4:1 Now when Mordecai became aware of all that had been done, he 1 tore his garments and put on sackcloth and ashes. He went out into the city, crying out in a loud 2 and bitter voice. 4:2 But he went no further than the king’s gate, for no one was permitted to enter the king’s gate clothed in sackcloth. 4:3 Throughout each and every province where the king’s edict and law were announced 3 there was considerable 4 mourning among the Jews, along with fasting, weeping, and sorrow. 5 Sackcloth and ashes were characteristic 6 of many. 4:4 When Esther’s female attendants and her eunuchs came and informed her about Mordecai’s behavior, 7 the queen was overcome with anguish. Although she sent garments for Mordecai to put on so that he could remove his sackcloth, he would not accept them. 4:5 So Esther called for Hathach, one of the king’s eunuchs who had been placed at her service, 8 and instructed him to find out the cause and reason for Mordecai’s behavior. 9 4:6 So Hathach went to Mordecai at the plaza of the city in front of the king’s gate. 4:7 Then Mordecai related to him everything that had happened to him, even the specific amount of money that Haman had offered to pay to the king’s treasuries for the Jews to be destroyed. 4:8 He also gave him a written copy of the law that had been disseminated 10 in Susa for their destruction so that he could show it to Esther and talk to her about it. He also gave instructions that she should go to the king to implore him and petition him on behalf of her people. 4:9 So Hathach returned and related Mordecai’s instructions 11 to Esther.
4:10 Then Esther replied to Hathach with instructions for Mordecai: 4:11 “All the servants of the king and the people of the king’s provinces know that there is only one law applicable 12 to any man or woman who comes uninvited to the king in the inner court – that person will be put to death, unless the king extends to him the gold scepter, permitting him to be spared. 13 Now I have not been invited to come to the king for some thirty days!”
4:12 When Esther’s reply 14 was conveyed to Mordecai, 4:13 he 15 said to take back this answer to Esther: 4:14 “Don’t imagine that because you are part of the king’s household you will be the one Jew 16 who will escape. If you keep quiet at this time, liberation and protection for the Jews will appear 17 from another source, 18 while you and your father’s household perish. It may very well be 19 that you have achieved royal status 20 for such a time as this!”
4:15 Then Esther sent this reply to Mordecai: 4:16 “Go, assemble all the Jews who are found in Susa and fast in my behalf. Don’t eat and don’t drink for three days, night or day. My female attendants and I 21 will also fast in the same way. Afterward I will go to the king, even though it violates the law. 22 If I perish, I perish!”
4:17 So Mordecai set out to do everything that Esther had instructed him.
5:1 It so happened that on the third day Esther put on her royal attire and stood in the inner court of the palace, 23 opposite the king’s quarters. 24 The king was sitting on his royal throne in the palace, opposite the entrance. 25 5:2 When the king saw Queen Esther standing in the court, she met with his approval. 26 The king extended to Esther the gold scepter that was in his hand, and Esther approached and touched the end of the scepter.
5:4 Esther replied, “If the king is so inclined, 28 let the king and Haman come today to the banquet that I have prepared for him.” 5:5 The king replied, “Find Haman quickly so that we can do as Esther requests.”
So the king and Haman went to the banquet that Esther had prepared. 5:6 While at the banquet of wine, the king said to Esther, “What is your request? It shall be given to you. What is your petition? Ask for as much as half the kingdom, 29 and it shall be done!”
5:7 Esther responded, 30 “My request and my petition is this: 5:8 If I have found favor in the king’s sight and if the king is inclined 31 to grant my request and perform my petition, let the king and Haman come tomorrow to the banquet that I will prepare for them. At that time 32 I will do as the king wishes. 33
5:9 Now Haman went forth that day pleased and very much encouraged. 34 But when Haman saw Mordecai at the king’s gate, and he did not rise nor tremble in his presence, 35 Haman was filled with rage toward Mordecai. 5:10 But Haman restrained himself and went on to his home.
He then sent for his friends to join him, 36 along with his wife Zeresh. 5:11 Haman then recounted to them his fabulous wealth, 37 his many sons, 38 and how the king had magnified him and exalted him over the king’s other officials and servants. 5:12 Haman said, “Furthermore, Queen Esther invited 39 only me to accompany the king to the banquet that she prepared! And also tomorrow I am invited 40 along with the king. 5:13 Yet all of this fails to satisfy me so long as I have to see Mordecai the Jew sitting at the king’s gate.”
