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Esther 1-10 Good News Translation (GNT)

Queen Vashti Defies King Xerxes

1-2 From his royal throne in Persia's capital city of Susa, King Xerxes ruled 127 provinces, all the way from India to Ethiopia.[a]

In the third year of his reign he gave a banquet for all his officials and administrators. The armies of Persia and Media were present, as well as the governors and noblemen of the provinces. For six whole months he made a show of the riches of the imperial court with all its splendor and majesty.

After that, the king gave a banquet for all the people in the capital city of Susa, rich and poor alike. It lasted a whole week and was held in the gardens of the royal palace. The courtyard there was decorated with blue and white cotton curtains, tied by cords of fine purple linen to silver rings on marble columns. Couches made of gold and silver had been placed in the courtyard, which was paved with white marble, red feldspar, shining mother-of-pearl, and blue turquoise. Drinks were served in gold cups, no two of them alike, and the king was generous with the royal wine. There were no limits on the drinks; the king had given orders to the palace servants that everyone could have as much as they wanted.[b]

Meanwhile, inside the royal palace Queen Vashti was giving a banquet for the women.

10 On the seventh day of his banquet the king was drinking and feeling happy, so he called in the seven eunuchs who were his personal servants, Mehuman, Biztha, Harbona, Bigtha, Abagtha, Zethar, and Carkas. 11 He ordered them to bring in Queen Vashti, wearing her royal crown. The queen was a beautiful woman, and the king wanted to show off her beauty to the officials and all his guests. 12 But when the servants told Queen Vashti of the king's command, she refused to come. This made the king furious.

13 Now it was the king's custom to ask for expert opinion on questions of law and order, so he called for his advisers, who would know what should be done. 14 Those he most often turned to for advice were Carshena, Shethar, Admatha, Tarshish, Meres, Marsena, and Memucan—seven officials of Persia and Media who held the highest offices in the kingdom. 15 He said to these men, “I, King Xerxes, sent my servants to Queen Vashti with a command, and she refused to obey it! What does the law say that we should do with her?”

16 Then Memucan declared to the king and his officials: “Queen Vashti has insulted not only the king but also his officials—in fact, every man in the empire! 17 Every woman in the empire will start looking down on her husband as soon as she hears what the queen has done. They'll say, ‘King Xerxes commanded Queen Vashti to come to him, and she refused.’ 18 When the wives of the royal officials of Persia and Media hear about the queen's behavior, they will be telling their husbands about it before the day is out. Wives everywhere will have no respect for their husbands, and husbands will be angry with their wives. 19 If it please Your Majesty, issue a royal proclamation that Vashti may never again appear before the king. Have it written into the laws of Persia and Media, so that it can never be changed. Then give her place as queen to some better woman. 20 When your proclamation is made known all over this huge empire, every woman will treat her husband with proper respect, whether he's rich or poor.”

21 The king and his officials liked this idea, and the king did what Memucan suggested. 22 To each of the royal provinces he sent a message in the language and the system of writing of that province, saying[c] that every husband should be the master of his home and speak with final authority.

Esther Becomes Queen

Later, even after the king's anger had cooled down, he kept thinking about what Vashti had done and about his proclamation against her. So some of the king's advisers who were close to him suggested, “Why don't you make a search to find some beautiful young virgins? You can appoint officials in every province of the empire and have them bring all these beautiful young women to your harem here in Susa, the capital city. Put them in the care of Hegai, the eunuch who is in charge of your women, and let them be given a beauty treatment. Then take the young woman you like best and make her queen in Vashti's place.”

The king thought this was good advice, so he followed it.

There in Susa lived a Jew named Mordecai son of Jair; he was from the tribe of Benjamin and was a descendant of Kish and Shimei. When King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon took King Jehoiachin of Judah into exile from Jerusalem, along with a group of captives, Mordecai was among them. He had a cousin, Esther, whose Hebrew name was Hadassah; she was a beautiful young woman, and had a good figure. At the death of her parents, Mordecai had adopted her and brought her up as his own daughter.

When the king had issued his new proclamation and many young women were being brought to Susa, Esther was among them. She too was put in the royal palace in the care of Hegai, who had charge of the harem. Hegai liked Esther, and she won his favor. He lost no time in beginning her beauty treatment of massage and special diet. He gave her the best place in the harem and assigned seven young women specially chosen from the royal palace to serve her.

10 Now, on the advice of Mordecai, Esther had kept it secret that she was Jewish. 11 Every day Mordecai would walk back and forth in front of the courtyard of the harem, in order to find out how she was getting along and what was going to happen to her.

12 The regular beauty treatment for the women lasted a year—massages with oil of myrrh for six months and with oil of balsam for six more. After that, each woman would be taken in turn to King Xerxes. 13 When she went from the harem to the palace, she could wear whatever she wanted. 14 She would go there in the evening, and the next morning she would be taken to another harem and put in the care of Shaashgaz, the eunuch in charge of the king's concubines. She would not go to the king again unless he liked her enough to ask for her by name.

15 The time came for Esther to go to the king. Esther—the daughter of Abihail and the cousin of Mordecai, who had adopted her as his daughter; Esther—admired by everyone who saw her. When her turn came, she wore just what Hegai, the eunuch in charge of the harem, advised her to wear. 16 So in Xerxes' seventh year as king, in the tenth month, the month of Tebeth, Esther was brought to King Xerxes in the royal palace. 17 The king liked her more than any of the other women, and more than any of the others she won his favor and affection. He placed the royal crown on her head and made her queen in place of Vashti. 18 Then the king gave a great banquet in Esther's honor and invited all his officials and administrators. He proclaimed a holiday[d] for the whole empire and distributed gifts worthy of a king.

Mordecai Saves the King's Life

19 Meanwhile Mordecai had been appointed by the king to an administrative position. 20 As for Esther, she had still not let it be known that she was Jewish. Mordecai had told her not to tell anyone, and she obeyed him in this, just as she had obeyed him when she was a little girl under his care.

21 During the time that Mordecai held office in the palace, Bigthana and Teresh, two of the palace eunuchs who guarded the entrance to the king's rooms, became hostile to King Xerxes and plotted to assassinate him. 22 Mordecai learned about it and told Queen Esther, who then told the king what Mordecai had found out. 23 There was an investigation, and it was discovered that the report was true, so both men were hanged on the gallows. The king ordered an account of this to be written down in the official records of the empire.

Haman Plots to Destroy the Jews

Some time later King Xerxes promoted a man named Haman to the position of prime minister. Haman was the son of Hammedatha, a descendant of Agag.[e] The king ordered all the officials in his service to show their respect for Haman by kneeling and bowing to him. They all did so, except for Mordecai, who refused to do it. The other officials in the royal service asked him why he was disobeying the king's command; day after day they urged him to give in, but he would not listen to them. “I am a Jew,” he explained, “and I cannot bow to Haman.” So they told Haman about this, wondering if he would tolerate Mordecai's conduct. Haman was furious when he realized that Mordecai was not going to kneel and bow to him, and when he learned that Mordecai was a Jew, he decided to do more than punish Mordecai alone. He made plans to kill every Jew in the whole Persian Empire.

In the twelfth year of King Xerxes' rule, in the first month, the month of Nisan, Haman ordered the lots to be cast (“purim,” they were called) to find out the right day and month to carry out his plot. The thirteenth day of the twelfth month, the month of Adar, was decided on.

So Haman told the king, “There is a certain race of people scattered all over your empire and found in every province. They observe customs that are not like those of any other people. Moreover, they do not obey the laws of the empire, so it is not in your best interests to tolerate them. If it please Your Majesty, issue a decree that they are to be put to death. If you do, I guarantee that I will be able to put 375 tons of silver into the royal treasury for the administration of the empire.”

10 The king took off his ring, which was used to stamp proclamations and make them official, and gave it to the enemy of the Jewish people, Haman son of Hammedatha, the descendant of Agag. 11 The king told him, “The people and their money are yours; do as you like with them.”

12 So on the thirteenth day of the first month Haman called the king's secretaries and dictated a proclamation to be translated into every language and system of writing used in the empire and to be sent to all the rulers, governors, and officials. It was issued in the name of King Xerxes and stamped with his ring. 13 Runners took this proclamation to every province of the empire. It contained the instructions that on a single day, the thirteenth day of Adar, all Jews—young and old, women and children—were to be killed. They were to be slaughtered without mercy and their belongings were to be taken. 14 The contents of the proclamation were to be made public in every province, so that everyone would be prepared when that day came.

15 At the king's command the decree was made public in the capital city of Susa, and runners carried the news to the provinces. The king and Haman sat down and had a drink while the city of Susa was being thrown into confusion.

Mordecai Asks for Esther's Help

When Mordecai learned of all that had been done, he tore his clothes in anguish. Then he dressed in sackcloth, covered his head with ashes, and walked through the city, wailing loudly and bitterly, until he came to the entrance of the palace. He did not go in because no one wearing sackcloth was allowed inside. Throughout all the provinces, wherever the king's proclamation was made known, there was loud mourning among the Jews. They fasted, wept, wailed, and most of them put on sackcloth and lay in ashes.

When Esther's servant women and eunuchs told her what Mordecai was doing, she was deeply disturbed. She sent Mordecai some clothes to put on instead of the sackcloth, but he would not accept them. Then she called Hathach, one of the palace eunuchs appointed as her servant by the king, and told him to go to Mordecai and find out what was happening and why. Hathach went to Mordecai in the city square at the entrance of the palace. Mordecai told him everything that had happened to him and just how much money Haman had promised to put into the royal treasury if all the Jews were killed. He gave Hathach a copy of the proclamation that had been issued in Susa, ordering the destruction of the Jews. Mordecai asked him to take it to Esther, explain the situation to her, and have her go and plead with the king and beg him to have mercy on her people. Hathach did this, 10 and Esther gave him this message to take back to Mordecai: 11 “If anyone, man or woman, goes to the inner courtyard and sees the king without being summoned, that person must die. That is the law; everyone, from the king's advisers to the people in the provinces, knows that. There is only one way to get around this law: if the king holds out his gold scepter to someone, then that person's life is spared. But it has been a month since the king sent for me.”

12 When Mordecai received Esther's message, 13 he sent her this warning: “Don't imagine that you are safer than any other Jew just because you are in the royal palace. 14 If you keep quiet at a time like this, help will come from heaven to the Jews, and they will be saved, but you will die and your father's family will come to an end. Yet who knows—maybe it was for a time like this that you were made queen!”

15 Esther sent Mordecai this reply: 16 “Go and get all the Jews in Susa together; hold a fast and pray for me. Don't eat or drink anything for three days and nights. My servant women and I will be doing the same. After that, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. If I must die for doing it, I will die.”

17 Mordecai then left and did everything that Esther had told him to do.

Esther Invites the King and Haman to a Banquet

On the third day of her fast Esther put on her royal robes and went and stood in the inner courtyard of the palace, facing the throne room. The king was inside, seated on the royal throne, facing the entrance. When the king saw Queen Esther standing outside, she won his favor, and he held out to her the gold scepter. She then came up and touched the tip of it. “What is it, Queen Esther?” the king asked. “Tell me what you want, and you shall have it—even if it is half my empire.”

Esther replied, “If it please Your Majesty, I would like you and Haman to be my guests tonight at a banquet I am preparing for you.”

