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Friday
Jul262013

An Audio Bible Adventure: The Story of Esther, Part 3

A retelling of Esther 5–9

See “The Story of Esther, Part 1” and “The Story of Esther, Part 2,” for the first two parts of Queen Esther’s story. 

As the day arrived for Queen Esther to go to King Ahasuerus, she wondered what she should say to change his mind about the order to destroy the Jewish people. She knew that Persian kings never altered their decrees. It just wasn't done. Suddenly an idea came to her.

She instructed her maids to prepare a banquet in her house, and then, donning her royal robes, Esther made her way to the king's house.

As she neared the great hall of King Ahasuerus, she felt a surge of confidence, and she stepped serenely to a place where the king could see her and waited. Pleased by the sight of her, King Ahasuerus held out his golden scepter and beckoned her to come forward.

“What is your request, Queen Esther?” the king asked as she reached out to touch the scepter, “I would grant it even up to half of my kingdom.”

“If it pleases the king,” Esther said, “let the king and Haman come today to the banquet that I have prepared.”

The king immediately sent a messenger telling Haman to do as the queen had requested.

That evening, the king and his prime minister attended the banquet that Esther had prepared. Then, at the banquet of wine, the king asked her once again what her petition was and promised to grant it even to half of the kingdom.

“My petition and my request is this,” Esther replied. “If I have found favor in the sight of the king, and if it pleases the king to grant my petition, let the king and Haman come to the banquet that I shall prepare for them tomorrow, and then I will answer the king’s question.”

The king agreed, his curiosity most surely aroused. Clearly, Esther had something important on her mind. But it was late and the king was tired, so it could wait until tomorrow.

As for Haman, he was overjoyed. That is, until he passed the gate and saw Mordecai, who neither bowed nor showed any respect for his presence. Haman was filled with rage; nevertheless, he restrained himself and hurried home to tell his wife Zeresh and closest friends of all the wealth and the many favors and promotions the king had bestowed upon him.

“On top of all this,” he added jubilantly, “Esther the queen invited no other man to come with the king to her banquet but me. And tomorrow I am invited to dine with her again, also with the king.

“But,” he said, his tone becoming sad and bitter, “all this gives me no satisfaction as long as I see Mordecai the Jew sitting at the king's gate.”

At this remark, Zeresh and his friends suggested that a seventy-five-foot gallows be constructed, and that tomorrow Haman should ask the king for Mordecai to be hanged on it.

“Then you can go in merrily with the king to the banquet!” they said.

Their suggestion pleased Haman, and he commissioned the gallows to be built.

That same night, King Ahasuerus could not sleep, so he commanded that the chronicles of his reign should be read to him. In it was the record of how Mordecai had discovered Bigthan and Teresh’s plot to assassinate King Ahasuerus just in time to save the king’s life.

“What honor or recognition has Mordecai received for this?” the king asked.

“Nothing,” his ministering servants answered.

“Who is in the court?” the king suddenly asked.

“Haman,” they replied.

Haman had come into the outward court of the king’s house to ask the king to hang Mordecai on the gallows that he had prepared for him.

“Let him come in,” said the king.

“Tell me,” he asked as Haman entered. “What shall be done for the man whom the king delights to honor?”

“For the man whom the king delights to honor,” Haman confidently replied, assuming that the king would delight to honor no one other than Haman himself, “let the king’s royal apparel, the horse upon which he rides, and his royal crown be delivered to one of the king’s most noble princes, who will then array the man whom the king delights to honor.

“Then that most noble prince should bring him on horseback through the streets of the city, and proclaim, ‘Thus shall it be done to the man whom the king delights to honor!’”

“Make haste then, Haman,” said the king. “Take the apparel and the horse, as you have said, and do even so to Mordecai the Jew that sits at the king’s gate. Neglect nothing of all you have spoken.”

Haman was stunned, but he had to obey. He had the king's robes, the royal crown, and the royal horse prepared as though King Ahasuerus himself were going to use them. He himself had to parade Mordecai through the streets while proclaiming the blessings of the king.

Afterwards, Mordecai returned to the king’s gate, but Haman rushed to his house with his head covered. There he told Zeresh and all his friends everything that had befallen him.

“Mordecai is a Jew! This does not bode well for you,” his counselors and wife said to Haman upon his return.

While they conferred, the king’s chamberlains came in haste to escort Haman to the banquet that Queen Esther had prepared.

“What is your petition, Queen Esther?” the king inquired again as they later sat at the banquet of wine. “It shall be granted you. And what is your request? It shall be performed, even to the half of the kingdom.”

“If I have found favor in your sight, O king,” Esther replied. “And if it pleases the king, let my life be spared, and that of my people.

“For I and my people are to be destroyed. If we had been sold for slaves, perhaps I would have said nothing; although the enemy could not countervail the damage that this will do to the king.

“Who is this enemy?” King Ahasuerus demanded. “And where is he that presumes to do so?”

“The adversary and enemy is this wicked Haman,” said Esther, pointing at Haman, who sat stunned and trembling before them.

The king, filled with rage, arose from the banquet of wine and strode into the palace garden. Haman then stood up and pleaded with Queen Esther for his life, because he knew that the king was already determining his fate.

When King Ahasuerus returned from the palace garden, he saw that Haman had flung himself upon the bed on which Esther was reclining.

“Will he also force the queen in front of me in this house?” the king bellowed, and as soon as he had spoken, chamberlains came and covered Haman’s face.

Then Harbonah, one of the chamberlains, inquired about the gallows, which Haman had made for Mordecai.

“Hang him on it,” said the king.

And so they hanged Haman on the gallows and the king’s wrath was pacified.

With the death of Haman, the king took off his ring, which he had taken from Haman, and gave it to Mordecai, and made him prime minister. On top of that, the king gave all Haman's property to Queen Esther, who appointed Mordecai as its guardian.

However, Haman’s death did not remove the threat to the Jews. The king's decree still remained and could not be changed. The entire Jewish race—including those who had returned to Jerusalem—could still be put to death.

So Esther went yet again before the king, and, falling at his feet, tearfully begged him to put away Haman the Agagite’s scheme against the Jews.

With his queen and his prime minister both being Jews, King Ahasuerus was in a difficult position. He saw at once that something had to be done, but he was unsure of what to do. He told Esther that she could write her own decree and seal it with his ring and send it out to all provinces, provided that she not reverse the original decree.

Mordecai and Esther discussed the problem and devised the solution: Mordecai was to draw up a document that granted the Jews the right to assemble and to fight against and destroy any foreign power or province that would rise up to attack any of their people.

When the decree was finished, Mordecai sealed each copy with the king's signet ring and couriers rushed the dispatches to each of the provinces from India to Ethiopia. In every land where the decree arrived, there was gladness and a feast for the Jews.

When the thirteenth day of March finally arrived, the Jews not only defended themselves, but they valiantly defeated over seventy thousand of their enemies throughout the Persian Empire.

See “Hero of the Month: Queen Esther for more on this fascinating Bible character.

S&S link: Christian Life and Faith: Witnessing and Missionary Training: Great Men and Women of God-2a; Character Buiding: Values and Virtues: Courage-2b

Adapted from Good Thots © 1987. Read by Jeremy.
A My Wonder Studio Production. Copyright © 2013 by The Family International.

Downloads

DOC: An Audio Bible Adventure: The Story of Esther, Part 3 (Portuguese)
DOC: An Audio Bible Adventure: The Story of Esther, Part 3 (Spanish)