Old Testament Story List

Esther

In the third year of the reign of King Ahasuerus over Persia and Media, the king invited all his princes and servants to a magnificent feast.

Now while he was merry with wine, he ordered his chamberlains to bring Queen Vashti, with the royal crown, to show her great beauty to the princes and the people. But the queen refused to come before the strangers.

Then his wise men advised Ahasuerus to banish his wife. They reasoned that she had wronged the king by not obeying his command and that she had insulted his guests. Likewise, if the women of Persia and Media were to hear that such disobedience had gone unpunished, they would have nothing but contempt for their husbands forevermore.

So the king issued a decree that every man should be ruler in his own home and that the wives should give honor and obedience to their husbands. Then all the fair young women of the kingdom were brought before the king so that he might choose a new queen.

Now there was in the capital, Shushan, a certain Jew named Mordecai, who had been carried away a captive from Jerusalem during the Babylonian invasion. He had adopted and brought up Esther, his uncle's daughter, for she was an orphan. She was fair and beautiful. Mordecai warned her not to disclose her race when she was brought before the king.

The king, seeing Esther, loved her above all the others, and he set the royal crown on her head and made her queen instead of Vashti.

Mordecai went every day to the king's gate and walked beneath the queen's window in the palace of the women, hoping that he might hear news of his adopted daughter. One day he overheard two of the king's chamberlains plotting to kill the king.

He warned Esther, who told the king. When the treachery was investigated, and the plot exposed, the two men were caught and hanged, an the heart of King Ahasuerus was filled with gratitude toward Mordecai.

One of the chief princes of the kingdom of the Medes and Persians was Haman. All the king's servants except Mordecai bowed low before him as he entered the king's gate. This so enraged the proud Prince Haman that he determined to destroy not only Mordecai but all of the Jews who were in the whole kingdom of Ahasuerus.

Accordingly, he persuaded the king to give him his royal signet ring, and then sent letters sealed with the king's seal to the governors of all the province of Persia, ordering them on a certain day to slay every man, woman, and child of Jewish blood, and to confiscate their belongings.

As soon as Mordecai learned what Haman had done, he put on sackcloth and ashes and cried with a loud and bitter cry before the king's gate.

When Queen Esther heard of it, she bade Mordecai gather all the Jews in Shushan to fast and pray for three days. The, against the law (for the king had not summoned her), she put on her royal garments and went in to Ahasuerus.

When the king saw Esther standing modestly in his court, near his throne, instead of being angry, he held out his golden scepter to her, and said, "What is your request, Queen Esther? Though it be half my kingdom, it shall be given to you."

And Esther asked only that the king and Haman come to the banquet she would prepare for them the next day.

Haman was joyful, and went home to tell his family how he had been honored not only the the king but now by the queen as well. But on the way he had passed Mordecai, who still refused to bow to him. So his joy turned to anger and he ordered a gallows to be built fifty cubits high upon which the stubborn Mordecai was to be hanged.

That night, the king could not sleep, and he called for the book of chronicles to be read to him. When he heard that Mordecai once had uncovered a plot against his life, Ahasuerus siad, "What hone was done to Mordecai for this?" And his servants answered, "Nothing."

The next morning Haman came to the king's court to discuss the hanging of Mordecai. But before he could speak, the king asked him, "What shall be done for a man whom the king wishes to honor?"

Haman thought the king was referring to him, so he answered, "Let him be arrayed in royal garments and led on horseback through the streets of the city, while it is proclaimed that he is so honored by the king." Great was Haman's discomfort when he heard the king say: "So et it be done to Mordecai, for once he saved my life." And there was hatred in Haman's heart when he came to the queen's banquet.

Here the king asked Esther what was her petition.

Then Esther said, "If it please the king, let my life be given me and my people. For we are to perish, I and my people - to be slain and destroyed by an enemy."

Then the king cried out, "Who and where is he that dares to do such a thing?"

And Esther said, "The enemy is this wicked Haman."

Then Haman was afraid, for he saw that the king was weighing evil in his mind against him.

Just then a chamberlain came and told of the gallows Haman had built for Mordecai. The king said, "Hang Haman thereon instead."

So they hanged Haman on the gallows he had prepared for Mordecai. Ahasuerus spared all the Jews, and Haman's worldly good were divided among Queen Esther's people.


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