The story of Esther concludes in Esther 9-10 with a series of events which show that God is with His people, even when His presence is not actively recognized or seen.
We have come a long way through Esther. We’ve seen a petty and foolish king take a beautiful young Jewish girl as his queen. Her name, of course, is Esther. She had an uncle named Mordecai who would not bow to a man named Haman, who was second in command. As a result, Haman hatched a wicked plot to not only kill Mordecai, but also wipe out all Jewish people. Esther set out on a Mission: Impossible to stop this plan of Haman, in order to saver her people from certain slaughter. Against impossible odds, and through a set of amazing, miraculous coincidences, she accomplished her mission. Proud Haman was put to death, while her humble and patient uncle Mordecai, receives the position of being second in command over the entire empire.
The entire book has really been about two kinds of people, the proud and the humble. It is about what happens to those who are arrogant, and what happens to those who are meek. Even though God is not mentioned anywhere in the story, we see His hand at work everywhere, destroying the proud, and raising up the humble. The book of Esther could be summarized with two verses. First, Proverbs 16:18 says, “Pride goes before destruction, And a haughty spirit before a fall.” This is a perfect verse for Haman. The other verse is James 4:10, which says, “Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.” This verse is perfect for Esther and Mordecai.
And really, the ending of this story in Esther 9-10 is a summary of these two themes, that pride leads to destruction, and humility leads to honor. And so it is a good reminder for us that death to self will come one way or another. Either we destroy our pride and our ego, or God does.
Let us see how this develops in Esther 9-10. In these chapters we see the end result of Haman’s plot. Persian law could not be reversed, and so even though Haman was dead, his plan was still active. Haman had created a “Kill a Jew” holiday in which any Persian who wanted to, could go out and kill and plunder Jewish people. In Esther 9, that day finally arrives.
The Destruction and Defense of the Jews (Esther 9:1-5)
Esther 9:1. 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.
This is on the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, so about 9 months have passed since chapter 8. This is the day that Haman had chosen by casting the lot to eradicate the Jews, and on which all the enemies of the Jews were hoping to do just that.
But the verse indicates that just the opposite happened. In fact, the Jews got the upper hand over those who hated them. Far from being eradicated and destroyed, the Jews were now able to defend themselves against their attackers. Though Persian law cannot be reversed, Esther and Mordecai had been able to send out another decree which allowed the Jews to defend themselves if attacked. And that is exactly what happened.
Esther 9:2. 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.
First, the text is very clear that while the enemies could attack any Jew they wanted, the Jews could only attack those who attacked them — those who were seeking their destruction. This was strictly self-defense. 
Second, no one was able to stand against them because they were afraid. It is hard to say why they were afraid, but a possible answer is found when we remember that when the Israelites were entering the Promised Land of Canaan under the leadership of Joshua, many of their enemies could not stand against them because they knew God was with His people and so were afraid. God is obviously at work here as well protecting His people and instilling fear in the hearts of their enemies.
Esther 9:3-4. 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. For Mordecai was great in the king’s palace, and his fame spread throughout all the provinces; for this man Mordecai became increasingly prominent.
Even the leaders of the empire were afraid, this time of Mordecai, since he was the second in command in the empire, and had become more and more powerful so that they helped the Jews. If Haman had still been command, these other officials would certainly have helped slaughter the Jews. But instead, they helped the Jews because Mordecai is so honored and respected.
Esther 9:5. 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.
Now remember, this verse must be read in light of Esther 9:2. The Jews did not have the right to strike out against their enemies unless their enemies attacked first. The Jews only had the right to assemble and defend themselves. And that is what we see them doing here.
We are reminded of the relatively recent event in 1967 where the fledgling nation of Israel faced overwhelming odds against the combined military might of the Arab states. The Arab nations were intent on destroying Israel and came at her in a lightening attack intent on destroying the nation once and for all. Life magazine reported what happened:
Astounding is the only word for it. In 60 hours the war that exploded upon the Middle East became a fact of history. Tiny Israel stood in the role of victor over the surrounding Arab nations that vowed to exterminate her. Middle Eastern alliances, balances of power, even political boundaries, were of a new shape, as though mutated by a Biblical cataclysm. Seldom in military history has victory been so efficient or so visible decisive in so short a span of time. So swiftly did Israel mount her assault that her adversaries were deprived of the means of winning almost before the world awakened to the fact that a war was in progress. “The Israelis experienced an ecstasy which is given to few people of any generation to know.” 
