Esther 4; Esther 5; Esther 6

1 When Mordecai found out about everything that had been done, he tore his clothes and put on sackcloth and ashes. He went into the middle of the city and cried loudly and bitterly. 2 He even went right up to the king's gate. (No one could enter it wearing sackcloth.) 3 In every province touched by the king's command and decree, the Jews went into mourning, fasting, weeping, and wailing. Many put on sackcloth and ashes. 4 Esther's servants and eunuchs came and informed her [about Mordecai]. The queen was stunned. She sent clothing for Mordecai to put on in place of his sackcloth, but he refused to accept it. 5 Then Esther called for Hathach, one of the king's eunuchs appointed to serve her. She commanded him to go to Mordecai and find out what was going on and why. 6 So Hathach went out to Mordecai in the city square in front of the king's gate. 7 Mordecai informed him about everything that had happened to him. He told him the exact amount of silver that Haman had promised to pay into the king's treasury to destroy the Jews. 8 He also gave him a copy of the decree that was issued in Susa. The decree gave permission to exterminate the Jews. Hathach was supposed to show it to Esther to inform and command her to go to the king, beg him for mercy, and appeal to him for her people. 9 So Hathach returned and told Esther what Mordecai had said. 10 Esther spoke to Hathach and commanded him to say to Mordecai, 11 "All the king's advisers and the people in the king's provinces know that no one approaches the king in the throne room without being summoned. By law that person must be put to death. Only if the king holds out the golden scepter to him will he live. I, myself, have not been summoned to enter the king's presence for 30 days now." 12 So Esther's servants told Mordecai what Esther said. 13 Mordecai sent this answer back to Esther, "Do not imagine that just because you are in the king's palace you will be any safer than all the rest of the Jews. 14 The fact is, even if you remain silent now, someone else will help and rescue the Jews, but you and your relatives will die. And who knows, you may have gained your royal position for a time like this." 15 Esther sent this reply back to Mordecai, 16 "Assemble all the Jews in Susa. Fast for me: Do not eat or drink at all for three entire days. My servants and I will also fast. After that, I will go to the king, even if it is against a royal decree. If I die, I die." 17 Mordecai did just as Esther had commanded him.
1 On the third day Esther put on her royal robes. She stood in the courtyard of the king's palace, facing the king's throne room. The king was sitting on the royal throne inside the palace, facing the entrance. 2 When the king saw Queen Esther standing in the entrance, she won his favor. So the king held out the golden scepter that was in his hand to Esther. Esther went up to him and touched the top of the scepter. 3 Then the king asked her, "What is troubling you, Queen Esther? What would you like? Even if it is up to half of the kingdom, it will be granted to you." 4 So Esther answered, "If it pleases you, Your Majesty, come today with Haman to a dinner I have prepared for you." 5 The king replied, "Bring Haman right away, and do whatever Esther asks." So the king and Haman came to the dinner that Esther had prepared. 6 While they were drinking wine, the king asked Esther, "What is your request? It will be granted to you. What would you like? Even if it is up to half of the kingdom, it will be granted." 7 Esther answered, "My request? What would I like? 8 Your Majesty, come with Haman to a dinner I will prepare for you. And tomorrow I will answer you, Your Majesty. If I have found favor with you, Your Majesty, and if it pleases you, Your Majesty, may you [then] grant my request and do what I would like." 9 When Haman left that day, he was happy and feeling good. But when Haman saw Mordecai at the king's gate, neither getting up nor trembling in his presence, Haman was furious with Mordecai. 10 However, Haman controlled himself. He went home and sent for his friends and his wife Zeresh. 11 Then Haman began to relate in detail to them how very rich he was, the many sons he had, and all about how the king promoted him to a position over the officials and the king's advisers. 12 Haman went on to say, "What's more, Queen Esther allowed no one except me to come with the king to the dinner she had prepared. And again tomorrow I am her invited guest together with the king. 13 Yet, all this is worth nothing to me every time I see Mordecai the Jew sitting at the king's gate." 14 Then his wife Zeresh and all his friends said to him, "Have a pole set up, 75 feet high, and in the morning ask the king to have Mordecai's [dead body] hung on it. Then go with the king to the dinner in good spirits." Haman liked the idea, so he had the pole set up.
1 That night the king could not sleep. So he told [a servant] to bring the official daily records, and they were read to the king. 2 The records showed how Mordecai had informed him that Bigthan and Teresh, two of the king's eunuchs who guarded the entrance, had plotted a rebellion against King Xerxes. 3 The king asked, "How did I reward and promote Mordecai for this?" The king's personal staff replied, "Nothing was done for him." 4 The king asked, "Who is in the courtyard?" At that moment, Haman came through the courtyard to the king's palace to ask the king about hanging Mordecai on the pole he had prepared for him. 5 The king's staff answered him, "Haman happens to be standing in the courtyard." "Let him come in," the king said. 6 So Haman came in. The king then asked him, "What should be done for the man whom the king wishes to reward?" Haman thought to himself, "Whom would the king wish to reward more than me?" 7 So Haman told the king, "This is what should be done: 8 [The servants] should bring a royal robe that the king has worn and a horse that the king has ridden, one that has a royal crest on its head. 9 Give the robe and the horse to one of the king's officials, who is a noble. Put the robe on the man whom the king wishes to reward and have him ride on the horse in the city square. The king's servants are also to shout ahead of him, 'This is what is done for the man whom the king wishes to reward.'" 10 The king told Haman, "Hurry, take the robe and the horse as you said. Do this for Mordecai the Jew who sits at the king's gate. Do not omit anything you have said." 11 So Haman took the robe and the horse. He put the robe on Mordecai and had him ride in the city square, shouting ahead of him, "This is what is done for the man whom the king wishes to reward." 12 After that, Mordecai returned to the king's gate, but Haman hurried home. He was in despair and covered his head. 13 There, Haman began to relate in detail to his wife Zeresh and to all his friends everything that had happened to him. Then his counselors and his wife Zeresh told him, "You are starting to lose power to Mordecai. If Mordecai is of Jewish descent, you will never win out over him. He will certainly lead to your downfall." 14 While they were still speaking with him, the king's eunuchs arrived and quickly took Haman to the dinner Esther had prepared.
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