God is in control

An EasyEnglish Bible Version and Commentary (2800 word vocabulary) on the Book of Esther

www.easyenglish.info

Robert Bryce

Words in boxes are from the Bible.

A word list at the end explains words with a *star by them.

This commentary has been through Advanced Theological Checking.

 

About the Book of Esther

The events that the first chapter of the book of Esther describes happened about 483 BC (Before Christ). Over 100 years earlier, Nebuchadnezzar (the king of Babylon) had attacked Jerusalem. He overcame the *Jews and he took many *Jews to Babylon. Almost 70 years after that, the king of Persia defeated the armies of Babylon in battle. Then the people in Persia allowed the *Jews to return to their own country, but not many *Jews did return. When the story of Esther happened, most *Jews were still living in the country called Persia.

We do not know who wrote the book. It may have been Mordecai or Ezra. Whoever wrote it knew the customs of Persia well. We know this from other history.

The Bible does not mention the book of Esther anywhere else. Some people think that it is only a story. They think that it is not true. But the writer wants us to know that the story is true. At the start of the book, he says when it happened. At the end of the book, he says that the official records included the story about Esther. (See Esther 10:2 and also Esther 2:23.)

The book of Esther does not mention the name of God. This is strange for a book that is in the Bible. Sometimes God seems to be silent. We might even think that he does not care about us. The writer of the book of Esther probably wanted his readers to realise that God is always in control. Although we cannot see God, he is always doing things in the world. Nobody can stop his plans.

·     Usually the kings of Persia only married wives from the 7 most important families in Persia. But God wanted Esther, who was a *Jew, to be queen. The servants of the king suggested that officials should search all the *kingdom for suitable young girls. The king would then choose his favourite girl and he would make her queen (Esther 2:2-4). God made Esther beautiful (Esther 2:7). And the king chose her to be queen.

·     Mordecai was Esther’s relative. He saved the king’s life. But the king forgot to reward him. That was unusual. But God knew that the best time for Mordecai to get his reward was much later (Esther 2:21-23).

·     Haman was the enemy of the *Jews. He wanted to select a lucky date when he could kill the *Jews. So he used the *Purim stones, which were a game of chance. God made sure that the *Purim stones chose a date nearly a year later. God had a special plan to save the *Jews from Haman’s plot (Esther 3:7).

·     Mordecai believed that God had made Esther queen. So Mordecai believed that God could use her to save the *Jews. But even if Esther did not speak on their behalf, God would still save the *Jews. Mordecai believed this also (Esther 4:12-14).

·     Esther went to see the king, although he had not invited her. In Persia, this was a dangerous thing to do. She knew that she was risking her life. But she also knew that God was in control. God helped Esther to please the king. The king promised to give her almost anything that she wanted (Esther 5:1-3).

·     We do not know why the king could not sleep that night. We do not know why he chose to read the books of official records. But we know that this was part of God’s plan. The records described how Mordecai saved the king’s life. So the king wanted advice about how to reward Mordecai. He decided to ask the first important official that he could find. It was Haman. Haman got up early and, at exactly the right time, he came to see the king. But Haman wanted the king to hang Mordecai (Esther 6:1-5).

·     Haman told his wife and his friends about Mordecai. He told them that Mordecai was a *Jew. They seemed to believe that God would protect his *Jewish people (Esther 6:12-14).

·     God changed the situation. Mordecai got the king’s reward that Haman had wanted for himself. And Haman got the punishment that Haman wanted Mordecai to get (Esther 7:5-10). Then the king allowed Mordecai to write a new law that would protect the *Jews from Haman’s evil plan.

·     The day that Haman had chosen for his plan came. The enemies of the *Jews had hoped to kill all the *Jews. But Mordecai’s law allowed the *Jews to defend themselves on that day. Haman’s plot had failed. God’s plan had succeeded (Esther 9:1-4).

·     The book of Esther records the origin of the holiday called *Purim. During this holiday, the *Jews remember how God saved them from their enemies (Esther 9:20-22).

Chapter 1

v1-2 King Xerxes lived in his palace at Susa. He ruled over 127 countries and regions. Their extent was from India to Cush.

Verses 1-2 Xerxes was king of the nation called Persia and Media. It was the most powerful nation in the world at that time. He fought several wars against the armies of Greece. He lived in different palaces at different times of the year. One of these palaces was at Susa. At Susa, there was a very large castle. The king’s palace was in it. Susa was also the name of the large city that was near the castle.

Cush was in a country in north east Africa. Today, Cush is part of Egypt and Sudan.

v3 When Xerxes had been king for almost three years, he gave a special party. The party was for all his palace officials and important people. Xerxes also invited the important officials of the districts and the military officers of Persia and Media. v4 Xerxes displayed his immense wealth. The party lasted for 6 months. Xerxes wanted to impress everyone that he was a very great king.

v5 After this, Xerxes invited all the people who lived in the castle in Susa to a special party. He invited everyone to come, whether they were important or not important. The party was in the garden of the king’s palace. The party lasted for a week. v6 In the garden there were white and blue curtains. White and purple material fastened the curtains to silver rings on stone columns. There were seats that someone had made out of gold and silver. The floor was a pattern of precious stones that had many colours. v7 The guests drank from gold cups. Each cup was different from every other cup. There was plenty of the king’s special wine, because the king was very generous. v8 The king ordered all the palace servants to give everyone as much wine as they wanted. So, everyone drank all the wine that they desired.

v9 Queen Vashti also gave a special party. This party was for the women in King Xerxes’ royal palace.

Verses 3-9 In those days, many kings were very rich and powerful. Often they would have parties that lasted for long periods. During these parties, they would eat and drink. They would invite many people. 6 months is a long time for a party, but probably different officials came at different times. Maybe Xerxes gave the party to show his new palace to the people. Darius, who was king before Xerxes, started to build the palace. Xerxes finished it. Maybe he wanted to show how great he was. He was intending to fight a war with Greece. So he also invited his military leaders.

White and blue or purple were the special royal colours. The gold cups were all different. They showed that Xerxes was very rich.

After the 6 months, the king gave another special party. This party was for the local people and it lasted for a week.

The queen gave a special party too. The women’s party was separate from the men’s party. This also shows that the king was very rich.

v10-11 After 7 days, King Xerxes was merry, because he had drunk a lot of wine. He ordered the 7 men who looked after his wives to come to him. The men’s names were Mehuman, Biztha, Harbona, Bigtha, Abagtha, Zethar and Carcas. He ordered them to fetch Queen Vashti to him. She should wear her royal crown. The queen was very beautiful. The king wanted to show all the princes and the other guests what a beautiful wife he had.

v12 The servants told Queen Vashti what the king had ordered. But the queen refused to obey. This made the king extremely angry.

Verses 10-12 The king ordered the queen to stand in front of men who had drunk lots of wine. She would not have enjoyed that. Perhaps the king only ordered her because he had drunk too much wine. Maybe that is why she did not obey the king.

