2 When these things had been accomplished 1 and the rage of King Ahasuerus had diminished, he remembered 2 Vashti and what she had done and what had been decided 3 against her. 2 The king’s servants who attended him said, “Let a search be conducted in the king’s behalf for attractive young women. 4 3 And let the king appoint officers throughout all the provinces of his kingdom to gather all the attractive young women to Susa the citadel, to the harem 5 under the authority of Hegai, the king’s eunuch who oversees the women, and let him provide whatever cosmetics they desire. 6 4 Let the young woman whom the king finds most attractive 7 become queen in place of Vashti.” This seemed like a good idea to the king, 8 so he acted accordingly.
5 Now there happened to be a Jewish man in Susa the citadel whose name was Mordecai. 9 He was the son of Jair, the son of Shimei, the son of Kish, a Benjaminite, 6 who had been taken into exile from Jerusalem 10 with the captives who had been carried into exile with Jeconiah 11 king of Judah, whom Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon had taken into exile. 7 Now he was acting as the guardian 12 of Hadassah 13 (that is, Esther), the daughter of his uncle, for neither her father nor her mother was alive. 14 This young woman was very attractive and had a beautiful figure. 15 When her father and mother died, Mordecai had raised her 16 as if she were his own daughter.
8 It so happened that when the king’s edict and his law became known 17 many young women were taken to Susa the citadel to be placed under the authority of Hegai. Esther also was taken to the royal palace 18 to be under the authority of Hegai, who was overseeing the women. 9 This young woman pleased him, 19 and she found favor with him. He quickly provided her with her cosmetics and her rations; he also provided her with the seven specially chosen 20 young women who were from the palace. He then transferred her and her young women to the best quarters in the harem. 21
10 Now Esther had not disclosed her people or her lineage, 22 for Mordecai had instructed her not to do so. 23 11 And day after day Mordecai used to walk back and forth in front of the court of the harem in order to learn how Esther was doing 24 and what might happen to her.
12 At the end of the twelve months that were required for the women, 25 when the turn of each young woman arrived to go to King Ahasuerus – for in this way they had to fulfill their time of cosmetic treatment: six months with oil of myrrh, and six months with perfume and various ointments used by women – 13 the woman would go to the king in the following way: Whatever she asked for would be provided for her to take with her from the harem to the royal palace. 14 In the evening she went, and in the morning she returned to a separate part 26 of the harem, to the authority of Shaashgaz the king’s eunuch who was overseeing the concubines. She would not go back to the king unless the king was pleased with her 27 and she was requested by name.
15 When it became the turn of Esther daughter of Abihail the uncle of Mordecai (who had raised her as if she were his own daughter 28 ) to go to the king, she did not request anything except what Hegai the king’s eunuch, who was overseer of the women, had recommended. Yet Esther met with the approval of all who saw her. 16 Then Esther was taken to King Ahasuerus at his royal residence in the tenth 29 month (that is, the month of Tebeth) in the seventh 30 year of his reign. 17 And the king loved Esther more than all the other women, and she met with his loving approval 31 more than all the other young women. 32 So he placed the royal high turban on her head and appointed her queen 33 in place of Vashti. 18 Then the king prepared a large banquet for all his officials and his servants – it was actually Esther’s banquet. He also set aside a holiday for the provinces, and he provided for offerings at the king’s expense. 34
19 Now when the young women were being gathered again, 35 Mordecai was sitting at the king’s gate. 36 20 Esther was still not divulging her lineage or her people, 37 just as Mordecai had instructed her. 38 Esther continued to do whatever Mordecai said, just as she had done when he was raising her.
21 In those days while Mordecai was sitting at the king’s gate, Bigthan 39 and Teresh, 40 two of the king’s eunuchs who protected the entrance, 41 became angry and plotted to assassinate 42 King Ahasuerus. 22 When Mordecai learned of the conspiracy, 43 he informed Queen Esther, 44 and Esther told the king in Mordecai’s behalf. 45 23 The king then had the matter investigated and, finding it to be so, had the two conspirators 46 hanged on a gallows. 47 It was then recorded in the daily chronicles in the king’s presence.
3 Some time later 1 King Ahasuerus promoted 2 Haman the son of Hammedatha, the Agagite, exalting him and setting his position 3 above that of all the officials who were with him. 2 As a result, 4 all the king’s servants who were at the king’s gate were bowing and paying homage to Haman, for the king had so commanded. However, Mordecai did not bow, 5 nor did he pay him homage.
