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hated them. In the city of Shushan they slew and destroyed five hundred men, among them the ten sons of Haman. The king informed Esther what destruction had been made at Shushan, and infers from it how great that destruction must be in the other parts of the empire, and then adds, "Now what is thy petition ? and it shall be granted thee: or what is thy request farther? and it shall be done.” The queen had probably reason to think that some of their most malignant enemies had withdrawn themselves for that day, and requests that the same permission be granted to the Jews in Shushan for the next day; and that the bodies of the ten sons of Haman, who had been slain, should be hanged upon the gallows. This was granted, and on the fourteenth day the Jews in Shushan slew three hundred more of their enemies. But the Jews in the other parts of the kingdom performed their whole work on the thirteenth, and slew seventy-five thousand of their foes. But they laid not their hands on the prey: they would show to all, that it was their safety, and that alone, that they sought; and they would gladly give the spoil into the king's treasuries, as an acknowledgment of gratitude for their deliverance. But they must, above all, render thanks to the God of Israel, who had thus marvellously appeared for their help; and the Jews in Shushan kept the fifteenth day, and those of the other provinces the fourteenth day of the month Adar, as a day of feasting and gladness, and a good day, and of sending portions one to another, and gifts to the poor. And Mordecai wrote an account of these things, and sent into all the king's provinces, with counsel to all the Jews to keep the fourteenth and fifteenth days of the month Adar, from year to year, as a feast, in commemoration of these events. And they called them the days of Purim, or of the lot, that their very name might bring to mind the great danger from which they had been delivered. This feast was to be kept from generation to generation ; and it is said that the Jews used to observe the first of these days with fasting and crying, and other expres
sions of vehement grief and fear, and the latter with feasting and thanksgiving, and all demonstrations of joy and triumph.
Who, in reading this story, can fail to admire the lovely character of Esther? It charms us the more, because the sacred writer seems to be at no pains to set forth any of her virtues. But where do we ever discover such a union of youth with wisdom, of beauty with modesty, of courage with delicacy and refinement, of high elevation with humble obedience, and, more than all, of deep piety and devotion amidst the splendors of a magnificent, gay, and heathen court ?
Who that observes the elevation and fall of Haman, will not be afraid of the first indulgence of pride, which is the root of all sin, and which brings down God's heaviest judgments ?
Above all, who that reads this story will not desire to fall in with the main design of the sacred writer, and, admiring God's ways toward his people, cast in his lot with them, and make the God of Israel his God?