The rich and powerful king was very angry. He wanted to show all his people how great he was. Now everyone knew that the king’s own wife did not obey him.

v13 It was the king’s custom to ask for advice about legal matters. He called for the experts. They would know what to do. v14 The wise men that the king especially trusted were called Carshena, Shethar, Admatha, Tarshish, Meres, Marsena and Memucan. These 7 men were the most important officials in the nation called Persia and Media. v15 The king asked them, ‘What does the law say? What must happen to Queen Vashti? The servants told the king’s command to Queen Vashti, but she has not obeyed him.’

v16 Memucan answered the king and the officials. ‘Queen Vashti has caused trouble for the king. She has also caused trouble for the officials and all the people in the entire *kingdom. v17 All the women will hear what the queen has done. They will hear that King Xerxes ordered the queen to come. They will hear that she did not come to the king. Then they will not respect their husbands. v18 Today the important women in Persia and Media will hear what the queen has done. Then they will not respect the royal officials. There will be no honour and much anger. v19 Therefore, here is an idea that the king might like. The king should issue a royal law. Nobody can ever change the laws of Persia and Media. Vashti must not come to the king again. Then the king can find someone better to be queen. v20 The king will issue this royal law to all parts of this great *kingdom. Then all the women will respect their husbands, from the least important men to the most important men.’

v21 The king and his noble officials liked this advice. So the king did what Memucan had suggested. v22 He sent letters to all parts of the *kingdom. The letters were in the language of each district. In the letters, the king ordered that every man should rule over his own family.

Verses 13-22 The king asked the wise men about the law. Memucan did not mention the law when he answered the king. He just wanted to say something that would please the king. All the women in the country would hear that the queen had not obeyed the king. Memucan knew that. He was afraid that wives would not obey their husbands. Maybe he was afraid that his own wife would not obey him in future.

The king ordered that every man should rule over his own family. But the queen had not obeyed the king. So the king would find a better queen who would obey him. God was preparing the way for Esther to become queen.

There were many different nations in the *kingdom and they spoke many different languages. Officials wrote the king’s command in each nation’s own language. This would make sure that everyone would understand the new law.

Persia had good roads. So officials could deliver the royal messages quickly.

Chapter 2

v1 Later, when the king was not still angry, he thought about Vashti. He remembered what she had done. And he remembered the law that he had made.

Verse 1 Xerxes may have been sorry for what he had done to Vashti. We do not know if he was sorry soon afterwards. It may have happened much later. It was several years later that Xerxes made Esther queen. (See Esther 2:16-17.) The delay was probably because Xerxes was abroad. During this time, he fought wars against the armies of Greece.

v2 Then the king’s personal servants gave him advice. ‘The king should order people to find some beautiful young *virgins for the king. v3 The king should appoint officials in all the countries that he rules. There is a castle at Susa. They can bring all these beautiful young *virgins to the women’s house that is in the castle. Hegai is the royal servant who looks after the king’s wives. He will look after them and give them *beauty treatments. v4 Then the girl that you like best can be queen instead of Vashti.’ The king liked this advice and he followed it.

Verses 2-4 Usually the kings of Persia only married wives from the 7 most important families in Persia. Esther was a *Jew, but God wanted Esther to be queen. The servants of the unhappy king suggested that officials should search all the *kingdom for suitable young girls. These girls had not had sex with a man. The king would then choose his favourite girl and he would make her queen.

v5-6 A *Jew called Mordecai, from the family of Benjamin, lived in the castle in Susa. He was the son of Jair, who was the son of Shimei. Shimei was the son of Kish. Kish was one of the *Jews whom Nebuchadnezzar took from Jerusalem to Babylon with Jehoiachin (the king of Judah). v7 Mordecai had looked after his cousin Hadassah because she had no father or mother. Hadassah, who was also called Esther, was very beautiful. And she had a lovely figure. When her father and mother died, Mordecai adopted her.

Verses 5-7 The writer interrupts the story to tell us about Esther and Mordecai. They are very important people in the story. They were *Jews.

The king of Babylon had taken King Jehoiachin and many of the *Jews away from Jerusalem over 100 years earlier.

Esther’s *Jewish name was Hadassah. The name Esther might be the same as Ishtar, who was the female god of love in Babylon. Often the people in Babylon gave *Jews the names of false gods. They did this because they wanted the *Jews to forget the real God. Daniel and his friends also had two names (Daniel 1:7). (The king of Babylon had taken Daniel and his friends away from Jerusalem too.)

Esther was very beautiful. God made her beautiful, because he was going to make her the queen. God makes each of us what he wants us to be.

v8 So, when the king issued his law, his officials brought many girls to the castle at Susa. Hegai was responsible for them. They also brought Esther to the king’s palace. Hegai, who looked after the women, was responsible for her. v9 She pleased him and he was kind to her. Immediately he gave her *beauty treatments and special food. He also gave her 7 female servants from the king’s palace. He put her and her servants in the best place in the women’s house.

Verses 8-9 The king wanted a beautiful woman as his wife. Esther was beautiful and a pleasant person. Hegai helped her because he liked her. Everyone that she met liked her. (See Esther 2:15.) God made Joseph and Daniel pleasant too and people helped them (Genesis 39:21-23 and Daniel 1:9). Mordecai and Hegai gave good advice to Esther and she obeyed them (Esther 2:15).

v10 Esther had not told anyone her nationality. Nor had she said anything about her family. Mordecai had warned her not to tell anyone. v11 Every day Mordecai walked about near the yard of the women’s house. He wanted to know if Esther was well. He wanted to know what was happening to her.

Verses 10-11 Mordecai had told her not to tell anyone that she was a *Jew. Esther always obeyed Mordecai. (See also verse 20.) We do not know why he said this. However, this fact is important to the story. Perhaps the king would not choose a *Jew to be queen. It was the usual custom in Persia to choose a queen from one of the 7 noble families.

v12 Before King Xerxes saw the girls, they had *beauty treatment for a year. That was the rule. They had one kind of *beauty treatment for 6 months and a different kind for another 6 months. v13 Then each girl took whatever she wanted from the women’s house to the king’s palace. This was how she went in to the king. v14 She went in the evening. In the morning, she went back to another house for women. Afterwards, Shaashgaz looked after her. He was the king’s servant who looked after the king’s other wives. The girl did not return to the king unless he liked her. Then he would ask for her by name.

Verses 12-14 The young women had *beauty treatment for a year to make them ready for the king. Their time to go in to the king would come. Then they probably chose the clothes and other things that they wanted.

v15-16 When Xerxes had been king for almost 7 years, it was Esther’s time to go to the king. (Esther was the daughter of Mordecai’s uncle Abihail. Mordecai had adopted her.) Esther did not ask for anything except for the things that Hegai advised. Hegai was the king’s servant who looked after the women’s house. Esther pleased everyone who saw her. She went to the king, in his palace, in the tenth month (the month called Tebeth).

v17 The king loved Esther more than he loved any of the other women. He was kinder to her than he was to any of the other *virgins. So, he put a royal crown on her head and he made her queen instead of Vashti. v18 The king gave a big party (Esther’s party) for all his officials and important people. He ordered a holiday for the whole nation. And he gave generous presents fit for a king to give.

