Lessons of history

Illustration by Jim Padgett, courtesy of Sweet Publishing, Ft. Worth, TX, and Gospel Light, Ventura, CA. Copyright 1984, under Creative Commons license, CC-BY-SA 3.0

I was thinking about the Book of Esther.

You know the story – the orphan girl selected for the king’s harem, how she gained his favor and used it to reveal a plot to annihilate all the Jews in the Persian Empire. Thus saving her people.

But what particularly struck me was the means by which her people were saved.

The king’s law could not be revoked. Haman’s edict allowed anyone in the empire to kill the Jews and take their property, and that edict had to stand.

But Esther got permission for her uncle, Mordecai, to enact a counter-law:

“And he wrote in the name of King Ahasuerus… saying that the king allowed the Jews who were in every city to gather and defend their lives, to destroy, to kill, and to annihilate any armed force of any people or province that might attack them….”

You often hear people say, “Violence never solves anything.” It’s a stupid statement, demonstrably false. Jews, especially, ought to understand this. It wasn’t peace that saved the Jews. It was the basic human right of self-defense. The Jews of Persia weren’t frightened by their enemies – once they knew they were allowed to fight for their lives. “Just give us swords, and leave the rest to us.”

“And in every province and in every city, wherever the king’s command and his edict reached, there was gladness and joy among the Jews, a feast and a holiday.”

And the Jews have been celebrating it ever since – every Purim.

One thought on “Lessons of history”

  1. “Anyone who clings to the historically untrue — and — thoroughly immoral doctrine that violence never solves anything I would advise to conjure up the ghosts of Napoleon Bonaparte and the Duke of Wellington and let them debate it. The ghost of Hitler would referee. Violence, naked force, has settled more issues in history than has any other factor; and the contrary opinion is wishful thinking at its worst. Breeds that forget this basic truth have always paid for it with their lives and their freedoms.”
    – R.A. Heinlein, Starship Troopers

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