Study and Theory/
Purim

M. Segal 1970

Abridged Book of Esther

The Book of Esther - Beit Hashalom

It came to pass in the days of Ahashverosh. He is Achashverosh who rules from India to Ethiopia - one hundred and twenty seven states.
In those days the king held a banquet for all of the people of Shushan the capital, from the greatest to the smallest. In the yard of the king’s gardens, Queen Vashti too threw a women’s party. On the seventh day, when the king was cheerful after drinking, he asked to bring in Queen Vashti, wearing her crown, to display her beauty. Queen Vashti refused to come. The king was furious, and asked his wise men: What should I do with Queen Vashti? And they told the king: If she refuses to appear before King Achashverosh, then shall relinquish her queenhood to a peer better than she. And so the king did.

A Jewish man lived in Shushan the capital, his name was Mordechai. He was guardian to his niece, Esther, since she was an orphan. She was a beautiful young girl, and Mordechai adopted her as his daughter. She found favor with all who saw her. Esther was take to the house of King Achashverosh. The king liked Esther, placed a royal crown upon her head, and made her queen instead of Vashti. The king held a large banquet, in honor of Esther.

At that time two of the king’s guards plotted to assasinate King Achashverosh. Mordechai got wind of this and informed Queen Esther, who then told the king. Both conspirators were hung from a tree. The king registered this in his diary. After these events, King Achashverosh gave Haman a promotion. all of the king’s servants bow and gesture to Haman; however, Mordechai would neither bow nor kneel. Haman saw that Mordechai would not kneel or bow to him, and was enraged. And Mordechai will not kneel or bow down, and Haman wanted to destroy all the Jews. Haman reported this to King Achashverosh, and the king sent soldiers to all the province, to kill, destroy and annihilate all of the Jews, from youths to old men, in a single day. The king and Haman sat down for a drink, and Mordechai knew of all that was going on. Mordechai tore his clothes and went about the city in sackcloth. He cried out bitterly, and appeared at the entrance to the king.

Esther’s attendants came to inform her. The queen was very disturbed, and sent clothes for Mordechai to wear instead of his sack, but he refused. Mordechai then told her what happened. He ordered her to approach the king and plead with him to spare her people.

Esther said: Any man or woman who approaches the king in the inner court without being summoned the king has but one law: that they be put to death, unless the king extends the gold scepter to them and spares their lives. But I have not been called to go to the king.

 

Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Shushan, and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my attendants will fast as you do. When this is done, I will go to the king, and if I perish, I perish.

On the third day Esther put on her royal robes and stood in the inner court of the palace, in front of the king’s hall. The king was sitting on his royal throne in the hall, facing the entrance. When he saw Queen Esther standing in the court, he was pleased with her and held out to her the gold scepter that was in his hand. So Esther approached and touched the tip of the scepter. Then the king asked: What is it, Queen Esther? What is your request?  Even up to half the kingdom, it will be given you.

Esther said: If it pleases the king, replied Esther, let the king, together with Haman, come today to a banquet I have prepared for him. Then the king said: Bring Haman at once, so that we may do what Esther asks.  So the king and Haman went to the banquet Esther had prepared. As they were drinking wine, the king again asked Esther, And what is your request?  Even up to half the kingdom, it will be granted. Esther replied: If the king regards me with favor and if it pleases the king to fulfill my request, let the king and Haman come tomorrow to the banquet I will prepare for them.

Haman went out that day happy and in high spirits.  But when he saw Mordechai at the king’s gate and observed that he neither rose nor showed fear in his presence, he was filled with rage against Mordechai.


Nevertheless, Haman restrained himself and went home. Calling together his friends and his wife, Haman boasted about all the ways the king had honored him and how he had elevated him. Haman added: I’m the only person Queen Esther invited to accompany the king to the banquet she gave. And she has invited me along with the king tomorrow. But all this gives me no satisfaction as long as I see that Jew Mordechai sitting at the king’s gate.

His wife and all his friends said to him: Have a high tree set up, and tell the king in the morning to have Mordechai hung on it. Then go with the king and enjoy yourself.

That night the king could not sleep; so he ordered the book of chronicles, record of his reign,  to be brought in and read to him. It was found recorded there that Mordechai had exposed the two of the king’s guardsmen, who had conspired to assassinate King Achashverosh. The king said: What honor and recognition has Mordechai received for this? The king’s attendants said: Nothing has been done for him. The king said: Who is in the court? Now Haman had just entered the court of the palace to speak to the king about hanging Mordechai on the tree he had prepared for him. The king’s attendants said: Haman is standing in the court. The king said: Bring him in. When Haman entered, the king asked him: What should be done for the man the king wants to honor? Haman thought to himself: Who is there that the king would rather honor than me? Haman said to the king: For the man the king wishes to honor, have them bring a royal robe the king has worn and a horse the king has ridden. Let them robe the man the king wants to honor, and lead him on the horse through the city streets, proclaiming before him: This is what is done for the man the king wishes to honor! So the king said: Go at once and get the robe and the horse and do just as you have suggested for Mordechai the Jew. So Haman got the robe and the horse. He robed Mordechai, and led him on horseback through the city streets, proclaiming before him: This is what is done for the man the king wishes to honor! Afterward Mordechai returned to the king’s gate. But Haman rushed home, with his head covered in grief, and told his wife and all his friends what had happened.

While they were still talking with him, the king’s messengers arrived and hurried Haman away to the banquet Esther had prepared. So the king and Haman went to Queen Esther’s banquet. On the second day, at Haman’s banquet, the king again asked: Queen Esther, what is your petition? It will be given you. What is your request? Even up to half the kingdom, it will be granted. Then Queen Esther answered: If I have found favor with you, Your Majesty, and if it pleases you, grant me my life—this is my petition. And spare my people—this is my request; for I and my people have been sold to be destroyed, killed and annihilated.

King Achashverosh asked Queen Esther: Who is he? Where is he—the man who has dared to do such a thing? Esther said: Haman that evil man. Then Haman was terrified before the king and queen. One of the king’s ministers told him: Here is the tree that Haman prepared for Mordechai, standing by Haman’s house. The king said: Hang him on it. So they hung Haman on the tree he had set up for Mordechai. And the city of Shushan held a joyous celebration. The Jews had light, and gladness, and joy, and honor.

Therefore, these days were called Purim, and should be remembered and observed in every generation by every family, in every province, and in every city. These days of Purim should never fail to be celebrated by the Jews.

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