Ester bliver dronning og redder kongens liv
1Nogen tid senere havde kongens vrede fortaget sig. Han tænkte over, hvad Vashti havde gjort, og fortrød den lov, han havde udstedt.
2Da sagde kongens rådgivere: „Lad os finde nogle smukke unge piger til kongen. 3Vi foreslår, at kongen sender talentspejdere ud til rigets forskellige provinser og gennem dem udvælger de smukkeste kandidater til det kongelige harem i paladset i Susa. Eunukken Hegaj, der har opsyn med paladsets kvinder, skal sørge for at give dem skønhedspleje, 4hvorefter kongen kan vælge den pige, han synes bedst om, som dronning Vashtis efterfølger.”
Kongen syntes godt om rådgivernes forslag og gjorde, som de havde sagt.
5Blandt de ansatte i paladset var der en jøde ved navn Mordokaj. Han var fra Benjamins stamme, søn af Jair, der var søn af Shimi, som var søn af Kish. 6Kish var en af de jøder, der efter Jerusalems ødelæggelse var blevet taget til fange af kong Nebukadnezar og ført i landflygtighed i Babylonien sammen med kong Jekonja af Juda og mange andre. 7Mordokaj havde en smuk, ung kusine ved navn Ester—med det jødiske navn Hadassa. Efter hendes forældres død havde Mordokaj adopteret hende og opdraget hende som sin egen datter. 8Da nu kongen søgte efter smukke piger, blev Ester sammen med mange andre ført til paladset i Susa. 9Hegaj blev så betaget af Ester, at han satte alt ind på at gøre hende så smuk som mulig. Han begyndte straks på hendes skønhedskur og gav hende bedre mad end nogen af de andre piger. Han stillede syv af de bedste hofdamer til hendes rådighed og gav hende det flotteste værelse i kvindernes fløj. 10Ester fortalte ikke til nogen, at hun var jøde, for det havde hendes plejefar forbudt hende. 11Hver dag lagde Mordokaj vejen forbi kvindernes fløj for at høre, hvordan det gik med Ester.
12Pigernes skønhedspleje varede et helt år og bestod af seks måneders behandling med myrraolie og seks måneders behandling med forskellige salver og skønhedsmidler. Når en pige således havde gennemgået et års skønhedskur, blev hun sendt ind til kongen. 13Den dag hun forlod kvindernes fløj og gik ind til kongen, måtte hun selv udvælge det tøj og de smykker, hun ønskede. 14Pigen tilbragte så en nat hos kongen, hvorefter hun næste morgen blev ført til den fløj, hvor kongens medhustruer boede. Der blev hun overgivet i eunukken Sha’ashgaz’ varetægt. Her skulle hun så bo fremover og kom ikke ind til kongen igen—medmindre han sendte bud efter hende.
15Da det blev Esters2,15 Teksten tilføjer en parentes: „den pige, som Mordokaj havde adopteret, en datter af hans onkel, Abihajil.” tur til at komme ind til kongen, lyttede hun til Hegajs råd og klædte sig sådan, som han foreslog, og alle beundrede hendes skønhed. 16Så blev Ester ført ind til kong Xerxes—det var i den tiende måned i kongens syvende regeringsår— 17og han blev så forelsket i hende, at han satte dronningekronen på hendes hoved og udnævnte hende til dronning i stedet for Vashti. 18For at markere sin glæde udråbte han dagen som en national helligdag, og til ære for Ester holdt han en stor fest for sine embedsmænd og hoffolk. Han uddelte også gaver med en rundhåndethed, der passer sig for en stor monark.
19-20Alle pigerne blev efterhånden overflyttet til medhustruernes fløj. Ester havde stadig ikke røbet sin jødiske herkomst, sådan som Mordokaj havde pålagt hende. Hun blev nemlig ved med at følge hans råd, selv efter at hun var blevet dronning.
Mordokaj hørte til de dommere, som sad og afgjorde mindre retssager i portrummet i kongens palads. 21-22En dag, mens han sad der, blev han klar over, at to af portvagterne, Bigtan og Teresh, var vrede på kongen og ventede på en anledning til at myrde ham. Det fortalte Mordokaj straks til dronning Ester, som sagde det videre til kongen. 23Sagen blev straks undersøgt, og de to skyldige mænd blev henrettet ved hængning.2,23 Eller måske dræbt ved at blive hængt op på en spids pæl. Mens kongen så på det, blev det hele derefter nedskrevet i rigets krønikebog.
