In the second year of the reign of Ahasuerus the great, on the first day of the month of Nisan, Mordecai, the son of Jair, the son of Shimei, the son of Kish, of the tribe of Benjamin, had a dream. He was a Jew, and dwelt in the city of Susa, a great man, who was a servant in the king’s court. He was also one of the captives, which Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon carried from Jerusalem with Jeconiah king of Judea; and this was his dream:
Behold a noise of a tumult, with thunder and earthquakes and uproar in the land: And behold, two great dragons came forth ready to fight, and their cry was great. And at their cry all nations were prepared to battle, that they might fight against the righteous people. And lo, a day of darkness and obscurity, tribulation and anguish, affliction and great uproar, upon the earth. And the whole righteous nation was troubled, fearing their own evils, and were ready to perish. Then they cried unto God, and upon their cry, as if from a little fountain, arose the greatest flood and many overflowing waters. The light and the sun rose up, and the lowly were exalted, and devoured the glorious.
Now when Mordecai, who had seen this dream, and what God had determined to do, was awake, he kept this dream in mind, and until night by all means desired to understand it. And Mordecai took his rest in the court with Gabatha and Tharra, the two eunuchs of the king, and keepers of the palace. And he heard their plan, and searched out their purposes, and learned that they were about to lay hands upon Ahasuerus the king; and so he testified to the king about them. Then the king examined the two eunuchs, and after they had confessed, they were strangled. And the king made a record of these things, and Mordecai also wrote thereof. So the king commanded, Mordecai to serve in the court, and for this he rewarded him. However, Haman, the son of Hammedatha the Agagite, was in great honor with the king, and sought to injure Mordecai and his people because of the two eunuchs of the king.
Now it happened in the days of Ahasuerus (this is Ahasuerus who reigned from India even to Ethiopia, over one hundred twenty-seven provinces), that in those days, when the King Ahasuerus sat on the throne of his kingdom, whose palace was in Susa, in the third year of his reign, he made a feast for all his princes and his servants; and the power of Persia and Media, the nobles and princes of the provinces, were before him. He displayed the riches of his glorious kingdom and the honor of his excellent majesty for many days, even one hundred eighty days.
When these days were fulfilled, the king made a seven day feast for all the people who were present in Susa, the palatial city, both great and small, in the court of the garden of the king’s palace. There were hangings of white, green, and blue material, fastened with cords of fine linen and purple to silver rings and marble pillars. The couches were of gold and silver, on a pavement of red, white, yellow, and black marble. They gave them drinks in golden vessels of various kinds, including royal wine in abundance, according to the bounty of the king. In accordance with the law, the drinking was not compulsory; for so the king had instructed all the officials of his house, that they should do according to every man’s wishes. Also Vashti the queen made a feast for the women in the royal house which belonged to King Ahasuerus.
On the seventh day, when the heart of the king was merry with wine, he commanded Mehuman, Biztha, Harbona, Bigtha, and Abagtha, Zethar, and Carcass, the seven eunuchs who served in the presence of Ahasuerus the king, to bring Vashti the queen before the king with the royal crown, to show the people and the princes her beauty; for she was beautiful. But the queen Vashti refused to come at the king’s commandment by the eunuchs. Therefore the king was very angry, and his anger burned in him.
Then the king said to the wise men, who knew the times, (for it was the king’s custom to consult those who knew law and judgment; and the next to him were Carshena, Shethar, Admatha, Tarshish, Meres, Marsena, and Memucan, the seven princes of Persia and Media, who saw the king’s face, and sat first in the kingdom), “What shall we do to the queen Vashti according to law, because she has not done the bidding of the King Ahasuerus by the eunuchs?”
Memucan answered before the king and the princes, “Vashti the queen has not done wrong to just the king, but also to all the princes, and to all the people who are in all the provinces of the King Ahasuerus. For this deed of the queen will become known to all women, causing them to show contempt for their husbands, when it is reported, ‘King Ahasuerus commanded Vashti the queen to be brought in before him, but she didn’t come.’ Today, the princesses of Persia and Media who have heard of the queen’s deed will tell all the king’s princes. This will cause much contempt and wrath. If it please the king, let a royal commandment go from him, and let it be written among the laws of the Persians and the Medes, so that it cannot be altered, that Vashti may never again come before King Ahasuerus; and let the king give her royal estate to another who is better than she. When the king’s decree, which he shall make, is published throughout all his kingdom (for it is great), all the wives will give their husbands honor, both great and small.”