5:14 Haman’s 41 wife Zeresh and all his friends said to him, “Have a gallows seventy-five feet 42 high built, and in the morning tell the king that Mordecai should be hanged on it. Then go with the king to the banquet contented.” 43
It seemed like a good idea to Haman, so he had the gallows built.
6:1 Throughout that night the king was unable to sleep, 44 so he asked for the book containing the historical records 45 to be brought. As the records 46 were being read in the king’s presence, 6:2 it was found written that Mordecai had disclosed that Bigthana 47 and Teresh, two of the king’s eunuchs who guarded the entrance, had plotted to assassinate 48 King Ahasuerus.
6:4 Then the king said, “Who is that in the courtyard?” Now Haman had come to the outer courtyard of the palace to suggest that the king hang Mordecai on the gallows that he had constructed for him. 6:5 The king’s attendants said to him, “It is Haman who is standing in the courtyard.” The king said, “Let him enter.”
6:6 So Haman came in, and the king said to him, “What should be done for the man whom the king wishes to honor?” Haman thought to himself, 50 “Who is it that the king would want to honor more than me?” 6:7 So Haman said to the king, “For the man whom the king wishes to honor, 6:8 let them bring royal attire which the king himself has worn and a horse on which the king himself has ridden – one bearing the royal insignia! 51 6:9 Then let this clothing and this horse be given to one of the king’s noble officials. Let him 52 then clothe the man whom the king wishes to honor, and let him lead him about through the plaza of the city on the horse, calling 53 before him, ‘So shall it be done to the man whom the king wishes to honor!’”
6:10 The king then said to Haman, “Go quickly! Take the clothing and the horse, just as you have described, and do as you just indicated to Mordecai the Jew who sits at the king’s gate. Don’t neglect 54 a single thing of all that you have said.”
6:11 So Haman took the clothing and the horse, and he clothed Mordecai. He led him about on the horse throughout the plaza of the city, calling before him, “So shall it be done to the man whom the king wishes to honor!”
6:12 Then Mordecai again sat at the king’s gate, while Haman hurried away to his home, mournful and with a veil over his head. 6:13 Haman then related to his wife Zeresh and to all his friends everything that had happened to him. These wise men, 55 along with his wife Zeresh, said to him, “If indeed this Mordecai before whom you have begun to fall is Jewish, 56 you will not prevail against him. No, you will surely fall before him!”
6:14 While they were still speaking with him, the king’s eunuchs arrived. They quickly brought Haman to the banquet that Esther had prepared.
7:1 So the king and Haman came to dine 57 with Queen Esther. 7:2 On the second day of the banquet of wine the king asked Esther, “What is your request, Queen Esther? It shall be granted to you. And what is your petition? Ask up to half the kingdom, and it shall be done!”
7:3 Queen Esther replied, “If I have met with your approval, 58 O king, and if the king is so inclined, grant me my life as my request, and my people as my petition. 7:4 For we have been sold 59 – both I and my people – to destruction and to slaughter and to annihilation! If we had simply been sold as male and female slaves, I would have remained silent, for such distress would not have been sufficient for troubling the king.”
7:6 Esther replied, “The oppressor and enemy is this evil Haman!”
Then Haman became terrified in the presence of the king and queen. 7:7 In rage the king arose from the banquet of wine and withdrew to the palace garden. Meanwhile, Haman stood to beg Queen Esther for his life, 62 for he realized that the king had now determined a catastrophic end for him. 63
7:8 When the king returned from the palace garden to the banquet of wine, Haman was throwing himself down 64 on the couch where Esther was lying. 65 The king exclaimed, “Will he also attempt to rape the queen while I am still in the building!”
As these words left the king’s mouth, they covered Haman’s face. 7:9 Harbona, 66 one of the king’s eunuchs, said, “Indeed, there is the gallows that Haman made for Mordecai, who spoke out in the king’s behalf. It stands near Haman’s home and is seventy-five feet 67 high.”
