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[269] Wherefore Haman, who had immoderately abused the honor he had from the king, was destroyed after this manner, and the king granted his estate to the queen. He also called for Mordecai, (for Esther had informed him that she was akin to him,) and gave that ring to Mordecai which he had before given to Haman. The queen also gave Haman's estate to Mordecai; and prayed the king to deliver the nation of the Jews from the fear of death, and showed him what had been written over all the country by Haman the son of Ammedatha; for that if her country were destroyed, and her countrymen were to perish, she could not bear to live herself any longer. So the king promised her that he would not do any thing that should be disagreeable to her, nor contradict what she desired; but he bid her write what she pleased about the Jews, in the king's name, and seal it with his seal, and send it to all his kingdom, for that those who read epistles whose authority is secured by having the king's seal to them, would no way contradict what was written therein. So he commanded the king's scribes to be sent for, and to write to the nations, on the Jews' behalf, and to his lieutenants and governors, that were over his hundred twenty and seven provinces, from India to Ethiopia. Now the contents of this epistle were these: "The great king Artaxerxes to our rulers, and those that are our faithful subjects, sendeth greeting. 1 Many men there are who, on account of the greatness of the benefits bestowed on them, and because of the honor which they have obtained from the wonderful kind treatment of those that bestowed it, are not only injurious to their inferiors, but do not scruple to do evil to those that have been their benefactors, as if they would take away gratitude from among men, and by their insolent abuse of such benefits as they never expected, they turn the abundance they have against those that are the authors of it, and suppose they shall lie concealed from God in that case, and avoid that vengeance which comes from him. Some of these men, when they have had the management of affairs committed to them by their friends, and bearing private malice of their own against some others, by deceiving those that have the power, persuade them to be angry at such as have done them no harm, till they are in danger of perishing, and this by laying accusations and calumnies: nor is this state of things to be discovered by ancient examples, or such as we have learned by report only, but by some examples of such impudent attempts under our own eyes; so that it is not fit to attend any longer to calumnies and accusations, nor to the persuasions of others, but to determine what any one knows of himself to have been really done, and to punish what justly deserves it, and to grant favors to such as are innocent. This hath been the case of Haman, the son of Ammedatha, by birth an Amalekite, and alien from the blood of the Persians, who, when he was hospitably entertained by us, and partook of that kindness which we bear to all men to so great a degree, as to be called my father, and to be all along worshipped, and to have honor paid him by all in the second rank after the royal honor due to ourselves, he could not bear his good fortune, nor govern the magnitude of his prosperity with sound reason; nay, he made a conspiracy against me and my life, who gave him his authority, by endeavoring to take away Mordecai, my benefactor, and my savior, and by basely and treacherously requiring to have Esther, the partner of my life, and of my dominion, brought to destruction; for he contrived by this means to deprive me of my faithful friends, and transfer the government to others: 2 but since I perceived that these Jews, that were by this pernicious fellow devoted to destruction, were not wicked men, but conducted their lives after the best manner, and were men dedicated to the worship of that God who hath preserved the kingdom to me and to my ancestors, I do not only free them from the punishment which the former epistle, which was sent by Haman, ordered to be inflicted on them, to which if you refuse obedience, you shall do well; but I will that they have all honor paid to them. Accordingly, I have hanged up the man that contrived such things against them, with his family, before the gates of Shushan; that punishment being sent upon him by God, who seeth all things. And I give you in charge, that you publicly propose a copy of this epistle through all my kingdom, that the Jews may be permitted peaceably to use their own laws, and that you assist them, that at the same season whereto their miserable estate did belong, they may defend themselves the very same day from unjust violence, the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, which is Adar; for God hath made that day a day of salvation instead of a day of destruction to them; and may it be a good day to those that wish us well, and a memorial of the punishment of the conspirators against us: and I will that you take notice, that every city, and every nation, that shall disobey any thing that is contained in this epistle, shall be destroyed by fire and sword. However, let this epistle be published through all the country that is under our obedience, and let all the Jews, by all means, be ready against the day before mentioned, that they may avenge themselves upon their enemies."

1 The true reason why king Artaxerxes did not here properly revoke his former barbarous decree for the universal slaughter of the Jews, but only empowered and encouraged the Jews to fight for their lives, and to kill their enemies, if they attempted their destruction, seems to have been that old law of the Medes and Persians, not yet laid aside, that whatever decree was signed both by the king and his lords could not be changed, but remained unalterable, Daniel 6:7-9, 12, 15, 17; Esther 1:19; 8:8. And Haman having engrossed the royal favor might perhaps have himself signed this decree for the Jews' slaughter instead of the ancient lords, and so might have rendered it by their rules irrevocable.

2 These words give an intimation as if Artaxerxes suspected a deeper design in Haman than openly appeared, viz. that knowing the Jews would be faithful to him, and that he could never transfer the crown to his own family, who was an Agagite, Esther 3:1, 10, or of the posterity of Agag, the old king of the Amalekites, 1 Samuel 15:8, 32, 33, while they were alive, and spread over all his dominions, he therefore endeavored to destroy them. Nor is it to me improbable that those seventy-five thousand eight hundred of the Jews' enemies which were soon destroyed by the Jews, on the permission of the king, which must be on some great occasion, were Amalekites, their old and hereditary enemies, Exodus 17:14, 15; and that thereby was fulfilled Balaam's prophecy, "Amalek was the first of the nations, but his latter end shall be, that he perish for ever" Numbers 24:20.

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