Esther 3–5

1 After these things King Ahasuerus praised Haman the son of Hammedatha the Agagite, and promoted him, and set his seat above all the officials who were with him. 2 All the king’s servants, when they were at the king’s gate, bowed or paid homage to Haman since the king had commanded it. Mordecai, however, never bowed or paid homage.

3 So the king’s servants tending the king’s gate said to Mordecai, “Why are you transgressing the king’s commandment?” 4 Though they spoke to him daily, he never listened to them, so they reported it to Haman to see if the words of Mordecai would stand, for Mordecai had told them that he was a Jew.

5 When Haman saw that Mordecai neither bowed nor paid him homage, he was filled with rage. 6 But he disdained to lay hands on only Mordecai, since they had told him of the people of Mordecai. So Haman sought to destroy all the Jews throughout the whole kingdom of Ahasuerus.

7 In the first month, which is the month Nisan, in the twelfth year of King Ahasuerus, they cast Pur (that is, cast lots) before Haman daily, and each month, until the twelfth month, which is the month Adar, to determine the time.

8 Then Haman said to King Ahasuerus, “There exists a scattered people dispersed among the other peoples in all the provinces of your kingdom. Their laws are different from all others, and they are not complying with the king’s laws, so there may not be a suitable reason for the king to allow them to exist. 9 If it pleases the king, may it be written that they are to be destroyed, and may there be ten thousand talents of silver deposited into the king’s treasuries so that I may distribute it to the hands of those doing the work.”

10 The king took his signet ring from his hand and gave it to Haman, the son of Hammedatha the Agagite, the enemy of the Jews. 11 The king said to Haman, “The silver has been granted to you, as have the people, so do with each as it pleases you.”

12 Then the king’s scribes were summoned on the thirteenth day of the first month, and a decree was written just as Haman had commanded to the king’s satraps and to the governors over each province and to the officials of all peoples and to every province according to its own script, and to every people in their language. It was written in the name of King Ahasuerus and sealed with the king’s signet ring. 13 The letters were sent by mounted couriers into all the king’s provinces to cause the destruction, slaughter, and annihilation of all Jews, both young and old, little children and women, in one day, the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, which is the month Adar, and even to plunder their possessions. 14 A copy of the document, issued as law in every province, was proclaimed, calling for all people to be ready for the day.

15 The couriers went out, being hastened by the king’s command. At the citadel of Susa, when the decree was issued, the king and Haman sat down to drink, but the city of Susa was in uproar.

Chapter 4

1 When Mordecai learned all that had been done, he tore his clothes and put on sackcloth with ashes, and went out into the midst of the city, and cried with a loud and bitter cry. 2 He went as far as the king’s gate because no one was allowed to enter into the king’s gate clothed with sackcloth. 3 In each and every province where the king’s command and his decree came there was great mourning among the Jews, and fasting, and weeping, and wailing. Many lay in sackcloth and ashes.

4 So the young women of Esther and her eunuchs came and told her of it. The queen was then seized by anguish. She sent garments to clothe Mordecai so that he could remove his sackcloth, but he would not accept them. 5 So Esther summoned Hathak, one of the king’s eunuchs appointed to attend her, and commanded him concerning Mordecai to learn what this was about and why.

6 So Hathak went out to where Mordecai was in the area of the city in front of the king’s gate. 7 Mordecai told him about all that had happened to him and about the sum of silver that Haman had promised to pay to the king’s treasuries for the destruction of the Jews. 8 Mordecai also gave him a copy of the written decree issued in Susa concerning their destruction so he could show Esther, tell her about it, and then charge her to go to the king in order to gain him favor with the king and to make requests in the presence of the king for her people.

9 Hathak returned and told Esther the words of Mordecai. 10 Again Esther spoke to Hathak and ordered him to reply to Mordecai: 11 “All the king’s servants and the people of the king’s provinces know that whoever, whether man or woman, wishes to come to the king at the inner court but has not been summoned, there is one law—to put him to death—unless for some reason the king should hold out the golden scepter so that he might live. I, however, have not been summoned to come to the king for these thirty days.”

12 So all the words of Esther were told to Mordecai. 13 Then Mordecai told them to reply to Esther, “Do not think that in the king’s palace you will be more likely to escape than all the other Jews. 14 For if you remain silent at this time, protection and deliverance for the Jews will be ordained from some other place, but you and your father’s house shall be destroyed. And who knows if you may have attained royal position for such a time as this?”

