Esther 4; Esther 5; Esther 6

1 When Mordecai heard about all that had been done, he tore his clothes, put on rough cloth and ashes, and went out into the city crying loudly and painfully. 2 But Mordecai went only as far as the king's gate, because no one was allowed to enter that gate dressed in rough cloth. 3 As the king's order reached every area, there was great sadness and loud crying among the Jewish people. They gave up eating and cried out loud, and many of them lay down on rough cloth and ashes to show how sad they were. 4 When Esther's servant girls and eunuchs came to her and told her about Mordecai, she was very upset and afraid. She sent clothes for Mordecai to put on instead of the rough cloth, but he would not wear them. 5 Then Esther called for Hathach, one of the king's eunuchs chosen by the king to serve her. Esther ordered him to find out what was bothering Mordecai and why. 6 So Hathach went to Mordecai, who was in the city square in front of the king's gate. 7 Mordecai told Hathach everything that had happened to him, and he told Hathach about the amount of money Haman had promised to pay into the king's treasury for the killing of the Jewish people. 8 Mordecai also gave him a copy of the order to kill the Jewish people, which had been given in Susa. He wanted Hathach to show it to Esther and to tell her about it. And Mordecai told him to order Esther to go into the king's presence to beg for mercy and to plead with him for her people. 9 Hathach went back and reported to Esther everything Mordecai had said. 10 Then Esther told Hathach to tell Mordecai, 11 "All the royal officers and people of the royal states know that no man or woman may go to the king in the inner courtyard without being called. There is only one law about this: Anyone who enters must be put to death unless the king holds out his gold scepter. Then that person may live. And I have not been called to go to the king for thirty days." 12 Esther's message was given to Mordecai. 13 Then Mordecai sent back word to Esther: "Just because you live in the king's palace, don't think that out of all the Jewish people you alone will escape. 14 If you keep quiet at this time, someone else will help and save the Jewish people, but you and your father's family will all die. And who knows, you may have been chosen queen for just such a time as this." 15 Then Esther sent this answer to Mordecai: 16 "Go and get all the Jewish people in Susa together. For my sake, give up eating; do not eat or drink for three days, night and day. I and my servant girls will also give up eating. Then I will go to the king, even though it is against the law, and if I die, I die." 17 So Mordecai went away and did everything Esther had told him to do.
1 On the third day Esther put on her royal robes and stood in the inner courtyard of the king's palace, facing the king's hall. The king was sitting on his royal throne in the hall, facing the doorway. 2 When the king saw Queen Esther standing in the courtyard, he was pleased. He held out to her the gold scepter that was in his hand, so Esther went forward and touched the end of it. 3 The king asked, "What is it, Queen Esther? What do you want to ask me? I will give you as much as half of my kingdom." 4 Esther answered, "My king, if it pleases you, come today with Haman to a banquet that I have prepared for him." 5 Then the king said, "Bring Haman quickly so we may do what Esther asks." So the king and Haman went to the banquet Esther had prepared for them. 6 As they were drinking wine, the king said to Esther, "Now, what are you asking for? I will give it to you. What is it you want? I will give you as much as half of my kingdom." 7 Esther answered, "This is what I want and what I ask for. 8 My king, if you are pleased with me and if it pleases you, give me what I ask for and do what I want. Come with Haman tomorrow to the banquet I will prepare for you. Then I will answer your question about what I want." 9 Haman left the king's palace that day happy and content. But when he saw Mordecai at the king's gate and saw that Mordecai did not stand up or tremble with fear before him, Haman became very angry with Mordecai. 10 But he controlled his anger and went home. Then Haman called together his friends and his wife, Zeresh. 11 He told them how wealthy he was and how many sons he had. He also told them all the ways the king had honored him and how the king had placed him higher than his important men and his royal officers. 12 He also said, "I'm the only person Queen Esther invited to come with the king to the banquet she gave. And tomorrow also the queen has asked me to be her guest with the king. 13 But all this does not really make me happy when I see that Jew Mordecai sitting at the king's gate." 14 Then Haman's wife, Zeresh, and all his friends said, "Have a seventy-five foot platform built, and in the morning ask the king to have Mordecai hanged on it. Then go to the banquet with the king and be happy." Haman liked this suggestion, so he ordered the platform to be built.
1 That same night the king could not sleep. So he gave an order for the daily court record to be brought in and read to him. 2 It was found recorded that Mordecai had warned the king about Bigthana and Teresh, two of the king's officers who guarded the doorway and who had planned to kill the king. 3 The king asked, "What honor and reward have been given to Mordecai for this?" The king's personal servants answered, "Nothing has been done for Mordecai." 4 The king said, "Who is in the courtyard?" Now Haman had just entered the outer court of the king's palace. He had come to ask the king about hanging Mordecai on the platform he had prepared. 5 The king's personal servants said, "Haman is standing in the courtyard." The king said, "Bring him in." 6 So Haman came in. And the king asked him, "What should be done for a man whom the king wants very much to honor?" And Haman thought to himself, "Whom would the king want to honor more than me?" 7 So he answered the king, "This is what you could do for the man you want very much to honor. 8 Have the servants bring a royal robe that the king himself has worn. And also bring a horse with a royal crown on its head, a horse that the king himself has ridden. 9 Let the robe and the horse be given to one of the king's most important men. Let the servants put the robe on the man the king wants to honor, and let them lead him on the horse through the city streets. As they are leading him, let them announce: 'This is what is done for the man whom the king wants to honor!'" 10 The king commanded Haman, "Go quickly. Take the robe and the horse just as you have said, and do all this for Mordecai the Jew who sits at the king's gate. Do not leave out anything you have suggested." 11 So Haman took the robe and the horse, and he put the robe on Mordecai. Then he led him on horseback through the city streets, announcing before Mordecai: "This is what is done for the man whom the king wants to honor!" 12 Then Mordecai returned to the king's gate, but Haman hurried home with his head covered, because he was embarrassed and ashamed. 13 He told his wife, Zeresh, and all his friends everything that had happened to him. Haman's wife and the men who gave him advice said, "You are starting to lose power to Mordecai. Since he is a Jew, you cannot win against him. You will surely be ruined." 14 While they were still talking, the king's eunuchs came to Haman's house and made him hurry to the banquet Esther had prepared.
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