A great and wondrous sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head.
She was pregnant and cried out in pain as she was about to give birth.
Then another sign appeared in heaven: an enormous red dragon with seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns on his heads.
His tail swept a third of the stars out of the sky and flung them to the earth. The dragon stood in front of the woman who was about to give birth, so that he might devour her child the moment it was born.
She gave birth to a son, a male child, who will rule all the nations with an iron scepter. And her child was snatched up to God and to his throne.
The woman fled into the desert to a place prepared for her by God, where she might be taken care of for 1,260 days.
And there was war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back.
But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven.
The great dragon was hurled down--that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him.
Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: "Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ. For the accuser of our brothers, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down.
They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death.
Therefore rejoice, you heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has gone down to you! He is filled with fury, because he knows that his time is short."
When the dragon saw that he had been hurled to the earth, he pursued the woman who had given birth to the male child.
The woman was given the two wings of a great eagle, so that she might fly to the place prepared for her in the desert, where she would be taken care of for a time, times and half a time, out of the serpent's reach.
Then from his mouth the serpent spewed water like a river, to overtake the woman and sweep her away with the torrent.
But the earth helped the woman by opening its mouth and swallowing the river that the dragon had spewed out of his mouth.
Then the dragon was enraged at the woman and went off to make war against the rest of her offspring--those who obey God's commandments and hold to the testimony of Jesus.
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.
He sent Moses his servant, and Aaron, whom he had chosen.
They performed his miraculous signs among them, his wonders in the land of Ham.
He sent darkness and made the land dark-- for had they not rebelled against his words?
He turned their waters into blood, causing their fish to die.
Their land teemed with frogs, which went up into the bedrooms of their rulers.
He spoke, and there came swarms of flies, and gnats throughout their country.
He turned their rain into hail, with lightning throughout their land;
he struck down their vines and fig trees and shattered the trees of their country.
He spoke, and the locusts came, grasshoppers without number;
they ate up every green thing in their land, ate up the produce of their soil.
Then he struck down all the firstborn in their land, the firstfruits of all their manhood.
He brought out Israel, laden with silver and gold, and from among their tribes no one faltered.
Egypt was glad when they left, because dread of Israel had fallen on them.
He spread out a cloud as a covering, and a fire to give light at night.
They asked, and he brought them quail and satisfied them with the bread of heaven.
He opened the rock, and water gushed out; like a river it flowed in the desert.
For he remembered his holy promise given to his servant Abraham.
He brought out his people with rejoicing, his chosen ones with shouts of joy;
he gave them the lands of the nations, and they fell heir to what others had toiled for--
that they might keep his precepts and observe his laws. Praise the LORD.