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Esther chapter 1

1
These events took place during the days of Ahasuerus,who ruled 127 provinces from India to Cush.
2
In those days King Ahasuerus reigned from his royal throne in the fortress at Susa.
3
He held a feast in the third year of his reign for all his officials and staff, the army of Persia and Media, the nobles, and the officials from the provinces.
4
He displayed the glorious wealth of his kingdom and the magnificent splendor of his greatness for a total of 180 days.
5
At the end of this time, the king held a week-long banquet in the garden courtyard of the royal palace for all the people, from the greatest to the least, who were present in the fortress of Susa.
6
White and violet linen hangings were fastened with fine white and purple linen cords to silver rods on marble columns. Gold and silver couches [were arranged] on a mosaic pavement of red feldspar, marble, mother-of-pearl, and precious stones.
7
Beverages were served in an array of gold goblets, each with a different design. Royal wine flowed freely, according to the king's bounty
8
and no restraint was placed on the drinking. The king had ordered every wine steward in his household to serve as much as each person wanted.
9
Queen Vashti also gave a feast for the women of King Ahasuerus' palace.
10
On the seventh day, when the king was feeling good from the wine, Ahasuerus commanded Mehuman, Biztha, Harbona, Bigtha, Abagtha, Zethar, and Carkas, the seven eunuchs who personally served him,
11
to bring Queen Vashti before him with her royal crown. [He wanted] to show off her beauty to the people and the officials, because she was very beautiful.
12
But Queen Vashti refused to come at the king's command that was delivered by his eunuchs. The king became furious and his anger burned within him.
13
The king consulted the wise men who understood the times,for it was his normal procedure to confer with experts in law and justice.
14
The most trusted ones were Carshena, Shethar, Admatha, Tarshish, Meres, Marsena, and Memucan. They were the seven officials of Persia and Media who had personal access to the king and occupied the highest positions in the kingdom.
15
[The king asked,] "According to the law, what should be done with Queen Vashti, since she refused to obey King Ahasuerus' command that was delivered by the eunuchs?"
16
Memucan said in the presence of the king and his officials, "Queen Vashti has defied not only the king, but all the officials and the peoples who are in every one of King Ahasuerus' provinces.
17
For the queen's action will become public knowledge to all the women and cause them to despise their husbands and say, 'King Ahasuerus ordered Queen Vashti brought before him, but she did not come.'
18
[Before] this day [is over], the noble women of Persia and Media who hear about the queen's act will say [the same thing] to all the king's officials, resulting in more contempt and fury.
19
"If it meets the king's approval, he should personally issue a royal decree. Let it be recorded in the laws of Persia and Media, so that it cannot be revoked: Vashti is not to enter King Ahasuerus' presence, and her royal position is to be given to another woman who is more worthy than she.
20
The decree the king issues will be heard throughout his vast kingdom, so all women will honor their husbands, from the least to the greatest."
21
The king and his counselors approved the proposal, and he followed Memucan's advice.
22
He sent letters to all the royal provinces, to each province in its own script and to each ethnic group in its own language, that every man should be master of his own house and speak in the language of his own people.

