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ESV — Esther 3-9

Haman Plots Against the Jews

After these things King Ahasuerus qpromoted Haman rthe Agagite, the son of Hammedatha, sand advanced him and set his throne above all the officials who were with him. And all the king's servants who were at the king's gate bowed down and paid homage to Haman, for the king had so commanded concerning him. tBut Mordecai did not bow down or pay homage. Then the king's servants who were uat the king's gate said to Mordecai, “Why do you transgress vthe king's command?” And when they spoke to him day after day and he would not listen to them, they told Haman, in order to see whether Mordecai's words would stand, for he had told them that he was a Jew. And when Haman saw that tMordecai did not bow down or pay homage to him, Haman was wfilled with fury. But he disdained to lay hands on Mordecai alone. So, as they had made known to him the people of Mordecai, Haman sought to destroy all the Jews, the people of Mordecai, throughout the whole kingdom of Ahasuerus.

In the first month, which is the month of Nisan, in the twelfth year of King Ahasuerus, xthey cast Pur (that is, they cast lots) before Haman day after day; and they cast it month after month till the twelfth month, which is ythe month of Adar. Then Haman said to King Ahasuerus, “There is a certain people scattered abroad and dispersed among the peoples in all the provinces of your kingdom. zTheir laws are different from those of every other people, and they do not keep the king's laws, so that it is not to the king's profit to tolerate them. If it please the king, let it be decreed that they be destroyed, and I will pay 10,000 talents1 of silver into the hands of those who have charge of the king's business, that they may put it into the king's treasuries.” 10 aSo the king took his signet ring from his hand and gave it to Haman bthe Agagite, the son of Hammedatha, cthe enemy of the Jews. 11 And the king said to Haman, “The money is given to you, the people also, to do with them as it seems good to you.”

12 dThen the king's scribes were summoned on the thirteenth day of the first month, and an edict, according to all that Haman commanded, was written to the king's esatraps and to the governors over all the provinces and to the officials of all the peoples, fto every province in its own script and every people in its own language. It was written gin the name of King Ahasuerus hand sealed with the king's signet ring. 13 Letters were sent iby couriers to all the king's provinces with instruction jto destroy, to kill, and to annihilate all Jews, young and old, women and children, kin one day, the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, which is the month of Adar, land to plunder their goods. 14 mA copy of the document was to be issued as a decree in every province by proclamation to all the peoples to be ready for that day. 15 iThe couriers went out hurriedly by order of the king, and the decree was issued in Susa the citadel. And the king and Haman sat down to drink, nbut the city of Susa was thrown into confusion.

Esther Agrees to Help the Jews

When Mordecai learned all that had been done, Mordecai tore his clothes oand put on sackcloth and ashes, and went out into the midst of the city, and he cried out with a loud and bitter cry. He went up to the entrance of the king's gate, for no one was allowed to enter the king's gate clothed in sackcloth. And in every province, wherever the king's command and his decree reached, there was great mourning among the Jews, pwith fasting and weeping and lamenting, and many of them qlay in sackcloth and ashes.

When Esther's young women 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. Then Esther called for Hathach, one of the king's eunuchs, who had been appointed to attend her, and ordered him to go to Mordecai to learn what this was and why it was. Hathach went out to Mordecai in the open square of the city in front of the king's gate, and Mordecai told him all that had happened to him, rand the exact sum of money that Haman had promised to pay into the king's treasuries for the destruction of the Jews. Mordecai also gave him sa copy of the written decree issued in Susa for their destruction, that he might show it to Esther and explain it to her and command her to go to the king to beg his favor and plead with him on behalf of her people. And Hathach went and told Esther what Mordecai had said. 10 Then Esther spoke to Hathach and commanded him to go to Mordecai and say, 11 “All the king's servants and the people of the king's provinces know that if any man or woman goes to the king inside tthe inner court without being called, uthere is but one law—to be put to death, except the one vto whom the king holds out the golden scepter so that he may live. But as for me, I have not been called to come in to the king these thirty days.”

12 And they told Mordecai what Esther had said. 13 Then Mordecai told them to reply to Esther, “Do not think to yourself that in the king's palace you will escape any more than all the other Jews. 14 For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father's house will perish. And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” 15 Then Esther told them to reply to Mordecai, 16 “Go, gather all the Jews to be found in Susa, and hold a fast on my behalf, and do not eat or drink for wthree days, night or day. I and my young women will also fast as you do. Then I will go to the king, though it is against the law, xand if I perish, I perish.” 17 Mordecai then went away and did everything as Esther had ordered him.

