1 Mordecai found out about everything that had been done. So he tore his clothes. He put on black clothes. He sat down in ashes. Then he went out into the city. He sobbed out loud. He cried bitter tears. 2 But he only went as far as the palace gate. That's because no one who was dressed in black clothes was allowed to go through it. 3 All of the Jews were very sad. They didn't eat anything. They sobbed and cried. Many of them put on black clothes. They were lying down in ashes. They did all of those things in every territory where the king's order and law had been sent. 4 Esther's eunuchs and female attendants came to her. They told her about Mordecai. So she became very troubled. She wanted him to take his black clothes off. So she sent him other clothes to wear. But he wouldn't accept them. 5 Then Esther sent for Hathach. He was one of the king's eunuchs. He had been appointed to take care of her. She ordered him to find out what was troubling Mordecai. She wanted to know why he was so upset. 6 So Hathach went out to see Mordecai. He was in the open area in front of the palace gate. 7 Mordecai told him everything that had happened to him. He told him about the exact amount of money Haman had promised to add to the royal treasures. He said Haman wanted it to be used to pay some men to destroy the Jews. 8 Mordecai also gave Hathach a copy of the order. It commanded people to wipe out the Jews. The order had been sent from Susa. Mordecai told Hathach to show the order to Esther. He wanted him to explain it to her. He told him to try and get her to go to the king. He wanted her to beg for mercy. He wanted her to make an appeal to the king for her people. 9 Hathach went back. He reported to Esther what Mordecai had said. 10 Then Esther directed him to give an answer to Mordecai. She told him to say, 11 "There is a certain law that everyone knows about. All of the king's officials know about it. The people in the royal territories know about it. It applies to any man or woman who approaches the king in the inner courtyard without being sent for. It says they must be put to death. But there is a way out. Suppose the king reaches out his gold rod toward them. Then their lives will be spared. But 30 days have gone by since the king sent for me." 12 Esther's words were reported to Mordecai. 13 Then he sent back an answer. He said, "You live in the king's palace. But don't think that just because you are there you will be the only Jew who will escape. 14 What if you don't say anything at this time? Then help for the Jews will come from another place. But you and your family will die. Who knows? It's possible that you became queen for a time just like this." 15 Then Esther sent a reply to Mordecai. She said, 16 "Go. Gather together all of the Jews who are in Susa. And fast for my benefit. Don't eat or drink anything for three days. Don't do it night or day. I and my attendants will fast just as you do. Then I'll go to the king. I'll do it even though it's against the law. And if I have to die, I'll die." 17 So Mordecai went away. He carried out all of Esther's directions.
1 On the third day Esther put her royal robes on. She stood in the inner courtyard of the palace. It was in front of the king's hall. The king was sitting on his royal throne in the hall. He was facing the entrance. 2 He saw Queen Esther standing in the courtyard. He was pleased with her. So he reached out toward her the gold rod that was in his hand. Then Esther approached him. She touched the tip of the rod. 3 The king asked, "What is it, Queen Esther? What do you want? I'll give it to you. I'll even give you up to half of my kingdom." 4 Esther replied, "King Xerxes, if it pleases you, come to a big dinner today. I've prepared it for you. Please have Haman come with you." 5 "Bring Haman at once," the king said to his servants. "Then we'll do what Esther asks." So the king and Haman went to the big dinner Esther had prepared. 6 As they were drinking wine, the king asked Esther the same question again. He said, "What do you want? I'll give it to you. What do you want me to do for you? I'll even give you up to half of my kingdom." 7 Esther replied, "Here is what I want. Here is my appeal to you. 8 I hope you will show me your favor. I hope you will be pleased to give me what I want. And I hope you will be pleased to listen to my appeal. If you are, I'd like you and Haman to come tomorrow to the big dinner I'll prepare for you. Then I'll answer your question." 9 That day Haman was happy. So he left the palace in a good mood. But then he saw Mordecai at the palace gate. He noticed that Mordecai didn't stand up when he walked by. In fact, Mordecai didn't have any respect for him at all. So he burned with anger against him. 10 But Haman was able to control himself. He went on home. Haman called his friends and his wife Zeresh together. 11 He bragged to them about how rich he was. He talked about how many sons he had. He spoke about all of the ways the king had honored him. He bragged about how the king had given him a higher position than any of the other nobles and officials had. 12 "And that's not all!" Haman added. "I'm the only person Queen Esther invited to come with the king to the big dinner she gave. Now she has invited me along with the king tomorrow. 13 "But even all of that doesn't satisfy me. I won't be satisfied as long as I see that Jew Mordecai sitting at the palace gate." 14 Haman's wife Zeresh and all of his friends spoke up. They said to him, "Get a pole. In the morning, ask the king to have Mordecai put to death. Have the pole stuck through his body. Set it up at a place where it will be 75 feet above the ground. Everyone will be able to see it there. Then go to the dinner with the king. Have a good time." Haman was delighted with that suggestion. So he got the pole ready.
1 That night the king couldn't sleep. So he ordered the official records of his rule to be brought in. He ordered someone to read them to him. 2 It was written there that Mordecai had uncovered the plans of Bigthana and Teresh against the king. They had been two of the king's officers who guarded the door of the royal palace. They had decided to kill King Xerxes. 3 "What great honor has Mordecai received for doing that?" the king asked. "Nothing has been done for him," his attendants answered. 4 The king asked, "Who is in the courtyard?" Haman had just entered the outer courtyard of the palace. He had come to speak to the king about putting Mordecai to death. He wanted to talk about putting Mordecai's body up on the pole he had gotten ready for him. 5 The king's attendants said to him, "Haman is standing in the courtyard." "Bring him in," the king ordered. 6 Haman entered. Then the king asked him, "What should be done for the man I want to honor?" Haman said to himself, "Is there anyone the king would rather honor than me?" 7 So he answered the king. He said, "Here is what you should do for the man you want to honor. 8 Have your servants get a royal robe you have worn. Have them bring a horse you have ridden on. Have a royal crest placed on its head. 9 Then give the robe and horse to one of your most noble princes. Let the robe be put on the man you want to honor. Let him be led on the horse through the city streets. Let people announce in front of him, 'This is what is done for the man the king wants to honor!' " 10 "Go right away," the king commanded Haman. "Get the robe. Bring the horse. Do exactly what you have suggested. Do it for the Jew Mordecai. He's sitting out there at the palace gate. Make sure you do everything you have suggested." 11 So Haman got the robe and the horse. He put the robe on Mordecai. And he led him on horseback through the city streets. He walked along in front of him and announced, "This is what is done for the man the king wants to honor!" 12 After that, Mordecai returned to the palace gate. But Haman rushed home. He covered his head because he was very sad. 13 He told his wife Zeresh everything that had happened to him. He also told all of his friends. His advisers and his wife Zeresh spoke to him. They said, "Your fall from power started with Mordecai. He's a Jew. So now you can't stand up against him. You are going to be destroyed!" 14 They were still talking with him when the king's officials arrived. They hurried Haman away to the big dinner Esther had prepared.