11-3 Mordecai, a Jew who belonged to the tribe of Benjamin, was taken into exile, along with King Jehoiachin of Judah, when King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylonia captured Jerusalem. Mordecai was the son of Jair, a descendant of Kish and Shimei. He now lived in the Persian city of Susa, where he was an important official in the royal court of Xerxes the great king.
During the second year of Xerxes' reign, on the first day of the month of Nisan, Mordecai had a dream. 4 He dreamt that there was great noise and confusion, loud thunder, and an earthquake, with terrible turmoil on the earth. 5 Then two huge dragons appeared, ready to fight each other. 6 They made a dreadful noise, and all the nations got ready to make war against God's nation of righteous people. 7 For the world it was a day of darkness and gloom, trouble and distress, destruction and ruin. 8 All God's righteous people were troubled, in great fear of what was about to happen to them. They prepared for death, 9 but they cried out to God for help. In the dream their prayer was answered by a great river which came flowing out of a small spring. 10 The day dawned, the sun rose, and the humble people were made strong and destroyed their arrogant enemies.
11 Mordecai woke up from this dream in which he saw what God planned to do. He thought about it all day and tried to understand what it meant.
12 While Mordecai was resting in the courtyard of the palace, where two of the king's eunuchs, Gabatha and Tharra, were on guard, 13 he overheard them plotting together. He listened carefully to what they were saying and learnt that they were making plans to kill the king. So Mordecai went to King Xerxes and told him about the plot of the two eunuchs. 14 The king had them questioned, and when they confessed, they were led away and executed.
15 The king ordered an account of this to be written in the official records, and Mordecai also wrote an account of it. 16 Then the king appointed Mordecai to a position at court and gave him many gifts as a reward for what he had done.
17 But Haman son of Hammedatha, a Bougaean who was respected by the king, tried to cause trouble for Mordecai and his people the Jews, because Mordecai had been responsible for the death of the two eunuchs.
18-19 These things happened in the time of King Xerxes, who ruled over 127 provinces, all the way from India to Sudan, from his royal throne in Susa, Persia's capital city. 20 In the third year of his reign, the king gave a banquet for all his advisers, the representatives of other countries, the noblemen from Persia and Media, and the governors of the provinces. 21 For six whole months he made a show of the riches of the imperial court with magnificent and expensive celebrations.
22 After the feast the king gave a banquet for the people of other nations who were in the city. It lasted a week and was held in the palace courtyard, 23 which was decorated with linen and cotton curtains, held by cords of purple linen attached to silver and gold blocks on marble and stone columns. Couches made of gold and silver had been placed in the courtyard, which was paved with green and white marble and mother-of-pearl. The couches were spread with a fine, thin fabric of many colours, with roses round the edges. 24 There were gold and silver cups, and one of them, decorated with jewels worth more than a thousand tonnes of silver, had been set out for display. There was plenty of good wine from the king's own supply. 25 There were no limits on the drinks. The king had given orders to the palace servants that they should provide him and his guests with as much as they wanted.
26 Meanwhile, inside the royal palace Queen Vashti was giving a banquet for the women.
27 On the seventh day of his banquet the king was feeling happy, so he called in the seven eunuchs who were his personal servants, Haman, Bazan, Tharra, Boraze, Zatholta, Abataza, and Tharaba. 28 He ordered them to bring in the queen, so that he could place the royal crown on her head and show her off to the officials and all his guests, for she was a beautiful woman. 29 But Queen Vashti refused to obey and would not come with the servants. This embarrassed the king and made him furious.
30 He told his advisers about Vashti's reply and asked them to give a legal opinion about what he should do. 31-32 Three of them, who were closest to the king and held the highest offices, came and told him what the law required and what should be done to Queen Vashti for disobeying the command he had given her through his servants. They were Arkesaeus, Sarsathaeus, and Malesear, officials of Persia and Media.
33 Then the king told his officials and the governors of Media and Persia how the queen had defied him. So Muchaeus said to the king and everyone present: “Queen Vashti has insulted not only you but all of us as well. 34-35 As soon as our wives hear what the queen has done, they will be bold enough to defy their husbands and treat them with disrespect in the same way that Vashti has treated you. 36 If, then, it please Your Majesty, issue a royal proclamation that Vashti may never again appear before the king. Let it be written into the laws of Media and Persia. Then give her place as queen to some better woman. There is no other way. 37 When your proclamation is made known all over this empire, then every woman will treat her husband with proper respect, whether he is rich or poor.”
38 The king and his officials liked this idea, and the king did as Muchaeus suggested. 39 To each of the royal provinces he sent a message in the language of that province, saying that every husband must be respected in his own home.
21 Later the king's anger cooled down. Although he no longer mentioned Vashti, he kept thinking of how he had condemned her. 2 So some of the king's advisers suggested, “Why don't you make a search to find some beautiful young girls of good character? 3 You can appoint officials in every province of the empire and get them to bring all these beautiful young virgins to your harem here in Susa. Put them in the care of Hegai, the eunuch who is in charge of your women, and let them be given cosmetics and whatever else they may need. 4 Then take the girl you like best and make her queen in Vashti's place.”
The king thought this was good advice, so he followed it.
5 There in Susa lived a Jew named Mordecai son of Jair; he belonged to the tribe of Benjamin and was a descendant of Kish and Shimei. 6 He was among the captives whom King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylonia had taken into exile from Jerusalem. 7 Mordecai was the guardian of Esther, the daughter of his uncle Aminadab. She was a beautiful girl, and after the death of her parents, Mordecai brought her up until she was of age.
