The Jews Are Told to Fight Back
1 That same day King Xerxes gave Queen Esther all the property of Haman, the enemy of the Jews. Esther told the king that Mordecai was related to her, and Mordecai was invited to enter the king's presence. 2 The king took off his ring with his seal on it (which he had taken back from Haman) and gave it to Mordecai. Esther put Mordecai in charge of Haman's property.
3 Then Esther spoke to the king again, throwing herself at his feet. She begged him to do something to stop the evil plot that Haman had made against the Jews. 4 The king held out the gold scepter to her, so she stood up 5 and said, “If it please Your Majesty and if you care about me, please issue a proclamation to keep Haman's orders from being carried out—those orders he gave for the destruction of all the Jews in the empire. 6 How can I endure it if this disaster comes on my people? How can I go on living if my whole nation is destroyed?”
7 Then the king said to Esther, “I have hanged Haman for his plot against the Jews, and I have given you his property. If that is not enough, 8 you may write to the Jews whatever you like; and you may write it in my name and stamp it with the royal seal, for a proclamation issued in the king's name and stamped with the royal seal cannot be revoked.”
9 On the twenty-third day of the first month, the month of Nisan, the king's secretaries were called and letters were written to the Jews and to the governors and administrators of all 127 provinces from India to Ethiopia. The letters were written to each province in its own language. 10 They were written in the name of the king and stamped with the royal seal and they were delivered by runners.
11 These letters explained that the king would allow the Jews in every city of the empire to live by their own laws and organize for self-defense. They were permitted to treat their opponents and enemies in any way they liked. 12 This decree was to take effect throughout the Persian Empire on the thirteenth day of Adar, the twelfth month.
The King's Decree in Favor of the Jews
13 This is a copy of the decree:
“Greetings from King Xerxes the Great to the governors of the 127 provinces, which extend from India to Ethiopia, and to all those who are loyal to us.
14 “Many people become increasingly arrogant when honors are given to them and favors are done for them. 15 They do not know what to do with so much good fortune, so they not only try to harm our subjects, but they even scheme against those who grant them favors. 16 They are never grateful for what people do for them, and they even think they can escape the judgment of God, who hates evil and sees everything. In their arrogance they listen to the flattery of ignorant, sinful people.
17 “It often happens also that friends who have been entrusted with administrative responsibilities exert pressure on those in authority. They make their leaders their partners in killing people and bring about misfortunes that can never be remedied. 18 These friends, by their lies and deceitful ways, take advantage of the good will of their rulers.
19 “You can see examples of this misuse of power not only in the stories that have been handed down to us from the past, but in the more recent outrageous things which have happened among you.
20 “I intend to make sure that in the future my kingdom will remain untroubled and peaceful for all people. 21 This can be done by changing certain policies and by judging fairly each situation that comes to my attention.
22 “Consider, for example, the case of Haman son of Hammedatha, a Macedonian. He is a foreigner with no Persian blood and with no trace of my generosity; but I welcomed him, 23 and he received the benefit of my concern and love for all people. He was, in fact, proclaimed ‘Father’ of the empire and received more honor than anyone else, except the king.
24 “But his arrogance knew no limits, and he tried to murder me and take over the empire. 25 In his crafty and deceitful way, he asked that Mordecai be put to death—Mordecai, who once saved my life and who has always supported me. He even asked for the death of Esther, our blameless queen, and in fact, the death of all the Jewish people. 26 His purpose was to leave us helpless and to allow the Macedonians to take over the Persian Empire. 27 Even though this wicked criminal plotted to wipe out the Jews, I find that they are not traitors at all but are governed by very just laws. 28 They worship the living God, the highest and greatest God, who has kept our empire in its excellent condition from the time of our ancestors until our own day.
29 “Therefore I advise you not to carry out the instructions issued in the letters sent out by Haman. 30 He is the person responsible for all of this, and he has been hanged, along with his entire family, at the gates of Susa. God, who governs all things, has given him the speedy punishment that he deserved.
31 “I order you to post copies of this decree in every public place. Permit the Jews to live by their own customs, 32 and give them support when they defend themselves against those who attack them on the day set for their destruction, the thirteenth day of Adar, the twelfth month. 33 God, who governs all things, has turned that day of destruction into a day of celebration for his chosen people.
34 “Include this day among your national holidays and celebrate it as a festival. 35 Now and in the future it will remind us and all our allies of the way God watches over our nation, and those who plot against us will be reminded of God's threat of destruction.
36 “Every province, every city, without exception, which does not obey these orders will feel my anger. It will be destroyed in battle and burned to the ground. No human being will ever go there again, and even the birds and wild animals will avoid it forever.
37 “Post copies of this decree in plain view in every province, so that all the Jews can be ready to fight their enemies when that day comes.”
38 Messengers on horses rode off at top speed to carry out the orders of the king, and the decree was also made public in Susa.
39 Mordecai left the palace, wearing royal robes, a turban of fine purple linen, and a gold crown. When the people of Susa saw him, they cheered, 40 and the Jews were happy and joyful. 41 They held a joyful holiday with feasting and happiness in every city and province, wherever the king's proclamation was posted. In fact, many Gentiles were circumcised and became Jews, because they were now afraid of them.