This article is part of a series of Bible passages, which together are mainly about how the Bible says the Jewish race developed and were given laws, how they settled in ancient Israel, and how it says God sometimes punished them for disobeying his commands, which led to them changing their ways. This is Part 3 (of 3) in Section 12: "The success of some of the Jewish exiles who had been captured in war and taken to Babylon".
This is Part 3 (of 3) in Section 12: "The success of some of the Jewish exiles who had been captured in war and taken to Babylon".
Some parts of the Old Testament and the Book of Revelation are very unpleasant. If you become offended by anything, please read An Attempt to Explain Gruesome Bible Passages.
Esther chapter 2 (NLT)
[To recap on the story a little]
5 Now at the fortress of Susa there was a certain Jew named Mordecai son of Jair. He was from the tribe of Benjamin and was a descendant of Kish and Shimei. 6 His family had been exiled from Jerusalem to Babylon by King Nebuchadnezzar, along with King Jehoiachin of Judah and many others.
Esther chapter 2 (TEV)
7 He had a cousin, Esther, whose Hebrew name was Hadassah; she was a beautiful young woman, and had a good figure. At the death of her parents, Mordecai had adopted her and brought her up as his own daughter. 8 When the king had issued his new proclamation and many young women were being brought to Susa, Esther was among them. She too was put in the royal palace in the care of Hegai, who had charge of the harem.
16 So in Xerxes' seventh year as king, in the tenth month, the month of Tebeth, Esther was brought to King Xerxes in the royal palace. 17 The king liked her more than any of the other women, and more than any of the others she won his favor and affection. He placed the royal crown on her head and made her queen …
Esther chapter 3 (TEV)
1 Some time later King Xerxes promoted a man named Haman to the position of prime minister. Haman was the son of Hammedatha, a descendant of Agag. 2 The king ordered all the officials in his service to show their respect for Haman by kneeling and bowing to him. They all did so, except for Mordecai, who refused to do it. 3 The other officials in the royal service asked him why he was disobeying the king's command; 4 day after day they urged him to give in, but he would not listen to them. "I am a Jew," he explained, "and I cannot bow to Haman." So they told Haman about this, wondering if he would tolerate Mordecai's conduct. 5 Haman was furious when he realized that Mordecai was not going to kneel and bow to him, 6 and when he learned that Mordecai was a Jew, he decided to do more than punish Mordecai alone. He made plans to kill every Jew in the whole Persian Empire.
Esther chapter 3 (NLT)
7 So in the month of April, during the twelfth year of King Xerxes' reign, lots were cast (the lots were called purim) to determine the best day and month to take action. And the day selected was March 7, nearly a year later.
Esther chapter 3 (TEV)
8 So Haman told the king, "There is a certain race of people scattered all over your empire and found in every province. They observe customs that are not like those of any other people. Moreover, they do not obey the laws of the empire, so it is not in your best interests to tolerate them. 9 If it please Your Majesty, issue a decree that they are to be put to death. If you do, I guarantee that I will be able to put 375 tons of silver into the royal treasury for the administration of the empire."
10 The king took off his ring, which was used to stamp proclamations and make them official, and gave it to the enemy of the Jewish people, Haman son of Hammedatha, the descendant of Agag. 11 The king told him, "The people and their money are yours; do as you like with them."
12 So on the thirteenth day of the first month Haman called the king's secretaries and dictated a proclamation to be translated into every language and system of writing used in the empire and to be sent to all the rulers, governors, and officials. It was issued in the name of King Xerxes and stamped with his ring. 13 Runners took this proclamation to every province of the empire. It contained the instructions that on a single day, the thirteenth day of Adar, all Jews-young and old, women and children-were to be killed. They were to be slaughtered without mercy and their belongings were to be taken. 14 The contents of the proclamation were to be made public in every province, so that everyone would be prepared when that day came. 15 At the king's command the decree was made public in the capital city of Susa, and runners carried the news to the provinces.
The king and Haman sat down and had a drink while the city of Susa was being thrown into confusion.
Esther chapter 4 (NIV)
1 When Mordecai learned of all that had been done, he tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and ashes, and went out into the city, wailing loudly and bitterly. 2 But he went only as far as the king's gate, because no one clothed in sackcloth was allowed to enter it. 3 In every province to which the edict and order of the king came, there was great mourning among the Jews, with fasting, weeping and wailing. Many lay in sackcloth and ashes.
