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Mordecai Persuades Esther to Help

Mordecai heard about all that had been done. When he heard about the king’s commands against the Jews, he tore his clothes. Then he put on clothes of sadness and put ashes on his head. Then he went out into the city crying loudly. 2But Mordecai went only as far as the king’s gate. No one was allowed to enter that gate dressed in clothes of sadness. 3In every province where the king’s command had come, there was much crying and sadness among the Jews. They were fasting* and crying loudly. Many Jews were lying on the ground dressed in clothes of sadness with ashes on their heads. 4Esther’s women servants and eunuchs* came to her and told her about Mordecai. That made Queen Esther very sad and upset. She sent clothes for Mordecai to put on instead of the clothes of sadness. But he would not accept those clothes. 5Then Esther called Hathach. Hathach was one of the king’s eunuchs that had been chosen to serve her. Esther commanded him to find out what was bothering Mordecai, and why. 6So Hathach went out to where Mordecai was in the open place of the city in front of the king’s gate. 7Then Mordecai told Hathach everything that had happened to him. Mordecai told him about the exact amount of money Haman had promised to put into the king’s treasury for killing Jews. 8Mordecai also gave Hathach a copy of the king’s command to kill the Jews. That command had been sent out all over the city of Susa. He wanted Hathach to show it to Esther and tell her everything. And he told him to encourage Esther to go to the king and beg him for mercy for Mordecai and her people. 9Hathach went back and told Esther everything Mordecai had said. 10Then Esther told Hathach to say this to Mordecai: 11“Mordecai, all the king’s leaders and all the people of the king’s provinces know this: The king has one law for any man or woman that goes to the king without being called. He must be put to death. The only way this law is not carried out is if the king puts out his gold scepter* to the person. If the king does that, then that person’s life will be saved. And I have not been called to go see the king for 30 days.” 12–13Then Esther’s message was given to Mordecai. When Mordecai got her message, he sent his answer back: “Esther, don’t think that just because you live in the king’s house you will be the only Jew to escape. 14If you keep quiet now, help and freedom for the Jews will come from another place. But you and your father’s family will all die. And who knows, maybe you have been chosen to be the queen for such a time as this?” 15–16Then Esther sent this answer to Mordecai: “Mordecai, go and get all the Jews in Susa together, and fast* for me. Don’t eat or drink for three days and nights. I will fast like you, and my girl servants will fast, too. After we fast, I will go to the king. I know it is against the law to go to the king if he didn’t call me, but I will do it anyway. If I die, I die.” 17So Mordecai went away. He did everything Esther told him to do.

fast(ing) To live without food for a special time of prayer and worship to God. eunuchs Men whose testicles have been removed. Rulers often gave such men important positions. scepter A special stick that a king holds in his hand.

Esther Speaks to the King

5 On the third day, Esther put on her special robes. Then she stood in the inside area of the king’s palace.* That area was in front of the king’s hall. The king was sitting on his throne* in the hall. He was sitting facing the place where people enter the throne room. 2Then the king saw Queen Esther standing in the court. When he saw her, he was very pleased. He held out to her the gold scepter* that was in his hand. So Esther went in to the room and went near the king. Then she touched the end of the king’s gold scepter. 3Then the king asked, “What is bothering you Queen Esther? What do you want to ask me? I will give you anything you ask for, even half my kingdom.” 4Esther said, “I have prepared a party for you and Haman. Will you and Haman please come to the party today?” 5Then the king said, “Bring Haman quickly so that we may do what Esther asks.” So the king and Haman went to the party Esther had prepared for them. 6While they were drinking wine, the king asked Esther again, “Now Esther, what do you want to ask for? Ask for anything, I will give it to you. So, what is it you want? I will give you anything you want, up to half my kingdom.” 7Esther answered, “This is what I want to ask for: 8If the king approves of me, and if it pleases the king to give me what I ask for, let the king and Haman come tomorrow. I will prepare another party for the king and Haman tomorrow. Then I will tell what I really want.”