Esther chapter 2

1
Some time later, when King Ahasuerus' rage had cooled down, he remembered Vashti, what she had done, and what was decided against her.
2
The king's personal attendants suggested, "Let a search be made for beautiful young virgins for the king.
3
Let the king appoint commissioners in each province of his kingdom, so that they may assemble all the beautiful young virgins to the harem at the fortress of Susa. [Put them] under the care of Hegai, the king's eunuch, who is in charge of the women, and give them the required beauty treatments.
4
Then the young woman who pleases the king will reign in place of Vashti." This suggestion pleased the king, and he did accordingly.
5
A Jewish man was in the fortress of Susa named Mordecai son of Jair, son of Shimei, son of Kish, a Benjaminite.
6
He had been taken into exile from Jerusalem with the other captives when King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon took King Jeconiah of Judah into exile.
7
Mordecai was the legal guardian of his cousin Hadassah (that is, Esther), because she didn't have a father or mother. The young woman had a beautiful figure and was extremely good-looking. When her father and mother died, Mordecai had adopted her as his own daughter.
8
When the king's command and edict became public knowledge, many young women gathered at the fortress of Susa under Hegai's care. Esther was also taken to the palace and placed under the care of Hegai, who was in charge of the women.
9
The young woman pleased him and gained his favor so that he accelerated the process of the beauty treatments and the special diet that she received. He assigned seven hand-picked female servants to her from the palace and transferred her and her servants to the harem's best quarters.
10
Esther did not reveal her ethnic background or her birthplace, because Mordecai had ordered her not to.
11
Every day Mordecai took a walk in front of the harem's courtyard to learn how Esther was doing and to see what was happening to her.
12
During the year before each young woman's turn to go to King Ahasuerus, the harem regulation required her to receive beauty treatments with oil of myrrh for six months and then with perfumes and cosmetics for [another] six months.
13
When the young woman would go to the king, she was given whatever she requested to take with her from the harem to the palace.
14
She would go in the evening, and in the morning she would return to a second harem under the supervision of Shaashgaz, the king's eunuch in charge of the concubines. She never went to the king again, unless he desired her and summoned her by name.
15
Esther was the daughter of Abihail, the uncle of Mordecai who had adopted [her] as his own daughter. When her turn came to go to the king, she did not ask for anything except what Hegai, the king's trusted official in charge of the harem, suggested. Esther won approval in the sight of everyone who saw her.
16
Esther was taken to King Ahasuerus in the royal palace in the tenth month, the month Tebeth, in the seventh year of his reign.
17
The king loved Esther more than all the other women. She won more favor and approval from him than did any of the other virgins. He placed the royal crown on her head and made her queen in place of Vashti.
18
The king held a great banquet for all his officials and staff. It was Esther's banquet. He freed his provinces from tax payments and gave gifts worthy of the king's bounty.
19
When the young women were assembled together for a second time, Mordecai was sitting at the King's Gate.
20
Esther still had not revealed her birthplace or her ethnic background, as Mordecai had directed. She obeyed Mordecai's orders, as she always had while he raised her.
21
During those days while Mordecai was sitting at the King's Gate, Bigthan and Teresh, two eunuchs who guarded the [king's] entrance, became infuriated and tried to assassinate King Ahasuerus.
22
When Mordecai learned of the plot, he reported it to Queen Esther, and she told the king on Mordecai's behalf.
23
When the report was investigated and verified, both men were hanged on the gallows. This event was recorded in the court records of daily events in the king's presence.

Esther chapter 3

1
After all this took place, King Ahasuerus honored Haman, son of Hammedatha the Agagite. He promoted him in rank and gave him a higher position than all the other officials.
2
The entire royal staff at the King's Gate bowed down and paid homage to Haman, because the king had commanded this to be done for him. But Mordecai would not bow down or pay homage.
3
The members of the royal staff at the King's Gate asked Mordecai, "Why are you disobeying the king's command?"
4
When they had warned him day after day and he still would not listen to them, they told Haman to see if Mordecai's actions would be tolerated, since he had told them he was a Jew.
5
When Haman saw that Mordecai was not bowing down or paying him homage, he was filled with rage.
6
And when he learned of Mordecai's ethnic identity, Haman decided not to do away with Mordecai alone. He set out to destroy all of Mordecai's people, the Jews, throughout Ahasuerus' kingdom.
7
In the first month, the month of Nisan, in King Ahasuerus' twelfth year, Pur (that is, the lot) was cast before Haman for each day in each month, and it fell on the twelfth month, the month Adar.
8
Then Haman informed King Ahasuerus, "There is one ethnic group, scattered throughout the peoples in every province of your kingdom, yet living in isolation. Their laws are different from everyone else's, so that they defy the king's laws. It is not in the king's best interest to tolerate them.
9
If the king approves, let an order be drawn up authorizing their destruction, and I will pay 375 tons of silver to the accountants for deposit in the royal treasury."
10
The king removed his signet ring from his finger and gave it to Haman son of Hammedatha the Agagite, the enemy of the Jewish people.
11
Then the king told Haman, "The money and people are given to you to do with as you see fit."
12
The royal scribes were summoned on the thirteenth day of the first month, and the order was written exactly as Haman commanded. [It was intended for] the royal satraps, the governors of each of the provinces, and the officials of each ethnic group and written for each province in its own script and to each ethnic group in its own language. It was written in the name of King Ahasuerus and sealed with the royal signet ring.
13
Letters were sent by couriers to each of the royal provinces [telling the officials] to destroy, kill, and annihilate all the Jewish people-- young and old, women and children-- and plunder their possessions on a single day, the thirteenth day of Adar, the twelfth month.
14
A copy of the text, issued as law throughout every province, was distributed to all the peoples so that they might get ready for that day.
15
The couriers left, spurred on by royal command, and the law was issued in the fortress of Susa. The king and Haman sat down to drink, while the city of Susa was in confusion.