Monday, October 31, 2016

Esther 9

This is a story of the ultimate victory of the needy. When I was meditating on this chapter I could not see past the vengeance and I had not yet translated the first two verses. Yesterday the lectionary Psalm was 149. The Psalms have a bracket encompassing the whole book from 2 to 149. It is a bracket of vengeance. In the Psalter taken as a whole, however, it is clear that violent vengeance is not the solution to anything.

I found this one of the more difficult chapters this year.
Esther 9 Min Max
וּבִשְׁנֵים֩ עָשָׂ֨ר חֹ֜דֶשׁ הוּא־חֹ֣דֶשׁ אֲדָ֗ר בִּשְׁלוֹשָׁ֨ה עָשָׂ֥ר יוֹם֙ בּ֔וֹ אֲשֶׁ֨ר הִגִּ֧יעַ דְּבַר־הַמֶּ֛לֶךְ וְדָת֖וֹ לְהֵעָשׂ֑וֹת
בַּיּ֗וֹם אֲשֶׁ֨ר שִׂבְּר֜וּ אֹיְבֵ֤י הַיְּהוּדִים֙ לִשְׁל֣וֹט בָּהֶ֔ם וְנַהֲפ֣וֹךְ ה֔וּא אֲשֶׁ֨ר יִשְׁלְט֧וּ הַיְּהוּדִ֛ים הֵ֖מָּה בְּשֹׂנְאֵיהֶֽם
1 And in the twelfth new moon (this is the month of Adar) on its thirteenth day, that the word of the king and the dictate touched that it should be done,
in the day that the enemies of the Judeans relied on having authority among them, (but it was overturned such that the Judeans had authority among those hating them),
3c 4C 36
34
נִקְהֲל֨וּ הַיְּהוּדִ֜ים בְּעָרֵיהֶ֗ם בְּכָל־מְדִינוֹת֙ הַמֶּ֣לֶךְ אֳחַשְׁוֵר֔וֹשׁ לִשְׁלֹ֣חַ יָ֔ד בִּמְבַקְשֵׁ֖י רָֽעָתָ֑ם
וְאִישׁ֙ לֹא־עָמַ֣ד לִפְנֵיהֶ֔ם כִּֽי־נָפַ֥ל פַּחְדָּ֖ם עַל־כָּל־הָעַמִּֽים
2 The Judeans convened in their cities in all the provinces of the king Ahasuerus to extend a hand among those who sought their hurt,
and no-one stood before them for their dread fell over all the peoples.
3e 4B 32
16
וְכָל־שָׂרֵ֨י הַמְּדִינ֜וֹת וְהָאֲחַשְׁדַּרְפְּנִ֣ים וְהַפַּח֗וֹת וְעֹשֵׂ֤י הַמְּלָאכָה֙ אֲשֶׁ֣ר לַמֶּ֔לֶךְ מְנַשְּׂאִ֖ים אֶת־הַיְּהוּדִ֑ים
כִּֽי־נָפַ֥ל פַּֽחַד־מָרְדֳּכַ֖י עֲלֵיהֶֽם
3 And all the nobles of the provinces, the satraps and the viceroys, and those plying the lines of work that belonged to the king, bore with the Judeans,
for the dread of Mordecai fell on them.
3e 4C 36
10
כִּֽי־גָ֤דוֹל מָרְדֳּכַי֙ בְּבֵ֣ית הַמֶּ֔לֶךְ וְשָׁמְע֖וֹ הוֹלֵ֣ךְ בְּכָל־הַמְּדִינ֑וֹת כִּֽי־הָאִ֥ישׁ מָרְדֳּכַ֖י הוֹלֵ֥ךְ וְגָדֽוֹל פ 4 For great was Mordecai in the house of the king and his fame had gone into all provinces,
for the man Mordecai traveled and was great.
3e 4C 31
0
וַיַּכּ֤וּ הַיְּהוּדִים֙ בְּכָל־אֹ֣יְבֵיהֶ֔ם מַכַּת־חֶ֥רֶב וְהֶ֖רֶג וְאַבְדָ֑ן
