The power shift is seamless. Haman is dead, Mordechai get’s the king’s ring, and all the authority that comes with it. “And Esther resume speaking before the king, and she fell before his feet, and she wept and beseeched him to avert the harm of Haman the Agagite and his device that he had plotted against the Jews (Esther 8:3).” Sadly, because the king is thought to be infallible, his orders can’t actually be rescinded, and he did agree to the murder of the Jews of Persia. So instead, they find a workaround, which manifests in the arming of all of the Jewish communities so they can defend themselves. The Jews are given leave to attack those who would oppress them, and the whole community is thrilled with this. “And in every province and in every city, wherever the king’s order and his edict reached, [there was] joy and gladness for the Jews, a banquet and a festive day, and many of the peoples of the land became Jews because the fear of the Jews was upon them (Esther 8:17).”
Ugh. There’s such a tension in this chapter. On the one hand, everyone is safe and can defend themselves, and there’s a party. I remember learning about all of those pieces, and it’s great. But then things seem to reach the peak and go just a bit too far when the people go on the offensive and apparently invoke fear in the people of Persia. It’s hard to maintain sympathy once they become the aggressors, particularly seeing that they know all too well what it’s like to be on the receiving end of a mob. Once we know what it’s like to be the victims, shouldn’t we behave in a more humane way once we’re the power force?