Esther 1 (New Living Translation)

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1 This happened in the days of King Xerxes, a who reigned over 127 provinces stretching from India to Ethiopia. b 2 At that time he ruled his empire from his throne at the fortress of Susa. 3 In the third year of his reign, he gave a banquet for all his princes and officials. He invited all the military officers of Media and Persia, as well as the noblemen and provincial officials. 4 The celebration lasted six months c -- a tremendous display of the opulent wealth and glory of his empire. 5 When it was all over, the king gave a special banquet for all the palace servants and officials -- from the greatest to the least. It lasted for seven days and was held at Susa in the courtyard of the palace garden. 6 The courtyard was decorated with beautifully woven white and blue linen hangings, fastened by purple ribbons to silver rings embedded in marble pillars. Gold and silver couches stood on a mosaic pavement of porphyry, marble, mother-of-pearl, and other costly stones. 7 Drinks were served in gold goblets of many designs, and there was an abundance of royal wine, just as the king had commanded. 8 The only restriction on the drinking was that no one should be compelled to take more than he wanted. But those who wished could have as much as they pleased, for the king had instructed his staff to let everyone decide this matter for himself. 9 Queen Vashti gave a banquet for the women of the palace at the same time. 10 On the seventh day of the feast, when King Xerxes was half drunk with wine, he told Mehuman, Biztha, Harbona, Bigtha, Abagtha, Zethar, and Carcas, the seven eunuchs who attended him, 11 to bring Queen Vashti to him with the royal crown on her head. He wanted all the men to gaze on her beauty, for she was a very beautiful woman. 12 But when they conveyed the king's order to Queen Vashti, she refused to come. This made the king furious, and he burned with anger. 13 He immediately consulted with his advisers, who knew all the Persian laws and customs, for he always asked their advice. 14 The names of these men were Carshena, Shethar, Admatha, Tarshish, Meres, Marsena, and Memucan -- seven high officials of Persia and Media. They were his closest associates and held the highest positions in the empire. 15 "What must be done to Queen Vashti?" the king demanded. "What penalty does the law provide for a queen who refuses to obey the king's orders, properly sent through his eunuchs?" 16 Memucan answered the king and his princes, "Queen Vashti has wronged not only the king but also every official and citizen throughout your empire. 17 Women everywhere will begin to despise their husbands when they learn that Queen Vashti has refused to appear before the king. 18 Before this day is out, the wife of every one of us, your officials throughout the empire, will hear what the queen did and will start talking to their husbands the same way. There will be no end to the contempt and anger throughout your realm. 19 So if it please the king, we suggest that you issue a written decree, a law of the Persians and Medes that cannot be revoked. It should order that Queen Vashti be forever banished from your presence and that you choose another queen more worthy than she. 20 When this decree is published throughout your vast empire, husbands everywhere, whatever their rank, will receive proper respect from their wives!" 21 The king and his princes thought this made good sense, so he followed Memucan's counsel. 22 He sent letters to all parts of the empire, to each province in its own script and language, proclaiming that every man should be the ruler of his home.
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