This advice pleased the king and the princes, and the king did according to the word of Memucan: for he sent letters into all the king’s provinces, into every province according to its writing, and to every people in their language, that every man should rule his own house, speaking in the language of his own people.
After these things, when the wrath of King Ahasuerus was pacified, he remembered Vashti, and what she had done, and what was decreed against her. Then the king’s servants who served him said, “Let beautiful young virgins be sought for the king. Let the king appoint officers in all the provinces of his kingdom, that they may gather together all the beautiful young virgins to Susa, the palatial city, to the women’s house, to the custody of Hegai the king’s eunuch, keeper of the women. Let cosmetics be given them; and let the maiden who pleases the king be queen instead of Vashti.” The idea pleased the king, and he did so.
There was a certain Jew in Susa, the palatial city, whose name was Mordecai, the son of Jair, the son of Shimei, the son of Kish, a Benjamite, who had been carried away from Jerusalem with the captives who had been carried away with Jeconiah king of Judah, whom Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon had carried away. He brought up Hadassah, that is, Esther, his uncle’s daughter; for she had neither father nor mother. The maiden was fair and beautiful; and when her father and mother were dead, Mordecai took her for his own daughter. So it happened, when the king’s commandment and his decree was heard, and when many maidens were gathered together to Susa, the palatial city, to the custody of Hegai, that Esther was taken into the king’s house, to the custody of Hegai, keeper of the women.
The maiden pleased him, and she obtained kindness from him. He quickly gave her cosmetics and her portions of food, and the seven choice maidens who were to be given her out of the king’s house. He moved her and her maidens to the best place in the women’s house. Esther had not made known her people or her relatives, because Mordecai had instructed her that she should not make it known. Mordecai walked every day in front of the court of the women’s house, to find out how Esther was doing, and what would become of her.
Each young woman’s turn came to go in to King Ahasuerus after her purification for twelve months (for so were the days of their purification accomplished, six months with oil of myrrh, and six months with sweet fragrances and with preparations for beautifying women). The young woman then came to the king in this way: whatever she desired was given her to go with her out of the women’s house to the king’s house. In the evening she went, and on the next day she returned into the second women’s house, to the custody of Shaashgaz, the king’s eunuch, who kept the concubines. She came in to the king no more, unless the king delighted in her and she was called by name.
Now when the turn of Esther, the daughter of Abihail the uncle of Mordecai, who had taken her for his daughter, came to go in to the king, she required nothing but what Hegai the king’s eunuch, the keeper of the women, advised. Esther obtained favor in the sight of all those who looked at her. So Esther was taken to King Ahasuerus into his royal house in the tenth month, which is the month Tevet, in the seventh year of his reign. The king loved Esther more than all the women, and she obtained favor and kindness in his sight more than all the virgins; so that he set the royal crown on her head, and made her queen instead of Vashti. Then the king made a great feast for all his princes and his servants, even Esther’s feast; and he proclaimed a holiday in the provinces, and gave gifts according to the king’s bounty.
When the virgins were gathered together the second time, Mordecai was sitting inside the king’s gate. Esther had not yet made known her relatives or her people, as Mordecai had commanded her; for Esther obeyed Mordecai, as she did when she was brought up by him.
In those days, while Mordecai was sitting inside the king’s gate, two of the king’s eunuchs, Bigtha and Teresh, who were doorkeepers, were angry, and sought to lay hands on the King Ahasuerus. This matter became known to Mordecai, who informed Esther the queen; and Esther informed the king in Mordecai’s name. When the matter was investigated, and it was found to be so, they were both hanged on a tree; and it was written in the Book of the Chronicles in the king’s presence.
After these things King Ahasuerus promoted Haman the son of Hammedatha the Agagite, and advanced him, and set his seat above all the princes who were with him. All the king’s servants who were inside the king’s gate bowed down, and paid homage to Haman; for the king had so commanded concerning him. But Mordecai didn’t bow down or pay him homage. Then the king’s servants, who were inside the king’s gate, said to Mordecai, “Why do you disobey the king’s commandment?”
Now it came to pass, when they spoke daily to him, and he didn’t listen to them, that they told Haman, to see whether Mordecai’s reason would stand; for he had told them that he was a Jew. When Haman saw that Mordecai didn’t bow down, nor pay him homage, Haman was full of wrath. But he scorned the thought of laying hands on Mordecai alone, for they had made known to him Mordecai’s people. Therefore Haman sought to destroy all the Jews, the people of Mordecai, throughout the whole kingdom of Ahasuerus.