4 When Esther's maids and eunuchs came and told her about Mordecai, she was in great distress. She sent clothes for him to put on instead of his sackcloth, but he would not accept them.
5 Then Esther summoned Hathach, one of the king's eunuchs assigned to attend her, and ordered him to find out what was troubling Mordecai and why. 6 So Hathach went out to Mordecai in the open square of the city in front of the king's gate. 7 Mordecai told him everything that had happened to him, including the exact amount of money Haman had promised to pay into the royal treasury for the destruction of the Jews. 8 He also gave him a copy of the text of the edict for their annihilation, which had been published in Susa, to show to Esther and explain it to her, and he told him to urge her to go into the king's presence to beg for mercy and plead with him for her people.
9 Hathach went back and reported to Esther what Mordecai had said. 10 Then she instructed him to say to Mordecai, 11 "All the king's officials and the people of the royal provinces know that for any man or woman who approaches the king in the inner court without being summoned the king has but one law: that he be put to death. The only exception to this is for the king to extend the gold scepter to him and spare his life. But thirty days have passed since I was called to go to the king."
12 When Esther's words were reported to Mordecai, 13 he sent back this answer:
"Do not think that because you are in the king's house you alone of all the Jews will escape. 14 For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father's family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?"
15 Then Esther sent this reply to Mordecai:
16 "Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my maids will fast as you do. When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish."
17 So Mordecai went away and carried out all of Esther's instructions.
Esther chapter 5 (CEV)
1 Three days later, Esther dressed in her royal robes and went to the inner court of the palace in front of the throne. The king was sitting there, facing the open doorway. 2 He was happy to see Esther, and he held out the gold scepter to her. When Esther came up and touched the tip of the scepter, 3 the king said, " Esther, what brings you here? Just ask, and I will give you as much as half of my kingdom."
4 Esther answered, " Your Majesty, please come with Haman to a dinner I will prepare for you later today."
5 The king said to his servants, " Hurry and get Haman, so we can accept Esther's invitation."
The king and Haman went to Esther's dinner, 6 and while they were drinking wine, the king asked her, " What can I do for you? Just ask, and I will give you as much as half of my kingdom."
7-8 Esther replied, " Your Majesty, if you really care for me and are willing to do what I want, please come again tomorrow with Haman to the dinner I will prepare for you. At that time I will answer Your Majesty's question."
9 Haman was feeling great as he left. But when he saw Mordecai at the palace gate, he noticed that Mordecai did not stand up or show him any respect. This made Haman really angry, 10 but he did not say a thing.
Esther chapter 5 (TEV)
10 ... Then he invited his friends to his house and asked his wife Zeresh to join them. 11 He boasted to them about how rich he was, how many sons he had, how the king had promoted him to high office, and how much more important he was than any of the king's other officials. 12 "What is more," Haman went on, "Queen Esther gave a banquet for no one but the king and me, and we are invited back tomorrow. 13 But none of this means a thing to me as long as I see that Jew Mordecai sitting at the entrance of the palace."
14 So his wife and all his friends suggested, "Why don't you have a gallows built, seventy-five feet tall? Tomorrow morning you can ask the king to have Mordecai hanged on it, and then you can go to the banquet happy."
Haman thought this was a good idea, so he had the gallows built.
Esther chapter 6 (TEV)
1 That same night the king could not get to sleep, so he had the official records of the empire brought and read to him. 2 The part they read included the account of how Mordecai had uncovered a plot to assassinate the king-the plot made by Bigthana and Teresh, the two palace eunuchs who had guarded the king's rooms. 3 The king asked, "How have we honored and rewarded Mordecai for this?"
His servants answered, "Nothing has been done for him."
4 "Are any of my officials in the palace?" the king asked.
Now Haman had just entered the courtyard; he had come to ask the king to have Mordecai hanged on the gallows that was now ready. 5 So the servants answered, "Haman is here, waiting to see you."
"Show him in," said the king.
6 So Haman came in, and the king said to him, "There is someone I wish very much to honor. What should I do for this man?"
