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    April 23, 1902

    “Restoration from Babylon. Satan’s Master-Stroke” The Signs of the Times 28, 17, pp. 3, 4.


    IN a previous study we read that in vision there was shown to the prophet Zechariah, Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right hand to resist him. That is the key to the vicissitudes of this whole history.SITI April 23, 1902, page 3.1

    The time was come when the cause of God must be restored, and His work done in the earth. In the nature of things, this must be done through human instrumentalities. Joshua, the high priest, was the chief of these human instrumentalities; and therefore stood in the vision as the representative of God and His work in the earth. On the other hand, Satan is the great adversary of God and His work everywhere, whether in the earth or in heaven. And when the time came for the cause and work of God to be revived and restored in the earth, Satan, as the great adversary of all that is of God, was prompt to create every kind of opposition. Accordingly he was seen standing at the right hand of Joshua—in the very place of opportunity and helpfulness—to resist him.SITI April 23, 1902, page 3.2

    Satan had been actively engaged in this from the very first day that the work was begun in Jerusalem. It was his spirit and energy that actuated the Samaritan meddlers and their hired counselors at the court of Cyrus, Cambyses, and the false Smerdis. It was the personal presence of Satan in that three weeks’ contest at the court of Cyrus, that made the unbroken presence of the angel Gabriel essential there the three full weeks, and finally demanded even the presence and help of Michael to make victory certain.SITI April 23, 1902, page 3.3

    But in spite of all Satan’s resistance the temple of God was finished and dedicated, and the full worship and service of God was there established. Yet he slacked not his plotting of resistance. He failed to accomplish anything of his purpose during the reign of Darius; but in the reign of the successor to Darius he played a master-stroke, and arranged a most stupendous plot—nothing less than the sweeping away, in one day, all the Jews in the empire; the complete blotting out at one stroke of the whole worship, and even the whole people of God. Of course it was a plot worthy only of Satan; but that even he should think that he could make such a plot succeed, would be astonishing, were it not for the peculiar train of circumstances that had developed the special instrumentality that he could use for his enormous purpose.SITI April 23, 1902, page 3.4

    Darius died in B. C. 485, having reigned thirty-six years, and was succeeded by his son Xerxes, who was the Ahasuerus of the book of Esther. For the Hebrew Ahashuerosh is the natural equivalent of the old Persian Khshayersha, the true name of the monarch called by the Greeks Xerxes, as now read in his inscriptions. “The name of him whom the Greeks called Xerxes, as left by himself in his own inscriptions is Khshayersha, which proves to be identical with the Ahasuerus of Holy Scriptures.”—Oppert. And it is not strange that in the endeavor to pronounce such a name, the tongue of a Greek would reduce it to Xerxes. Thus Xerxes being truly the Ahasuerus of the book of Esther, this causes the book of Esther to stand chronologically in the Scriptures between the sixth and seventh chapters of the book of Ezra. Xerxes, the king of Persia, was the son of Darius of Ezra 6, and the father of Artaxerxes of Ezra 7.SITI April 23, 1902, page 3.5

    Political conditions, as developed by Darius in his last years, and left by his death, were such that, in order for Xerxes to complete the plans of Darius, he must “stir up all against the realm of Grecia;” as it had been stated by the angel to Daniel that Xerxes would do. Daniel 11:2. In furtherance of this enterprise, “Xerxes, being about to take in hand the expedition against Athens, called together an assembly of the noblest Persians, to learn their opinions, and to lay before them his own designs.”—Herodotus. This was in the third year of the reign of Xerxes; and this assembly was the one that is referred to in Esther 1:1-4:—SITI April 23, 1902, page 3.6

    “In those days, when the king Ahasuerus sat on the throne of his kingdom, which was in Shushan the palace, in the third year of his reign, he made a feast unto all his princes and his servants; the power of Persia and Media, the nobles and princes of the provinces; being before him: when he showed the riches of his glorious kingdom and the honor of his excellent majesty many days, even an hundred and fourscore days.”SITI April 23, 1902, page 3.7

