What are the “posts” in the Book of Esther?

WHAT ARE THE “POSTS” IN THE BOOK OF ESTHER?

by Shawn Brasseaux

Notice the following four verses:

  • Esther 3:13: “And the letters were sent by posts 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.”
  • Esther 3:15: “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 8:10: “And he wrote in the king Ahasuerus’ name, and sealed it with the king’s ring, and sent letters by posts on horseback, and riders on mules, camels, and young dromedaries:”
  • Esther 8:14: “So the posts that rode upon mules and camels went out, being hastened and pressed on by the king’s commandment. And the decree was given at Shushan the palace.”

According to Dr. Strong, the Hebrew word and definition is: “rûwts, roots; a primitive root; to run (for whatever reason, especially to rush):—break down, divide speedily, footman, guard, bring hastily, (make) run (away, through), post.”

Gesenius’ Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon says: “(a) the horsemen, warriors of the Persian kings, whose business it was to carry the royal mandates to the provinces, Est. 3:13, 15; 8:14.—(b) the guard, and royal messengers of the Hebrews in the time of Saul, 1 Sa. 22:17; and of the kings after David, 2 Ki. 10:25; 11:6, seq.;… Compare 1 Ki. 1:5; 14:27; 2 Sa. 15:1.”

According to The Oxford English Dictionary, “post” in the historical sense refers to: “each of a series of couriers who carried mail on horseback between fixed stages.” In an archaic sense: “a person or vehicle that carries mail.” What Esther is actually highlighting is a primitive postal system. In America, we would call it an Eastern “Pony Express.”

Encyclopedia Britannica says in its “Postal system” article:

“Since good communications were clearly essential for governing the extensive empires of the ancient world, it is not surprising that among the earliest historical references to postal systems were those concerning Egypt about 2000 BC and China under the Chou dynasty 1,000 years later. It was probably in China that a posthouse relay system was first developed and was brought to a high state of development under the Mongol emperors. The great Persian Empire of Cyrus in the 6th century BC also employed relays of mounted messengers, served by posthouses. The system was favourably described by the Greek historians Herodotus and Xenophon. The admiration of the Greeks was natural since their political divisions inhibited the growth of a coherent postal system, although each city-state possessed its corps of messengers.” (Bold emphasis mine.)

The Persian reference ties in with what we just read from the Book of Esther. In fact, Dr. Scofield estimates the time span covered in Esther is 520-510 B.C., or late 6th century B.C. (as Encyclopedia Britannica reports). That is to say, Esther demonstrates the Bible’s historicity. According to world historians, there really was an elaborate postal system operating in Persia (modern Iran) some 500 years before Christ. How sophisticated was it though?

King Ahasuerus sent “posts” with letters into all his provinces. These men (or armed couriers, if you like) rode horses, mules, camels, and dromedaries (one-humped camels) to reach their destinations and deliver the message as soon as possible. The scale of this system is not appreciated though until Esther 1:1 is consulted: “Now it came to pass in the days of Ahasuerus, (this is Ahasuerus which reigned, from India even unto Ethiopia, over an hundred and seven and twenty provinces:)….” Overall, these “posts” had to traverse the whole Middle East—no small feat! Of course, there were no computers, cell phones, fax machines, televisions, and so on. Communication was ever so slow in those days. How we have come such a long way!

It just goes to show us that the Bible is indeed a historical Book: when it speaks of history, it speaks accurately. For someone to dismiss it as “fairytales” means they really have not read it and thus have no qualifications to speak about it.

Also see:
» What are phylacteries?
» Why does “overturn” appear thrice in Ezekiel 21:27?
» Did Goliath suffer from a brain tumor?

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