December 27, 2022
Honor for Mordecai
That same night, the king simply couldn’t sleep. He had the official royal records brought in, and his young male servants began reading them to the king. 2 They came to the report about Mordecai informing on Bigthan and Teresh. (They were the two royal eunuchs among the guards protecting the king’s doorway, who secretly planned to kill King Ahasuerus.) 3 “What was done to honor and reward Mordecai for this?” the king asked.
His young male servants replied, “Nothing was done for him, sir.”
4 “Who is that out in the courtyard?” the king asked. (Haman had just entered the outer courtyard of the palace. He had come to tell the king to impale Mordecai on the pole that he had set up for him.)
5 The king’s servants answered, “That’s Haman standing out in the courtyard, sir.” So the king said, “Have him come in.”
6 When Haman entered, the king asked him, “What should be done for the man whom the king really wants to honor?”
Haman thought to himself, Whom would the king really want to honor more than me? 7 So Haman said to the king, “Here’s what should be done for the man the king really wants to honor. 8 Have servants bring out a royal robe that the king himself has worn and a horse on which the king himself has ridden. It should have a royal crest on its head. 9 Then hand over the robe and the horse to another man, one of the king’s officials. Have him personally robe the man whom the king really wants to honor and lead him on the horse through the city square. As he goes, have him shout, ‘This is what the king does for the man he really wants to honor!’”
10 Then the king said to Haman, “Hurry, take the robe and the horse just as you’ve said and do exactly that for Mordecai the Jew, who works at the King’s Gate. Don’t leave out a single thing you’ve said!”
11 So Haman took the robe and the horse and put the robe on Mordecai. He led him on horseback through the city square, shouting as he went, “This is what the king does for the man he really wants to honor!” 12 Afterward, Mordecai returned to the King’s Gate, while Haman hurried home feeling great shame, his head covered.
13 Haman told his wife Zeresh and all his friends everything that had happened to him. Both his friends and his wife said to him, “You’ve already begun to lose out to Mordecai. If he is of Jewish birth, you’ll not be able to win against him. You are surely going to lose out to him.”
14 They were still discussing this with him when several royal eunuchs arrived. They quickly hurried Haman off to the feast that Esther had prepared.
When the king and Haman came in for the banquet with Queen Esther, 2 the king said to her, “This is the second day we’ve met for wine. What is your wish, Queen Esther? I’ll give it to you. And what do you want? I’ll do anything—even give you half the kingdom.”
3 Queen Esther answered, “If I please the king, and if the king wishes, give me my life—that’s my wish—and the lives of my people too. That’s my desire. 4 We have been sold—I and my people—to be wiped out, killed, and destroyed. If we simply had been sold as male and female slaves, I would have said nothing. But no enemy can compensate the king for this kind of damage.”
5 King Ahasuerus said to Queen Esther, “Who is this person, and where is he? Who would dare do such a thing?”
6 Esther replied, “A man who hates, an enemy—this wicked Haman!” Haman was overcome with terror in the presence of the king and queen. 7 Furious, the king got up and left the banquet for the palace garden. But Haman stood up to beg Queen Esther for his life. He saw clearly that the king’s mood meant a bad end for him.
8 The king returned from the palace garden to the banquet room just as Haman was kneeling on the couch where Esther was reclining. “Will you even molest the queen while I am in the house?” the king said. The words had barely left the king’s mouth before covering Haman’s face with dread.
9 Harbona, one of the eunuchs serving the king, said, “Sir, look! There’s the stake that Haman made for Mordecai, the man who spoke up and did something good for the king. It’s standing at Haman’s house—seventy-five feet high.”
“Impale him on it!” the king ordered. 10 So they impaled Haman on the very pole that he had set up for Mordecai, and the king’s anger went away.
Esther acts again
That same day King Ahasuerus gave Queen Esther what Haman the enemy of the Jews owned. Mordecai himself came before the king because Esther had told the king that he was family to her. 2 The king took off his royal ring, the one he had removed from Haman, and gave it to Mordecai. Esther put Mordecai in charge of what Haman had owned.
