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Esther 1:1-2:18 New King James Version (NKJV)

The King Dethrones Queen Vashti

Now it came to pass in the days of Ahasuerus[a] (this was the Ahasuerus who reigned over one hundred and twenty-seven provinces, from India to Ethiopia), in those days when King Ahasuerus sat on the throne of his kingdom, which was in Shushan[b] the [c]citadel, that in the third year of his reign he made a feast for all his officials and servants—the powers of Persia and Media, the nobles, and the princes of the provinces being before him— when he showed the riches of his glorious kingdom and the splendor of his excellent majesty for many days, one hundred and eighty days in all.

And when these days were completed, the king made a feast lasting seven days for all the people who were present in [d]Shushan the [e]citadel, from great to small, in the court of the garden of the king’s palace. There were white and blue linen curtains fastened with cords of fine linen and purple on silver rods and marble pillars; and the couches were of gold and silver on a mosaic pavement of alabaster, turquoise, and white and black marble. And they served drinks in golden vessels, each vessel being different from the other, with royal wine in abundance, according to the [f]generosity of the king. In accordance with the law, the drinking was not compulsory; for so the king had ordered all the officers of his household, that they should do according to each man’s pleasure.

Queen Vashti also made a feast for the women in the royal palace which belonged to King Ahasuerus.

10 On the seventh day, when the heart of the king was merry with wine, he commanded Mehuman, Biztha, Harbona, Bigtha, Abagtha, Zethar, and Carcas, seven eunuchs who served in the presence of King Ahasuerus, 11 to bring Queen Vashti before the king, wearing her royal crown, in order to show her beauty to the people and the officials, for she was beautiful to behold. 12 But Queen Vashti refused to come at the king’s command brought by his eunuchs; therefore the king was furious, and his anger burned within him.

13 Then the king said to the wise men who understood the times (for this was the king’s manner toward all who knew law and justice, 14 those closest to him being Carshena, Shethar, Admatha, Tarshish, Meres, Marsena, and Memucan, the seven princes of Persia and Media, who had access to the king’s presence, and who [g]ranked highest in the kingdom): 15 “What shall we do to Queen Vashti, according to law, because she did not obey the command of King Ahasuerus brought to her by the eunuchs?”

16 And Memucan answered before the king and the princes: “Queen Vashti has not only wronged the king, but also all the princes, and all the people who are in all the provinces of King Ahasuerus. 17 For the queen’s behavior will become known to all women, so that they will despise their husbands in their eyes, when they report, ‘King Ahasuerus commanded Queen Vashti to be brought in before him, but she did not come.’ 18 This very day the noble ladies of Persia and Media will say to all the king’s officials that they have heard of the behavior of the queen. Thus there will be excessive contempt and wrath. 19 If it pleases the king, let a royal [h]decree go out from him, and let it be recorded in the laws of the Persians and the Medes, so that it will not [i]be altered, that Vashti shall come no more before King Ahasuerus; and let the king give her royal position to another who is better than she. 20 When the king’s decree which he will make is proclaimed throughout all his empire (for it is great), all wives will honor their husbands, both great and small.”

21 And the reply pleased the king and the princes, and the king did according to the word of Memucan. 22 Then he sent letters to all the king’s provinces, to each province in its own script, and to every people in their own language, that each man should be master in his own house, and speak in the language of his own people.

Esther Becomes Queen

After these things, when the wrath of King Ahasuerus subsided, he remembered Vashti, what she had done, and what had been decreed against her. Then the king’s servants who attended him said: “Let beautiful young virgins be sought for the king; and let the king appoint officers in all the provinces of his kingdom, that they may gather all the beautiful young virgins to [j]Shushan the [k]citadel, into the women’s quarters, under the custody of [l]Hegai the king’s eunuch, custodian of the women. And let beauty preparations be given them. Then let the young woman who pleases the king be queen instead of Vashti.”

This thing pleased the king, and he did so.

In [m]Shushan the [n]citadel there was a certain Jew whose name was Mordecai the son of Jair, the son of Shimei, the son of Kish, a Benjamite. Kish[o] had been carried away from Jerusalem with the captives who had been captured with [p]Jeconiah king of Judah, whom Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon had carried away. And Mordecai had brought up Hadassah, that is, Esther, his uncle’s daughter, for she had neither father nor mother. The young woman was lovely and beautiful. When her father and mother died, Mordecai took her as his own daughter.

