This is what happened during the time of Xerxes, the Xerxes who ruled over %"127 provinces stretching from India to Cush:
At that time King Xerxes reigned from his royal throne in the citadel of Susa,
and in the third year of his reign he gave a banquet for all his nobles and officials. The military leaders of Persia and Media, the princes, and the nobles of the provinces were present.
For a full 180 days he displayed the vast wealth of his kingdom and the splendor and glory of his majesty.
When these days were over, the king gave a banquet, lasting seven days, in the enclosed garden of the king's palace, for all the people from the least to the greatest, who were in the citadel of Susa.
The garden had hangings of white and blue linen, fastened with cords of white linen and purple material to silver rings on marble pillars. There were couches of gold and silver on a mosaic pavement of porphyry, marble, mother-of-pearl and other costly stones.
Wine was served in goblets of gold, each one different from the other, and the royal wine was abundant, in keeping with the king's liberality.
By the king's command each guest was allowed to drink in his own way, for the king instructed all the wine stewards to serve each man what he wished.
Queen Vashti also gave a banquet for the women in the royal palace of King Xerxes.
On the seventh day, when King Xerxes was in high spirits from wine, he commanded the seven eunuchs who served him--Mehuman, Biztha, Harbona, Bigtha, Abagtha, Zethar and Carcas--
to bring before him Queen Vashti, wearing her royal crown, in order to display her beauty to the people and nobles, for she was lovely to look at.
But when the attendants delivered the king's command, Queen Vashti refused to come. Then the king became furious and burned with anger.
Since it was customary for the king to consult experts in matters of law and justice, he spoke with the wise men who understood the times
and were closest to the king--Carshena, Shethar, Admatha, Tarshish, Meres, Marsena and Memucan, the seven nobles of Persia and Media who had special access to the king and were highest in the kingdom.
"According to law, what must be done to Queen Vashti?" he asked. "She has not obeyed the command of King Xerxes that the eunuchs have taken to her."
Then Memucan replied in the presence of the king and the nobles, "Queen Vashti has done wrong, not only against the king but also against all the nobles and the peoples of all the provinces of King Xerxes.
For the queen's conduct will become known to all the women, and so they will despise their husbands and say, 'King Xerxes commanded Queen Vashti to be brought before him, but she would not come.'
This very day the Persian and Median women of the nobility who have heard about the queen's conduct will respond to all the king's nobles in the same way. There will be no end of disrespect and discord.
"Therefore, if it pleases the king, let him issue a royal decree and let it be written in the laws of Persia and Media, which cannot be repealed, that Vashti is never again to enter the presence of King Xerxes. Also let the king give her royal position to someone else who is better than she.
Then when the king's edict is proclaimed throughout all his vast realm, all the women will respect their husbands, from the least to the greatest."
The king and his nobles were pleased with this advice, so the king did as Memucan proposed.
He sent dispatches to all parts of the kingdom, to each province in its own script and to each people in its own language, proclaiming in each people's tongue that every man should be ruler over his own household.
After this, Jesus went around in Galilee, purposely staying away from Judea because the Jews there were waiting to take his life.
But when the Jewish Feast of Tabernacles was near,
Jesus' brothers said to him, "You ought to leave here and go to Judea, so that your disciples may see the miracles you do.
No one who wants to become a public figure acts in secret. Since you are doing these things, show yourself to the world."
For even his own brothers did not believe in him.
Therefore Jesus told them, "The right time for me has not yet come; for you any time is right.7The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify that what it does is evil.8You go to the Feast. I am not yet going up to this Feast, because for me the right time has not yet come."9
Having said this, he stayed in Galilee.
However, after his brothers had left for the Feast, he went also, not publicly, but in secret.
Now at the Feast the Jews were watching for him and asking, "Where is that man?"
Among the crowds there was widespread whispering about him. Some said, "He is a good man." Others replied, "No, he deceives the people."
But no one would say anything publicly about him for fear of the Jews.
Not until halfway through the Feast did Jesus go up to the temple courts and begin to teach.
The Jews were amazed and asked, "How did this man get such learning without having studied?"
