Queen Esthers Love For Her Peop

After Xerxes had been king of Persia for three years, he gave a feast

for all his officials, officers, and servants. The commanders of the

armies of Persia and Media, the nobles and governors were before him;

while for one hundred and eighty days he showed them the wonderful

riches of his kingdom and the costliness of his magnificent regalia.

When these days were ended, the king made a seven days' feast in the
r /> enclosed garden of the royal palace, for all classes of people who were

in the royal palace at Susa. Vashti, the queen, also gave a feast for

the women in the royal palace which belonged to King Xerxes.

On the seventh day, when King Xerxes had been drinking wine, he

commanded his seven court attendants to bring Vashti, the queen, before

him with the royal crown on her head, to show the peoples and the

officials her beauty, for she was very fair. But Queen Vashti refused to

come as the king commanded. Therefore the king was very angry.

In his anger the king said to the wise men, "According to law what shall

we do to Queen Vashti?" Memucan, one of the seven high officials, said

before the king and his officers, "Vashti, the queen, has done wrong not

only to the king but also to all the officials and to all the peoples in

all of the king's provinces. For the refusal of the queen will be

reported to all the women so that they will disobey their husbands, for

they will say, 'King Xerxes commanded Vashti, the queen, to be brought

in before him, but she did not come!' And this very day the ladies of

Persia and Media who have heard of the refusal of the queen will tell it

to all the king's officials, and there will be contempt and strife! If

it seems best to the king, let him send out a royal command, and let it

be written among the laws of Persia and Media, in order that it may not

be changed, that Vashti may never again come before King Xerxes; and let

the king give her place as queen to another who is better than she. And

when the king's command shall be heard throughout his kingdom--great as

it is--the wives of all classes will give honor to their husbands!"

The plan pleased the king and the officials, and the king did as Memucan

advised. Then the king's pages who waited upon him said, "Let beautiful

young girls be sought for the king, and let the king appoint officers to

all the provinces of his kingdom to gather them all to the palace at

Susa. Then give them what is needed to make them beautiful, and let the

girl who pleases the king be queen instead of Vashti." The plan pleased

the king and he did so.

There was in the royal palace at Susa, a certain Jew named Mordecai, who

had been carried away from Jerusalem with the captives by

Nebuchadrezzar, the king of Babylon. He had adopted Esther, his uncle's

daughter, for she had neither father nor mother. The girl was attractive

and beautiful, and after her father and mother died, Mordecai took her

as his own daughter.

So when the king's command was made known, and when many girls were

brought to the royal palace at Susa, Esther also was taken into the

king's palace and placed in the charge of Hegai, who took care of the

women. The girl pleased him and won his favor, so that he quickly gave

her what she needed to make her more beautiful and her allowance of food

and the seven maids chosen from the king's household. He also moved her

and her maids to the best place in the women's quarters. Esther had not

told who were her people or her family, for Mordecai had told her not to

tell. Every day Mordecai used to walk in front of the court of the

women's quarters to ask after Esther's health and what had been done

with her.

When Esther's turn came to go in to the king, he loved her more than all

the other women, and she became his favorite and won his love, so that

he placed the royal crown on her head and made her queen instead of

Vashti. Then the king gave a great feast to all his officials and

servants in honor of Esther.

In those days while Mordecai was sitting in the king's gate, two of the

king's servants, who guarded the entrance of the palace, became enraged

and tried to kill King Xerxes. But Mordecai learned of the plot and told

it to Queen Esther, and she told the king in Mordecai's name. When the

truth was known, the men who plotted against the king were both hanged

on a tree; and it was written down in the daily record of events that

was kept before the king.

After these events King Xerxes promoted Haman, the Agagite, and gave him

a place above all the officials who were with him. All the king's

servants who were in the king's gate used to bow down before Haman, for

so the king had commanded. But Mordecai did not bow down before Haman.

Then the king's servants, who were in the king's gate, said to Mordecai,

"Why do you disobey the king's command?" When they had spoken to him day

after day without his listening to them, they told Haman, so as to find

out whether Mordecai's acts would be permitted, for he had told them

that he was a Jew. When Haman saw that Mordecai did not bow down before

him, he was very angry; but as they had told him that Mordecai was a

Jew, he decided not to lay hands on him alone but to plot to destroy

all the Jews in the whole kingdom of Xerxes.

