Esther

From the Greek Septuagint text as was used by First Century Christians.
This is the story of how Esther (possibly Damasphia) became the wife of the Persian Emperor
whom the Greek text names as ArtaXerxes, and of how she saved the Jews from a plot to destroy them,
which led to the creation of the Jewish Feast of Purim.This ArtaXerxes appears to be ArtaXerxes I of Persia,
and the account tells us that these events happened in the third year of his reign
(by our calculations, around 472-BCE).

Chapter 1

1 This all happened in the days of ArtaXerxes (the ArtaXerxes that ruled an area of a hundred and twenty-seven regions all the way to India): 2 Back in those days when after ArtaXerxes had been enthroned as king in the City of Susa and 3 during the third year of his reign, he held a great [wedding] banquet to which he invited his friends, foreign dignitaries, the most honorable Medes and Persians, and those who were in charge of the governors of the various regions. 4 And over the next hundred and eighty days, he took them and showed them all the wealth of his kingdom and the glory of the things that he had accomplished.

5 Then when the days for celebrating his wedding were finished, the king held another banquet inside the courtyard of the king's palace for the foreigners who were living in his city, which lasted seven more days. 6 The [banquet] area was decorated with fine linen and cotton cloth that was stretched over lines of fine linen and purple cloth, which were fastened with gold and silver cubes to Parian-marble columns. 7 [There were also] beds of gold and silver on a Parian-marble floor [that was set with] emerald stones and mother of pearl, and this was strewn with transparent beds that were variously decorated with cups of gold and silver. In addition, they had an abundance of the finest wines (the type that was reserved for the king).

8 The banquet wasn't handled as it was specified in their laws, but because that's the way the king wanted it, he gave instructions to those in charge of the workers to handle things his way. 9 Meanwhile, Astin (the queen) was holding a banquet for the women of the kingdom in the same place where ArtaXerxes was holding his.

10 Then on the seventh day, because the king was in a particularly happy mood, he gave orders to HaMan, BizTha, Harbona, BigTha, AbagTha, Zethar, and Carcas (the king's seven [most trusted] eunuchs) to bring the queen to him 11 so she could receive her coronation and be given a royal turban, and so that he could display her beauty before all the princes and the foreigners (because she was very beautiful). 12 But Queen Astin refused to go along with the eunuchs, which made the king very angry. 13 So he said to his friends, 'If this is how Astin has chosen to answer, then you deal with this matter according to the law and judge her!'

14 Well, Carshena, Shethar, Admatha, TarShish, Meres, Marsena, and Memucan (the seven sub-rulers of the Persians and Medes who were closest to the king and who sat by him) came forward 15 and told the king what the laws required them to do to Queen Astin for not following the orders that the king had given to his eunuchs. 16 Memucan spoke and said this to him and to the other rulers: 'Not only has Queen Astin dishonored the king, but she has dishonored all of the king's rulers and leaders.'

17 Then, after describing to them all the things that the queen had said and how she had disobeyed the king, he proclaimed: 'Because she has disobeyed King ArtaXerxes, 18 and because all the wives of the sub-rulers and leaders of the Persians and Medes have heard what the queen said, they may also dare to dishonor their husbands. 19 Therefore, if it seems good to the king, let him write out and sign a royal decree passing a law among the Medes and Persians that she should not be treated as the queen and that she may no longer sleep with the king. Thereafter, may the king find a woman better than her. 20 This law should be announced throughout the entire kingdom, so that all the women will learn to respect their men both the rich and the poor!'

21 Well, because what he said pleased the king and his rulers, the king did as Memucan had proposed. 22 He sent a proclamation everywhere throughout his entire realm in each of their languages that required women to show respect for the men in their households.

Chapter 2

1 This ended the king's rage, and he never again mentioned Astin, the things that she said, or his condemnation of her. 2 So then the king's servants said to him: 'Have them search for a young woman for the king who is both pure and beautiful to look at. 3 Send judges throughout your kingdom and have them choose young women who are virgins and pretty, then have them taken to your harem in the City of Susa where they will be handed over to the king's eunuch who is in charge of the women to take care of them and give them beauty treatments. 4 And after that, the woman that best pleases the king will reign instead of Astin.'

