English Standard Version

Esther

Esther

Introduction

The book of Esther never mentions God’s name, yet God clearly orchestrated all of its events. Esther, a Jew living among the exiles in Persia, became queen of the empire in about 480 b.c. Haman, a Persian official, sought to eradicate the Jewish minority, but God had prepared Esther “for such a time as this” (4:14) to save his covenant people. The book was written some decades later to document the origins of the Jewish observance of Purim, which celebrates Israel’s survival and God’s faithfulness. The author is unknown, but some believe it could have been Esther’s cousin Mordecai, who is a key person in the book. Throughout the book we see God’s sovereign hand preserving his people, showing that everything is under his control.

The King’s Banquets

Now in the days of Ahasuerus, the Ahasuerus who reigned afrom India to Ethiopia over b127 provinces, in those days when King Ahasuerus csat on his royal throne in dSusa, the citadel, in the third year of his reign ehe gave a feast for all his officials and servants. The army of Persia and Media and the nobles and governors of the provinces were before him, while he showed the riches of his royal glory and the splendor and pomp of his greatness for many days, 180 days. And when these days were completed, the king gave for all the people present in Susa the citadel, both great and small, a feast lasting for seven days in the court of fthe garden of the king’s palace. There were white cotton curtains and violet hangings fastened with cords of fine linen and purple to silver rods1 and marble pillars, and also gcouches of gold and silver on a mosaic pavement of porphyry, marble, mother-of-pearl and precious stones. Drinks were served in golden vessels, vessels of different kinds, and the royal wine was lavished according to the bounty of the king. And drinking was according to this edict: “There is no compulsion.” For the king had given orders to all the staff of his palace to do as each man desired. Queen Vashti also gave a feast for the women in the palace that belonged to King Ahasuerus.

Queen Vashti’s Refusal

10 On the seventh day, hwhen the heart of the king was merry with wine, he commanded Mehuman, Biztha, iHarbona, jBigtha and Abagtha, Zethar and Carkas, the seven eunuchs who served in the presence of King Ahasuerus, 11 to bring Queen Vashti before the king with kher royal crown,2 in order to show the peoples and the princes her beauty, for she was lovely to look at. 12 But Queen Vashti refused to come at the king’s command delivered by the eunuchs. At this the king became enraged, and his anger burned within him.

13 Then the king said to lthe wise men mwho knew the times (for this was the king’s procedure toward all who were versed in law and judgment, 14 the men next to him being Carshena, Shethar, Admatha, Tarshish, Meres, Marsena, and nMemucan, othe seven princes of Persia and Media, pwho saw the king’s face, and sat first in the kingdom): 15 “According to the law, what is to be done to Queen Vashti, because she has not performed the command of King Ahasuerus delivered by the eunuchs?” 16 Then Memucan said in the presence of the king and the officials, “Not only against the king has Queen Vashti done wrong, but also against all the officials and all the peoples who are in all the provinces of King Ahasuerus. 17 For the queen’s behavior will be made known to all women, causing them to look at their husbands with contempt, since they will say, ‘King Ahasuerus commanded Queen Vashti to be brought before him, and she did not come.’ 18 This very day the noble women of Persia and Media who have heard of the queen’s behavior will say the same to all the king’s officials, and there will be contempt and wrath in plenty. 19 If it please the king, let a royal order go out from him, and let it be written among the laws of the Persians and the Medes so qthat it may not be repealed, that Vashti is never again to come before King Ahasuerus. And let the king give her royal position to another who is better than she. 20 So when the decree made by the king is proclaimed throughout all his kingdom, for it is vast, rall women will give honor to their husbands, high and low alike.” 21 This advice pleased the king and the princes, and the king did as Memucan proposed. 22 He sent letters to all the royal provinces, sto every province in its own script and to every people in its own language, that every man be master in his own household and speak according to the language of his people.

Esther Chosen Queen

After these things, twhen the anger of King Ahasuerus had abated, he remembered Vashti uand what she had done and what had been decreed against her. Then the king’s young men who attended him said, “Let beautiful young virgins be sought out for the king. And let the king appoint officers in all the provinces of his kingdom to gather all the beautiful young virgins to the harem in Susa the citadel, under custody of vHegai, the king’s eunuch, who is in charge of the women. wLet their cosmetics be given them. And let the young woman who pleases the king be queen instead of Vashti.” This pleased the king, and he did so.

