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Esther 1-2 New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

I. Prologue

Chapter A

Dream of Mordecai. In the second year of the reign of Ahasuerus the great, on the first day of Nisan, Mordecai, son of Jair, son of Shimei, son of Kish, of the tribe of Benjamin, had a dream.[a] [b]He was a Jew residing in the city of Susa, a prominent man who served at the king’s court, and one of the captives whom Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, had taken from Jerusalem with Jeconiah, king of Judah.

This was his dream.[c] There was noise and tumult, thunder and earthquake—confusion upon the earth. Two great dragons advanced, both poised for combat. They uttered a mighty cry, and at their cry every nation prepared for war, to fight against the nation of the just. It was a dark and gloomy day. Tribulation and distress, evil and great confusion, lay upon the earth. The whole nation of the just was shaken with fear at the evils to come upon them, and they expected to perish. Then they cried out to God, and from their crying there arose, as though from a tiny spring, a mighty river, a flood of water. 10 The light of the sun broke forth; the lowly were exalted and they devoured the boastful.

11 Having seen this dream and what God intended to do, Mordecai awoke. He kept it in mind, and tried in every way, until night, to understand its meaning.

Mordecai Thwarts an Assassination.[d] 12 Mordecai lodged in the courtyard with Bigthan and Teresh, two eunuchs of the king who guarded the courtyard. 13 He overheard them plotting, investigated their plans, and discovered that they were preparing to assassinate King Ahasuerus. So he informed the king about them. 14 The king had the two eunuchs questioned and, upon their confession, put to death. 15 Then the king had these things recorded; Mordecai, too, put them into writing. 16 The king also appointed Mordecai to serve at the court, and rewarded him for his actions.

17 Haman, however, son of Hammedatha, a Bougean,[e] who was held in high honor by the king, sought to harm Mordecai and his people because of the two eunuchs of the king.

II. Esther Becomes Queen

Chapter 1

The Banquet of Ahasuerus. [f]During the reign of Ahasuerus—the same Ahasuerus who ruled over a hundred and twenty-seven provinces from India to Ethiopia— while he was occupying the royal throne in the royal precinct of Susa,[g] in the third year of his reign, he gave a feast for all his officials and ministers: the Persian and Median army officers, the nobles, and the governors of the provinces. For as many as a hundred and eighty days, he displayed the glorious riches of his kingdom and the resplendent wealth of his royal estate.

At the end of this time the king gave a feast of seven days in the garden court of the royal palace for all the people, great and small, who were in the royal precinct of Susa. There were white cotton draperies and violet hangings, held by cords of fine crimson linen from silver rings on marble pillars. Gold and silver couches were on a mosaic pavement, which was of porphyry, marble, mother-of-pearl, and colored stones. Drinks were served in a variety of golden cups, and the royal wine flowed freely, as befitted the king’s liberality. By ordinance of the king the drinking was unstinted, for he had instructed all the stewards of his household to comply with the good pleasure of everyone. Queen Vashti also gave a feast for the women in the royal palace of King Ahasuerus.

Refusal of Vashti. 10 On the seventh day, when the king was merry with wine, he instructed Mehuman, Biztha, Harbona, Bigtha, Abagtha, Zethar, and Carkas, the seven eunuchs who attended King Ahasuerus, 11 to bring Queen Vashti into his presence wearing the royal crown, that he might display her beauty to the populace and the officials, for she was lovely to behold. 12 But Queen Vashti refused to come at the royal order issued through the eunuchs. At this the king’s wrath flared up, and he burned with fury. 13 He conferred with the sages who understood the times, because the king’s business was conducted in general consultation with lawyers and jurists. 14 He summoned Carshena, Shethar, Admatha, Tarshish, Meres, Marsena, and Memucan, the seven Persian and Median officials who were in the king’s personal service and held first rank in the realm, 15 and asked them, “What is to be done by law with Queen Vashti for disobeying the order of King Ahasuerus issued through the eunuchs?”

