Esther Goes to the King
1 Queen Esther prayed for three days. Then she took off the clothes she had been wearing and put on her splendid robes again. 2-3 In all her royal splendor, she prayed again to her God and savior, who sees everything. Walking like a queen, she left her room accompanied by two servant women, one of them escorting her by the arm and 4 the other holding up the train of her robe. 5 Queen Esther's face was radiantly beautiful. She looked as cheerful as she was lovely, but in her heart she was terror-stricken. 6 She passed through all the doors and entered the throne room, where she stood before the king. He was seated on his royal throne, dressed in his glorious robes, which were covered with gold and precious jewels. It was an awe-inspiring sight. 7 His face glowed with splendor, but when he saw Esther, he stared at her with fierce anger. She grew weak and turned pale; she almost fainted and had to lean her head on her attendant's shoulder.
8 But God changed the king's anger into tender concern. He quickly rose from his throne and took her in his arms until she was able to stand. He calmed her with comforting words. 9 “What is it, Esther?” he said to her. “I am your husband. There's no need to be afraid. 10 Our law applies only to ordinary people; you will not die. 11 Come here to me.” 12 He lifted his gold scepter and touched her on the neck with it. Then he kissed her and said, “Tell me what you want.”
13 “When I looked at you, my lord, I thought I was seeing an angel of God,” the queen answered, “and I was overcome by your awesome majesty. 14 You are so marvelous and your face is so full of kindness.”
15 But while she was speaking, she fainted again. 16 The king was concerned about her, and all his attendants tried to revive her.
Esther Invites the King and Haman to a Banquet
17 “What is it, Esther?” the king asked. “Tell me what you want, and you shall have it—even if it is half of my empire.”
18 Esther replied, “Today is a special day for me. If it please my lord, I would like you and Haman to be my guests tonight at a banquet I am preparing for you.”
19 The king then ordered Haman to come quickly, so that they could be Esther's guests. So the king and Haman went to Esther's banquet. 20 Over the wine the king again said to her, “Tell me what you want, Queen Esther.”
21 Esther replied, 22 “If my lord is kind enough to grant my request, I would like you and Haman to be my guests tomorrow at another banquet that I will prepare for you. It will be just like this one.”
Haman Plots to Kill Mordecai
23 When Haman left the king he was happy and in a good mood, until he saw Mordecai the Jew in the courtyard of the palace. That made him furious, 24 but he went on home. Then he invited his friends to his house and asked his wife Zeresh to join them. 25 He boasted to them about how rich he was and about the honor the king had paid him when he promoted him to high office and made him prime minister. 26 “What is more,” Haman said, “Queen Esther gave a banquet for no one but the king and me, and we are invited back tomorrow. 27 But none of this means a thing to me as long as I see that Jew Mordecai sitting in the courtyard of the palace.”
28 Then his wife and all his friends suggested, “Why don't you have a gallows put up, seventy-five feet high? Tomorrow morning you can ask the king to have Mordecai hanged on it, and then you can go with the king to the banquet and enjoy yourself.” Haman thought it was a good idea, so he had the gallows built.