The king then ordered Haman to come quickly, so that they could be Esther's guests. So the king and Haman went to Esther's banquet. Over the wine the king asked her, “Tell me what you want, and you shall have it. I will grant your request, even if you ask for half my empire.”

Esther replied, “If Your Majesty is kind enough to grant my request, I would like you and Haman to be my guests tomorrow at another banquet that I will prepare for you. At that time I will tell you what I want.”

Haman Plots to Kill Mordecai

When Haman left the banquet he was happy and in a good mood. But then he saw Mordecai at the entrance of the palace, and when Mordecai did not rise or show any sign of respect as he passed, Haman was furious with him. 10 But he controlled himself and went on home. Then he invited his friends to his house and asked his wife Zeresh to join them. 11 He boasted to them about how rich he was, how many sons he had, how the king had promoted him to high office, and how much more important he was than any of the king's other officials. 12 “What is more,” Haman went on, “Queen Esther gave a banquet for no one but the king and me, and we are invited back tomorrow. 13 But none of this means a thing to me as long as I see that Jew Mordecai sitting at the entrance of the palace.”

14 So his wife and all his friends suggested, “Why don't you have a gallows built, seventy-five feet tall? Tomorrow morning you can ask the king to have Mordecai hanged on it, and then you can go to the banquet happy.”

Haman thought this was a good idea, so he had the gallows built.

The King Honors Mordecai

That same night the king could not get to sleep, so he had the official records of the empire brought and read to him. [f]The part they read included the account of how Mordecai had uncovered a plot to assassinate the king—the plot made by Bigthana and Teresh, the two palace eunuchs who had guarded the king's rooms. The king asked, “How have we honored and rewarded Mordecai for this?”

His servants answered, “Nothing has been done for him.”

“Are any of my officials in the palace?” the king asked.

Now Haman had just entered the courtyard; he had come to ask the king to have Mordecai hanged on the gallows that was now ready. So the servants answered, “Haman is here, waiting to see you.”

“Show him in,” said the king.

So Haman came in, and the king said to him, “There is someone I wish very much to honor. What should I do for this man?”

Haman thought to himself, “Now who could the king want to honor so much? Me, of course.”

7-8 So he answered the king, “Have royal robes brought for this man—robes that you yourself wear. Have a royal ornament[g] put on your own horse. Then have one of your highest noblemen dress the man in these robes and lead him, mounted on the horse, through the city square. Have the nobleman announce as they go: ‘See how the king rewards someone he wishes to honor!’”

10 Then the king said to Haman, “Hurry and get the robes and the horse, and provide these honors for Mordecai the Jew. Do everything for him that you have suggested. You will find him sitting at the entrance of the palace.”

11 So Haman got the robes and the horse, and he put the robes on Mordecai. Mordecai got on the horse, and Haman led him through the city square, announcing to the people as they went: “See how the king rewards a man he wishes to honor!”

12 Mordecai then went back to the palace entrance while Haman hurried home, covering his face in embarrassment. 13 He told his wife and all his friends everything that had happened to him. Then she and those wise friends of his told him, “You are beginning to lose power to Mordecai. He is a Jew, and you cannot overcome him. He will certainly defeat you.”

Haman Is Put to Death

14 While they were still talking, the palace eunuchs arrived in a hurry to take Haman to Esther's banquet.

And so the king and Haman went to eat with Esther for a second time. Over the wine the king asked her again, “Now, Queen Esther, what do you want? Tell me and you shall have it. I'll even give you half the empire.”

Queen Esther answered, “If it please Your Majesty to grant my humble request, my wish is that I may live and that my people may live. My people and I have been sold for slaughter. If it were nothing more serious than being sold into slavery, I would have kept quiet and not bothered you about it;[h] but we are about to be destroyed—exterminated!”

Then King Xerxes asked Queen Esther, “Who dares to do such a thing? Where is this man?”

Esther answered, “Our enemy, our persecutor, is this evil man Haman!”

Haman faced the king and queen with terror. The king got up in a fury, left the room, and went outside to the palace gardens. Haman could see that the king was determined to punish him for this, so he stayed behind to beg Queen Esther for his life. He had just thrown himself down on Esther's couch to beg for mercy, when the king came back into the room from the gardens. Seeing this, the king cried out, “Is this man going to rape the queen right here in front of me, in my own palace?”

The king had no sooner said this than the eunuchs covered Haman's head. Then one of them, who was named Harbonah, said, “Haman even went so far as to build a gallows at his house so that he could hang Mordecai, who saved Your Majesty's life. And it's seventy-five feet tall!”

“Hang Haman on it!” the king commanded.

10 So Haman was hanged on the gallows that he had built for Mordecai. Then the king's anger cooled down.

The Jews Are Told to Fight Back

That same day King Xerxes gave Queen Esther all the property of Haman, the enemy of the Jews. Esther told the king that Mordecai was related to her, and from then on Mordecai was allowed to enter the king's presence. The king took off his ring with his seal on it (which he had taken back from Haman) and gave it to Mordecai. Esther put Mordecai in charge of Haman's property.

Then Esther spoke to the king again, throwing herself at his feet and crying. She begged him to do something to stop the evil plot that Haman, the descendant of Agag,[i] had made against the Jews. The king held out the gold scepter to her, so she stood up and said, “If it please Your Majesty, and if you care about me and if it seems right to you, please issue a proclamation to keep Haman's orders from being carried out—those orders that the son of Hammedatha the descendant of Agag gave for the destruction of all the Jews in the empire. How can I endure it if this disaster comes on my people, and my own relatives are killed?”

King Xerxes then said to Queen Esther and Mordecai, the Jew, “Look, I have hanged Haman for his plot against the Jews, and I have given Esther his property. But a proclamation issued in the king's name and stamped with the royal seal cannot be revoked. You may, however, write to the Jews whatever you like; and you may write it in my name and stamp it with the royal seal.”

This happened on the twenty-third day of the third month, the month of Sivan. Mordecai called the king's secretaries and dictated letters to the Jews and to the governors, administrators, and officials of all the 127 provinces from India to Ethiopia.[j] The letters were written to each province in its own language and system of writing and to the Jews in their language and system of writing. 10 Mordecai had the letters written in the name of King Xerxes, and he stamped them with the royal seal. They were delivered by riders mounted on fast horses from the royal stables.

11 These letters explained that the king would allow the Jews in every city to organize for self-defense. If armed men of any nationality in any province attacked the Jewish men, their children, or their women, the Jews could fight back and destroy the attackers; they could slaughter them to the last man and take their possessions. 12 This decree was to take effect throughout the Persian Empire on the day set for the slaughter of the Jews, the thirteenth of Adar, the twelfth month. 13 It was to be proclaimed as law and made known to everyone in every province, so that the Jews would be ready to take revenge on their enemies when that day came. 14 At the king's command the riders mounted royal horses and rode off at top speed. The decree was also made public in Susa, the capital city.

15 Mordecai left the palace, wearing royal robes of blue and white, a cloak of fine purple linen, and a magnificent gold crown. Then the streets of Susa rang with cheers and joyful shouts. 16 For the Jews there was joy and relief, happiness and a sense of victory. 17 In every city and province, wherever the king's proclamation was read, the Jews held a joyful holiday with feasting and happiness. In fact, many other people became Jews, because they were afraid of them now.

The Jews Destroy Their Enemies

The thirteenth day of Adar came, the day on which the royal proclamation was to take effect, the day when the enemies of the Jews were hoping to get them in their power. But instead, the Jews triumphed over them. In the Jewish quarter of every city[k] in the empire the Jews organized to attack anyone who tried to harm them. People everywhere were afraid of them, and no one could stand against them. In fact, all the provincial officials—governors, administrators, and royal representatives—helped the Jews because they were all afraid of Mordecai. It was well-known throughout the empire that Mordecai was now a powerful man in the palace and was growing more powerful. So the Jews could do what they wanted with their enemies. They attacked them with swords and slaughtered them.

In Susa, the capital city itself, the Jews killed five hundred people. 7-10 Among them were the ten sons of Haman son of Hammedatha, the enemy of the Jews: Parshandatha, Dalphon, Aspatha, Poratha, Adalia, Aridatha, Parmashta, Arisai, Aridai, and Vaizatha. However, there was no looting.

11 That same day the number of people killed in Susa was reported to the king. 12 He then said to Queen Esther, “In Susa alone the Jews have killed five hundred people, including Haman's ten sons. What must they have done out in the provinces! What do you want now? You shall have it. Tell me what else you want, and you shall have it.”

13 Esther answered, “If it please Your Majesty, let the Jews in Susa do again tomorrow what they were allowed to do today. And have the bodies of Haman's ten sons hung from the gallows.” 14 The king ordered this to be done, and the proclamation was issued in Susa. The bodies of Haman's ten sons were publicly displayed. 15 On the fourteenth day of Adar the Jews of Susa got together again and killed three hundred more people in the city. But again, they did no looting.

16 The Jews in the provinces also organized and defended themselves. They rid themselves of their enemies by killing seventy-five thousand people who hated them. But they did no looting. 17 This was on the thirteenth day of Adar. On the next day, the fourteenth, there was no more killing, and they made it a joyful day of feasting. 18 The Jews of Susa, however, made the fifteenth a holiday, since they had slaughtered their enemies on the thirteenth and fourteenth and then stopped on the fifteenth. 19 This is why Jews who live in small towns observe the fourteenth day of the month of Adar as a joyous holiday, a time for feasting and giving gifts of food to one another.

The Festival of Purim

20 Mordecai had these events written down and sent letters to all the Jews, near and far, throughout the Persian Empire, 21 telling them to observe the fourteenth and fifteenth days of Adar as holidays every year. 22 These were the days on which the Jews had rid themselves of their enemies; this was a month that had been turned from a time of grief and despair into a time of joy and happiness. They were told to observe these days with feasts and parties, giving gifts of food to one another and to the poor. 23 So the Jews followed Mordecai's instructions, and the celebration became an annual custom.

24 [l]Haman son of Hammedatha—the descendant of Agag and the enemy of the Jewish people—had cast lots (“purim,” they were called) to determine the day for destroying the Jews; he had planned to wipe them out. 25 But Esther went to the king, and the king issued written orders with the result that Haman suffered the fate he had planned for the Jews—he and his sons were hanged from the gallows. 26 That is why the holidays are called Purim. Because of Mordecai's letter and because of all that had happened to them, 27 the Jews made it a rule for themselves, their descendants, and anyone who might become a Jew, that at the proper time each year these two days would be regularly observed according to Mordecai's instructions. 28 It was resolved that every Jewish family of every future generation in every province and every city should remember and observe the days of Purim for all time to come.

29 Then Queen Esther, the daughter of Abihail, along with Mordecai, also wrote a letter, putting her full authority behind the letter about Purim, which Mordecai had written earlier. 30 The letter was addressed to all the Jews, and copies were sent to all the 127 provinces of the Persian Empire. It wished the Jews peace and security 31 and directed them and their descendants to observe the days of Purim at the proper time, just as they had adopted rules for the observance of fasts and times of mourning. This was commanded by both Mordecai and Queen Esther. 32 Esther's command, confirming the rules for Purim, was written down on a scroll.

