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The Story of Esther,

(From the Book of ESTHER.)

AHASUERUS reigned from India even unto Ethiopia, over an hundred and twenty and seven provinces. And he sat on his throne in Shushan, the palace, and made a great feast unto all the people that were in the palace, both unto great and small, seven days, in the court of the garden of the palace, which was hung with white, green, and blue hangings, fastened with cords of fine linen and purple to silver rings and pillars of marble: the couches were of gold and silver, upon a pavement of red, and blue, and white, and black, marble. And they gave them drink in vessels of gold, (the vessels being diverse one from another, and royal wine in abundance, according to the state of the king.

Also Vashti the queen made a feast for the women in the royal house which belonged to king Ahasuerus.

On the seventh day, when the heart of the king was merry with wine, he commanded the seven chamberlains that served in his presence to bring Vashti the queen before him, with the crown royal, to show the people and the princes her beauty; for she was fair to look on. But the queen, Vashti, refused to come at the king's commandment: therefore was the king very wroth, and his anger burned in him. Then the king said to the wise men which sat first in the kingdom, “What shall we do unto queen Vashti, because she hath not performed the commandment of the king.” And Memucan answered before the king, and the princes, “ Vashti, the queen, hath not done wrong unto the king only, but also to all the princes, and to all the people that are in the provinces of the king Ahasuerus. For this deed of the queen shall come abroad unto all women, so that they shall despise their husbands; and when it shall be reported that king Ahasuerus commanded Vashti the queen to be brought in before him, but she came not, likewise shall the ladies of Persia and India say unto all the king's princes which have heard the deed of the queen. Thus shall there arise too much contempt and wrath. If it please the king, let there go a royal commandment from him, and let it be written among the laws of the Persians and the Medes, that it be not altered, “That Vashti come no more before king Ahasuerus; and let the king give her royal estate unto another that is better than she. And when the king's decree which he shall make shall be published throughout all his empire, (for it is great,) all the wives shall give to their husbands honor, both to great and small.” And the saying pleased the king and the princes; and the king did according to the word of Memucan: for he sent letters into all the king's provinces, into every province according to the writing thereof, and to every people after their language, that

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every man should bear rule in his own house, and that it should be published according to the language of every people.

After these things, when the wrath of king Ahasuerus was appeased, his servants said unto him, “ Let the king appoint officers in all the provinces of his kingdom, that they may gather together all the fair young virgins unto Shushan the palace; and let the maiden which pleaseth the king be queen instead of Vashti.” And the thing pleased the king, and he did so.

Now in Shushan the palace there was a certain Jew whose name was Mordecai, and he had brought up Esther, his uncle's daughter; for she had neither father nor mother; and Mordecai, when her father and mother died, took her for his own daughter. And the maid was fair and beautiful; and when the king's commandment and decree were heard; and when many maidens were gathered together in Shushan the palace, Esther was brought thither also. And Esther obtained favor in the sight of all them that looked upon her. And the king preferred her above all other women, and she obtained grace and favor in his sight; so that he set the royal crown upon her head, and made her queen instead of Vashti.

In those days Mordecai sat in the king's gate, and two of the king's chamberlains which kept the door were wroth, and sought to lay hands on the king Ahasuerus. And the thing was known to Mordecai, who told it unto Esther the queen; and Esther certified the king thereof in Mordecai's name. And when inquisition was made of the matter, it was found out; therefore they were both hanged on a tree: and it was written in the book of the chronicles before the king.

After these things did king Ahasuerus promote Haman, the Agagite, and advanced him, and set his seat above all the princes that were with him. And all the king's servants, that were in the king's gate, bowed, and reverenced Haman: for the king had so commanded concerning him. But Mordecai bowed not, nor did him reverence. Then the king's servants, which were in the king's gate, said unto Mordecai, “Why transgresseth thou the king's commandment ? ”,

Now it came to pass, when they spake daily unto him, and he hearkened not unto them, that they told Haman. And when Haman saw that Mordecai bowed not nor did him reverence, then was Haman full of wrath. And he thought scorn to lay hands on Mordecai alone, because he was a Jew. Wherefore, Haman sought to destroy all the Jews that were throughout the whole kingdom of Ahasuerus.

And Haman said unto king Ahasuerus, “ There is a certain people scattered abroad and dispersed among the people in all the provinces of thy kingdom; and their laws are diverse from all people; neither keep they the king's laws: therefore it is not for the king's profit to suffer them. If it please the king, let it be written that they may be destroyed : and I will pay ten thousand talents of silver into the king's treasuries.” And the king took his ring from his hand, and gave it to Haman, and said unto him, “Do with them as it seemeth good unto thee.” Then were the king's scribes called, and there was written according

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unto all that Haman commanded; in the name of king Ahasuerus was it written and sealed with the king's ring. And the letters were sent by post unto all the king's provinces, commanding his governors, that were set over them, that they should kill all the Jews, both old and young, little children, and women, in one day, even upon the thirteenth day of the twelfth month. And a copy of the decree was published unto all people, that they should be ready against the day. The decree was given in Shushan the palace, and the post went out, being hastened by the king's commandment. And the king and Haman sat down to drink.

When Mordecai perceived all that was done, Mordecai rent his clothes, and put on sackcloth with ashes, and went out into the midst of the city, and cried with a loud and a bitter cry.

And in every province, whithersoever the king's commandment and his decree came, there was great mourning among the Jews, and fasting, and weeping, and wailing; and many lay in sackcloth and ashes. Then was the queen exceedingly grieved ; and she sent one of the king's chamberlains, whom he had appointed to wait upon her, to Mordecai, to know why it was. Then Mordecai told the chamberlain all that had happened ; and he gave him a copy of the writing of the decree to show it unto Esther, and to charge her that she should go in unto the king to make supplication unto him for her people. And he came and told Esther the words of Mordecai. And Esther said, “There is a law, as all the king's servants do know, that whosoever, whether man or woman, who shall come unto

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