וַיַּֽעֲשׂ֥וּ בְשֹׂנְאֵיהֶ֖ם כִּרְצוֹנָֽם
5 And the Judeans struck against all their enemies with the strike of sword, and slaying and perishing.
And they did against those hating them according as they found acceptance with them.
3e 4C 21
11
וּבְשׁוּשַׁ֣ן הַבִּירָ֗ה הָרְג֤וּ הַיְּהוּדִים֙ וְאַבֵּ֔ד חֲמֵ֥שׁ מֵא֖וֹת אִֽישׁ 6 And in Shushan the temple precincts, the Judeans slew and eliminated five hundred such. 3e 4C 19
וְאֵ֧ת ׀ פַּרְשַׁנְדָּ֛תָא וְאֵ֥ת ׀ דַּֽלְפ֖וֹן וְאֵ֥ת ׀ אַסְפָּֽתָא 7 including Parshandatha, and Dalphon, and Aspatha, 3c 3g 15
וְאֵ֧ת ׀ פּוֹרָ֛תָא וְאֵ֥ת ׀ אֲדַלְיָ֖א וְאֵ֥ת ׀ אֲרִידָֽתָא 8 And Poratha, and Adalia, and Aridatha, 3c 3g 16
וְאֵ֤ת ׀ פַּרְמַ֙שְׁתָּא֙ וְאֵ֣ת ׀ אֲרִיסַ֔י וְאֵ֥ת ׀ אֲרִדַ֖י וְאֵ֥ת ׀ וַיְזָֽתָא 9 And Parmashta, and Arisai, and Aridai, and Vajezatha, 3e 4C 20
עֲ֠שֶׂרֶת בְּנֵ֨י הָמָ֧ן בֶּֽן־הַמְּדָ֛תָא צֹרֵ֥ר הַיְּהוּדִ֖ים הָרָ֑גוּ
וּבַ֨בִּזָּ֔ה לֹ֥א שָׁלְח֖וּ אֶת־יָדָֽם
10 Ten children of Haman, child of Hammedatha the adversary of the Judeans, they slew.
But in the looting they did not extend their hands.
3c 4A 19
10
בַּיּ֣וֹם הַה֗וּא בָּ֣א מִסְפַּ֧ר הַֽהֲרוּגִ֛ים בְּשׁוּשַׁ֥ן הַבִּירָ֖ה לִפְנֵ֥י הַמֶּֽלֶךְ 11 In that day the count of the slain in Shushan the temple precincts came before the king. 3c 4B 22
וַיֹּ֨אמֶר הַמֶּ֜לֶךְ לְאֶסְתֵּ֣ר הַמַּלְכָּ֗ה בְּשׁוּשַׁ֣ן הַבִּירָ֡ה הָרְגוּ֩ הַיְּהוּדִ֨ים וְאַבֵּ֜ד חֲמֵ֧שׁ מֵא֣וֹת אִ֗ישׁ וְאֵת֙ עֲשֶׂ֣רֶת בְּנֵֽי־הָמָ֔ן בִּשְׁאָ֛ר מְדִינ֥וֹת הַמֶּ֖לֶךְ מֶ֣ה עָשׂ֑וּ
וּמַה־שְּׁאֵֽלָתֵךְ֙ וְיִנָּ֣תֵֽן לָ֔ךְ וּמַה־בַּקָּשָׁתֵ֥ךְ ע֖וֹד וְתֵעָֽשׂ
12 And the king said to Esther the queen, In Shushan the temple precincts, the Judeans slew and eliminated five hundred such, and ten children of Haman.
In the residue of the provinces of the king, what have they done, or what is your request, and it will be given to you, or what is your further demand and it will be done?
3c 4B 50
21
וַתֹּ֤אמֶר אֶסְתֵּר֙ אִם־עַל־הַמֶּ֣לֶךְ ט֔וֹב יִנָּתֵ֣ן גַּם־מָחָ֗ר לַיְּהוּדִים֙ אֲשֶׁ֣ר בְּשׁוּשָׁ֔ן לַעֲשׂ֖וֹת כְּדָ֣ת הַיּ֑וֹם
וְאֵ֛ת עֲשֶׂ֥רֶת בְּנֵֽי־הָמָ֖ן יִתְל֥וּ עַל־הָעֵֽץ
13 And Esther said, If to the king it is good, let be given even tomorrow for Judeans that are in Shushan to do according to dictate today,
and let ten children of Haman be hung on the tree.
3d 4C 32
13
וַיֹּ֤אמֶר הַמֶּ֙לֶךְ֙ לְהֵֽעָשׂ֣וֹת כֵּ֔ן וַתִּנָּתֵ֥ן דָּ֖ת בְּשׁוּשָׁ֑ן