3 Esther again spoke before the king. She bowed at his feet, wept, and begged him to treat her kindly. She wanted him to overturn the evil plot of Haman the Agagite—his secret plan directed against the Jews. 4 The king held out the gold scepter to Esther, and she got up and stood before him. 5 She said, “If the king wishes, and if I please him—that is, if the idea seems right to the king, and if he still sees me as a good person—then have people write something to call back the order—the order that put into effect the plan of Haman, Hammedatha the Agagite’s son, that he wrote to destroy the Jews in all the royal provinces. 6 How can I bear to watch the terrible evil about to sweep over my people? And how can I bear to watch others destroy my own family?”
Mordecai writes a new law
7 King Ahasuerus said to Queen Esther and to Mordecai the Jew, “Look, I’ve given Esther everything Haman owned. And Haman himself my servants have impaled on the pole because he planned to attack the Jews. 8 So you yourselves write to the Jews whatever you like in the name of the king and seal the letters with the king’s royal ring. Anything written in the name of the king and sealed with the king’s royal ring can’t be called back.” 9 So that was when the royal scribes were summoned—on the twenty-third day of the third month (that is, the month of Sivan).[d] They wrote exactly what Mordecai ordered to the Jews, rulers, governors, and officials of the provinces from India to Cush—one hundred twenty-seven in all. They wrote in the alphabet of each province and in the language of each people. 10 They wrote in the name of King Ahasuerus and sealed the order with the king’s royal ring. He sent letters with riders mounted on royal horses bred from mares known to run fast.[e] 11 The order allowed Jews in each town to join together and defend their lives. The Jews were free to wipe out, kill, and destroy every army of any people and province that attacked them, along with their women and children. They could also take and keep anything their attackers owned. 12 The one day in all the provinces of King Ahasuerus on which they could do so was the thirteenth day of the twelfth month (that is, the month of Adar). 13 A copy of the writing was to become law in each province and be on public display for all its peoples to read. The Jews were to be ready on this day to get back at their enemies. 14 The riders mounted on royal horses left Susa, spurred on by the king’s order, and the law also became public in the fortified part of Susa.
15 Mordecai went out from the king’s presence in a blue and white royal robe wearing a large gold crown and a white and red-purple coat. The city of Susa greeted him with shouts of joy. 16 For the Jews it was a day of light, happiness, joy, and honor. 17 In every province and in every town—wherever the king’s order and his law arrived—for the Jews it was a day of happiness and joy. For them it meant feasts and a holiday. Many people in the land became Jews themselves, out of fear of the Jews.
The fateful day
It was on the thirteenth day of the twelfth month (that is, the month of Adar) that the king’s order and his law were to be enforced. On the very day that the enemies of the Jews hoped to overpower them, the tables were turned against them. The Jews overpowered their enemies instead. 2 The Jews joined together in their towns in all the provinces of King Ahasuerus to defend themselves against those who tried to harm them. No one was able to stand in their way because everyone was afraid of the Jews. 3 All the leaders of the provinces, rulers, governors, and those in charge of the king’s business helped the Jews because they were afraid of Mordecai. 4 Because Mordecai was very important in the palace, news about him was sweeping through the provinces. Indeed, Mordecai was becoming more and more important every day. 5 The Jews put down all their enemies with sword blows, killing, and destruction. They did whatever they wanted with those who hated them. 6 In the fortified part of Susa, the Jews killed five hundred people. 7 They also killed Parshandatha, Dalphon, Aspatha, 8 Poratha, Adalia, Aridatha, 9 Parmashta, Arisai, Aridai, and Vaizatha. 10 These were the ten sons of Haman, Hammedatha’s son, the enemy of the Jews. But the Jews didn’t lay a hand on anything their enemies owned. 11 That same day, a report concerning the number killed in the fortified part of Susa reached the king.
