Esther 1; Esther 2; Esther 3

1 In the days of Xerxes the following events took place. This was the same Xerxes who ruled over 127 provinces from India to Sudan. 2 At the time when King Xerxes sat on the royal throne in the fortress of Susa, 3 he held a banquet in the third year of his reign. The banquet was for all his officials and advisers, that is, the military officers of the Persians and Medes, the nobles and officials of the provinces who had access to him. 4 He showed them the enormous wealth of his kingdom and the costly splendor of his greatness for many days, 180 to be exact. 5 When those days were over, the king held a banquet lasting seven days. This banquet was held in the enclosed garden of the king's palace for all people in the fortress of Susa, whatever their rank. 6 The garden had white and violet linen curtains. These curtains were attached to silver rods and marble pillars by cords made of white and purple fine linen. Gold and silver couches were on a mosaic pavement of purple rock, white marble, pearl-like stone, and black marble. 7 People drank from golden cups. No two cups were alike. The king also provided plenty of royal wine out of his royal generosity. 8 The drinking followed this rule: Drink as you please. (The king had ordered all the waiters in his palace to let everyone do as he pleased.) 9 Queen Vashti also held a banquet for the women at the royal palace of King Xerxes. 10 On the seventh day when the king was drunk on wine, he ordered Mehuman, Biztha, Harbona, Bigtha, Abagtha, Zethar, and Carcas, the seven eunuchs who served under King Xerxes, 11 to bring Queen Vashti in front of the king, wearing her royal crown. He wanted to show the people, especially the officials, her beauty, because she was very attractive. 12 But Queen Vashti refused the king's command that the eunuchs delivered to her. As a result, the king became very angry, and his rage burned inside him. 13 Now, the king usually asked for advice from all the experts in royal decrees and decisions, 14 from those closest to him--Carshena, Shethar, Admatha, Tarshish, Meres, Marsena, and Memucan. These seven officials of the Persians and Medes had access to the king and held the highest rank in the kingdom. The king asked these wise men who knew the times, 15 "According to the royal decrees, what must we do with Queen Vashti since she did not obey King Xerxes' command, which the eunuchs delivered?" 16 Then Memucan spoke up in the presence of the king and the officials, "Queen Vashti has done wrong, not only against the king but also against all the officials and all the people in every province of King Xerxes. 17 The news of what the queen has done will spread to all women, and they will despise their husbands. They will say, 'King Xerxes ordered Queen Vashti to be brought to him, but she would not come.' 18 Today the wives of the officials in Persia and Media who have heard what the queen did will talk back to all the king's officials. There will be contempt and short tempers. 19 If it pleases you, Your Majesty, issue a royal decree. It should be recorded in the decrees of the Persians and Medes, never to be repealed, that Vashti may never again appear in front of King Xerxes. Furthermore, Your Majesty, you should give her royal position to another woman who is more worthy than she. 20 When you issue your decree, your whole kingdom, great as it is, will hear it. Then all the wives will honor their husbands, regardless of their status." 21 The king and his officials approved of this, and so the king did as Memucan suggested. 22 He sent official documents to all the king's provinces, to each province in its own script and to the people in each province in their own language: "Let every husband be the ruler in his own house and speak with authority."
1 Later, when King Xerxes got over his raging anger, he remembered Vashti, what she had done, and what had been decided against her. 2 So the king's personal staff said to him, "Search for attractive young virgins for the king. 3 And appoint scouts in all the provinces of your kingdom to gather all the attractive young virgins and bring them to the fortress of Susa, to the women's quarters. There, in the care of the king's eunuch Hegai, the guardian of the women, they will have their beauty treatment. 4 Then the young woman who pleases you, Your Majesty, will become queen instead of Vashti." The king liked the suggestion, and so he did just that. 5 In the fortress of Susa there was a Jew from the tribe of Benjamin named Mordecai. He was the son of Jair, the grandson of Shimei, and the great-grandson of Kish. 6 (Kish had been taken captive from Jerusalem together with the others who had gone into exile along with Judah's King Jehoiakin, whom King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon had carried away.) 7 Mordecai had raised Hadassah, also known as Esther, his uncle's daughter, because she was an orphan. The young woman had a beautiful figure and was very attractive. When her father and mother died, Mordecai adopted her as his own daughter. 8 When the king's announcement and decree were heard, many young women were gathered together and brought to the fortress of Susa. They were placed in the care of Hegai. Esther also was taken to the king's palace and placed in the care of Hegai, the guardian of the women. 9 The young woman pleased him and won his affection. So he immediately provided her with the beauty treatment, a daily supply of food, and seven suitable female servants from the king's palace. Then he moved her and her servants to the best place in the women's quarters. 