The Death of Haman’s 10 Sons (Esther 9:6-10)
Esther 9:6-10. And in Shushan the citadel the Jews killed and destroyed five hundred men. Also Parshandatha, Dalphon, Aspatha, Poratha, Adalia, Aridatha, Parmashta, Arisai, Aridai, and Vajezatha — 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.
These are Haman’s ten sons, and we are told that they were all killed. This is the list of names that most pass over, but which is very interesting for several reasons. First of all, the Hebrew text does something with these names which is done with no other list of names in Scripture. These names, in the original Hebrew text, are organized in a column, spaced out, and set apart from the rest of the text. It is very strange for Hebrew to be written this way, so some have suggested that writing the text this way “visually expresses the idea that these enemies of Israel had been set apart for destruction.”  It is a like a hit list in Scripture of the enemies of God and Israel.
But aside from that, the person who wrote this text was clearly trying to bring attention to these names. I think this was for two reasons.
First, this list of names, and the fact that these men are put to death, is a fulfillment of prophecy. In Exodus 17:14 and Deuteronomy 25:17-19, God says that he will have war with the Amalekites from generation to generation until they are destroyed.
And then in 1 Samuel 15, God commanded King Saul to completely destroy the Amalekites, but Saul did not obey. King Agag was allowed to live. At the end of the chapter, Agag is killed by the hand of Samuel, but apparently, we are not told how, some of Agag’s children escaped because 600 years later, we come across Haman the Agagite and his ten sons – the historic enemy of the Jews and of all that is of God.
Well, now Haman has been killed, and his ten sons with him, and the name of Amalek is blotted out forever, just as God has promised. God always fulfills his promises, even if it takes 600 years. If God makes promises to you, note that fulfillment of these promises may take a long, long time.
But as significant as this truth is from this list of names, there is something even better here. Each of the ten names, in the Persian language, contains the word “Self.” This reveals a little about Haman, doesn’t it? He was stuck on himself. He named his ten sons after aspects of himself.
Parshandatha means “curious self” or “I am curious.”
Dalphon means “weeping self” or “self pity.”
Aspatha means “assembled self” or “self- sufficient.”
Poratha means “generous self” or “self indulgent.”
Adalia means “weak self” or more likely “humble self.” Have you ever known someone who is proud of being humble? Haman must have been like that, going around boasting about how humble he was.
Aridatha means “strong self” or “self assertive.”
Parmashta means “preeminent self” or “self ambition.”
Arisai means “bold self” or “I am bold.”
Aridai means “dignified self” or “I am superior.”
And Vaizatha means “pure self” or “self- righteous.” 
All of these were put to death. All of these “selves” were put to death. Isn’t that interesting? Self must die before victory is accomplished. Pride comes before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall. Haman’s downfall is nearly complete. Not only is he dead, not only has his plan to annihilate the Jewish people failed miserable, but now all of his sons are dead also, whom he arrogantly named after aspects of himself. Haman’s pride has led to his great downfall.
Do you see the two extremes in this wonderful story? Haman tried to exalt himself and ended up dying, along with all of his plans coming to nothing, and all of his sons being put to death. Esther, on the other hand, remember what she said in Esther 4? “If I perish, I perish.” She was willing to die in order to do what was right, and yet she was honored and blessed and raised up as queen, with her family and her people being raised up to honor with her.
Those are the two options. Each has its own result.
Haman, in trying to serve self, ended up dying anyway.  Esther, in giving up herself, was blessed and honored. Self always dies, whether now or later, but the outcome is vastly different depending on which you choose.
Die to self now, like Esther and Mordecai, and receive blessing and honor; or, like Haman, serve self now, but end up losing all later. Mark 8:36 says, “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?”
The Jewish people had apparently learned this very lesson as they watched events unfold between Haman and Esther and Mordecai. The last part of verse 10 says that they did not lay their hands on the plunder.
The Jews, unlike Haman, were not looking to become rich, they were not looking to benefit personally from their deliverance. Haman wanted revenge on the Jews, but he also wanted to profit from it. The Jews are set in contrast here. They did not set their hands on the plunder, though both Persian law and the second edict allowed them to. And even from the first deliverance from Egypt, as recorded in the book of Exodus, they took spoil from the Egyptians, but here they didn’t. Why not? Why did they not take what was rightfully theirs?
It is because they were trying to right the wrong that had been committed by King Saul hundreds of years earlier. Saul was commanded by God to eradicate the Amalekites and not take any plunder, but Saul did exactly the opposite. He let some of the Amalekites live, and took some of the plunder.
So here, the Jews fix all this. They wipe out the remaining Amalekites, and they refrain from taking any plunder.