    That was the day of Persia’s greatest glory, and at the end of the six months’ council of preparation for the invasion of Greece, Xerxes made a grand feast for a whole week to the whole company of imperial officials:—SITI April 23, 1902, page 3.8

    “The king made a feast unto all the people that were present in Shushan the palace, both unto great and small, seven days, in the court of the garden of the king’s palace; where were white, green, and blue, hangings, fastened with cords of fine linen and purple to silver rings and pillars of marble: the beds were of gold and silver, upon a pavement of red, and blue, and white, and black, marble. And they gave them drink in vessels of gold, (the vessels being diverse one from another,) and royal wine in abundance, according to the state of the king. And the drinking was according to the law; none did compel: for so the king had appointed to all the officers of his house, that they should do according to every man’s pleasure. Also Vashti the queen made a feast for the women in the royal house which belonged to King Ahasuerus.” Esther 1:5-9.SITI April 23, 1902, page 3.9

    And because Vashti declined to make a display of herself to the drunken crowd, she was deposed from the position of queen.SITI April 23, 1902, page 3.10

    Xerxes led into Greece a force, land and naval, amounting to 5,283,220 men. But in the successive defeats of Theromopyle, Salamis, Plateu, and Mycale, B. C. 480-79, his whole force was annihilated, and he returned to Shushan with only a body-guard. Shortly after his return, he issued his directions for the gathering together of the most beautiful maidens of the empire, that he might select a queen in the place of the deposed Vashti. Among these was Esther, the cousin and adopted daughter of Mordecai, a Benjamite who was an attendant in the king’s palace in Shushan. Esther was chosen.SITI April 23, 1902, page 3.11

    “So Esther was taken unto king Ahasuerus into his house royal in the tenth month, which is the month Tebeth, in the seventh year of his reign. And the king loved Esther above all the women, and she obtained grace and favor in his sight more than all the virgins; so that he set the royal crown upon her head, and made her queen instead of Vashti.” Esther 2:16, 17.SITI April 23, 1902, page 3.12

    About this same time two of the king’s chamberlains laid a plot to kill him. The plot was discovered by Mordecai. He told it to Esther, Esther told it to Xerxes, investigation was made, the thing was proved, and the two men were hanged. Then a record of the whole affair was made in the official chronicles of the kingdom, in which was included the name of Mordecai and the part that he had taken in exposing the plot, and so saving the life of the king.SITI April 23, 1902, page 3.13

    Not long after that, a certain prince whose name was Haman was promoted by king Xerxes, who thus “advanced him, and set his seat above all the princes that were with him.” Thus Haman was not only prime minister of the empire, but also the special favorite of the king; so that the king commanded all the servants “that were in the king’s gate” to bow to Haman and reverence him. Now Mordecai the Jew sat in the king’s gate; and he would not bow nor do reverence to Haman. His fellow-servants noticed this, and asked him, “Why transgressest thou the king’s commandment?” When they had for several days in succession called Mordecai’s attention to this, and still he would not bow nor do reverence to Haman, they told it to Haman, and also told him that this Mordecai who had thus refused to do him reverence was a Jew.SITI April 23, 1902, page 3.14

    And just there is where Satan found his grand opportunity to make his master-stroke against the whole nation of Israel at once. Therefore “when Haman saw that Mordecai bowed not, nor did him reverence, then was Haman full of wrath.” But “he thought scorn to lay hands on Mordecai alone; for they had showed him the people of Mordecai; wherefore Haman sought to destroy all the Jews that were throughout the whole kingdom of Ahasuerus, even the people of Mordecai.” Esther 3:5, 6.SITI April 23, 1902, page 3.15

    But why was this? What was the secret spring that Satan could touch there, to urge on one man thus to plan the destruction of a whole people? The answer is easy. Haman was “the Agagite.” That is, he was a direct descendant from king Agag, the king of the Amalekites whom Saul captured when he destroyed the Amalekites, and whom the prophet Samuel slew after Saul had brought him to Gilgal alive. And Mordecai was a Benjamite; of the very tribe of that Saul, king of Israel, who had destroyed the nation of the Amalekites. Here, then, was the chance for the remaining Amalekite and Agagite to visit vengeance upon this people, and destroy this whole nation, as this people had destroyed his nation so long before.SITI April 23, 1902, page 3.16