16 In the presence of the king and of the officials, Memucan answered: “Queen Vashti has not wronged the king alone, but all the officials and the populace throughout the provinces of King Ahasuerus. 17 For the queen’s conduct will become known to all the women, and they will look with disdain upon their husbands when it is reported, ‘King Ahasuerus commanded that Queen Vashti be ushered into his presence, but she would not come.’ 18 This very day the Persian and Median noblewomen who hear of the queen’s conduct will recount it to all the royal officials, and disdain and rancor will abound. 19 If it please the king, let an irrevocable royal decree[h] be issued by him and inscribed among the laws of the Persians and Medes, forbidding Vashti to come into the presence of King Ahasuerus and authorizing the king to give her royal dignity to one more worthy than she. 20 Thus, when the decree that the king will issue is published throughout his realm, vast as it is, all wives will honor their husbands, from the greatest to the least.”

21 This proposal pleased the king and the officials, and the king acted on the advice of Memucan. 22 He sent letters to all the royal provinces, to each province in its own script and to each people in its own language, to the effect that every man should be lord in his own home.

Chapter 2

The Search for a New Queen. After this, when King Ahasuerus’ wrath had cooled, he thought over what Vashti had done and what had been decreed against her. Then the king’s personal attendants suggested: “Let beautiful young virgins be sought for the king. Let the king appoint emissaries in all the provinces of his realm to gather all beautiful young virgins into the harem in the royal precinct of Susa. Under the care of the royal eunuch Hegai, guardian of the women, let cosmetics be given them. Then the young woman who pleases the king shall reign in place of Vashti.” This suggestion pleased the king, and he acted accordingly.

There was in the royal precinct of Susa a certain Jew named Mordecai,[i] son of Jair, son of Shimei, son of Kish, a Benjaminite, who had been exiled from Jerusalem with the captives taken with Jeconiah, king of Judah, whom Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, had deported. He became foster father to his cousin Hadassah, that is, Esther,[j] when she lost both father and mother. The young woman was beautifully formed and lovely to behold. On the death of her father and mother, Mordecai adopted her as his own daughter.

When the king’s order and decree had been proclaimed and many young women brought together to the royal precinct of Susa under the care of Hegai, Esther also was brought in to the royal palace under the care of Hegai, guardian of the women. The young woman pleased him and won his favor. So he promptly furnished her with cosmetics and provisions. Then choosing seven maids for her from the royal palace, he transferred both her and her maids to the best place in the harem. 10 Esther did not reveal her nationality or family, for Mordecai had commanded her not to do so.

11 Day by day Mordecai would walk about in front of the court of the harem to learn how Esther was faring and what was to become of her.

12 After the twelve months’ preparation decreed for the women, each one went in turn to visit King Ahasuerus. During this period of beautifying treatment, six months were spent with oil of myrrh, and the other six months with perfumes and cosmetics. 13 Then, when each one was to visit the king, she was allowed to take with her from the harem to the royal palace whatever she chose. 14 She would go in the evening and return in the morning to a second harem under the care of the royal eunuch Shaashgaz, guardian of the concubines. She could not return to the king unless he was pleased with her and had her summoned by name. 15 As for Esther, daughter of Abihail and adopted daughter of his nephew Mordecai, when her turn came to visit the king, she did not ask for anything but what the royal eunuch Hegai, guardian of the women, suggested. And she won the admiration of all who saw her.

Ahasuerus Chooses Esther. 16 Esther was led to King Ahasuerus in his palace in the tenth month, Tebeth, in the seventh year of his reign. 17 The king loved Esther more than all other women, and of all the virgins she won his favor and good will. So he placed the royal crown on her head and made her queen in place of Vashti. 18 Then the king gave a great feast in honor of Esther to all his officials and servants, granting a holiday to the provinces and bestowing gifts with royal generosity.