Jesus answered, "My teaching is not my own. It comes from him who sent me.17If anyone chooses to do God's will, he will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own.18He who speaks on his own does so to gain honor for himself, but he who works for the honor of the one who sent him is a man of truth; there is nothing false about him.19Has not Moses given you the law? Yet not one of you keeps the law. Why are you trying to kill me?"20
"You are demon-possessed," the crowd answered. "Who is trying to kill you?"
Jesus said to them, "I did one miracle, and you are all astonished.22Yet, because Moses gave you circumcision (though actually it did not come from Moses, but from the patriarchs), you circumcise a child on the Sabbath.23Now if a child can be circumcised on the Sabbath so that the law of Moses may not be broken, why are you angry with me for healing the whole man on the Sabbath?24Stop judging by mere appearances, and make a right judgment."
At that point some of the people of Jerusalem began to ask, "Isn't this the man they are trying to kill?
Here he is, speaking publicly, and they are not saying a word to him. Have the authorities really concluded that he is the Christ ?
But we know where this man is from; when the Christ comes, no one will know where he is from."
Then Jesus, still teaching in the temple courts, cried out, "Yes, you know me, and you know where I am from. I am not here on my own, but he who sent me is true. You do not know him,29but I know him because I am from him and he sent me."30
At this they tried to seize him, but no one laid a hand on him, because his time had not yet come.
Still, many in the crowd put their faith in him. They said, "When the Christ comes, will he do more miraculous signs than this man?"
The Pharisees heard the crowd whispering such things about him. Then the chief priests and the Pharisees sent temple guards to arrest him.
Jesus said, "I am with you for only a short time, and then I go to the one who sent me.34You will look for me, but you will not find me; and where I am, you cannot come."35
The Jews said to one another, "Where does this man intend to go that we cannot find him? Will he go where our people live scattered among the Greeks, and teach the Greeks?
What did he mean when he said, 'You will look for me, but you will not find me,' and 'Where I am, you cannot come'?"
On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, "If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink.38Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him."39
By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.
On hearing his words, some of the people said, "Surely this man is the Prophet."
Others said, "He is the Christ." Still others asked, "How can the Christ come from Galilee?
Does not the Scripture say that the Christ will come from David's family and from Bethlehem, the town where David lived?"
Thus the people were divided because of Jesus.
Some wanted to seize him, but no one laid a hand on him.
Finally the temple guards went back to the chief priests and Pharisees, who asked them, "Why didn't you bring him in?"
"No one ever spoke the way this man does," the guards declared.
"You mean he has deceived you also?" the Pharisees retorted.
"Has any of the rulers or of the Pharisees believed in him?
No! But this mob that knows nothing of the law--there is a curse on them."
Nicodemus, who had gone to Jesus earlier and who was one of their own number, asked,
"Does our law condemn anyone without first hearing him to find out what he is doing?"
They replied, "Are you from Galilee, too? Look into it, and you will find that a prophet does not come out of Galilee."
Then each went to his own home.
But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives.
At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them.
The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group
and said to Jesus, "Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery.
In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?"
They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him. But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger.
When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, "If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her."8
Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.
At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there.
Jesus straightened up and asked her, "Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?"11
"No one, sir," she said. "Then neither do I condemn you," Jesus declared. "Go now and leave your life of sin."
When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life."13
The Pharisees challenged him, "Here you are, appearing as your own witness; your testimony is not valid."
Jesus answered, "Even if I testify on my own behalf, my testimony is valid, for I know where I came from and where I am going. But you have no idea where I come from or where I am going.15You judge by human standards; I pass judgment on no one.16But if I do judge, my decisions are right, because I am not alone. I stand with the Father, who sent me.17In your own Law it is written that the testimony of two men is valid.18I am one who testifies for myself; my other witness is the Father, who sent me."19
Then they asked him, "Where is your father?" "You do not know me or my Father," Jesus replied. "If you knew me, you would know my Father also."20
He spoke these words while teaching in the temple area near the place where the offerings were put. Yet no one seized him, because his time had not yet come.