Well because this pleased the king, it was done.

5 Now, there was a man (a Judean) in the City of Susa whose name was MordecAi. He was the son of JaiRus, the grandson of SemeYas, and the great-grandson of KisaYus from the tribe of BenJamin 6 who had been carried off as a captive from JeruSalem by NebuChadnezzar, the king of Babylon. 7 MordecAi had a child that he'd raised who was the daughter of his uncle (his father's brother), and her name was Esther. For after her parents died, he [agreed to] take [care of] the young woman, who was very pretty.

8 Well after the king's proclamation [was read], many young women were gathered to the City of Susa [to be seen by] Gai (the harem keeper), and then Esther was led before him. 9 He found the young woman very pleasing and he liked her, so he hurried to give her the beauty treatments and her share [of good things], and seven young women from the royal palace were brought there [to serve] her. Thereafter, he treated her and her handmaidens very well in the harem chamber. 10 However, Esther didn't discuss her race or her fatherland with him, because MordecAi had told her not to mention it. 11 Then every day, MordecAi would walk by the women's courtyard to see what was happening to Esther.

12 Well, at the end of twelve months, the time finally came for the young women to go in to the king; for that's how long the beauty treatments were to last. They also underwent six months of treatments with fragrant oils.

13 It was then, after six months of being bathed in myrrh oil, that she was taken in to the king, along with any others the king told them to bring from the harem chamber to the royal palace. 14 She was brought in to him that evening, and the next morning she returned to the secondary harem where the Eunuch Gai (the king's harem keeper) stayed, and she couldn't go before the king after that unless she had been called.

15 Eventually, Esther (the daughter of AbiHail, MordecAi's uncle) again went before the king and she carefully followed all the eunuch's instructions, so that everyone who saw her came to like her.

16 Esther had been taken to King ArtaXerxes in the tenth month (TeBeth) of the seventh year of his reign, 17 and he fell passionately in love with her, preferring her to all the other virgins. So then he placed the royal turban of the queen on her head, 18 and he held a banquet for all of his friends and the governors that lasted seven days. He also made the wedding feast of Esther greater by [releasing all the prisoners] in his kingdom.

19 Meanwhile, MordecAi had been put in charge of matters having to do with [the king's] courtyard. 20 And he reminded Esther not to mention her fatherland [to the king]. Rather, he told her to just fear God and obey His orders, the same as she did when she lived in his home╔ and Esther never deviated from doing this.

21 Well, MordecAi kept growing more important, 22 and when two of the king's eunuchs (the chiefs of his bodyguards) became worried about ArtaXerxes and decided to assassinate him, MordecAi heard about this and sent a warning to the king through Esther about their plot. 23 So after the king interrogated the eunuchs, he had them hung, and he had a record written in the royal library about the goodwill that MordecAi had shown, saying that he was to be commended for this.

Chapter 3

1 However after that, King ArtaXerxes honored HaMan (the son of AmaDathes the AgAgite). He promoted him over all his friends and seated him in [the most prominent position]. 2 So thereafter, everyone in the courtyard had to bow before Haman because the king had said so╔ however, MordecAi refused to do this. 3 As the result, the people in the king's courtyard started asking MordecAi why he was disobeying the order of the king. 4 And though they spoke to him about this every day, MordecAi just didn't pay any attention to them. So soon someone pointed out to HaMan that MordecAi had been disobeying the king's orders, and he also mentioned that MordecAi was a Judean.

5 Well when HaMan found out that MordecAi wasn't bowing before him, this made him very angry. 6 So that's when he started making plans to remove all the Judeans from the kingdom of ArtaXerxes. 7 Then during the twelfth year of the reign of ArtaXerxes he drafted a law, and he threw lots for each day and month to determine when the best time would be to destroy the race of MordecAi╔ and it fell on the fourteenth day of the month of Adar. 8 So he went and spoke to King ArtaXerxes and said this: 'There's a nation that is mixed among all the nations of your kingdom whose laws are different from those of the other nations, and they disregard the laws of the king. Therefore it isn't to the king's advantage to keep them. 9 So if it seems good to the king; may he approve this decree [that I've written], which says that they must be destroyed. Thereafter, I will appropriate ten thousand gold coins from the king's treasury to get it done.'

