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Contemporary English Version (CEV)
1 1-2 King Xerxes[a] of Persia lived in his capital city of Susa[b] and ruled one hundred twenty-seven provinces from India to Ethiopia.[c] 3 During the third year of his rule, Xerxes gave a big dinner for all his officials and officers. The governors and leaders of the provinces were also invited, and even the commanders of the Persian and Median armies came. 4 For one hundred eighty days he showed off his wealth and spent a lot of money to impress his guests with the greatness of his kingdom.
5 King Xerxes soon gave another dinner and invited everyone in the city of Susa, no matter who they were. The eating and drinking lasted seven days in the beautiful palace gardens. 6 The area was decorated with blue and white cotton curtains tied back with purple linen cords that ran through silver rings fastened to marble columns. Couches of gold and silver rested on pavement that had all kinds of designs made from costly bright-colored stones and marble and mother-of-pearl.
7 The guests drank from gold cups, and each cup had a different design. The king was generous 8 and said to them, “Drink all you want!” Then he told his servants, “Keep their cups full.”
9 While the men were enjoying themselves, Queen Vashti gave the women a big dinner inside the royal palace.
10 By the seventh day, King Xerxes was feeling happy because of so much wine. And he asked his seven personal servants, Mehuman, Biztha, Harbona, Bigtha, Abagtha, Zethar, and Carkas, 11 to bring Queen Vashti to him. The king wanted her to wear her crown and let his people and his officials see how beautiful she was. 12 The king’s servants told Queen Vashti what he had said, but she refused to go to him, and this made him terribly angry.
13-14 The king called in the seven highest officials of Persia and Media. They were Carshena, Shethar, Admatha, Tarshish, Meres, Marsena, and Memucan. These men were very wise and understood all the laws and customs of the country, and the king always asked them what they thought about such matters.
15 The king said to them, “Queen Vashti refused to come to me when I sent my servants for her. What does the law say I should do about that?”
16 Then Memucan told the king and the officials:
Your Majesty, Queen Vashti has not only embarrassed you, but she has insulted your officials and everyone else in all the provinces.
17 The women in the kingdom will hear about this, and they will refuse to respect their husbands. They will say, “If Queen Vashti doesn’t obey her husband, why should we?” 18 Before this day is over, the wives of the officials of Persia and Media will find out what Queen Vashti has done, and they will refuse to obey their husbands. They won’t respect their husbands, and their husbands will be angry with them.
19 Your Majesty, if you agree, you should write for the Medes and Persians a law that can never be changed. This law would keep Queen Vashti from ever seeing you again. Then you could let someone who respects you be queen in her place.
20 When the women in your great kingdom hear about this new law, they will respect their husbands, no matter if they are rich or poor.
21 King Xerxes and his officials liked what Memucan had said, 22 and he sent letters to all of his provinces. Each letter was written in the language of the province to which it was sent, and it said that husbands should have complete control over their wives and children.
2 After a while, King Xerxes got over being angry. But he kept thinking about what Vashti had done and the law that he had written because of her. 2 Then the king’s personal servants said:
Your Majesty, a search must be made to find you some beautiful young women. 3 You can select officers in every province to bring them to the place where you keep your wives in the capital city of Susa. Put your servant Hegai in charge of them since that is his job. He can see to it that they are given the proper beauty treatments. 4 Then let the young woman who pleases you most take Vashti’s place as queen.
King Xerxes liked these suggestions, and he followed them.
5 At this time a Jew named Mordecai was living in Susa. His father was Jair, and his grandfather Shimei was the son of Kish from the tribe of Benjamin. 6 Kish[d] was one of the people that Nebuchadnezzar had taken from Jerusalem, when he took King Jeconiah of Judah to Babylonia.
7 Mordecai had a very beautiful cousin named Esther, whose Hebrew name was Hadassah. He had raised her as his own daughter, after her father and mother died. 8 When the king ordered the search for beautiful women, many were taken to the king’s palace in Susa, and Esther was one of them.
Hegai was put in charge of all the women, 9 and from the first day, Esther was his favorite. He began her beauty treatments at once. He also gave her plenty of food and seven special maids from the king’s palace, and they had the best rooms.
10 Mordecai had warned Esther not to tell anyone that she was a Jew, and she obeyed him. 11 He was anxious to see how Esther was getting along and to learn what had happened to her. So each day he would walk back and forth in front of the court where the women lived.
12 The young women were given beauty treatments for one whole year. The first six months their skin was rubbed with olive oil and myrrh, and the last six months it was treated with perfumes and cosmetics. Then each of them spent the night alone with King Xerxes. 13 When a young woman went to the king, she could wear whatever clothes or jewelry she chose from the women’s living quarters. 14 In the evening she would go to the king, and the following morning she would go to the place where his wives stayed after being with him. There a man named Shaashgaz was in charge of the king’s wives.[e] Only the ones the king wanted and asked for by name could go back to the king.
15-16 Xerxes had been king for seven years when Esther’s turn came to go to him during Tebeth,[f] the tenth month of the year. Everyone liked Esther. The king’s personal servant Hegai was in charge of the women, and Esther trusted Hegai and asked him what she ought to take with her.[g]
17 Xerxes liked Esther more than he did any of the other young women. None of them pleased him as much as she did, and right away he fell in love with her and crowned her queen in place of Vashti. 18 In honor of Esther he gave a big dinner for his leaders and officials. Then he declared a holiday everywhere in his kingdom and gave expensive gifts.
19 When the young women were brought together again, Esther’s cousin Mordecai had become a palace official. 20 He had told Esther never to tell anyone that she was a Jew, and she obeyed him, just as she had always done.
21 Bigthana and Teresh were the two men who guarded King Xerxes' rooms, but they got angry with the king and decided to kill him. 22 Mordecai found out about their plans and asked Queen Esther to tell the king what he had found out. 23 King Xerxes learned that Mordecai’s report was true, and he had the two men hanged. Then the king had all of this written down in his record book as he watched.