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[284] Accordingly, the horsemen who carried the epistles proceeded on the ways which they were to go with speed: but as for Mordecai, as soon as he had assumed the royal garment, and the crown of gold, and had put the chain about his neck, he went forth in a public procession; and when the Jews who were at Shushan saw him in so great honor with the king, they thought his good fortune was common to themselves also, and joy and a beam of salvation encompassed the Jews, both those that were in the cities, and those that were in the countries, upon the publication of the king's letters, insomuch that many even of other nations circumcised their foreskin for fear of the Jews, that they might procure safety to themselves thereby; for on the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, which according to the Hebrews is called Adar, but according to the Macedonians, Dystrus, those that carried the king's epistle gave them notice, that the same day wherein their danger was to have been, on that very day should they destroy their enemies. But now the rulers of the provinces, and the tyrants, and the kings, and the scribes, had the Jews in esteem; for the fear they were in of Mordecai forced them to act with discretion. Now when the royal decree was come to all the country that was subject to the king, it fell out that the Jews at Shushan slew five hundred of their enemies; and when the king had told Esther the number of those that were slain in that city, but did not well know what had been done in the provinces, he asked her whether she would have any thing further done against them, for that it should be done accordingly: upon which she desired that the Jews might be permitted to treat their remaining enemies in the same manner the next day; as also that they might hang the ten sons of Haman upon the gallows. So the king permitted the Jews so to do, as desirous not to contradict Esther. So they gathered themselves together again on the fourteenth day of the month Dystrus, and slew about three hundred of their enemies, but touched nothing of what riches they had. Now there were slain by the Jews that were in the country, and in the other cities, seventy-five thousand of their enemies, and these were slain on the thirteenth day of the month, and the next day they kept as a festival. In like manner the Jews that were in Shushan gathered themselves together, and feasted on the fourteenth day, and that which followed it; whence it is that even now all the Jews that are in the habitable earth keep these days festival, and send portions to one another. Mordecai also wrote to the Jews that lived in the kingdom of Artaxerxes to observe these days, and celebrate them as festivals, and to deliver them down to posterity, that this festival might continue for all time to come, and that it might never be buried in oblivion; for since they were about to be destroyed on these days by Haman, they would do a right thing, upon escaping the danger in them, and on them inflicting punishment on their enemies, to observe those days, and give thanks to God on them; for which cause the Jews still keep the forementioned days, and call them days of Phurim [or Purim.] 1 And Mordecai became a great and illustrious person with the king, and assisted him in the government of the people. He also lived with the queen; so that the affairs of the Jews were, by their means, better than they could ever have hoped for. And this was the state of the Jews under the reign of Artaxerxes.

2

1 Take here part of Reland's note on this disputed passage: "In Josephus's copies these Hebrew words, 'days of Purim,' or ' lots,' as in the Greek copies of Esther, ch. 9:26, 28-32, is read 'days of Phurim,' or 'days of protection,' but ought to be read' days of Parira,' as in the Hebrew; than which creation," says he, "nothing is more certain." And had we any assurance that Josephus's copy mentioned the "casting of lots," as our other copies do, Esther 3:7, I should fully agree with Reland; but, as it now stands, it seems to me by no means certain. As to this whole Book of Esther in the present Hebrew copy, it is so very imperfect, in a case where the providence of God was so very remarkable, and the Septuagint and Josephus have so much of religion, that it has not so much as the name of God once in it; and it is hard to say who made that epitome which the Masorites have given us for the genuine book itself; no religious Jews could well be the authors of it, whose education obliged them to have a constant regard to God, and whatsoever related to his worship; nor do we know that there ever was so imperfect a copy of it in the world till after the days of Barchochab, in the second century.

2 HOW JOHN SLEW HIS BROTHER JESUS IN THE TEMPLE; AND HOW BAGOSES OFFERED MANY INJURIES TO THE JEWS; AND WHAT SANBALLAT DID.

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