10 Well, the king removed his ring and handed it to HaMan to seal the judgment that he had written against the Judeans. 11 And the king said to HaMan: 'As for the [money]; you have it. And as for that nation; treat them in any way that you wish!'

12 So then the king called in his scribes (on the thirteenth day of the first month) and they copied HaMan's orders [and sent them to] all the military commanders and governors from India to Ethiopia╔ to a hundred and twenty-seven districts. [Haman also] sent letters to all the rulers of the nations in their own languages in the name of King ArtaXerxes. 13 He sent them by couriers throughout ArtaXerxes's kingdom, [telling the people] to wipe out the race of the Judeans on the [thirteenth] day of the twelfth month (Adar), and he told them that they could plunder all their possessions. 14 So copies of the letters were put on display everywhere.

Well, the day was set and everything was being prepared and made ready╔ 15 even in Susa. Then the king and HaMan toasted each other, as the whole city was in an uproar.

Chapter 4

1 Well when MordecAi realized that this was the end, he ripped his clothes, put on sackcloth, [covered himself with] ashes, and he rushed to the city square, where he yelled as loudly as he could: 'A nation is being removed that has wronged no one!'

2 Then after that, he went and stood outside the palace gate (because he wasn't allowed to enter the courtyard in sackcloth and ashes). 3 And everywhere that the letters were on display there was crying, beating on chests, and great mourning among the Judeans, as they put on sackcloth and made beds for themselves in ashes.

4 Well, the queen learned about this plot through her handmaidens and eunuchs, who came to her and told her about it╔ and she was very upset when she heard what had happened. Meanwhile, she sent a robe to MordecAi and told him to stop wearing his sackcloth; but he refused to do it.

5 Then Esther called Hatach (her personal eunuch) and sent him to MordecAi 6 so she could learn the details of the situation. 7 And MordecAi explained to him how it all came about╔ of how HaMan had gotten the king's promise to receive ten thousand gold coins from his treasury so he could destroy the Judeans. 8 And then he gave a copy of the decree that was on public display in Susa (which said that they were to be destroyed) to Hatach, who carried it to Esther. And he told the eunuch to ask her to [go before] the king [to beg for mercy], and for her to prove worthy by going before him [to speak] on behalf of her people. He said: 'Tell he to explain to him about how lowly she was once considered and of how I took her in and raised her; because, HaMan (the king's second in command) is talking about killing all of us. Call upon Jehovah, and then go speak to the king about us and rescue us from death!'

9 So Hatach returned and told Esther everything that [Modecai] had said. 10 And then Esther told Hatach to go to MordecAi and say to him: 'Everyone in the kingdom knows that there's no hope for any man or woman who goes into the king's inner courtyard without being called. 11 Only those to whom the king stretches out his scepter is safe╔ and I haven't been called to see the king for some thirty days now!'

12 Well, Hatach went and told MordecAi everything that Esther said, and MordecAi told him: 13 'Go and tell Esther not to be thinking that she's the only Judean who will be saved. 14 If she wants to ignore us this time, the Judeans will get help from somewhere else╔ and then she and the house of her father will be destroyed. Perhaps it is possible that the reason why she was made queen was for this very purpose!'

15 Then Esther sent a reply to MordecAi, saying: 16 'Gather all the Judeans in the City of Susa and ask everyone to fast for me╔ don't eat or drink for three days and three nights! Also, my handmaidens and I will go without food before I go in before the king, because I will be breaking the law. Yet, even if it's necessary for me to die, I will do it!'

