Esther 9; Esther 10; Acts 7:1-21

1 The thirteenth day of Adar came, the day on which the royal proclamation was to take effect, the day when the enemies of the Jews were hoping to get them in their power. But instead, the Jews triumphed over them. 2 In the Jewish quarter of every city in the empire the Jews organized to attack anyone who tried to harm them. People everywhere were afraid of them, and no one could stand against them. 3 In fact, all the provincial officials - governors, administrators, and royal representatives - helped the Jews because they were all afraid of Mordecai. 4 It was well-known throughout the empire that Mordecai was now a powerful man in the palace and was growing more powerful. 5 So the Jews could do what they wanted with their enemies. They attacked them with swords and slaughtered them. 6 In Susa, the capital city itself, the Jews killed five hundred people. 7 Among them were the ten sons of Haman son of Hammedatha, the enemy of the Jews: Parshandatha, Dalphon, Aspatha, Poratha, Adalia, Aridatha, Parmashta, Arisai, Aridai, and Vaizatha. However, there was no looting. 11 That same day the number of people killed in Susa was reported to the king. 12 He then said to Queen Esther, "In Susa alone the Jews have killed five hundred people, including Haman's ten sons. What must they have done out in the provinces! What do you want now? You shall have it. Tell me what else you want, and you shall have it." 13 Esther answered, "If it please Your Majesty, let the Jews in Susa do again tomorrow what they were allowed to do today. And have the bodies of Haman's ten sons hung from the gallows." 14 The king ordered this to be done, and the proclamation was issued in Susa. The bodies of Haman's ten sons were publicly displayed. 15 On the fourteenth day of Adar the Jews of Susa got together again and killed three hundred more people in the city. But again, they did no looting. 16 The Jews in the provinces also organized and defended themselves. They rid themselves of their enemies by killing seventy-five thousand people who hated them. But they did no looting. 17 This was on the thirteenth day of Adar. On the next day, the fourteenth, there was no more killing, and they made it a joyful day of feasting. 18 The Jews of Susa, however, made the fifteenth a holiday, since they had slaughtered their enemies on the thirteenth and fourteenth and then stopped on the fifteenth. 19 This is why Jews who live in small towns observe the fourteenth day of the month of Adar as a joyous holiday, a time for feasting and giving gifts of food to one another. 20 Mordecai had these events written down and sent letters to all the Jews, near and far, throughout the Persian Empire, 21 telling them to observe the fourteenth and fifteenth days of Adar as holidays every year. 22 These were the days on which the Jews had rid themselves of their enemies; this was a month that had been turned from a time of grief and despair into a time of joy and happiness. They were told to observe these days with feasts and parties, giving gifts of food to one another and to the poor. 23 So the Jews followed Mordecai's instructions, and the celebration became an annual custom. 24 Haman son of Hammedatha - the descendant of Agag and the enemy of the Jewish people - had cast lots ("purim," they were called) to determine the day for destroying the Jews; he had planned to wipe them out. 25 But Esther went to the king, and the king issued written orders with the result that Haman suffered the fate he had planned for the Jews - he and his sons were hanged from the gallows. 26 That is why the holidays are called Purim. Because of Mordecai's letter and because of all that had happened to them, 27 the Jews made it a rule for themselves, their descendants, and anyone who might become a Jew, that at the proper time each year these two days would be regularly observed according to Mordecai's instructions. 28 It was resolved that every Jewish family of every future generation in every province and every city should remember and observe the days of Purim for all time to come. 29 Then Queen Esther, the daughter of Abihail, along with Mordecai, also wrote a letter, putting her full authority behind the letter about Purim, which Mordecai had written earlier. 30 The letter was addressed to all the Jews, and copies were sent to all the 127 provinces of the Persian Empire. It wished the Jews peace and security 31 and directed them and their descendants to observe the days of Purim at the proper time, just as they had adopted rules for the observance of fasts and times of mourning. This was commanded by both Mordecai and Queen Esther. 32 Esther's command, confirming the rules for Purim, was written down on a scroll.
1 King Xerxes imposed forced labor on the people of the coastal regions of his empire as well as on those of the interior. 2 All the great and wonderful things he did, as well as the whole story of how he promoted Mordecai to high office, are recorded in the official records of the kings of Persia and Media. 3 Mordecai the Jew was second in rank only to King Xerxes himself. He was honored and well-liked by his fellow Jews. He worked for the good of his people and for the security of all their descendants.
1 The High Priest asked Stephen, "Is this true?" 2 Stephen answered, "Brothers and fathers, listen to me! Before our ancestor Abraham had gone to live in Haran, the God of glory appeared to him in Mesopotamia 3 and said to him, "Leave your family and country and go to the land that I will show you.' 4 And so he left his country and went to live in Haran. After Abraham's father died, God made him move to this land where you now live. 5 God did not then give Abraham any part of it as his own, not even a square foot of ground, but God promised to give it to him, and that it would belong to him and to his descendants. At the time God made this promise, Abraham had no children. 6 This is what God said to him: "Your descendants will live in a foreign country, where they will be slaves and will be badly treated for four hundred years. 7 But I will pass judgment on the people that they will serve, and afterward your descendants will come out of that country and will worship me in this place.' 8 Then God gave to Abraham the ceremony of circumcision as a sign of the covenant. So Abraham circumcised Isaac a week after he was born; Isaac circumcised his son Jacob, and Jacob circumcised his twelve sons, the famous ancestors of our race. 9 "Jacob's sons became jealous of their brother Joseph and sold him to be a slave in Egypt. But God was with him 10 and brought him safely through all his troubles. When Joseph appeared before the king of Egypt, God gave him a pleasing manner and wisdom, and the king made Joseph governor over the country and the royal household. 11 Then there was a famine all over Egypt and Canaan, which caused much suffering. Our ancestors could not find any food, 12 and when Jacob heard that there was grain in Egypt, he sent his sons, our ancestors, on their first visit there. 13 On the second visit Joseph made himself known to his brothers, and the king of Egypt came to know about Joseph's family. 14 So Joseph sent a message to his father Jacob, telling him and the whole family, seventy-five people in all, to come to Egypt. 15 Then Jacob went to Egypt, where he and his sons died. 16 Their bodies were taken to Shechem, where they were buried in the grave which Abraham had bought from the clan of Hamor for a sum of money. 17 "When the time drew near for God to keep the promise he had made to Abraham, the number of our people in Egypt had grown much larger. 18 At last a king who did not know about Joseph began to rule in Egypt. 19 He tricked our ancestors and was cruel to them, forcing them to put their babies out of their homes, so that they would die. 20 It was at this time that Moses was born, a very beautiful child. He was cared for at home for three months, 21 and when he was put out of his home, the king's daughter adopted him and brought him up as her own son.
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