וְאֵ֛ת עֲשֶׂ֥רֶת בְּנֵֽי־הָמָ֖ן תָּלֽוּ
14 And the king said that it should be so done. And a dictate was given in Shushan.
And ten children of Haman they hanged.
3d 4C 19
10
וַיִּֽקָּהֲל֞וּ הַיְּהוּדִ֣ים אֲשֶׁר־בְּשׁוּשָׁ֗ן גַּ֠ם בְּי֣וֹם אַרְבָּעָ֤ה עָשָׂר֙ לְחֹ֣דֶשׁ אֲדָ֔ר וַיַּֽהַרְג֣וּ בְשׁוּשָׁ֔ן שְׁלֹ֥שׁ מֵא֖וֹת אִ֑ישׁ
וּבַ֨בִּזָּ֔ה לֹ֥א שָׁלְח֖וּ אֶת־יָדָֽם
15 And the Judeans that were in Shushan convened also on the fourteenth day of the month of Adar and they slew in Shushan three hundred such,
but in the looting they did not extend their hands.
3e 4C 38
10
וּשְׁאָ֣ר הַיְּהוּדִ֡ים אֲשֶׁר֩ בִּמְדִינ֨וֹת הַמֶּ֜לֶךְ נִקְהֲל֣וּ ׀ וְעָמֹ֣ד עַל־נַפְשָׁ֗ם וְנ֙וֹחַ֙ מֵאֹ֣יְבֵיהֶ֔ם וְהָרֹג֙ בְּשֹׂ֣נְאֵיהֶ֔ם חֲמִשָּׁ֥ה וְשִׁבְעִ֖ים אָ֑לֶף
וּבַ֨בִּזָּ֔ה לֹ֥א שָֽׁלְח֖וּ אֶת־יָדָֽם
16 And the residue of the Judeans who were in the provinces of the king convened and stood for their very selves and had rest from their enemies, and slew among those hating them, seventy five thousand,
but in the looting they did not extend their hands,
3e 4B 44
10
בְּיוֹם־שְׁלֹשָׁ֥ה עָשָׂ֖ר לְחֹ֣דֶשׁ אֲדָ֑ר
וְנ֗וֹחַ בְּאַרְבָּעָ֤ה עָשָׂר֙ בּ֔וֹ וְעָשֹׂ֣ה אֹת֔וֹ י֖וֹם מִשְׁתֶּ֥ה וְשִׂמְחָֽה
17 on the thirteenth day of the month of Adar,
and had rest on the fourteenth, and made it a day of partying and gladness.
3e 4C 12
21
וְהַיְּהוּדִ֣ים אֲשֶׁר־בְּשׁוּשָׁ֗ן נִקְהֲלוּ֙ בִּשְׁלֹשָׁ֤ה עָשָׂר֙ בּ֔וֹ וּבְאַרְבָּעָ֥ה עָשָׂ֖ר בּ֑וֹ
וְנ֗וֹחַ בַּחֲמִשָּׁ֤ה עָשָׂר֙ בּ֔וֹ וְעָשֹׂ֣ה אֹת֔וֹ י֖וֹם מִשְׁתֶּ֥ה וְשִׂמְחָֽה
18 And the Judeans that were in Shushan convened on the thirteenth and on the fourteenth,
and had rest on the fifteenth and made it a day of partying and gladness.
3e 4C 25
21
עַל־כֵּ֞ן הַיְּהוּדִ֣ים הַפְּרָזִ֗ים הַיֹּשְׁבִים֮ בְּעָרֵ֣י הַפְּרָזוֹת֒ עֹשִׂ֗ים אֵ֠ת י֣וֹם אַרְבָּעָ֤ה עָשָׂר֙ לְחֹ֣דֶשׁ אֲדָ֔ר שִׂמְחָ֥ה וּמִשְׁתֶּ֖ה וְי֣וֹם ט֑וֹב וּמִשְׁל֥וֹחַ מָנ֖וֹת אִ֥ישׁ לְרֵעֵֽהוּ פ 19 So the Judeans of the hamlets, those inhabiting in cities of the hamlets, made the fourteenth day of the month of Adar one of gladness and partying, and a good day,
and one of sending portions each to his associate.
3e 4C 51
0
וַיִּכְתֹּ֣ב מָרְדֳּכַ֔י אֶת־הַדְּבָרִ֖ים הָאֵ֑לֶּה
וַיִּשְׁלַ֨ח סְפָרִ֜ים אֶל־כָּל־הַיְּהוּדִ֗ים אֲשֶׁר֙ בְּכָל־מְדִינוֹת֙ הַמֶּ֣לֶךְ אֲחַשְׁוֵר֔וֹשׁ הַקְּרוֹבִ֖ים וְהָרְחוֹקִֽים