Esther Prepares a Banquet

yOn the third day Esther put on her royal robes and stood in zthe inner court of the king's palace, in front of the king's quarters, while the king was sitting on his royal throne inside the throne room opposite the entrance to the palace. And when the king saw Queen Esther standing in the court, ashe won favor in his sight, band he held out to Esther the golden scepter that was in his hand. Then Esther approached and touched the tip of the scepter. And the king said to her, “What is it, Queen Esther? What is your request? It shall be given you, even cto the half of my kingdom.” And Esther said, “If it please the king, let the king and Haman come today to a feast that I have prepared for the king.” Then the king said, “Bring Haman quickly, so that we may do as Esther has asked.” So the king and Haman came to the feast that Esther had prepared. dAnd as they were drinking wine after the feast, the king said to Esther, e“What is your wish? It shall be granted you. And what is your request? cEven to the half of my kingdom, it shall be fulfilled.” Then Esther answered, “My wish and my request is: fIf I have found favor in the sight of the king, and if it please the king to grant my wish and fulfill my request, let the king and Haman come to gthe feast that I will prepare for them, and tomorrow I will do as the king has said.”

Haman Plans to Hang Mordecai

And Haman went out that day hjoyful and glad of heart. But when Haman saw Mordecai iin the king's gate, jthat he neither rose nor trembled before him, he was filled with wrath against Mordecai. 10 Nevertheless, Haman restrained himself and went home, and he sent and brought his friends and khis wife Zeresh. 11 And Haman recounted to them the splendor of his riches, lthe number of his sons, all the promotions with which mthe king had honored him, and how he had advanced him above the officials and the servants of the king. 12 Then Haman said, “Even Queen Esther let no one but me come with the king to the feast she prepared. And tomorrow also I am invited by her together with the king. 13 Yet all this is worth nothing to me, so long as I see Mordecai the Jew sitting iat the king's gate.” 14 Then khis wife Zeresh and all his friends said to him, n“Let a gallows2 fifty cubits3 high be made, and in the morning tell the king to have Mordecai hanged upon it. Then go joyfully with the king to the feast.” This idea pleased Haman, and he had the gallows made.

The King Honors Mordecai

On that night the king could not sleep. And he gave orders to bring othe book of memorable deeds, the chronicles, and they were read before the king. And it was found written how pMordecai had told about qBigthana4 and rTeresh, two of the king's eunuchs, who guarded the threshold, and who had sought to lay hands on King Ahasuerus. And the king said, “What honor or distinction has been bestowed on Mordecai for this?” The king's young men who attended him said, “Nothing has been done for him.” And the king said, “Who is in the court?” Now Haman had just entered sthe outer court of the king's palace to speak to the king about having Mordecai hanged on tthe gallows5 that he had prepared for him. And the king's young men told him, “Haman is there, standing in the court.” And the king said, “Let him come in.” So Haman came in, and the king said to him, “What should be done to the man uwhom the king delights to honor?” And Haman said to himself, “Whom would the king delight to honor more than me?” And Haman said to the king, “For the man whom the king delights to honor, let royal robes be brought, which the king has worn, vand the horse that the king has ridden, and on whose head wa royal crown6 is set. And let the robes and the horse be handed over to one of the king's most noble officials. Let them dress the man whom the king delights to honor, and let them lead him on the horse through the square of the city, xproclaiming before him: ‘Thus shall it be done to the man whom the king delights to honor.’” 10 Then the king said to Haman, “Hurry; take the robes and the horse, as you have said, and do so to Mordecai the Jew, who sits yat the king's gate. Leave out nothing that you have mentioned.” 11 So Haman took the robes and the horse, and he dressed Mordecai and led him through the square of the city, proclaiming before him, “Thus shall it be done to the man whom the king delights to honor.”

12 Then Mordecai returned to the king's gate. But Haman hurried to his house, mourning zand with his head covered. 13 And Haman told ahis wife Zeresh and all his friends everything that had happened to him. Then his wise men and his wife Zeresh said to him, “If Mordecai, before whom you have begun to fall, is of the Jewish people, you will not overcome him but will surely fall before him.”

Esther Reveals Haman's Plot

14 While they were yet talking with him, the king's eunuchs arrived and hurried to bring Haman bto the feast that Esther had prepared.

So the king and Haman went in to feast with Queen Esther. And on the second day, as they were drinking wine after the feast, the king again said to Esther, c“What is your wish, Queen Esther? It shall be granted you. And what is your request? dEven to the half of my kingdom, it shall be fulfilled.” Then Queen Esther answered, e“If I have found favor in your sight, O king, and if it please the king, let my life be granted me for my wish, and my people for my request. fFor we have been sold, I and my people, gto be destroyed, to be killed, and to be annihilated. If we had been sold merely as slaves, men and women, I would have been silent, for our affliction is not to be compared with the loss to the king.” Then King Ahasuerus said to Queen Esther, “Who is he, and where is he, who has dared7 to do this?” And Esther said, h“A foe and enemy! This wicked Haman!” Then Haman was terrified before the king and the queen.

