“In the first month, which is the month of Nisan, in the twelfth year of King Artaxerxes, Heman came to a decision by casting lots. This casting of lots takes the days and the months one by one, in order to fix on one day in order to destroy the whole race of Mordecai. The lot fell on the fourteenth day of the month of Adar, which is the twelfth month.”
Haman came to a decision on when to destroy the Jews by casting lots, known as pur. This was a common practice in the Middle East. It happened a lot in the biblical literature, even for such important things as allocating the land for the tribes of Israel in Joshua, chapters 14-19. This was now the 12th year of King Artaxerxes, 5 years after Esther has become queen. There never seems to be any mention of the king’s children, either with Queen Vashti or Queen Esther. The date chosen for destroying the race of Mordecai is the 14th day of the 12th month, so that there will 11 months to get ready for this perfect massacre day.
“In the second year of the reign of King Artaxerxes the Great, on the first day of Nisan, Mordecai son of Jair, son of Shimei, son of Kish, of the tribe of Benjamin, had a dream. He was a Jew, living in the city of Susa, a great man, serving in the court of the king. He was one of the captives whom King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon had brought from Jerusalem with King Jeconiah of Judea.”
First you will notice there is no chapter and verse. To be honest, that was a medieval concept. The idea of chapter divisions began in the 9th century CE, but was codified in the 13th century CE with Stephan Langton. Finally in the 16th century, with the widespread use of printing, chapter and verse numbers became common. However, the problem here is that these additions are only in the Greek Septuagint edition of this work, while the official Hebrew version has chapter and verse numbers. The Jerusalem Bible puts these verses in italics, while the Oxford Bible calls them additions. I have decided to use the pre-medieval technique of using neither chapters nor verses, just simply the phrase “Greek text only.” I have inserted these texts where they are found in these 2 biblical additions.
Interesting enough, the setting is slightly earlier than Nehemiah and Ezra, but during the reign of King Artaxerxes the Great (465-424 BCE). It also takes place at the capital of Persia, Susa. Mordecai, like Nehemiah, was a Jewish court official. Apparently some of the captive Jews served the royal family in various positions. Once again, it is the Persians who are tolerant of the Jews. The text says that Mordecai was a captive taken in the Babylonian captivity of King Nebuchadnezzar, but that would put Mordecai over a 100 years old. He may have been a member of a Jewish family that was taken captive in 587 BCE. Unlike Tobit, who was a northern Israelite, Mordecai was a Benjaminite which puts him closer to Saul than David.