So Haman said to King Xerxes, "There is a certain people scattered among

the peoples in all the provinces of your kingdom, whose laws differ from

those of every other and who do not keep the king's laws. Therefore it

is not right for the king to leave them alone. If it seems best to the

king, let an order be given to destroy them, and I will pay ten thousand

silver talents into the royal treasury."

So the king took off his ring from his hand and gave it to Haman, "The

money is yours and the people also to do with them as you wish." So

messages were sent by men on horses to all the king's provinces, to

destroy, to kill, and to put an end to all the Jews, young and old,

little children and women, on the thirteenth day of the twelfth month,

and to rob them of all that they had. Then the king and Haman sat down

to drink, but the people of Susa were troubled.

When Mordecai learned all that had been done, he tore his clothes and

put on sackcloth and put ashes on his head, and went out into the city

and raised a loud and bitter cry of sorrow. And he went as far as the

king's gate, for no one could enter the gate clothed with sackcloth. In

every province, wherever the king's command went, there was great

mourning, fasting, weeping, and wailing among the Jews; and many of them

sat in sackcloth and ashes.

When Esther's maids and servants told her about it, she was greatly

troubled. She sent garments for Mordecai to put on, that he might take

off his sackcloth; but he would not accept them. So Esther called

Hathach, one of the king's servants whom he had appointed to wait on

her, and ordered him to go to Mordecai to learn what this meant and how

it had happened.

So Hathach went to Mordecai at the city square 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 treasury.

Also he gave him a copy of the order to destroy them, that had been

given out in Susa, to show to Esther that she might know about it. He

also urged her to go to the king and ask his mercy and plead with him

for her people.

When Hathach came and told Esther what Mordecai had said, she commanded

Hathach to go and say to Mordecai, "All the king's servants and the

people of the king's provinces know that death is the punishment for

every man or woman who goes to the king into the inner court without

being called, except for the one to whom the king may hold out the

golden sceptre, which means that he may live. But now for thirty days I

have not been called to go in to the king."

When Mordecai was told what Esther had said, he sent back this answer to

Esther, "Do not think that you alone of all the Jews will escape because

you belong to the king's household. If you keep silent at this time,

help will come to the Jews from somewhere else, but you and your family

will perish. Who knows but that you have been raised to the throne for a

time like this?"

Then Esther sent this message to Mordecai: "Go, gather all the Jews in

Susa and fast for me; do not eat nor drink anything for three days and

nights. I and my maids will fast also, and so I will go in to the king,

although it is against the law. And if I perish I perish." So Mordecai

went away and did as Esther directed.

On the third day, Esther put on her royal garments and stood in the

inner court of the royal palace opposite the king's house. The king was

sitting on his throne in the palace, opposite the entrance. When he saw

Esther, the queen, standing in the court, she won his favor, and he held

out to her the golden sceptre that was in his hand. So Esther went up

and touched the top of the sceptre. Then the king said to her, "Whatever

you wish, Queen Esther, and whatever you ask, it shall be granted, even

if it is the half of the kingdom." Esther said, "If it seems best to the

king, let the king and Haman come to-day to the feast that I have

prepared for him." Then the king said, "Bring Haman quickly, that

Esther's wish may be granted."

So the king and Haman went to the feast that Esther had prepared. While

they were drinking wine, the king said to Esther, "Whatever you ask

shall be granted, even if it takes the half of my kingdom." Esther

answered, "If I have won the king's favor and if it seems best to the

king to grant what I ask, let the king and Haman come to the feast which

I shall prepare for them; and to-morrow I will do as the king wishes."

So Haman went out that day joyful and happy, but when he saw Mordecai in

the king's gate and noticed that he neither stood up nor moved for him,

he was furiously angry with Mordecai. But Haman controlled his temper

and went home. Then he called together his friends and Zeresh, his wife,

and told them the greatness of his wealth, how many children he had, and

all the ways in which the king had honored him, and how he had given

him a place above the officials and the royal servants. Haman said,

"Queen Esther brought no one in with the king to the feast which she had

prepared but me, and to-morrow also I am invited by her along with the

king. Yet all this does not satisfy me as long as I see Mordecai, the

Jew, sitting at the king's gate."

Then Zeresh, his wife, and all his friends said to him, "Let a gallows

seventy-five feet high be built and in the morning speak to the king and

let Mordecai be hanged on it. Then go merrily with the king to the

feast." The advice pleased Haman, and so he had the gallows built.

On that night the king was unable to sleep; so he gave orders to bring

the books that told of great deeds; and they were read before the king.

