In those days, two of the king’s officers, because they were angry with the king, wanted to lay hands on him and kill him. But Mordecai, who was a watchman at the king’s gate, heard what they said, and told Esther, and Esther told the king.
When the officers were examined their guilt was found out, and they were both hanged on a gallows. And what Mordecai had done to save the king’s life was written down in a book where an account was kept of all the principal things that happened in the kingdom.
Now there was at the palace a servant named Haman. After these things, King Ahasuerus made Haman a great man, and set him above all the princes who were at the palace with him. And all the king’s servants who watched by the king’s gate, bowed down and did reverence before Haman, for so the king commanded them to do. But Mordecai would not bow down before him.
Then the king’s servants said to Mordecai, Why do you not obey the king’s commandment? And after they had spoken to him day by day, and he would not listen to them, they told Haman of it. When Haman saw that Mordecai bowed not, nor did him reverence, he was very angry and determined to punish him. But he was not satisfied to punish Mordecai alone, he thought he would punish, and destroy all the Jews that were in Persia; for the king’s servants had told him that Mordecai was a Jew.
So Haman spoke to king Ahasuerus against the Jews. He said, There are some of them living in all the provinces of thy kingdom, and they have laws of their own which are different from the laws of your people, neither do they obey the king’s laws. Therefore it is not well for the king to let them live. And if the king will make a decree that they shall be destroyed, I will pay ten thousand talents of silver into the king’s treasury.
King Ahasuerus listened to what Haman said and took his ring from his finger and gave it to Haman. Now the ring was what the king used when he made a law, or decree. He sealed the writing with his ring instead of signing it with his name, as we do now, and that was what made it one of the laws of the Medes and Persians which could not be changed.
When he gave Haman his ring, the king meant that Haman should make such a decree as he chose, against the Jews, and seal it with his ring. This would be the same as if the king himself had made it. He told Haman also that he need not pay the ten thousand talents of silver into his treasury, but he might do with the Jews as he pleased.
Then Haman called the king’s scribes, or writers, together, and they wrote for him a decree that, on the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, the people of Persia should kill and destroy all the Jews in the kingdom, both young and old, little children and women. And whoever should kill them, had permission to take their houses, their lands, and their money, and to keep these things for his own.
Haman sealed the decree with the king’s ring, and copies of it were sent by messengers to the governors and rulers of all the provinces, so that it might be made known to all the people of Persia. And the messengers went out in haste, according to the king’s commandment. After they had gone, the king and Haman sat down to drink wine together.
When Mordecai heard of the decree that Haman had made, he was filled with sorrow; he tore his clothes, and put on sackcloth, and went out into the streets of the city, and cried with a loud and bitter cry. He came even before the king’s gate, though he might not pass through there, because it was forbidden that anyone should pass through the king’s gate who was clothed in sackcloth.
And in every province where the messengers brought the decree, there was great mourning among the Jews, and fasting and weeping and wailing; and many lay down in sackcloth and ashes, because of their grief.
Now Queen Esther had not heard of the decree, but her maids came and told her that Mordecai was clothed in sackcloth, and that he cried in the streets of the city. Then Esther was very sorry, and she sent new garments to him, that he might take off the sackcloth and put the new garments on. But he would not. Therefore Esther called one of the king’s officers who waited on her, and sent him to Mordecai to ask why he was troubled.
So the officer went to the street before the king’s gate, where Mordecai was, and asked him. Then Mordecai told the officer of all that had happened, and of the money that Haman had promised to pay into the king’s treasury, if he might be allowed to destroy the Jews. Mordecai gave the officer also, a copy of Haman’s decree, to show Esther; and he asked the officer to tell the queen that she should go into the palace to the king, and pray and beg him to save the Jews.
The officer came and told Esther what Mordecai said. Then Esther sent word to Mordecai, saying, All the king’s servants, and all the people of Persia know, that whosoever shall go in before the king without being called, whether it be man or woman, must be put to death unless the king shall hold out the golden sceptre. But I have not been called to come unto the king these thirty days. How then can I go and speak with him?
And the officer went and told Mordecai. But Mordecai sent again to Esther, and said to her, Do not think, because you are queen, that our enemies will spare you when they kill all the Jews. For if you will not try to save your people at this time, someone else shall save them, but you and your relations shall be destroyed. And who can tell whether you have not been made queen on purpose for this time, so that you might save them?
Then Esther sent word to Mordecai, saying, Go and gather together all the Jews that are in the city, and let them fast for me; and neither eat nor drink for three days, night or day; I also, and my maidens, will fast, and then I will go in and speak with the king, though he has not called for me. And if I be put to death, I am willing to die. So Mordecai went and called all the Jews together, and they did as Esther commanded.