Esther 3The Message (MSG)
3 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.
7 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.
Esther 4The Message (MSG)
4 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.
Esther 5The Message (MSG)
5 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!”
4 “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.
Esther 6The Message (MSG)
6 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.
3 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.”
4 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.
5 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.
Esther 7The Message (MSG)
7 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.”
3 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.
4 “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.”
5 King Xerxes exploded, “Who? Where is he? This is monstrous!”
6 “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.
9 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.
Esther 8The Message (MSG)
8 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.)
9 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!
Luke 18The Message (MSG)
The Story of the Persistent Widow
18 1-3 Jesus told them a story showing that it was necessary for them to pray consistently and never quit. He said, “There was once a judge in some city who never gave God a thought and cared nothing for people. A widow in that city kept after him: ‘My rights are being violated. Protect me!’
4-5 “He never gave her the time of day. But after this went on and on he said to himself, ‘I care nothing what God thinks, even less what people think. But because this widow won’t quit badgering me, I’d better do something and see that she gets justice—otherwise I’m going to end up beaten black-and-blue by her pounding.’”
6-8 Then the Master said, “Do you hear what that judge, corrupt as he is, is saying? So what makes you think God won’t step in and work justice for his chosen people, who continue to cry out for help? Won’t he stick up for them? I assure you, he will. He will not drag his feet. But how much of that kind of persistent faith will the Son of Man find on the earth when he returns?”
The Story of the Tax Man and the Pharisee
9-12 He told his next story to some who were complacently pleased with themselves over their moral performance and looked down their noses at the common people: “Two men went up to the Temple to pray, one a Pharisee, the other a tax man. The Pharisee posed and prayed like this: ‘Oh, God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, crooks, adulterers, or, heaven forbid, like this tax man. I fast twice a week and tithe on all my income.’
13 “Meanwhile the tax man, slumped in the shadows, his face in his hands, not daring to look up, said, ‘God, give mercy. Forgive me, a sinner.’”
14 Jesus commented, “This tax man, not the other, went home made right with God. If you walk around with your nose in the air, you’re going to end up flat on your face, but if you’re content to be simply yourself, you will become more than yourself.”
15-17 People brought babies to Jesus, hoping he might touch them. When the disciples saw it, they shooed them off. Jesus called them back. “Let these children alone. Don’t get between them and me. These children are the kingdom’s pride and joy. Mark this: Unless you accept God’s kingdom in the simplicity of a child, you’ll never get in.”
The Rich Official
18 One day one of the local officials asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to deserve eternal life?”
19-20 Jesus said, “Why are you calling me good? No one is good—only God. You know the commandments, don’t you? No illicit sex, no killing, no stealing, no lying, honor your father and mother.”
21 He said, “I’ve kept them all for as long as I can remember.”
22 When Jesus heard that, he said, “Then there’s only one thing left to do: Sell everything you own and give it away to the poor. You will have riches in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
23 This was the last thing the official expected to hear. He was very rich and became terribly sad. He was holding on tight to a lot of things and not about to let them go.
24-25 Seeing his reaction, Jesus said, “Do you have any idea how difficult it is for people who have it all to enter God’s kingdom? I’d say it’s easier to thread a camel through a needle’s eye than get a rich person into God’s kingdom.”
26 “Then who has any chance at all?” the others asked.
27 “No chance at all,” Jesus said, “if you think you can pull it off by yourself. Every chance in the world if you trust God to do it.”
28 Peter tried to regain some initiative: “We left everything we owned and followed you, didn’t we?”
29-30 “Yes,” said Jesus, “and you won’t regret it. No one who has sacrificed home, spouse, brothers and sisters, parents, children—whatever—will lose out. It will all come back multiplied many times over in your lifetime. And then the bonus of eternal life!”
I Want to See Again
31-34 Then Jesus took the Twelve off to the side and said, “Listen carefully. We’re on our way up to Jerusalem. Everything written in the Prophets about the Son of Man will take place. He will be handed over to the Romans, jeered at, made sport of, and spit on. Then, after giving him the third degree, they will kill him. In three days he will rise, alive.” But they didn’t get it, could make neither heads nor tails of what he was talking about.
35-37 He came to the outskirts of Jericho. A blind man was sitting beside the road asking for handouts. When he heard the rustle of the crowd, he asked what was going on. They told him, “Jesus the Nazarene is going by.”
38 He yelled, “Jesus! Son of David! Mercy, have mercy on me!”
39 Those ahead of Jesus told the man to shut up, but he only yelled all the louder, “Son of David! Mercy, have mercy on me!”
40 Jesus stopped and ordered him to be brought over. When he had come near, Jesus asked, “What do you want from me?”
41 He said, “Master, I want to see again.”
42-43 Jesus said, “Go ahead—see again! Your faith has saved and healed you!” The healing was instant: He looked up, seeing—and then followed Jesus, glorifying God. Everyone in the street joined in, shouting praise to God.