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נִקְהֲלוּ הַיְּהוּדִים בְּעָרֵיהֶם בְּכָל־מְדִינוֹת הַמֶּלֶךְ אֳחַשְׁוֵרוֹשׁ לִשְׁלֹחַ יָד בִּמְבַקְשֵׁי רָעָתָם וְאִישׁ לֹא־עָמַד לִפְנֵיהֶם כִּי־נָפַל פַּחְדָּם עַל־כָּל־הָעַמִּים׃ (Ester 9.5

Throughout the provinces of King Ahasuerus, the Jews mustered in their cities to attack those who sought their hurt; and no one could withstand them, for the fear of them had fallen upon all the peoples.

(I don't feel the English translation really say that nobody opposed them).

וַיַּכּוּ הַיְּהוּדִים בְּכָל־אֹיְבֵיהֶם מַכַּת־חֶרֶב וְהֶרֶג וְאַבְדָן וַיַּעֲשׂוּ בְשֹׂנְאֵיהֶם כִּרְצוֹנָם׃

So the Jews struck at their enemies with the sword, slaying and destroying; they wreaked their will upon their enemies.

So I'm trying to visualize the events: did the enemies strike first or the Jews freely killed their enemies that didn't fight back?

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Esther 8:11

that the king had given to the Jews who are in every city, [the right] to assemble and to protect themselves, to destroy, to slay, and to cause to perish the entire host of every people and province that oppress them

They had to wait to be attacked and then wipe out the attackers. One could say that the haters thought that the Jews could not fight back even though they had permission to do so.

Similarly Esther 9:2

to lay hand on those who sought to harm them

Once the Jews began to fight no one could resist, but the fighting had started.

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This is actually addressed in the commentary Eshkol HaKofer by Rabbi Avraham ben Yaacov Saba.

He brings this in his comments to Esther 8:9 beginning with the words, "ויקראו ספרי-המלך", where he explains that the actual decree was against the extended family of Haman, meaning all the Amalekites wherever they were. He continues this idea also on Esther 9:5.

Rabbi Saba explains that the plan of Haman and his family was ultimately to overthrow King Achaverosh, meaning rebellion against the Monarchy. And it was in this context that it wasn't actually a reversal of the King's prior decree, but a decree against those who planned to commit open rebellion against the Monarchy.

Further on in his commentary to Esther 10:1 beginning with the words, "ועוד אני סבור כו׳", he also relates this to the tax placed upon his subjects. That tax was intended to impoverish the relatives associated to Haman specifically so that anyone remaining from the Jews self-defense would have whatever material power that remained with them, bled dry.

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