Mordecai Thwarts an Assassination.[k] 19 As was said, from the time the virgins had been brought together, and while Mordecai was passing his time at the king’s gate, 20 Esther had not revealed her family or nationality, because Mordecai had told her not to; and Esther continued to follow Mordecai’s instructions, just as she had when she was being brought up by him. 21 During the time that Mordecai spent at the king’s gate, Bigthan and Teresh, two of the royal eunuchs who guarded the entrance, became angry and plotted to assassinate King Ahasuerus. 22 When the plot became known to Mordecai, he told Queen Esther, who in turn informed the king in Mordecai’s name. 23 The matter was investigated and verified, and both of them were impaled on stakes.[l] This was written in the annals in the king’s presence.

Footnotes:

  1. A:1 The genealogy of Mordecai is designed to reflect opposition to Israel’s enemy Haman, an Agagite (v. 17). In 1 Sm 15:1–9, Saul (whose father’s name was Kish, of the tribe of Benjamin) conquered Agag the Amalekite.
  2. A:2–3 Repeats information from 2:5–6, on which see note, but states that Mordecai is already a court official. In the Hebrew text, Mordecai is not given this rank until 7:10–8:2.
  3. A:4 An interpretation of the dream that relates its features to the plot of the book is given in F:1–6.
  4. A:12–17 Retells the story in 2:21–23, but with several differences. Addition A has Mordecai inform the king directly, whereas in 2:22 Mordecai informs the king through Esther after she has become queen. A:16 has Mordecai rewarded immediately after his service, whereas the Hebrew text defers the reward of Mordecai to 6:3–13. In A:17, the failure of the eunuchs’ plot becomes Haman’s reason for seeking the destruction of Mordecai and his people, something which the Hebrew text attributes to Mordecai’s refusal to bow to Haman (see note on 3:2).
  5. A:17 A Bougean: the origin of this term is unknown; it may represent a garbled attempt to render the Hebrew “Agagite” (3:1). In the Greek additions Haman not only knows the plot to assassinate the king, but is apparently a co-conspirator.
  6. 1:1 The Hebrew text opens with a portrait of the power and luxury of the Persian king Ahasuerus (Xerxes I, whose empire consisted of only about thirty provinces).
  7. 1:2 Susa was the winter capital of the Persian empire. The “royal precinct” (sometimes translated “stronghold” or “citadel”) was a well-fortified section of the city that included the king’s residence. The Book of Esther depicts other citizens living in this section as well.
  8. 1:19 An irrevocable royal decree: the first of several in the book. In a satiric portrayal, even a minor domestic disagreement is resolved through a sweeping international edict. The irrevocable nature of the decree is intended to increase its force, but creates problems if the king needs to adapt to new information or conditions. See note on 8:8.
  9. 2:5 Mordecai: a Babylonian name, deriving from the god Marduk. Like Esther, Mordecai may have had a Jewish name as well, although in his case we do not know what it is. The chronology of the book makes him well over one hundred years old, since he was deported with Jehoiachin about 598 B.C.; cf. A:1.
  10. 2:7 Esther: a Babylonian name, deriving from the goddess Ishtar. She is given a Hebrew name as well, “Hadassah,” which means “myrtle.”
  11. 2:19–23 This story is retold and placed at the beginning of the book in Greek addition A:12–17, with significant differences (see note). The Greek also has a translation of the account in 2:19–23 at this point in the narrative.
  12. 2:23 Impaled on stakes: a method of execution used by the Persians, known from ancient records and reliefs.
New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

Scripture texts, prefaces, introductions, footnotes and cross references used in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc., Washington, DC All Rights Reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

Ecclesiastes 4 New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

Chapter 4

Vanity of Toil. Again I saw all the oppressions that take place under the sun: the tears of the victims with none to comfort[a] them! From the hand of their oppressors comes violence, and there is none to comfort them! And those now dead, I declared more fortunate in death than are the living to be still alive. And better off than both is the yet unborn, who has not seen the wicked work that is done under the sun. Then I saw that all toil and skillful work is the rivalry of one person with another. This also is vanity and a chase after wind.

“Fools fold their arms
    and consume their own flesh”—[b]
Better is one handful with tranquility
    than two with toil and a chase after wind!