Haman Is Hanged

And the king arose in his wrath from the wine-drinking and went into ithe palace garden, but Haman stayed to beg for his life from Queen Esther, for he saw that harm was determined against him by the king. And the king returned from ithe palace garden to the place where they were drinking wine, as Haman was falling on jthe couch where Esther was. And the king said, “Will he even assault the queen in my presence, in my own house?” As the word left the mouth of the king, they covered Haman's face. Then kHarbona, one of the eunuchs in attendance on the king, said, “Moreover, lthe gallows8 that Haman has prepared for Mordecai, mwhose word saved the king, is standing at Haman's house, fifty cubits9 high.” 10 And the king said, “Hang him on that.” nSo they hanged Haman on the gallows that he had prepared for Mordecai. oThen the wrath of the king abated.

Esther Saves the Jews

On that day King Ahasuerus gave to Queen Esther the house of Haman, hthe enemy of the Jews. And Mordecai came before the king, for Esther had told pwhat he was to her. qAnd the king took off his signet ring, which he had taken from Haman, and gave it to Mordecai. And Esther set Mordecai over the house of Haman.

Then Esther spoke again to the king. She fell at his feet and wept and pleaded with him to avert the evil plan of Haman rthe Agagite and the plot that he had devised against the Jews. sWhen the king held out the golden scepter to Esther, Esther rose and stood before the king. And she said, “If it please the king, tand if I have found favor in his sight, and if the thing seems right before the king, and I am pleasing in his eyes, let an order be written to revoke uthe letters devised by Haman rthe Agagite, the son of Hammedatha, which he wrote to destroy the Jews who are in all the provinces of the king. For how can I bear vto see the calamity that is coming to my people? Or how can I bear to see the destruction of my kindred?” Then King Ahasuerus said to Queen Esther and to Mordecai the Jew, “Behold, wI have given Esther the house of Haman, and they have hanged him on the gallows,10 because he intended to lay hands on the Jews. But you may write as you please with regard to the Jews, in the name of the king, xand seal it with the king's ring, for an edict written in the name of the king and sealed with the king's ring ycannot be revoked.”

zThe king's scribes were summoned at that time, in the third month, which is the month of Sivan, on the twenty-third day. And an edict was written, according to all that Mordecai commanded concerning the Jews, to athe satraps and the governors and the officials of the provinces bfrom India to Ethiopia, b127 provinces, cto each province in its own script and to each people in its own language, and also to the Jews in their script and their language. 10 dAnd he wrote in the name of King Ahasuerus eand sealed it with the king's signet ring. Then he sent the letters by mounted couriers riding on fswift horses that were used in the king's service, bred from the royal stud, 11 saying that the king allowed the Jews who were in every city gto gather and defend their lives, hto destroy, to kill, and to annihilate any armed force of any people or province that might attack them, children and women included, iand to plunder their goods, 12 jon one day throughout all the provinces of King Ahasuerus, on the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, which is the month of Adar. 13 kA copy of what was written was to be issued as a decree in every province, being publicly displayed to all peoples, and the Jews were to be ready on that day to take vengeance on their enemies. 14 So the couriers, mounted on their fswift horses that were used in the king's service, rode out hurriedly, urged by the king's command. And the decree was issued in Susa the citadel.

15 Then Mordecai went out from the presence of the king lin royal robes of blue and white, with a great golden crown11 and ma robe of fine linen and purple, nand the city of Susa shouted and rejoiced. 16 The Jews had olight and gladness and joy and honor. 17 And in every province and in every city, wherever the king's command and his edict reached, there was gladness and joy among the Jews, a feast and pa holiday. qAnd many from the peoples of the country declared themselves Jews, rfor fear of the Jews had fallen on them.

The Jews Destroy Their Enemies

sNow in the twelfth month, which is the month of Adar, ton the thirteenth day of the same, uwhen the king's command and edict were about to be carried out, jon the very day when the enemies of the Jews hoped to gain the mastery over them, the reverse occurred: the Jews gained mastery over those who hated them. vThe Jews gathered in their cities throughout all the provinces of King Ahasuerus to lay hands on those who sought their harm. And no one could stand against them, wfor the fear of them had fallen on all peoples. All the officials of the provinces and xthe satraps and the governors and the royal agents also helped the Jews, for the fear of Mordecai had fallen on them. For Mordecai was great in the king's house, and his fame spread throughout all the provinces, for the man Mordecai grew ymore and more powerful. The Jews struck all their enemies with the sword, killing and destroying them, and did as they pleased to those who hated them. In Susa the citadel itself the Jews killed and destroyed 500 men, and also killed Parshandatha and Dalphon and Aspatha and Poratha and Adalia and Aridatha and Parmashta and Arisai and Aridai and Vaizatha, 10 zthe ten sons of Haman the son of Hammedatha, athe enemy of the Jews, bbut they laid no hand on the plunder.