The Greatness of Xerxes and Mordecai

10 King Xerxes imposed forced labor on the people of the coastal regions of his empire as well as on those of the interior. All the great and wonderful things he did, as well as the whole story of how he promoted Mordecai to high office, are recorded in the official records of the kings of Persia and Media. Mordecai the Jew was second in rank only to King Xerxes himself. He was honored and well-liked by his fellow Jews. He worked for the good of his people and for the security of all their descendants.

Footnotes:

  1. Esther 1:1 Hebrew Cush: Cush is the ancient name of the extensive territory south of the First Cataract of the Nile River. This region was called Ethiopia in Graeco-Roman times, and included within its borders most of modern Sudan and some of present-day Ethiopia (Abyssinia).
  2. Esther 1:8 There were no limits … wanted; or But no one was forced to drink; the king had given orders to the palace servants that everyone could have as much or as little as they wanted.
  3. Esther 1:22 saying; or in order.
  4. Esther 2:18 holiday; or remission of taxes.
  5. Esther 3:1 An Amalekite king; his people were traditional enemies of the people of Israel.
  6. Esther 6:2 AddEsth 2:21; AddEsth 2:22
  7. Esther 6:7 Probably a type of crown.
  8. Esther 7:4 Probable text and not … it; Hebrew unclear.
  9. Esther 8:3 See 3.1.
  10. Esther 8:9 Hebrew Cush: Cush is the ancient name of the extensive territory south of the First Cataract of the Nile River. This region was called Ethiopia in Graeco-Roman times, and included within its borders most of modern Sudan and some of present-day Ethiopia (Abyssinia).
  11. Esther 9:2 In the Jewish quarter of every city; or In every Jewish city.
  12. Esther 9:24 AddEsth 3:7
Good News Translation (GNT)

Copyright © 1992 by American Bible Society

Esther 1-10 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

King Ahasuerus Deposes Queen Vashti

This happened in the days of Ahasuerus, the same Ahasuerus who ruled over one hundred twenty-seven provinces from India to Ethiopia.[a] In those days when King Ahasuerus sat on his royal throne in the citadel of Susa, in the third year of his reign, he gave a banquet for all his officials and ministers. The army of Persia and Media and the nobles and governors of the provinces were present, while he displayed the great wealth of his kingdom and the splendor and pomp of his majesty for many days, one hundred eighty days in all.

When these days were completed, the king gave for all the people present in the citadel of Susa, both great and small, a banquet lasting for seven days, in the court of the garden of the king’s palace. There were white cotton curtains and blue hangings tied with cords of fine linen and purple to silver rings[b] and marble pillars. There were couches of gold and silver on a mosaic pavement of porphyry, marble, mother-of-pearl, and colored stones. Drinks were served in golden goblets, goblets of different kinds, and the royal wine was lavished according to the bounty of the king. Drinking was by flagons, without restraint; for the king had given orders to all the officials of his palace to do as each one desired. Furthermore, Queen Vashti gave a banquet for the women in the palace of King Ahasuerus.

10 On the seventh day, when the king was merry with wine, he commanded Mehuman, Biztha, Harbona, Bigtha and Abagtha, Zethar and Carkas, the seven eunuchs who attended him, 11 to bring Queen Vashti before the king, wearing the royal crown, in order to show the peoples and the officials her beauty; for she was fair to behold. 12 But Queen Vashti refused to come at the king’s command conveyed by the eunuchs. At this the king was enraged, and his anger burned within him.

13 Then the king consulted the sages who knew the laws[c] (for this was the king’s procedure toward all who were versed in law and custom, 14 and those next to him were Carshena, Shethar, Admatha, Tarshish, Meres, Marsena, and Memucan, the seven officials of Persia and Media, who had access to the king, and sat first in the kingdom): 15 “According to the law, what is to be done to Queen Vashti because she has not performed the command of King Ahasuerus conveyed by the eunuchs?” 16 Then Memucan said in the presence of the king and the officials, “Not only has Queen Vashti done wrong to the king, but also to all the officials and all the peoples who are in all the provinces of King Ahasuerus. 17 For this deed of the queen will be made known to all women, causing them to look with contempt on their husbands, since they will say, ‘King Ahasuerus commanded Queen Vashti to be brought before him, and she did not come.’ 18 This very day the noble ladies of Persia and Media who have heard of the queen’s behavior will rebel against[d] the king’s officials, and there will be no end of contempt and wrath! 19 If it pleases the king, let a royal order go out from him, and let it be written among the laws of the Persians and the Medes so that it may not be altered, that Vashti is never again to come before King Ahasuerus; and let the king give her royal position to another who is better than she. 20 So when the decree made by the king is proclaimed throughout all his kingdom, vast as it is, all women will give honor to their husbands, high and low alike.”

21 This advice pleased the king and the officials, and the king did as Memucan proposed; 22 he sent letters to all the royal provinces, to every province in its own script and to every people in its own language, declaring that every man should be master in his own house.[e]

Esther Becomes Queen

After these things, when the anger of King Ahasuerus had abated, he remembered Vashti and 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 out for the king. And let the king appoint commissioners in all the provinces of his kingdom to gather all the beautiful young virgins to the harem in the citadel of Susa under custody of Hegai, the king’s eunuch, who is in charge of the women; let their cosmetic treatments be given them. And let the girl who pleases the king be queen instead of Vashti.” This pleased the king, and he did so.

Now there was a Jew in the citadel of Susa whose name was Mordecai son of Jair son of Shimei son of Kish, a Benjaminite. Kish[f] had been carried away from Jerusalem among the captives carried away with King Jeconiah of Judah, whom King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon had carried away. Mordecai[g] had brought up Hadassah, that is Esther, his cousin, for she had neither father nor mother; the girl was fair and beautiful, and when her father and her mother died, Mordecai adopted her as his own daughter. So when the king’s order and his edict were proclaimed, and when many young women were gathered in the citadel of Susa in custody of Hegai, Esther also was taken into the king’s palace and put in custody of Hegai, who had charge of the women. The girl pleased him and won his favor, and he quickly provided her with her cosmetic treatments and her portion of food, and with seven chosen maids from the king’s palace, and advanced her and her maids to the best place in the harem. 10 Esther did not reveal her people or kindred, for Mordecai had charged her not to tell. 11 Every day Mordecai would walk around in front of the court of the harem, to learn how Esther was and how she fared.

12 The turn came for each girl to go in to King Ahasuerus, after being twelve months under the regulations for the women, since this was the regular period of their cosmetic treatment, six months with oil of myrrh and six months with perfumes and cosmetics for women. 13 When the girl went in to the king she was given whatever she asked for to take with her from the harem to the king’s palace. 14 In the evening she went in; then in the morning she came back to the second harem in custody of Shaashgaz, the king’s eunuch, who was in charge of the concubines; she did not go in to the king again, unless the king delighted in her and she was summoned by name.

15 When the turn came for Esther daughter of Abihail the uncle of Mordecai, who had adopted her as his own daughter, to go in to the king, she asked for nothing except what Hegai the king’s eunuch, who had charge of the women, advised. Now Esther was admired by all who saw her. 16 When Esther was taken to King Ahasuerus in 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; of all the virgins she won his favor and devotion, so that he set the royal crown on her head and made her queen instead of Vashti. 18 Then the king gave a great banquet to all his officials and ministers—“Esther’s banquet.” He also granted a holiday[h] to the provinces, and gave gifts with royal liberality.

Mordecai Discovers a Plot

19 When the virgins were being gathered together,[i] Mordecai was sitting at the king’s gate. 20 Now Esther had not revealed her kindred or her people, as Mordecai had charged her; for Esther obeyed Mordecai just as when she was brought up by him. 21 In those days, while Mordecai was sitting at the king’s gate, Bigthan and Teresh, two of the king’s eunuchs, who guarded the threshold, became angry and conspired to assassinate[j] King Ahasuerus. 22 But the matter came to the knowledge of Mordecai, and he told it to Queen Esther, and Esther told the king in the name of Mordecai. 23 When the affair was investigated and found to be so, both the men were hanged on the gallows. It was recorded in the book of the annals in the presence of the king.

Haman Undertakes to Destroy the Jews

After these things King Ahasuerus promoted Haman son of Hammedatha the Agagite, and advanced him and set his seat above all the officials who were with him. And all the king’s servants who were at the king’s gate bowed down and did obeisance to Haman; for the king had so commanded concerning him. But Mordecai did not bow down or do obeisance. Then the king’s servants who were at the king’s gate said to Mordecai, “Why do you disobey the king’s command?” When they spoke to him day after day and he would not listen to them, they told Haman, in order to see whether Mordecai’s words would avail; for he had told them that he was a Jew. When Haman saw that Mordecai did not bow down or do obeisance to him, Haman was infuriated. But he thought it beneath him to lay hands on Mordecai alone. So, having been told who Mordecai’s people were, Haman plotted to destroy all the Jews, the people of Mordecai, throughout the whole kingdom of Ahasuerus.

In the first month, which is the month of Nisan, in the twelfth year of King Ahasuerus, they cast Pur—which means “the lot”—before Haman for the day and for the month, and the lot fell on the thirteenth day[k] of the twelfth month, which is the month of Adar. Then Haman said to King Ahasuerus, “There is a certain people scattered and separated among the peoples in all the provinces of your kingdom; their laws are different from those of every other people, and they do not keep the king’s laws, so that it is not appropriate for the king to tolerate them. If it pleases the king, let a decree be issued for their destruction, and I will pay ten thousand talents of silver into the hands of those who have charge of the king’s business, so that they may put it into the king’s treasuries.” 10 So the king took his signet ring from his hand and gave it to Haman son of Hammedatha the Agagite, the enemy of the Jews. 11 The king said to Haman, “The money is given to you, and the people as well, to do with them as it seems good to you.”

12 Then the king’s secretaries were summoned on the thirteenth day of the first month, and an edict, according to all that Haman commanded, was written to the king’s satraps and to the governors over all the provinces and to the officials of all the peoples, to every province in its own script and every people in its own language; it was written in the name of King Ahasuerus and sealed with the king’s ring. 13 Letters were sent by couriers to all the king’s provinces, giving orders to destroy, to kill, and to annihilate all Jews, young and old, women and children, in one day, the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, which is the month of Adar, and to plunder their goods. 14 A copy of the document was to be issued as a decree in every province by proclamation, calling on all the peoples to be ready for that day. 15 The couriers went quickly by order of the king, and the decree was issued in the citadel of Susa. The king and Haman sat down to drink; but the city of Susa was thrown into confusion.

Esther Agrees to Help the Jews

When Mordecai learned all that had been done, Mordecai tore his clothes and put on sackcloth and ashes, and went through the city, wailing with a loud and bitter cry; he went up to the entrance of the king’s gate, for no one might enter the king’s gate clothed with sackcloth. In every province, wherever the king’s command and his decree came, there was great mourning among the Jews, with fasting and weeping and lamenting, and most of them lay in sackcloth and ashes.

When Esther’s maids and her eunuchs came and told her, the queen was deeply distressed; she sent garments to clothe Mordecai, so that he might take off his sackcloth; but he would not accept them. Then Esther called for Hathach, one of the king’s eunuchs, who had been appointed to attend her, and ordered him to go to Mordecai to learn what was happening and why. Hathach went out to Mordecai in the open square of the city in front of the king’s gate, and Mordecai told him all that had happened to him, and the exact sum of money that Haman had promised to pay into the king’s treasuries for the destruction of the Jews. Mordecai also gave him a copy of the written decree issued in Susa for their destruction, that he might show it to Esther, explain it to her, and charge her to go to the king to make supplication to him and entreat him for her people.