3 Then the servants of the king who were at the king’s gate asked Mordecai, “Why are you violating the king’s commandment?” 4 And after they had spoken to him day after day 6 without his paying any attention to them, they informed Haman to see whether this attitude on Mordecai’s part would be permitted. 7 Furthermore, he had disclosed to them that he was a Jew. 8
5 When Haman saw that Mordecai was not bowing or paying homage to him, he 9 was filled with rage. 6 But the thought of striking out against 10 Mordecai alone was repugnant to him, for he had been informed 11 of the identity of Mordecai’s people. 12 So Haman sought to destroy all the Jews (that is, the people of Mordecai) 13 who were in all the kingdom of Ahasuerus.
7 In the first month (that is, the month of Nisan), in the twelfth year 14 of King Ahasuerus’ reign, pur 15 (that is, the lot) was cast before Haman in order to determine a day and a month. 16 It turned out to be the twelfth month (that is, the month of Adar). 17
8 Then Haman said to King Ahasuerus, “There is a particular people 18 that is dispersed and spread among the inhabitants 19 throughout all the provinces of your kingdom whose laws differ from those of all other peoples. Furthermore, they do not observe the king’s laws. It is not appropriate for the king to provide a haven for them. 20 9 If the king is so inclined, 21 let an edict be issued 22 to destroy them. I will pay ten thousand talents of silver 23 to be conveyed to the king’s treasuries for the officials who carry out this business.”
10 So the king removed his signet ring 24 from his hand and gave it to Haman the son of Hammedatha, the Agagite, who was hostile toward the Jews. 11 The king replied to Haman, “Keep your money, 25 and do with those people whatever you wish.” 26
12 So the royal scribes 27 were summoned in the first month, on the thirteenth day of the month. Everything Haman commanded was written to the king’s satraps 28 and governors who were in every province and to the officials of every people, province by province according to its script and people by people according to its language. In the name of King Ahasuerus it was written and sealed with the king’s signet ring. 13 Letters were sent by the runners to all the king’s provinces stating that 29 they should destroy, kill, and annihilate all the Jews, from youth to elderly, both women and children, 30 on a particular day, namely the thirteenth day 31 of the twelfth month (that is, the month of Adar), and to loot and plunder their possessions. 14 A copy of this edict was to be presented as law throughout every province; it was to be made known to all the inhabitants, 32 so that they would be prepared for this day. 15 The messengers 33 scurried forth 34 with the king’s order. 35 The edict was issued in Susa the citadel. While the king and Haman sat down to drink, the city of Susa was in an uproar! 36
4 Now when Mordecai became aware of all that had been done, he 1 tore his garments and put on sackcloth and ashes. He went out into the city, crying out in a loud 2 and bitter voice. 2 But he went no further than the king’s gate, for no one was permitted to enter the king’s gate clothed in sackcloth. 3 Throughout each and every province where the king’s edict and law were announced 3 there was considerable 4 mourning among the Jews, along with fasting, weeping, and sorrow. 5 Sackcloth and ashes were characteristic 6 of many. 4 When Esther’s female attendants and her eunuchs came and informed her about Mordecai’s behavior, 7 the queen was overcome with anguish. Although she sent garments for Mordecai to put on so that he could remove his sackcloth, he would not accept them. 5 So Esther called for Hathach, one of the king’s eunuchs who had been placed at her service, 8 and instructed him to find out the cause and reason for Mordecai’s behavior. 9 6 So Hathach went to Mordecai at the plaza of the city in front of the king’s gate. 7 Then Mordecai related to him everything that had happened to him, even the specific amount of money that Haman had offered to pay to the king’s treasuries for the Jews to be destroyed. 8 He also gave him a written copy of the law that had been disseminated 10 in Susa for their destruction so that he could show it to Esther and talk to her about it. He also gave instructions that she should go to the king to implore him and petition him on behalf of her people. 9 So Hathach returned and related Mordecai’s instructions 11 to Esther.
10 Then Esther replied to Hathach with instructions for Mordecai: 11 “All the servants of the king and the people of the king’s provinces know that there is only one law applicable 12 to any man or woman who comes uninvited to the king in the inner court – that person will be put to death, unless the king extends to him the gold scepter, permitting him to be spared. 13 Now I have not been invited to come to the king for some thirty days!”
12 When Esther’s reply 14 was conveyed to Mordecai, 13 he 15 said to take back this answer to Esther: 14 “Don’t imagine that because you are part of the king’s household you will be the one Jew 16 who will escape. If you keep quiet at this time, liberation and protection for the Jews will appear 17 from another source, 18 while you and your father’s household perish. It may very well be 19 that you have achieved royal status 20 for such a time as this!”
15 Then Esther sent this reply to Mordecai: 16 “Go, assemble all the Jews who are found in Susa and fast in my behalf. Don’t eat and don’t drink for three days, night or day. My female attendants and I 21 will also fast in the same way. Afterward I will go to the king, even though it violates the law. 22 If I perish, I perish!”
17 So Mordecai set out to do everything that Esther had instructed him.