Esther Learns of Haman’s Plot
1Now when Mordecai learned of everything that had been done, he tore his clothes [in mourning], and put on sackcloth and ashes, and went out into the center of the city and cried out loudly and bitterly. 2He went [only] as far as the king’s gate, because no one was to enter the king’s gate dressed in sackcloth. 3In each and every province that the decree and law of the king reached, there was great mourning among the Jews, with fasting, weeping and wailing; and many lay on sackcloth and ashes.
4When Esther’s maids and her eunuchs came and told her [what had happened], the queen was seized by great fear. She sent garments to clothe Mordecai so that he would remove his sackcloth, but he did not accept them. 5Then Esther summoned Hathach, one of the king’s eunuchs, whom the king had appointed to attend her, and ordered him to go to Mordecai to find out what this issue was and why it had come about. 6So Hathach went out to Mordecai in the [open] square of the city, which was in front of the king’s gate. 7Mordecai told him everything that had happened to him, and the exact amount of money that Haman had promised to pay to the king’s treasuries for the destruction of the Jews. 8Mordecai also gave him a copy of the text of the decree which had been issued in Susa for the Jews destruction, so that he might show Esther and explain it to her, and order her to go in to the king to seek his favor and plead with him for [the lives of] her people.
9Hathach came back and told Esther what Mordecai had said. 10Then Esther spoke to Hathach and ordered him to reply to Mordecai, saying: 11“All the king’s servants and the people of the king’s provinces know that for any man or woman who comes to the king to the inner court without being summoned, he has but one law, that he is to be put to death, unless the king holds out to him the golden scepter so that he may live. And as for me, I have not been summoned to come to the king for these [last] thirty days.” 12So they told Mordecai what Esther had said.
13Then Mordecai told them to reply to Esther, “Do not imagine that you in the king’s palace can escape any more than all the Jews. 14For if you remain silent at this time, liberation and rescue will arise for the Jews from another place, and you and your father’s house will perish [since you did not help when you had the chance]. And who knows whether you have attained royalty for such a time as this [and for this very purpose]?”
Esther Plans to Intercede
15Then Esther told them to reply to Mordecai, 16“Go, gather all the Jews that are present in Susa, and observe a fast for me; do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my maids also will fast in the same way. Then I will go in to [see] the king [without being summoned], which is against the law; and if I perish, I perish.” 17So Mordecai went away and did exactly as Esther had commanded him.