¶ And the king Ahasuerus laid tribute upon the land, and upon the Isles of the sea. As for all the work of his power and authority, and the great worship of Mardocheus, which the king gave him, behold, it is written in the Chronicles of the kings of Media and Persia. For Mardocheus the Iew was the second next unto king Ahasuerus, and great among the Iews, and accepted among the multitude of his brethren, as one that seeketh the wealth of his people, and speaketh the best for all his seed.
¶ Mardocheus the son of Iair, the son of Semei, the son of Cisei of the tribe of Ben Iamin a Iew: which had his dwelling in Susis, a man of great reputation, and excellent among all them that were in the kings court (Nevertheless he was one of the prisoners, whom Nabuchodonosor the king of Babilon had carried away from Ierusalem unto Babilon with Iechonias the king of Iuda.) In the second year of the reign of great Artaxerses, in the first day of the month Nisan, had this Mardocheus such a dream: He thought he heard a great tempest, with thunderclaps, and earthquakes, and great uproar in the land: And that he saw two great dragons, ready to fight one against another. Their cry was great. At the which roaring and cry all Heathen were up, to fight against the righteous people. And the same day was full of darkness and very unclear, full of trouble anguish, yea a great fearfulness was there in all the land. The righteous were amazed, for they feared the plague and evil that was devised over them, and were at a point with them selves to die. So they cried unto God, and while they were crying, the little well grew in to a great river and in to many waters. And with that it was day, and the sonne rose up again. And the lowly were exalted, and devoured the glorious and proud.
¶ Now when Mardocheus had seen this dream, he awoke, and mused stedfastly in his heart, what God would do: and so he desired to know all the matter, and his mind was there upon until the night.
¶ At the time dwelt Mardocheus with Bagatha and Thares the kings chamberlains and porters of the place. But when he heard their device, and had diligently considered their imaginations, he perceived that they went about, to lay their cruel hands upon the king Artaxerses: and so he certified the king thereof. Then caused the king to examine the two guelded with torments. And when they had granted it, they were put to death.
¶ This the king caused to be put in the Chronicles for an everlasting remembrance, and Mardocheus wrote up the same matter. So the king commanded, that Mardocheus should do service in the court, and for this faithfulness of his, he gave him a reward. But Aman the son of Amadathu the Agagite, which was holden in great honour and reputation in the king's court, undertook to hurt Mardocheus and his people, because of the two chamberlains that were put to death.
¶ The great king Artaxerxses which reigneth from India unto Ethiopia, over an hundreth and seven and twenty lands, sendeth his friendly salutation unto all the princes and debites of the countries, which be subject unto his dominion. When I was made lord over many people, and had subdued the whole earth unto my dominion, my mind was not with cruelty and wrong to exalt myself by the reason of my power: but purposed with equity alway and gentilness, to govern those that be under my jurisdiction, and wholy to set them in a peaceable life, and thereby to bring my kingdom unto tranquility, that men might safely go thorow on every side, and to renew peace again, which all men desire. Now when I asked my counsellors, how these things might be brought to a good end, there was one by us, excellent in wisdom, whose good will, truth and faithfulness hath oft been shewed and proved (which was also the principal and next unto the king) Aman by name, which certified us, how that in all lands there was crept in a rebelious folk, that made statutes and lawas against all other people, and have alway despised the proclaimed commandments of kings: and how that for this cause it were not to be suffered, that such rule should continue by you and not to be put down. Seeing now we perceive the same, that this people alone are contrary unto every man, using strange and other manner of laws, and withstand our statutes and doings, and go about to stablish shrewd matters, that our kingdom should never come to good estate and steadfastness: Therefore have we commanded, that all they that are appointed in writting and shewed unto you by Aman (which is ordained and set over all our business, and the most principal next unto the king, and in manner as a father) shall their wives and children be destroyed and rooted out with the sword of their enemies and adversaries: and that there shall be no mercy shewed, and no man spared. And this shall be done the fourteenth day of the month called Adar) of this year, that they which of old (and now also) have ever been rebelious, may in one day with violence be thrust down in to the hell, to the intent that after this manner our empire may have peace and tranquility.
