Contemporary English Version
Mordecai Asks for Esther's Help
4 When Mordecai heard about the letter, he tore his clothes in sorrow and put on sackcloth. Then he covered his head with ashes and went through the city, crying and weeping. 2 But he could go only as far as the palace gate, because no one wearing sackcloth was allowed inside the palace. 3 (A) In every province where the king's orders were read, the Jews cried and mourned, and they went without eating.[a] Many of them even put on sackcloth and sat in ashes.
4 When Esther's servant girls and her other servants told her what Mordecai was doing, she became very upset and sent Mordecai some clothes to wear in place of the sackcloth. But he refused to take them.
5 Esther had a servant named Hathach, who had been given to her by the king. So she called him in and said, “Find out what's wrong with Mordecai and why he's acting this way.”
6 Hathach went to Mordecai in the city square in front of the palace gate, 7 and Mordecai told him everything that had happened. He also told him how much money Haman had promised to add to the king's treasury, if all the Jews were killed.
8 Mordecai gave Hathach a copy of the orders for the murder of the Jews and told him that these had been read in Susa. He said, “Show this to Esther and explain what it means. Ask her to go to the king and beg him to have pity on her people, the Jews!”
9 Hathach went back to Esther and told her what Mordecai had said. 10 She answered, “Tell Mordecai 11 there is a law about going in to see the king, and all his officials and his people know about this law. Anyone who goes in to see the king without being invited by him will be put to death. The only way that anyone can be saved is for the king to hold out the gold scepter to that person. And it's been thirty days since he has asked for me.”
12 When Mordecai was told what Esther had said, 13 he sent back this reply, “Don't think that you will escape being killed with the rest of the Jews, just because you live in the king's palace. 14 If you don't speak up now, we will somehow get help, but you and your family will be killed. It could be that you were made queen for a time like this!”
15 Esther sent a message to Mordecai, saying, 16 “Bring together all the Jews in Susa and tell them to go without eating for my sake! Don't eat or drink for three days and nights. My servant girls and I will do the same. Then I will go in to see the king, even if it means I must die.”
17 Mordecai did everything Esther told him to do.
- 4.3 went without eating: The Israelites would sometimes go without eating (also called “fasting”) in times of great sorrow or danger.