In the first month, which is the month Nisan, in the twelfth year of King Ahasuerus, they cast Pur, that is, the lot, before Haman from day to day, and from month to month, and chose the twelfth month, which is the month Adar. Haman said to King Ahasuerus, “There is a certain people scattered abroad and dispersed among the peoples in all the provinces of your kingdom, and their laws are different than those of other peoples. They do not keep the king’s laws. Therefore it is not to the king’s benefit to allow them to remain. If it pleases the king, let it be written that they be destroyed; and I will pay ten thousand talents of silver into the hands of those who are in charge of the king’s business, to bring it into the king’s treasuries.” The king took his ring from his hand, and gave it to Haman the son of Hammedatha the Agagite, the Jews’ enemy. The king said to Haman, “The silver is given to you, the people also, to do with them as it seems good to you.”
Then the king’s scribes were called in on the first month, on the thirteenth day of the month; and all that Haman commanded was written to the king’s satraps, and to the governors who were over every province, and to the princes of every people, to every province according its writing, and to every people in their language. It was written in the name of King Ahasuerus, and it was sealed with the king’s ring. Letters were sent by couriers into all the king’s provinces, to destroy, to kill, and to cause to perish, all Jews, both young and old, little children and women, in one day, on the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, which is the month Adar, and to plunder their possessions.
This is a copy of the letters:
“The great king Ahasuerus writes these things to the princes and governors, who are under him from India unto Ethiopia in one hundred twenty-seven provinces.
“After I became lord over many nations and had dominion over the whole world, not lifted up with presumption of my authority, but carrying myself always with equity and mildness, I purposed to settle my subjects continually in a quiet life, and make my kingdom peaceable and open for passage to the utmost coasts, to renew peace, which is desired of all men.
“Now when I asked my counselors how this might be brought to pass, Haman, who excelled in wisdom among us and was approved for his constant good will and steadfast fidelity and had the honor of the second place in the kingdom, declared to us that in all nations throughout the world there was scattered a certain malicious people, who had laws contrary to all nations and continually despised the commandments of kings, so that the uniting of our kingdoms, honorably intended by us, cannot go forward. Seeing this, we understand that this people alone is continually in opposition unto all men, differing in the strange ways of their laws and bringing about evil to our state, working all the mischief they can, so that our kingdom may not be firmly established:
“Therefore have we commanded that all those who are signified in writing to you by Haman, who is ordained over these affairs and is next unto us, shall all, with their wives and children, be utterly destroyed by the sword of their enemies, without all mercy and pity, by the fourteenth day of the twelfth month Adar of this present year: Thus may they, who from of old and now also are malicious, may in one day with violence go into the grave, and so ever hereafter cause our affairs to be well settled and without trouble.”
A copy of the letter, that the decree should be given out in every province, was published to all the peoples, that they should be ready against that day. The couriers went forth in haste by the king’s commandment, and the decree was given out in Susa, the palatial city. The king and Haman sat down to drink; but the city of Susa was perplexed.
Now when Mordecai found out all that was done, Mordecai tore his clothes and put on sackcloth with ashes and went out into the midst of the city and wailed loudly and bitterly. He came even before the king’s gate, for no one is allowed inside the king’s gate clothed with sackcloth. In every province, wherever the king’s commandment and his decree came, there was great mourning among the Jews with fasting and weeping and wailing; and many lay in sackcloth and ashes.
Esther’s maidens and her eunuchs came and told her this, and the queen was exceedingly grieved. She sent clothing to Mordecai, to replace his sackcloth; but he didn’t accept it. Then Esther called for Hathach, one of the king’s eunuchs, whom he had appointed to attend her, and commanded him to go to Mordecai, to find out what this was and why it was. So Hathach went out to Mordecai, to the city square which was before the king’s gate. Mordecai told him of all that had happened to him and the exact sum of the money that Haman had promised to pay to the king’s treasuries for the destruction of the Jews. He also gave him the copy of the writing of the decree that was given out in Susa to destroy them, to show it to Esther, and to declare it to her, and to urge her to go in to the king, to make supplication to him and to make request before him, for her people.