Verses 15-18 The king liked Esther immediately. It seems that he did not see any more of the young women. He made Esther queen.

Because Xerxes wanted to show honour to Esther, he arranged a big party. The happy king gave everyone a holiday. This might mean that they did not pay any taxes for a short time.

v19 When the *virgins were together for a second time, Mordecai was sitting at the king’s gate. v20 Esther still did not tell anyone about her family or about her nationality. Mordecai had told her not to say that she was a *Jew. Esther had obeyed Mordecai since she was a little girl. She still obeyed him.

v21 At that time, the king had two officials who guarded his rooms. They were called Bigthan and Teresh. They became angry with the king and they plotted to kill him. v22 Mordecai heard about the plot and he told Queen Esther. Esther told the king what Mordecai had discovered. v23 The king checked and found that the report was true. So the king’s men hanged both the officials on *gallows. By the king’s orders, the official records included an account of the event.

Verses 19-23 The writer says that the *virgins were together for a second time. He does not say why. Esther still obeyed Mordecai even when she was the queen.

Mordecai sat at the king’s gate. This probably means that he was now a royal official. Perhaps Esther appointed him. Mordecai was in a good place to hear about the plot against the king. But the king forgot to reward him. That was unusual. But God knew that the best time for Mordecai to get his reward was much later.

Bigthan is probably not the same person as Bigtha. (See Esther 1:10-11.)

Chapter 3

v1 Some time later, King Xerxes rewarded Haman. Haman was from the family of Agag and his father was Hammedatha. The king gave more authority to Haman than to any of the other important people.

Verse 1 In Chapter 2, we learned that Mordecai saved the king’s life. In Chapter 6, we shall read that the king did not reward Mordecai until much later. Chapter 3 starts with the news that King Xerxes rewarded Haman. The king made Haman very important. We do not know why the king rewarded Haman.

Haman was from the family of Agag. Agag had been the king of the people called Amalekites. Mordecai was from the family of a man called Kish. Kish was also the name of King Saul’s father. The Amalekites were the enemies of King Saul. (See 1 Samuel chapter 15 and 2 Samuel 1:1-16.)

v2 All the king’s officials who were at the king’s gate gave special honour to Haman. The king had ordered them to do that. Mordecai did not give special honour to Haman.

v3 The king’s officials who were at the king’s gate said to Mordecai, ‘You are not obeying the king’s command.’ v4 They spoke to him every day, but he did not listen to them. Therefore, the officials told Haman in order to see what he would do about Mordecai’s actions. Mordecai had told them that he was a *Jew.

Verses 2-4 People often gave special honour to old or important people. The *Jews did this too. (See Genesis 33:3; 1 Samuel 20:41; 1 Samuel 24:8.) Mordecai did not give special honour to Haman. If the king had give this command, maybe Haman did not really deserve honour. Maybe Mordecai thought that he should only give that sort of honour to God. Mordecai had told the king’s servants that he was a *Jew. A *Jew would not want to give special honour to someone who belonged to the people called Amalekites.

God’s people sometimes have to be different from other people.

v5 Haman saw that Mordecai did not give great honour to him. He was very angry. v6 The king’s officials had told Haman about Mordecai’s nationality. So, Haman did not want merely to kill Mordecai. He wanted to kill all the *Jews (the nation of Mordecai) in all the countries that Xerxes ruled.

Verses 5-6 Haman saw that Mordecai did not give special honour to him. That made Haman very angry. He was so angry that he wanted to kill all *Jews, not just Mordecai. Perhaps he thought that other *Jews would not respect him. They might follow Mordecai’s example.

The devil often makes other people really hate God’s people. This is because God’s people love God. And the devil also opposes God’s people because they obey God.

v7 Xerxes had been king for almost 12 years. In the first month (the month called Nisan), Haman ordered his officials to throw the *Purim. This was to choose a special day and month. The *Purim selected the month called Adar (the 12th month).

Verse 7 Haman wanted to select a lucky date when he could kill the *Jews. So he told his officials to throw the *Purim (special stones with numbers on them). The way that the stones fell on the ground would show the best day and month for some act. God made sure that the *Purim stones chose a date nearly a year later. God had a special plan to save the *Jews from Haman’s plot.

v8 Haman said to king Xerxes, ‘There is a certain nation. Its people live in all parts of your *kingdom. Their laws are different from everyone else’s laws. These people do not obey the king’s laws. It will not benefit the king if he allows them to stay.

v9 Here is an idea that the king might like. The king should issue a law to kill these people. I will put 350 tons of silver into the hands of those who do the king’s work.’ v10 The king took his ring of authority off his hand. He gave it to Haman son of Hammedatha, the *descendant of Agag, who was the enemy of the *Jews. v11 The king said to Haman, ‘The silver and the people are yours. You can do whatever you want with them.’

Verses 8-11 Haman told the king about a certain nation. But he did not say which nation. Haman pretended that he was trying to assist the king.

Haman said that this particular nation did not obey the king’s laws. The *Jews did have the laws of God. But they usually obeyed the king’s laws too. Mordecai was a *Jew but he was also loyal to the king (Esther 2:22).

Haman offered the king a huge sum of money. It seems that Haman was already very rich. But he would probably take all the property of the *Jews that he killed. The king should have been surprised that Haman was willing to give such a large amount.

Xerxes gave his ring to Haman. This action meant that Haman had the king’s authority to carry out his plot.

The king answered ‘The silver is yours.’ This might mean ‘Keep the money.’ But the king was probably just being polite. We know from history that the king was rich and greedy. Mordecai believed that Haman had promised to pay the money (Esther 4:7).

v12 On the 13th day of the first month, Haman called for the king’s writers. He told them what to write. They wrote to all the important people. And they wrote to those who ruled over all the nations in the *kingdom. They wrote in the language of each nation. They put King Xerxes’ name and the mark of the king’s ring of authority on the letters. v13 Men ran and they carried the letters to all the king’s districts. The letters ordered people to kill all the *Jews. This included young people and old people and also women and children. The letters also ordered people to take and to keep the *Jews’ possessions. This should happen on a certain day. That day was the 13th of Adar, which is the 12th month. v14 The letters announced the new law to the people of every district. The law ordered the people to be ready for that day.

v15 This was the king’s command. So the men who ran with the letters went out quickly. They announced the law in the castle at Susa. The king and Haman sat down to drink. But the people in Susa were confused.

