Queen Vashti Defies King Xerxes
3 In the third year of his reign he gave a banquet for all his officials and administrators. The armies of Persia and Media were present, as well as the governors and noblemen of the provinces. 4 For six whole months he made a show of the riches of the imperial court with all its splendor and majesty.
5 After that, the king gave a banquet for all the people in the capital city of Susa, rich and poor alike. It lasted a whole week and was held in the gardens of the royal palace. 6 The courtyard there was decorated with blue and white cotton curtains, tied by cords of fine purple linen to silver rings on marble columns. Couches made of gold and silver had been placed in the courtyard, which was paved with white marble, red feldspar, shining mother-of-pearl, and blue turquoise. 7 Drinks were served in gold cups, no two of them alike, and the king was generous with the royal wine. 8 There were no limits on the drinks; the king had given orders to the palace servants that everyone could have as much as they wanted.[b]
9 Meanwhile, inside the royal palace Queen Vashti was giving a banquet for the women.
10 On the seventh day of his banquet the king was drinking and feeling happy, so he called in the seven eunuchs who were his personal servants, Mehuman, Biztha, Harbona, Bigtha, Abagtha, Zethar, and Carkas. 11 He ordered them to bring in Queen Vashti, wearing her royal crown. The queen was a beautiful woman, and the king wanted to show off her beauty to the officials and all his guests. 12 But when the servants told Queen Vashti of the king's command, she refused to come. This made the king furious.
13 Now it was the king's custom to ask for expert opinion on questions of law and order, so he called for his advisers, who would know what should be done. 14 Those he most often turned to for advice were Carshena, Shethar, Admatha, Tarshish, Meres, Marsena, and Memucan—seven officials of Persia and Media who held the highest offices in the kingdom. 15 He said to these men, “I, King Xerxes, sent my servants to Queen Vashti with a command, and she refused to obey it! What does the law say that we should do with her?”
16 Then Memucan declared to the king and his officials: “Queen Vashti has insulted not only the king but also his officials—in fact, every man in the empire! 17 Every woman in the empire will start looking down on her husband as soon as she hears what the queen has done. They'll say, ‘King Xerxes commanded Queen Vashti to come to him, and she refused.’ 18 When the wives of the royal officials of Persia and Media hear about the queen's behavior, they will be telling their husbands about it before the day is out. Wives everywhere will have no respect for their husbands, and husbands will be angry with their wives. 19 If it please Your Majesty, issue a royal proclamation that Vashti may never again appear before the king. Have it written into the laws of Persia and Media, so that it can never be changed. Then give her place as queen to some better woman. 20 When your proclamation is made known all over this huge empire, every woman will treat her husband with proper respect, whether he's rich or poor.”
21 The king and his officials liked this idea, and the king did what Memucan suggested. 22 To each of the royal provinces he sent a message in the language and the system of writing of that province, saying[c] that every husband should be the master of his home and speak with final authority.
Esther Becomes Queen
2 Later, even after the king's anger had cooled down, he kept thinking about what Vashti had done and about his proclamation against her. 2 So some of the king's advisers who were close to him suggested, “Why don't you make a search to find some beautiful young virgins? 3 You can appoint officials in every province of the empire and have them bring all these beautiful young women to your harem here in Susa, the capital city. Put them in the care of Hegai, the eunuch who is in charge of your women, and let them be given a beauty treatment. 4 Then take the young woman you like best and make her queen in Vashti's place.”
The king thought this was good advice, so he followed it.
5 There in Susa lived a Jew named Mordecai son of Jair; he was from the tribe of Benjamin and was a descendant of Kish and Shimei. 6 (B)When King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon took King Jehoiachin of Judah into exile from Jerusalem, along with a group of captives, Mordecai was among them. 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. 9 Hegai liked Esther, and she won his favor. He lost no time in beginning her beauty treatment of massage and special diet. He gave her the best place in the harem and assigned seven young women specially chosen from the royal palace to serve her.
10 Now, on the advice of Mordecai, Esther had kept it secret that she was Jewish. 11 Every day Mordecai would walk back and forth in front of the courtyard of the harem, in order to find out how she was getting along and what was going to happen to her.
12 The regular beauty treatment for the women lasted a year—massages with oil of myrrh for six months and with oil of balsam for six more. After that, each woman would be taken in turn to King Xerxes. 13 When she went from the harem to the palace, she could wear whatever she wanted. 14 She would go there in the evening, and the next morning she would be taken to another harem and put in the care of Shaashgaz, the eunuch in charge of the king's concubines. She would not go to the king again unless he liked her enough to ask for her by name.
15 The time came for Esther to go to the king. Esther—the daughter of Abihail and the cousin of Mordecai, who had adopted her as his daughter; Esther—admired by everyone who saw her. When her turn came, she wore just what Hegai, the eunuch in charge of the harem, advised her to wear. 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 in place of Vashti. 18 Then the king gave a great banquet in Esther's honor and invited all his officials and administrators. He proclaimed a holiday[d] for the whole empire and distributed gifts worthy of a king.
