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The Vengeance of Haman

When Mordecai heard of the decree which had gone out that all the Jews should be destroyed, he put on sackcloth and went into the streets of the city and cried aloud a bitter cry. He then came to the king's gate, but beyond that he could not go, because no one could pass the gate who was clothed in sackcloth. There was mourning among the Jews throughout every province in Persia and fasting and weeping and wailing.

Esther's maids came and told her that Mordecai was before the king's gate and that he was clothed in sackcloth and was crying with a loud and bitter cry. The queen called for one of the king's chamberlains and told him to ask Mordecai what was the matter. The chamberlain went to Mordecai and learned of the decree of the king. He came back and told Esther that the king had ordered all the Jews in the province destroyed and that Haman had advised him to do it and had promised ten thousand talents of silver to be paid into the king's treasury. The chamberlain also gave the queen a copy of the writing of the decree which Mordecai had given to him.

Mordecai had also told the chamberlain to beg Esther to go to the king and make a prayer to him that all her people should be saved.

Esther was greatly grieved at the decree of the king but she knew that it was the law that if one went to the king without being called, even the queen herself, he would be put to death by the king's guards, unless the king held out his golden scepter as a sign that his life should be spared.

It had been thirty days since Esther had been sent for by the king and she knew if she went before the king the guards would slay her at the door, for such was the law of the palace. The chamberlain told Mordecai of this law and asked him what Esther should do.

Mordecai sent Esther this message: "If you hold your peace and do not go before the king you and your people will be destroyed. If you go before the king there is a chance for your life and it may be you are now the one to save your people."

When Esther received this message she sent word to Mordecai to gather together all the Jews that were in Shushan and fast for three nights and three days and she and her maidens would do likewise and then she would go to the king and make her prayer. She said to herself: "If I perish, I perish, and there is some hope for my people if I go to the king."

Mordecai went his way and gathered all the Jews in Shushan and they fasted and prayed and the queen made ready to go before the king with her petition.

On the third day, Esther put on her royal apparel and sat in the court of the king's house. The king stood upon his royal throne with his court around him.

When Esther appeared at the door she was very beautiful and very radiant. The guards, knowing that she had not been called, started toward her with their weapons in their hands according to the laws of the palace, but the king, seeing his queen standing so beautiful and so humble before him, at once stretched out the golden scepter which he held in his hand. Whereupon the guards drew back and Esther smilingly approached the king and touched the top of the scepter with her hand.

"What is it you wish, Queen Esther, and what is your request, and why do you come without being called? Whatever you want, it shall be given to you, even to the half of my kingdom," said the king.

"If it seems good to my lord, the king," replied the queen, "will you and Haman come unto the banquet that I have prepared for the king?"

This was very pleasing to Ahasuerus and he sent at once for Haman to make haste and come to the banquet that Esther had prepared. So the kin and Haman came to the banquet. While they were drinking wine, the king said to Esther: "What is your wish and what is your request? It shall be granted to you, even to the half of my kingdom."

Esther then told the king that she wanted him and Haman to come to the banquet which she had prepared for the next day and then she would let him know what she desired the king to do for her. This also pleased the king, who loved his beautiful wife, and so he gave orders that Haman should come to the banquet with the queen on the following day.

Haman was much delighted with the honors that were shown him and he went forth with a joyful heart. When Haman passed the king's gate, Mordecai saw him but he stood not up nor moved for him, therefore, was Haman full of indignation. But he said nothing and passed on to his own house.

When he reached home he called for his friends and his wife and told them the story of his glory and riches and the honor which the king had done for him. He also said that Esther the queen had invited him and the king to the banquet that day, and there were no others except the king and himself, and the next day he was invited to another banquet with her and the king.

But all this did not soften the heart of Haman against Mordecai, the Jew, who sat at the king's gate and scorned him. He told his friends how Mordecai treated him and how full of rage against the Jew was his heart.

Haman's wife and friends said: "Let a gallows be made fifty cubits high and tomorrow ask the king that Mordecai may be hanged upon it; then you can go merrily with the king to the banquet."

This thing pleased Haman and he had the gallows made ready, thinking that thereon he would have his enemy hanged.