Verses 11-15 The king had given his authority to Haman. Haman could make whatever law he wanted to make. He wrote the law in all the languages of the *kingdom. Everyone needed to hear the order to kill the *Jews. When the *Jews heard the law, they had a long time to worry about it. This law confused the people in Susa. They wondered why the king had made such a law. The people were sad. They probably did not hate the *Jews. But Haman and the king sat down to drink. They were pleased.

Chapter 4

v1 Mordecai discovered what had happened. He tore his clothes. He put on *sackcloth and ashes and he went into the city. He cried aloud because he was very sad.

v2 Nobody who was wearing *sackcloth could enter the king’s palace. So Mordecai stopped at the king’s gate.

v3 When the people of every district heard the king’s law, the *Jews were very sad. They did not eat food. They wept aloud. Many *Jews lay on *sackcloth and ashes.

Verses 1-3 The king’s law, that Haman had written, was very bad news for the *Jews. The lives of all the *Jewish people were in danger. They wore *sackcloth (clothing that they made from very rough material). They also put ashes on their heads. The *Jews used to follow these traditions when somebody died. So we know that this news upset them greatly.

Mordecai wore *sackcloth and ashes too and he cried aloud. It was his fault that Haman was so angry. Mordecai knew that. He had to stay outside the palace. The king did not want to see anyone who was wearing *sackcloth. The king would not want to see anything that would remind him about death.

Perhaps Mordecai also wore *sackcloth to get a message to Esther. He knew that Esther could help the *Jews (see Esther 4:14). She probably had not heard about the law to kill the *Jews (see Esther 4:8).

v4 Esther’s maids and male servants came and told her about Mordecai. She was very unhappy. She sent clothes for Mordecai to wear instead of the *sackcloth. But Mordecai would not accept the clothes. v5 Esther called for Hathach. He was one of the men who looked after the king’s wives. The king had appointed Hathach to serve Esther. She ordered him to go to Mordecai. She ordered Hathach to find out what was happening.

Verses 4-5 When Esther heard about Mordecai, the news made her very unhappy. She sent clothes to Mordecai. If he had put the clothes on, he could have entered the palace. But Mordecai did not accept the clothes. Now Esther would know that Mordecai was sad about something very important. She sent one of her servants to find out why Mordecai was so sad. Mordecai’s plan had worked.

v6 So Hathach went to Mordecai in the square of the city. The square was in front of the king’s gate. v7 Mordecai told him all that had happened. Haman had promised to pay the king a lot of money in order to arrange the deaths of the *Jews. Mordecai also told Hathach about this money. v8 Mordecai also gave Hathach a copy of the words of the law. This was the law, which the king had sent out from Susa, to kill all the *Jews. Mordecai asked Hathach to show the copy to Esther and to explain it to her. He also asked Hathach to urge Esther to go to the king. He wanted her to appeal to the king to save the *Jews.

Verses 6-8 It seems that Esther had not heard about the law to kill the *Jews. Mordecai sent Esther a copy of the law. And he asked her servant to explain it to her. Mordecai also told the servant about the large amount of money that Haman had promised to pay to the king. Now Esther would understand that the situation was very serious.

Mordecai asked Esther to appeal to the king. Esther had always obeyed Mordecai. (See Esther 2:20.)

v9 Hathach returned. He told Esther what Mordecai had said. v10 Esther told him to say this to Mordecai. v11 ‘All the king’s servants and the people of the *kingdom know that there is a certain law. No man or woman can go to the king, in the inner yard, if the king has not invited that person. If anyone does go, he must die. That person may only live if the king holds out his gold stick. But the king has not called me to see him for 30 days.’

Verses 9-11 Esther heard the news from Mordecai. She knew that it was not easy to obey Mordecai this time. He was asking her to risk her life. People could not go to see the king if he had not invited them. It was not safe to do that. This law would make the king feel important. But the law also helped to protect him from his enemies. The king had not called Esther to see him for a month. If he was not pleased with her, he might kill her. Then, of course, he would not grant her request. A dead queen could not help the *Jews.

The king had a long thin stick, which was gold. It showed his authority. The king might want to give a welcome to a visitor although he had not invited that visitor to see him. So he would use the stick to give a welcome to his visitor.

v12 Hathach told Mordecai what Esther had said. v13 Mordecai sent back this answer. ‘You will not escape when all the other *Jews die. Do not imagine that you are safe in the king’s palace. v14 If you do not speak to the king now, the *Jews will get help and rescue from another place. But you and your family will die. Perhaps you have become queen for this particular time.’

Verses 12-14 When Mordecai heard Esther’s reply, he sent back an answer. He said three things:

1.         Your life is in danger too. Although you are the queen, you are also a *Jew. The law orders people to kill all the *Jews. (Perhaps Haman did not know that Esther was a *Jew. Perhaps he would have made a different plan if he had known that.)

2.         God will help the *Jews in a different way, if you do not speak on their behalf.

3.         This is what I think. God made you queen so that he could use you to help the *Jews.

These verses are very important. Mordecai did not mention God. But Mordecai was trusting God to save the *Jews. He was asking Esther to trust God also. She should not be afraid of the king.

v15 Then Esther sent this answer to Mordecai. v16 ‘You must gather together all the *Jews in Susa. You must tell them not to eat food on my behalf. Do not eat or drink for three days and three nights. My maids and I will do the same. Then I will go to the king, although it is against the law. And if I die, then I die.’

v17 Then Mordecai went away. He did everything that Esther had told him to do.

Verses 15-17 Esther heard what Mordecai said. She decided to obey him. Maybe she now understood that God was in control of all the events. Maybe she now understood why God had made her queen.

She asked Mordecai and the *Jews in Susa to help. There were probably many *Jews in Susa. (See Esther 9:15.) She asked the *Jews not to eat food for three days. Usually people do not eat food so that they can spend more time in prayer. So, Esther was probably asking the *Jews to pray for her. Esther and her maids would also not eat food.

After three days, Esther would go to see the king. She would go, although she was risking her life.

Some years later, Nehemiah served another king in Susa. He also did not eat food but instead he prayed. He did this before he asked the king to grant his request. (See Nehemiah 1:4.)

Chapter 5

v1 On the third day, Esther put on her royal clothing. She stood in the inner yard of the king’s palace. This yard was in front of the king’s hall. The king was sitting on his royal seat in the hall. He was looking towards the entrance. v2 The king noticed Queen Esther who was standing in the yard. And he was pleased to see her. The king held out to Esther his gold stick that was in his hand. So Esther approached the king and she touched the end of the stick. v3 Then the king said to Esther, ‘What is it, Queen Esther? What do you want? You shall have it. I will give you even up to half of my *kingdom.’

Verses 1-3 For three days, Esther and the *Jews did not eat food but they prayed instead. Then Esther went to see the king. She knew that she was risking her life. But she also knew that God was in control. She wore her royal clothing in order to remind the king that she was the queen. The king had not invited her. So, he would know that she must have come about a very important matter.

