten sons be impaled on poles.”
14 So the king commanded that this be done. An edict was issued in Susa, and they impaled the ten sons of Haman. 15 The Jews in Susa came together on the fourteenth day of the month of Adar, and they put to death in Susa three hundred men, but they did not lay their hands on the plunder.
16 Meanwhile, the remainder of the Jews who were in the king’s provinces also assembled to protect themselves and get relief from their enemies. They killed seventy-five thousand of them but did not lay their hands on the plunder. 17 This happened on the thirteenth day of the month of Adar, and on the fourteenth they rested and made it a day of feasting and joy.
18 The Jews in Susa, however, had assembled on the thirteenth and fourteenth, and then on the fifteenth they rested and made it a day of feasting and joy.
19 That is why rural Jews—those living in villages—observe the fourteenth of the month of Adar as a day of joy and feasting, a day for giving presents to each other.
Dear God, the Old Testament stories like this are hard for me. I understand it was a kill-or-be-killed society, especially in that moment, but did over 500 people really need to die that day? Was that what you were looking for? It reminds me a little of the story of Joseph in Genesis. He was doing some great stuff in saving the people from famine, but then he ended up, basically, enslaving the Egyptian people to the Pharaoh. He took their land and pretty much all they owned in exchange for the food.
How many things do I possibly do that are inspired by you, but still carry some amount of my human evil? Is there anything that I do in your name, and that might, in general, accomplish a good thing, but is still tainted by my own human perspective and sin?
I think about my job working for a charitable medical clinic. I go out and I talk about our services, and lately I have been mentioning healthcare reform and what it might mean to our patients. As I explain the bill and its consequences, am I being fair or unfair? Am I tainting someone’s heart about the issue that might not have been tainted before?
Then there is parenting. There is a famous quote that says, “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.” I know there are times when my kids can’t see it, but my intention behind every single decision I make in parenting them is for their good. My kids are teenagers right now, and there are times when they are mad at me. I was thinking on a bike ride this weekend, if I were to get hit by a car and could only give them one message it would be, “I really did do it all for your good.”
Father, I know that my righteousness is like filthy rags to you. I know you get much more frustrated with me than I get with my kids. As fickle as they may be with me I know I am more fickle with you. So forgive me. Help me to carry your righteousness throughout an entire event and not just most of it. Let everything I touched be blessed and provided for by you so that others might be drawn to your power and glory.