Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Celebration. ?

The numbers of the massacre are chilling:

"But they took no plunder. That day, when it was all over, the number of those killed in the palace complex was given to the king. The king told Queen Esther, “In the palace complex alone here in Susa the Jews have killed five hundred men, plus Haman’s ten sons. Think of the killing that must have been done in the rest of the provinces! What else do you want? Name it and it’s yours. Your wish is my command.”

The king is STILL asking Esther what she wants. Isn't that enough? Is he himself insatiable or does he realise that she is still not entirely happy/satisfied?

She asks for still more.
“If it please the king,” Queen Esther responded, “give the Jews of Susa permission to extend the terms of the order another day. And have the bodies of Haman’s ten sons hanged in public display on the gallows.”

So the carnage had almost certainly stopped in the provinces - there would have been no way of extending it one more day with no easy means of communication - but this would ensure that all sympathy for Haman in the capital would be squashed.
The king commanded it: The order was extended; the bodies of Haman’s ten sons were publicly hanged. The Jews in Susa went at it again. On the fourteenth day of Adar they killed another three hundred men in Susa. But again they took no plunder.

It made me wonder how I, as a Christ-follower, deal with those who have fallen out of favour with the authorities.  If it is someone who has hurt or offended me, perhaps I could identify with Esther and the Jews; but if I am more of a bystander - perhaps a colleague has been reprimanded for a work offence - do I make sure I am 'in' with management, or do I offer sympathy and support. Or is it possible to do both?

Jesus preached love and forgiveness. Perhaps I am missing the point. Perhaps this is simply a story of how God loves his people so much that he WILL protect and save them, and that those who are enemies should be warned. Or perhaps I can still grieve for an 'enemy's' misfortune while still maintaining an attitude of justice.

And perhaps, like the Jews, I should be ready to celebrate extravagantly when justice is done:

"I will talk to others all day long about your justice and your goodness. For all who tried to hurt me have been disgraced and dishonoured." Psalm 71:24

"Meanwhile in the rest of the king’s provinces, the Jews had organized and defended themselves, freeing themselves from oppression. On the thirteenth day of the month of Adar, they killed seventy-five thousand of those who hated them but did not take any plunder. The next day, the fourteenth, they took it easy and celebrated with much food and laughter. But in Susa, since the Jews had banded together on both the thirteenth and fourteenth days, they made the fifteenth their holiday for laughing and feasting. (This accounts for why Jews living out in the country in the rural villages remember the fourteenth day of Adar for celebration, their day for parties and the exchange of gifts.)

Mordecai wrote all this down and sent copies to all the Jews in all King Xerxes’ provinces, regardless of distance, calling for an annual celebration on the fourteenth and fifteenth days of Adar as the occasion when Jews got relief from their enemies, the month in which their sorrow turned to joy, mourning somersaulted into a holiday for parties and fun and laughter, the sending and receiving of presents and of giving gifts to the poor."

Esther 9:10 - 22

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