God helped Esther to please the king. The king promised to give her almost anything that she wanted.

v4 And Esther answered, ‘Here is an idea that the king might like. I invite the king and Haman today to a meal that I have prepared for the king.’

v5 Then the king said, ‘Bring Haman quickly. Then we can do what Esther wants.’ So, the king and Haman came to the dinner that Esther had prepared.

Verses 4-5 Esther did not ask for what she wanted immediately. Perhaps God made her know that the time was not right. There were many people in the king’s hall. Esther had a plan. She believed that God would help her. And she had already prepared a meal for the king and Haman. That would be a better time to ask the king to grant her request.

It might seem strange that she invited Haman to the meal. He was second in rank to the king, so it might just have been the right thing to do. Perhaps she wanted Haman to think that she respected him. Perhaps she did not want him to be ready when she told her request to the king.

Or perhaps it was because she wanted the king to deal with Haman immediately. She did not want Haman to avoid judgement.

v6 As they were drinking wine, the king said to Esther, ‘What do you want? You shall have it. What is your request? I will grant it. I will even give you up to half of my *kingdom.’ v7 Esther replied, ‘The request that I want is this. v8 I hope that I please the king. I hope that the king will want to grant my request. I invite the king and Haman tomorrow to a meal that I will prepare for them. Then I will answer the king’s question.’

Verses 6-8 At the meal, the king again promised to give Esther almost anything that she wanted. But she still did not tell him what she wanted. Instead, Esther invited the king and Haman to another meal the next day. Then she would tell the king what she wanted. Now the king would realise that she wanted to say something very important.

The writer now tells us what happened to each of the guests after the first meal.

v9 And Haman went out that day happy and he was in a cheerful mood. But then he saw Mordecai in the king’s gate. Mordecai did not stand up, nor did he give honour to Haman. This made Haman very angry against Mordecai. v10 However Haman controlled himself and he went home.

Haman called together his friends and his wife, Zeresh. v11 He told them about his great riches and his many sons. He told them how the king had given him honour. And he told them how the king had made him more important than all the king’s other officials and servants. v12 ‘Also’, said Haman, ‘Esther the queen had prepared a meal. She did not invite anyone except me to go with the king to the meal. She has invited the king and me tomorrow. v13 But I cannot be content as long as I see Mordecai the *Jew. He is still sitting at the king’s gate.’

Verses 9-13 That day, as Haman went home, he was very happy and proud. He was the special guest of the king and the queen. And he would be their special guest again, on the next day. He would hear what the queen wanted to say to the king. He was so proud that he told his wife and his friends about all this. He told them how important he was. He told them things that they already knew.

On his way home, he saw Mordecai. As usual, Mordecai did not give him honour. This made Haman very angry. Although he already had plans to kill Mordecai and all the *Jews, this spoiled his happiness.

Haman had many good things in his life but he was still not happy.

v14 His wife Zeresh and all his friends said to him, ‘Order your workmen to build *gallows, 25 metres high. Tomorrow morning, ask the king to hang Mordecai on it. Then you can be happy when you go with the king to the meal.’ This idea pleased Haman, so he ordered his workmen to build the *gallows.

Verse 14 Haman’s wife and friends encouraged him to be proud. They advised him to build *gallows. They advised him to ask for the king’s authority to hang Mordecai. People used *gallows to hang criminals or enemies in order to kill them. The word for ‘gallows’ actually means ‘tree’ or ‘wood’.

The *gallows were extremely high. This would mean that everyone in Susa would see the dead body. This would bring shame as well as death to Mordecai. Then Haman could enjoy his meal with the king and queen.

Chapter 6

v1 That night the king could not sleep. He ordered that someone should bring the book of the official records of his rule. He ordered that they should read it to him. v2 In the book, he discovered the report about Mordecai. Mordecai had warned the king about Bigthan and Teresh. They were the king’s officials who guarded the door. They had planned to kill King Xerxes.

v3 The king said, ‘What great honour have we given to Mordecai for this?’

‘We have not done anything for him’, his servants answered.

v4 The king said, ‘Who is in the yard?’

Haman had entered the outer yard of the king’s palace. He had come to speak to the king. He wanted the king to hang Mordecai on the *gallows. Haman had prepared the *gallows for Mordecai.

v5 The king’s servants said, ‘Haman is standing in the yard.’

‘Tell him to come in’, the king answered.

Verses 1-5 We do not know why the king could not sleep. We do not know why he chose to read the books of official records. Maybe he thought that they were very dull. They would make him sleepy. But we know that this was part of God’s plan.

The kings of Persia were generous to loyal people. It is strange that the king had not rewarded Mordecai before. So now, the king wanted to reward Mordecai immediately. This too was part of God’s plan.

It was probably almost dawn. The king wanted advice about how he should reward Mordecai. He decided to ask the first important official that he could find. It was Haman. Haman got up early. At quite the right time, he came to see the king. He wanted the king to hang Mordecai. Then Haman could enjoy his meal with the king and queen. Perhaps Haman also did not sleep well.

v6 So Haman came in. The king said to him, ‘The king really wants to show honour to a certain man. What should the king do for that man?’

Now Haman thought to himself, ‘The king really wants to show honour to me. Nobody else deserves the king’s honour.’

v7 And Haman answered the king, ‘This is how the king should show honour to that man. v8 Bring royal clothes that the king has worn. And bring a horse that the king has ridden, with a royal crown on its head. v9 Give the clothes and the horse to one of the king’s most important princes. He should put the clothes on the man whom the king wants to receive this honour. Then the prince should lead that man, on horseback, through the main street of the city. He should declare in front of that man, “When the king really wants to show honour to a man, the king rewards that man in this manner.” ’

Verses 6-9 The king did not ask Haman what he wanted. Instead, the king asked Haman for advice, but the king did not mention Mordecai’s name. Haman was proud. He thought that the king wanted to show him honour. It was usual for kings of Persia to ask people how they would like the king to show them honour. Haman did not choose riches. He was already very rich. He chose a reward that made him seem very important. He wanted to dress like the king himself and to ride the king’s own horse. This would happen in the main street of the city, where everybody could see him.

v10 Then the king said to Haman, ‘Go at once; take the clothes and the horse. Do what you have said to Mordecai the *Jew. He sits at the king’s gate. Do not neglect anything that you have suggested.’

v11 So Haman got the clothes and the horse. He put the clothes on Mordecai and led him, on horseback, through the main street of the city. He declared, in front of him, ‘When the king really wants to show honour to a man, the king rewards that man in this manner.’

Verses 10-11 The king agreed with Haman’s advice. But he gave Haman a shock. The king said that he wanted to reward Mordecai. So the king ordered Haman to reward his enemy Mordecai, as Haman had wanted the king to reward him. Haman had to obey.