11 That very day the number of those killed in Susa the citadel was reported to the king. 12 And the king said to Queen Esther, “In Susa the citadel the Jews have killed and destroyed 500 men and also the ten sons of Haman. What then have they done in the rest of the king's provinces! cNow what is your wish? It shall be granted you. And what further is your request? It shall be fulfilled.” 13 And Esther said, “If it please the king, let the Jews who are in Susa be allowed dtomorrow also to do according to this day's edict. And let the ten sons of Haman be hanged on the gallows.”12 14 So the king commanded this to be done. A decree was issued in Susa, and the ten sons of Haman were hanged. 15 The Jews who were in Susa gathered also on the fourteenth day of the month of Adar and they killed 300 men in Susa, but they laid no hands on the plunder.

16 eNow the rest of the Jews who were in the king's provinces also fgathered to defend their lives, and got relief from their enemies and killed 75,000 of those who hated them, but they laid no hands on the plunder. 17 This was gon the thirteenth day of the month of Adar, and on the fourteenth day they rested and made that a day of feasting and gladness. 18 But the Jews who were in Susa gathered gon the thirteenth day and on the fourteenth, and rested hon the fifteenth day, making that a day of feasting and gladness. 19 Therefore the Jews of the villages, who live in ithe rural towns, hold the fourteenth day of the month of Adar as a day for gladness and feasting, as ja holiday, and kas a day on which they send gifts of food to one another.

The Feast of Purim Inaugurated

20 And Mordecai recorded these things and sent letters to all the Jews who were in all the provinces of King Ahasuerus, both near and far, 21 obliging them to keep the fourteenth day of the month Adar and also the fifteenth day of the same, year by year, 22 as the days on which the Jews got relief from their enemies, and as the month that had been turned for them from sorrow into gladness and from mourning into ja holiday; that they should make them days of feasting and gladness, days for sending gifts of food to one another and gifts to the poor.

23 So the Jews accepted what they had started to do, and what Mordecai had written to them. 24 For Haman the Agagite, the son of Hammedatha, lthe enemy of all the Jews, mhad plotted against the Jews to destroy them, and nhad cast Pur (that is, cast lots), to crush and to destroy them. 25 But when it came before the king, he gave orders in writing othat his evil plan that he had devised against the Jews pshould return on his own head, and that he and his sons should be hanged on the gallows.13 26 Therefore they called these days Purim, after the term nPur. Therefore, because of all that was written in qthis letter, and of what they had faced in this matter, and of what had happened to them, 27 the Jews firmly obligated themselves and their offspring and rall who joined them, that without fail they would keep sthese two days according to what was written and at the time appointed every year, 28 that these days should be remembered and kept throughout every generation, in every clan, province, and city, and that these days of Purim should never fall into disuse among the Jews, nor should the commemoration of these days cease among their descendants.

29 Then Queen Esther, tthe daughter of Abihail, and Mordecai the Jew gave full written authority, confirming uthis second letter about Purim. 30 Letters were sent to all the Jews, vto the 127 provinces of the kingdom of Ahasuerus, in words of peace and truth, 31 that these days of Purim should be observed at their appointed seasons, as Mordecai the Jew and Queen Esther obligated them, and as they had obligated themselves and their offspring, with regard to wtheir fasts and their lamenting. 32 The command of Queen Esther confirmed these practices of xPurim, and it was recorded in writing.

Footnotes

[1] 3:9 A talent was about 75 pounds or 34 kilograms
[2] 5:14 Or stake; twice in this verse
[3] 5:14 A cubit was about 18 inches or 45 centimeters
[4] 6:2 Bigthana is an alternate spelling of Bigthan (see 2:21)
[5] 6:4 Or suspended on a stake
[6] 6:8 Or headdress
[7] 7:5 Hebrew whose heart has filled him
[8] 7:9 Or stake; also verse 10
[9] 7:9 A cubit was about 18 inches or 45 centimeters
[10] 8:7 Or stake
[11] 8:15 Or headdress
[12] 9:13 Or stake
[13] 9:25 Or suspended on a stake