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Esther - Chapter 8

1 That same day King Ahasuerus gave Queen Esther the house of Haman, the persecutor of the Jews. Mordecai was presented to the king, Esther having revealed their mutual relationship.

2 The king, who had recovered his signet ring from Haman, took it off and gave it to Mordecai, while Esther gave Mordecai charge of Haman's house.

3 Esther again went to speak to the king. She fell at his feet, weeping and imploring his favour, to frustrate the malice that Haman the Agagite had been plotting against the Jews.

4 The king held out the golden sceptre to her, whereupon Esther stood up and faced him.

5 'If such is the king's good pleasure,' she said, 'and if I have found favour before him, if my petition seems proper to him and if I myself am pleasing to his eyes, may he be pleased to issue a written revocation of the letters which Haman son of Hammedatha, the Agagite, has had written, ordering the destruction of the Jews throughout the royal provinces.

6 For how can I look on, while my people suffer what is proposed for them? How can I bear to witness the extermination of my relatives?'

7 King Ahasuerus said to Queen Esther and to Mordecai the Jew, 'I for my part have given Esther Haman's house, and have had him hanged on the gallows for planning to destroy the Jews.

8 You, for your part, write what you please as regards the Jews, in the king's name, and seal it with the king's signet; for any edict written in the king's name and sealed with his signet is irrevocable.'

9 The royal scribes were summoned at once -- it was the third month, the month of Sivan, on the twenty-third day -- and at Mordecai's dictation an order was written to the Jews, the satraps, governors and principal officials of the provinces stretching from India to Ethiopia, a hundred and twenty-seven provinces, to each provinces in its own script, and to each people in its own language, and to the Jews in their own script and language.

10 These letters, written in the name of King Ahasuerus and sealed with the king's signet, were carried by couriers mounted on horses from the king's own stud-farms.

11 In them the king granted the Jews, in whatever city they lived, the right to assemble in self-defence, with permission to destroy, slaughter and annihilate any armed force of any people or province that might attack them, together with their women and children, and to plunder their possessions,

12 with effect from the same day throughout the provinces of King Ahasuerus -- the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, which is Adar.

The decree of rehabilitation

(a) The text of the letter was as follows:

(b) 'The Great King, Ahasuerus, to the satraps of the hundred and twenty-seven provinces which stretch from India to Ethiopia, to the provincial governors and to all our loyal subjects, greeting:

(c) 'Many people, repeatedly honoured by the extreme bounty of their benefactors, only grow the more arrogant. It is not enough for them to seek our subjects' injury, but unable as they are to support the weight of their own surfeit they turn to scheming against their benefactors themselves.

(d) Not content with banishing gratitude from the human heart, but elated by the plaudits of people unacquainted with goodness, notwithstanding that all is for ever under the eye of God, they expect to escape his justice, so hostile to the wicked.

(e) Thus it has often happened to those placed in authority that, having entrusted friends with the conduct of affairs and allowed themselves to be influenced by them, they find themselves sharing with these the guilt of innocent blood and involved in irremediable misfortunes,

(f) the upright intentions of rulers having been misled by false arguments of the evilly disposed.

(g) This may be seen without recourse to the history of earlier times to which we have referred; you have only to look at what is before you, at the crimes perpetrated by a plague of unworthy officials.

(h) For the future, we shall exert our efforts to assure the tranquillity and peace of the realm for all,

(i) by adopting new policies and by always judging matters that are brought to our notice in the most equitable spirit.

(k) 'Thus Haman son of Hammedatha, a Macedonian, without a drop of Persian blood and far removed from our goodness, enjoyed our hospitality

(l) and was treated by us with the benevolence which we show to every nation, even to the extent of being proclaimed our 'father' and being accorded universally the prostration of respect as second in dignity to the royal throne.

(m) But he, unable to keep within his own high rank, schemed to deprive us of our realm and of our life.

(n) Furthermore, by tortuous wiles and arguments, he would have had us destroy Mordecai, our saviour and constant benefactor, with Esther the blameless partner of our majesty, and their whole nation besides.

(o) He thought by these means to leave us without support and so to transfer the Persian empire to the Macedonians.

(p) 'But we find that the Jews, marked out for annihilation by this arch-scoundrel, are not criminals: they are in fact governed by the most just of laws.

(q) They are children of the Most High, the great and living God to whom we and our ancestors owe the continuing prosperity of our realm.

(r) You will therefore do well not to act on the letters sent by Haman son of Hammedatha, since their author has been hanged at the gates of Susa with his whole household: a fitting punishment, which God, Master of the Universe, has speedily inflicted on him.

(s) Put up copies of this letter everywhere, allow the Jews to observe their own customs without fear, and come to their help against anyone who attacks them on the day originally chosen for their maltreatment, that is, the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, which is Adar.

(t) For the all-powerful God has made this day a day of joy and not of ruin for the chosen people.

(u) You, for your part, among your solemn festivals celebrate this as a special day with every kind off easting, so that now and in the future, for you and for Persians of good will, it may commemorate your rescue,and for your enemies may stand as a reminder of their ruin.

(v) 'Every city and, more generally, every country,which does not follow these instructions, will be mercilessly devastated with fire and sword, and made not only inaccessible to human beings but hateful to wild animals and even birds for ever.'

13 Copies of this edict, to be promulgated as law in each province, were published to the various peoples, so that the Jews could be ready on the day stated to avenge themselves on their enemies.

14 The couriers, mounted on the king's horses, set out in great haste and urgency at the king's command. The edict was also published in the citadel of Susa.

15 Mordecai left the royal presence in a princely gown of violet and white, with a great golden crown and a cloak of fine linen and purple. The city of Susa shouted for joy.

16 For the Jews there was light and gladness, joy and honour.

17 In every province and in every city, wherever the king's command and decree arrived, there was joy and gladness among the Jews, with feasting and holiday-making. Of the country's population many became Jews, since now the Jews were feared.

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