Hathach came and told Esther the words of Mordecai: “‘Remember,’ he says, ‘the days of your humiliation, when I nurtured you in my hand, because Haman, who is second only to the king, is against us to the death. And you, invoke the Lord and persuade the king for us and free us from death.’” Then Esther spoke to Hathach, and gave him a message for Mordecai: “All the king’s servants and the people of the king’s provinces know that whoever, whether man or woman, comes to the king into the inner court without being called, there is one law for him, that he be put to death, except those to whom the king might hold out the golden scepter that he may live. I have not been called to come in to the king these thirty days.” They told Esther’s words to Mordecai. Then Mordecai asked them to return answer to Esther: “Don’t think to yourself that you will escape in the king’s house any more than all the Jews. For if you remain silent now, then relief and deliverance will come to the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. Who knows if you haven’t come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” Then Esther asked them to answer Mordecai: “Go, gather together all the Jews who are present in Susa and fast for me: neither eat nor drink three days, night or day. I and my maidens will also fast the same way. Then I will go in to the king, which is against the law; and if I perish, I perish.” So Mordecai went his way and did according to all that Esther had commanded him.
Then Mordecai thought upon all the works of the Lord and made his prayer unto him, saying, “O Lord, Lord, the King Almighty, the whole world is in your power and if you have appointed to save Israel, then no man can contradict you: For you have made heaven and earth and all the wondrous things under the heavens. You are Lord of all things; there is no man who can withstand you, for you are the Lord. You know all things and you know, Lord, that it was neither in contempt nor pride nor for any desire of glory that I didn’t bow down to proud Haman. For I would have been content, with good will for the salvation of Israel, to kiss the soles of his feet. But I didn’t, so that I might not prefer the glory of man above the glory of God: neither will I worship any but thee, O God; neither will I do so in pride. And now, O Lord God and King, spare thy people, for their eyes are upon us to bring us to naught; yes, they desire to destroy the inheritance which has been yours from the beginning. Despise not the portion which you have delivered out of Egypt for your own self. Hear my prayer and be merciful to your inheritance: turn our sorrow into joy, so that we may live, O Lord, and praise thy name; and destroy not the mouths of those who praise thee, O Lord.”
All Israel, in the same way, cried out most earnestly to the Lord, because their death was before their eyes.
Queen Esther also was in fear of death and resorted to the Lord. And she put away her glorious apparel, and put on the garments of anguish and mourning; and instead of precious ointments, she covered her head with ashes and dung; and she humbled her body greatly, and all the aspects of her beauty she covered with her torn hair.
And she prayed to the Lord God of Israel, saying, “O my Lord, you alone are our King. Help me, a desolate woman, who has no helper but you, for my danger is close at hand. From my youth I have heard, in the tribe of my family, how you, O Lord, took Israel from among all peoples, and our fathers from all their predecessors, for a perpetual inheritance, and you have performed whatsoever you promised them. And now we have sinned before you; therefore you have given us into the hands of our enemies, because we worshiped their gods. O Lord, you are righteous!
“Nevertheless, it does not satisfy them that we are in bitter captivity, but they have struck a deal with their idols. They will abolish the purpose that you with your mouth have ordained, and destroy your inheritance, and silence the mouth of those who praise you, and quench the glory of your house and of your altar, and open the mouths of the heathen to bring forth the praises of the idols, to magnify a fleshly king for ever.
“O Lord, don’t give your scepter to those who are nothing, and let them not laugh at our fall; but turn their schemes upon themselves, and make an example of him who began this against us. Remember, O Lord, make yourself known in the time of our affliction and give me boldness, O King of the nations and Lord of all power. Give me eloquent speech in my mouth before the king; turn his heart to hate him that fights against us, so that there may be an end of him and of all that are likeminded to him. But deliver us with your hand and help me, for I am desolate and have no other help but you.
“You know all things, O Lord; you know that I hate the glory of the unrighteous and abhor the bed of the uncircumcised and of all the heathen. You know my necessity, for I abhor the sign of my high estate, which is upon my head in the days when I show myself, and that I abhor it as a menstruous rag, and that I wear it not when I am in private by myself. You know that your handmaid has not eaten at Haman’s table, and that I have not greatly esteemed the king’s feast, nor drunk the wine of the drink offerings. Neither has your handmaid had any joy, since the day that I was brought here to the present, except in you, O Lord God of Abraham. O mighty God above all, hear the voice of the forlorn and deliver us out of the hands of the mischievous and deliver me out of my fear.”
