1The dragon stood on the shore of the sea. And I saw a beast coming out of the sea. It had ten horns and seven heads, with ten crowns on its horns, and on each head a blasphemous name.2The beast I saw resembled a leopard, but had feet like those of a bear and a mouth like that of a lion. The dragon gave the beast his power and his throne and great authority.3One of the heads of the beast seemed to have had a fatal wound, but the fatal wound had been healed. The whole world was filled with wonder and followed the beast.4People worshiped the dragon because he had given authority to the beast, and they also worshiped the beast and asked, “Who is like the beast? Who can wage war against it?”5The beast was given a mouth to utter proud words and blasphemies and to exercise its authority for forty-two months.6It opened its mouth to blaspheme God, and to slander his name and his dwelling place and those who live in heaven.7It was given power to wage war against God’s holy people and to conquer them. And it was given authority over every tribe, people, language and nation.8All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast—all whose names have not been written in the Lamb’s book of life, the Lamb who was slain from the creation of the world.9Whoever has ears, let them hear.10“If anyone is to go into captivity, into captivity they will go. If anyone is to be killed with the sword, with the sword they will be killed.”This calls for patient endurance and faithfulness on the part of God’s people.
11Then I saw a second beast, coming out of the earth. It had two horns like a lamb, but it spoke like a dragon.12It exercised all the authority of the first beast on its behalf, and made the earth and its inhabitants worship the first beast, whose fatal wound had been healed.13And it performed great signs, even causing fire to come down from heaven to the earth in full view of the people.14Because of the signs it was given power to perform on behalf of the first beast, it deceived the inhabitants of the earth. It ordered them to set up an image in honor of the beast who was wounded by the sword and yet lived.15The second beast was given power to give breath to the image of the first beast, so that the image could speak and cause all who refused to worship the image to be killed.16It also forced all people, great and small, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hands or on their foreheads,17so that they could not buy or sell unless they had the mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of its name.18This calls for wisdom. Let the person who has insight calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man. That number is 666.
1After 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.2All 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.3Then the royal officials at the king’s gate asked Mordecai, “Why do you disobey the king’s command?”4Day 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.5When Haman saw that Mordecai would not kneel down or pay him honor, he was enraged.6Yet 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.7In the twelfth year of King Xerxes, in the first month, the month of Nisan, the pur (that is, the lot) was cast in the presence of Haman to select a day and month. And the lot fell on the twelfth month, the month of Adar.8Then Haman said to King Xerxes, “There is a certain people dispersed among the peoples in all the provinces of your kingdom who keep themselves separate. Their customs are different from those of all other people, and they do not obey the king’s laws; it is not in the king’s best interest to tolerate them.9If it pleases the king, let a decree be issued to destroy them, and I will give ten thousand talents of silver to the king’s administrators for the royal treasury.”10So the king took his signet ring from his finger and gave it to Haman son of Hammedatha, the Agagite, the enemy of the Jews.11“Keep the money,” the king said to Haman, “and do with the people as you please.”12Then 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.13Dispatches 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 children—on a single day, the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, the month of Adar, and to plunder their goods.14A 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.15The couriers went out, spurred on by the king’s command, 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.
1When Mordecai learned of all that had been done, he tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and ashes, and went out into the city, wailing loudly and bitterly.2But he went only as far as the king’s gate, because no one clothed in sackcloth was allowed to enter it.3In every province to which the edict and order of the king came, there was great mourning among the Jews, with fasting, weeping and wailing. Many lay in sackcloth and ashes.4When Esther’s eunuchs and female attendants came and told her about Mordecai, she was in great distress. She sent clothes for him to put on instead of his sackcloth, but he would not accept them.5Then Esther summoned Hathak, one of the king’s eunuchs assigned to attend her, and ordered him to find out what was troubling Mordecai and why.6So Hathak went out to Mordecai in the open square of the city in front of the king’s gate.7Mordecai told him everything that had happened to him, including the exact amount of money Haman had promised to pay into the royal treasury for the destruction of the Jews.8He also gave him a copy of the text of the edict for their annihilation, which had been published in Susa, to show to Esther and explain it to her, and he told him to instruct her to go into the king’s presence to beg for mercy and plead with him for her people.9Hathak went back and reported to Esther what Mordecai had said.10Then she instructed him to say to Mordecai,11“All the king’s officials and the people of the royal provinces know that for any man or woman who approaches the king in the inner court without being summoned the king has but one law: that they be put to death unless the king extends the gold scepter to them and spares their lives. But thirty days have passed since I was called to go to the king.”12When Esther’s words were reported to Mordecai,13he sent back this answer: “Do not think that because you are in the king’s house you alone of all the Jews will escape.14For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?”15Then Esther sent this reply to Mordecai:16“Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my attendants will fast as you do. When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish.”17So Mordecai went away and carried out all of Esther’s instructions.
1Praise the LORD.Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.2Who can proclaim the mighty acts of the LORDor fully declare his praise?3Blessed are those who act justly, who always do what is right.4Remember me, LORD, when you show favor to your people, come to my aid when you save them,5that I may enjoy the prosperity of your chosen ones, that I may share in the joy of your nation and join your inheritance in giving praise.6We have sinned, even as our ancestors did; we have done wrong and acted wickedly.7When our ancestors were in Egypt, they gave no thought to your miracles; they did not remember your many kindnesses, and they rebelled by the sea, the Red Sea.8Yet he saved them for his name’s sake, to make his mighty power known.9He rebuked the Red Sea, and it dried up; he led them through the depths as through a desert.10He saved them from the hand of the foe; from the hand of the enemy he redeemed them.11The waters covered their adversaries; not one of them survived.12Then they believed his promises and sang his praise.13But they soon forgot what he had done and did not wait for his plan to unfold.14In the desert they gave in to their craving; in the wilderness they put God to the test.15So he gave them what they asked for, but sent a wasting disease among them.16In the camp they grew envious of Moses and of Aaron, who was consecrated to the LORD.17The earth opened up and swallowed Dathan; it buried the company of Abiram.18Fire blazed among their followers; a flame consumed the wicked.19At Horeb they made a calf and worshiped an idol cast from metal.20They exchanged their glorious God for an image of a bull, which eats grass.21They forgot the God who saved them, who had done great things in Egypt,22miracles in the land of Ham and awesome deeds by the Red Sea.23So he said he would destroy them— had not Moses, his chosen one, stood in the breach before him to keep his wrath from destroying them.