Esther Made Queen

Later when King Xerxes’ fury had subsided,(A) he remembered Vashti and what she had done and what he had decreed about her. Then the king’s personal attendants proposed, “Let a search be made for beautiful young virgins for the king. Let the king appoint commissioners in every province of his realm to bring all these beautiful young women into the harem at the citadel of Susa. Let them be placed under the care of Hegai, the king’s eunuch, who is in charge of the women; and let beauty treatments be given to them. Then let the young woman who pleases the king be queen instead of Vashti.” This advice appealed to the king, and he followed it.

Now there was in the citadel of Susa a Jew of the tribe of Benjamin, named Mordecai son of Jair, the son of Shimei, the son of Kish,(B) who had been carried into exile from Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, among those taken captive with Jehoiachin[a](C) king of Judah.(D) Mordecai had a cousin named Hadassah, whom he had brought up because she had neither father nor mother. This young woman, who was also known as Esther,(E) had a lovely figure(F) and was beautiful. Mordecai had taken her as his own daughter when her father and mother died.

When the king’s order and edict had been proclaimed, many young women were brought to the citadel of Susa(G) and put under the care of Hegai. Esther also was taken to the king’s palace and entrusted to Hegai, who had charge of the harem. She pleased him and won his favor.(H) Immediately he provided her with her beauty treatments and special food.(I) He assigned to her seven female attendants selected from the king’s palace and moved her and her attendants into the best place in the harem.

10 Esther had not revealed her nationality and family background, because Mordecai had forbidden her to do so.(J) 11 Every day he walked back and forth near the courtyard of the harem to find out how Esther was and what was happening to her.

12 Before a young woman’s turn came to go in to King Xerxes, she had to complete twelve months of beauty treatments prescribed for the women, six months with oil of myrrh and six with perfumes(K) and cosmetics. 13 And this is how she would go to the king: Anything she wanted was given her to take with her from the harem to the king’s palace. 14 In the evening she would go there and in the morning return to another part of the harem to the care of Shaashgaz, the king’s eunuch who was in charge of the concubines.(L) She would not return to the king unless he was pleased with her and summoned her by name.(M)

15 When the turn came for Esther (the young woman Mordecai had adopted, the daughter of his uncle Abihail(N)) to go to the king,(O) she asked for nothing other than what Hegai, the king’s eunuch who was in charge of the harem, suggested. And Esther won the favor(P) of everyone who saw her. 16 She was taken to King Xerxes in the royal residence in the tenth month, the month of Tebeth, in the seventh year of his reign.

17 Now the king was attracted to Esther more than to any of the other women, and she won his favor and approval more than any of the other virgins. So he set a royal crown on her head and made her queen(Q) instead of Vashti. 18 And the king gave a great banquet,(R) Esther’s banquet, for all his nobles and officials.(S) He proclaimed a holiday throughout the provinces and distributed gifts with royal liberality.(T)

Mordecai Uncovers a Conspiracy

19 When the virgins were assembled a second time, Mordecai was sitting at the king’s gate.(U) 20 But Esther had kept secret her family background and nationality just as Mordecai had told her to do, for she continued to follow Mordecai’s instructions as she had done when he was bringing her up.(V)

21 During the time Mordecai was sitting at the king’s gate, Bigthana[b] and Teresh, two of the king’s officers(W) who guarded the doorway, became angry(X) and conspired to assassinate King Xerxes. 22 But Mordecai found out about the plot and told Queen Esther, who in turn reported it to the king, giving credit to Mordecai. 23 And when the report was investigated and found to be true, the two officials were impaled(Y) on poles. All this was recorded in the book of the annals(Z) in the presence of the king.(AA)

Footnotes

  1. Esther 2:6 Hebrew Jeconiah, a variant of Jehoiachin
  2. Esther 2:21 Hebrew Bigthan, a variant of Bigthana

Mordecai Persuades Esther to Help

When Mordecai learned of all that had been done, he tore his clothes,(A) put on sackcloth and ashes,(B) and went out into the city, wailing(C) loudly and bitterly. But he went only as far as the king’s gate,(D) because no one clothed in sackcloth was allowed to enter it. In every province to which the edict and order of the king came, there was great mourning among the Jews, with fasting, weeping and wailing. Many lay in sackcloth and ashes.

When Esther’s eunuchs and female attendants came and told her about Mordecai, she was in great distress. She sent clothes for him to put on instead of his sackcloth, but he would not accept them. Then Esther summoned Hathak, one of the king’s eunuchs assigned to attend her, and ordered him to find out what was troubling Mordecai and why.