Hathach went and told Esther what Mordecai had said. 10 Then Esther spoke to Hathach and gave him a message for Mordecai, saying, 11 “All the king’s servants and the people of the king’s provinces know that if any man or woman goes to the king inside the inner court without being called, there is but one law—all alike are to be put to death. Only if the king holds out the golden scepter to someone, may that person live. I myself have not been called to come in to the king for thirty days.” 12 When they told Mordecai what Esther had said, 13 Mordecai told them to reply to Esther, “Do not think that in the king’s palace you will escape any more than all the other Jews. 14 For if you keep silence at such a time as this, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another quarter, but you and your father’s family will perish. Who knows? Perhaps you have come to royal dignity for just such a time as this.” 15 Then Esther said in reply to Mordecai, 16 “Go, gather all the Jews to be found in Susa, and hold a fast on my behalf, and neither eat nor drink for three days, night or day. I and my maids will also fast as you do. After that I will go to the king, though it is against the law; and if I perish, I perish.” 17 Mordecai then went away and did everything as Esther had ordered him.

Esther’s Banquet

On the third day Esther put on her royal robes and stood in the inner court of the king’s palace, opposite the king’s hall. The king was sitting on his royal throne inside the palace opposite the entrance to the palace. As soon as the king saw Queen Esther standing in the court, she won his favor and he held out to her the golden scepter that was in his hand. Then Esther approached and touched the top of the scepter. The king said to her, “What is it, Queen Esther? What is your request? It shall be given you, even to the half of my kingdom.” Then Esther said, “If it pleases the king, let the king and Haman come today to a banquet that I have prepared for the king.” Then the king said, “Bring Haman quickly, so that we may do as Esther desires.” So the king and Haman came to the banquet that Esther had prepared. While they were drinking wine, the king said to Esther, “What is your petition? It shall be granted you. And what is your request? Even to the half of my kingdom, it shall be fulfilled.” Then Esther said, “This is my petition and request: If I have won the king’s favor, and if it pleases the king to grant my petition and fulfill my request, let the king and Haman come tomorrow to the banquet that I will prepare for them, and then I will do as the king has said.”

Haman Plans to Have Mordecai Hanged

Haman went out that day happy and in good spirits. But when Haman saw Mordecai in the king’s gate, and observed that he neither rose nor trembled before him, he was infuriated with Mordecai; 10 nevertheless Haman restrained himself and went home. Then he sent and called for his friends and his wife Zeresh, 11 and Haman recounted to them the splendor of his riches, the number of his sons, all the promotions with which the king had honored him, and how he had advanced him above the officials and the ministers of the king. 12 Haman added, “Even Queen Esther let no one but myself come with the king to the banquet that she prepared. Tomorrow also I am invited by her, together with the king. 13 Yet all this does me no good so long as I see the Jew Mordecai sitting at the king’s gate.” 14 Then his wife Zeresh and all his friends said to him, “Let a gallows fifty cubits high be made, and in the morning tell the king to have Mordecai hanged on it; then go with the king to the banquet in good spirits.” This advice pleased Haman, and he had the gallows made.

The King Honors Mordecai

On that night the king could not sleep, and he gave orders to bring the book of records, the annals, and they were read to the king. It was found written how Mordecai had told about Bigthana and Teresh, two of the king’s eunuchs, who guarded the threshold, and who had conspired to assassinate[l] King Ahasuerus. Then the king said, “What honor or distinction has been bestowed on Mordecai for this?” The king’s servants who attended him said, “Nothing has been done for him.” The king said, “Who is in the court?” Now Haman had just entered the outer court of the king’s palace to speak to the king about having Mordecai hanged on the gallows that he had prepared for him. So the king’s servants told him, “Haman is there, standing in the court.” The king said, “Let him come in.” So Haman came in, and the king said to him, “What shall be done for the man whom the king wishes to honor?” Haman said to himself, “Whom would the king wish to honor more than me?” So Haman said to the king, “For the man whom the king wishes to honor, let royal robes be brought, which the king has worn, and a horse that the king has ridden, with a royal crown on its head. Let the robes and the horse be handed over to one of the king’s most noble officials; let him[m] robe the man whom the king wishes to honor, and let him[n] conduct the man on horseback through the open square of the city, proclaiming before him: ‘Thus shall it be done for the man whom the king wishes to honor.’” 10 Then the king said to Haman, “Quickly, take the robes and the horse, as you have said, and do so to the Jew Mordecai who sits at the king’s gate. Leave out nothing that you have mentioned.” 11 So Haman took the robes and the horse and robed Mordecai and led him riding through the open square of the city, proclaiming, “Thus shall it be done for the man whom the king wishes to honor.”

12 Then Mordecai returned to the king’s gate, but Haman hurried to his house, mourning and with his head covered. 13 When Haman told his wife Zeresh and all his friends everything that had happened to him, his advisers and his wife Zeresh said to him, “If Mordecai, before whom your downfall has begun, is of the Jewish people, you will not prevail against him, but will surely fall before him.”

Haman’s Downfall and Mordecai’s Advancement

14 While they were still talking with him, the king’s eunuchs arrived and hurried Haman off to the banquet that Esther had prepared. So the king and Haman went in to feast with Queen Esther. On the second day, as they were drinking wine, the king again said to Esther, “What is your petition, Queen Esther? It shall be granted you. And what is your request? Even to the half of my kingdom, it shall be fulfilled.” Then Queen Esther answered, “If I have won your favor, O king, and if it pleases the king, let my life be given me—that is my petition—and the lives of my people—that is my request. For we have been sold, I and my people, to be destroyed, to be killed, and to be annihilated. If we had been sold merely as slaves, men and women, I would have held my peace; but no enemy can compensate for this damage to the king.”[o] Then King Ahasuerus said to Queen Esther, “Who is he, and where is he, who has presumed to do this?” Esther said, “A foe and enemy, this wicked Haman!” Then Haman was terrified before the king and the queen. The king rose from the feast in wrath and went into the palace garden, but Haman stayed to beg his life from Queen Esther, for he saw that the king had determined to destroy him. When the king returned from the palace garden to the banquet hall, Haman had thrown himself on the couch where Esther was reclining; and the king said, “Will he even assault the queen in my presence, in my own house?” As the words left the mouth of the king, they covered Haman’s face. Then Harbona, one of the eunuchs in attendance on the king, said, “Look, the very gallows that Haman has prepared for Mordecai, whose word saved the king, stands at Haman’s house, fifty cubits high.” And the king said, “Hang him on that.” 10 So they hanged Haman on the gallows that he had prepared for Mordecai. Then the anger of the king abated.

Esther Saves the Jews

On that day King Ahasuerus gave to Queen Esther the house of Haman, the enemy of the Jews; and Mordecai came before the king, for Esther had told what he was to her. Then the king took off his signet ring, which he had taken from Haman, and gave it to Mordecai. So Esther set Mordecai over the house of Haman.

Then Esther spoke again to the king; she fell at his feet, weeping and pleading with him to avert the evil design of Haman the Agagite and the plot that he had devised against the Jews. The king held out the golden scepter to Esther, and Esther rose and stood before the king. She said, “If it pleases the king, and if I have won his favor, and if the thing seems right before the king, and I have his approval, let an order be written to revoke the letters devised by Haman son of Hammedatha the Agagite, which he wrote giving orders to destroy the Jews who are in all the provinces of the king. For how can I bear to see the calamity that is coming on my people? Or how can I bear to see the destruction of my kindred?” Then King Ahasuerus said to Queen Esther and to the Jew Mordecai, “See, I have given Esther the house of Haman, and they have hanged him on the gallows, because he plotted to lay hands on the Jews. You may write as you please with regard to the Jews, in the name of the king, and seal it with the king’s ring; for an edict written in the name of the king and sealed with the king’s ring cannot be revoked.”

The king’s secretaries were summoned at that time, in the third month, which is the month of Sivan, on the twenty-third day; and an edict was written, according to all that Mordecai commanded, to the Jews and to the satraps and the governors and the officials of the provinces from India to Ethiopia,[p] one hundred twenty-seven provinces, to every province in its own script and to every people in its own language, and also to the Jews in their script and their language. 10 He wrote letters in the name of King Ahasuerus, sealed them with the king’s ring, and sent them by mounted couriers riding on fast steeds bred from the royal herd.[q] 11 By these letters the king allowed the Jews who were in every city to assemble and defend their lives, to destroy, to kill, and to annihilate any armed force of any people or province that might attack them, with their children and women, and to plunder their goods 12 on a single day throughout all the provinces of King Ahasuerus, on the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, which is the month of Adar. 13 A copy of the writ was to be issued as a decree in every province and published to all peoples, and the Jews were to be ready on that day to take revenge on their enemies. 14 So the couriers, mounted on their swift royal steeds, hurried out, urged by the king’s command. The decree was issued in the citadel of Susa.

15 Then Mordecai went out from the presence of the king, wearing royal robes of blue and white, with a great golden crown and a mantle of fine linen and purple, while the city of Susa shouted and rejoiced. 16 For the Jews there was light and gladness, joy and honor. 17 In every province and in every city, wherever the king’s command and his edict came, there was gladness and joy among the Jews, a festival and a holiday. Furthermore, many of the peoples of the country professed to be Jews, because the fear of the Jews had fallen upon them.

Destruction of the Enemies of the Jews

Now in the twelfth month, which is the month of Adar, on the thirteenth day, when the king’s command and edict were about to be executed, on the very day when the enemies of the Jews hoped to gain power over them, but which had been changed to a day when the Jews would gain power over their foes, the Jews gathered in their cities throughout all the provinces of King Ahasuerus to lay hands on those who had sought their ruin; and no one could withstand them, because the fear of them had fallen upon all peoples. All the officials of the provinces, the satraps and the governors, and the royal officials were supporting the Jews, because the fear of Mordecai had fallen upon them. For Mordecai was powerful in the king’s house, and his fame spread throughout all the provinces as the man Mordecai grew more and more powerful. So the Jews struck down all their enemies with the sword, slaughtering, and destroying them, and did as they pleased to those who hated them. In the citadel of Susa the Jews killed and destroyed five hundred people. They killed Parshandatha, Dalphon, Aspatha, Poratha, Adalia, Aridatha, Parmashta, Arisai, Aridai, Vaizatha, 10 the ten sons of Haman son of Hammedatha, the enemy of the Jews; but they did not touch the plunder.

11 That very day the number of those killed in the citadel of Susa was reported to the king. 12 The king said to Queen Esther, “In the citadel of Susa the Jews have killed five hundred people and also the ten sons of Haman. What have they done in the rest of the king’s provinces? Now what is your petition? It shall be granted you. And what further is your request? It shall be fulfilled.” 13 Esther said, “If it pleases the king, let the Jews who are in Susa be allowed tomorrow also to do according to this day’s edict, and let the ten sons of Haman be hanged on the gallows.” 14 So the king commanded this to be done; a decree was issued in Susa, and the ten sons of Haman were hanged. 15 The Jews who were in Susa gathered also on the fourteenth day of the month of Adar and they killed three hundred persons in Susa; but they did not touch the plunder.