Mordecai Saves the King's Life
19 Meanwhile Mordecai had been appointed by the king to an administrative position. 20 As for Esther, she had still not let it be known that she was Jewish. Mordecai had told her not to tell anyone, and she obeyed him in this, just as she had obeyed him when she was a little girl under his care.
21 During the time that Mordecai held office in the palace, Bigthana and Teresh, two of the palace eunuchs who guarded the entrance to the king's rooms, became hostile to King Xerxes and plotted to assassinate him. 22 Mordecai learned about it and told Queen Esther, who then told the king what Mordecai had found out. 23 There was an investigation, and it was discovered that the report was true, so both men were hanged on the gallows. The king ordered an account of this to be written down in the official records of the empire.
Haman Plots to Destroy the Jews
3 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.[e] 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.
7 In the twelfth year of King Xerxes' rule, in the first month, the month of Nisan, Haman ordered the lots to be cast (“purim,” they were called) to find out the right day and month to carry out his plot. The thirteenth day of the twelfth month, the month of Adar, was decided on.
8 (C)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 1:1 Hebrew Cush: Cush is the ancient name of the extensive territory south of the First Cataract of the Nile River. This region was called Ethiopia in Graeco-Roman times, and included within its borders most of modern Sudan and some of present-day Ethiopia (Abyssinia).
- Esther 1:8 There were no limits … wanted; or But no one was forced to drink; the king had given orders to the palace servants that everyone could have as much or as little as they wanted.
- Esther 1:22 saying; or in order.
- Esther 2:18 holiday; or remission of taxes.
- Esther 3:1 An Amalekite king; his people were traditional enemies of the people of Israel.
1 Corinthians 11:17-34
The Lord's Supper(A)
17 In the following instructions, however, I do not praise you, because your meetings for worship actually do more harm than good. 18 In the first place, I have been told that there are opposing groups in your meetings; and this I believe is partly true. (19 No doubt there must be divisions among you so that the ones who are in the right may be clearly seen.) 20 When you meet together as a group, it is not the Lord's Supper that you eat. 21 For as you eat, you each go ahead with your own meal, so that some are hungry while others get drunk. 22 Don't you have your own homes in which to eat and drink? Or would you rather despise the church of God and put to shame the people who are in need? What do you expect me to say to you about this? Shall I praise you? Of course I don't!
23 For I received from the Lord the teaching that I passed on to you: that the Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took a piece of bread, 24 gave thanks to God, broke it, and said, “This is my body, which is for you. Do this in memory of me.” 25 (B)In the same way, after the supper he took the cup and said, “This cup is God's new covenant, sealed with my blood. Whenever you drink it, do so in memory of me.”
26 This means that every time you eat this bread and drink from this cup you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes. 27 It follows that if one of you eats the Lord's bread or drinks from his cup in a way that dishonors him, you are guilty of sin against the Lord's body and blood. 28 So then, you should each examine yourself first, and then eat the bread and drink from the cup. 29 For if you do not recognize the meaning of the Lord's body when you eat the bread and drink from the cup, you bring judgment on yourself as you eat and drink. 30 That is why many of you are sick and weak, and several have died. 31 If we would examine ourselves first, we would not come under God's judgment. 32 But we are judged and punished by the Lord, so that we shall not be condemned together with the world.
33 So then, my friends, when you gather together to eat the Lord's Supper, wait for one another. 34 And if any of you are hungry, you should eat at home, so that you will not come under God's judgment as you meet together. As for the other matters, I will settle them when I come.
17 How much longer, Lord, will you just look on?
Rescue me from their attacks;
save my life from these lions!
18 Then I will thank you in the assembly of your people;
I will praise you before them all.
19 (A)Don't let my enemies, those liars,
gloat over my defeat.
Don't let those who hate me for no reason
smirk with delight over my sorrow.
20 They do not speak in a friendly way;
instead they invent all kinds of lies about peace-loving people.
21 They accuse me, shouting,
“We saw what you did!”
22 But you, O Lord, have seen this.
So don't be silent, Lord;
don't keep yourself far away!
23 Rouse yourself, O Lord, and defend me;
rise up, my God, and plead my cause.
24 You are righteous, O Lord, so declare me innocent;
don't let my enemies gloat over me.
25 Don't let them say to themselves,
“We are rid of him!
That's just what we wanted!”
26 May those who gloat over my suffering
be completely defeated and confused;
may those who claim to be better than I am
be covered with shame and disgrace.
27 May those who want to see me acquitted
shout for joy and say again and again,
“How great is the Lord!
He is pleased with the success of his servant.”
28 Then I will proclaim your righteousness,
and I will praise you all day long.
19 Better to live out in the desert than with a nagging, complaining wife.
20 Wise people live in wealth and luxury, but stupid people spend their money as fast as they get it.