So it was, when the king’s command and decree were heard, and when many young women were gathered at [q]Shushan the [r]citadel, under the custody of Hegai, that Esther also was taken to the king’s palace, into the care of Hegai the custodian of the women. Now the young woman pleased him, and she obtained his favor; so he readily gave beauty preparations to her, besides [s]her allowance. Then seven choice maidservants were provided for her from the king’s palace, and he moved her and her maidservants to the best place in the house of the women.

10 Esther had not [t]revealed her people or family, for Mordecai had charged her not to reveal it. 11 And every day Mordecai paced in front of the court of the women’s quarters, to learn of Esther’s welfare and what was happening to her.

12 Each young woman’s turn came to go in to King Ahasuerus after she had completed twelve months’ preparation, according to the regulations for the women, for thus were the days of their preparation apportioned: six months with oil of myrrh, and six months with perfumes and preparations for beautifying women. 13 Thus prepared, each young woman went to the king, and she was given whatever she desired to take with her from the women’s quarters to the king’s palace. 14 In the evening she went, and in the morning she returned to the second house of the women, to the custody of Shaashgaz, the king’s eunuch who kept the concubines. She would not go in to the king again unless the king delighted in her and called for her by name.

15 Now when the turn came for Esther the daughter of Abihail the uncle of Mordecai, who had taken her as his daughter, to go in to the king, she requested nothing but what Hegai the king’s eunuch, the custodian of the women, advised. And Esther obtained favor in the sight of all who saw her. 16 So Esther was taken to King Ahasuerus, into his royal palace, in the tenth month, which is the month of Tebeth, in the seventh year of his reign. 17 The king loved Esther more than all the other women, and she obtained grace and favor in his sight more than all the virgins; so he set the royal crown upon her head and made her queen instead of Vashti. 18 Then the king made a great feast, the Feast of Esther, for all his officials and servants; and he proclaimed a holiday in the provinces and gave gifts according to the [u]generosity of a king.

Footnotes:

  1. Esther 1:1 Generally identified with Xerxes I (485–464 b.c.)
  2. Esther 1:2 Or Susa
  3. Esther 1:2 Or fortified palace, and so elsewhere in the book
  4. Esther 1:5 Or Susa
  5. Esther 1:5 palace
  6. Esther 1:7 Lit. hand
  7. Esther 1:14 Lit. sat in first place
  8. Esther 1:19 Lit. word
  9. Esther 1:19 pass away
  10. Esther 2:3 Or Susa
  11. Esther 2:3 palace
  12. Esther 2:3 Heb. Hege
  13. Esther 2:5 Or Susa
  14. Esther 2:5 palace
  15. Esther 2:6 Lit. Who
  16. Esther 2:6 Jehoiachin, 2 Kin. 24:6
  17. Esther 2:8 Or Susa
  18. Esther 2:8 palace
  19. Esther 2:9 Lit. her portions
  20. Esther 2:10 Revealed the identity of
  21. Esther 2:18 Lit. hand
New King James Version (NKJV)

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Esther 1:1-2:18 Complete Jewish Bible (CJB)

These events took place in the time of Achashverosh, the Achashverosh who ruled over 127 provinces from India to Ethiopia. It was in those days, when King Achashverosh sat on his royal throne in Shushan the capital, in the third year of his reign, that he gave a banquet for all his officials and courtiers. The army of Persia and Media, the nobles and the provincial officials were in attendance. He displayed the dazzling wealth of his kingdom and his great splendor for a long time, 180 days. At the end of that time, the king gave a seven-day banquet in the courtyard of the royal palace garden for all the people, both great and small, there in Shushan the capital. There were white cotton curtains and blue hangings fastened to silver rods, with cords of fine linen and purple; the columns were marble; the couches [for reclining at table] were of gold and silver on a mosaic flooring of malachite, marble, mother-of-pearl and onyx. Drinks were served in gold goblets, with each goblet different from the others. There was royal wine in abundance, as befits royal bounty. The drinking was not according to any fixed rule, for the king had ordered the stewards to serve each man what he wanted. Also Vashti the queen gave a banquet for the women in the royal house belonging to King Achashverosh.

10 On the seventh day, when the king was in high spirits from the wine, he ordered Mehuman, Bizta, Harvona, Bigta, Avagta, Zetar and Karkas, the seven officers who attended him, 11 to bring Queen Vashti before the king with the royal crown, in order to show the people and the officials her beauty, for she was indeed a good-looking woman. 12 But Queen Vashti refused to come at the order of the king, which he had sent through his officers. This enraged the king — his anger blazed inside him.