Haman thought to himself, "Now who could the king want to honor so much? Me, of course." 7 So he answered the king, "Have royal robes brought for this man-robes that you yourself wear. Have a royal ornament put on your own horse. 9 Then have one of your highest noblemen dress the man in these robes and lead him, mounted on the horse, through the city square. Have the nobleman announce as they go: "See how the king rewards someone he wishes to honor!' "
10 Then the king said to Haman, "Hurry and get the robes and the horse, and provide these honors for Mordecai the Jew. Do everything for him that you have suggested. You will find him sitting at the entrance of the palace."
11 So Haman got the robes and the horse, and he put the robes on Mordecai. Mordecai got on the horse, and Haman led him through the city square, announcing to the people as they went: "See how the king rewards a man he wishes to honor!"
Esther chapter 6 (NLT)
12 Afterward Mordecai returned to the palace gate, but Haman hurried home dejected and completely humiliated. 13 When Haman told his wife, Zeresh, and all his friends what had happened, they said, "Since Mordecai - this man who has humiliated you - is a Jew, you will never succeed in your plans against him. It will be fatal to continue to oppose him."
14 While they were still talking, the king's eunuchs arrived to take Haman to the banquet Esther had prepared.
Esther chapter 7 (TEV)
1 And so the king and Haman went to eat with Esther 2 for a second time. Over the wine the king asked her again, "Now, Queen Esther, what do you want? Tell me and you shall have it. I'll even give you half the empire."
3 Queen Esther answered, "If it please Your Majesty to grant my humble request, my wish is that I may live and that my people may live. 4 My people and I have been sold for slaughter. If it were nothing more serious than being sold into slavery, I would have kept quiet and not bothered you about it; but we are about to be destroyed-exterminated!"
5 Then King Xerxes asked Queen Esther, "Who dares to do such a thing? Where is this man?"
6 Esther answered, "Our enemy, our persecutor, is this evil man Haman!"
Haman faced the king and queen with terror.
Esther chapter 7 (NLT)
7 Then the king jumped to his feet in a rage and went out into the palace garden. But Haman stayed behind to plead for his life with Queen Esther, for he knew that he was doomed. 8 In despair he fell on the couch where Queen Esther was reclining, just as the king returned from the palace garden.
"Will he even assault the queen right here in the palace, before my very eyes?" the king roared. And as soon as the king spoke, his attendants covered Haman's face, signaling his doom. 9 Then Harbona, one of the king's eunuchs, said, "Haman has set up a gallows that stands seventy-five feet tall in his own courtyard. He intended to use it to hang Mordecai, the man who saved the king from assassination."
"Then hang Haman on it!" the king ordered.
10 So they hanged Haman on the gallows he had set up for Mordecai, and the king's anger was pacified.
Esther chapter 8 (TEV)
1 That same day King Xerxes gave Queen Esther all the property of Haman, the enemy of the Jews. Esther told the king that Mordecai was related to her, and from then on Mordecai was allowed to enter the king's presence. 2 The king took off his ring with his seal on it (which he had taken back from Haman) and gave it to Mordecai. Esther put Mordecai in charge of Haman's property.
3 Then Esther spoke to the king again, throwing herself at his feet and crying. She begged him to do something to stop the evil plot that Haman, the descendant of Agag, had made against the Jews. 4 The king held out the gold scepter to her, so she stood up and said, 5 "If it please Your Majesty, and if you care about me and if it seems right to you, please issue a proclamation to keep Haman's orders from being carried out-those orders that the son of Hammedatha the descendant of Agag gave for the destruction of all the Jews in the empire. 6 How can I endure it if this disaster comes on my people, and my own relatives are killed?"
7 King Xerxes then said to Queen Esther and Mordecai, the Jew, "Look, I have hanged Haman for his plot against the Jews, and I have given Esther his property. 8 But a proclamation issued in the king's name and stamped with the royal seal cannot be revoked. You may, however, write to the Jews whatever you like; and you may write it in my name and stamp it with the royal seal."
