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Click here to read Esther 9-10 on BibleGateway.com

One of our goals here at EverydayDevotions.com is to look at some of the more difficult passages in the Bible and face them square on. If we believe the Bible is inspired (and we do), then we should be able to read more than just John 3:16 and learn from it. So, we’re gonna dive into the deep end of poo pond today and take a look at some genocide.

In chapter 9, the Jews put their enemies in a big ole hurt locker. All well and good, but in verses 12-13, Esther requests that the slaughter be extended for an extra day. Say what? That’s right, my friends, Esther asks for a second day so that the Jews can continue whupping up on people; 75,000 to be exact. Now, from our point of view, what do we do with this butchery?

POSSIBLE POSSIBILITIES

We have several options here for justifying this request.

– Many commentators will argue that the ringleaders and instigators of the attack against the Jews may have just hidden for the day that was publicly known, and then returned to their homes. This second day would catch most of those poor jerks unaware. But that still doesn’t really give us justification, only a motivation.

– The Bible reports this fact without saying whether or not God approved. The Bible is an accurate record of history, and at this point it may simply be reporting what happened without condoning it. Seems like a little bit a copout, but true nonetheless.

– It’s possible that the 500 reported for the first day included only those in the citadel, because the conspirators were concentrated there, and they needed more time for the city itself. Thus the second day was just to complete the initial proclamation.

– We can argue self-defense. The proclamations are intended to prevent violence against Jews, so we can even hypothesize that some of these people came back after the first day of slaughter confident that they had escaped, and started harassing the Jews again.

– God told King Saul centuries earlier to utterly destroy the Amalekites, and their race was even condemned as far back as Moses. Again, this is not much comfort, but it does explain things as a final consummation of God’s will.

NOT EVERYTHING ENDS WITH HAPPILY EVER AFTER

So what do we do this verse? Unfortunately, unless you can accept one of the above reasons as justification, there may not be any answers here. Real life is messy, and the Bible is nothing if not real.  To our way of thinking, this seems like a senseless slaughter of thousands of people, and couched in a certain amount of trickery as well. We can at least take comfort that no plunder was taken, further suggesting that it was a holy war and not vindictiveness.

In the end, we may just have to plead ignorance. There are certainly no answers that satisfy our Western modern mind, but we can say this: God will protect his people. Even when the odds seem hopeless, God is in control and the enemies of God’s people will not escape punishment forever.

That should cause us both to rejoice and to tremble.

(if you have an additional possible interpretation of this verse, feel free to leave it in the comments section for discussion)

One Response to “February 1, 2011 – Esther 9-10”

  1. Tamala Weakley Says:

    Good job! what a great post!

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