Once more Jesus said to them, "I am going away, and you will look for me, and you will die in your sin. Where I go, you cannot come."22
This made the Jews ask, "Will he kill himself ? Is that why he says, 'Where I go, you cannot come'?"
But he continued, "You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world.24I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am [the one I claim to be], you will indeed die in your sins."25
"Who are you?" they asked. "Just what I have been claiming all along," Jesus replied.
26"I have much to say in judgment of you. But he who sent me is reliable, and what I have heard from him I tell the world."27
They did not understand that he was telling them about his Father.
So Jesus said, "When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am [the one I claim to be] and that I do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught me.29The one who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone, for I always do what pleases him."30
Even as he spoke, many put their faith in him.
To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, "If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples.32Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free."33
They answered him, "We are Abraham's descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?"
Jesus replied, "I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin.35Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever.36So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.37I know you are Abraham's descendants. Yet you are ready to kill me, because you have no room for my word.38I am telling you what I have seen in the Father's presence, and you do what you have heard from your father. "39
"Abraham is our father," they answered. "If you were Abraham's children," said Jesus, "then you would do the things Abraham did.40As it is, you are determined to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. Abraham did not do such things.41You are doing the things your own father does." "We are not illegitimate children," they protested. "The only Father we have is God himself."
Jesus said to them, "If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and now am here. I have not come on my own; but he sent me.43Why is my language not clear to you? Because you are unable to hear what I say.44You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father's desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.45Yet because I tell the truth, you do not believe me!46Can any of you prove me guilty of sin? If I am telling the truth, why don't you believe me?47He who belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God."
The Jews answered him, "Aren't we right in saying that you are a Samaritan and demon-possessed?"
49"I am not possessed by a demon," said Jesus, "but I honor my Father and you dishonor me.50I am not seeking glory for myself; but there is one who seeks it, and he is the judge.51I tell you the truth, if anyone keeps my word, he will never see death."52
At this the Jews exclaimed, "Now we know that you are demon-possessed! Abraham died and so did the prophets, yet you say that if anyone keeps your word, he will never taste death.
Are you greater than our father Abraham? He died, and so did the prophets. Who do you think you are?"
Jesus replied, "If I glorify myself, my glory means nothing. My Father, whom you claim as your God, is the one who glorifies me.55Though you do not know him, I know him. If I said I did not, I would be a liar like you, but I do know him and keep his word.56Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw it and was glad."57
"You are not yet fifty years old," the Jews said to him, "and you have seen Abraham!"
58"I tell you the truth," Jesus answered, "before Abraham was born, I am!"59
At this, they picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus hid himself, slipping away from the temple grounds.
Later when the anger of King Xerxes had subsided, he remembered Vashti and what she had done and what he had decreed about her.
Then the king's personal attendants proposed, "Let a search be made for beautiful young virgins for the king.
Let the king appoint commissioners in every province of his realm to bring all these beautiful girls into the harem at the citadel of Susa. Let them be placed under the care of Hegai, the king's eunuch, who is in charge of the women; and let beauty treatments be given to them.
Then let the girl who pleases the king be queen instead of Vashti." This advice appealed to the king, and he followed it.
Now there was in the citadel of Susa a Jew of the tribe of Benjamin, named Mordecai son of Jair, the son of Shimei, the son of Kish,
who had been carried into exile from Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, among those taken captive with Jehoiachin king of Judah.
Mordecai had a cousin named Hadassah, whom he had brought up because she had neither father nor mother. This girl, who was also known as Esther, was lovely in form and features, and Mordecai had taken her as his own daughter when her father and mother died.
When the king's order and edict had been proclaimed, many girls were brought to the citadel of Susa and put under the care of Hegai. Esther also was taken to the king's palace and entrusted to Hegai, who had charge of the harem.
The girl pleased him and won his favor. Immediately he provided her with her beauty treatments and special food. He assigned to her seven maids selected from the king's palace and moved her and her maids into the best place in the harem.
Esther had not revealed her nationality and family background, because Mordecai had forbidden her to do so.
Every day he walked back and forth near the courtyard of the harem to find out how Esther was and what was happening to her.
