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.
5 It so happened that on the third day Esther put on her royal attire and stood in the inner court of the palace, 1 opposite the king’s quarters. 2 The king was sitting on his royal throne in the palace, opposite the entrance. 3 2 When the king saw Queen Esther standing in the court, she met with his approval. 4 The king extended to Esther the gold scepter that was in his hand, and Esther approached and touched the end of the scepter.
3 The king said to her, “What is on your mind, 5 Queen Esther? What is your request? Even as much as half the kingdom will be given to you!”
4 Esther replied, “If the king is so inclined, 6 let the king and Haman come today to the banquet that I have prepared for him.” 5 The king replied, “Find Haman quickly so that we can do as Esther requests.”
So the king and Haman went to the banquet that Esther had prepared. 6 While at the banquet of wine, the king said to Esther, “What is your request? It shall be given to you. What is your petition? Ask for as much as half the kingdom, 7 and it shall be done!”
7 Esther responded, 8 “My request and my petition is this: 8 If I have found favor in the king’s sight and if the king is inclined 9 to grant my request and perform my petition, let the king and Haman come tomorrow to the banquet that I will prepare for them. At that time 10 I will do as the king wishes. 11
9 Now Haman went forth that day pleased and very much encouraged. 12 But when Haman saw Mordecai at the king’s gate, and he did not rise nor tremble in his presence, 13 Haman was filled with rage toward Mordecai. 10 But Haman restrained himself and went on to his home.
He then sent for his friends to join him, 14 along with his wife Zeresh. 11 Haman then recounted to them his fabulous wealth, 15 his many sons, 16 and how the king had magnified him and exalted him over the king’s other officials and servants. 12 Haman said, “Furthermore, Queen Esther invited 17 only me to accompany the king to the banquet that she prepared! And also tomorrow I am invited 18 along with the king. 13 Yet all of this fails to satisfy me so long as I have to see Mordecai the Jew sitting at the king’s gate.”
14 Haman’s 19 wife Zeresh and all his friends said to him, “Have a gallows seventy-five feet 20 high built, and in the morning tell the king that Mordecai should be hanged on it. Then go with the king to the banquet contented.” 21
It seemed like a good idea to Haman, so he had the gallows built.
6 Throughout that night the king was unable to sleep, 1 so he asked for the book containing the historical records 2 to be brought. As the records 3 were being read in the king’s presence, 2 it was found written that Mordecai had disclosed that Bigthana 4 and Teresh, two of the king’s eunuchs who guarded the entrance, had plotted to assassinate 5 King Ahasuerus.
3 The king asked, “What great honor 6 was bestowed on Mordecai because of this?” The king’s attendants who served him responded, “Not a thing was done for him.”
4 Then the king said, “Who is that in the courtyard?” Now Haman had come to the outer courtyard of the palace to suggest that the king hang Mordecai on the gallows that he had constructed for him. 5 The king’s attendants said to him, “It is Haman who is standing in the courtyard.” The king said, “Let him enter.”
6 So Haman came in, and the king said to him, “What should be done for the man whom the king wishes to honor?” Haman thought to himself, 7 “Who is it that the king would want to honor more than me?” 7 So Haman said to the king, “For the man whom the king wishes to honor, 8 let them bring royal attire which the king himself has worn and a horse on which the king himself has ridden – one bearing the royal insignia! 8 9 Then let this clothing and this horse be given to one of the king’s noble officials. Let him 9 then clothe the man whom the king wishes to honor, and let him lead him about through the plaza of the city on the horse, calling 10 before him, ‘So shall it be done to the man whom the king wishes to honor!’”
10 The king then said to Haman, “Go quickly! Take the clothing and the horse, just as you have described, and do as you just indicated to Mordecai the Jew who sits at the king’s gate. Don’t neglect 11 a single thing of all that you have said.”
11 So Haman took the clothing and the horse, and he clothed Mordecai. He led him about on the horse throughout the plaza of the city, calling before him, “So shall it be done to the man whom the king wishes to honor!”
12 Then Mordecai again sat at the king’s gate, while Haman hurried away to his home, mournful and with a veil over his head. 13 Haman then related to his wife Zeresh and to all his friends everything that had happened to him. These wise men, 12 along with his wife Zeresh, said to him, “If indeed this Mordecai before whom you have begun to fall is Jewish, 13 you will not prevail against him. No, you will surely fall before him!”
14 While they were still speaking with him, the king’s eunuchs arrived. They quickly brought Haman to the banquet that Esther had prepared.