Esther chapter 8 (NLT)
9 So on June 25 the king's secretaries were summoned. As Mordecai dictated, they wrote a decree to the Jews and to the princes, governors, and local officials of all the 127 provinces stretching from India to Ethiopia. The decree was written in the scripts and languages of all the peoples of the empire, including the Jews. 10 Mordecai wrote in the name of King Xerxes and sealed the message with the king's signet ring. He sent the letters by swift messengers, who rode horses especially bred for the king's service. 11 The king's decree gave the Jews in every city authority to unite to defend their lives. They were allowed to kill, slaughter, and annihilate anyone of any nationality or province who might attack them or their children and wives, and to take the property of their enemies. 12 The day chosen for this event throughout all the provinces of King Xerxes was March 7 of the next year.
Esther chapter 8 (TEV)
13 It was to be proclaimed as law and made known to everyone in every province, so that the Jews would be ready to take revenge on their enemies when that day came. 14 At the king's command the riders mounted royal horses and rode off at top speed. The decree was also made public in Susa, the capital city.
15 Mordecai left the palace, wearing royal robes of blue and white, a cloak of fine purple linen, and a magnificent gold crown. Then the streets of Susa rang with cheers and joyful shouts. 16 For the Jews there was joy and relief, happiness and a sense of victory. 17 In every city and province, wherever the king's proclamation was read, the Jews held a joyful holiday with feasting and happiness. In fact, many other people became Jews, because they were afraid of them now.
Esther chapter 9 (NLT)
1 So on March 7 the two decrees of the king were put into effect. On that day, the enemies of the Jews had hoped to destroy them, but quite the opposite happened.
Esther chapter 9 (CEV)
1 … The Jews turned things around, 2 and in the cities of every province they came together to attack their enemies. Everyone was afraid of the Jews, and no one could do anything to oppose them. 3 The leaders of the provinces, the rulers, the governors, and the court officials were afraid of Mordecai and took sides with the Jews. 4 Everyone in the provinces knew that the king had promoted him and had given him a lot of power. 5 The Jews took their swords and did away with their enemies, without showing any mercy. 6-10 They killed five hundred people in Susa, but they did not take anything that belonged to the ones they killed. Haman had been one of the worst enemies of the Jews, and ten of his sons were among those who were killed. …
11 Later that day, someone told the king how many people had been killed in Susa. 12 Then he told Esther, " Five hundred people, including Haman's ten sons, have been killed in Susa alone. If that many were killed here, what must have happened in the provinces?
Is there anything else you want done? Just tell me, and it will be done."
13 Esther answered, " Your Majesty, please let the Jews in Susa fight to defend themselves tomorrow, just as they did today. And order the bodies of Haman's ten sons to be hanged in public."
14 King Xerxes did what Esther had requested, and the bodies of Haman's sons were hung in Susa.
Esther chapter 9 (NLT)
15 Then the Jews at Susa gathered together on March 8 and killed three hundred more people, though again they took no plunder.
16 Meanwhile, the other Jews throughout the king's provinces had gathered together to defend their lives. They gained relief from all their enemies, killing seventy-five thousand of those who hated them. But they did not take any plunder. 17 Throughout the provinces this was done on March 7. Then on the following day they rested, celebrating their victory with a day of feasting and gladness. 18 But the Jews at Susa continued killing their enemies on the second day also, and then rested on the third day, making that their day of feasting and gladness. 19 So to this day, rural Jews living in unwalled villages celebrate an annual festival and holiday in late winter, when they rejoice and send gifts to each other.
20 Mordecai recorded these events and sent letters to the Jews near and far, throughout all the king's provinces, 21 encouraging them to celebrate an annual festival on these two days. 22 He told them to celebrate these days with feasting and gladness and by giving gifts to each other and to the poor. This would commemorate a time when the Jews gained relief from their enemies, when their sorrow was turned into gladness and their mourning into joy.
Esther chapter 9 (TEV)
23 So the Jews followed Mordecai's instructions, and the celebration became an annual custom. 24 Haman son of Hammedatha-the descendant of Agag and the enemy of the Jewish people-had cast lots ("purim," they were called) to determine the day for destroying the Jews; he had planned to wipe them out. 25 But Esther went to the king, and the king issued written orders with the result that Haman suffered the fate he had planned for the Jews-he and his sons were hanged from the gallows. 26 That is why the holidays are called Purim. Because of Mordecai's letter and because of all that had happened to them, 27 the Jews made it a rule for themselves, their descendants, and anyone who might become a Jew, that at the proper time each year these two days would be regularly observed according to Mordecai's instructions. 28 It was resolved that every Jewish family of every future generation in every province and every city should remember and observe the days of Purim for all time to come.
