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.
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.
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."
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."
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."
Mordecai left and carried out Esther's instructions.
Published by permission. Originally published by NavPress in English as THE MESSAGE: The Bible in Contemporary Language copyright 2002 by Eugene Peterson. All rights reserved. (The Message Bible Online)