17 And thereafter, MordecAi did everything that Esther told him to do.

Chapter 5

1 Well on the third day, Esther dressed in her royal clothes, then she went and stood in the palace courtyard, inside the inner courtyard, which is right outside of the king's residence. And when the king went and sat down on his royal throne (which was inside his palace but it faced the front entryway) 2 and he saw Esther the queen standing in his courtyard, he was pleased. So he stretched out the gold scepter toward her that he held in his hand, and Esther approached and touched the tip of the scepter. 3 Then the king asked: 'What do you want Esther╔ what is your request? Ask for half of my kingdom and it's yours.'

4 And Esther said: 'This is a special day for me; so if it seems good to the king, may both the king and HaMan attend a banquet that I will hold for them today!'

5 So the king said to HaMan: 'Hurry, let's go and do what Esther has asked!' And they both went to the banquet that Esther had prepared.

6 Well when they arrived, the king said to Esther: 'Tell me what it is that's so important to you, Queen Esther, and I'll do whatever is worthwhile.'

7 Then she said, 'My only request and petition is this: 8 If I've found the favor of the king, may you and HaMan come again tomorrow for [another] banquet that I'll hold for you, the same as today.'

9 Well after HaMan left the king that day, he was very cheerful and happy. But when he noticed the Judean MordecAi standing in the courtyard, he was furious.

10 Then when he got home, he called his wife ZoSara and his friends, 11 and he showed them all the wealth he had gained. He also told them of the glory that the king had vested upon him, and of how the king had appointed him as the most important and given him the lead position in his kingdom. 12 Then HaMan said: 'Today the queen didn't invite anyone to a banquet that she held other than just me the king, and she has invited me again tomorrow! 13 However, the thing that really bothered me was seeing that Jew MordecAi standing there in the courtyard.'

14 Then his wife ZoSara said to him and his friends: 'You should cut down a very tall tree, then at dawn tomorrow morning you should go and speak to the king about hanging MordecAi on it, so that when you attend the banquet with the king, you can do it joyfully!'

Well, because this seemed to be a good idea, HaMan went and prepared the tree.

Chapter 6

1 However, because Jehovah had removed sleep from the king that night, he gave orders to his servant to bring in the memorandum letters and to read them to him. 2 And that's when he found the letter concerning MordecAi, which told of how he had reported that two of the king's eunuchs were looking to get their hands on ArtaXerxes. 3 So the king asked, 'What glory or favor was shown to MordecAi for doing this?'

And the king's servants replied: 'Nothing has been done for him.'

4 Well it so happened that, just as the king was asking about doing good things for MordecAi, {Look!} HaMan arrived in the courtyard; for he had come to speak to the king about hanging MordecAi on the pole that he had prepared. So the king asked, 'Who is in the courtyard?' 5 And the king's servants replied, 'Look, its HaMan standing in the courtyard.' And the king said, 'Call him in!'

6 Then the king asked HaMan: 'Tell me, what [do you suggest that] I do for a man whom I wish to honor?'

And HaMan thought to himself, 'Who would the king wish to honor other than me?' 7 So he said to the king: 'As for the man whom the king wishes to honor; 8 the king's servants should bring him the same fine linen that the king wears, as well as the king's horse. 9 Then one of the king's most honored friends should dress the man who is loved by the king in royal robes, mount him on the horse, and then lead him around the city square proclaiming, This is how any man who is honored by the king must be treated!'

10 And at that, the king said to HaMan: 'Well spoken! That's what I want you to do for my courtyard attendant, the Jew MordecAi╔ make sure that you do everything that you said!'

11 Well thereafter, HaMan got the robes and the horse, then he dressed MordecAi and mounted him on the [king's] horse, and he led him around the city square proclaiming, 'This is how any man who is honored by the king must be treated!' 12 And after he brought MordecAi back to the courtyard, he went home extremely upset and with a worried mind.

13 So when he got back home, he told his wife ZoSara and his friends everything that had happened. Then his wife and friends said: 'Since MordecAi is of the Judean race and you have started being humbled before him, this means you're going to fall╔ there's no way to defend yourself against that man, because the Living God is with him!'

14 Well, it was while they were still speaking to him that the eunuchs arrived to hurry HaMan along to the banquet that had been prepared by Esther.