10 Esther did not reveal her nationality or her family background, because Mordecai had ordered her not to. 11 Every day Mordecai would walk back and forth in front of the courtyard of the women's quarters to find out how Esther was and what was happening to her. 12 Each young woman had her turn to go to King Xerxes after she had completed the required 12-month treatment for women. The time of beauty treatment was spent as follows: six months using oil of myrrh and six months using perfumes and other treatments for women. 13 After that, the young woman would go to the king. Anything she wanted to take with her from the women's quarters to the king's palace was given to her. 14 She would go in the evening and come back in the morning to the other quarters for women. There she would be in the care of the king's eunuch Shaashgaz, the guardian of the concubines. She never went to the king again unless the king desired her and requested her by name. 15 (Esther was the daughter of Abihail, Mordecai's uncle. Mordecai had adopted her as his own daughter.) When Esther's turn came to go to the king, she asked only for what the king's eunuch Hegai, the guardian of the women, advised. Everyone who saw Esther liked her. 16 So Esther was taken to King Xerxes in his royal palace in the month of Tebeth, the tenth month, in the seventh year of his reign. 17 Now, the king loved Esther more than all the other women and favored her over all the other virgins. So he put the royal crown on her head and made her queen instead of Vashti. 18 Then the king held a great banquet for Esther. He invited all his officials and his advisers. He also declared that day a holiday in the provinces, and he handed out gifts from his royal generosity. 19 When the virgins were gathered a second time, Mordecai was sitting at the king's gate. 20 Esther still had not revealed her family background or nationality, as Mordecai had ordered her. Esther always did whatever Mordecai told her, as she did when she was a child. 21 In those days, while Mordecai was sitting at the king's gate, Bigthan and Teresh, two of the king's eunuchs who guarded the entrance, became angry and planned to kill King Xerxes. 22 But Mordecai found out about it and informed Queen Esther. Then Esther told the king, on behalf of Mordecai. 23 When the report was investigated and found to be true, the dead bodies of Bigthan and Teresh were hung on a pole. The matter was written up in the king's presence in his official record of daily events.
1 Later, King Xerxes promoted Haman. (Haman was the son of Hammedatha and was from Agag.) He gave Haman a position higher in authority than all the other officials who were with him. 2 All the king's advisers were at the king's gate, kneeling and bowing to Haman with their faces touching the ground, because the king had commanded it. But Mordecai would not kneel and bow to him. 3 Then the king's advisers at the king's gate asked Mordecai, "Why do you ignore the king's command?" 4 Although they asked him day after day, he paid no attention to them. So they informed Haman to see if Mordecai's actions would be tolerated, since Mordecai had told them that he was a Jew. 5 When Haman saw that Mordecai did not kneel and bow to him, Haman was infuriated. 6 Because the king's advisers had informed him about Mordecai's nationality, he thought it beneath himself to kill only Mordecai. So Haman planned to wipe out Mordecai's people--all the Jews in the entire kingdom of Xerxes. 7 In Xerxes' twelfth year as king, Pur (which means the lot) was thrown in front of Haman for every day of every month, from Nisan, the first month, until Adar, the twelfth month. 8 Now, Haman told King Xerxes, "Your Majesty, there is a certain nationality scattered among--but separate from--the nationalities in all the provinces of your kingdom. Their laws differ from those of all other nationalities. They do not obey your decrees. So it is not in your interest to tolerate them, Your Majesty. 9 If you approve, have the orders for their destruction be written. For this I will pay 750,000 pounds of silver to your treasurers to be put in your treasury." 10 At that, the king removed his signet ring and gave it to Haman, the enemy of the Jews. (Haman was the son of Hammedatha and was from Agag.) 11 The king told Haman, "You can keep your silver and do with the people whatever you like." 12 On the thirteenth day of the first month the king's scribes were summoned. All Haman's orders were written to the king's satraps, the governors of every province, and the officials of every people. They wrote to each province in its own script and to the people in each province in their own language. The orders were signed in the name of King Xerxes and sealed with the king's ring. 13 Messengers were sent with official documents to all the king's provinces. [The people were ordered] to wipe out, kill, and destroy all the Jews--young and old, women and children--on a single day, the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, the month of Adar. Their possessions were also to be seized. 14 A copy of the document was made public in a decree to every province. All the people were to be ready for this day. 15 The messengers hurried out as the king told them. The decree was also issued at the fortress of Susa. So the king and Haman sat down to drink a toast, but the city of Susa was in turmoil.
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