Commentary on the Bible, by Adam Clarke, , at sacred-texts.com
On the thirteenth of the month Adar the Jews destroy their enemies, and the governors of the provinces assist them, Est 9:1-5. They slay five hundred in Shushan, and kill the ten sons of Haman, but take no spoil, Est 9:6-10. The king is informed of the slaughter in Shushan, Est 9:11. He desires to know what Esther requests farther; who begs that the Jews may be permitted to act on the following day as they had done on the preceding, and that Haman's sons may be hanged upon the gallows; which is granted; and they slay three hundred more in Shushan, and in the other provinces seventy-five thousand, Est 9:12-16. A recapitulation of what was done; and of the appointment of the feast of Purim to be observed through all their generations every year, Est 9:17-28. Esther writes to confirm this appointment, Est 9:29-32.
Now in the twelfth month - What a number of providences, and none of them apparently of an extraordinary nature, concurred to preserve a people so signally, and to all human appearance so inevitably, doomed to destruction! None are ever too low for God to lift up, or too high for God to cast down. Must not these heathens have observed that the uncontrollable hand of an Almighty Being had worked in behalf of the Jews? And must not this have had a powerful tendency to discredit the idolatry of the country?
And all the rulers of the provinces - Mordecai being raised to the highest confidence of the king, and to have authority over the whole realm, these officers assisted the Jews, no doubt, with the troops under their command, to overthrow those who availed themselves of the former decree to molest the Jews. For it does not appear that the Jews slew any person who did not rise up to destroy them. See Est 9:5.
And in Shushan - It is strange that in this city, where the king's mind must have been so well known, there should be found five hundred persons to rise up in hostility against those whom they knew the king befriended!
The ten sons of Haman - Their names are given above. And it is remarked here, and in Est 9:16, where the account is given of the number slain in the provinces, that the Jews laid no hands on the spoil. They stood for their lives, and gave full proof that they sought their own personal safety, and not the property of their enemies, though the decree in their favor gave them authority to take the property of all those who were their adversaries, Est 8:11.
Let Haman's ten sons be hanged - They had been slain the preceding day, and now she requests that they may be exposed on posts or gibbets, as a terror to those who sought the destruction of the Jews.
And slew three hundred men - Esther had probably been informed by Mordecai that there were still many enemies of the Jews who sought their destruction, who had escaped the preceding day; and, therefore, begs that this second day be added to the former permission. This being accordingly granted, they found three hundred more, in all eight hundred. And thus Susa was purged of all their enemies.
The Jews - assembled - on the thirteenth - and on the fourteenth - These two days they were employed in slaying their enemies; and they rested on the fifteenth.
The Jews of the villages - They joined that to the preceding day, and made it a day of festivity, and of sending portions to each other; that is, the rich sent portions of the sacrifices slain on this occasion to the poor, that they also might be enabled to make the day a day of festivity; that as the sorrow was general, so also might the joy be.
It is worthy of remark that the ancient Itala or Ante-hieronymian version of this book omits the whole of these nineteen verses. Query, Were they originally in this book?
Mordecai wrote these things - It has been supposed that thus far that part of the book of Esther, which was written by Mordecai extends: what follows to the end, was probably added either by Ezra, or the men of the Great Synagogue; though what is said here may refer only to the letters sent by Mordecai to the Jews of the provinces. From this to the end of the chapter is nothing else than a recapitulation of the chief heads of the preceding history, and an account of the appointment of an annual feast, called the feast of Purim, in commemoration of their providential deliverance from the malice of Haman.
The Jews undertook to do as they had begun - They had already kept the fifteenth day, and some of them in the country the fourteenth also, as a day of rejoicing: Mordecai wrote to them to bind themselves and their successors, and all their proselytes, to celebrate this as an annual feast throughout all their generations; and this they undertook to do. And it has been observed among them, in all places of their dispersion, from that day to the present time, without any interruption.
They called these days Purim - That is from pari, the lot; because, as we have seen, Haman cast lots to find what month, and what day of the month, would be the most favorable for the accomplishment of his bloody designs against the Jews. See on Est 3:7 (note).
And of that which they had seen - The first letter to which this second refers, must be that sent by Mordecai himself. See Est 9:20.
Esther - wrote with all authority - Esther and Mordecai had the king's license so to do: and their own authority was great and extensive.
As they had decreed for themselves and for their seed - There is no mention of their receiving the approbation of any high priest, nor of any authority beyond that of Mordecai and Esther; the king could not join in such a business, as he had nothing to do with the Jewish religion, that not being the religion of the country.
The decree of Esther confirmed these matters - It was received by the Jews universally with all respect, and they bound themselves to abide by it.
The Vulgate gives a strange turn to this verse: Et omnia quae libri hujus, qui vocatur Esther, historia continentur; "And all things which are contained in the history of this book, which is called Esther."
The Targum says, And by the word of Esther all these things relative to Purim were confirmed; and the roll was transcribed in this book. The Syriac is the same as the Hebrew, and the Septuagint in this place not very different.