And on the third day, when she ended her prayers, she put away her mourning garments and put on her glorious apparel. And being gloriously adorned, after she called upon God, who knows all and saves all, she took two maids with her; and on the one, she leaned, carrying herself daintily, and the other followed, bearing up her train. She was ruddy through the perfection of her beauty, and her countenance was cheerful and very amiable, but her heart was in anguish out of fear. Then, having passed through all the doors, she stood before the king, who sat upon his royal throne and was clothed with all his robes of majesty, all glittering with gold and precious stones; and he was very dreadful. Then, lifting up his countenance which shined with majesty, he looked very fiercely upon her; and the queen fell down and was pale and fainted and bowed herself upon the head of the maid who went before her.
Then God changed the spirit of the king into mildness, who in a fright leaped from his throne and took her in his arms, till she came to herself again, and comforted her with loving words and said to her, “Esther, what is the matter? I am your brother, be of good cheer. You shall not die, though our commandment be general. Come near.” And so he held up his golden scepter, and laid it upon her neck, and embraced her, and said, “Speak to me.” Then she said to him, “I saw you, my lord, as an angel of God, and my heart was troubled for fear of your majesty. For you are wonderful, lord, and your countenance is full of grace.” And as she was speaking, she fell down out of faintness. Then the king was troubled and all his servants comforted her.
[Alternate text from the Hebrew, verses 17-18:] Now it happened on the third day that Esther put on her royal clothing, and stood in the inner court of the king’s house, next to the king’s house. The king sat on his royal throne in the royal house, next to the entrance of the house. When the king saw Esther the queen, standing in the court, she obtained favor in his sight; and the king held out to Esther the golden scepter that was in his hand. So Esther came near, and touched the top of the scepter.
Then the king asked her, “What would you like, Queen Esther? What is your request? It shall be given you even to half of the kingdom.” Esther said, “If it seems good to the king, let the king and Haman come today to the banquet that I have prepared for him.” Then the king said, “Bring Haman quickly, so that it may be done as Esther has said.” So the king and Haman came to the banquet that Esther had prepared. The king said to Esther at the banquet of wine, “What is your petition? It shall be granted you. What is your request? Even to half of the kingdom it shall be performed.” Then Esther answered and said, “My petition and my request is this. If I have found favor in the sight of the king, and if it please the king to grant my petition and to perform my request, let the king and Haman come to the banquet that I will prepare for them, and I will do tomorrow as the king has said.”
Then Haman went out that day joyful and glad of heart. But when Haman saw Mordecai in the king’s gate, that he didn’t stand up or move for him, he was filled with wrath against Mordecai. Nevertheless Haman restrained himself and went home. There he sent and called for his friends and Zeresh his wife. Haman recounted to them the glory of his riches, the multitude of his children, all the things in which the king had promoted him, and how he had advanced him above the princes and servants of the king. Haman also said, “Yes, Esther the queen let no man come in with the king to the banquet that she had prepared but myself; and tomorrow I am also invited by her together with the king. Yet all this avails me nothing, so long as I see Mordecai the Jew sitting at the king’s gate.” Then Zeresh his wife and all his friends said to him, “Let a gallows be made fifty cubits high, and in the morning speak to the king about hanging Mordecai on it. Then go in merrily with the king to the banquet.” This pleased Haman, so he had the gallows made.
On that night, the king couldn’t sleep. He commanded the book of records of the chronicles to be brought, and they were read to the king. It was found written that Mordecai had told of Bigtha and Teresh, two of the king’s eunuchs, who were doorkeepers, who had tried to lay hands on the King Ahasuerus. The king said, “What honor and dignity has been bestowed on Mordecai for this?” Then the king’s servants who attended him said, “Nothing has been done for him.” The king said, “Who is in the court?” Now Haman had come into the outer court of the king’s house, to speak to the king about hanging Mordecai on the gallows that he had prepared for him. The king’s servants said to him, “Behold, Haman stands in the court.” The king said, “Let him come in.”
So Haman came in. The king said to him, “What shall be done to the man whom the king delights to honor?” Now Haman said in his heart, “Who would the king delight to honor more than myself?” Haman said to the king, “For the man whom the king delights to honor, let royal clothing be brought which the king uses to wear, and the horse which the king rides on, and the royal crown which is set upon his head. Let the clothing and the horse be delivered to the hand of one of the king’s most noble princes, that they may array the man whom the king delights to honor with them, and have him ride on horseback through the city square, and proclaim before him, ‘Thus shall it be done to the man whom the king delights to honor!’”
Then the king said to Haman, “Hurry and take the clothing and the horse, as you have said, and do this for Mordecai the Jew, who sits at the king’s gate. Let nothing fail of all that you have spoken.” Then Haman took the clothing and the horse, and arrayed Mordecai, and had him ride through the city square, and proclaimed before him, “Thus shall it be done to the man whom the king delights to honor!” Mordecai came back to the king’s gate, but Haman hurried to his house, mourning and having his head covered.
Haman recounted to Zeresh his wife and all his friends everything that had happened to him. Then his wise men and Zeresh his wife said to him, “If Mordecai, before whom you have begun to fall, is of Jewish descent, you will not prevail against him, but you will surely fall before him.” While they were yet talking with him, the king’s eunuchs came and hurried to bring Haman to the banquet that Esther had prepared.
So the king and Haman came to banquet with Esther the queen. The king said again to Esther, on the second day at the banquet of wine, “What is your petition, Queen Esther? It shall be granted you. What is your request? Even to half of the kingdom it shall be performed.” Then Esther the queen answered, “If I have found favor in your sight, O king, and if it please the king, let my life be given me at my petition, and my people at my request. For we are sold, I and my people, to be destroyed, to be slain, and to perish. But if we had been sold for bondservants and bondmaids, I would have held my peace, although the adversary could not have compensated for the king’s loss.” Then King Ahasuerus said to Esther the queen, “Who is he and where is he, who dared presume in his heart to do so?” Esther said, “An adversary and an enemy, even this wicked Haman!” Then Haman was afraid before the king and the queen.
The king arose in his wrath from the banquet of wine and went into the palace garden. Haman stood up to make request for his life to Esther the queen; for he saw that there was evil determined against him by the king. Then the king returned out of the palace garden into the place of the banquet of wine; and Haman had fallen on the couch where Esther was. Then the king said, “Will he even assault the queen in front of me in the house?” As the word went out of the king’s mouth, they covered Haman’s face. Then Harbona, one of the eunuchs who were with the king said, “Behold, the gallows fifty cubits high, which Haman has made for Mordecai, who spoke good for the king, is standing at Haman’s house.” The king said, “Hang him on it!” So they hanged Haman on the gallows that he had prepared for Mordecai. Then the king’s wrath was pacified.
On that day, King Ahasuerus gave the house of Haman, the Jews’ enemy, to Esther the queen. Mordecai came before the king; for Esther had revealed what he was to her. The king took off his ring, which he had taken from Haman, and gave it to Mordecai. Esther set Mordecai over the house of Haman.
Esther spoke yet again before the king, and fell down at his feet and begged him with tears to put away the mischief of Haman the Agagite, and his plan that he had devised against the Jews. Then the king held out to Esther the golden scepter. So Esther arose and stood before the king. She said, “If it pleases the king and if I have found favor in his sight, and if it seems right to the king and I am pleasing in his eyes, let it be written to reverse the letters devised by Haman, the son of Hammedatha the Agagite, which he wrote to destroy the Jews who are in all the king’s provinces. For how can I endure to see the evil that would come to my people? How can I endure to see the destruction of my relatives?”
Then King Ahasuerus said to Esther the queen and to Mordecai the Jew, “See, I have given Esther the house of Haman, and him they have hanged on the gallows, because he laid his hand on the Jews. Write also to the Jews, as it pleases you, in the king’s name, and seal it with the king’s ring; for the writing which is written in the king’s name and sealed with the king’s ring may not be reversed by any man.”
Then the king’s scribes were called at that time, in the third month Sivan, on the twenty-third day of the month; and it was written according to all that Mordecai commanded to the Jews, and to the satraps, and the governors and princes of the provinces which are from India to Ethiopia, one hundred twenty-seven provinces, to every province according to its writing, and to every people in their language, and to the Jews in their writing, and in their language. He wrote in the name of King Ahasuerus, and sealed it with the king’s ring, and sent letters by courier on horseback, riding on royal horses that were bread from swift steeds. In those letters, the king granted the Jews who were in every city to gather themselves together, and to defend their life, to destroy, to kill, and to cause to perish, all the power of the people and province that would assault them, their little ones and women, and to plunder their possessions, on one day in all the provinces of King Ahasuerus, on the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, which is the month Adar:
“The great king Ahasuerus to the princes and governors of the one hundred twenty seven provinces from India to Ethiopia and to all our faithful subjects, greeting.
“Many, the more often they are honored with the great bounty of their gracious princes, the more proud they become, and they endeavor to hurt, not only our subjects, but also, being unable to bear abundance, take it in hand to practice against those that do them good. And they take, not only thankfulness away from among men, but also, lifted up with the glorious words of lewd persons who were never good, they think to escape the justice of God, who sees all things and hates evil.
“Oftentimes also, the pleasing words of those who are trusted to manage their friends’ affairs, have caused many who are in authority to be partakers of innocent blood and have enwrapped them in remediless calamities— thus beguiling with the falsehood and deceit of their lewd disposition, the innocence and goodness of princes.
“Now you may see this, as we have declared, not so much by ancient histories, but also if you search what has been wickedly done of late, through the pestilent behavior of those who are unworthily placed in authority. And we must take care for the time to come, that our kingdom may be quiet and peaceable for all men, both by changing our purposes and by always judging things which are evident with more equal proceeding.
“For Haman, a Macedonian, the son of Hammedatha, being indeed a stranger from the Persian blood, and far distant from our goodness and as a stranger received of us, had obtained so much of the favor that we show toward every nation, that he was called our father and was continually honored above all as the person next to the king. But he, not bearing his great dignity, went about to deprive us of our kingdom and life, and, by manifold and cunning deceits, sought of us the destruction also of Mordecai, who saved our life and continually procured our good, as also of blameless Esther, partaker of our kingdom, with their whole nation. For by these means he thought, finding us destitute of friends, to have transferred the kingdom of the Persians to the Macedonians.
“But we find that the Jews, whom this wicked wretch had delivered to utter destruction, are no evildoers, but live by most just laws, and that they be children of the most high and most mighty living God, who has ordered the kingdom both unto us and unto our progenitors, in the most excellent way. Wherefore, you shall do well not to put in execution the letters sent to you by Haman the son of Hammedatha, for he, who was the worker of these things, is hanged at the gates of Susa with all his family: God, who rules all things, speedily rendering vengeance to him according to his deserts.
“Therefore you shall publish the copy of this letter in all places that the Jews may freely live after their own laws. And you shall aid them, so that even on the same day, the thirteenth day of the twelfth month Adar, they may be avenged on them, who in the time of their affliction would have set upon them. For Almighty God has turned to joy for them the day wherein the chosen people would have perished. You shall therefore among your solemn feasts keep it a high day with all feasting: that both now and hereafter there may be safety to us and the well-meaning Persians; but to those who conspire against us, a memorial of destruction. Therefore every city and country whatsoever, which does not do according to these things, shall be destroyed without mercy with fire and sword and shall be made not only unacceptable for men, but also most hateful to wild beasts and fowl for ever.”
A copy of the letter, that the decree should be given out in every province, was published to all the peoples, so that the Jews would be ready for that day to avenge themselves on their enemies. So the couriers who rode on royal horses went out, hastened and pressed on by the king’s commandment. The decree was given out in Susa, the palatial city.
Mordecai went out of the presence of the king in royal clothing of blue and white, and with a great crown of gold, and with a robe of fine linen and purple; and the city of Susa shouted and was glad. The Jews had light, gladness, joy, and honor. In every province and in every city, wherever the king’s commandment and his decree came, the Jews had gladness, joy, a feast, and a good day. Many from among the peoples of the land became Jews; for the fear of the Jews had fallen upon them.
Now in the twelfth month, which is the month Adar, on the thirteenth day of the month, when the king’s commandment and his decree drew near to being put into execution, on the day that the enemies of the Jews hoped to conquer them, (but it was turned out the opposite happened, that the Jews conquered those who hated them), the Jews gathered themselves together in their cities throughout all the provinces of the King Ahasuerus, to lay hands on those who wanted to harm them. No one could withstand them, because the fear of them had fallen on all the people.
All the princes of the provinces, the satraps, the governors, and those who did the king’s business, helped the Jews, because the fear of Mordecai had fallen on them. For Mordecai was great in the king’s house and his fame went out throughout all the provinces; for the man Mordecai grew greater and greater. The Jews struck all their enemies with the stroke of the sword, and with slaughter and destruction, and did what they wanted to those who hated them.
In Susa, the palatial city, the Jews killed and destroyed five hundred men. They killed Parshandatha, Dalphon, Aspatha, Poratha, Adalia, Aridatha, Parmashta, Arisai, Aridai, and Vaizatha, the ten sons of Haman the son of Hammedatha, the Jew’s enemy, but they didn’t lay their hand on the plunder.