16 Now the other Jews who were in the king’s provinces also gathered to defend their lives, and gained relief from their enemies, and killed seventy-five thousand of those who hated them; but they laid no hands on the plunder. 17 This was on the thirteenth day of the month of Adar, and on the fourteenth day they rested and made that a day of feasting and gladness.

The Feast of Purim Inaugurated

18 But the Jews who were in Susa gathered on the thirteenth day and on the fourteenth, and rested on the fifteenth day, making that a day of feasting and gladness. 19 Therefore the Jews of the villages, who live in the open towns, hold the fourteenth day of the month of Adar as a day for gladness and feasting, a holiday on which they send gifts of food to one another.

20 Mordecai recorded these things, and sent letters to all the Jews who were in all the provinces of King Ahasuerus, both near and far, 21 enjoining them that they should keep the fourteenth day of the month Adar and also the fifteenth day of the same month, year by year, 22 as the days on which the Jews gained relief from their enemies, and as the month that had been turned for them from sorrow into gladness and from mourning into a holiday; that they should make them days of feasting and gladness, days for sending gifts of food to one another and presents to the poor. 23 So the Jews adopted as a custom what they had begun to do, as Mordecai had written to them.

24 Haman son of Hammedatha the Agagite, the enemy of all the Jews, had plotted against the Jews to destroy them, and had cast Pur—that is “the lot”—to crush and destroy them; 25 but when Esther came before the king, he gave orders in writing that the wicked plot that he had devised against the Jews should come upon his own head, and that he and his sons should be hanged on the gallows. 26 Therefore these days are called Purim, from the word Pur. Thus because of all that was written in this letter, and of what they had faced in this matter, and of what had happened to them, 27 the Jews established and accepted as a custom for themselves and their descendants and all who joined them, that without fail they would continue to observe these two days every year, as it was written and at the time appointed. 28 These days should be remembered and kept throughout every generation, in every family, province, and city; and these days of Purim should never fall into disuse among the Jews, nor should the commemoration of these days cease among their descendants.

29 Queen Esther daughter of Abihail, along with the Jew Mordecai, gave full written authority, confirming this second letter about Purim. 30 Letters were sent wishing peace and security to all the Jews, to the one hundred twenty-seven provinces of the kingdom of Ahasuerus, 31 and giving orders that these days of Purim should be observed at their appointed seasons, as the Jew Mordecai and Queen Esther enjoined on the Jews, just as they had laid down for themselves and for their descendants regulations concerning their fasts and their lamentations. 32 The command of Queen Esther fixed these practices of Purim, and it was recorded in writing.

10 King Ahasuerus laid tribute on the land and on the islands of the sea. All the acts of his power and might, and the full account of the high honor of Mordecai, to which the king advanced him, are they not written in the annals of the kings of Media and Persia? For Mordecai the Jew was next in rank to King Ahasuerus, and he was powerful among the Jews and popular with his many kindred, for he sought the good of his people and interceded for the welfare of all his descendants.

Footnotes:

  1. Esther 1:1 Or Nubia; Heb Cush
  2. Esther 1:6 Or rods
  3. Esther 1:13 Cn: Heb times
  4. Esther 1:18 Cn: Heb will tell
  5. Esther 1:22 Heb adds and speak according to the language of his people
  6. Esther 2:6 Heb a Benjaminite who
  7. Esther 2:7 Heb He
  8. Esther 2:18 Or an amnesty
  9. Esther 2:19 Heb adds a second time
  10. Esther 2:21 Heb to lay hands on
  11. Esther 3:7 Cn Compare Gk and verse 13 below: Heb the twelfth month
  12. Esther 6:2 Heb to lay hands on
  13. Esther 6:9 Heb them
  14. Esther 6:9 Heb them
  15. Esther 7:4 Meaning of Heb uncertain
  16. Esther 8:9 Or Nubia; Heb Cush
  17. Esther 8:10 Meaning of Heb uncertain
New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Esther 1-10 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.

19 When the girls would gather on other occasions, Mordekhai would sit at the King’s Gate. 20 Ester had not yet revealed her family ties or her people, as Mordekhai had ordered her; for Ester continued obeying what Mordekhai told her to do, as she had when he was raising her. 21 On one of those occasions, when Mordekhai was sitting at the King’s Gate, two of the king’s officers, Bigtan and Teresh, from the group in charge of the private entryways, became angry and conspired to assassinate King Achashverosh. 22 But Mordekhai learned about it and told Ester the queen. Ester reported it to the king, crediting Mordekhai. 23 The matter was investigated, found to be true, and both were hanged on a stake. All this was recorded in the daily journal that was kept with the king.

Some time later King Achashverosh began to single out Haman the son of Hamdata the Agagi for advancement; eventually he gave him precedence over all his fellow officers. All the king’s servants at the King’s Gate would kneel and bow down before Haman, because the king had so ordered. But Mordekhai would neither kneel nor bow down to him. The king’s servants at the King’s Gate asked Mordekhai, “Why don’t you obey the king’s order?” But after they had confronted him a number of times without his paying attention to them, they told Haman, in order to find out whether Mordekhai’s explanation that he was a Jew would suffice to justify his behavior. Haman was furious when he saw that Mordekhai was not kneeling and bowing down to him. However, on learning what people Mordekhai belonged to, it seemed to him a waste to lay hands on Mordekhai alone. Rather, he decided to destroy all of Mordekhai’s people, the Jews, throughout the whole of Achashverosh’s kingdom.

In the first month, the month of Nisan, in the twelfth year of Achashverosh, they began throwing pur (that is, they cast lots) before Haman every day and every month until the twelfth month, which is the month of Adar. Then Haman said to Achashverosh, “There is a particular people scattered and dispersed among the peoples in all the provinces of your kingdom. Their laws are different from those of every other people; moreover, they don’t observe the king’s laws. It doesn’t befit the king to tolerate them. If it please the king, have a decree written for their destruction; and I will hand over 330 tons of silver to the officials in charge of the king’s affairs to deposit in the royal treasury.”

10 The king took his signet ring from his hand and gave it to Haman the son of Hamdata the Agagi, the enemy of the Jews. 11 The king said to Haman, “The money is given to you, and the people too, to do with as seems good to you.”

12 The king’s secretaries were summoned on the thirteenth day of the first month. They wrote down all Haman’s orders to the king’s army commanders and governors in all the provinces and to the officials of every people, to each province in its own script and to each people in their own language; everything was written in the name of King Achashverosh and sealed with the king’s signet ring. 13 Letters were sent by courier to all the royal provinces “to destroy, kill and exterminate all Jews, from young to old, including small children and women, on a specific day, the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, the month of Adar, and to seize their goods as plunder.” 14 A copy of the document to be issued as a decree in every province was to be publicly proclaimed to all the peoples, so that they would be ready for that day. 15 At the king’s order the runners went out quickly, and the decree was issued in Shushan the capital. Then the king and Haman sat down for a drink together, but the city of Shushan was thrown into confusion.

When Mordekhai learned everything that had been done, he tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and ashes and went out through the city, lamenting and crying bitterly. He stopped before entering the King’s Gate, since no one was allowed to go inside the King’s Gate wearing sackcloth. In every province reached by the king’s order and decree, there was great mourning among the Jews, with fasting, weeping and wailing, as many lay down on sackcloth and ashes.

When the girls and officials attending Ester came and informed her of this, the queen became deeply distressed. She sent clothes for Mordekhai to wear instead of his sackcloth, but he wouldn’t accept them. So Ester summoned Hatakh, one of the king’s officials attending her, and instructed him to go to Mordekhai and find out what this was all about and why. Hatakh went out to Mordekhai in the open space in front of the King’s Gate, and Mordekhai told him everything that had happened to him and exactly how much silver Haman had promised to put in the royal treasury for the destruction of the Jews. He also gave him a copy of the decree for their destruction issued in Shushan; so that he could show it to Ester, explain it to her, and then instruct her to approach the king, intercede with him and implore his favor on behalf of her people. Hatakh returned and told Ester what Mordekhai had said.

10 Then Ester spoke to Hatakh and gave him this message for Mordekhai: 11 “All the king’s officials, as well as the people in the royal provinces, know that if anyone, man or woman, approaches the king in the inner courtyard without being summoned, there is just one law — he must be put to death — unless the king holds out the gold scepter for him to remain alive; and I haven’t been summoned to the king for the past thirty days.”

12 Upon being told what Ester had said, Mordekhai 13 asked them to give Ester this answer: “Don’t suppose that merely because you happen to be in the royal palace you will escape any more than the other Jews. 14 For if you fail to speak up now, relief and deliverance will come to the Jews from a different direction; but you and your father’s family will perish. Who knows whether you didn’t come into your royal position precisely for such a time as this.”

15 Ester had them return this answer to Mordekhai: 16 “Go, assemble all the Jews to be found in Shushan, and have them fast for me, neither eating nor drinking for three days, night and day; also I and the girls attending me will fast the same way. Then I will go in to the king, which is against the law; and if I perish, I perish.” 17 Then Mordekhai went his way and did everything Ester had ordered him to do.

On the third day, Ester put on her royal robes and stood in the inner courtyard of the king’s palace, opposite the king’s hall. The king was sitting on his royal throne in the king’s hall, across from the entrance to the hall. When the king saw Ester the queen standing in the courtyard, she won his favor; so the king extended the gold scepter in his hand toward Ester. Ester approached and touched the tip of the scepter. “What is it you want, Queen Ester?” the king asked her. “Whatever your request, up to half the kingdom, it will be given to you.” “If it is all right with the king,” answered Ester, “let the king and Haman come today to the banquet I have prepared for him.” The king said, “Bring Haman quickly, so that what Ester has asked for can be done.” (6) So the king and Haman came to the banquet Ester had prepared.

(7) At the banquet of wine the king again said to Ester, “Whatever your request, you will be granted it; whatever you want, up to half the kingdom, it will be done.” (8) Then Ester answered, “My request, what I want, is this: if I have won the king’s favor, if it pleases the king to grant my request and do what I want, let the king and Haman come to the banquet which I will prepare for them; and tomorrow I will do as the king has said.”

That day Haman went out happy and in good spirits. But when Haman saw Mordekhai at the King’s Gate, that he neither rose nor moved for him, Haman was infuriated with Mordekhai. 10 Nevertheless, Haman restrained himself and went home, where he summoned and brought his friends and Zeresh his wife. 11 Haman boasted to them about his vast wealth, his many sons, and everything connected with how the king had promoted him and given him precedence over the other officials and servants of the king. 12 “Indeed,” Haman added, “Ester the queen let nobody into the banquet with the king that she had prepared except myself; and tomorrow, too, I am invited by her, together with the king. 13 Yet none of this does me any good at all, as long as I keep seeing Mordekhai the Jew remaining seated at the King’s Gate.” 14 At this Zeresh his wife and all his friends said to him, “Have a gallows seventy-five feet high constructed, and in the morning speak to the king about having Mordekhai hanged on it. Then go in, and enjoy yourself with the king at the banquet.” Haman liked the idea, so he had a gallows made.