Now there was a Jew in Susa the citadel whose name was xMordecai, the son of Jair, son of Shimei, son of Kish, a Benjaminite, ywho had been carried away from Jerusalem among the captives carried away with Jeconiah king of Judah, whom Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon had carried away. He was bringing up Hadassah, that is Esther, zthe daughter of his uncle, for she had neither father nor mother. The young woman had a beautiful figure and was lovely to look at, and when her father and her mother died, Mordecai took her as his own daughter. So when the king’s order and his edict were proclaimed, and awhen many young women were gathered in Susa the citadel in custody of bHegai, Esther also was taken into the king’s palace and put in custody of Hegai, who had charge of the women. And the young woman pleased him and won his favor. And he quickly provided her cwith her cosmetics and her portion of food, and with seven chosen young women from the king’s palace, and advanced her and her young women to the best place in the harem. 10 dEsther had not made known her people or kindred, for Mordecai had commanded her not to make it known. 11 And every day Mordecai walked in front of the court of the harem to learn how Esther was and what was happening to her.

12 Now when the turn came for each young woman to go in to King Ahasuerus, after being twelve months under the regulations for the women, since this was the regular period of their beautifying, six months with oil of myrrh and six months with spices and ointments for women— 13 when the young woman went in to the king in this way, she was given whatever she desired to take with her from the harem to the king’s palace. 14 In the evening she would go in, and in the morning she would return to the second harem in custody of Shaashgaz, the king’s eunuch, who was in charge of the concubines. She would not go in to the king again, unless the king delighted in her and she was summoned by name.

15 When the turn came for Esther ethe daughter of Abihail the uncle of Mordecai, who had taken her as his own daughter, to go in to the king, she asked for nothing except what fHegai the king’s eunuch, who had charge of the women, advised. Now Esther was winning favor in the eyes of all who saw her. 16 And when Esther was taken to King Ahasuerus, into his royal palace, in the tenth month, which is the month of Tebeth, in the seventh year of his reign, 17 the king loved Esther more than all the women, and she won grace and favor in his sight more than all the virgins, so that he set gthe royal crown1 on her head and made her queen instead of Vashti. 18 Then the king hgave a great feast for all his officials and servants; it was Esther’s feast. He also granted a remission of taxes to the provinces and gave gifts with royal generosity.

Mordecai Discovers a Plot

19 Now when the virgins were gathered together ithe second time, Mordecai was sitting jat the king’s gate. 20 kEsther had not made known her kindred or her people, as Mordecai had commanded her, for Esther obeyed Mordecai just las when she was brought up by him. 21 In those days, as Mordecai was sitting at the king’s gate, mBigthan and nTeresh, two of the king’s eunuchs, who guarded the threshold, became angry and sought to lay hands on King Ahasuerus. 22 And this came to the knowledge of Mordecai, oand he told it to Queen Esther, and Esther told the king in the name of Mordecai. 23 When the affair was investigated and found to be so, the men were both hanged on the gallows.2 And it was recorded in pthe book of the chronicles in the presence of the king.

Haman Plots Against the Jews

After these things King Ahasuerus qpromoted Haman rthe Agagite, the son of Hammedatha, sand advanced him and set his throne above all the officials who were with him. And all the king’s servants who were at the king’s gate bowed down and paid homage to Haman, for the king had so commanded concerning him. tBut Mordecai did not bow down or pay homage. Then the king’s servants who were uat the king’s gate said to Mordecai, “Why do you transgress vthe king’s command?” And when they spoke to him day after day and he would not listen to them, they told Haman, in order to see whether Mordecai’s words would stand, for he had told them that he was a Jew. And when Haman saw that tMordecai did not bow down or pay homage to him, Haman was wfilled with fury. But he disdained to lay hands on Mordecai alone. So, as they had made known to him the people of Mordecai, Haman sought to destroy all the Jews, the people of Mordecai, throughout the whole ...

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a

ch. 8:9

b

ch. 8:9; 9:30; [Dan. 6:1]

c
d
e
f

ch. 7:7, 8

1

Or rings

g
h
i

ch. 7:9

j

[ch. 2:21; 6:2]

k

ch. 2:17; 6:8

2

Or headdress

l
m
n

ver. 16, 21

o
p
q

ch. 8:8; Dan. 6:8, 12, 15

r
s

ch. 3:12; 8:9

t

[ch. 7:10]

u

ch. 1:19, 20

v

ver. 8, 15

w

ver. 9, 12

x
y
z

ver. 15

a

ver. 3

b

ver. 3

c

ver. 3, 12

d

ver. 20

e

ver. 7; ch. 9:29

f

ver. 3, 8

g

ch. 1:11; 6:8

1

Or headdress

h

See ch. 1:3

i

ver. 3, 4

j

ver. 21; ch. 3:2, 3; 5:9, 13; 6:10, 12

k

ver. 10

l

ver. 7

m

[ch. 1:10; 6:2]

n

ch. 6:2

o

ch. 6:2; [ch. 7:9]

2

Or suspended on a stake

p

ch. 6:1; 10:2

q

ch. 5:11

r

ver. 10; ch. 8:3, 5; 9:24

s

ch. 5:11

t

ch. 5:9

u

See ch. 2:19

v

ver. 2

t

[See ver. 2 above]

w

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