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!"
"If it please the king," said Esther, "let the king come with Haman to a dinner I've prepared for him."
"Get Haman at once," said the king, "so we can go to dinner with Esther."
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."
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."
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."
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.
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)