The king knew that Mordecai was a *Jew. This must have made Haman uneasy. It also shows that Haman had lied to the king. He had said that the *Jews were not a benefit to the king (Esther 3:8). It shows something else too. The king did not know which nation Haman wanted to destroy.

v12 Then Mordecai went back to the king’s gate. But Haman hurried to go to his house. He covered his head in shame and he was very miserable.

v13 He told his wife Zeresh and all his friends everything that had happened to him. His wife Zeresh and his wise men said to him, ‘Mordecai is a *Jew and, because of him, you are starting to lose your power. You cannot succeed against him. You will certainly fail.’

v14 While they were still talking to him, the king’s officials came to hurry Haman to the meal. This was the meal that Esther had prepared.

Verses 12-14 Mordecai must have been very surprised by what his enemy Haman did to him. Mordecai remained humble and he went back to his place at the king’s gate. Haman would have been very proud if the king had rewarded him in that way. (See Esther 5:9-11.) Haman covered his head as he went home. He did this because he was so miserable. He told his wife and friends what had happened. The wise men were probably the same friends who had given him advice the day before (Esther 5:14). His wife and friends gave him very different advice this time. The day before they had advised him to kill Mordecai. But Haman had told them that Mordecai was a *Jew (Esther 5:13). Now even Haman’s friends seemed to believe that God would protect his *Jewish people.

Chapter 7

v1 So the king and Haman came to dine with Queen Esther. v2 As they were drinking wine, on that second day, the king said to Esther again, ‘What do you want, Queen Esther? You shall have it. What is your request? I will grant it. I will even give you up to half of my *kingdom.’

v3 Then Queen Esther replied, ‘I hope that you are pleased with me. My wish is that I might live. My request also is that the people from my nation might live. v4 Someone has promised to reward anyone who will destroy my nation. They will kill everyone who belongs to my nation, including me. If they had sold us to be male and female slaves, I would not have spoken. I would not have considered that serious enough to bother the king.’

Verses 1-4 What Esther had to say was certainly very important. The king knew that. He was probably very curious. For the third time, he made a very generous promise to Esther. When Esther replied, she did not mention Haman’s name. So, the king was angry even before he knew the name of the wicked person. This would have made Haman very afraid.

v5 King Xerxes said to Queen Esther, ‘Who is he? Where is the man who would do this?’

v6 Esther said, ‘The enemy who hates us is this wicked Haman.’

Then Haman was very afraid in front of the king and queen. v7 The king was so angry that he got up. He left his wine and he went into the garden of the palace. Haman stayed to ask Queen Esther to save his life. He knew that the king was certain to punish him.

v8 The king returned from the garden to the place where they were drinking wine. As he returned, Haman was falling on the seat next to Esther. The king cried out, ‘Haman is even attacking the queen while I am with her in the house.’ As the king spoke, servants covered Haman’s face.

v9 One of the king’s servants, called Harbona, said, ‘There are *gallows, 25 metres high, next to Haman’s house. He built them to hang Mordecai, whose words saved the king’s life.’

‘Hang Haman on the *gallows’, the king ordered.

v10 So they hanged Haman on the *gallows that he had prepared for Mordecai. Then the king felt less angry.

Verses 5-10 Esther was talking about the law that the king had allowed Haman to write. The king did not realise that. The king heard that the wicked person was Haman. Then he became very angry. We do not know why he left the room. Perhaps his wise men were not there. He needed to think what to do. Haman was afraid but probably not sorry. He appealed to Esther to save his life. So, the enemy of the *Jews gave special honour to a *Jew. It was the same day when Haman had hoped to hang Mordecai. Mordecai was the *Jew who refused to give special honour to Haman.

When the king returned, he found Haman near Esther. Perhaps he did not really think that Haman was attacking her. Haman was not so foolish. Haman was asking Esther to save his life, but he went too close. Perhaps he fell. But the king was very angry. Now the king had an excuse to punish Haman. The king could not easily punish Haman because he wrote the law to kill the *Jews. The king had given Haman authority to write that law.

Servants covered Haman’s face. He had to die. The servants’ action probably shows that they knew that. The king and Esther probably did not know about the *gallows, but Harbona knew. Maybe Harbona did not like Haman. He spoke words that he thought would please the king. He was right. Now it was easier for the king to punish Haman. The king ordered them to hang Haman on the *gallows that Haman had prepared for Mordecai.

God had changed the situation. Mordecai got the king’s reward that Haman had wanted for himself. (See Esther chapter 6.) Now Haman got the punishment that he had wanted Mordecai to get.

Chapter 8

v1 That same day, King Xerxes gave to Esther all the property of Haman. (Haman had been the enemy of the *Jews.) And Mordecai came to see the king. Esther had told people now that Mordecai was her relative. v2 And the king took off his ring of authority, which he had taken back from Haman. The king gave his ring of authority to Mordecai. Esther gave Mordecai responsibility for the property of Haman.

Verses 1-2 The king took the property of Haman and he gave it to Esther. Esther appointed Mordecai to look after it. Also, the king gave Haman’s authority to Mordecai. The ring of authority showed that Mordecai had authority to make new laws. So the king made Mordecai very important in the place of Haman.

So Haman died on the *gallows that he had built for Mordecai. But Mordecai received Haman’s property and his importance.

v3 Esther spoke again to the king. She fell at his feet and she wept. Haman, the *descendant of Agag, had plotted against the *Jews. So Esther appealed to the king to stop this evil plan. v4 The king held out his gold stick to Esther. So, she got up and she stood in front of the king. v5 She said, ‘I hope that I am important to the king. I hope that he is pleased with me. I hope that the king will listen to my request. I know that the king will do the right thing. I hope that the king will like this idea. Please write a declaration to stop the plot that Haman made. (Haman was the son of Hammedatha, the *descendant of Agag.) Haman wrote letters that ordered the officials to kill all the *Jews in all the king’s districts. v6 Otherwise a very evil thing would happen to my people. And my whole family would die. It would be awful if I had to watch such terrible events.’

Verses 3-6 Haman was dead. But there was still a problem. Nobody could ever change the laws of Persia and Media. (See Esther 1:19.) The king would certainly protect Esther, but the other *Jews were still in danger. Esther appealed to the king to protect them. Although she was asking for something impossible, she was very wise. She blamed Haman, and not the king, for the evil law. Also, she reminded the king about something. The *Jews, who were in danger, were her family.

v7 Then King Xerxes said to Queen Esther and Mordecai the *Jew, ‘I have given to Esther all the property of Haman. My officials have hanged him on the *gallows, because he wanted to kill the *Jews. v8 Write whatever you both want with regard to the *Jews. Write it in the king’s name. And give it the mark of the king’s ring of authority. Nobody can change a law that has the king’s name and the mark of the king’s ring of authority.’