Companions and Successors. Again I saw this vanity under the sun: those all alone with no companion, with neither child nor sibling—with no end to all their toil, and no satisfaction from riches. For whom do I toil and deprive myself of good things? This also is vanity and a bad business. Two are better than one: They get a good wage for their toil. 10 If the one falls, the other will help the fallen one. But woe to the solitary person! If that one should fall, there is no other to help. 11 So also, if two sleep together, they keep each other warm. How can one alone keep warm? 12 Where one alone may be overcome, two together can resist. A three-ply cord[c] is not easily broken.

13 [d]Better is a poor but wise youth than an old but foolish king who no longer knows caution; 14 for from a prison house he came forth to reign; despite his kingship he was born poor. 15 I saw all the living, those who move about under the sun, with the second youth who will succeed him.[e] 16 There is no end to all this people, to all who were before them; yet the later generations will not have joy in him. This also is vanity and a chase after wind.

Vanity of Many Words. 17 Guard your step when you go to the house of God.[f] Draw near for obedience, rather than for the fools’ offering of sacrifice; for they know not how to keep from doing evil.

Footnotes:

  1. 4:1 Oppressions…victims…none to comfort: the author obviously feels deeply about the plight of the oppressed, but he seems to feel powerless to do anything. The repetition of “none to comfort” is purposeful, and emphatic.
  2. 4:5 Consume their own flesh: an enigmatic statement. In the context of vv. 4 and 6 it seems to warn that those who refuse to work for the necessities of life will suffer hunger and impair their bodily health. But the verse could also be intended for the industrious: Even the lazy may manage to have “their own flesh,” that is, have sufficient food to eat.
  3. 4:12 A three-ply cord: an ancient proverb known centuries before biblical times. The progression (“two together…three-ply”) seems to imply, “If two are good, three are even better.”
  4. 4:13–16 This passage deals with kingship and succession, but is obscure.
  5. 4:15 The king is no sooner dead than the people transfer their allegiance to his successor.
  6. 4:17 The house of God: the Temple in Jerusalem. Obedience…sacrifice: the Temple was the place not only for sacrifice but also for instruction in the Law. Sacrifice without obedience was unacceptable; cf. 1 Sm 15:22; Hos 6:6.
New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

Scripture texts, prefaces, introductions, footnotes and cross references used in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc., Washington, DC All Rights Reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

Luke 3:15-38 New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

15 Now the people were filled with expectation, and all were asking in their hearts whether John might be the Messiah. 16 [a]John answered them all, saying, “I am baptizing you with water, but one mightier than I is coming. I am not worthy to loosen the thongs of his sandals. He will baptize you with the holy Spirit and fire. 17 His winnowing fan[b] is in his hand to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.” 18 Exhorting them in many other ways, he preached good news to the people. 19 [c]Now Herod the tetrarch, who had been censured by him because of Herodias, his brother’s wife, and because of all the evil deeds Herod had committed, 20 added still another to these by [also] putting John in prison.

The Baptism of Jesus.[d] 21 After all the people had been baptized and Jesus also had been baptized and was praying,[e] heaven was opened 22 [f]and the holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”