¶ But Mardocheus thought upon all the works and noble acts of the LORD, and made his prayer unto him, saying, O Lord Lord, thou valiant and almighty king (for all things are in thy power, and if thou wilt help and deliver Israel, there is no man that can withstand nor let thee: for thou has made heaven and earth, and what wonderous thing so ever is under the heaven: thou art LORD of all things, and there is no man, that can resist thee O LORD) Thou knowest all things, thou wotest LORD, that it was neither of malice, nor presumption, nor for any desire of glory, that I would not bow down myself nor worhsip yonder proud presumptuous Aman (for I would have been content, and that with good will, if it might have done Israel any good, to have kissed even his footsteps) but that I did it, because I would not set the honour of a man in the stead of the glory of God, and because I would worship none but onely thee my LORD. ANd this have I done in no pride nor presunption.
¶ And therefore O LORD thou God and king, have mercy upon thy people for they imagine how they may bring us to naught, yea their mind and desire is to destroy and to overthrow the people, that hath ever been thine inheritence of old. O despise not thy portion, which thou hast delivered and brought out of Egypt for thine own self. Hear my prayer, and be merciful unto thy people, whom thou hast chosen for an heritage unto thyself. Turn our complaint and sorrow in to joy, that we may live O LORD, and praise thy name. O LORD, suffer not the mouths of them that praise thee, to be destroyed.
¶ All the people of Israel in like manner cried as earnestly as they could unto the LORD, for their death and destruction stood before their eyes.
¶ Queen Esther also being in battle of death, resorted unto the LORD, laid away her glorious apparel, and put on the garments that served for sighing and mourning. In the stead of precious ointment, she scatered ashes and dong upon her head: and as for her body, she humbled it, and brought it very low, All the places where she was wont to have joy afore, those filled she with hair, that she pucked out herself. She praid also unto the LORD God of Israel with these words:
¶ O my LORD, thou onely art our king, help me delate woman, which have no helper but thee, for my misery and destruction is hard at my hand. From my youth up I have heard out of the kinred of my father, that thou tookest Israel from among all people (and so have our fathers of their fore elders) that they should be thy perpetual inheritance, and look what thou didest promise them, thou hast made it good unto them.
¶ Now well LORD, we have sinned before thee: therefore hast thou given us in to the hands of our enemies, because we worshipped their gods: LORD thou art righteous. Nevertheless it satisfieth them not, that we are in bitter and heavy captivity and opressed among them, but thou hast laid their hands upon the hands of their gods: so that they begin to take away, the thing that thou with thy mouth hast ordained and appointed: to destroy thine inheritance, to shut and to stop the mouths of them that praise thee, to quench the glory and worship of they house and thine aulter, and to open the mouths of the Heathen, that they may praise the power and virtue of the gods, and to magnify the fleshly king for ever.
¶ O LORD, give not thy cepter unto them that be nothing, lest they laugh us to scron in our misery and fall: but turn their device upon themselves, and punish him, that hath begon the same over us, and set him to an example. Think upon us O LORD, and shew thy self in the time of our distress and of our trouble. Strengthen me O thou king of gods, thou LORD of all power, give me an eloquent and pleasant speech in my mouth before the Lion. Turn his heart in to the hate of our enemy, to destroy him, and all such as consent unto him. But deliver us with thy hand, and help me desolate woman, which have no defence nor helper but onely thee LORD thou knowest all things, thou wotest that I love not the glory and worship of the unrighteous, and that I hate and abhor the bed of the uncircumcised and of all Heathen.
¶ Thou knowest and wotest my necessity, that I hate the token of my preeminence and worship, which I bear upon my head, what time as I must shew my self and be seen, and that I abhor it as an unclean cloth, and that I wear it not when I am quite and alone by my self. Thou knowest also that I thy hand maiden have not eaten at Aman's table, and that I have had no pleasure nor delite in the kings feast, that I have not drunk the drinkofferings, and that I thy hand maiden have no joy since the day that I was brought hither unto this day: but onely in thee O LORD. O thou God of Abraham, O thou mighty God above all, hear the voice of them, that have none other hope, and deliver us out of the hand of the wicked, and deliver me out of my fear.
¶ And upon the third day it happened, that Hester laid away the mourning garments, and put on her glorious apparel, and decked herself goodly (after that she had called upon God, which is the beholder and Saviour of all things) took two maids with her: upon the one she leaned her self, as one that was tender: the other followed her, and bare the train of her vesture. The shine of her beauty made her face rose coloured. The similitude of her face was cheerful and amiable, but her heart was sorrowful for great fear. She went thorow all the doors, and stood before the king. The king sat upon the throne of his kingdom, and was clothed in his goodly aray, all of gold, and set with precious stones, and he was very terrible. He lift up his face, that shone in the clearness, and looked grimly upon her. Then fell the Queen down, was pale and faint, leaned her self upon the head of the maid that went with her.