8 When the king had issued his new proclamation, many girls were being brought to Susa, and Esther was among them. She too was put in the royal palace in the care of Hegai, who had charge of the harem. 9 Hegai liked Esther, and she won his favour. He lost no time in beginning her beauty treatment of massage and special diet. He assigned seven girls specially chosen from the royal palace to serve her, and he treated her and her servants well.
10 Now, on the advice of Mordecai, Esther had kept secret the fact that she was Jewish. 11 Every day Mordecai would walk to and fro in front of the courtyard of the harem, watching to see what was going to happen to her.
12 The regular beauty treatment for the young women lasted a year: massages with oil of myrrh for six months and with beauty creams and cosmetics for six more. 13 After that, each girl was handed over to the person appointed to conduct her from the harem to the palace, and she was taken to the king. 14 She would go there in the evening, and the next morning she would be taken to another harem and put in the care of Hegai, the eunuch in charge. She would not go to the king again unless he asked for her by name.
15 The time came for Esther, the daughter of Aminadab the uncle of Mordecai, to go to the king. She had done everything that Hegai had advised, and she was admired by everyone who saw her. 16 So in Xerxes' seventh year as king, in the twelfth month, the month of Adar, she was brought to the king. 17 He fell in love with Esther, who pleased him more than any of the others, and he placed the queen's crown on her head. 18 Then the king gave a week-long banquet for all his advisers and administrators to celebrate his marriage to Esther. He also granted a reduction of taxes for the whole empire.
19 Meanwhile Mordecai had been appointed to a high administrative position. 20 As for Esther, she had still not let it be known that she was Jewish. Mordecai had told her not to tell anyone, and she obeyed him in this, just as she had obeyed him when she was a little girl under his care. She continued to worship God and carry out God's commands, without abandoning her Jewish ways.
21 When the king promoted Mordecai to a higher position, the two palace eunuchs who were officers of the king's bodyguard became angry and plotted to assassinate the king. 22 Mordecai learnt about it and told Queen Esther, who then told the king the details of the plot. 23 The king had the two men questioned, and both men were hanged. To honour Mordecai, the king ordered an account of this to be written down in the royal records, so that his valuable service would be remembered.
31 Some time later King Xerxes honoured a man named Haman son of Hammedatha, a Bougaean, by promoting him to the position of prime minister. 2 The king ordered all the officials in his service to show their respect for Haman by bowing to him. They all did so, except Mordecai, who refused to bow to Haman. 3 The other officials in the king's service asked him why he was disobeying the king's command. 4 Day after day they urged him to give in, but he would not listen to them. “I am a Jew,” he explained, “and I cannot bow to Haman.” So they told Haman how Mordecai was disobeying the king's orders. 5 Haman was furious when he realized that Mordecai was not going to bow to him, 6 and so he made plans to kill every Jew in the whole Persian Empire.
7 In the twelfth year of King Xerxes' reign, Haman ordered the lots to be cast to find out the right day and month to destroy the Jews, all in a single day. The fourteenth day of the month of Adar was the date chosen.
8 So Haman told the king, “There is a certain race of people scattered among the nations all over your empire. They observe customs that are not like those of any other people. Moreover, they do not obey the laws of the empire, so it is not in your best interest to tolerate them. 9 If it please Your Majesty, issue a decree that they are to be put to death. If you do this, I promise to put 340 tonnes of silver into the royal treasury.”
10 The king took off his ring, which was used to stamp official proclamations, and gave it to Haman to seal the decree that was to be written against the Jews. 11 The king told him, “Keep the money, and do whatever you want with that race of people.”
12 So on the thirteenth day of the first month, Haman called the king's secretaries and dictated a proclamation to be translated into every language in the empire and to be sent to all rulers and governors. It was issued in the name of King Xerxes and sent to all the 127 provinces, which stretched from India to Sudan. 13 Runners took this proclamation to every province of the empire. It contained the instructions that on a single day in the twelfth month, the month of Adar, all Jews were to be killed and their belongings confiscated.
14 This is a copy of the decree: “King Xerxes the Great sends the following decree to the governors of his 127 provinces, from India to Sudan, and to their subordinate officials:
15 “After I became ruler of many nations and master of the whole world, I resolved that my subjects should always live at peace. I wanted this, not because of pride in my power but because I was always reasonable and governed my subjects with kindness. I determined to renew the peace that everyone longs for and to do what was necessary to create a civilized kingdom, safe for travel from one border to another.
16 “I asked my advisers how to accomplish this goal, and Haman made a suggestion. He is distinguished among us as a man of great wisdom, and at all times he has demonstrated his concern for the welfare of the kingdom. Because of his unfailing loyalty, he has been raised to the second highest position in the empire. 17 Recently Haman told us about a certain unruly people scattered among all the other peoples of the empire. He explained to us that these people have their own laws, are opposed to every other nation, and constantly ignore royal commands. As a result of their attitude, we are not able to establish the kind of unified government which we earnestly intend for the empire.
18 “These people are hostile to our government and commit terrible crimes which threaten the security of the empire. They follow strange customs, obey their own laws, and stand alone in their constant opposition to all the human race. 19 In the light of these facts, we recommend the slaughter of the people referred to by Haman, our prime minister. All of them, including women and children, must be put to death; no one is to be spared. They are our enemies; we will show them no pity. This order is to be carried out this year on the fourteenth day of the twelfth month, the month of Adar. 20 These people, who have caused so much trouble for so long, will all die a violent death on the same day. From then on, our government will be secure and stable.”
21 The contents of the proclamation were made public in every province, and everyone was ordered to be prepared for that day.
22 The decree was also rapidly made public in the capital city of Susa. And while the king and Haman got drunk, the city of Susa was thrown into confusion.