Esther 1–2

1 Now in the days of Ahasuerus, also called Xerxes, who reigned from India to Ethiopia, over one hundred and twenty-seven provinces, 2 in those days, the palace where King Ahasuerus sat on the royal throne of his kingdom was in Susa. 3 In the third year of his reign, he prepared a feast for all his officials and his servants. So the army commanders of Persia and Media, the nobles, and the officials of the provinces were before him.

4 He unveiled the riches of his glorious kingdom and the costly luxury of his greatness for many days, one hundred and eighty days. 5 When these days were completed, the king prepared a seven-day feast for all the people present, from the greatest to the least, in the citadel of Susa. This feast was in the courtyard garden of the king’s palace 6 where white and blue linen hangings were fastened with cords of white and purple linen to silver rings and columns of marble. The gold-and silver-plated couches were on a mosaic pavement of porphyry, marble, mother-of-pearl, and other costly stones. 7 They provided drinks in golden vessels (the vessels being diverse one from another) and royal wine in abundance, by the expense of the king. 8 In accordance with the law, the drinking was not mandatory, because the king had directed all the stewards of his house to serve according to every man’s pleasure.

9 Additionally, Vashti the queen prepared a feast for the women in the royal house of King Ahasuerus.

10 On the seventh day, when the heart of the king was merry with wine, he commanded Mehuman, Biztha, Harbona, Bigtha, Abagtha, Zethar, and Karkas, the seven eunuchs attending to the needs of King Ahasuerus, 11 to bring Queen Vashti before the king with the royal crown, to unveil her beauty to the people and the officials, for she was beautiful. 12 But Queen Vashti refused to come at the king’s command delivered by his eunuchs. Therefore, the king grew very angry, and his wrath burned within him.

13 Then the king spoke to the wise men, who understood the times (for in this way the king would speak before all who understood law and judgment). 14 Those nearest him were Karshena, Shethar, Admatha, Tarshish, Meres, Marsena, and Memukan. They were the seven princes of Persia and Media and the king’s closest confidants who met with the king and held the highest rank in the kingdom.

15 “According to law, what should be done about Queen Vashti because she did not obey the command of King Ahasuerus when it was delivered by the eunuchs?”

16 And Memukan answered before the king and the princes, “Queen Vashti has wronged not only the king but also all the princes and all the people who are in all the provinces of King Ahasuerus. 17 For should this matter of the queen spread to all wives, then they would look with contempt on their husbands when it is reported that, ‘King Ahasuerus commanded Queen Vashti to be brought before him, but she never came.’ 18 This very day the noble ladies of Persia and Media, who hear of the queen’s act, will say the same thing to all the king’s princes. Then there will be more contempt and wrath.

19 “If it pleases the king, let a royal decree be sent by him, and let it be written in the laws of the Persians and the Medes, that it may not be altered, that Vashti can never enter into the presence of King Ahasuerus, and that the king will give her royal position to another woman who is better than she. 20 When the king’s decree that he shall make is proclaimed throughout all his empire (for it is vast), then all the wives shall give honor to their husbands, both the prominent and lowly.”

21 The suggestion pleased the king and the princes, so the king did according to the word of Memukan. 22 He sent letters to all the king’s provinces, in the script of every province and in the language of every people group, bearing the message in the languages of his people that each man should rule over his own house.

Chapter 2

1 After these things, as the rage of King Ahasuerus abated, he became mindful of Vashti, what she had done and what was decreed against her. 2 So the king’s servants who attended him said, “Let beautiful young virgins be sought for the king! 3 Let the king appoint officers in all the provinces of his kingdom so that they may gather all the beautiful young virgins to the citadel of Susa, to the harem under the custody of Hegai the king’s eunuch, who is in charge of the harem, and let ointments and cosmetics be given to them. 4 May the young woman who pleases the king be queen instead of Vashti.” And the idea pleased the king, so he acted accordingly.

5 Now in the citadel of Susa, there was a certain Jew named Mordecai, the son of Jair, the son of Shimei, the son of Kish, a Benjamite. 6 He had been taken away from Jerusalem among the exiles and carried into captivity along with King Jeconiah of Judah by King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. 7 He was the guardian of Hadassah, that is Esther (who was his uncle’s daughter) because she had neither father nor mother. The young woman was lovely to look at and beautiful in form. When her father and mother died, Mordecai took her as his own daughter.

