“They all decreed by public vote never to let this day go unobserved, but to celebrate the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, which is called Adar in the Syrian language, the day before Mordecai’s day.”
Here like in 1 Maccabees, chapter 7, they will keep this day as a memorial, the day before Mordecai’s Day, the 13th of Adar, as the celebration of this event. However, here it is a public vote. So that Purim is then connected to this event with a clear reference to the Book of Esther, chapter 9, with the mention of Mordecai.
“The armies met in battle on the thirteenth day of the month of Adar. The army of Nicanor was crushed. He himself was the first to fall in the battle. When his army saw that Nicanor had fallen, they threw down their arms and fled. The Jews pursued them a day’s journey, from Adasa as far as Gazara. As they followed, they kept sounding the battle call on the trumpets. People came out of all the surrounding villages of Judea. They outflanked the enemy. They drove them back to their pursuers, so that they all fell by the sword. Not even one of them was left. Then the Jews seized the spoils and the plunder. They cut off Nicanor’s head and the right hand that he had so arrogantly stretched out. They brought them and displayed them just outside Jerusalem. The people rejoiced greatly and celebrated that day as a day of great gladness. They decreed that this day should be celebrated each year on the thirteenth day of Adar. So the land of Judah had rest for a few days.”
The 2 armies met on the 13th day of Adar, the same month and practically the same day as the crushing defeat in the story of Esther, chapter 9, where Purim was instituted as a feast day memorial. Nicanor was like Haman, the Jewish hater. In this case Nicanor was the first to fall. When his army saw this, they fled. This was a common occurrence. When the leader fell, the armies just took off. However, the Jews pursued them as they sounded their trumpets. Then everyone came out from the villages and towns sending the fleeing troops back to their pursuers. In the end, everyone was wiped out. The author did not give a specific number, but the reminders of 2 Kings, chapter 19 are striking. They cut off the head of Nicanor and his right hand. Then they displayed it outside of Jerusalem. This is somewhat reminiscent of Judith, chapter 13, and her beheading of General Holofernes, when she took his head to display. There was great rejoicing over this as they declared the 13th of Adar a day to be celebrated. This was another layer to the Purim festival. The author notes that there was peace in Judah for just a few days, not years.
“Mordecai recorded these things. He sent letters to all the Jews who were in all the provinces of King Artaxerxes, both near and far. He enjoined them that they should keep the fourteenth day of the month of Adar and also the fifteenth day of the same month, year by year. These are the days on which the Jews gained relief from their enemies. This is the month that had been turned for them from sorrow into gladness, and from mourning into a holiday. They should make them days of feasting and gladness, days for sending gifts of food to one another, and presents to the poor. Thus the Jews adopted as a custom what they had begun to do, as Mordecai had written to them.”
Mordecai put in a decree for the Jews of the Persian kingdom, a custom that they had already started. This became known as Purim. Each year they should remember what happened to them on the 14th and 15th of Adar. They should exchange food gifts and give to the poor. They were to remember that on this day that they turned from sorrow to gladness and from mourning to feasting. In modern day Judaism, this has become a big holiday eating and drinking for Conservative and Orthodox Jews, much like a Halloween feast. Children dress up and exchange treats. They read the Book of Esther, while booing Haman and cheering Mordecai.
“The Jews, who were in Susa, gathered on the thirteenth day and on the fourteenth day. They rested on the fifteenth day of Adar, making that a day of feasting and gladness. Therefore the Jews of the villages, who live in the open towns, hold the fourteenth day of the month of Adar as a day for gladness and feasting and holiday-making. This is a day on which they send gifts of food to one another.”
There was a difference between the Jews in Susa and those in the various villages. Since the Jews in the city of Susa defended themselves for 2 days, they did not celebrate until the 15th or Adar instead of the 14th as the rest of the provinces. During this day of celebration they sent gifts of food to one another.
“Now the other Jews who were in the king’s provinces also gathered to defend their lives. They gained relief from their enemies. They killed seventy-five thousand of those who hated them. However, they laid no hands on the plunder. This was on the thirteenth day of the month of Adar. On the fourteenth day they rested and made that a day of feasting and gladness.”
The Jewish people in the provinces gathered to defend themselves. They gained relief from their enemies by killing 75,000 of those people who hated them. However, they took no plunder. The day after, they celebrated with feasts and gladness as they rested.
“In the twelfth month, which is the month of Adar, on the thirteenth day, the king’s command and edict were about to be executed. On the very day that the enemies of the Jews had hoped to gain power over them. However, it had been changed to a day when the Jews would gain power over their foes. That day, the Jews gathered in their cities throughout all the provinces of King Artaxerxes to lay hands on those who had sought their ruin. No one could withstand them because the fear of them had fallen upon all the people. All the officials of the provinces, the satraps, the governors, and the royal officials were supporting the Jews because the fear of Mordecai had fallen upon them. Mordecai was powerful in the king’s house. His fame spread throughout all the provinces. The man Mordecai grew more and more powerful.”
When the 13th day of Adar arrived, the edict and decree of the king was to be executed. Originally, this was to have been a day set up by Haman to exterminate all the Jews. There must have been some hostility towards the Jews to make this seem plausible. Now, however, it had been changed to a day when the Jews would retaliate against their enemies. There must have been some real enemies of the Jews. Earlier a great fear had spread among the Jews. Now all the people were afraid of the Jews. Moreover, the royal and provincial officials were also afraid of Mordecai as he became more powerful in the Persian kingdom. These satraps were like ambassadors of the king.
“The king’s secretaries were summoned at that time, in the third month, which is the month of Sivan, on the twenty-third day. An edict was written according to all that Mordecai commanded. It was sent to the Jews, to the satraps, the governors, and the officials of the provinces from India to Ethiopia, one hundred and twenty-seven provinces. This went to every province in its own script and to every people in its own language, and also to the Jews in their script and their language. He wrote letters in the name of King Artaxerxes. He sealed them with the king’s ring. He sent them by mounted couriers riding on swift horses that were used in the king’s service, bred from the royal herd. By these letters, the king allowed the Jews who were in every city to assemble and defend their lives. They were able to destroy, to kill, and to annihilate any armed force of any people or province that might attack them, with their children and women, and to plunder their goods, on a single day throughout all the provinces of King Artaxerxes, on the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, which is the month of Adar.”
All the king’s secretaries came to help Mordecai. This took place at Sivan, which is in the May-June time frame. The Persians had something like the later American Pony Express, with horses for their couriers. Notice that it was written in various languages and scripts for the 127 provinces of the Persian Empire. This letter had the king’s seal from his ring. This section is like that in chapter 3, when Haman was writing his letter to exterminate the Jews. This letter said that all the Jews could respond when they are attacked on the 13th day of the 12th month of Adar. They were allowed to destroy, kill, and plunder anyone attacking them. The Greek text also says that they should be allowed to follow their own laws.