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1After these things, when the anger of King Ahasu-eʹrus had abated, he remembered Vashti and what she had done and what had been decreed against her. 2Then the king’s servants who attended him said, “Let beautiful young virgins be sought out for the king. 3And let the king appoint officers in all the provinces of his kingdom to gather all the beautiful young virgins to the harem in Susa the capital, under custody of Hegai the king’s eunuch who is in charge of the women; let their ointments be given them. 4And let the maiden who pleases the king be queen instead of Vashti.” This pleased the king, and he did so.

5Now there was a Jew in Susa the capital whose name was Morʹdecai, the son of Jaʹir, son of Shimʹe-i, son of Kish, a Benjaminite, 6who had been carried away from Jerusalem among the captives carried away with Jeconiʹah king of Judah, whom Nebuchadnezʹzar king of Babylon had carried away. 7He had brought up Hadasʹsah, that is Esther, the daughter of his uncle, for she had neither father nor mother; the maiden was beautiful and lovely, and when her father and her mother died, Morʹdecai adopted her as his own daughter. 8So when the king’s order and his edict were proclaimed, and when many maidens were gathered in Susa the capital in custody of Hegai, Esther also was taken into the king’s palace and put in custody of Hegai who had charge of the women. 9And the maiden pleased him and won his favor; and he quickly provided her with her ointments and her portion of food, and with seven chosen maids from the king’s palace, and advanced her and her maids to the best place in the harem. 10Esther had not made known her people or kindred, for Morʹdecai had charged her not to make it known. 11And every day Morʹdecai walked in front of the court of the harem, to learn how Esther was and how she fared.

12Now when the turn came for each maiden to go in to King Ahasu-eʹrus, 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—13when the maiden went in to the king in this way she was given whatever she desired to take with her from the harem to the king’s palace. 14In the evening she went, and in the morning she came back to the second harem in custody of Sha-ashʹgaz 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 she was summoned by name.

15When the turn came for Esther the daughter of Abʹihail the uncle of Morʹdecai, who had adopted her as his own daughter, to go in to the king, she asked for nothing except what Hegai the king’s eunuch, who had charge of the women, advised. Now Esther found favor in the eyes of all who saw her. 16And when Esther was taken to King Ahasu-eʹrus into his royal palace in the tenth month, which is the month of Tebeth, in the seventh year of his reign, 17the king loved Esther more than all the women, and she found grace and favor in his sight more than all the virgins, so that he set the royal crown on her head and made her queen instead of Vashti. 18Then the king gave a great banquet to all his princes and servants; it was Esther’s banquet. He also granted a remission of taxes to the provinces, and gave gifts with royal liberality.

19When the virgins were gathered together the second time, Morʹdecai was sitting at the king’s gate. 20Now Esther had not made known her kindred or her people, as Morʹdecai had charged her; for Esther obeyed Morʹdecai just as when she was brought up by him. 21And in those days, as Morʹdecai was sitting at the king’s gate, Bigthan and Teresh, two of the king’s eunuchs, who guarded the threshold, became angry and sought to lay hands on King Ahasu-eʹrus. 22And this came to the knowledge of Morʹdecai, and he told it to Queen Esther, and Esther told the king in the name of Morʹdecai. 23When the affair was investigated and found to be so, the men were both hanged on the gallows. And it was recorded in the Book of the Chronicles in the presence of the king.

Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright © 1946, 1952, and 1971 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America.
Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

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