“And yet for all that, though they be in the land of their enemies, will I not cast them away, neither will I loathe them to destroy them utterly, to break my covenant with them, for I am the Lord their God.”
And thus do the Rabbis explain the same:—“Will I not cast them away.” In the time of the Chaldeans I appointed Daniel and his companions to deliver them.
“Neither will I loathe them.” In the time of the Assyrians I gave them Matthias, his sons and their comrades, to serve them.
“To destroy them.” In the time of Haman I sent Mordecai and Esther to rescue them.
“To break my covenant with them.” In the time of the Romans I appointed Rabbi Judah and his associates to work their salvation.
“For I am the Eternal, your God.” In the future no nation shall rule over Israel, and the descendants of Abraham shall be restored to their independent state.
The dedication commemorated by Hannukah occurred in the year 3632—129 B.C.E.
This festival, occurring on the fourteenth day of the twelfth month, Adar (March), is to commemorate the deliverance of the Hebrews from the wiles of Haman, through the God-aided means of Mordecai and Esther.
Although the Holy One threatens the Israelites, in order that they may repent of their sins, He has also tempted them, in order to increase their reward.
For instance, a father who loves his son, and desires him to improve his conduct, must punish him for his misdeeds, but it is a punishment induced by affection which he bestows.
A certain apostate once said to Rabbi Saphra:—
“It is written, ’Because I know you more than all the nations of the earth, therefore I visit upon you your iniquities;’ how is this? If a person has a wild horse, is it likely that he would put his dearest friend upon it, that he might be thrown and hurt?”
Rabbi Saphra answered:—
“Suppose a man lends money to two persons; one of these is his friend, the other his enemy. He will allow his friend to repay him in installments, that the discharge of the debt may not prove onerous; but from his enemy he will require the amount in full. The verse you quote will apply in the same manner, ’I love you, therefore will I visit upon you your iniquities;’ meaning, ’I will punish you for them as they occur, little by little, by which means you may have quittance and happiness in the world to come.’”
The action of the king in delivering his signet ring to Haman had more effect upon the Jews than the precepts and warnings of forty-eight prophets who lectured to them early and late. They clothed themselves in sackcloth, and repented truly with tears and fasting, and God had compassion upon them and destroyed Haman.