12 So the king said to Queen Esther in the fortified part of Susa, “The Jews have killed five hundred people as well as the ten sons of Haman. What have they done in the rest of the royal provinces? What do you wish now? I’ll give it to you. What is your desire? I’ll do it this time too.”
13 Esther answered, “If the king wishes, let the Jews who are in Susa also have tomorrow to do what the law allows for today. And let them also impale the ten sons of Haman on pointed poles.” 14 The king ordered that this be done, and the law became public in Susa. They impaled the ten sons of Haman just as she said. 15 The Jews in Susa joined together again, this time on the fourteenth day of the month of Adar. In Susa, they killed three hundred people, but they didn’t lay a hand on anything the people owned.
16 The Jews out in the royal provinces also joined together to defend their lives. They put to rest the troubles with their enemies and killed those who hated them. The total was seventy-five thousand dead, but the Jews didn’t lay a hand on anything their enemies owned. 17 They acted on the thirteenth day of the month of Adar. Then on the fourteenth day they rested, making it a day of feasts and rejoicing. (18 The Jews in Susa joined together for self-defense on the thirteenth and fourteenth days of the month. But they rested on the fifteenth day of the month and made it a day of feasts and joyous events.) 19 That is why Jews who live in villages make the fourteenth day of the month of Adar a day of rejoicing and feasts, a holiday. It is a day on which they send gifts of food to each other.
The new holiday of Purim
20 Mordecai wrote these things down and sent letters to all the Jews in all the provinces, both near and far, of King Ahasuerus. 21 He made it a rule that Jews keep the fourteenth and fifteenth days of the month of Adar as special days each and every year. 22 They are the days on which the Jews finally put to rest the troubles with their enemies. The month is the one when everything turned around for them from sadness to joy, and from sad, loud crying to a holiday. They are to make them days of feasts and joyous events, days to send food gifts to each other and money gifts to the poor. 23 The Jews agreed to continue what they had already begun to do—just what Mordecai had written to them. 24 Indeed, Haman, Hammedatha the Agagite’s son, the enemy of all the Jews, had planned to destroy the Jews. He had servants throw pur (that is, the dice) to find the best month and day to trouble greatly and destroy them. 25 But when Esther came before the king, his written order said: The wicked plan that Haman made against the Jews should turn back on him instead. So they impaled him and his sons on pointed poles. 26 That is why people call these days Purim, by using the ancient word pur. It all fit with what this letter said, with what they saw happen, and with what they themselves went through. 27 The Jews agreed that they, their children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, as well as all non-Jews who become Jews, should always keep these two days. They agreed to follow the written rules—and at the proper time too—every year. 28 So forever every family, province, and town remembers to keep these days. These days of Purim won’t die out among the Jews. They will remember to keep them forever. 29 Queen Esther daughter of Abihail, along with Mordecai the Jew, wrote with her full royal power to show that this second letter about Purim was correct. 30 Letters conveying good wishes and words of friendship were sent to all the Jews throughout the one hundred twenty-seven provinces in the kingdom of Ahasuerus. 31 Their aim was to make sure that the Jews kept these days of Purim at the proper time, following the rule that Mordecai the Jew and Queen Esther had made. The rule fit well with what they themselves had agreed to do forever and with other things they did—like fasting and lamenting. 32 Esther’s order made these features of Purim part of the law, so it was written down.
The fame of Mordecai
King Ahasuerus taxed the entire kingdom, including the islands of the Mediterranean. 2 Now some may want to know about all the king’s mighty, great deeds. They may also want a full report about how important Mordecai became after the king honored him. Are they not written in the official records of the kings of Media and Persia? 3 Certainly, Mordecai the Jew was second only to King Ahasuerus in importance. The Jews also admired him greatly, and his many brothers and sisters were proud of him. He always wanted to do good things for his Jewish people and to speak up for all his family whenever they needed help.
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