Chapter 7

1 So then the king and HaMan went in to [eat and] drink with the queen on the second day of the banquet, 2 and the king asked Esther: 'What would you like, Queen Esther? What is your request or petition? Whatever you may ask is yours╔ up to half of my kingdom!'

3 And she replied: 'If I've found favor before the king, my request and petition is for him to grant life to my people; 4 for my people and I have been sold for destruction, ravaging, and as male and female slaves╔ including our children! I haven't mentioned this to you before, but the one who slandered us is no longer worthy to sit in the courtyard of the king.'

5 Well at that, the king asked: 'Who would have dared to do such a thing?'

6 And Esther said: 'A man╔ an enemy╔ HaMan╔ this wicked man!'

Well, HaMan became very upset before the king and queen, 7 and the king got up and walked out into the garden. So HaMan appealed to the queen, because he saw that he was in a bad situation. 8 Then when the king returned from the garden, he found that HaMan had fallen on the queen's bed as he was begging her. And the king asked, 'Are you attacking my wife here in my own home?'

Well when HaMan heard that, he didn't know what to say. 9 Then Harbonah (one of the king's eunuchs) said to the king: '{Look!} HaMan has prepared a very tall pole [on which he has planned to hang] MordecAi, the man who protected the king╔ he had it erected next to his home.'

And the king said: 'Then let him be hung on it!'

10 So HaMan was hung on the pole that he had prepared for MordecAi that day, and this ended the king's rage.

Chapter 8

1 Then that day, King ArtaXerxes offered everything that had once belonged to the slanderer HaMan, to Esther. And after Esther explained how MordecAi was related to her, the king called him in 2 and gave him the ring that he had removed from the hand of HaMan. Esther also put MordecAi in charge of all the possessions of HaMan.

3 Then later that day, [Esther] went in and spoke to the king. She fell to his feet and begged him to undo all the evil things that HaMan had [planned] to do against the Judeans. 4 So the king held out his gold scepter to Esther, and she got up on her feet and stood next to the king and said: 5 'If it seems good to you, and if I've found your favor; have those letters that HaMan wrote and sent out about destroying all the Judeans in your kingdom, recalled. 6 For how could I watch my people being so mistreated, and how could I personally be saved when everyone else in my fatherland is being destroyed?'

7 But the king said to Esther: 'Since I've already granted you everything that HaMan owned, and I had him hung on a pole for raising his hands against the Judeans, what more are you asking? 8 You may write whatever seems good to you in my name and then seal it with my ring. However, once the king has given an order and has sealed it with his ring, it may never be changed!'

9 Well, it was the twenty-third day of the first month (Nisan) of the same year that the scribes were called in, and [an edict] was written concerning the Judeans that was sent to all those in authority (to those who were in charge and to all the governors from India to Ethiopia╔ a hundred-and-twenty-seven governors by districts) in each of their own languages. 10 It was written in the name of the king, sealed with his ring, and sent out by couriers, 11 giving instructions on how his laws were to be executed in each city, and explaining that [the Judeans] were to be helped in dealing with their opponents and enemies in any way that they requested.

12 Then on the first day, the proclamation [was read] throughout the entire kingdom of ArtaXerxes, and copies were put on public display for everyone throughout the kingdom to see, 13 saying that the Judeans were to be allowed to prepare themselves for war against all their enemies on the thirteenth day of Adar (the twelfth month). 14 This edict of the king was then carried on horseback to be quickly delivered throughout the realm, and it was put on display in Susa.

15 Well after that, MordecAi was dressed in royal robes and a gold crown was placed on his head over a purple turban. And when the people of Susa saw this, they all rejoiced╔ 16 and the Judeans were also very relieved and happy. 17 Then in every place and city where the edict had been displayed, there was rejoicing and feasting among the Judeans; and as the result (because of their fear of the Judeans), many people of the nations got circumcised and became converts to Judaism.

