Esther 6; Esther 7; Esther 8; Acts 6

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Esther 6

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.

Esther 7

1 So the king and Haman came to have dinner with Queen Esther.
2 On the second day, while they were drinking wine, the king asked Esther, "What is your request, Queen Esther? It will be granted to you. And what would you like? Even if it is up to half of the kingdom, it will be granted."
3 Then Queen Esther answered, "If I have found favor with you, Your Majesty, and if it pleases you, Your Majesty, spare my life. That is my request. And spare the life of my people. That is what I ask for.
4 You see, we--my people and I--have been sold so that we can be wiped out, killed, and destroyed. If our men and women had only been sold as slaves, I would have kept silent because the enemy is not worth troubling you about, Your Majesty."
5 Then King Xerxes interrupted Queen Esther and said, "Who is this person? Where is the person who has dared to do this?"
6 Esther answered, "Our vicious enemy is this wicked man Haman!" Then Haman became panic-stricken in the presence of the king and queen.
7 The king was furious as he got up from dinner and went into the palace garden. But Haman stayed to beg Queen Esther for his life, because he saw that the king had a terrible end in mind for him.
8 When the king returned from the palace garden to the palace dining room, Haman was falling on the couch where Esther was lying. The king thought, "Is he even going to rape the queen while I'm in the palace?" Then the king passed sentence on him, and servants covered Haman's face.
9 Harbona, one of the eunuchs present with the king, said, "What a coincidence! The 75-foot pole Haman made for Mordecai, who spoke up for the well-being of the king, is still standing at Haman's house." The king responded, "Hang him on it!"
10 So servants hung Haman's [dead body] on the very pole he had prepared for Mordecai. Then the king got over his raging anger.

Esther 8

1 On that same day King Xerxes gave the property of Haman, the enemy of the Jews, to Queen Esther. Also, Mordecai came to the king because Esther had told him how Mordecai was related to her.
2 Then the king took off his signet ring, which he had taken from Haman, and gave it to Mordecai. And Esther put Mordecai in charge of Haman's property.
3 Esther spoke again to the king. She fell down at his feet crying and begged him to have mercy and to undo the evil plot of Haman, who was from Agag, and his conspiracy against the Jews.
4 The king held out his golden scepter to Esther, and Esther got up and stood in front of the king.
5 She said, "Your Majesty, if it pleases you, and if I have found favor with you, if you consider my cause to be reasonable and if I am pleasing to you, cancel the official orders [concerning] the plot of Haman (who was the son of Hammedatha and was from Agag). He signed [the order] to destroy the Jews in all your provinces, Your Majesty.
6 I cannot bear to see my people suffer such evil. And I simply cannot bear to see the destruction of my relatives."
7 King Xerxes said to Queen Esther and Mordecai the Jew, "I have given Haman's property to Esther, and Haman's [dead body] was hung on the pole because he tried to kill the Jews.
8 You write what you think is best for the Jews in the king's name. Seal it also with the king's signet ring, because whatever is written in the king's name and sealed with the king's signet ring cannot be canceled."
9 At that time on the twenty-third day of Sivan, the third month, the king's scribes were summoned. What Mordecai had ordered was written to the Jews and to the satraps, governors, and officers of the 127 provinces from India to Sudan. It was written to each province in its own script, to each people in their own language, and to the Jews in their own script and their own language.
10 Mordecai wrote in King Xerxes' name and sealed the official documents with the king's signet ring. Then he sent them by messengers who rode special horses bred for speed. [He wrote]
11 that the king had given permission for the Jews in every city to assemble, to defend themselves, to wipe out, to kill, and to destroy every armed force of the people and province that is hostile to them, even women and children, and to seize their goods.
12 [This was permitted] on one day in all the provinces of King Xerxes, on the thirteenth day of Adar, the twelfth month.
13 The copy of the document was made public in a decree to every province for all people. On that day the Jews were to be ready to take revenge on their enemies.
14 The messengers rode the king's fastest horses. They left quickly, in keeping with the king's command. The decree was issued also in the fortress of Susa.
15 Mordecai went out from the presence of the king wearing the royal violet and white robe, a large gold crown, and a purple outer robe of fine linen. And the city of Susa cheered and rejoiced.
16 So the Jews were cheerful, happy, joyful, and successful.
17 In every province and every city where the king's message and decree arrived, the Jews were happy and joyful, feasting and enjoying a holiday. Then many common people pretended to be Jews because they were terrified of the Jews.

Acts 6

1 At that time, as the number of disciples grew, Greek-speaking Jews complained about the Hebrew-speaking Jews. The Greek-speaking Jews claimed that the widows among them were neglected every day when food and other assistance was distributed.
2 The twelve apostles called all the disciples together and told them, "It's not right for us to give up God's word in order to distribute food.
3 So, brothers and sisters, choose seven men whom the people know are spiritually wise. We will put them in charge of this problem.
4 However, we will devote ourselves to praying and to serving in ways that are related to the word."
5 The suggestion pleased the whole group. So they chose Stephen, who was a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit, and they chose Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolaus, who had converted to Judaism in the city of Antioch.
6 The disciples had these men stand in front of the apostles, who prayed and placed their hands on these seven men.
7 The word of God continued to spread, and the number of disciples in Jerusalem grew very large. A large number of priests accepted the faith.
8 Stephen was a man filled with God's favor and power. He did amazing things and performed miracles.
9 [One day] some men from the cities of Cyrene and Alexandria and the provinces of Cilicia and Asia started an argument with Stephen. They belonged to a synagogue called Freedmen's Synagogue.
10 They couldn't argue with Stephen because he spoke with the wisdom that the Spirit had given him.
11 Then they bribed some men to lie. These men said, "We heard him slander Moses and God."
12 The liars stirred up trouble among the people, the leaders, and the scribes. So they went to Stephen, took him by force, and brought him in front of the Jewish council.
13 Some witnesses stood up and lied about Stephen. They said, "This man never stops saying bad things about the holy place and Moses' Teachings.
14 We heard him say that Jesus from Nazareth will destroy the temple and change the customs that Moses gave us."
15 Everyone who sat in the council stared at him and saw that his face looked like an angel's face.