That night, the king couldn’t sleep; so he ordered the records of the daily journal brought, and they were read to the king. It was found written that Mordekhai had told about Bigtana and Teresh, two of the king’s officers from the group in charge of the private entryways, who had conspired to assassinate King Achashverosh. The king asked, “What honor or distinction was conferred on Mordekhai for this?” The king’s servants answered, “Nothing was done for him.” The king then asked, “Who’s that in the courtyard?” For Haman had come into the outer courtyard of the king’s palace to speak to the king about hanging Mordekhai on the gallows he had prepared for him. The king’s servants told him, “It’s Haman standing there in the courtyard.” The king said, “Have him come in.” So Haman came in. The king said to him, “What should be done for a man that the king wants to honor?” Haman thought to himself, “Whom would the king want to honor more than me?” So Haman answered the king, “For a man the king wants to honor, have royal robes brought which the king himself wears and the horse the king himself rides, with a royal crown on its head. The robes and the horse should be handed over to one of the king’s most respected officials, and they should put the robes on the man the king wants to honor and lead him on horseback through the streets of the city, proclaiming ahead of him, ‘This is what is done for a man whom the king wants to honor.’” 10 The king said to Haman, “Hurry, and take the robes and the horse, as you said, and do this for Mordekhai the Jew, who sits at the King’s Gate. Don’t leave out anything you mentioned.”

11 So Haman took the robes and the horse, dressed Mordekhai and led him riding through the streets of the city, as he proclaimed ahead of him, “This is what is done for a man whom the king wants to honor.” 12 Then Mordekhai returned to the King’s Gate; but Haman rushed home with his head covered in mourning.

13 After Haman had told Zeresh his wife and all his friends everything that had happened to him, his advisers and his wife Zeresh said to him, “If Mordekhai, before whom you have begun to fall, is a Jew, you will not get the better of him; on the contrary, your downfall before him is certain.”

14 While they were still talking with him, the king’s officials came, hurrying to bring Haman to the banquet Ester had prepared.

So the king and Haman went to Queen Ester’s banquet; and the king again said to Ester at the wine banquet, “Whatever your request, Queen Ester, you will be granted it; whatever you want, up to half the kingdom, it will be done.” Ester the queen answered, “If I have won your favor, king, and if it pleases the king, then what I ask be given me is my own life and the lives of my people. For we have been sold, I and my people, to be destroyed, killed, exterminated. If we had only been sold as men- and women-slaves, I would have remained quiet; since then [our] trouble would not have been worth the damage it would have caused the king [to alter the situation].” King Achashverosh asked Ester the queen, “Who is he? Where is the man who dared to do such a thing?” Ester said, “A ruthless enemy — it’s this wicked Haman!” Haman stood aghast, terrified before the king and queen. In a rage, the king got up from the wine banquet and went out to the palace garden. But Haman remained, pleading with Ester the queen to spare his life; for he could see that the king had decided to do him in. Haman had just fallen on the couch where Ester was, when the king returned from the palace garden to the wine banquet. He shouted, “Is he even going to rape the queen here in the palace, before my very eyes?” The moment these words left the king’s mouth, they covered Haman’s face. Harvonah, one of the king’s attendants, said, “Look! The gallows seventy-five feet high that Haman made for Mordekhai, who spoke only good for the king, is standing at Haman’s house.” The king said, “Hang him on it.” 10 So they hanged Haman on the gallows he had prepared for Mordekhai. Then the king’s anger subsided.

That same day King Achashverosh gave the house of Haman, the enemy of the Jews, to Ester the queen. Also Mordekhai appeared before the king, for Ester had revealed his relationship to her. The king removed his signet ring, which he had taken back from Haman, and gave it to Mordekhai. Then Ester put Mordekhai in charge of Haman’s house.

Again Ester spoke to the king; she fell at his feet and begged him with tears to put an end to the mischief Haman the Agagi had caused by the scheme he had worked out against the Jews. The king extended the gold scepter toward Ester. So Ester got up and stood in front of the king. She said, “If it pleases the king, if I have won his favor, if the matter seem right to the king and if I have his approval, then let an order be written rescinding the letters devised by Haman the son of Hamdata the Agagi, which he wrote to destroy the Jews in all the royal provinces. For how can I bear to see the disaster that will overcome my people? How can I endure seeing the extermination of my kinsmen?” King Achashverosh said to Ester the queen and Mordekhai the Jew, “Listen! I gave Ester the house of Haman, and they hanged him on the gallows, because he threatened the lives of the Jews. You should issue a decree in the king’s name for whatever you want concerning the Jews, and seal it with the king’s signet ring; because a decree written in the king’s name and sealed with the king’s ring can’t be rescinded by anyone.”

The king’s secretaries were summoned at that time, on the twenty-third day of the third month, the month of Sivan; and a decree was written according to everything Mordekhai ordered concerning the Jews, to the army commanders, governors and officials of the provinces from India to Ethiopia, 127 provinces, to each province in its script and to each people in their language, also to the Jews in their script and language. 10 They wrote in the name of King Achashverosh and sealed it with the king’s signet ring; they sent the letters by couriers on horseback riding fast horses used in the king’s service and bred from the royal stock. 11 The letters said that the king had granted the Jews in every city the right “to assemble and defend their lives by destroying, killing and exterminating any forces of any people or province that would attack them, their little ones or their women or would try to seize their goods as plunder 12 on the designated day in any of the provinces of King Achashverosh, namely, the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, the month of Adar.” 13 A copy of the edict was to be issued as a decree in every province and proclaimed to all the peoples, and the Jews were to be ready on that day to take vengeance against their enemies. 14 Couriers riding fast horses used in the king’s service left quickly, pressed by the king’s order; and the decree was issued in Shushan the capital.

15 Meanwhile, Mordekhai left the king’s presence arrayed in royal blue and white, wearing a large gold crown and a robe of fine linen and purple; and the city of Shushan shouted for joy. 16 For the Jews, all was light, gladness, joy and honor. 17 In every province and city where the king’s order and decree arrived, the Jews had gladness and joy, a feast and a holiday. Many from the peoples of the land became Jews, because fear of the Jews had overcome them.

The time approached for the king’s order and decree to be carried out, the day when the enemies of the Jews hoped to overpower them. But, as it turned out, the opposite took place — the Jews overpowered those who hated them. Thus, on the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, the month of Adar, the Jews assembled in their cities throughout all the provinces of King Achashverosh to attack anyone who tried to do them harm; and no one was able to withstand them; because all the peoples were afraid of them. All the officials of the provinces, the army commanders, the governors and those occupied with the king’s affairs helped the Jews; because they were afraid of Mordekhai. For Mordekhai had become a powerful person in the king’s palace, and his fame had spread through all the provinces; Mordekhai continued to grow increasingly powerful.

The Jews put all their enemies to the sword; there was great slaughter and destruction, as they did whatever they wanted to those who hated them; in Shushan the capital, the Jews slaughtered 500 men. 7-10 They put to death the ten sons of Haman the son of Hamdata, the enemy of the Jews — Parshandata, Dalfon, Aspata, Porata, Adalya, Aridata, Parmashta, Arisai, Aridai and Vaizata. But they did not touch the spoil.

11 The same day, after the king had been told the number of those killed in Shushan the capital, 12 he said to Ester the queen, “If the Jews have slaughtered 500 men in Shushan the capital and the ten sons of Haman, what have they done in the rest of the royal provinces! Now, whatever your request, you will be granted it; whatever more you want, it will be done.” 13 Ester replied, “If it pleases the king, let the Jews in Shushan act again tomorrow in accordance with today’s decree; also have Haman’s ten sons hanged on the gallows.” 14 The king ordered these things done — a decree was issued in Shushan, and they hanged Haman’s ten sons. 15 So the Jews in Shushan assembled also on the fourteenth day of the month of Adar and killed 300 men in Shushan, but they did not touch the spoil.

16 The other Jews, those in the royal provinces, had assembled, defended their lives and won rest from their enemies, killing 75,000 of those who hated them, but without touching the spoil, 17 on the thirteenth day of the month Adar. So on the fourteenth day of Adar they rested and made it a holiday for celebrating and rejoicing. 18 However, the Jews of Shushan assembled on both the thirteenth and fourteenth days of Adar, so it was on the fifteenth that they rested and made it a holiday for celebrating and rejoicing. 19 This is why the Jews of the villages, those who live in unwalled towns, make the fourteenth day of the month of Adar a day for celebrating and rejoicing, a holiday and a time for sending each other portions [of food].

20 Mordekhai recorded these events and sent letters to all the Jews in all the provinces of King Achashverosh, both near and far, 21 instructing them to observe the fourteenth day of the month of Adar and the fifteenth day, every year, 22 [to commemorate] the days on which the Jews obtained rest from their enemies and the month which for them was turned from sorrow into gladness and from mourning into a holiday; they were to make them days of celebrating and rejoicing, sending portions [of food] to each other and giving gifts to the poor.

23 So the Jews took it upon themselves to continue what they had already begun to do, and as Mordekhai had written to them; 24 because Haman the son of Hamdata the Agagi, the enemy of the Jews, had plotted against the Jews to destroy them and had thrown pur (that is, “cast lots”) to crush and destroy them; 25 but when Ester came before the king, he ordered by letters that [Haman’s] wicked scheme, which he had plotted against the Jews, should recoil on his own head, and that he and his sons should be hanged on the gallows. 26 This is why these days have been called Purim, after the word pur. Thus, because of everything written in this letter, and what they had seen concerning this matter, and what had come upon them, 27 the Jews resolved and took upon themselves, their descendants and all who might join them that without fail they would observe these two days in accordance with what was written in [this letter] and at the appointed time, every year; 28 and that these days would be remembered and observed throughout every generation, every family, every province and every city; and that these days of Purim would never cease among the Jews or their memory be lost by their descendants.

29 Then Ester the queen, the daughter of Avichayil, and Mordekhai the Jew, gave full written authority to confirm a second letter about Purim. 30 He sent copies of it to all the Jews, to the 127 provinces of the kingdom of Achashverosh, ensuring their peace and security 31 and requiring the observance of these days of Purim at their designated times, as Mordekhai the Jew and Ester the queen had enjoined them, and as they had established for themselves and their descendants concerning the matters of fasting and lamenting. 32 At Ester’s order these matters of Purim were confirmed and put in writing in the book.

10 King Achashverosh laid tribute on the land, the coasts and the islands. All the acts of his power and might, along with a full account of the high honor to which the king advanced Mordekhai, are written in the Annals of the Kings of Media and Persia. For Mordekhai the Jew was second only to King Achashverosh; he was a great man among the Jews, popular with all his many countrymen. He sought the good of his people and interceded for the welfare of all their descendants.

Complete Jewish Bible (CJB)

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

Esther 1-10 The Message (MSG)

1-3 This is the story of something that happened in the time of Xerxes, the Xerxes who ruled from India to Ethiopia—127 provinces in all. King Xerxes ruled from his royal throne in the palace complex of Susa. In the third year of his reign he gave a banquet for all his officials and ministers. The military brass of Persia and Media were also there, along with the princes and governors of the provinces.