Furthermore, the Jews were not motivated here, as Haman was, by greed and self-advancement, but were solely focused on obedience to the Word of God, and focused only on defending themselves, not on profiting from their enemies.
The Defense of the Jews a Second Day (Esther 9:11-15)
Esther 9:11-12. On that day the number of those who were killed in Shushan the citadel was brought to the king. 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.”
The tone of the King here, according to commentators, is one of admiration.  The king is saying, “Wow! Look how much you accomplished! Amazing. Can I give you anything else?” This does not surprise us, for we know that this king was proud, petty and impulsive and did not really care for his people.
Esther’s response is in Esther 9:13.
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.”
She asks that the edict be continued for one more day, but only in the city of Susa, and that Haman’s ten sons be hanged on a gallows. Remember, this hanging is not a western hang man’s noose, but being impaled on a stake. The sons were already dead, but sometimes criminals, after they were executed, were impaled on stakes in public places as reminders and examples, as visual warnings of what happens to those who disobey or displease the king, or just to further humiliate them and their families (cf. 2 Sam 21:12).
Now why does Esther desire that the sons be hanged. The reason is that she, as a good Jewish girl, knows here Bible well. She is aware of the statement in Deuteronomy 21:23 which says, “Cursed is everyone that hangs on a tree.” This statement, incidentally, is repeated in reference to Christ, the ultimate example of what it means to die to self (remember Philippians 2; Acts 5:30; 10:39; Gal 3:13).
And why did she want another day? Some think she has become bloodthirsty, but in reality, I think it is because she wants to completely remove all God’s enemies from Susa, like the Jews were told to do when entering Canaan, but again failed to do.
It is also possible that she has become aware of a further threat to the Jewish people, and so is making a request that the Jewish people can defend themselves legally for one more day just in case someone tries to attack them. 
The king grants her wishes as Esther 9:14-15 reveal.
Esther 9:14-15. So the king commanded this to be done; the decree was issued in Shushan, and they hanged Haman’s ten sons. And the Jews who were in Shushan 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.
Three hundred more are killed on the second day, for a total of 800 in the city of Susa. And again, they did not lay hands on the plunder. And verses 16-19 are a summary of what happened throughout the empire on these two days.
Summary of the Death Toll (Esther 9:16-19)
Esther 9:16-17. 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. This was on the thirteenth day of the month of Adar. And on the fourteenth of the month they rested and made it a day of feasting and gladness.
This is an account of what happened in all of the Persian provinces. Remember that the events of the book of Esther take place in Susa (or Shushan), the capital city of Persia. But way to the west of Persia, was a small group of Jewish people struggling to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem. They had been at it for decades now, and had basically stopped working because of the threats against their lives and the danger they faced from enemies who lived in the nearby cities of Shechem and Samaria.
We have no record of it in the Bible, but archeological digs reveal that it was at this very same time that the cities of Shechem and Samaria were destroyed!  Very likely, the events here in Susa allowed the Jewish settlers in Jerusalem to destroy their worst enemies in the cities of Shechem and Samaria. But the book of Esther is primarily concerned with what is going on in Shushan.
Esther 9:18-19. But the Jews who were at Shushan assembled together on the thirteenth day, as well as on the fourteenth; and on the fifteenth of the month they rested, and made it a day of feasting and gladness. 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.
And as a result of these events, Mordecai makes the fourteenth and fifteenth days of the month of Adar a national Jewish holiday. There were seven national holidays instituted by God (Leviticus 23), and two that were a result of historical events and instituted by men. One of these is Hannukah, a version of our Christmas, and the other is Purim, kind of like our 4th of July, but they exchange gifts in both. It is Purim that is instituted here.
The gifts of Purim originated with what we read there at the end of Esther 9:19 where they were sending presents to one another. The translators of our English Bibles have softened this a little bit, since the text literally reads that they were sending portions of a man to one another (cf. Esther 9:22 also).  It was a gruesome gift to receive, but was a good way to remind each other what God had done for them.
Sadly, at the present time, the feast of Purim has very little to do with God’s deliverance. It has degenerated into feasting, and drinking and giving gifts. It really is a lot like a mixture between our July 4th, the Hispanic Cinco de Mayo, and Mardi Gras. One rabbi says that on this day alone, it is allowed for a Jew to drink so much wine that he cannot tell the difference between the two cheers of “Blessed be Mordecai” and “Cursed be Haman.”
But regardless of how it is now, the rest of the chapter tells us how Purim began.