Esther Becomes Queen of Persia
1Later, the great anger of King Xerxes calmed down. Then he remembered Vashti and what she had done. He also remembered the royal order he had sent out concerning her. 2At that time the king’s personal attendants made a suggestion. They said, “King Xerxes, let a search be made for some beautiful young virgins for you. 3Appoint some officials in every territory in your kingdom. Have them bring all these beautiful young women into the fort of Susa. Put them in the special place where the virgins stay. Then put Hegai in charge of them. He’s the official who serves you. He’s in charge of the women. Let beauty care be given to the new group of women. 4Then let the young woman who pleases you the most become queen in Vashti’s place.” The king liked that advice. So he followed it.
5There was a Jew living in the fort of Susa. He was from the tribe of Benjamin. His name was Mordecai. He was the son of Jair. Jair was the son of Shimei. Shimei was the son of Kish. 6Nebuchadnezzar had forced Mordecai to leave Jerusalem. He was among the prisoners who were carried off along with Jehoiachin. Jehoiachin had been king of Judah. Nebuchadnezzar was king of Babylon. 7Mordecai had a cousin named Hadassah. He had raised her because she didn’t have a father or mother. Hadassah was also called Esther. She had a lovely figure and was very beautiful. Mordecai had adopted her as his own daughter. He had done it when her father and mother died.
8After the king’s order and law were announced, many young women were brought to the fort of Susa. Hegai was put in charge of them. Esther was also taken to the king’s palace. She was put under the control of Hegai. He was in charge of the place where the virgins stayed. 9Esther pleased him. He showed her how happy he was with her. Right away he provided her with her beauty care and special food. He appointed seven female attendants to help her. They were chosen from the king’s palace. He moved her and her attendants into the best part of the place where the virgins stayed.
10Esther hadn’t told anyone who her people were. She hadn’t talked about her family. That’s because Mordecai had told her not to. 11Mordecai tried to find out how Esther was getting along. He wanted to know what was happening to her. So he walked back and forth near the courtyard by the place where the virgins stayed. He did it every day.
12Each young woman had to complete 12 months of beauty care. They used oil of myrrh for six months. And they used perfume and makeup for the other six months. A virgin’s turn to go in to King Xerxes could come only after a full 12 months had passed. 13And here is how she would go to the king. She would be given anything she wanted from the place where the virgins stayed. She could take it with her to the king’s palace. 14In the evening she would go there. In the morning she would leave. Then she would go to the special place where the king’s concubines stayed. She would be put under the control of Shaashgaz. He was the king’s official who was in charge of the concubines. She would never return to the king unless he was pleased with her. He had to send for her by name before she could go to him again.
15Mordecai had adopted Esther. She had been the daughter of his uncle Abihail. Her turn came to go in to the king. She only asked for what Hegai suggested. He was the king’s official who was in charge of the place where the virgins stayed. Everyone who saw Esther was pleased with her. 16She was taken to King Xerxes in the royal house. It was now the tenth month. That was the month of Tebeth. It was the seventh year of the rule of Xerxes.
17The king liked Esther more than he liked any of the other women. She pleased him more than any of the other virgins. So he put a royal crown on her head. He made her queen in Vashti’s place. 18Then the king gave a feast to honor Esther. All his nobles and officials were invited. He announced a holiday all through the territories he ruled over. He freely gave many gifts in keeping with his royal wealth.
Mordecai Uncovers a Plan to Kill the King
19The virgins were gathered together a second time. At that time Mordecai was sitting at the palace gate. 20Esther had kept her family history a secret. She hadn’t told anyone who her people were. Mordecai had told her not to. She continued to follow his directions. That’s what she had always done when he was bringing her up.
21Bigthana and Teresh were two of the king’s officers. They guarded the door of the royal palace. They became angry with King Xerxes. So they decided to kill him. They made their evil plans while Mordecai was sitting at the palace gate. 22So Mordecai found out about it and told Queen Esther. Then she reported it to the king. She told him that Mordecai had uncovered the plans against him. 23Some people checked Esther’s report. And they found out it was true. So the two officials were put to death. Then poles were stuck through them. They were set up where people could see them. All of that was written in the official records. It was written down while the king was watching.