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7.39 Esther -- Xerxes

And Xerxes was the enabler of injustice.  This book paints a very unflattering picture of this absolute ruler, who like Darius after him (Dan 6) allowed himself to be manipulated (and bribed) into sanctioning injustice.  Haman paid him 10,000 talents of silver for permission to destroy all the Jews throughout his empire (Est 3:9).  A particular date was set on which this sentence was to be carried out, and the king’s edict was distributed to all the governors.


The proclamation of this policy set the stage for the rest of the book, and for Esther’s heroic intervention.  But while the book portrays Haman as the embodiment of evil, it whitewashes the king’s conduct by later showing him as the faithful and ardent husband of his Jewish wife.  This is not accurate: it was the king’s own greed and lack of concern for his own subjects that allowed Haman’s plot to almost succeed.


If a tiger in a zoo gets out of his cage and mauls people, there is no point in blaming the tiger:  it is his nature to be wily and aggressive.  The fault is not with the tiger, but with the keeper who was careless or ignorant or lazy, and allowed the tiger to escape.  It was King Xerxes' responsibility to keep the tigers locked up and protect his innocent and powerless subjects.  The Bible shows him to be not only proud, but also corrupt and irresponsible.


Xerxes was perhaps distracted by his invasion of Greece, for it was during this same time period that he launched an all-out attack on that nation.  The Greeks were greatly outnumbered, but made a heroic stand at Thermopylae, and defeated the Persians in the naval battle of Salamis (480).  Xerxes and all his forces retreated to their own country.

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