4When Mordecai learned all that had been done, Mordecai tore his clothes and put on sackcloth and ashes, and went through the city, wailing with a loud and bitter cry; 2he went up to the entrance of the kings gate, for no one might enter the kings gate clothed with sackcloth. 3In every province, wherever the kings command and his decree came, there was great mourning among the Jews, with fasting and weeping and lamenting, and most of them lay in sackcloth and ashes.
4 When Esthers maids and her eunuchs came and told her, the queen was deeply distressed; she sent garments to clothe Mordecai, so that he might take off his sackcloth; but he would not accept them. 5Then Esther called for Hathach, one of the kings eunuchs, who had been appointed to attend her, and ordered him to go to Mordecai to learn what was happening and why. 6Hathach went out to Mordecai in the open square of the city in front of the kings gate, 7and Mordecai told him all that had happened to him, and the exact sum of money that Haman had promised to pay into the kings treasuries for the destruction of the Jews. 8Mordecai also gave him a copy of the written decree issued in Susa for their destruction, that he might show it to Esther, explain it to her, and charge her to go to the king to make supplication to him and entreat him for her people.
9 Hathach went and told Esther what Mordecai had said. 10Then Esther spoke to Hathach and gave him a message for Mordecai, saying, 11All the kings servants and the people of the kings provinces know that if any man or woman goes to the king inside the inner court without being called, there is but one lawall alike are to be put to death. Only if the king holds out the golden sceptre to someone, may that person live. I myself have not been called to come in to the king for thirty days. 12When they told Mordecai what Esther had said, 13Mordecai told them to reply to Esther, Do not think that in the kings palace you will escape any more than all the other Jews. 14For if you keep silence at such a time as this, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another quarter, but you and your fathers family will perish. Who knows? Perhaps you have come to royal dignity for just such a time as this. 15Then Esther said in reply to Mordecai, 16Go, gather all the Jews to be found in Susa, and hold a fast on my behalf, and neither eat nor drink for three days, night or day. I and my maids will also fast as you do. After that I will go to the king, though it is against the law; and if I perish, I perish. 17Mordecai then went away and did everything as Esther had ordered him.
5On the third day Esther put on her royal robes and stood in the inner court of the kings palace, opposite the kings hall. The king was sitting on his royal throne inside the palace opposite the entrance to the palace. 2As soon as the king saw Queen Esther standing in the court, she won his favour and he held out to her the golden sceptre that was in his hand. Then Esther approached and touched the top of the sceptre. 3The king said to her, What is it, Queen Esther? What is your request? It shall be given you, even to the half of my kingdom. 4Then Esther said, If it pleases the king, let the king and Haman come today to a banquet that I have prepared for the king. 5Then the king said, Bring Haman quickly, so that we may do as Esther desires. So the king and Haman came to the banquet that Esther had prepared. 6While they were drinking wine, the king said to Esther, What is your petition? It shall be granted you. And what is your request? Even to the half of my kingdom, it shall be fulfilled. 7Then Esther said, This is my petition and request: 8If I have won the kings favour, and if it pleases the king to grant my petition and fulfil my request, let the king and Haman come tomorrow to the banquet that I will prepare for them, and then I will do as the king has said.
9 Haman went out that day happy and in good spirits. But when Haman saw Mordecai in the kings gate, and observed that he neither rose nor trembled before him, he was infuriated with Mordecai; 10nevertheless, Haman restrained himself and went home. Then he sent and called for his friends and his wife Zeresh, 11and Haman recounted to them the splendour of his riches, the number of his sons, all the promotions with which the king had honoured him, and how he had advanced him above the officials and the ministers of the king. 12Haman added, Even Queen Esther let no one but myself come with the king to the banquet that she prepared. Tomorrow also I am invited by her, together with the king. 13Yet all this does me no good so long as I see the Jew Mordecai sitting at the kings gate. 14Then his wife Zeresh and all his friends said to him, Let a gallows fifty cubits high be made, and in the morning tell the king to have Mordecai hanged on it; then go with the king to the banquet in good spirits. This advice pleased Haman, and he had the gallows made.