4-7 For six months he put on exhibit the huge wealth of his empire and its stunningly beautiful royal splendors. At the conclusion of the exhibit, the king threw a weeklong party for everyone living in Susa, the capital—important and unimportant alike. The party was in the garden courtyard of the king’s summer house. The courtyard was elaborately decorated with white and blue cotton curtains tied with linen and purple cords to silver rings on marble columns. Silver and gold couches were arranged on a mosaic pavement of porphyry, marble, mother-of-pearl, and colored stones. Drinks were served in gold chalices, each chalice one-of-a-kind. The royal wine flowed freely—a generous king!

8-9 The guests could drink as much as they liked—king’s orders!—with waiters at their elbows to refill the drinks. Meanwhile, Queen Vashti was throwing a separate party for women inside King Xerxes’ royal palace.

10-11 On the seventh day of the party, the king, high on the wine, ordered the seven eunuchs who were his personal servants (Mehuman, Biztha, Harbona, Bigtha, Abagtha, Zethar, and Carcas) to bring him Queen Vashti resplendent in her royal crown. He wanted to show off her beauty to the guests and officials. She was extremely good-looking.

12-15 But Queen Vashti refused to come, refused the summons delivered by the eunuchs. The king lost his temper. Seething with anger over her insolence, the king called in his counselors, all experts in legal matters. It was the king’s practice to consult his expert advisors. Those closest to him were Carshena, Shethar, Admatha, Tarshish, Meres, Marsena, and Memucan, the seven highest-ranking princes of Persia and Media, the inner circle with access to the king’s ear. He asked them what legal recourse they had against Queen Vashti for not obeying King Xerxes’ summons delivered by the eunuchs.

16-18 Memucan spoke up in the council of the king and princes: “It’s not only the king Queen Vashti has insulted, it’s all of us, leaders and people alike in every last one of King Xerxes’ provinces. The word’s going to get out: ‘Did you hear the latest about Queen Vashti? King Xerxes ordered her to be brought before him and she wouldn’t do it!’ When the women hear it, they’ll start treating their husbands with contempt. The day the wives of the Persian and Mede officials get wind of the queen’s insolence, they’ll be out of control. Is that what we want, a country of angry women who don’t know their place?

19-20 “So, if the king agrees, let him pronounce a royal ruling and have it recorded in the laws of the Persians and Medes so that it cannot be revoked, that Vashti is permanently banned from King Xerxes’ presence. And then let the king give her royal position to a woman who knows her place. When the king’s ruling becomes public knowledge throughout the kingdom, extensive as it is, every woman, regardless of her social position, will show proper respect to her husband.”

21-22 The king and the princes liked this. The king did what Memucan proposed. He sent bulletins to every part of the kingdom, to each province in its own script, to each people in their own language: “Every man is master of his own house; whatever he says, goes.”

1-4 Later, when King Xerxes’ anger had cooled and he was having second thoughts about what Vashti had done and what he had ordered against her, the king’s young attendants stepped in and got the ball rolling: “Let’s begin a search for beautiful young virgins for the king. Let the king appoint officials in every province of his kingdom to bring every beautiful young virgin to the palace complex of Susa and to the harem run by Hegai, the king’s eunuch who oversees the women; he will put them through their beauty treatments. Then let the girl who best pleases the king be made queen in place of Vashti.”

The king liked this advice and took it.

5-7 Now there was a Jew who lived in the palace complex in Susa. His name was Mordecai the son of Jair, the son of Shimei, the son of Kish—a Benjaminite. His ancestors had been taken from Jerusalem with the exiles and carried off with King Jehoiachin of Judah by King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon into exile. Mordecai had reared his cousin Hadassah, otherwise known as Esther, since she had no father or mother. The girl had a good figure and a beautiful face. After her parents died, Mordecai had adopted her.

When the king’s order had been publicly posted, many young girls were brought to the palace complex of Susa and given over to Hegai who was overseer of the women. Esther was among them.

9-10 Hegai liked Esther and took a special interest in her. Right off he started her beauty treatments, ordered special food, assigned her seven personal maids from the palace, and put her and her maids in the best rooms in the harem. Esther didn’t say anything about her family and racial background because Mordecai had told her not to.

11 Every day Mordecai strolled beside the court of the harem to find out how Esther was and get news of what she was doing.

12-14 Each girl’s turn came to go in to King Xerxes after she had completed the twelve months of prescribed beauty treatments—six months’ treatment with oil of myrrh followed by six months with perfumes and various cosmetics. When it was time for the girl to go to the king, she was given whatever she wanted to take with her when she left the harem for the king’s quarters. She would go there in the evening; in the morning she would return to a second harem overseen by Shaashgaz, the king’s eunuch in charge of the concubines. She never again went back to the king unless the king took a special liking to her and asked for her by name.

15 When it was Esther’s turn to go to the king (Esther the daughter of Abihail the uncle of Mordecai, who had adopted her as his daughter), she asked for nothing other than what Hegai, the king’s eunuch in charge of the harem, had recommended. Esther, just as she was, won the admiration of everyone who saw her.

16 She was taken to King Xerxes in the royal palace in the tenth month, the month of Tebeth, in the seventh year of the king’s reign.

17-18 The king fell in love with Esther far more than with any of his other women or any of the other virgins—he was totally smitten by her. He placed a royal crown on her head and made her queen in place of Vashti. Then the king gave a great banquet for all his nobles and officials—“Esther’s Banquet.” He proclaimed a holiday for all the provinces and handed out gifts with royal generosity.

19-20 On one of the occasions when the virgins were being gathered together, Mordecai was sitting at the King’s Gate. All this time, Esther had kept her family background and race a secret as Mordecai had ordered; Esther still did what Mordecai told her, just as when she was being raised by him.

21-23 On this day, with Mordecai sitting at the King’s Gate, Bigthana and Teresh, two of the king’s eunuchs who guarded the entrance, had it in for the king and were making plans to kill King Xerxes. But Mordecai learned of the plot and told Queen Esther, who then told King Xerxes, giving credit to Mordecai. When the thing was investigated and confirmed as true, the two men were hanged on a gallows. This was all written down in a logbook kept for the king’s use.

1-2 Some time later, King Xerxes promoted Haman son of Hammedatha the Agagite, making him the highest-ranking official in the government. All the king’s servants at the King’s Gate used to honor him by bowing down and kneeling before Haman—that’s what the king had commanded.

2-4 Except Mordecai. Mordecai wouldn’t do it, wouldn’t bow down and kneel. The king’s servants at the King’s Gate asked Mordecai about it: “Why do you cross the king’s command?” Day after day they spoke to him about this but he wouldn’t listen, so they went to Haman to see whether something shouldn’t be done about it. Mordecai had told them that he was a Jew.

5-6 When Haman saw for himself that Mordecai didn’t bow down and kneel before him, he was outraged. Meanwhile, having learned that Mordecai was a Jew, Haman hated to waste his fury on just one Jew; he looked for a way to eliminate not just Mordecai but all Jews throughout the whole kingdom of Xerxes.

In the first month, the month of Nisan, of the twelfth year of Xerxes, the pur—that is, the lot—was cast under Haman’s charge to determine the propitious day and month. The lot turned up the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, which is the month of Adar.

8-9 Haman then spoke with King Xerxes: “There is an odd set of people scattered through the provinces of your kingdom who don’t fit in. Their customs and ways are different from those of everybody else. Worse, they disregard the king’s laws. They’re an affront; the king shouldn’t put up with them. If it please the king, let orders be given that they be destroyed. I’ll pay for it myself. I’ll deposit 375 tons of silver in the royal bank to finance the operation.”

10 The king slipped his signet ring from his hand and gave it to Haman son of Hammedatha the Agagite, archenemy of the Jews.

11 “Go ahead,” the king said to Haman. “It’s your money—do whatever you want with those people.”

12 The king’s secretaries were brought in on the thirteenth day of the first month. The orders were written out word for word as Haman had addressed them to the king’s satraps, the governors of every province, and the officials of every people. They were written in the script of each province and the language of each people in the name of King Xerxes and sealed with the royal signet ring.

13-14 Bulletins were sent out by couriers to all the king’s provinces with orders to massacre, kill, and eliminate all the Jews—youngsters and old men, women and babies—on a single day, the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, the month Adar, and to plunder their goods. Copies of the bulletin were to be posted in each province, publicly available to all peoples, to get them ready for that day.

15 At the king’s command, the couriers took off; the order was also posted in the palace complex of Susa. The king and Haman sat back and had a drink while the city of Susa reeled from the news.

1-3 When Mordecai learned what had been done, he ripped his clothes to shreds and put on sackcloth and ashes. Then he went out in the streets of the city crying out in loud and bitter cries. He came only as far as the King’s Gate, for no one dressed in sackcloth was allowed to enter the King’s Gate. As the king’s order was posted in every province, there was loud lament among the Jews—fasting, weeping, wailing. And most of them stretched out on sackcloth and ashes.

4-8 Esther’s maids and eunuchs came and told her. The queen was stunned. She sent fresh clothes to Mordecai so he could take off his sackcloth but he wouldn’t accept them. Esther called for Hathach, one of the royal eunuchs whom the king had assigned to wait on her, and told him to go to Mordecai and get the full story of what was happening. So Hathach went to Mordecai in the town square in front of the King’s Gate. Mordecai told him everything that had happened to him. He also told him the exact amount of money that Haman had promised to deposit in the royal bank to finance the massacre of the Jews. Mordecai also gave him a copy of the bulletin that had been posted in Susa ordering the massacre so he could show it to Esther when he reported back with instructions to go to the king and intercede and plead with him for her people.

9-11 Hathach came back and told Esther everything Mordecai had said. Esther talked it over with Hathach and then sent him back to Mordecai with this message: “Everyone who works for the king here, and even the people out in the provinces, knows that there is a single fate for every man or woman who approaches the king without being invited: death. The one exception is if the king extends his gold scepter; then he or she may live. And it’s been thirty days now since I’ve been invited to come to the king.”

12-14 When Hathach told Mordecai what Esther had said, Mordecai sent her this message: “Don’t think that just because you live in the king’s house you’re the one Jew who will get out of this alive. If you persist in staying silent at a time like this, help and deliverance will arrive for the Jews from someplace else; but you and your family will be wiped out. Who knows? Maybe you were made queen for just such a time as this.”

15-16 Esther sent back her answer to Mordecai: “Go and get all the Jews living in Susa together. Fast for me. Don’t eat or drink for three days, either day or night. I and my maids will fast with you. If you will do this, I’ll go to the king, even though it’s forbidden. If I die, I die.”

17 Mordecai left and carried out Esther’s instructions.

1-3 Three days later Esther dressed in her royal robes and took up a position in the inner court of the palace in front of the king’s throne room. The king was on his throne facing the entrance. When he noticed Queen Esther standing in the court, he was pleased to see her; the king extended the gold scepter in his hand. Esther approached and touched the tip of the scepter. The king asked, “And what’s your desire, Queen Esther? What do you want? Ask and it’s yours—even if it’s half my kingdom!”

“If it please the king,” said Esther, “let the king come with Haman to a dinner I’ve prepared for him.”

5-6 “Get Haman at once,” said the king, “so we can go to dinner with Esther.”

So the king and Haman joined Esther at the dinner she had arranged. As they were drinking the wine, the king said, “Now, what is it you want? Half of my kingdom isn’t too much to ask! Just ask.”

7-8 Esther answered, “Here’s what I want. If the king favors me and is pleased to do what I desire and ask, let the king and Haman come again tomorrow to the dinner that I will fix for them. Then I’ll give a straight answer to the king’s question.”