15 Then Esther replied, sending back to Mordecai: 16 “Go, gather all the Jews who can be found in Susa, then fast for me. Stop eating and drinking for three days, night or day. I and my young women will fast likewise. Only then would I dare go to the king since it is not allowed by law, and if I perish, I perish.”

17 So Mordecai went away and did exactly as Esther had commanded him.

Chapter 5

1 On the third day, Esther put on her royal apparel and positioned herself in the king’s palace courtyard so that she would be directly in line with the part of the king’s throne room where the king sat facing the entrance of the room on his royal throne in the royal hall. 2 When the king saw Queen Esther standing quietly out in the courtyard, she gained favor in his sight, so the king held out the golden scepter in his hand to Esther. Esther approached and touched the top of the scepter.

3 And the king said to her, “Queen Esther, what do you want? What is your request? Even if it is up to half of the kingdom, it will be given to you.”

4 Esther answered, “If it pleases the king, let the king and Haman come today to a feast that I have prepared for him.”

5 Then the king said, “Quickly bring Haman so that we may accept the invitation of Esther.”

So the king and Haman came to the banquet that Esther had prepared. 6 While drinking wine the king said to Esther, “For whatever you ask, it shall be granted you. So, what is your request? Even if it is for as much as half of the kingdom, it shall be done.”

7 Then Esther replied and said, “This is my petition and request. 8 If I have won the king’s favor, and if it pleases the king to grant my petition and fulfill my request, then let the king and Haman come to the banquet that I will prepare for them, and tomorrow I will do what the king says.”

9 Haman left that day joyfully and with a glad heart, but when Haman saw Mordecai at the king’s gate, that he neither stood up nor trembled because of him, then Haman was full of indignation against Mordecai. 10 Nevertheless, Haman restrained himself, and when he came to his home, he sent for his friends and for his wife Zeresh.

11 Haman recounted to them the glory of his riches, his many children, and everything about him the king had praised, and how he had promoted him over the princes and servants of the king. 12 Then Haman continued, “Indeed, Queen Esther brought to the banquet she had prepared no one but the king and me, and tomorrow I am again invited by her with the king. 13 Yet for all this, I am not satisfied whenever I see Mordecai the Jew sitting at the king’s gate.”

14 Then his wife Zeresh and all his friends suggested to him, “Let a gallows fifty cubits tall be constructed, and in the morning ask the king if Mordecai can be hanged on it. Then go merrily with the king to the banquet.” And the suggestion pleased Haman, so he had the gallows constructed.

Acts 5:22–42

22 But when the officers came and did not find them in the prison, they returned and reported, 23 “We found the prison securely shut and the guards standing outside before the doors. But when we opened it, we found no one inside.” 24 Now when the high priest, the captain of the temple, and the chief priests heard these things, they were in doubt of what might become of this.

25 Then one came and told them, “Look, the men whom you put in prison are standing in the temple and teaching the people.” 26 Then the captain with his escorts went and brought them, without force lest they should be stoned, for they feared the people.

27 When they had brought them, they stood them before the Sanhedrin. And the high priest questioned them, 28 saying, “Did we not strictly command you not to teach in this name? Yet now you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and you intend to bring on us this Man’s blood.”

29 Peter and the other apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men. 30 The God of our fathers raised Jesus, whom you killed by hanging on a tree. 31 God exalted this Man to His right hand to be a Ruler and a Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. 32 We are His witnesses to these words, as is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey Him.”

33 When they heard this, they were cut to the heart and took counsel to kill them. 34 But a Pharisee in the Sanhedrin named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law honored by all the people, stood and ordered the apostles to be put outside for a little while. 35 Then he said to them, “Men of Israel, take heed to yourselves what you intend to do concerning these men. 36 For in previous days Theudas rose up, boasting to be somebody, to whom a number of about four hundred men joined themselves. He was killed, and all who obeyed him were dispersed and came to nothing. 37 After Theudas, Judas the Galilean rose up in the days of the census and drew away many people after him. This man also perished, and all who obeyed him were scattered. 38 Now I tell you, keep away from these men and leave them alone, because if this intention or this activity is of men, it will come to nothing. 39 But if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them, lest perhaps you be found even fighting against God.”

40 They agreed with him. When they had called in the apostles, they beat them, and commanded them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and released them.

41 Then they departed from the presence of the Sanhedrin, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name. 42 Daily, in the temple and from house to house, they did not cease to teach and preach Jesus Christ.