¶ Nevertheless God turned the kings mind, that he was gentle, that he leap out of his seat for fear, and gat her in his arms, and held her up til she came to herself again. He gave her loving words also, and said unto her: Hester, what is the matter? I am thy brother, be of good cheer: thou shalt not die, for our commandment toucheth the commons: not thee. Come nye. And with that he held up his golden wand, and laid it upon her neck, and embraced her friendly, and said: talk with me. Then said she: I saw thee (O lord) as an angel of God, and my heart was troubled for fear of thy majesty and clearness. For excellent and wonderful art thou (O lord) and thy face is full of amity. But as she was thus speaking unto him, she fell down again for faintness: for the which cause the king was afraid, and all his servants comforted her.
¶ The great king Artaxerxes, which reigneth from India unto Ethipia, over an hundreth and twenty seven lands, sendeth unto the princes and rulers of the same lands, such as love him, his friendly salutation. There be many, that for the sondry friendships and benefits which are diversely done unto them for their worship, be ever the more proud and high minded, and undertake not onely to hurt our subjects (for plentous benefits may they not suffer, and begin to imagine some thing against those that do them good, and take not onely all unthanfulness away from men) but in pride and presumption (as they that be unmindeful and unthinkful for the good deeds) they go about to escape the judgment of God, that saith all things, which (judgement) hateth and punisheth all wickedness. It happeneth oft also, that they which be set in office by the higher power, and unto whom the business and causes of the subjects are commited to be handled, wax proud, and defile themselves with shedding of innocent blood, which bringeth them to intollerable hurt. Which also with false and disceitful words and with lying tales, deceive and betray the innocent goodness of princes.
¶ Now is it profitable and good, that we take heed, make search thereafter, and consider, not onely what hath happened unto us of old, but the shameful, unhonest, and noisesome things, that the debites have now taken in hand before our eyes: and thereby to beware in time to come, that we may make the kingdom quite and peaceable for all men, and that we might some time draw it to a change: and as for the thing that now is present before our eyes, to withstand it, and to put it down, after the most friendly manner.
¶ What time now as Aman the son of Amadathu the Macedonian (a stranger verily of the Persians blood, and far from our goodness) was come in among us as an aliant, and had obtained the friendship that we bear toward all people, so that he was called our father, and had in high honour of every man, as the next and principal unto the king, he could not forbear him self from his pride, hath undertaken not onely to rob us of the kingdom, but of our life.
¶ With manyfold deceit also hath he desired to destroy Mardocheus our helper and preserver, which hath done us good in all things: and innocent Hester the like partaker of our kingdom, with all her people. For his mind was (when he had taken them out of the way, and robbed us of them) by this means to translate the kingdom of the Persians unto them of Macedonia. But we find, that the Iewes (wich were accused of the wicked, that they might be destroyed) are no evil doers, but use reasonable and right laws, and that they be the children of the most High
living God, by whom the kingdom of us and our progenitors hath been well ordered hither to. Wherefore, as the letters and commandments, that were put forth by Aman the son of Amadathu, ye shall do well, if ye hold them of none effect: for he that set them up and invented them, hangeth at Susis before the port, with all his kinred, and God (which hath all things in his power) hath rewarded him after his deserving.
¶ And upon this ye shall publish and set up the copy of this letter in all places, that the Iewes may freely and without hindrance hold them selves after their own statutes, and that they may be helped, and that upon the thirteenth day of the twelfth month Adar they may be avenged of them, which in the time of their anguish and trouble would have opressed them. For the God that governeth all things, hath turned to joy, the day wherein the chosen people should have perished.
¶ Moreover, among the high Solempne days that ye have, ye shall hold this day also with all gladness: that now and in time to come, this day may be a remembrance to good, for all such as love the prosperity of the Persians: but a remembrance of destruction to those that be sedicious unto us.
¶ All cities and lands that do not his, shall horribly perish and be destroyed with the sword and fire, and shall not onely be no more inhabited of men, but be abhored also of the wild beasts and fouls.