20 So Mordecai wrote these words,
and he had correspondence sent to all the Judeans that are in all the provinces of the king Ahasuerus those near and those who were far,
3e 4B 13
32
לְקַיֵּם֮ עֲלֵיהֶם֒ לִהְי֣וֹת עֹשִׂ֗ים אֵ֠ת י֣וֹם אַרְבָּעָ֤ה עָשָׂר֙ לְחֹ֣דֶשׁ אֲדָ֔ר וְאֵ֛ת יוֹם־חֲמִשָּׁ֥ה עָשָׂ֖ר בּ֑וֹ
בְּכָל־שָׁנָ֖ה וְשָׁנָֽה
21 To place on them that they should do the fourteenth day of the month of Adar and the fifteenth day,
for every year by year,
3d 4C 31
7
כַּיָּמִ֗ים אֲשֶׁר־נָ֨חוּ בָהֶ֤ם הַיְּהוּדִים֙ מֵא֣וֹיְבֵיהֶ֔ם וְהַחֹ֗דֶשׁ אֲשֶׁר֩ נֶהְפַּ֨ךְ לָהֶ֤ם מִיָּגוֹן֙ לְשִׂמְחָ֔ה וּמֵאֵ֖בֶל לְי֣וֹם ט֑וֹב
לַעֲשׂ֣וֹת אוֹתָ֗ם יְמֵי֙ מִשְׁתֶּ֣ה וְשִׂמְחָ֔ה וּמִשְׁל֤וֹחַ מָנוֹת֙ אִ֣ישׁ לְרֵעֵ֔הוּ וּמַתָּנ֖וֹת לָֽאֶבְיוֹנִֽים
22 As the days in which the Judeans had rest among them from their enemies, and the month which was changed for them from sadness to gladness, and from lament to a good day,
for them to make days of partying and gladness, and of sending portions each to his associate and endowments to the needy.
3e 4C 39
31
וְקִבֵּל֙ הַיְּהוּדִ֔ים אֵ֥ת אֲשֶׁר־הֵחֵ֖לּוּ לַעֲשׂ֑וֹת
וְאֵ֛ת אֲשֶׁר־כָּתַ֥ב מָרְדֳּכַ֖י אֲלֵיהֶֽם
23 And the Judeans subjected themselves to what they had commenced to do,
and that Mordecai had written to them.
3d 4A 15
12
כִּי֩ הָמָ֨ן בֶּֽן־הַמְּדָ֜תָא הָֽאֲגָגִ֗י צֹרֵר֙ כָּל־הַיְּהוּדִ֔ים חָשַׁ֥ב עַל־הַיְּהוּדִ֖ים לְאַבְּדָ֑ם
וְהִפִּ֥יל פּוּר֙ ה֣וּא הַגּוֹרָ֔ל לְהֻמָּ֖ם וּֽלְאַבְּדָֽם
24 For Haman child of Hammedatha the Agagite the adversary of all the Judeans, he had devised against the Judeans that they be eliminated,
and he had made Pur fall, (this is the dice) to confuse them and to eliminate them.
3e 4B 26
14
וּבְבֹאָהּ֮ לִפְנֵ֣י הַמֶּלֶךְ֒ אָמַ֣ר עִם־הַסֵּ֔פֶר יָשׁ֞וּב מַחֲשַׁבְתּ֧וֹ הָרָעָ֛ה אֲשֶׁר־חָשַׁ֥ב עַל־הַיְּהוּדִ֖ים עַל־רֹאשׁ֑וֹ
וְתָל֥וּ אֹת֛וֹ וְאֶת־בָּנָ֖יו עַל־הָעֵֽץ
25 And when she came before the king, he said with correspondence, his device, the evil that he had devised against the Judeans, will turn on his head,
and hanged him and his children on the tree.
3c 4B 34
12
עַל־כֵּ֡ן קָֽרְאוּ֩ לַיָּמִ֨ים הָאֵ֤לֶּה פוּרִים֙ עַל־שֵׁ֣ם הַפּ֔וּר עַל־כֵּ֕ן עַל־כָּל־דִּבְרֵ֖י הָאִגֶּ֣רֶת הַזֹּ֑את
וּמָֽה־רָא֣וּ עַל־כָּ֔כָה וּמָ֥ה הִגִּ֖יעַ אֲלֵיהֶֽם
26 Therefore they call these days Purim, from the name of Pur. Therefore over all the words of this letter,
