23 Sep

Scroll to the bottom for thoughts/discussion questions!

One-sentence summary: Queen Esther is given favor with the king of Persia and saves the lives of her people; the Jews are given favor and destroy their enemies.

That night, the king cannot sleep, so the book of the chronicles is read before him, and he finds that Mordecai had exposed the plot against his life. He asks what honor or dignity has been bestowed on him, and he finds out nothing has been done for him. He asks who is in the court, and they answer that Haman is there. He had just entered to suggest Mordecai be hanged. The king has Haman come in and asks, "What should be done for the man whom the king delights to honor?" Haman thinks in his heart, "Now who would the king delight to honor more than me?" so he suggests a royal robe that the king has worn be brought for the man and a royal horse the king has ridden, and then for it be delivered to one of the king's most noble princes, who will array the man. Then, he should be paraded on horseback through the city square, and it should be proclaimed, "Thus shall be done for the man whom the king delights to honor!" So the king tells him to take the robe and horse and to do all this for Mordecai. "Leave nothing undone of all that you have spoken." So Haman takes the robe and horse, arrays Mordecai, and leads him on horseback through the city square, making the proclamation. After that, Mordecai goes back to the king's gate, and Haman goes back home "mourning and with his head covered." When he tells his wife and friends what happened, his wise men and wife say, "If Mordecai, before whom you have begun to fall, is of Jewish descent, you will not prevail against him, but will surely fall before him." As they are still talking, the king's eunuchs come and hasten to bring him to the banquet which Esther had prepared.

The king and Haman are dining with the queen, and on the second day, the king asks Esther what her request is. She says, "If I have found favor in your sight... and if it pleases the king, let my life be given me at my petition, and my people at my request. For we have been sold, my people and I, to be destroyed, to be killed, and to be annihilated. Had we been sold as male and female slaves, I would have held my tongue, although the enemy could never compensate for the king's loss." The king asks who the enemy is and where the one is "who would dare presume in his heart to do such a thing," and Esther says, "The adversary and enemy is this wicked Haman." Haman is terrified before the king and queen. The king arises in his wrath and goes into the palace garden, and Haman stands before Esther, pleading for his life, because he sees the king intends to do him evil. When the king returns, he sees Haman, who has fallen across Esther's couch, and he is enraged and says, "Will he also assault the queen while I am in the house?!" As he says this, they cover Haman's face, and one of his eunuchs point out the gallow which Haman had made for Mordecai, which is at his house, and suggests he be hanged on it, and it is done. Then, the king's wrath subsides.

On that day, the king gives Esther the house of Haman, and Mordecai comes before the king, because Esther told him how they were related. The king takes off his signet ring which he had given to Haman and gives it to Mordecai, and Esther appoints him over Haman's house. Esther speaks again to the king, falls at his feet, and implores him with tears to counteract the evil of Haman and his scheme. The king holds out the golden scepter toward her, so she arises and stands before him. She says, "If it pleases the king and if I have found favor in his sight, and the thing seems right to the king and I am pleasing in his eyes, let it be written to revoke the letters devised by Haman." Then, the king says to her and Mordecai that they may write a decree as they please in his name and sealed with his ring, which cannot be revoked. The scribes are called, and it is written as Mordecai commands to all the provinces. The letters are delivered on horseback which permit the Jews in every city to protect their lives, to destroy, kill, and annihilate all the forces of any people and provinces who would assault them, even children and women, and to plunder their possessions, on one day. Mordecai goes out with royal apparel, fine linen and purple, and a crown of gold on his head, and the city of Shushan rejoices and is glad. And the Jews have "light and gladness, joy and honor." In every province, they have joy and gladness, a feast and a holiday, and many of the people of the land become Jews, because fear of the Jews comes upon them.

On that day, when it is time for the king's decree to be executed, when the Jews' enemies had hoped to overpower them, the opposite occurs. The Jews overpower all those who hate them. They gather in all the provinces and lay hands on those who seek their harm, and no one can withstand them, because the fear of them had fallen on all people. All the officials in the provinces help the Jews because the fear of Mordecai had fallen upon them, because he was "great in the king's palace, and his fame had spread through all the provinces," because he had become "increasingly prominent." So the Jews defeat their enemies. In Shushan alone, they kill 500 men. They do not lay a hand on the plunder, however. The king hears the number killed in Shushan, and he tells Esther that they have also killed the ten sons of Haman. He asks her what else should be done and what is her further request. Esther says, "If it pleases the king, let it be granted to the Jews in Shushan to do again tomorrow according to today's decree, and let Haman's ten sons be hanged on the gallows," and the king decrees that it be done. The next day, the Jews in Shushan kill 300 men, but they do not take the plunder. The remainder of the Jews in the provinces gather together to protect their lives, and they have rest from their enemies; they kill 75,000 of their enemies in total, but they do not touch the plunder. Then, they have rest and have a day of feasting and gladness. Mordecai writes these things down and sends them to the Jews, near and far, to establish that they are to celebrate these days of rest from their enemies as holidays, since the months were turned f"rom sorrow to joy and from mourning to a holiday;" they are to make these days days of feasting and joy, of sending gifts to each other and the poor. They call the days Purim, and it is written they should celebrate these two days every year. Then, Queen Esther, with Mordecai, write with full authority to confirm the letter to establish the holiday of Purim, and they send out the letters to all the Jews in the provinces. It is called the the decree of Esther and is written in the book.

The king's acts and Mordecai's story are written in the chronicles of the king of the Medes and Persians. Mordecai is second in command to the king and well-received by his Jewish brothers, because he seeks the good of his people and speaks peace to all his countrymen.

Thoughts/discussion questions:

When the Lord gives favor, no one can take it away, but we must still be bold and do the right thing when the time calls for it.

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