The Feast of Purim (Esther 9:20-32)
Esther 9:20-23. And Mordecai wrote these things and sent letters to all the Jews, near and far, who were in all the provinces of King Ahasuerus, to establish among them that they should celebrate yearly the fourteenth and fifteenth days of the month of Adar, 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. So the Jews accepted the custom which they had begun, as Mordecai had written to them,
And Esther 9:24-28 are a final summary of all the events in the book, and again a summary of how the feast of Purim began.
Esther 9:24-26a. 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; but when Esther came before the king, he commanded by letter that this 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 9:26b. So they called these days Purim, after the name Pur.
Pur is the Hebrew word of lot, and so they have named their festival after the casting of a lot. Who used the casting of lots in the book of Esther? It wasn’t Esther, Mordecai or the Jews, but Haman! So Mordecai has named this festival after what Haman did. In naming this festival Purim, Mordecai is kind of saying, “In your face, Haman!” 
The item used by Haman to make a decision about when to annihilate the Jews, now becomes the symbol for God’s deliverance through circumstances. It would be today, like dice becoming symbolic for God’s provision (cf. Prov 16:33). What the world uses, God can turn for His own purposes.
Esther 9:26b-28. Therefore, because of all the words of this letter, what they had seen concerning this matter, and what had happened to them, 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,
And finally, Esther 9:29-32, decrees by Mordecai and Esther concerning Purim.
Esther 9:29-32. Then Queen Esther, the daughter of Abihail, with Mordecai the Jew, wrote with full authority to confirm this second letter about Purim. 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, 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. So the decree of Esther confirmed these matters of Purim, and it was written in the book.
The Conclusion of Esther (Esther 10:1-3)
Esther 10 closes out the book of Esther by showing what happened to King Ahasuerus and Mordecai.
Esther 10:1. And King Ahasuerus imposed tribute on the land and on the islands of the sea.
We remember from elsewhere in the book of course, that Persia consisted of 127 provinces. Some sources state that that there were 100 provinces on the mainland, and 27 island provinces. 
Esther 10:2. Now all the acts of his power and his might, and the account of the greatness of Mordecai, to which the king advanced him, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Media and Persia?
We have heard of these books several times now throughout the account of Esther and some of you might be wondering if historians and archeologists know anything about these books. The fact of the matter is that we know nothing of them. All the accounts of King Ahasuerus have ceased to exist, with all of his power and glory. But the Word of God, written at about the same time, recording the events of an obscure Jewish man and Jewish girl, has survived through time to give evidence to God’s hand at work in the lives of His people.
Esther 10:3. For Mordecai the Jew was second to King Ahasuerus, and was great among the Jews and well received by the multitude of his brethren, seeking the good of his people and speaking peace to all his countrymen.
This final verse would be a great verse for every politician to take as a life verse, or at least as an example to live by. Mordecai was second in command, and was held in high esteem. Why? Because he worked for and defended his people.
The story ends right where it began, but completely reversed. We have the same king and the same city we started with. But Vashti is no longer queen. Instead, a humble young Jewish girl has risen to prominence. And proud Haman is no longer second in command, and his plan to annihilate the Jews ended in his own destruction. Instead of Haman, humble Mordecai has been raised up, and is now bringing peace and prosperity to the Persian empire in a way previously unknown.
So who are you, Haman or Mordecai and Esther? None of us want to be a Haman. And yet we often act like him. Doing whatever it takes to get our plans moved forward, no matter who it hurts. Conniving, scheming, planning, plotting. Looking out for number 1. Doing whatever we need to at work to make sure we get that promotion, and not somebody else. Talking about ourselves to everybody else. In short, revealing pride and arrogance. But as we have seen, pride comes before destruction.
But we don’t want to be like that. We want to be like Esther and Mordecai. They simply did what was asked of them. They humbly, quietly, went about their business, obeying God and doing what was right. And God, in His own timing, and in His own way, raised them up to positions of honor and prominence that nobody could have ever imagined.
God will do that for you too, if you follow His ways, and wait for His timing, and trust Him with your life and your decisions.
That is the lesson of Esther. When God seems absent in your life, keep trusting Him to do what He has promised. If you remain humble and dependent upon Him, dying to self and living for Him (Gal 2:20), He will raise you up and bring honor to you as only He can.
Notes on Esther 9-10
 Bush, 464.
 Life, June 16, 1976, pp. 33, 38a.
 Jobes, 198.
 Missler, 102.
 Jobes, 140-142.
 Bush, 476; Whitcomb, 115.
 Whitcomb, 116.
 Whitcomb, 118.
 Cf. Huey, 835.
 Swindoll, 178.
 Missler, 76.
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