: Old Testament Stories

Ahasuerus reigned over the vast empire of Persia, and Esther, the

adopted daughter of a Jew named Mordecai, was Queen. None in the

palace knew she was a Jewess, for Mordecai had charged her not to make

it known. He abode in the king's palace, and was one of the king's


Ahasuerus promoted Haman, one of his courtiers, a cruel and wicked

man, to be over all his princes and officers; and all bowed do
n to

Haman and did him reverence except Mordecai, the Jew. Then was Haman

filled with wrath against Mordecai and his people, and obtained from

the king a decree ordering that all the Jews throughout his dominions

should be slain. Mordecai informed Queen Esther of this decree, and

bade her go to the king and plead for her people. Now it was one of

the laws of the palace that no one should approach the king in the

inner court unless he had been previously called; the penalty for not

obeying this law being death, unless the king should hold out the

golden sceptre to the offender so that he might live. Esther knew the

danger of approaching the king uncalled for, but she bade Mordecai to

gather the Jews so that they might spend three days in fasting and

prayer, while she and her maidens did the same, and, said she, "So

will I go in unto the king, which is not according to the law, and if

I perish, I perish."

Esther went in. The king graciously held out the golden sceptre to

her, accepted her invitation to a banquet, and finally ordered the

wicked Haman to be hanged, and measures to be taken to preserve the

lives of the Jews.