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Soon afterwards King Ahasuerus appointed Haman (son of Hammedatha the Agagite) as prime minister. He was the most powerful official in the empire next to the king himself. Now all the king’s officials bowed before him in deep reverence whenever he passed by, for so the king had commanded. But Mordecai refused to bow.

3-4 “Why are you disobeying the king’s commandment?” the others demanded day after day, but he still refused. Finally they spoke to Haman about it to see whether Mordecai could get away with it because of his being a Jew, which was the excuse he had given them. 5-6 Haman was furious but decided not to lay hands on Mordecai alone, but to move against all of Mordecai’s people, the Jews, and destroy all of them throughout the whole kingdom of Ahasuerus.

The most propitious time for this action was determined by throwing dice. This was done in April of the twelfth year of the reign of Ahasuerus, and February of the following year was the date indicated.

Haman now approached the king about the matter. “There is a certain race of people scattered through all the provinces of your kingdom,” he began, “and their laws are different from those of any other nation, and they refuse to obey the king’s laws; therefore, it is not in the king’s interest to let them live. If it please the king, issue a decree that they be destroyed, and I will pay $20,000,000 into the royal treasury for the expenses involved in this purge.”

10 The king agreed, confirming his decision by removing his ring from his finger and giving it to Haman,[a] telling him, 11 “Keep the money, but go ahead and do as you like with these people—whatever you think best.”

12 Two or three weeks later,[b] Haman called in the king’s secretaries and dictated letters to the governors and officials throughout the empire, to each province in its own languages and dialects; these letters were signed in the name of King Ahasuerus and sealed with his ring.

13 They were then sent by messengers into all the provinces of the empire, decreeing that the Jews—young and old, women and children—must all be killed on the 28th day of February of the following year and their property given to those who killed them. 14 “A copy of this edict,” the letter stated, “must be proclaimed as law in every province and made known to all your people, so that they will be ready to do their duty on the appointed day.” 15 The edict went out by the king’s speediest couriers, after being first proclaimed in the city of Shushan. Then the king and Haman sat down for a drinking spree as the city fell into confusion and panic.


  1. Esther 3:10 to Haman, literally, “Haman, son of Hammedatha the Agagite.”
  2. Esther 3:12 Two or three weeks later, literally, “Then, on the thirteenth day of the first month.”

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