So Hathak went out to Mordecai in the open square of the city in front of the king’s gate. Mordecai told him everything that had happened to him, including the exact amount of money Haman had promised to pay into the royal treasury for the destruction of the Jews.(E) He also gave him a copy of the text of the edict for their annihilation, which had been published in Susa, to show to Esther and explain it to her, and he told him to instruct her to go into the king’s presence to beg for mercy and plead with him for her people.

Hathak went back and reported to Esther what Mordecai had said. 10 Then she instructed him to say to Mordecai, 11 “All the king’s officials and the people of the royal provinces know that for any man or woman who approaches the king in the inner court without being summoned(F) the king has but one law:(G) that they be put to death unless the king extends the gold scepter(H) to them and spares their lives. But thirty days have passed since I was called to go to the king.”

12 When Esther’s words were reported to Mordecai, 13 he sent back this answer: “Do not think that because you are in the king’s house you alone of all the Jews will escape. 14 For if you remain silent(I) at this time, relief(J) and deliverance(K) for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?”(L)

15 Then Esther sent this reply to Mordecai: 16 “Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast(M) for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my attendants will fast as you do. When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish.”(N)

17 So Mordecai went away and carried out all of Esther’s instructions.

The King’s Edict in Behalf of the Jews

That same day King Xerxes gave Queen Esther the estate of Haman,(A) the enemy of the Jews. And Mordecai came into the presence of the king, for Esther had told how he was related to her. The king took off his signet ring,(B) which he had reclaimed from Haman, and presented it to Mordecai. And Esther appointed him over Haman’s estate.(C)

Esther again pleaded with the king, falling at his feet and weeping. She begged him to put an end to the evil plan of Haman the Agagite,(D) which he had devised against the Jews. Then the king extended the gold scepter(E) to Esther and she arose and stood before him.

“If it pleases the king,” she said, “and if he regards me with favor(F) and thinks it the right thing to do, and if he is pleased with me, let an order be written overruling the dispatches that Haman son of Hammedatha, the Agagite, devised and wrote to destroy the Jews in all the king’s provinces. For how can I bear to see disaster fall on my people? How can I bear to see the destruction of my family?”(G)

King Xerxes replied to Queen Esther and to Mordecai the Jew, “Because Haman attacked the Jews, I have given his estate to Esther, and they have impaled(H) him on the pole he set up. Now write another decree(I) in the king’s name in behalf of the Jews as seems best to you, and seal(J) it with the king’s signet ring(K)—for no document written in the king’s name and sealed with his ring can be revoked.”(L)

At once the royal secretaries were summoned—on the twenty-third day of the third month, the month of Sivan. They wrote out all Mordecai’s orders to the Jews, and to the satraps, governors and nobles of the 127 provinces stretching from India to Cush.[a](M) These orders were written in the script of each province and the language of each people and also to the Jews in their own script and language.(N) 10 Mordecai wrote in the name of King Xerxes, sealed the dispatches with the king’s signet ring, and sent them by mounted couriers, who rode fast horses especially bred for the king.

11 The king’s edict granted the Jews in every city the right to assemble and protect themselves; to destroy, kill and annihilate the armed men of any nationality or province who might attack them and their women and children,[b] and to plunder(O) the property of their enemies. 12 The day appointed for the Jews to do this in all the provinces of King Xerxes was the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, the month of Adar.(P) 13 A copy of the text of the edict was to be issued as law in every province and made known to the people of every nationality so that the Jews would be ready on that day(Q) to avenge themselves on their enemies.

14 The couriers, riding the royal horses, went out, spurred on by the king’s command, and the edict was issued in the citadel of Susa.(R)

The Triumph of the Jews

15 When Mordecai(S) left the king’s presence, he was wearing royal garments of blue and white, a large crown of gold(T) and a purple robe of fine linen.(U) And the city of Susa held a joyous celebration.(V) 16 For the Jews it was a time of happiness and joy,(W) gladness and honor.(X) 17 In every province and in every city to which the edict of the king came, there was joy(Y) and gladness among the Jews, with feasting and celebrating. And many people of other nationalities became Jews because fear(Z) of the Jews had seized them.(AA)

Footnotes

  1. Esther 8:9 That is, the upper Nile region
  2. Esther 8:11 Or province, together with their women and children, who might attack them;

For the eyes(A) of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him. You have done a foolish(B) thing, and from now on you will be at war.(C)

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