The king said, “Hang him on it!” 7:10 So they hanged Haman on the very gallows that he had prepared for Mordecai. The king’s rage then abated.
[4:3] 5 sn Although prayer is not specifically mentioned here, it is highly unlikely that appeals to God for help were not a part of this reaction to devastating news. As elsewhere in the book of Esther, the writer seems deliberately to keep religious actions in the background.
[4:4] 7 tn The words “about Mordecai’s behavior” are not in the Hebrew text, but are supplied in translation for the sake of clarity. Cf. NIV, NLT “about Mordecai”; TEV, CEV “what Mordecai was doing.”
[4:14] 18 tn Heb “place” (so KJV, NIV, NLT); NRSV “from another quarter.” This is probably an oblique reference to help coming from God. D. J. A. Clines disagrees; in his view a contrast between deliverance by Esther and deliverance by God is inappropriate (Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther [NCBC], 302). But Clines’ suggestion that perhaps the reference is to deliverance by Jewish officials or by armed Jewish revolt is less attractive than seeing this veiled reference as part of the literary strategy of the book, which deliberately keeps God’s providential dealings entirely in the background.
[5:1] 24 tn Heb “the house of the king”; NASB “the king’s rooms”; NIV, NLT “the king’s hall.” This expression is used twice in this verse. In the first instance, it is apparently the larger palace complex that is in view, whereas in the second instance the expression seems to refer specifically to the quarters from which the king governed.
[5:6] 29 sn As much as half the kingdom. Such a statement would no doubt have been understood for the exaggeration that it clearly was. Cf. the similar NT scene recorded in Mark 6:23, where Herod makes a similar promise to the daughter of Herodias. In that case the request was for the head of John the Baptist, which is a lot less than half the kingdom.
[5:10] 36 tn Heb “sent and brought.” The expression is probably a hendiadys (a figure of speech in which a single idea is expressed through two words or phrases), in which case the two verbs could be translated simply as “summoned” (so NAB) or “sent for” (NASB).
[5:14] 42 tn Heb “fifty cubits.” Assuming a standard length for the cubit of about 18 inches (45 cm), this would be about seventy-five feet (22.5 meters), which is a surprisingly tall height for the gallows. Perhaps the number assumes the gallows was built on a large supporting platform or a natural hill for visual effect, in which case the structure itself may have been considerably smaller. Cf. NCV “a seventy-five foot platform”; CEV “a tower built about seventy-five feet high.”
[6:1] 44 tn Heb “and the sleep of the king fled.” In place of the rather innocuous comment of the Hebrew text, the LXX reads here, “And the Lord removed the sleep from the king.” The Greek text thus understands the statement in a more overtly theological way than does the Hebrew text, although even in the Hebrew text there may be a hint of God’s providence at work in this matter. After all, this event is crucial to the later reversal of Haman’s plot to destroy the Jewish people, and a sympathetic reader is likely to look beyond the apparent coincidence.
[6:8] tn Heb “a royal crown on his head.” The reference is to an official decoration or headdress for horses in royal service. See HALOT 506 s.v. כֶּתֶר; DCH 4:477 s.v. כֶּתֶר. Cf. TEV “a royal ornament”; CEV “a fancy headdress.”
[6:9] 52 tc The present translation reads with the LXX וְהִלְבִּישׁוֹ (vÿhilbisho, “and he will clothe him”) rather than the reading of the MT וְהִלְבִּישׁוּ (vÿhilbishu, “and they will clothe”). The reading of the LXX is also followed by NAB, NRSV, TEV, CEV, and NLT. Likewise, the later verbs in this verse (“cause him to ride” and “call”) are better taken as singulars rather than plurals.
[6:13] 55 tc Part of the Greek tradition and the Syriac Peshitta understand this word as “friends,” probably reading the Hebrew term רֲכָמָיו (rakhamayv, “his friends”) rather than the reading of the MT חֲכָמָיו (hakhamayv, “his wise men”). Cf. NLT “all his friends”; the two readings appear to be conflated by TEV as “those wise friends of his.”
[7:5] 60 tc The second occurrence of the Hebrew verb וַיּאמֶר (vayyo’mer, “and he said”) in the MT should probably be disregarded. The repetition is unnecessary in the context and may be the result of dittography in the MT.