The Genealogy of Jesus.[g] 23 When Jesus began his ministry he was about thirty years of age. He was the son, as was thought, of Joseph, the son of Heli, 24 the son of Matthat, the son of Levi, the son of Melchi, the son of Jannai, the son of Joseph, 25 the son of Mattathias, the son of Amos, the son of Nahum, the son of Esli, the son of Naggai, 26 the son of Maath, the son of Mattathias, the son of Semein, the son of Josech, the son of Joda, 27 the son of Joanan, the son of Rhesa, the son of Zerubbabel, the son of Shealtiel, the son of Neri, 28 the son of Melchi, the son of Addi, the son of Cosam, the son of Elmadam, the son of Er, 29 the son of Joshua, the son of Eliezer, the son of Jorim, the son of Matthat, the son of Levi, 30 the son of Simeon, the son of Judah, the son of Joseph, the son of Jonam, the son of Eliakim, 31 the son of Melea, the son of Menna, the son of Mattatha, the son of Nathan, the son of David,[h] 32 the son of Jesse, the son of Obed, the son of Boaz, the son of Sala, the son of Nahshon, 33 the son of Amminadab, the son of Admin, the son of Arni, the son of Hezron, the son of Perez, the son of Judah, 34 the son of Jacob, the son of Isaac, the son of Abraham, the son of Terah, the son of Nahor, 35 the son of Serug, the son of Reu, the son of Peleg, the son of Eber, the son of Shelah, 36 the son of Cainan, the son of Arphaxad, the son of Shem, the son of Noah, the son of Lamech, 37 the son of Methuselah, the son of Enoch, the son of Jared, the son of Mahalaleel, the son of Cainan, 38 the son of Enos, the son of Seth, the son of Adam, the son of God.

Footnotes:

  1. 3:16 He will baptize you with the holy Spirit and fire: in contrast to John’s baptism with water, Jesus is said to baptize with the holy Spirit and with fire. From the point of view of the early Christian community, the Spirit and fire must have been understood in the light of the fire symbolism of the pouring out of the Spirit at Pentecost (Acts 2:1–4); but as part of John’s preaching, the Spirit and fire should be related to their purifying and refining characteristics (Ez 36:25–27; Mal 3:2–3). See note on Mt 3:11.
  2. 3:17 Winnowing fan: see note on Mt 3:12.
  3. 3:19–20 Luke separates the ministry of John the Baptist from that of Jesus by reporting the imprisonment of John before the baptism of Jesus (Lk 3:21–22). Luke uses this literary device to serve his understanding of the periods of salvation history. With John the Baptist, the time of promise, the period of Israel, comes to an end; with the baptism of Jesus and the descent of the Spirit upon him, the time of fulfillment, the period of Jesus, begins. In his second volume, the Acts of the Apostles, Luke will introduce the third epoch in salvation history, the period of the church.
  4. 3:21–22 This episode in Luke focuses on the heavenly message identifying Jesus as Son and, through the allusion to Is 42:1, as Servant of Yahweh. The relationship of Jesus to the Father has already been announced in the infancy narrative (Lk 1:32, 35; 2:49); it occurs here at the beginning of Jesus’ Galilean ministry and will reappear in Lk 9:35 before another major section of Luke’s gospel, the travel narrative (Lk 9:51–19:27). Elsewhere in Luke’s writings (Lk 4:18; Acts 10:38), this incident will be interpreted as a type of anointing of Jesus.
  5. 3:21 Was praying: Luke regularly presents Jesus at prayer at important points in his ministry: here at his baptism; at the choice of the Twelve (Lk 6:12); before Peter’s confession (Lk 9:18); at the transfiguration (Lk 9:28); when he teaches his disciples to pray (Lk 11:1); at the Last Supper (Lk 22:32); on the Mount of Olives (Lk 22:41); on the cross (Lk 23:46).
  6. 3:22 You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased: this is the best attested reading in the Greek manuscripts. The Western reading, “You are my Son, this day I have begotten you,” is derived from Ps 2:7.
  7. 3:23–38 Whereas Mt 1:2 begins the genealogy of Jesus with Abraham to emphasize Jesus’ bonds with the people of Israel, Luke’s universalism leads him to trace the descent of Jesus beyond Israel to Adam and beyond that to God (Lk 3:38) to stress again Jesus’ divine sonship.
  8. 3:31 The son of Nathan, the son of David: in keeping with Jesus’ prophetic role in Luke and Acts (e.g., Lk 7:16, 39; 9:8; 13:33; 24:19; Acts 3:22–23; 7:37) Luke traces Jesus’ Davidic ancestry through the prophet Nathan (see 2 Sm 7:2) rather than through King Solomon, as Mt 1:6–7.
New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

Scripture texts, prefaces, introductions, footnotes and cross references used in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc., Washington, DC All Rights Reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

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