Esther 4-5Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)
Mordecai Appeals to Esther
4 When Mordecai learned all that had occurred, he tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and ashes, went into the middle of the city, and cried loudly and bitterly. 2 He only went as far as the King’s Gate, since the law prohibited anyone wearing sackcloth from entering the King’s Gate. 3 There was great mourning among the Jewish people in every province where the king’s command and edict came. They fasted, wept, and lamented, and many lay on sackcloth and ashes.
4 Esther’s female servants and her eunuchs came and reported the news to her, and the queen was overcome with fear. She sent clothes for Mordecai to wear so he could take off his sackcloth, but he did not accept them. 5 Esther summoned Hathach, one of the king’s eunuchs assigned to her, and dispatched him to Mordecai to learn what he was doing and why.[a] 6 So Hathach went out to Mordecai in the city square in front of the King’s Gate. 7 Mordecai told him everything that had happened as well as the exact amount of money Haman had promised to pay the royal treasury for the slaughter of the Jews.
8 Mordecai also gave him a copy of the written decree issued in Susa ordering their destruction, so that Hathach might show it to Esther, explain it to her, and command her to approach the king, implore his favor, and plead with him personally for her people. 9 Hathach came and repeated Mordecai’s response to Esther.
10 Esther spoke to Hathach and commanded him to tell Mordecai, 11 “All the royal officials and the people of the royal provinces know that one law applies to every man or woman who approaches the king in the inner courtyard and who has not been summoned—the death penalty. Only if the king extends the gold scepter will that person live. I have not been summoned to appear before the king for the last[b] 30 days.” 12 Esther’s response was reported to Mordecai.
13 Mordecai told the messenger to reply to Esther, “Don’t think that you will escape the fate of all the Jews because you are in the king’s palace. 14 If you keep silent at this time, liberation and deliverance will come to the Jewish people from another place, but you and your father’s house will be destroyed. Who knows, perhaps you have come to your royal position for such a time as this.”
15 Esther sent this reply to Mordecai: 16 “Go and assemble all the Jews who can be found in Susa and fast for me. Don’t eat or drink for three days, day or night. I and my female servants will also fast in the same way. After that, I will go to the king even if it is against the law. If I perish, I perish.” 17 So Mordecai went and did everything Esther had ordered him.
Esther Approaches the King
5 On the third day, Esther dressed up in her royal clothing and stood in the inner courtyard of the palace facing it. The king was sitting on his royal throne in the royal courtroom, facing its entrance. 2 As soon as the king saw Queen Esther standing in the courtyard, she won his approval.[c] The king extended the gold scepter in his hand toward Esther, and she approached and touched the tip of the scepter.
3 “What is it, Queen Esther?” the king asked her. “Whatever you want, even to half the kingdom, will be given to you.”
4 “If it pleases the king,” Esther replied, “may the king and Haman come today to the banquet I have prepared for them.”
5 The king commanded, “Hurry, and get Haman so we can do as Esther has requested.” So the king and Haman went to the banquet Esther had prepared.
6 While drinking the[d] wine, the king asked Esther, “Whatever you ask will be given to you. Whatever you want, even to half the kingdom, will be done.”
7 Esther answered, “This is my petition and my request: 8 If the king approves of me[e] and if it pleases the king to grant my petition and perform my request, may the king and Haman come to the banquet I will prepare for them. Tomorrow I will do what the king has asked.”
9 That day Haman left full of joy and in good spirits.[f] But when Haman saw Mordecai at the King’s Gate, and Mordecai didn’t rise or tremble in fear at his presence, Haman was filled with rage toward Mordecai. 10 Yet Haman controlled himself and went home. He sent for his friends and his wife Zeresh to join him. 11 Then Haman described for them his glorious wealth and his many sons. He told them all how the king had honored him and promoted him in rank over the other officials and the royal staff. 12 “What’s more,” Haman added, “Queen Esther invited no one but me to join the king at the banquet she had prepared. I am invited again tomorrow to join her with the king. 13 Still, none of this satisfies me since I see Mordecai the Jew sitting at the King’s Gate all the time.”
14 His wife Zeresh and all his friends told him, “Have them build a gallows 75 feet[g] high. Ask the king in the morning to hang Mordecai on it. Then go to the banquet with the king and enjoy yourself.” The advice pleased Haman, so he had the gallows constructed.