Haman’s Anger at Mordecai

9Haman left the king’s house that day very happy and in a good mood. But when he saw Mordecai at the king’s gate, he became very angry at Mordecai. Haman was very mad at Mordecai because Mordecai didn’t show any respect when Haman walked by. Mordecai was not afraid of Haman, and that made Haman mad. 10But, Haman controlled his anger and went home. Then Haman called his friends and his wife, Zeresh, together. 11Haman started bragging about how rich he was. He was bragging to his friends about his many sons, and about all the ways the king had honored him. And he was bragging about how the king had promoted him higher than all the other leaders. 12“And that’s not all,” Haman added. “I’m the only person Queen Esther invited to be with the king at the party she gave. And the Queen has also invited me to be with the king again tomorrow. 13But all those things don’t really make me happy. I’m not really happy as long as I see that Jew Mordecai sitting at the king’s gate.” 14Then Haman’s wife Zeresh and all his friends had a suggestion. They said, “Tell someone to build a post to hang him on! Make it 75 feet* tall! Then in the morning, ask the king to hang Mordecai on it. Then just go to the party with the king and you can be happy.” Haman liked that suggestion, so he ordered someone to build the hanging post.

palace A large house for the king and his family. throne The chair of a king or queen. scepter A special stick that a king holds in his hand. 75 feet Literally, “50 cubits.”

Mordecai Is Honored

6 That same night, the king could not sleep. So he told a servant to bring the history book and read it to him. (The Book of History of the Kings lists everything that happens during a king’s rule.) 2The servant read the book to the king. He read about the evil plan to kill King Xerxes. That was when Mordecai had learned about Bigthana and Teresh. Those two men were the king’s officers that guarded the doorway. They had planned to kill the king, but Mordecai learned about the plan and told someone about it. 3Then the king asked, “What honor and good things have been given to Mordecai for this?” The servants answered the king, “Nothing has been done for Mordecai.” 4Haman had just entered the outer area of the king’s palace.* He had come to ask the king to hang Mordecai on the hanging post Haman had commanded to be built. {The king heard him.} The king said, “Who just came into the courtyard?” 5The king’s servants said, “Haman is standing in the courtyard.” So the king said, “Bring him in.” 6When Haman came in, the king asked him a question. He said, “Haman, what should be done for a man the king wants to honor?” Haman thought to himself, “Who is there that the king would want to honor more than me? The king is talking about honoring me, I’m sure.” 7So Haman answered the king, “Do this for the man the king loves to honor: 8Have the servants bring a special robe the king himself has worn. And also bring a horse the king himself has ridden. Have the servants put the king’s special mark on that horse’s head. 9Then put one of the king’s most important leaders in charge of the robe and the horse. And let that leader put the robe on the man the king wants to honor. And then let him lead him on the horse through the city streets. As he leads him, let him announce, ‘This is done for the man the king wants to honor!’” 10“Go quickly,” the king commanded Haman. “Get the robe and the horse and do just as you have suggested for Mordecai the Jew. Mordecai is sitting near the king’s gate. Do everything that you suggested.” 11So Haman got the robe and the horse. Then he put the robe on Mordecai and led him on horseback through the city streets. Haman announced ahead of Mordecai, “This is done for the man the king wants to honor!” 12After that, Mordecai went back to the king’s gate. But Haman hurried home. He covered his head because he was embarrassed and ashamed. 13Then Haman told his wife Zeresh and all his friends everything that had happened to him. Haman’s wife and the men that gave him advice said, “If Mordecai is a Jew, then you can’t win. You have already started to fall. Surely you will be ruined!” 14While those people were still talking to Haman, the king’s eunuchs* came to Haman’s house. They made Haman hurry to the party that Esther had prepared.

palace A large house for the king and his family. eunuchs Men whose testicles have been removed. Rulers often gave such men important positions.

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