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. 4When 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. 9Hathach 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 scepter 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 favor and he held out to her the golden scepter that was in his hand. Then Esther approached and touched the top of the scepter. 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 favor, and if it pleases the king to grant my petition and fulfill 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.
9Haman 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 splendor of his riches, the number of his sons, all the promotions with which the king had honored 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.
6On that 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 honor 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 honor? Haman said to himself, Whom would the king wish to honor more than me? 7So Haman said to the king, For the man whom the king wishes to honor, 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 honor, 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 honor. 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 honor.
12Then 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. 14While they were still talking with him, the kings eunuchs arrived and hurried Haman off to the banquet that Esther had prepared.
7So the king and Haman went in to feast with Queen Esther. 2On the second day, as they were drinking wine, the king again said to Esther, What is your petition, Queen Esther? It shall be granted you. And what is your request? Even to the half of my kingdom, it shall be fulfilled. 3Then Queen Esther answered, If I have won your favor, O king, and if it pleases the king, let my life be given methat is my petitionand the lives of my peoplethat is my request. 4For we have been sold, I and my people, to be destroyed, to be killed, and to be annihilated. If we had been sold merely as slaves, men and women, I would have held my peace; but no enemy can compensate for this damage to the king. 5Then King Ahasuerus said to Queen Esther, Who is he, and where is he, who has presumed to do this? 6Esther said, A foe and enemy, this wicked Haman! Then Haman was terrified before the king and the queen.
7The king rose from the feast in wrath and went into the palace garden, but Haman stayed to beg his life from Queen Esther, for he saw that the king had determined to destroy him. 8When the king returned from the palace garden to the banquet hall, Haman had thrown himself on the couch where Esther was reclining; and the king said, Will he even assault the queen in my presence, in my own house? As the words left the mouth of the king, they covered Hamans face. 9Then Harbona, one of the eunuchs in attendance on the king, said, Look, the very gallows that Haman has prepared for Mordecai, whose word saved the king, stands at Hamans house, fifty cubits high. And the king said, Hang him on that. 10So they hanged Haman on the gallows that he had prepared for Mordecai. Then the anger of the king abated.
The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 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