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Queen Vashti Disobeys the King

1 This is what happened during the time that Xerxes was king. Xerxes ruled over the 127 provinces from India to Ethiopia. 2King Xerxes ruled from his throne* in the capital city of Susa. 3In the third year of Xerxes’ rule, he gave a party for his officers and leaders. The army leaders and important leaders from all of Persia and Media were there. 4The party continued for 180 days. All during that time, King Xerxes was showing the great wealth of his kingdom. And he was showing everyone the majestic beauty and wealth of his palace.* 5And when those 180 days were over, King Xerxes gave another party that continued for seven days. That party was held in the inside garden of the palace. All the people that were in the capital city of Susa were invited, from the most important to the least important person. 6That inside garden had white and blue linen* hangings around the room. Those hangings were held in place with cords of white linen and purple material on silver rings and marble pillars. There were couches made of gold and silver. Those couches were setting on mosaic pavement of porphyry, marble, mother-of-pearl, and other expensive stones. 7Wine was served in golden cups. And every cup was different! And there was plenty of the king’s wine, because the king was very generous. 8The king had given a command to his servants. He told them that each guest must be given as much wine as he wanted. And the wine server obeyed the king. 9Queen Vashti also gave a party for the women in the king’s palace. 10–11On the seventh day of the party, King Xerxes was in high spirits from drinking the wine. He gave a command to the seven eunuchs* that served him. Those eunuchs were: Mehuman, Biztha, Harbona, Bigtha, Abagtha, Zethar, and Carcas. He commanded those seven eunuchs to bring Queen Vashti to him wearing her royal crown. She was to come so she could show her beauty to the leaders and important people. She was very beautiful. 12But when those servants told Queen Vashti about the king’s command, she refused to come. Then the king became very angry. 13–14It was the custom for the king to ask the advice of the experts about the law and punishments. So King Xerxes spoke with the wise men that understood the laws. Those wise men were very close to the king. Their names were: Carshena, Shethar, Admatha, Tarshish, Meres, Marsena, and Memucan. They were the seven most important officials of Persia and Media. They had special privileges to see the king. They were the highest officials in the kingdom. 15The king asked those men, “What does the law say must be done to Queen Vashti? She has not obeyed the command of King Xerxes that the eunuchs have taken to her.” 16Then Memucan answered the king with the other officials listening, “Queen Vashti has done wrong. She has done wrong against the king and also against all the leaders and people of all the provinces of King Xerxes. 17I say that, because all the other women will hear about what Queen Vashti did. And then other women will stop obeying their husbands. They will say to their husbands, ‘King Xerxes commanded Queen Vashti to be brought to him, but she refused to come.’ 18“Today the wives of the Persian and Median leaders have heard what the queen did. And those women will be influenced by the thing she did. Those women will do the same thing to the king’s important leaders. And there will be plenty of disrespect and anger. 19“So, if it pleased the king, here is a suggestion: Let the king give a royal command and let it be written in the laws of Persia and Media. The laws of Persia and Media can’t be changed. The royal command should be that Vashti is never again to enter the presence of King Xerxes. Also let the king give her royal position to someone else that is better than she. 20Then when the king’s command is announced in all parts of his large kingdom, all the women will respect their husbands. From the most important to the least important, all the women will respect their husbands.” 21The king and his important officials were happy with this advice. So King Xerxes did as Memucan suggested. 22King Xerxes sent letters to all parts of the kingdom. He sent those letters to each province, written in its own language. He sent those letters to each nation in its own language. Those letters announced in every person’s language that every man was to be ruler over his own family.

throne The chair of a king or queen. palace A large house for the king and his family. linen Thread or cloth made from the fibers of the flax plant. eunuchs Men whose testicles have been removed. Rulers often gave such men important positions.

Esther Made Queen

2 Later, King Xerxes stopped being angry. Then he remembered Vashti and what she had done. He remembered his commands about her. 2Then the king’s personal servants had a suggestion. They said, “Search for beautiful young virgins* for the king. 3Let the king choose leaders in every province of his kingdom. Then let those leaders bring every beautiful young virgin to the capital city of Susa. Those girls will be put with the group of the king’s women. And they will be under the care of Hegai, the king’s eunuch, that is in charge of the women. Then give beauty treatments to all of them. 4Then let the girl that is pleasing to the king become the new queen in Vashti’s place.” The king liked this suggestion, so he accepted it. 5Now there was a Jew from the family group of Benjamin named Mordecai. Mordecai was the son of Jair, and Jair was the son of Shimei, and Shimei was the son of Kish. Mordecai was in the capital city, Susa. 6Mordecai had been carried into captivity from Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon. He was with the group that was taken into captivity with Jehoiachin, king of Judah. 7Mordecai had a girl cousin named Hadassah. She didn’t have a father or a mother, so Mordecai took care of her. Mordecai had adopted her as his own daughter when her father and mother died. Hadassah was also called Esther. Esther had a very pretty face and a good figure. 8When the king’s command had been heard, many girls were brought to the capital city of Susa. Those girls were put under the care of Hegai. Esther was one of these women. Esther was taken to the king’s palace* and put into Hegai’s care. Hegai was in charge of the king’s women. 9Hegai liked Esther. She became his favorite. So Hegai quickly gave Esther beauty treatments and special food. Hegai chose seven women servants from the king’s palace and gave them to Esther. Then Hegai moved Esther and her seven girl servants into the best place where the king’s women lived. 10Esther didn’t tell anyone that she was a Jew. She didn’t tell anyone about her family background, because Mordecai had told her not to. 11Every day Mordecai walked back and forth near the area where the king’s women lived. He did that because he wanted to find out how Esther was, and what was happening to her. 12Before a girl could take her turn to go in before King Xerxes, this is what she had to do: She had to complete twelve months of beauty treatments. That was six months with oil of myrrh and six months with perfumes and different kinds of makeup. 13And this is the way a girl would go to the king: They gave her anything she wanted from the house of the king’s women. 14In the evening, the girl would go to the king’s palace.* And in the morning, she would return to another area where the king’s women lived. Then she would be placed under the care of a man named Shaashgaz. Shaashgaz was the king’s eunuch* in charge of the concubines.* The girl would not go back to the king again unless he was pleased with her. Then he would call her by name to come back to him. 15When the time came for Esther to go to the king, she didn’t ask for anything. She only wanted Hegai, the king’s eunuch* that was in charge of the king’s women, to suggest what she should take. (Esther is the girl Mordecai had adopted, the daughter of his uncle Abihail). Everyone that looked at Esther liked her. 16So Esther was taken to King Xerxes in the palace.* This happened in the tenth month, the month of Tebeth, in the seventh year of his rule. 17The king loved Esther more than any of the other girls. And she became his favorite. He approved of her more than any of the other girls. So King Xerxes put a crown on Esther’s head and made her the new queen in Vashti’s place. 18And the king gave a big party for Esther. It was for all his important people and leaders. He announced a holiday in all the provinces. And he sent out gifts to people, because he was a generous king.