8 When the king’s notice and his decree were heard, many young women were then gathered to the citadel of Susa and placed under the custody of Hegai. Esther was likewise brought to the king’s house and placed under the custody of Hegai, who was in charge of the harem. 9 Because the young lady appeared pleasing to him and had gained favor in his sight, he quickly gave her the ointments and cosmetics, her allotted food, and seven young chosen women from the king’s palace. He also transferred her and her young women to the best place of the harem.

10 Esther had not disclosed her people or her lineage because Mordecai had charged her not to disclose it. 11 Every day Mordecai walked around the courtyard of the harem to find out how Esther fared and what might be done with her.

12 The turn came for each young woman to go in to King Ahasuerus, after being twelve months under the regulations for the women, since this was the regular period of their beautifying, six months with oil of myrrh and six months with spices and ointments for women. 13 When the young woman went in to the king in this way, she was given whatever she desired to take with her from the harem to take to the king’s palace. 14 In the evening she went in, and in the morning she returned to the second harem in custody of Shaashgaz, the king’s eunuch, who was in charge of the concubines. She did not go in to the king again unless the king delighted in her and called for her by name.

15 When the turn came for Esther, the daughter of Abihail the uncle of Mordecai, who had taken her as his own daughter, to go in to the king, she asked for nothing except what the king’s eunuch Hegai, who had charge of the women, advised. Now Esther obtained favor in the sight of all who saw her. 16 So Esther was taken to King Ahasuerus at his royal house in the month of Tebeth, which is the tenth month, in the seventh year of his reign.

17 The king loved Esther more than any other woman because she had gained grace and favor in his sight more than all the virgins. So he set the royal crown on her head and made her queen instead of Vashti. 18 The king held a great feast for all his officials and servants. It was a feast for Esther. He remitted his provinces from tax payments and gave gifts according to his royal generosity.

19 At the second gathering of the virgins, Mordecai was sitting at the king’s gate. 20 Esther had not yet disclosed her lineage or her people, since Mordecai had so commanded her. Esther followed the command of Mordecai just as she had when under his protection.

21 During those days when Mordecai was sitting at the king’s gate, two of the king’s eunuchs, Bigthan and Teresh, who served as keepers of the door, became angry and sought to attack King Ahasuerus. 22 But the matter became known to Mordecai, and he reported it to Queen Esther, and Esther reported it to the king in the name of Mordecai. 23 When the matter was investigated and confirmed, both men were hanged on the gallows, and it was written in the book of the chronicles in the presence of the king.

Acts 5:1–21

1 Now a man named Ananias, with his wife Sapphira, sold a piece of property. 2 He kept back part of the proceeds with his wife’s knowledge, and brought a part of it and placed it at the apostles’ feet.

3 Then Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to deceive the Holy Spirit and keep back part of the proceeds of the land? 4 While it remained unsold, was it not your own? And when it was sold, was it not under your authority? Why have you conceived this deed in your heart? You did not lie to men, but to God.”

5 On hearing these words, Ananias fell down and died. And great fear came on all those who heard these things. 6 The young men rose and wrapped him up and carried him out and buried him.

7 About three hours later his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. 8 Peter said to her, “Tell me whether you sold the land for this amount?”

She said, “Yes, for that much.”

9 Peter said to her, “How is it that you have agreed together to test the Spirit of the Lord? Look! The feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out.”

10 At once she fell down at his feet and died. Upon entering, the young men found her dead and carried her out and buried her beside her husband. 11 Great fear came on the entire church and on all those who heard these things.

12 Many signs and wonders were performed among the people by the hands of the apostles. And they were all together in Solomon’s Porch. 13 No one else dared join them, but the people respected them. 14 Believers were increasingly added to the Lord, crowds of both men and women, 15 so that they even brought the sick out into the streets and placed them on beds and mats, that at least the shadow of Peter passing by might touch some of them. 16 Crowds also came out of the cities surrounding Jerusalem, bringing the sick and those who were afflicted by evil spirits, and they were all healed.

17 Then the high priest and all those who were with him (that is, the sect of the Sadducees) rose up and were filled with jealousy. 18 They seized the apostles and put them in the common prison. 19 But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the prison doors and led them out, and said, 20 “Go, stand and speak in the temple to the people all the words of this life.”

21 Having heard this, they entered the temple at dawn and taught.

But the high priest and those who were with him came and called together the Sanhedrin and the senate of all the sons of Israel, and sent to the prison to have them brought out.