It was the day of reckoning. Nine months had passed since the Jews throughout Xerxes’ kingdom learned that their King really did have their best interests at heart. Nine months to sharpen their swords. Nine months to formulate strategies. Nine months preparing to defend themselves from a well publicized invasion. You would think, wouldn’t you, if you were planning to attack citizens who had that much time to organize and who had the full support of your own king, that it might be a good idea to sleep in come December 13th so you’d still be alive to enjoy December 14th?
Somehow, Haman’s original cohorts never got that memo. So when the time came to attack, they did a little high five in the city center, kissed their women goodbye, jumped on their horses to go commit some genocide, and planned to be back in time for dinner. They chose poorly, Grasshopper. And there were a lot of empty chairs at the supper table in Xerxesville that night.
The Jews had the upper hand in every way imaginable. Their enemies attacked them with fear in their hearts and doubt in their minds, despite their boasts. That alone was their death knell. The invaders had no support from their government in this fiasco because the King’s advisers had thrown their allegiance in with the King’s new right hand man, Mordecai. Smart move. Those weaklings knew which side their bread was buttered on and, typical politicians that they were, everything always boiled down to bread with them. Mordecai’s reputation as a good and powerful man was legendary throughout the King’s lands. The truth was, the officials were all afraid of Mordecai, so they turned their backs on their troops and hid out in the back rooms of the palace until the skirmish was over.
At the end of that fateful day, the reports of the Jews’ victory over their enemies was incredible. Right there in downtown Xerxesille alone, they massacred five hundred men. They also killed the ten wretched sons of Haman the Horrible, who’d already met his Maker and didn’t make a very good first impression with Him. They took no captives, showed no mercy, and made short work of the threat to their homes and families. But they took no plunder from their enemies. They did only what was necessary to protect themselves and those they loved.
That evening, the King marveled at the success of the day’s Shock and Awe Campaign. Talking with Queen Esther, he said,
“Five hundred and ten men alone were killed right outside our door today! Can you imagine how many were killed throughout my entire kingdom? We may have a shortage of eligible bachelors around here for a while! I gotta give it to ya, though. You sure know how to clean up the riff raff. Is there anything else you want, sweet thing?”
“Well, if it’s all right with you, honey,” she answered sweetly, “tell the Jews they’ll be on a high alert again tomorrow—and since the apples didn’t fall far from the tree, display the bodies of Haman’s ten sons in the courtyard the same way his was.” (Like how I got around that description again?)
Xerxes mouth fell open. “Guess hell hath no fury like a woman scorned,” he thought.
So the Jews went at it again. On December 14th they wiped out another three hundred men in downtown Xerxesville. But they took no plunder. And neither did the rest of their countrymen. What they took were the lives of 75,000 invaders, and when it was over the Jews were free of oppression.
The Jews in the countryside were a little more efficient at exterminating pests than those in the city, and got the job done the very first day. That freed up December 14th for celebrating their first Independence Day. They ate hot dogs (kosher, of course) and potato salad and set off fireworks . . . probably. It’s a funny thing, though. They didn’t take any loot from their enemies. Yet, to this day, they exchange gifts when they remember and celebrate their victory. The only thing they wanted from their enemies was freedom. And they honored it with sacrificial giving to others.
Meanwhile, the city folk didn’t get to party until December 15th, but what’s wrong with that? We’d all be a lot happier if every national holiday was stretched out over two days.
Mordecai wrote down every detail for the benefit of posterity. Then he mailed letters, stamped with approval by Queen Esther, to all 127 counties in Xerxes’ kingdom, instructing them to make December 14th and 15th an annual holiday. He left the details up to them, but insisted that they celebrate big time the anniversary of their deliverance from their enemies with potluck socials and donating clothes and toys to homeless shelters. Gratitude begets gratitude. Mordie wanted them to share the wealth.
The Jews liked the idea. Who doesn’t like a good party? Haman the Horrible had plotted against all the Jews to destroy them. He relied on Persian dice, called Pur, to choose their expiration date. But when the King saw how he’d been played for a fool, he turned the tables on Haman, and the little creep and his ten rotten offspring were all caught in their own net and hung out to dry.
The Jews, who had a wicked sense of humor of their own, referred to these two days of celebration as Purim, since it was the roll of dice that set everything else in motion, too. But don’t get me wrong, they took this happy holiday seriously. It became a tradition written in stone. They would never forget the deliverance they had seen, never forget what happened to them personally, and always remember how they united and freed themselves from oppression.
They had seen that there is strength in numbers. They saw that cheaters never prosper. And, good farmers that they were, they knew we always reap exactly what we sow, we reap much later than we sow, and we reap much more than we sow. And they taught all of this to their children, making them promise to pay it forward to the end of time.