6That night the king could not sleep, and he gave orders to bring the book of records, the annals, and they were read to the king. 2It was found written how Mordecai had told about Bigthana and Teresh, two of the kings eunuchs, who guarded the threshold, and who had conspired to assassinate* King Ahasuerus. 3Then the king said, What honour or distinction has been bestowed on Mordecai for this? The kings servants who attended him said, Nothing has been done for him. 4The king said, Who is in the court? Now Haman had just entered the outer court of the kings palace to speak to the king about having Mordecai hanged on the gallows that he had prepared for him. 5So the kings servants told him, Haman is there, standing in the court. The king said, Let him come in. 6So Haman came in, and the king said to him, What shall be done for the man whom the king wishes to honour? Haman said to himself, Whom would the king wish to honour more than me? 7So Haman said to the king, For the man whom the king wishes to honour, 8let royal robes be brought, which the king has worn, and a horse that the king has ridden, with a royal crown on its head. 9Let the robes and the horse be handed over to one of the kings most noble officials; let him* robe the man whom the king wishes to honour, and let him* conduct the man on horseback through the open square of the city, proclaiming before him: Thus shall it be done for the man whom the king wishes to honour. 10Then the king said to Haman, Quickly, take the robes and the horse, as you have said, and do so to the Jew Mordecai who sits at the kings gate. Leave out nothing that you have mentioned. 11So Haman took the robes and the horse and robed Mordecai and led him riding through the open square of the city, proclaiming, Thus shall it be done for the man whom the king wishes to honour.
12 Then Mordecai returned to the kings gate, but Haman hurried to his house, mourning and with his head covered. 13When Haman told his wife Zeresh and all his friends everything that had happened to him, his advisers and his wife Zeresh said to him, If Mordecai, before whom your downfall has begun, is of the Jewish people, you will not prevail against him, but will surely fall before him.
14 While they were still talking with him, the kings eunuchs arrived and hurried Haman off to the banquet that Esther had prepared.
1 Hear my prayer, O Lord;
give ear to my supplications in your faithfulness;
answer me in your righteousness.
2 Do not enter into judgement with your servant,
for no one living is righteous before you.
3 For the enemy has pursued me,
crushing my life to the ground,
making me sit in darkness like those long dead.
4 Therefore my spirit faints within me;
my heart within me is appalled.
5 I remember the days of old,
I think about all your deeds,
I meditate on the works of your hands.
6 I stretch out my hands to you;
my soul thirsts for you like a parched land.
7 Answer me quickly, O Lord;
my spirit fails.
Do not hide your face from me,
or I shall be like those who go down to the Pit.
8 Let me hear of your steadfast love in the morning,
for in you I put my trust.
Teach me the way I should go,
for to you I lift up my soul.
9 Save me, O Lord, from my enemies;
I have fled to you for refuge.*
10 Teach me to do your will,
for you are my God.
Let your good spirit lead me
on a level path.
11 For your names sake, O Lord, preserve my life.
In your righteousness bring me out of trouble.
12 In your steadfast love cut off my enemies,
and destroy all my adversaries,
for I am your servant.
21So I made up my mind not to make you another painful visit. 2For if I cause you pain, who is there to make me glad but the one whom I have pained? 3And I wrote as I did, so that when I came, I might not suffer pain from those who should have made me rejoice; for I am confident about all of you, that my joy would be the joy of all of you. 4For I wrote to you out of much distress and anguish of heart and with many tears, not to cause you pain, but to let you know the abundant love that I have for you.
5 But if anyone has caused pain, he has caused it not to me, but to some extentnot to exaggerate itto all of you. 6This punishment by the majority is enough for such a person; 7so now instead you should forgive and console him, so that he may not be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. 8So I urge you to reaffirm your love for him. 9I wrote for this reason: to test you and to know whether you are obedient in everything. 10Anyone whom you forgive, I also forgive. What I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, has been for your sake in the presence of Christ. 11And we do this so that we may not be outwitted by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his designs.
12 When I came to Troas to proclaim the good news of Christ, a door was opened for me in the Lord; 13but my mind could not rest because I did not find my brother Titus there. So I said farewell to them and went on to Macedonia.
14 But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads in every place the fragrance that comes from knowing him. 15For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing; 16to the one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life. Who is sufficient for these things? 17For we are not peddlers of Gods word like so many;* but in Christ we speak as persons of sincerity, as persons sent from God and standing in his presence.
The New Revised Standard Version (Anglicized Edition), copyright 1989, 1995 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
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10 February 2011