Reflection for Today ▶️ ⏩ ⏹️
Illustration from The Amsterdam Scroll of Esther 1700, artist unknown.
Thus the Jews smote all their enemies with the stroke of the sword, and slaughter, and destruction, and did what they would unto those that hated them.
— Esther 9:5
One would have thought that foiling Haman's plan, and saving the entire Jewish citizenship from annihilation would have been reward enough for Mordecai and Esther, but sadly the story takes an ugly turn. The Israelites, it turns out, are not above redemptive violence themselves. Esther commands the death, firstly of Haman's ten sons, then 500 of his followers. Not being satisfied with this she goes on to issue orders to kill more and more of the 'enemy'—quite likely most being innocent of any plot. This is a bloodbath, with over 75,000 people slaughtered by the Jews. The only redeeming feature of this genocide is that the Jews take no plunder.1 This of course lifts the attackers in their own eyes to a position of holiness, a self-righteous edge, so perhaps not so redeeming after all, but rather a cynical use of God to justify violence and revenge. This is a familiar pattern we see today in wars around the world. With God as our honorary general we can't possibly be in the wrong, therefore our war must be righteous, and necessary.
1 Esther 9:16