Narrative Lectionary 114
1 When MordecaiI learnedII allIII that had been done,IV
Mordecai toreV his clothesVI and put onVII sackclothVIII and ashesIX
and went throughX the city,XI wailingXII
with a loudXIII and bitterXIV cry;XV
2 he went upXVI to the entranceXVII of the king’sXVIII gate,XIX for no one might enterXX the king’s gate clothedXXI with sackcloth.
3 In everyXXII province,XXIII whereverXXIV
the king’s commandXXV and his decreeXXVI came,XXVII there was greatXXVIII mourningXXIX
among the Jews,XXX with fastingXXXI and weepingXXXII and lamenting,XXXIII and most of them layXXXIV in sackcloth and ashes.
4 When Esther’sXXXV maidsXXXVI and her eunuchsXXXVII came and toldXXXVIII her,
the queenXXXIX was deeplyXL distressed;XLI she sentXLII
garmentsXLIII to clotheXLIV Mordecai, so that he might take offXLV his sackcloth, but he would not acceptXLVI them.
5 Then Esther calledXLVII for Hathach, one of the king’s eunuchs who had been appointedXLVIII to attendXLIX her, and orderedL him to go to Mordecai to learn what was happening and why.
6 Hathach went out to Mordecai in the open squareLI of the city in front ofLII the king’s gate, 7 and Mordecai told him all that had happenedLIII to him and the exact sumLIV of moneyLV
that HamanLVI had promised to payLVII into the king’s treasuriesLVIII for the destructionLIX of the Jews.
8 Mordecai also gaveLX him a copyLXI of the writtenLXII decree issuedLXIII in SusaLXIV
for their destruction,LXV that he might showLXVI it to Esther, explainLXVII it to her, and chargeLXVIII her to goLXIX to the king
to make supplicationLXX to him and to entreatLXXI him forLXXII her people.LXXIII
9 Hathach went and told Esther what Mordecai had said.LXXIV 10 Then Esther spoke to Hathach and gave him a messageLXXV for Mordecai: 11 “All the king’s servantsLXXVI and the people of the king’s provinces knowLXXVII that, if anyLXXVIII manLXXIX or womanLXXX goes to the king
inside the innerLXXXI courtLXXXII without being called, there is but oneLXXXIII law:LXXXIV to be put to death.LXXXV
OnlyLXXXVI if the king holds outLXXXVII the goldenLXXXVIII scepterLXXXIX to someone may that person live.XC I myself have not been called to come inXCI to the king for thirtyXCII days.”XCIII
12 When they told Mordecai what Esther had said, 13 Mordecai told them to replyXCIV to Esther, “Do not thinkXCV that in the king’s palaceXCVI youXCVII will escapeXCVIII any more than all the other Jews.
14 For if you keep silentXCIX at this time,C reliefCI and deliveranceCII will riseCIII for the Jews
from anotherCIV place,CV but you and your father’sCVI familyCVII will perish.CVIII Who knows? Perhaps you have comeCIX to royal dignityCX for just such a time as this.”
15 Then Esther said in reply to Mordecai, 16 “Go,CXI gatherCXII all the Jews to be foundCXIII in Susa, and hold a fastCXIV on my behalf, and neither eatCXV nor drinkCXVI
for threeCXVII days, nightCXVIII or day. I and my maids will also fast as you do.CXIX After thatCXX I will goCXXI to the king, though it is against the law, and if I perish, I perish.” 17 Mordecai then went awayCXXII and did everythingCXXIII as Esther had ordered him.
Image credit: “Esther & Ahasuerus” by Giovan Andrea Biffi, 1629. Photo by Dimitris Kamaras, 2016.