Mordecai Learns about an Evil Plan

19Mordecai was sitting next to the king’s gate at the time the girls were gathered together the second time. 20Esther had still kept it a secret that she was a Jew. She had not told anyone about her family background. That is what Mordecai had told her to do. She still obeyed Mordecai just as she had done when he was taking care of her. 21During the time Mordecai was sitting next to the king’s gate, this happened: Bigthana and Teresh, two of the king’s officers that guarded the doorway, became angry at the king. They began to make plans to kill King Xerxes. 22But Mordecai learned about those plans and told Queen Esther. Then Queen Esther told the king. She also told the king that Mordecai was the one that had learned about that evil plan. 23Then the report was checked out. It was learned that Mordecai’s report was true. The two guards that had planned to kill the king were hanged on a post. All these things were written down in a book of the king’s histories in front of the king.

virgins A pure woman that has not had sexual relations with anyone. palace A large house for the king and his family. eunuch A man whose testicles have been removed. Rulers often gave such men important positions. concubines Women that were like wives to a man.

Haman’s Plan to Destroy the Jews

3 After these things happened, King Xerxes honored Haman. Haman was the son of a man named Hammedatha, the Agagite. The king promoted Haman and gave him a place of honor more important than any of the other leaders. 2All of the king’s leaders at the king’s gate would bow down and give honor to Haman. That is what the king commanded those men to do. But Mordecai refused to bow down or give honor to Haman. 3Then the king’s leaders at the gate asked Mordecai, “Why don’t you obey the king’s command to bow down to Haman?” 4Day after day, those king’s leaders spoke to Mordecai. But he refused to obey the command to bow down to Haman. So those leaders told Haman about it. They wanted to see what Haman would do about Mordecai. Mordecai had told those leaders that he was a Jew. 5When Haman saw that Mordecai refused to bow down to him or give him honor, he was very angry. 6Haman had learned that Mordecai was a Jew. But he was not satisfied with killing only Mordecai. Haman also wanted to find a way to destroy all of Mordecai’s people, the Jews, in all of Xerxes’ kingdom. 7In the twelfth year of King Xerxes’ rule, in the first month, the month of Nisan, Haman threw lots* to choose a special day and month. And the twelfth month, the month of Adar was chosen. (At that time, the lot was called “pur.”) 8Then Haman came to King Xerxes. He said, “King Xerxes, there is a certain group of people scattered among the people in all the provinces of your kingdom. Those people keep themselves separate from other people. Their customs are different from those of all other people. And those people don’t obey the king’s laws. It is not best for the king to allow those people to continue to live in your kingdom. 9“If it pleases the king, I have a suggestion: Give a command to destroy those people. And I will put 10,000 silver coins into the king’s treasury. That money could be used to pay the men that do these things.” 10So the king took the official ring off his finger and gave it to Haman. Haman was the son of Hammedatha, the Agagite. Haman was the enemy of the Jews. 11Then the king said to Haman, “Keep the money. Do what you want with those people.” 12Then on the 13th day of the first month the king’s secretaries were called. They wrote out all of Haman’s commands in the language of each province. And they wrote them in the language of each group of people. They wrote to the king’s satraps (leaders), the governors of the different provinces, and the leaders of the different groups of people. They wrote with the authority of King Xerxes himself, and sealed the commands with the king’s own ring. 13Messengers carried the letters to all the king’s provinces. The letters were the king’s command to ruin, kill, and completely destroy all the Jews. That meant young people and old people, women, and little children, too. The command was to kill all the Jews on a single day. That day was to be the 13th day of the twelfth month, the month of Adar. And the command was to take all of the things that belonged to the Jews. 14A copy of the letters with that command was to be given as a law. It was to be a law in every province and announced to the people of every nation living in the kingdom. Then all those people would be ready for that day. 15At the king’s command the messengers hurried off. The command was given in the capital city of Susa. The king and Haman sat down to drink, but the city of Susa was confused.

lots Sticks, stones, or pieces of bone used like dice for making decisions. See Proverbs 16:33.

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