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

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Esther 9

1 On the thirteenth day of Adar, the twelfth month, the king's command and decree were to be carried out. On that very day, when the enemies of the Jews expected to overpower them, the exact opposite happened: The Jews overpowered those who hated them.
2 The Jews assembled in their cities throughout all the provinces of King Xerxes to kill those who were planning to harm them. No one could stand up against them, because all the people were terrified of them.
3 All the officials of the provinces, the satraps, the governors, and the king's treasurers assisted the Jews because they were terrified of Mordecai.
4 Mordecai was an important man in the king's palace. Moreover, his reputation was spreading to all the provinces, since Mordecai was becoming more and more powerful.
5 Then with their swords, the Jews attacked all their enemies, killing them, destroying them, and doing whatever they pleased to those who hated them.
6 In the fortress of Susa the Jews killed and wiped out 500 men.
7 They also killed Parshandatha, Dalphon, Aspatha,
8 Poratha, Adalia, Aridatha,
9 Parmashta, Arisai, Aridai, and Vaizatha.
10 These were the ten sons of Haman, who was the son of Hammedatha and the enemy of the Jews. But the Jews did not seize any of their possessions.
11 On that day the number of those killed in the fortress of Susa was reported to the king.
12 So the king said to Queen Esther, "In the fortress of Susa the Jews have killed and wiped out 500 men and Haman's 10 sons. What must they have done in the rest of the king's provinces! Now, what is your request? It will be granted to you. And what else would you like? It, too, will be granted."
13 Esther said, "If it pleases you, Your Majesty, allow the Jews in Susa to do tomorrow what was decreed for today. Let them hang Haman's ten sons on poles."
14 The king commanded this, issuing a decree in Susa. And so they hung Haman's ten sons [on poles].
15 The Jews in Susa also assembled on the fourteenth day of the month of Adar and killed 300 men in Susa, but they did not seize any of their possessions.
16 The other Jews who were in the king's provinces had also assembled to defend and free themselves from their enemies. They killed 75,000 of those who hated them, but they did not seize any of their possessions.
17 This was on the thirteenth day of the month of Adar. On the fourteenth they rested and made it a day of feasting and celebration.
18 But the Jews in Susa had assembled on the thirteenth and fourteenth. They rested on the fifteenth and made it a day of feasting and celebration.
19 That is why the Jews who live in the villages and in the unwalled towns make the fourteenth day of the month of Adar a holiday for feasting and celebration. They also send gifts of food to one another.
20 Now, Mordecai wrote these things down and sent official letters to all the Jews in all the provinces of King Xerxes, near and far.
21 He established the fourteenth and fifteenth days of the month of Adar as days they must observe every year.
22 They were to observe them just like the days when the Jews freed themselves from their enemies. In that month their grief turned to joy and their mourning into a holiday. He declared that these days are to be days for feasting and celebrating and for sending gifts of food to one another, especially gifts to the poor.
23 So the Jews accepted as tradition what they had begun, as Mordecai had written to them.
24 It was because Haman, the enemy of all the Jews, had plotted against the Jews to destroy them. (Haman was the son of Hammedatha and was from Agag.) Haman had the Pur (which means the lot) thrown [in order to determine when] to crush and destroy them.
25 But when this came to the king's attention, he ordered, in the well-known letter, that the evil plan Haman had plotted against the Jews should turn back on his own head. As a result, they hung Haman and his sons on poles.
26 So the Jews called these days Purim, based on the word Pur. Therefore, because of everything that was said in this letter--both what they had seen and what had happened to them--
27 the Jews established a tradition for themselves and their descendants and for anyone who would join them. The tradition was that a person should never fail to observe these two days every year, as they were described and at their appointed time.
28 So these days must be remembered and observed in every age, family, province, and city. These days of Purim must not be ignored among the Jews, and the importance of these days must never be forgotten by the generations to come.
29 Abihail's daughter Queen Esther and Mordecai the Jew wrote with full authority in order to establish with this second letter the well-known celebration of Purim.
30 Mordecai sent official documents granting peace and security to all the Jews in the 127 provinces of the kingdom of Xerxes.
31 He did this in order to establish these days of Purim at the appointed time. Mordecai the Jew and Queen Esther established them for themselves, as they had established for themselves and their descendants the practices of fasting with sadness.
32 Esther's command had established these practices of Purim, and they are written in a book.

Esther 10

1 King Xerxes levied a tax on the country and the islands of the sea.
2 All his acts of power and might along with the whole account of the greatness of Mordecai, whom the king had promoted, are recorded in the history of the kings of the Medes and Persians.
3 Mordecai the Jew was ranked second only to King Xerxes. He was greatly respected by, and popular with, all of the other Jews, since he provided for the good of his people and spoke for the welfare of his fellow Jews.

Acts 7:1-21

1 Then the chief priest asked Stephen, "Is this true?"
2 Stephen answered, "Brothers and fathers, listen to me. The God who reveals his glory appeared to our ancestor Abraham in Mesopotamia. This happened before Abraham lived in Haran.
3 God told him, 'Leave your land and your relatives. Go to the land that I will show you.'
4 "Then Abraham left the country of Chaldea and lived in the city of Haran. After his father died, God made him move from there to this land where we now live.
5 "Yet, God didn't give Abraham anything in this land to call his own, not even a place to rest his feet. But God promised to give this land to him and to his descendants, even though Abraham didn't have a child.
6 God told Abraham that his descendants would be foreigners living in another country and that the people there would make them slaves and mistreat them for 400 years.
7 God also told him, 'I will punish the people whom they will serve. After that, they will leave that country and worship me here.'
8 "God gave Abraham circumcision to confirm his promise. So when Abraham's son Isaac was born, Abraham circumcised him on the eighth day. Isaac did the same to his son Jacob, and Jacob did the same to his twelve sons (the ancestors of our tribes).
9 "Jacob's sons were jealous of their brother Joseph. They sold him into slavery, and he was taken to Egypt. But God was with Joseph
10 and rescued him from all his suffering. When Joseph stood in the presence of Pharaoh (the king of Egypt), God gave Joseph divine favor and wisdom so that he became ruler of Egypt and of Pharaoh's whole palace.
11 Then a famine throughout Egypt and Canaan brought a lot of suffering. Our ancestors couldn't find any food.
12 When Jacob heard that Egypt had food, he sent our ancestors there. That was their first trip.
13 On the second trip, Joseph told his brothers who he was, and Pharaoh learned about Joseph's family.
14 Joseph sent for his father Jacob and his relatives, 75 people in all.
15 So Jacob went to Egypt, and he and our ancestors died there.
16 They were taken to Shechem for burial in the tomb that Abraham purchased in Shechem from Hamor's sons.
17 "When the time that God had promised to Abraham had almost come, the number of our people in Egypt had grown very large.
18 Then a different king, who knew nothing about Joseph, began to rule in Egypt.
19 This king was shrewd in the way he took advantage of our people. He mistreated our ancestors. He made them abandon their newborn babies outdoors, where they would die.
20 "At that time Moses was born, and he was a very beautiful child. His parents took care of him for three months.
21 When Moses was abandoned outdoors, Pharaoh's daughter adopted him and raised him as her son.