9-13 Haman left the palace that day happy, beaming. And then he saw Mordecai sitting at the King’s Gate ignoring him, oblivious to him. Haman was furious with Mordecai. But he held himself in and went on home. He got his friends together with his wife Zeresh and started bragging about how much money he had, his many sons, all the times the king had honored him, and his promotion to the highest position in the government. “On top of all that,” Haman continued, “Queen Esther invited me to a private dinner she gave for the king, just the three of us. And she’s invited me to another one tomorrow. But I can’t enjoy any of it when I see Mordecai the Jew sitting at the King’s Gate.”

14 His wife Zeresh and all his friends said, “Build a gallows seventy-five feet high. First thing in the morning speak with the king; get him to order Mordecai hanged on it. Then happily go with the king to dinner.”

Haman liked that. He had the gallows built.

1-2 That night the king couldn’t sleep. He ordered the record book, the day-by-day journal of events, to be brought and read to him. They came across the story there about the time that Mordecai had exposed the plot of Bigthana and Teresh—the two royal eunuchs who guarded the entrance and who had conspired to assassinate King Xerxes.

The king asked, “What great honor was given to Mordecai for this?”

“Nothing,” replied the king’s servants who were in attendance. “Nothing has been done for him.”

The king said, “Is there anybody out in the court?”

Now Haman had just come into the outer court of the king’s palace to talk to the king about hanging Mordecai on the gallows he had built for him.

The king’s servants said, “Haman is out there, waiting in the court.”

“Bring him in,” said the king.

6-9 When Haman entered, the king said, “What would be appropriate for the man the king especially wants to honor?”

Haman thought to himself, “He must be talking about honoring me—who else?” So he answered the king, “For the man the king delights to honor, do this: Bring a royal robe that the king has worn and a horse the king has ridden, one with a royal crown on its head. Then give the robe and the horse to one of the king’s most noble princes. Have him robe the man whom the king especially wants to honor; have the prince lead him on horseback through the city square, proclaiming before him, ‘This is what is done for the man whom the king especially wants to honor!’”

10 “Go and do it,” the king said to Haman. “Don’t waste another minute. Take the robe and horse and do what you have proposed to Mordecai the Jew who sits at the King’s Gate. Don’t leave out a single detail of your plan.”

11 So Haman took the robe and horse; he robed Mordecai and led him through the city square, proclaiming before him, “This is what is done for the man whom the king especially wants to honor!”

12-13 Then Mordecai returned to the King’s Gate, but Haman fled to his house, thoroughly mortified, hiding his face. When Haman had finished telling his wife Zeresh and all his friends everything that had happened to him, his knowledgeable friends who were there and his wife Zeresh said, “If this Mordecai is in fact a Jew, your bad luck has only begun. You don’t stand a chance against him—you’re as good as ruined.”

14 While they were still talking, the king’s eunuchs arrived and hurried Haman off to the dinner that Esther had prepared.

1-2 So the king and Haman went to dinner with Queen Esther. At this second dinner, while they were drinking wine the king again asked, “Queen Esther, what would you like? Half of my kingdom! Just ask and it’s yours.”

Queen Esther answered, “If I have found favor in your eyes, O King, and if it please the king, give me my life, and give my people their lives.

“We’ve been sold, I and my people, to be destroyed—sold to be massacred, eliminated. If we had just been sold off into slavery, I wouldn’t even have brought it up; our troubles wouldn’t have been worth bothering the king over.”

King Xerxes exploded, “Who? Where is he? This is monstrous!”

“An enemy. An adversary. This evil Haman,” said Esther.

Haman was terror-stricken before the king and queen.

7-8 The king, raging, left his wine and stalked out into the palace garden.

Haman stood there pleading with Queen Esther for his life—he could see that the king was finished with him and that he was doomed. As the king came back from the palace garden into the banquet hall, Haman was groveling at the couch on which Esther reclined. The king roared out, “Will he even molest the queen while I’m just around the corner?”

When that word left the king’s mouth, all the blood drained from Haman’s face.

Harbona, one of the eunuchs attending the king, spoke up: “Look over there! There’s the gallows that Haman had built for Mordecai, who saved the king’s life. It’s right next to Haman’s house—seventy-five feet high!”

The king said, “Hang him on it!”

10 So Haman was hanged on the very gallows that he had built for Mordecai. And the king’s hot anger cooled.

1-2 That same day King Xerxes gave Queen Esther the estate of Haman, archenemy of the Jews. And Mordecai came before the king because Esther had explained their relationship. The king took off his signet ring, which he had taken back from Haman, and gave it to Mordecai. Esther appointed Mordecai over Haman’s estate.

3-6 Then Esther again spoke to the king, falling at his feet, begging with tears to counter the evil of Haman the Agagite and revoke the plan that he had plotted against the Jews. The king extended his gold scepter to Esther. She got to her feet and stood before the king. She said, “If it please the king and he regards me with favor and thinks this is right, and if he has any affection for me at all, let an order be written that cancels the bulletins authorizing the plan of Haman son of Hammedatha the Agagite to annihilate the Jews in all the king’s provinces. How can I stand to see this catastrophe wipe out my people? How can I bear to stand by and watch the massacre of my own relatives?”

7-8 King Xerxes said to Queen Esther and Mordecai the Jew: “I’ve given Haman’s estate to Esther and he’s been hanged on the gallows because he attacked the Jews. So go ahead now and write whatever you decide on behalf of the Jews; then seal it with the signet ring.” (An order written in the king’s name and sealed with his signet ring is irrevocable.)

So the king’s secretaries were brought in on the twenty-third day of the third month, the month of Sivan, and the order regarding the Jews was written word for word as Mordecai dictated and was addressed to the satraps, governors, and officials of the provinces from India to Ethiopia, 127 provinces in all, to each province in its own script and each people in their own language, including the Jews in their script and language.

10 He wrote under the name of King Xerxes and sealed the order with the royal signet ring; he sent out the bulletins by couriers on horseback, riding the fastest royal steeds bred from the royal stud.

11-13 The king’s order authorized the Jews in every city to arm and defend themselves to the death, killing anyone who threatened them or their women and children, and confiscating for themselves anything owned by their enemies. The day set for this in all King Xerxes’ provinces was the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, the month of Adar. The order was posted in public places in each province so everyone could read it, authorizing the Jews to be prepared on that day to avenge themselves on their enemies.

14 The couriers, fired up by the king’s order, raced off on their royal horses. At the same time, the order was posted in the palace complex of Susa.

15-17 Mordecai walked out of the king’s presence wearing a royal robe of violet and white, a huge gold crown, and a purple cape of fine linen. The city of Susa exploded with joy. For Jews it was all sunshine and laughter: they celebrated, they were honored. It was that way all over the country, in every province, every city when the king’s bulletin was posted: the Jews took to the streets in celebration, cheering, and feasting. Not only that, but many non-Jews became Jews—now it was dangerous not to be a Jew!

1-4 On the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, the month of Adar, the king’s order came into effect. This was the very day that the enemies of the Jews had planned to overpower them, but the tables were now turned: the Jews overpowered those who hated them! The Jews had gathered in the cities throughout King Xerxes’ provinces to lay hands on those who were seeking their ruin. Not one man was able to stand up against them—fear made cowards of them all. What’s more, all the government officials, satraps, governors—everyone who worked for the king—actually helped the Jews because of Mordecai; they were afraid of him. Mordecai by now was a power in the palace. As Mordecai became more and more powerful, his reputation had grown in all the provinces.

5-9 So the Jews finished off all their enemies with the sword, slaughtering them right and left, and did as they pleased to those who hated them. In the palace complex of Susa the Jews massacred five hundred men. They also killed the ten sons of Haman son of Hammedatha, the archenemy of the Jews:

ParshandathaDalphon
AspathaPoratha
AdaliaAridatha
ParmashtaArisai
AridaiVaizatha

10-12 But they took no plunder. That day, when it was all over, the number of those killed in the palace complex was given to the king. The king told Queen Esther, “In the palace complex alone here in Susa the Jews have killed five hundred men, plus Haman’s ten sons. Think of the killing that must have been done in the rest of the provinces! What else do you want? Name it and it’s yours. Your wish is my command.”

13 “If it please the king,” Queen Esther responded, “give the Jews of Susa permission to extend the terms of the order another day. And have the bodies of Haman’s ten sons hanged in public display on the gallows.”

14 The king commanded it: The order was extended; the bodies of Haman’s ten sons were publicly hanged.

15 The Jews in Susa went at it again. On the fourteenth day of Adar they killed another three hundred men in Susa. But again they took no plunder.

16-19 Meanwhile in the rest of the king’s provinces, the Jews had organized and defended themselves, freeing themselves from oppression. On the thirteenth day of the month of Adar, they killed seventy-five thousand of those who hated them but did not take any plunder. The next day, the fourteenth, they took it easy and celebrated with much food and laughter. But in Susa, since the Jews had banded together on both the thirteenth and fourteenth days, they made the fifteenth their holiday for laughing and feasting. (This accounts for why Jews living out in the country in the rural villages remember the fourteenth day of Adar for celebration, their day for parties and the exchange of gifts.)

20-22 Mordecai wrote all this down and sent copies to all the Jews in all King Xerxes’ provinces, regardless of distance, calling for an annual celebration on the fourteenth and fifteenth days of Adar as the occasion when Jews got relief from their enemies, the month in which their sorrow turned to joy, mourning somersaulted into a holiday for parties and fun and laughter, the sending and receiving of presents and of giving gifts to the poor.

23 And they did it. What started then became a tradition, continuing the practice of what Mordecai had written to them.

24-26 Haman son of Hammedatha, the Agagite, the archenemy of all Jews, had schemed to destroy all Jews. He had cast the pur (the lot) to throw them into a panic and destroy them. But when Queen Esther intervened with the king, he gave written orders that the evil scheme that Haman had worked out should boomerang back on his own head. He and his sons were hanged on the gallows. That’s why these days are called “Purim,” from the word pur or “lot.”

26-28 Therefore, because of everything written in this letter and because of all that they had been through, the Jews agreed to continue. It became a tradition for them, their children, and all future converts to remember these two days every year on the specified dates set down in the letter. These days are to be remembered and kept by every single generation, every last family, every province and city. These days of Purim must never be neglected among the Jews; the memory of them must never die out among their descendants.

29-32 Queen Esther, the daughter of Abihail, backed Mordecai the Jew, using her full queenly authority in this second Purim letter to endorse and ratify what he wrote. Calming and reassuring letters went out to all the Jews throughout the 127 provinces of Xerxes’ kingdom to fix these days of Purim their assigned place on the calendar, dates set by Mordecai the Jew—what they had agreed to for themselves and their descendants regarding their fasting and mourning. Esther’s word confirmed the tradition of Purim and was written in the book.

10 1-2 King Xerxes imposed taxes from one end of his empire to the other. For the rest of it, King Xerxes’ extensive accomplishments, along with a detailed account of the brilliance of Mordecai, whom the king had promoted, that’s all written in The Chronicles of the Kings of Media and Persia.

Mordecai the Jew ranked second in command to King Xerxes. He was popular among the Jews and greatly respected by them. He worked hard for the good of his people; he cared for the peace and prosperity of his race.

The Message (MSG)

Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

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