Verses 7-8 The king’s reply is hard to understand. Maybe he said that he had done everything possible for the *Jews. He had dealt with Haman and given Haman’s property to Esther. He reminded Esther and Mordecai that nobody could change the law. However, he did give Esther and Mordecai the authority to write another law.

v9 This happened on the 23rd day of the third month (the month called Sivan). At once, they called the king’s writers. The writers wrote all that Mordecai told them to write. They wrote to the *Jews. They wrote to the important people. They wrote to those who ruled over all the people in all the 127 districts from India to Cush. They wrote in the language of each district. They wrote to the *Jews in the language of the *Jews. v10 They wrote in the king’s name. They used the mark of his ring of authority. They sent the letters by horsemen on the king’s own fast horses.

v11 In these letters, the king allowed the *Jews in every city to gather to defend their lives. They could destroy the army of any nation or district that attacked them. They could kill the women and children and they could take their property. v12 This would happen on a certain day. The day was the 13th day of the 12th month (the month called Adar).

v13 The letters announced the law to all the people of every district. The *Jews would be ready on that day to defend themselves against their enemies. v14 Because of the king’s command, the horsemen rode quickly on the royal horses. They also announced the law in the palace at Susa.

Verses 9-14 The writer tells us the date when this happened. It was more than two months since Haman wrote his evil law. (See Esther 3:12.) Now Mordecai wrote a new law. It was important that everyone in the country heard about this new law. It was important that they understood it. They wrote this new law in all the languages of the *kingdom. They wrote it in the language of the *Jews. Maybe Haman did not write his law in the language of the *Jews. (See Esther 3:12.) Horsemen on fast horses took the new law to all the nations of the *kingdom.

This new law allowed the *Jews to gather in order to defend themselves. It also allowed them to take the property of their enemies. Verse 11 says that they could kill women and children. But the words might mean: ‘They could kill anyone who attacked their women and children.’ It seems that the *Jews killed only men. (See Esther 9:15-16.) The law allowed one day for this to happen. It was the same day that Haman’s law allowed people to kill the *Jews.

v15 Mordecai left the king. Mordecai was wearing blue and white royal clothes. He was also wearing a large gold crown and an expensive purple coat. And the people in the city called Susa shouted. They shouted because they were so happy. v16 For the *Jews, it was a time of happiness and joy. It was a time of delight and honour. v17 In every district and every city where the people heard the king’s command, the *Jews had great happiness and joy. They had parties and a holiday. In fact, many people from other nations now became *Jews because they were afraid of the *Jews.

Verses 15-17 Mordecai dressed in the royal colours. That showed his importance and authority. He was second in rank to the king. (See Esther 10:3.) Because he was important, the *Jews were happy and confident. But, when the other people heard about the new law, they were happy too. They had not been happy when they heard about Haman’s law. (See Esther 3:15.)

Chapter 9

v1 The 13th day of the 12th month (the month called Adar) was the day to carry out the king’s law. This was the day when the enemies of the *Jews had hoped to have power over them. But, instead, on that day the *Jews had power over those who hated them. v2 The *Jews gathered in their cities in all the districts of King Xerxes. They attacked those who wanted to kill them. Nobody could oppose them, because the people of all the other nations were afraid of them. v3 All the important people helped the *Jews, including the rulers and the king’s officials. They helped them because they were afraid of Mordecai. v4 Mordecai was very important in the palace. The people in all the districts heard how he became more and more powerful.

Verses 1-4 The day that Haman had chosen for his plan came. The enemies of the *Jews had hoped to kill all the *Jews. But Mordecai’s law allowed the *Jews to defend themselves on that day. Haman’s plot had failed. God’s plan had succeeded. Mordecai was powerful and popular. The important people helped the *Jews and the *Jews overcame their enemies.

v5 So the *Jews attacked all their enemies with swords and killed them. They did whatever they wanted to those who hated them. v6 In the city called Susa, the *Jews killed 500 men. v7-10 The *Jews also killed the 10 sons of Haman, the enemy of the *Jews. They were called Parshandatha, Dalphon, Aspatha, Poratha, Adalia, Aridatha, Parmashta, Arisai, Aridai and Vaizatha. But the *Jews did not take any of their property.

Verses 5-10 The *Jews killed many people. This might seem very cruel. But they probably only attacked those who attacked them first. They killed their enemies and those who hated them. Probably they only killed those who tried to obey Haman’s evil law. The new law allowed them to do this. They killed the sons of Haman too. The law allowed them to take the property of their enemies, but they did not. (See also Esther 9:15-16.) They did not kill people to make themselves rich. The other people probably respected the *Jews for this. God’s plan was only to save the lives of the *Jews.

Maybe they did not take the property of their enemies because they remembered the story of King Saul. In 1 Samuel chapter 15, King Saul did not obey God. God told him to kill the people called Amalekites and to destroy all their property. But Saul and his army kept some of the good property and he allowed King Agag to live. (Haman was from the family of Agag, the king of the Amalekites.)

v11 That same day, the king heard how many men the *Jews had killed in Susa. v12 The king said to Queen Esther, ‘The *Jews have killed 500 men in Susa, including the 10 sons of Haman. And the *Jews have done many similar things in the rest of the king’s districts. Now what would you like me to do for you? You shall have it. What is your request? I will grant it.’

v13 Esther answered, ‘Here is an idea that the king might like. Allow the *Jews in Susa to do again tomorrow what the law allowed them to do today. Also hang Haman’s 10 sons on the *gallows.’

v14 And the king gave the command. They issued a law in Susa and hanged Haman’s 10 sons. v15 The *Jews in Susa gathered, on the 14th day of the month called Adar. On that day, they killed 300 men in Susa. But they did not take any of the property.

Verses 11-15 It seems that the king was sad. Perhaps he was sad because the *Jews killed so many people. Or perhaps he was sad because so many people had hated the *Jews. But he allowed Esther to ask for something more. Esther asked the king to allow the *Jews to kill their enemies for one more day. She also asked the king to hang the bodies of Haman’s sons. Haman’s sons were already dead. When people saw their bodies on the *gallows, they would remember wicked Haman. Then they would not attack the *Jews. The king did what Esther asked.

v16-17 The rest of the *Jews in the king’s districts gathered on the 13th day of the month called Adar. They gathered to defend themselves. They got security from their enemies and they killed 75 000 of them. But they did not take any of the property. They rested on the 14th day. They chose that day to eat and to be happy. v18 However, the *Jews in Susa had gathered on the 13th and 14th days. They rested on the 15th day. So they chose that day to eat and to be happy. v19 Therefore the *Jews who live in the country, or in villages, remember the 14th day of the month called Adar. It is a day to eat and to be happy. And it is a good day to give each other presents of food.

Verses 16-19 The king allowed the *Jews in Susa to kill their enemies for two days. The other *Jews only killed their enemies for one day. Then they rested on the second day. They ate together and they were happy. The *Jews in Susa did not rest until the next day.

Some *Jews had a holiday on the 14th day, but other *Jews had a holiday on the 15th day. This tells us why the dates are different.

v20 Mordecai recorded these things. He sent letters to all the *Jews in the districts of King Xerxes, both near and far away. v21 He told them to have special days each year on the 14th and 15th days of the month called Adar. v22 These were the days when the *Jews got relief from their enemies. This was the month when they had been sad. But they became happy in that month. This was the month when bad days became good days. He told them that these dates were days to eat and to be happy. Also, these were days to give each other presents of food and to give gifts to poor people.