13 As was the king’s custom, he consulted sages well-versed in matters of law and justice. 14 With him were Karshna, Shetar, Admata, Tarshish, Meres, Marsna and Memukhan, the seven vice-regents of Persia and Media, who were part of the king’s inner circle and were the most important officials in the kingdom. 15 [The king asked the sages,] “According to the law, what should we do to Queen Vashti, since she didn’t obey the order of King Achashverosh conveyed by the officers?”

16 Memukhan presented the king and vice-regents this answer: “Vashti the queen has wronged not only the king, but also all the officials and all the peoples in all the provinces of King Achashverosh; 17 because this act of the queen’s will become known to all the women, who will then start showing disrespect toward their own husbands; they will say, ‘King Achashverosh ordered Vashti the queen to be brought before him, but she wouldn’t come.’ 18 Moreover, the noble ladies of Persia and Media who hear of the queen’s conduct will mention it to all the king’s officials, which will bring about no end of disrespect and discord. 19 If it pleases his majesty, let him issue a royal decree — and let it be written as one of the laws of the Persians and Medes, which are irrevocable — that Vashti is never again to be admitted into the presence of King Achashverosh, and that the king give her royal position to someone better than she. 20 When the edict made by the king is proclaimed throughout the length and breadth of the kingdom, then all wives will honor their husbands, whether great or small.”

21 This advice pleased the king and the officials, so the king did what Memukhan had suggested — 22 he sent letters to all the royal provinces, to each province in its own script and to each people in their own language, that every man should be master in his own house and speak the language of his own people.

A while later, when King Achashverosh’s anger had subsided, he remembered Vashti, what she had done and what had been decreed against her. The king’s servants attending him said, “A search should be made for young, good-looking virgins. The king should appoint officials in all the provinces of the kingdom to gather all the young, good-looking virgins to the house for the harem, in Shushan the capital. They should be put under the care of Hegai the king’s officer in charge of the women, and he should give them the cosmetics they require. Then, the girl who seems best to the king should become queen instead of Vashti.” This proposal pleased the king, so he acted accordingly.

There was in Shushan the capital a man who was a Jew, whose name was Mordekhai the son of Ya’ir, the son of Shim‘i, the son of Kish, a Binyamini. He had been exiled from Yerushalayim with the captives exiled with Y’khanyah king of Y’hudah, whom N’vukhadnetzar king of Bavel had carried off. He had raised Hadassah, that is, Ester, his uncle’s daughter; because she had neither father nor mother. The girl was shapely and good-looking; after her father’s and mother’s death, Mordekhai had adopted her as his own daughter.

When the king’s order and decree were proclaimed, and many girls assembled in Shushan the capital under the care of Hegai, Ester too was taken into the king’s house and put under the care of Hegai, who was in charge of the women. The girl pleased him and won his favor, so that he lost no time in giving her her cosmetics, her portions [of special food] and seven girls from the king’s palace to attend her; he also promoted her and the girls attending her to the best place in the harem’s quarters. 10 Ester did not disclose her people or family ties, because Mordekhai had instructed her not to tell anyone. 11 Every day Mordekhai would walk around in front of the courtyard of the harem’s house in order to know how Ester was doing and what was happening to her.

12 Each girl had her turn to appear before King Achashverosh after she had undergone the full twelve-month preparation period prescribed for the women, consisting of a six-month treatment with oil of myrrh and six months with perfumes and other cosmetics for women. 13 Then, when the girl went to see the king, whatever she wanted would be given to her as she went from the harem’s house to the king’s palace. 14 She would go in the evening, and on the following day she would return to another part of the harem’s house and be under the care of Sha‘ashgaz the king’s officer in charge of the concubines. She would not go to the king again unless he was especially pleased with her and had her summoned by name.

15 When the turn came for Ester the daughter of Avichayil, whom Mordekhai had adopted as his own daughter, to appear before the king, she didn’t ask for anything other than what Hegai the king’s officer in charge of the harem advised. Yet Ester was admired by all who saw her. 16 She was brought to King Achashverosh in his royal palace in the tenth month, Tevet, during the seventh year of his reign. 17 The king liked Ester more than any of his wives; none of the other virgins obtained such favor and approval from him. So he put the royal crown on her head and made her queen in place of Vashti.

18 The king then gave a great banquet in Ester’s honor for all his officers and servants, decreed a holiday for the provinces and distributed gifts worthy of royal bounty.

Complete Jewish Bible (CJB)

Copyright © 1998 by David H. Stern. All rights reserved.

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