Bible: Esther 3:1-5:8
Haman Conspires to Destroy the Jews
3:1 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. 3:2 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.
3:3 Then the servants of the king who were at the king’s gate asked Mordecai, “Why are you violating the king’s commandment?” 3:4 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
3:5 When Haman saw that Mordecai was not bowing or paying homage to him, he 9 was filled with rage. 3:6 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.
3:7 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
3:8 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 3:9 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.”
3:10 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. 3:11 The king replied to Haman, “Keep your money, 25 and do with those people whatever you wish.” 26
3:12 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. 3:13 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. 3:14 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. 3:15 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
Esther Decides to Risk Everything in order to Help Her People
4:1 Now when Mordecai became aware of all that had been done, he 37 tore his garments and put on sackcloth and ashes. He went out into the city, crying out in a loud 38 and bitter voice. 4:2 But he went no further than the king’s gate, for no one was permitted to enter the king’s gate clothed in sackcloth. 4:3 Throughout each and every province where the king’s edict and law were announced 39 there was considerable 40 mourning among the Jews, along with fasting, weeping, and sorrow. 41 Sackcloth and ashes were characteristic 42 of many. 4:4 When Esther’s female attendants and her eunuchs came and informed her about Mordecai’s behavior, 43 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. 4:5 So Esther called for Hathach, one of the king’s eunuchs who had been placed at her service, 44 and instructed him to find out the cause and reason for Mordecai’s behavior. 45 4:6 So Hathach went to Mordecai at the plaza of the city in front of the king’s gate. 4:7 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. 4:8 He also gave him a written copy of the law that had been disseminated 46 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. 4:9 So Hathach returned and related Mordecai’s instructions 47 to Esther.
4:10 Then Esther replied to Hathach with instructions for Mordecai: 4:11 “All the servants of the king and the people of the king’s provinces know that there is only one law applicable 48 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. 49 Now I have not been invited to come to the king for some thirty days!”
4:12 When Esther’s reply 50 was conveyed to Mordecai, 4:13 he 51 said to take back this answer to Esther: 4:14 “Don’t imagine that because you are part of the king’s household you will be the one Jew 52 who will escape. If you keep quiet at this time, liberation and protection for the Jews will appear 53 from another source, 54 while you and your father’s household perish. It may very well be 55 that you have achieved royal status 56 for such a time as this!”
4:15 Then Esther sent this reply to Mordecai: 4:16 “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 57 will also fast in the same way. Afterward I will go to the king, even though it violates the law. 58 If I perish, I perish!”
4:17 So Mordecai set out to do everything that Esther had instructed him.
Esther Appeals to the King for Help
5:1 It so happened that on the third day Esther put on her royal attire and stood in the inner court of the palace, 59 opposite the king’s quarters. 60 The king was sitting on his royal throne in the palace, opposite the entrance. 61 5:2 When the king saw Queen Esther standing in the court, she met with his approval. 62 The king extended to Esther the gold scepter that was in his hand, and Esther approached and touched the end of the scepter.
5:3 The king said to her, “What is on your mind, 63 Queen Esther? What is your request? Even as much as half the kingdom will be given to you!”
5:4 Esther replied, “If the king is so inclined, 64 let the king and Haman come today to the banquet that I have prepared for him.” 5:5 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. 5:6 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, 65 and it shall be done!”
5:7 Esther responded, 66 “My request and my petition is this: 5:8 If I have found favor in the king’s sight and if the king is inclined 67 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 68 I will do as the king wishes. 69