So on March 7 a the two decrees of the king were put into effect. On that day, the enemies of the Jews had hoped to destroy them, but quite the opposite happened.
The Jews gathered in their cities throughout all the king's provinces to defend themselves against anyone who might try to harm them. But no one could make a stand against them, for everyone was afraid of them.
And all the commanders of the provinces, the princes, the governors, and the royal officials helped the Jews for fear of Mordecai.
For Mordecai had been promoted in the king's palace, and his fame spread throughout all the provinces as he became more and more powerful.
But the Jews went ahead on the appointed day and struck down their enemies with the sword. They killed and annihilated their enemies and did as they pleased with those who hated them.
They killed five hundred people in the fortress of Susa.
They also killed Parshandatha, Dalphon, Aspatha,
Poratha, Adalia, Aridatha,
Parmashta, Arisai, Aridai, and Vaizatha --
the ten sons of Haman son of Hammedatha, the enemy of the Jews. But they did not take any plunder.
That evening, when the king was informed of the number of people killed in the fortress of Susa,
he called for Queen Esther and said, "The Jews have killed five hundred people in the fortress of Susa alone and also Haman's ten sons. If they have done that here, what has happened in the rest of the provinces? But now, what more do you want? It will be granted to you; tell me and I will do it."
And Esther said, "If it please Your Majesty, give the Jews in Susa permission to do again tomorrow as they have done today, and have the bodies of Haman's ten sons hung from the gallows.b"
So the king agreed, and the decree was announced in Susa. They also hung the bodies of Haman's ten sons from the gallows.
Then the Jews at Susa gathered together on March 8 c and killed three hundred more people, though again they took no plunder.
Meanwhile, the other Jews throughout the king's provinces had gathered together to defend their lives. They gained relief from all their enemies, killing seventy-five thousand of those who hated them. But they did not take any plunder.
Throughout the provinces this was done on March 7. d Then on the following day e they rested, celebrating their victory with a day of feasting and gladness.
But the Jews at Susa continued killing their enemies on the second day also, and then rested on the third day, f making that their day of feasting and gladness.
So to this day, rural Jews living in unwalled villages celebrate an annual festival and holiday in late winter, g when they rejoice and send gifts to each other.
Mordecai recorded these events and sent letters to the Jews near and far, throughout all the king's provinces,
encouraging them to celebrate an annual festival on these two days.
He told them to celebrate these days with feasting and gladness and by giving gifts to each other and to the poor. This would commemorate a time when the Jews gained relief from their enemies, when their sorrow was turned into gladness and their mourning into joy.
So the Jews adopted Mordecai's suggestion and began this annual custom.
Haman son of Hammedatha the Agagite, the enemy of the Jews, had plotted to crush and destroy them on the day and month determined by casting lots (the lots were called purim).
But when Esther came before the king, he issued a decree causing Haman's evil plot to backfire, and Haman and his sons were hanged on the gallows.
(That is why this celebration is called Purim, because it is the ancient word for casting lots.) So because of Mordecai's letter and because of what they had experienced,
the Jews throughout the realm agreed to inaugurate this tradition and to pass it on to their descendants and to all who became Jews. They declared they would never fail to celebrate these two prescribed days at the appointed time each year.
These days would be remembered and kept from generation to generation and celebrated by every family throughout the provinces and cities of the empire. These days would never cease to be celebrated among the Jews, nor would the memory of what happened ever die out among their descendants.
Then Queen Esther, the daughter of Abihail, along with Mordecai the Jew, wrote another letter putting the queen's full authority behind Mordecai's letter to establish the Festival of Purim.
In addition, letters wishing peace and security were sent to the Jews throughout the 127 provinces of the empire of Xerxes.
These letters established the Festival of Purim -- an annual celebration of these days at the appointed time, decreed by both Mordecai the Jew and Queen Esther. (The people decided to observe this festival, just as they had decided for themselves and their descendants to establish the times of fasting and mourning.)
So the command of Esther confirmed the practices of Purim, and it was all written down in the records.
Scripture quotations marked NLT are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved. (New Living Translation - The Bible Online)