or what they had seen thus, or what had touched them,
3e 4C 28
15
קִיְּמ֣וּ וְקִבְּל֣וּ הַיְּהוּדִים֩ ׀ עֲלֵיהֶ֨ם ׀ וְעַל־זַרְעָ֜ם וְעַ֨ל כָּל־הַנִּלְוִ֤ים עֲלֵיהֶם֙ וְלֹ֣א יַעֲב֔וֹר לִהְי֣וֹת עֹשִׂ֗ים אֵ֣ת שְׁנֵ֤י הַיָּמִים֙ הָאֵ֔לֶּה כִּכְתָבָ֖ם וְכִזְמַנָּ֑ם
בְּכָל־שָׁנָ֖ה וְשָׁנָֽה
27 the Judeans upheld and subjected on them, and on their seed, and on all those allied on them that it should not pass away, that it should be made these two days according to their writing and according to their season,
in every year, by year.
3e 4C 49
7
וְהַיָּמִ֣ים הָ֠אֵלֶּה נִזְכָּרִ֨ים וְנַעֲשִׂ֜ים בְּכָל־דּ֣וֹר וָד֗וֹר מִשְׁפָּחָה֙ וּמִשְׁפָּחָ֔ה מְדִינָ֥ה וּמְדִינָ֖ה וְעִ֣יר וָעִ֑יר
וִימֵ֞י הַפּוּרִ֣ים הָאֵ֗לֶּה לֹ֤א יַֽעַבְרוּ֙ מִתּ֣וֹךְ הַיְּהוּדִ֔ים וְזִכְרָ֖ם לֹא־יָס֥וּף מִזַּרְעָֽם ס
28 And these days should be remembered and undertaken in every generation, by generation, family by family, province by province, and city by city,
so these days of Purim should not pass from the midst of the Judeans and the memorial not be concluded among their seed.
3e 4C 36
26
וַ֠תִּכְתֹּב אֶסְתֵּ֨ר הַמַּלְכָּ֧ה בַת־אֲבִיחַ֛יִל וּמָרְדֳּכַ֥י הַיְּהוּדִ֖י אֶת־כָּל־תֹּ֑קֶף
לְקַיֵּ֗ם אֵ֣ת אִגֶּ֧רֶת הַפּוּרִ֛ים הַזֹּ֖את הַשֵּׁנִֽית
29 And Esther the queen, daughter of Abihail, wrote and Mordecai the Judean, with all energy,
to uphold this second letter of Purim.
3c 4B 24
15
וַיִּשְׁלַ֨ח סְפָרִ֜ים אֶל־כָּל־הַיְּהוּדִ֗ים אֶל־שֶׁ֨בַע וְעֶשְׂרִ֤ים וּמֵאָה֙ מְדִינָ֔ה מַלְכ֖וּת אֲחַשְׁוֵר֑וֹשׁ
דִּבְרֵ֥י שָׁל֖וֹם וֶאֱמֶֽת
30 And he had correspondence sent to all the Judeans, to seven hundred and twenty one provinces of the kingdom of Ahasuerus,
speaking peace and truth.
3e 4C 29
7
לְקַיֵּ֡ם אֵת־יְמֵי֩ הַפֻּרִ֨ים הָאֵ֜לֶּה בִּזְמַנֵּיהֶ֗ם כַּאֲשֶׁר֩ קִיַּ֨ם עֲלֵיהֶ֜ם מָרְדֳּכַ֤י הַיְּהוּדִי֙ וְאֶסְתֵּ֣ר הַמַּלְכָּ֔ה וְכַאֲשֶׁ֛ר קִיְּמ֥וּ עַל־נַפְשָׁ֖ם וְעַל־זַרְעָ֑ם
דִּבְרֵ֥י הַצֹּמ֖וֹת וְזַעֲקָתָֽם
31 To place these days of Purim in their season as Mordecai the Judean and Esther the queen had placed on them, and as they had placed on their very selves and on their seed,
the matters of their fastings and their appeal.
3d 4C 49
10
וּמַאֲמַ֣ר אֶסְתֵּ֔ר קִיַּ֕ם דִּבְרֵ֥י הַפֻּרִ֖ים הָאֵ֑לֶּה
וְנִכְתָּ֖ב בַּסֵּֽפֶר
32 And the saying of Esther upholds these matters of Purim,
and it is written in the book.
3e 4B 16
6