Verses 20-22 The *Jews must always remember how God had saved them. That was very important. Mordecai told the *Jews to have two special days every year. On those days the *Jews were to give each other presents of food. And they must also give gifts to poor people. Then the poor people too could eat and be happy on the special days.

v23 The *Jews were already doing these things. So the *Jews agreed to continue to do such things. They agreed to obey what Mordecai had written to them.

v24 Haman (son of Hammedatha, the *descendant of Agag), the enemy of all the *Jews, had plotted against the *Jews. He made a plan to kill them. He used the *Purim (the game of chance) to plot their deaths. v25 But when Esther told the king about the plot, he gave orders in royal letters. He ordered that Haman’s wicked plot against the *Jews should happen to Haman himself. The king ordered that Haman and his sons must die. And the king ordered that their bodies must hang on the *gallows. v26 Therefore the *Jews called these days *Purim. The *Jews made a rule to remember these days because of Mordecai’s letter. They wanted to remember what they had seen. And they wanted to remember the things that had happened. v27 So they decided that they and their children must remember these two days every year. People who became *Jews must also remember these two days every year. They must remember them at the proper time and in the way that Mordecai had written down. v28 All the children of every family in every district and every city must remember these days always. They must never stop remembering these days called *Purim.

Verses 23-28 The *Jews agreed to do what Mordecai had written. They were already doing it anyway. They called the holiday *Purim, because of Haman’s use of the *Purim stones. He had wanted to find a lucky day to kill the *Jews. People would tell the story of wicked Haman to their children. Then the *Jews would always remember these special days.

The writer wrote this book to tell us why the *Jews have special days called *Purim. *Jews still remember these special days and they read the book of Esther at that time.

v29 Then Queen Esther, who was the daughter of Abihail, wrote a letter together with Mordecai. They wrote this second letter about *Purim with all Esther’s royal authority. v30 Mordecai sent letters to all the *Jews in the 127 districts of the *kingdom of Xerxes. He wrote so that the people would be confident about their security. v31 He wrote to establish these days of *Purim every year. The letters included what Mordecai the *Jew and Queen Esther had told the *Jews to do. The letters reminded the *Jews and their children when not to eat food and to weep. They had already decided to do that. v32 Esther’s command approved these rules about *Purim. Officials wrote these regulations down in the official records.

Verses 29-32 Esther also wrote to the *Jews in order to tell them to remember the special days called *Purim. She was the queen so the letter had her royal authority.

Chapter 10

v1 King Xerxes made the people in all his *kingdom pay taxes.

v2 The kings of Media and Persia made official records. These records include all the things that Xerxes did by his authority and power. The records also give a full account of how the king made Mordecai a very great man. v3 In fact, Mordecai the *Jew was only second in rank to King Xerxes. Mordecai was the most important man among the *Jews. And he was popular with the *Jewish people. He worked hard for the benefit of the *Jews.

Verses 1-3 After all that had happened, things returned to normal. (See Esther chapter 1.) The rich and powerful king made all the people in his *kingdom pay taxes. (This may mean that he made them work hard for him.) But something was different. The *Jews had been in great danger. Now a *Jew was a very important person in the government. Mordecai was working for the benefit of the *Jews. He was not working for his own benefit, as Haman had done.

The writer says that the official records include all these matters. He wants us to know that he has told a true story.

The Calendar in the Book of Esther

The Book of Esther uses the *Jewish calendar:

Order of months in the *Jewish calendar

Name of the*Jewish month

English month

An event in the year of Esther’s marriage

Events in the year of Haman’s plot

1st month

Nissan (or Nisan)

March or April

 

Esther 3:7 – Haman used the *Purim.

Esther 3:12 – Haman wrote his plot as a law.

2nd month

Iyar

April or May

 

 

3rd month

Sivan

May or June

 

Esther 8:9 – Mordecai wrote the law to save the *Jews.

4th month

Tammuz

June or July

 

 

5th month

Av

July or August

 

 

6th month

Elul

August or September

 

 

7th month

Tishrei

September or October

 

 

8th month

Chesvan

October or November

 

 

9th month

Kislev

November or December

 

 

10th month

Teves (or Tebeth)

December or January

Esther 2:16 – Esther first went to King Xerxes

 

11th month

Shevat

January or February

 

 

12th month

Adar

February or March

 

Esther 3:7 – the date that the *Purim selected.

Esther 3:13 – the date in Haman’s law was the 13th day of Adar.

Esther 8:12 – the date when the *Jews could defend themselves.

Esther chapter 9 – the *Jews defended themselves.

About *Purim today

The *Jews still remember *Purim each year. It is on the 14th and 15th days of the month called Adar.

On the day before, the 13th day in the month called Adar, many *Jews do not eat food. This day is called the ‘fast of Esther’. A fast is when people do not eat for a short time.

The 14th and 15th days of the month called Adar are days to be happy. These days are called ‘*Purim’. *Jews have some special traditions on these days:

·     They read the Book of Esther in public. This book is called the ‘Megilla’.

·     They give gifts of food to friends.

·     They give gifts to help poor people.

·     They have a special meal with their family and friends. This meal is a happy party.

Word List

beauty treatment ~ oils that make a person’s body beautiful.

descendant ~ a child, grandchild, and so on; a person in your family who lives after you are dead.

gallows ~ a wooden structure where people used to hang criminals or enemies in order to kill them. Or, a wooden structure where people would hang the dead bodies of criminals or enemies.

Jews ~ people from the family of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

Jewish ~ a word that describes a *Jew or anything that belongs to the people called *Jews.

kingdom ~ the place or territory or land where a king rules.

Purim ~ stones with numbers on them. People used them to choose a date by chance. Afterwards, Purim became the name of the *Jewish holiday. It is a happy holiday when *Jews remember the events in the Book of Esther.

sackcloth ~ a dress of very rough material that people may make from old sacks. People wore sackcloth to show shame. The person who wore it was very sorry or very sad.

virgin ~ a woman who has not had sex with a man.

Book List

Derek Prime ~ Unspoken Lessons about the Unseen God ~ Evangelical Press ~ Welwyn Commentary series.

J G Baldwin ~ Esther ~ IVP

D J Clines ~ Ezra, Nehemiah & Esther ~ Eerdmans/Marshall Morgan and Scott ~ New Century Bible Commentary

Roger L Amanson & Philip A Noss ~ A Handbook on Esther, The Hebrew and Greek Texts ~ UBS Handbook series

Strong’s Lexicon

Bibles ~ AV, NIV, RSV & TEV

 

© 1997-2006, Wycliffe Associates (UK)

This publication is written in EasyEnglish Level B (2800 words).

February 2006

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