    Possibly some one will say, “Well, was not that even justice, and fair enough?” The answer is, “No; it was but the continuation of the original treacherous and destructive purpose of the Amalekites who initiated the war shortly after Israel left Egypt, and before they came to Sinai. In Rephidim, between the wilderness of Sin and the wilderness of Sinai, the Amalekites laid an ambush for the children of Israel as they marched, and cruelly smote the hindmost; even all that were feeble, and when they were faint and weary. 1 Samuel 15:2; Deuteronomy 25:17, 18. And it was for this that Saul had destroyed the Amalekites. Exodus 17:8-14; Deuteronomy 25:19; 1 Samuel 15. And now it was in perpetuation of original and native Amalekite treachery and cruelty that Haman the Amalekite must scheme to blot out the whole people, simply because one of their number failed to bow and do him reverence.SITI April 23, 1902, page 3.17

    And Haman proceeded to put into effect his Amalekitish scheme. First he cast lots in the the [sic.] selection of the month in which the mas- sacre should be. It was in the first month that the lots were cast, and the lot fell on the twelfth month—in the twelfth year of Xerxes, B. C. 473—and the day fixed, was the thirteenth day of the twelfth month.SITI April 23, 1902, page 3.18

    Having this preliminary arranged, Haman approached the king for the royal authority to execute his murderous plot. He—SITI April 23, 1902, page 260.1

    “said unto king Ahasuerus, There is a certain people scattered abroad and dispersed among the people in all the provinces of thy kingdom; and their laws are diverse from all people; neither keep they the king’s laws: therefore it is not for the king’s profit to suffer them. If it please the king, let it be written that they may be destroyed: and I will pay ten thousand talents [about six millions of dollars] of silver to the hands of those that have the charge of the business, to bring it into the king’s treasuries.” Esther 3:8, 9.SITI April 23, 1902, page 260.2

    Then Xerxes gave to Haman his imperial ring, and said, “The silver is given to thee, the people also, to do with them as it seemeth good to thee.” Then Haman caused the imperial secretaries to issue his murderous commandment to—SITI April 23, 1902, page 260.3

    “the king’s lieutenants, and to the governors that were over every province, and to the rulers of every people of every province according to the writing thereof, and to every people after their language; in the name of king Ahasuerus was it written, and sealed with the king’s ring.” Esther 3:12.SITI April 23, 1902, page 260.4

    Then the letters were sent by the imperial post-riders “into all the king’s provinces, to destroy, to kill, and to cause to perish, all Jews, both young and old, little children and women, in one day, even upon the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, which is the month Adar, and to take the spoil of them for a prey.” The letters also commanded all the people to be “ready against that day.” So “the posts went out, being hastened by the king’s commandment, and the decree was given in Shushan the palace. And the king and Haman sat down to drink; but the city Shushan was perplexed.” Esther 3:7-15.SITI April 23, 1902, page 260.5

    It may be thought strange that Xerxes should so readily fall in with Haman’s scheme, and apparently so thoughtlessly give over a whole people thus to sheer massacre. And yet when it is remembered that the very flower of the defensive strength of the empire had only lately been swept away in the campaign against Greece, it is not difficult to understand that, from the way in which the matter was presented to him by Haman, he might fear that this “lawless” people would take advantage of the weakness of the kingdom, and attempt a revolution. Thus he could easily convince himself that it was only for the safety of his kingdom that they should be forestalled.SITI April 23, 1902, page 260.6

    The imperial decree had gone forth for the massacre of all the Jews in every province on the thirteenth day of the twelfth month. The king had commanded all the people to be ready against that day, to execute the decree. The time was fixed, and each passing day brought the devoted people only a step nearer to the fearful goal; and the law, being a law of the Persians and Medes, could not be changed.SITI April 23, 1902, page 260.7

    [The next article is a striking one, entitle, “The Hand upon the Throne of the Lord.”]SITI April 23, 1902, page 260.8

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