And it was written how Mordecai had told about the two servants of the

king who had tried to kill King Xerxes. Then the king said, "How has

Mordecai been honored and rewarded for this?" When the king's pages who

waited on him replied, "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 house to speak to the king about hanging Mordecai on the gallows

that he had prepared for him. So the king's pages said to him, "Haman is

standing there in the court." The king said, "Let him enter."

So Haman entered, and the king said to him, "What shall be done for the

man whom the king wishes to honor?" Haman said to himself, "Whom besides

me does the king wish to honor?" So Haman said to the king, "For the man

whom the king wishes to honor let a royal garment be brought, which the

king has worn, and the horse on which the king has ridden and on whose

head a royal crown has been placed. Then let the garment and the horse

be placed in charge of one of the king's noble officials and let him

clothe the man whom the king longs to honor and make him ride on the

horse through the city square and proclaim before him, 'This is what is

done for the man whom the king wishes to honor.'"

Then the king said to Haman, "Make haste and take the garment and the

horse, as you have said, and do thus to Mordecai, the Jew, who sits in

the king's gate. Do not fail to do all you have said." So Haman took the

garment and the horse and clothed Mordecai, and made him ride through

the city square and proclaimed before him, "This is what is done for the

man whom the king wishes to honor."

Mordecai returned to the king's gate, but Haman hurried to his house,

mourning, with his head covered. And Haman told Zeresh, his wife, and

all his friends everything that had happened to him. Then his wise men

and Zeresh, his wife, said to him, "If Mordecai before whom you have

already been disgraced is of the Jewish race, you can do nothing against

him, but you will surely fall before him."

While they were still talking with him, the king's servants came and

quickly took Haman to the feast that Esther had prepared. So the king

and Haman went to drink with Queen Esther. And the king said to Esther,

as they were drinking wine, "Whatever you ask, Queen Esther, it shall be

granted you, even if it takes half of the kingdom." Then Queen Esther

answered, "If I have won your favor, O king, and if it seems best to the

king, let my life and my people be given me at my request, for I and my

people have been sold to be destroyed, to be killed, and to perish!"

The King Xerxes said to Queen Esther, "Who is he and where is he who

dares to do so?" Esther answered, "A foe, an enemy, this wicked Haman."

Then Haman shrank in terror before the king and the queen, and Harbonah,

one of those who waited on the king, said, "There, standing in the house

of Haman, are the gallows, seventy-five feet high, which Haman built for

Mordecai, who spoke a good word for the king." The king said, "Hang him

on them." So they hanged Haman on the gallows that he had prepared for

Mordecai. Then the wrath of the king was quieted.

At that time King Xerxes gave the property of Haman, the Jews' enemy, to

Queen Esther. And Mordecai was made one of the king's advisers, for

Esther had told of his relationship to her. The king also drew off his

signet-ring, which he had taken from Haman, and gave it to Mordecai; and

Esther placed Mordecai in charge of Haman's property.

Then Esther came again before the king and fell at his feet and with

tears begged him to prevent the evil that Haman had planned against the

Jews. The king held out to her the golden sceptre, and she arose and

stood before him. Then King Xerxes said to Queen Esther and to Mordecai,

the Jew, "Write in behalf of the Jews, as seems best to you, in the

king's name and seal it with the king's ring; for what is written in the

king's name and sealed with the king's ring no one may disobey."

So Mordecai wrote in the name of King Xerxes and sealed it with the

king's ring. And he sent by messengers, who rode the king's swift

horses, mules, and camels, the king's command that the Jews who were in

every city should gather together and protect their lives.

The command had also been given out in the royal palace at Susa; and

Mordecai had gone out from the presence of the king in royal garments of

violet and white and with a great crown of gold and with a robe of fine

linen and purple. The people of Susa shouted and were glad. To the Jews

there came light and gladness and joy and honor. And in every country

and city, where the king's command came, there was gladness and joy

among the Jews, and a holiday.

On the fourteenth day of the month Adar, the Jews rested and made it a

day of feasting and rejoicing. Therefore the Jews who live in the

country villages keep the fourteenth day of the month Adar as a day of

rejoicing and feasting and a holiday, and as a day on which they send

gifts to one another. But the Jews in Susa rested on the fifteenth day

of the same month and made it a day of feasting and rejoicing.

The Jews made it a custom for them, and for their children, and for all

who should join them, so that it might not be changed, that they should

observe these two days as feasts each year. For Haman had plotted to

destroy the Jews completely, and he cast pur, that is, the lot, to

destroy them. For this reason these days are called Purim.