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Ester 2:19-23

Mordecai Learns of a Plot against the King

2:19 Now when the young women were being gathered again, 1  Mordecai was sitting at the king’s gate. 2  2:20 Esther was still not divulging her lineage or her people, 3  just as Mordecai had instructed her. 4  Esther continued to do whatever Mordecai said, just as she had done when he was raising her.

2:21 In those days while Mordecai was sitting at the king’s gate, Bigthan 5  and Teresh, 6  two of the king’s eunuchs who protected the entrance, 7  became angry and plotted to assassinate 8  King Ahasuerus. 2:22 When Mordecai learned of the conspiracy, 9  he informed Queen Esther, 10  and Esther told the king in Mordecai’s behalf. 11  2:23 The king then had the matter investigated and, finding it to be so, had the two conspirators 12  hanged on a gallows. 13  It was then recorded in the daily chronicles in the king’s presence.

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[2:19]  1 tc The LXX does not include the words “Now when the young women were being gathered again.” The Hebrew word שֵׁנִית (shenit, “a second time”) is difficult in v. 19, but apparently it refers to a subsequent regathering of the women to the harem.

[2:19]  2 sn That Mordecai was sitting at the king’s gate apparently means that he was a high-ranking government official. It was at the city gate where important business was transacted. Being in this position afforded Mordecai an opportunity to become aware of the plot against the king’s life, although the author does not include the particular details of how this information first came to Mordecai’s attention.

[2:20]  3 sn That Esther was able so effectively to conceal her Jewish heritage suggests that she was not consistently observing Jewish dietary and religious requirements. As C. A. Moore observes, “In order for Esther to have concealed her ethnic and religious identity…in the harem, she must have eaten…, dressed, and lived like a Persian rather than an observant Jewess” (Esther [AB], 28.) In this regard her public behavior stands in contrast to that of Daniel, for example.

[2:20]  4 tc The LXX adds the words “to fear God.”

[2:21]  5 tn This individual is referred to as “Bigthana,” a variant spelling of the name, in Esth 6:2.

[2:21]  6 tc The LXX does not include the names “Bigthan and Teresh” here.

[2:21]  7 tn Heb “guarders of the threshold”; NIV “who guarded the doorway.”

[2:21]  8 tn Heb “sought to send a hand against”; CEV “decided to kill.”

[2:22]  9 sn The text of Esther does not disclose exactly how Mordecai learned about the plot against the king’s life. Ancient Jewish traditions state that Mordecai overheard conspiratorial conversation, or that an informant brought this information to him, or that it came to him as a result of divine prompting. These conjectures are all without adequate support from the biblical text. The author simply does not tell the source of Mordecai’s insight into this momentous event.

[2:22]  10 tc The LXX simply reads “Esther” and does not include “the queen.”

[2:22]  11 tc The LXX adds here “the things concerning the plot.”

[2:22]  tn Heb “in the name of Mordecai” (so NRSV); NIV “giving credit to Mordecai.”

[2:23]  12 tn Heb “they both were hanged.” The referent (the two eunuchs who conspired against the king) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

[2:23]  13 tn Or “on a pole”; KJV, ASV “on a tree.”

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