Before a girl's turn came to go in to King Xerxes, she had to complete twelve months of beauty treatments prescribed for the women, six months with oil of myrrh and six with perfumes and cosmetics.
And this is how she would go to the king: Anything she wanted was given her to take with her from the harem to the king's palace.
In the evening she would go there and in the morning return to another part of the harem to the care of Shaashgaz, the king's eunuch who was in charge of the concubines. She would not return to the king unless he was pleased with her and summoned her by name.
When the turn came for Esther (the girl Mordecai had adopted, the daughter of his uncle Abihail) to go to the king, she asked for nothing other than what Hegai, the king's eunuch who was in charge of the harem, suggested. And Esther won the favor of everyone who saw her.
She was taken to King Xerxes in the royal residence in the tenth month, the month of Tebeth, in the seventh year of his reign.
Now the king was attracted to Esther more than to any of the other women, and she won his favor and approval more than any of the other virgins. So he set a royal crown on her head and made her queen instead of Vashti.
And the king gave a great banquet, Esther's banquet, for all his nobles and officials. He proclaimed a holiday throughout the provinces and distributed gifts with royal liberality.
When the virgins were assembled a second time, Mordecai was sitting at the king's gate.
But Esther had kept secret her family background and nationality just as Mordecai had told her to do, for she continued to follow Mordecai's instructions as she had done when he was bringing her up.
During the time Mordecai was sitting at the king's gate, Bigthana and Teresh, two of the king's officers who guarded the doorway, became angry and conspired to assassinate King Xerxes.
But Mordecai found out about the plot and told Queen Esther, who in turn reported it to the king, giving credit to Mordecai.
And when the report was investigated and found to be true, the two officials were hanged on a gallows. All this was recorded in the book of the annals in the presence of the king.
After these events, King Xerxes honored Haman son of Hammedatha, the Agagite, elevating him and giving him a seat of honor higher than that of all the other nobles.
All the royal officials at the king's gate knelt down and paid honor to Haman, for the king had commanded this concerning him. But Mordecai would not kneel down or pay him honor.
Then the royal officials at the king's gate asked Mordecai, "Why do you disobey the king's command?"
Day after day they spoke to him but he refused to comply. Therefore they told Haman about it to see whether Mordecai's behavior would be tolerated, for he had told them he was a Jew.
When Haman saw that Mordecai would not kneel down or pay him honor, he was enraged.
Yet having learned who Mordecai's people were, he scorned the idea of killing only Mordecai. Instead Haman looked for a way to destroy all Mordecai's people, the Jews, throughout the whole kingdom of Xerxes.
In the twelfth year of King Xerxes, in the first month, the month of Nisan, they cast the "pur" (that is, the lot) in the presence of Haman to select a day and month. And the lot fell on the twelfth month, the month of Adar.
Then Haman said to King Xerxes, "There is a certain people dispersed and scattered among the peoples in all the provinces of your kingdom whose customs are different from those of all other people and who do not obey the king's laws; it is not in the king's best interest to tolerate them.
If it pleases the king, let a decree be issued to destroy them, and I will put ten thousand talents of silver into the royal treasury for the men who carry out this business."
So the king took his signet ring from his finger and gave it to Haman son of Hammedatha, the Agagite, the enemy of the Jews.
"Keep the money," the king said to Haman, "and do with the people as you please."
Then on the thirteenth day of the first month the royal secretaries were summoned. They wrote out in the script of each province and in the language of each people all Haman's orders to the king's satraps, the governors of the various provinces and the nobles of the various peoples. These were written in the name of King Xerxes himself and sealed with his own ring.
Dispatches were sent by couriers to all the king's provinces with the order to destroy, kill and annihilate all the Jews--young and old, women and little children--on a single day, the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, the month of Adar, and to plunder their goods.
A copy of the text of the edict was to be issued as law in every province and made known to the people of every nationality so they would be ready for that day.
Spurred on by the king's command, the couriers went out, and the edict was issued in the citadel of Susa. The king and Haman sat down to drink, but the city of Susa was bewildered.