Chapter 9

1 Well, by the thirteenth day of the twelfth month (Adar), all the letters from the king had been distributed. 2 So on that day, all the enemies of the Jews were destroyed, because everyone was afraid to oppose them. 3 And everyone (including the heads over the governors, the vassal kings, and the royal scribes) treated the Judeans with respect, because they were afraid of MordecAi, 4 since the king had ordered his name 5 to be proclaimed throughout the kingdom.

6 In the city of Susa alone, the Judeans killed about five hundred people, 7 including PharShandatha, Daiphon, Aspatha, 8 Pharadatha, Barea, Sarbaka, 9 MarMasima, Ruphaeus, Arseus, ZabuThaeus, 10 the ten sons of HaMan, and the son of AmaDathes the Bougean (who were all enemies of the Judeans). However, they didn't do any plundering that day.

11 Well when the king heard how many had been destroyed in Susa, he said to Esther: 12 'Since the Judeans have destroyed five hundred men in the city, how do you suppose they were treated in other areas? You can ask for whatever you wish and it will be yours!'

13 And Esther said to the king: 'Allow the Judeans to do the same thing tomorrow, and allow them to hang [up] the ten sons of HaMan.' 14 So he agreed to let it happen, and the Judeans in the city hung up the bodies of the sons of HaMan. 15 Then they all gathered in Susa on the fourteenth day of Adar and killed three hundred more men╔ but again, they didn't plunder them. 16 Meanwhile, the rest of the Judeans throughout the kingdom had also gathered to protect themselves, which finally gave them some rest from those warlike men. Altogether, they destroyed seventy thousand of them on the thirteenth of Adar╔ but they didn't do any plundering either. 17 Then they rested on the fourteenth day of the month, proclaiming it a day of rest, joy, and gladness.

18 The Judeans in the city of Susa also gathered for rest on the fourteenth day, then they celebrated on the fifteenth day with joy and gladness. 19 And because of this, all the Judeans who were scattered outside [of Judea] still celebrate the fourteenth day of Adar as a happy day, during which they each send food to their neighbors. 20 For MordecAi wrote that they should write this in a scroll that he would then send to the all Judeans throughout the kingdom of ArtaXerxes, both near and far, 21 establishing the fourteenth and fifteenth days of Adar as good days of celebration, 22 because those were the days when the Judeans were gained rest from their enemies╔ it was the month when their mourning was turned into joy and their grief was turned into happy days. As the result, they were to celebrate those days happily with wedding feasts and by sending food to their friends and to the poor.

23 The Judeans were also happy when MordecAi wrote of 24 how HaMan (the son of HamaDathes the Macedonian) had waged war against them by authoring a referendum to wipe them out, 25 and of how he had gone before the king to hang MordecAi [on a pole]. Then he told of how [MordecAi's] attempt to do bad things to the Judeans resulted in his own hanging along with his children.

26 So they call those days Purim (Lots), because these were the days [that HaMan] had chosen by throwing lots (which in their dialect was called Purim).

Well, because of the words in that letter, all the things that [the Jews] had suffered and which had been done to them came to an end. 27 And the Judeans adopted [Purim as a holiday] for them and their seed, and they agreed to observe it exactly as [MordecAi] suggested. It was to be a memorial from generation to generation in every city, family, and place. 28 These days were to be celebrated for all time, and were never to be forgotten through the generations.

29 Then Queen Esther (the daughter of AbiHail) and MordecAi (the Judean) wrote about all that they had done, in confirmation of what was written in the letter about Purim. 30 MordecAi and Esther attested to all that they had done, of how they had fasted, and to the things that they had each said. 31 Then Esther established the matter through the ages by [having it written] as a memorial.

Chapter 10

1 After that, the king also wrote about this matter to everyone in his kingdom, both on land and at sea; 2 however, he also wrote about his strength, valor, riches, and the glory of his kingdom. Look! It's all written as a memorial in the scrolls of the Persians and Medes.

3 Thereafter, MordecAi provided great relief to King ArtaXerxes, and he became great in the kingdom. He was also highly praised by the Judeans, because he fondly [watched out for] the welfare of their nation.

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