Esther 4 The Voice (VOICE)
4 Mordecai mourned when he found out what had happened. He ripped his clothes, put on sackcloth, and wiped ash onto his body. Then he went through the city, weeping loudly in anguish. 2 When he came to the king’s gate, not far from the palace, he stopped since those wearing sackcloth were not permitted to enter it and disrupt the mood of the court.
3 In the meantime, as word of the king’s decree began to spread throughout all of the provinces, terrible distress grew among the Jews. They fasted, wept, and screamed out in misery. Like Mordecai, many put on sackcloth and ashes.
4 Back in Susa, Esther’s maids and eunuchs witnessed Mordecai mourning outside of the king’s gate. They went and reported to the queen all that they saw.
Esther: What is wrong? Why is he doing this? It breaks my heart to think of him like this. Take these clothes to Mordecai so he can put them on instead of wearing sackcloth.
But when the servants arrived, Mordecai refused to wear the clothes Queen Esther had sent. 5 So Esther sent for Hathach, who was one of the king’s eunuchs assigned to serve her.
Esther: Hathach, go to Mordecai at once. Find out why he is mourning, and report back to me all that he says.
6 Hathach went to Mordecai in the open square of the city in front of the king’s gate. 7 Mordecai told the queen’s servant everything that had happened and how much money Haman had pledged to place into the royal treasury in exchange for the destruction of the Jews. 8 Then he gave Hathach a copy of the order for mass murder of the Jews, the same order issued in the city of Susa.
Mordecai: Show it to Esther. Tell her everything I have told you. Convince her to go before her king and plead for his favor, not only for her life, but also for the lives of her people.
9 Hathach returned to Esther and told her everything Mordecai had said. 10 Esther ordered Hathach to return to the city gate and reply to Mordecai.
Esther: 11 How am I supposed to see the king? It’s known throughout the land, from the greatest of the king’s officials to the common folk who live in the provinces, that any person who approaches the king in the inner chamber without being invited is sentenced to death. That’s the law! There’s only one exception, and that’s if the king were to hold out the gold scepter to that person and spare his or her life. It’s been 30 days since the king last summoned me!
12 Hathach and the other servants took Esther’s response to Mordecai.
Mordecai: 13 Tell Esther, “Don’t be fooled. Just because you are living inside the king’s palace doesn’t mean that you out of all of the Jews will escape the carnage. You must go before your king. 14 If you stay silent during this time, deliverance for the Jews will come from somewhere, but you, my child, and all of your father’s family will die. And who knows? Perhaps you have been made queen for such a time as this.”
Of all the books in the Bible, Esther is unique because God is never once mentioned explicitly. Still, for those who know God and who know history, God is in the story, behind it, above it, beneath it. He is the main actor in history, even if He is not acknowledged. Here, Mordecai shows great wisdom. The Jews, God’s chosen people, will be delivered whether Esther involves herself or not. Divine Providence has ways and means that go beyond human understanding. Still Providence has made Esther queen for a purpose, a purpose she cannot easily escape.
15 Once again, Hathach returned to Queen Esther with Mordecai’s message. In turn she sent a reply back to Mordecai.
Esther: Tell Mordecai, 16 “In preparation for my audience with the king, do this: gather together all the Jews in Susa, and fast and pray for me. Intercede for me. For three days and nights, abstain from all food and drink. My maids and I will join you in this time. And after the three days, I will go in to the king and plead my people’s case, even though it means breaking the law. And if I die, then I die!”
17 Mordecai left the king’s gate and put all of Esther’s instructions into action.
Esther 4 New International Version (NIV)
Mordecai Persuades Esther to Help
4 When Mordecai learned of all that had been done, he tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and ashes, and went out into the city, wailing loudly and bitterly. 2 But he went only as far as the king’s gate, because no one clothed in sackcloth was allowed to enter it. 3 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.
4 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. 5 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.
6 So Hathak went out to Mordecai in the open square of the city in front of the king’s gate. 7 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. 8 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.
9 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 the king has but one law: that they be put to death unless the king extends the gold scepter 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 at this time, relief and deliverance 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?”
15 Then Esther sent this reply to Mordecai: 16 “Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast 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.”
17 So Mordecai went away and carried out all of Esther’s instructions.