29 Then Queen Esther, the daughter of Abihail, along with Mordecai, also wrote a letter, putting her full authority behind the letter about Purim, which Mordecai had written earlier. 30 The letter was addressed to all the Jews, and copies were sent to all the 127 provinces of the Persian Empire. It wished the Jews peace and security 31 and directed them and their descendants to observe the days of Purim at the proper time, just as they had adopted rules for the observance of fasts and times of mourning. This was commanded by both Mordecai and Queen Esther. 32 Esther's command, confirming the rules for Purim, was written down on a scroll.
Esther chapter 10 (NIV)
1 King Xerxes imposed tribute throughout the empire, to its distant shores.
2 And all his acts of power and might, together with a full account of the greatness of Mordecai to which the king had raised him, are they not written in the book of the annals of the kings of Media and Persia?
3 Mordecai the Jew was second in rank to King Xerxes, preeminent among the Jews, and held in high esteem by his many fellow Jews, because he worked for the good of his people and spoke up for the welfare of all the Jews.
Psalm 31 (NLT)
1 For the choir director: A psalm of David.
O LORD, I have come to you for protection;
don't let me be put to shame.
Rescue me, for you always do what is right.
2 Bend down and listen to me; rescue me quickly.
Be for me a great rock of safety,
a fortress where my enemies cannot reach me.
3 You are my rock and my fortress.
For the honor of your name, lead me out of this peril.
4 Pull me from the trap my enemies set for me,
for I find protection in you alone.
5 I entrust my spirit into your hand.
Rescue me, LORD, for you are a faithful God.
6 I hate those who worship worthless idols.
I trust in the LORD.
7 I am overcome with joy because of your unfailing love,
for you have seen my troubles, and you care about the anguish of my soul.
8 You have not handed me over to my enemy but have set me in a safe place.
9 Have mercy on me, LORD, for I am in distress.
My sight is blurred because of my tears.
My body and soul are withering away.
10 I am dying from grief; my years are shortened by sadness.
Misery has drained my strength; I am wasting away from within.
11 I am scorned by all my enemies and despised by my neighbors -
even my friends are afraid to come near me.
When they see me on the street, they turn the other way.
12 I have been ignored as if I were dead, as if I were a broken pot.
13 I have heard the many rumors about me, and I am surrounded by terror.
My enemies conspire against me, plotting to take my life.
14 But I am trusting you, O LORD, saying, "You are my God!"
15 My future is in your hands. Rescue me from those who hunt me down relentlessly.
16 Let your favor shine on your servant. In your unfailing love, save me.
17 Don't let me be disgraced, O LORD, for I call out to you for help.
Let the wicked be disgraced; let them lie silent in the grave.
18 May their lying lips be silenced - those proud and arrogant lips that accuse the godly.
19 Your goodness is so great! You have stored up great blessings for those who honor you.
You have done so much for those who come to you for protection, blessing them before the watching world.
20 You hide them in the shelter of your presence, safe from those who conspire against them.
You shelter them in your presence, far from accusing tongues.
21 Praise the LORD, for he has shown me his unfailing love.
He kept me safe when my city was under attack.
22 In sudden fear I had cried out, "I have been cut off from the LORD!"
But you heard my cry for mercy and answered my call for help.
23 Love the LORD, all you faithful ones!
For the LORD protects those who are loyal to him, but he harshly punishes all who are arrogant.
24 So be strong and take courage, all you who put your hope in the LORD!
This is the last file in this section. The next section is entitled "The suffering of the good man Job, - counterbalance to the rest of the Old Testament", and the first file in it is entitled "The Bible Story Of The Suffering That God Allowed To Be Brought On The Good Man Job".
If you have found parts of the Old Testament or the Book of Revelation offensive, please read An Attempt to Explain Gruesome Bible Passages.
The selections of Bible quotations have been put together by Diana Holbourn.
Throughout this series, wherever the initials TEV appear, they stand for Today's English Version (The Good News Bible).Other initials: