Reading 144/341, Esther 7-10, +E&F

[A] Today, we finish Esther

...Esther

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? to the 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, 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 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 Harbonah, 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 was the king's wrath 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 told 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 device 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 the thing seem 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 kin?" 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 unto the princes and governors of an hundred and seven and twenty provinces from India unto Ethiopia, and unto all our faithful subjects, greeting. Many, the more often they are honoured with the great bounty of their gracious princes, the more proud they are waxen, And endeavour to hurt not our subjects only, but not being able to bear abundance, do take in hand to practise also against those that do them good, And take not only thankfulness away from among men, but also lifted up with the glorious words of lewd persons, that were never good, they think to escape the justice of God, that seeth all things and hateth evil. Oftentimes also fair speech of those, that are put in trust to manage their friends' affairs, hath caused many that are in authority to be partakers of innocent blood, and hath enwrapped them in remediless calamities, Beguiling with the falsehood and deceit of their lewd disposition the innocency and goodness of princes. Now you may see this, as we have declared, not so much by ancient histories, as you may, if you search what hath been wickedly done of late through the pestilent behaviour of them that 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 always judging things that are evident with more equal proceeding. For Haman, a Macedonian, the son of Amadatha, being indeed a stranger from the Persian blood, and far distant from our goodness, and as a stranger received of us, Had so far forth obtained the favour that we shew toward every nation, as that he was called our father, and was continually honoured of all the next person unto the king. But he, not bearing his great dignity, went about to deprive us of our kingdom and life, Having by manifold and cunning deceits sought of us the destruction, as well 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 translated the kingdom of the Persians to the Macedonians. But we find that the Jews, whom this wicked wretch hath 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 hath ordered the kingdom both unto us and to our progenitors in the most excellent manner. Wherefore you shall do well not to put in execution the letters sent unto you by Haman the son of Amadatha. For he that was the worker of these things, is hanged at the gates of Susa with all his family, God, who ruleth 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, that the same day, being the thirteenth day of the twelfth month Adar, they may be avenged on them, who in the time of their affliction shall set upon them. For Almighty God hath turned to joy unto them the day, wherein the chosen people should have perished. Ye shall therefore among your solemn feasts keep it an high day with all feasting, That both now and hereafter there may be safety to us and the well affected Persians; but to those which do conspire against us a memorial of destruction. Therefore every city and country whatsoever, which shall not do according to these things, shall be destroyed without mercy with fire and sword, and shall be made not only unpassable for men, but also most hateful to wild beasts and fowls forever.”

A copy of the letter, that the decree should be given out in every province, was published to all the peoples, that the Jews should 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 the citadel of Susa. 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 was fallen on 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 be put in 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 the citadel of Susa, 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 did not lay their hand on the plunder. On that day, the number of those who were slain in the citadel of Susa was brought before the king. The king said to Esther the queen, "The Jews have slain and destroyed five hundred men in the citadel of Susa, 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 did not 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 did not 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 to 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 that 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 device, 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 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 fail from among the Jews, nor the memory of them 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 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 advanced him, are not they 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 hath done these things. For I remember a dream which I saw concerning these matters, and nothing thereof hath 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 I and Haman. And the nations were those that were assembled to destroy the name of the Jews, And my nation is this Israel, which cried to God, and were saved, for the Lord hath saved his people, and the Lord hath delivered us from all those evils, and God hath wrought signs and great wonders, which have not been done among the Gentiles. Therefore hath he 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 unto 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.

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