On that day, the number of those who were slain in Susa, the palatial city, was brought before the king. The king said to Esther the queen, “The Jews have slain and destroyed five hundred men in Susa, the palatial city, including the ten sons of Haman; what then have they done in the rest of the king’s provinces! Now what is your petition? It shall be granted you. What is your further request? It shall be done.” Then Esther said, “If it pleases the king, let it be granted to the Jews who are in Susa to do tomorrow also according to this day’s decree, and let Haman’s ten sons be hanged on the gallows.” The king commanded this to be done. A decree was given out in Susa; and they hanged Haman’s ten sons.
The Jews who were in Susa gathered themselves together on the fourteenth day also of the month Adar, and killed three hundred men in Susa; but they didn’t lay their hand on the spoil. The other Jews who were in the king’s provinces gathered themselves together, defended their lives, had rest from their enemies, and killed seventy-five thousand of those who hated them; but they didn’t lay their hand on the plunder. This was done on the thirteenth day of the month Adar; and on the fourteenth day of that month they rested and made it a day of feasting and gladness. But the Jews who were in Susa assembled together on the thirteenth and on the fourteenth days of the month; and, on the fifteenth day of that month, they rested and made it a day of feasting and gladness. Therefore the Jews of the villages, who live in the unwalled towns, make the fourteenth day of the month Adar a day of gladness and feasting, a good day, and a day of sending presents of food to one another. Mordecai wrote these things and sent letters to all the Jews who were in all the provinces of the king Ahasuerus, both near and far, to enjoin them that they should keep the fourteenth and fifteenth days of the month Adar yearly, as the days in which the Jews had rest from their enemies, and the month which was turned for them from sorrow to gladness and from mourning into a good day; that they should make them days of feasting and gladness and of sending presents of food to one another and gifts to the needy.
The Jews accepted the custom which they had begun, as Mordecai had written to them; because Haman the son of Hammedatha, the Agagite, the enemy of all the Jews, had plotted against the Jews to destroy them and had cast “Pur,” that is the lot, to consume them and to destroy them; but when this became known to the king, he commanded by letters that his wicked plan, which he had devised against the Jews, should return on his own head, and that he and his sons should be hanged on the gallows. Therefore they called these days “Purim,” from the word “Pur.” Therefore because of all the words of this letter and of what they had seen concerning this matter and of what had come to them, the Jews established, and imposed on themselves and on their descendants and on all those who joined themselves to them, so that it should not fail, that they would keep these two days according to what was written and according to its appointed time every year; and that these days should be remembered and kept throughout every generation, every family, every province, and every city; and that these days of Purim should not fall from among the Jews, nor their memory perish from their seed.
Then Esther the queen, the daughter of Abihail, and Mordecai the Jew, wrote with all authority to confirm this second letter of Purim. He sent letters to all the Jews, to the one hundred twenty-seven provinces of the kingdom of Ahasuerus, with words of peace and truth, to confirm these days of Purim in their appointed times, as Mordecai the Jew and Esther the queen had decreed, and as they had imposed upon themselves and their descendants, in the matter of the fastings and their cry. The commandment of Esther confirmed these matters of Purim; and it was written in the book.
King Ahasuerus laid a tribute on the land and on the islands of the sea. All the acts of his power and of his might, and the full account of the greatness of Mordecai, to which the king promoted him, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Media and Persia? For Mordecai the Jew was next to King Ahasuerus, and great among the Jews, and accepted by the multitude of his brothers, seeking the good of his people and speaking peace to all his descendants.
Then Mordecai said, “God has done these things. For I remember a dream which I saw concerning these matters, and nothing thereof has failed. A little fountain became a river, and there was light and the sun and much water: this river is Esther, whom the king married and made queen; and the two dragons are myself and Haman. And the nations were those which were assembled to destroy the name of the Jews; and my nation is this Israel, who cried to God and were saved, for the Lord has saved his people, and the Lord has delivered us from all those evils, and God has wrought signs and great wonders, which have not been done among the Gentiles. Therefore he has made two lots, one for the people of God and another for all the Gentiles. And these two lots came at the hour and time and day of judgment, before God among all nations. So God remembered his people and justified his inheritance. Therefore those days shall be given to them in the month Adar, the fourteenth and fifteenth day of the same month, with an assembly and joy and with gladness before God, according to the generations for ever among his people.”
In the fourth year of the reign of Ptolemeus and Cleopatra, Dositheus, who said he was a priest and Levite, and Ptolemeus his son, brought this letter of Purim, which they said was the same, and that Lysimachus the son of Ptolemeus, who was in Jerusalem, had translated it.
HTML generated 19 August 2008.