When one is given a design document, if one is going to take it seriously, one must press at its weak points. So also with one's own reading. What do you dislike? What makes you really uncomfortable? Here is where you stand to learn something if you can step back from the obvious distaste of the piece.

I have done it. But I have not learned here to live with my discomfort. This apparent replay of deadly force and admittedly necessary self-defense leaves me cold. The farce in the first chapter and the vengeance read into this chapter are distinctly distasteful.

Lord, your story here is not good. What is my problem with it? Simple: there is no redemption. There is no recognition of complicity.

But don't you then blame the victim? 

I have no desire to do that. But perhaps it is that I am so dependent on the deadly force of others that I fail to see other possibilities. I see daily the impact of deadly force. I hear lies everywhere. I see no solution. Though I believe in the sacrifice that is for the sins of the whole world, I do not see its impact where it is needed, in the halls of violence, power, and money.

I am empty here. Though I would show mercy to all, even to myself, I find this resolution in this story without social or moral merit.

Did I not empty myself?

Yes. And I see this story is about human dictates under your seal and you have left the resolution to the humans, Haman and Mordecai through the intercession of Esther. The threat, and the repayment seem to allow self-defense, but this does not represent your resolution. I have to question your character as it seems to be revealed here in the cypher of the king. It seems an ultimate almost irresponsible delegation of authority. But you were smitten by Esther as you loved her ancestors. Unfathomable. You did not abdicate but you allowed first one then the other precedence. What makes them different?

Who do you want to win? the gladness that respects life or the pleasure that seeks death?

Where then did that seeking of death come from? From your abdication in the heart?

There you have it. Evil has full access to me. So uphole the good which likewise has full access through its own preferential option for the needy. The king is biased, and a jealous rival, as you know. And you might remember what you have learned about Saul's failure with Agag and not forget fasting and appeal.

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