The Book of Esther


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The Book of Esther
A Readers Theater Adaptation © Jerome D. Bloom, 2002
(Italics denotes alternate translation or textual contraction; * denotes implications understood from the text.)
Chapter 1.
NARR: Now it came to pass in the days of Ahashverus,
KING: this is Ahashverus who reigned from India even unto Ethiopia, over one hundred and seven and twenty provinces:
NARR: that in those days, when the king sat on the throne of his kingdom, which was in Shushan the castle, in the third year of his reign,
KING: he made a feast unto all his princes and his servants; the power of Persia and Media, the nobles and princes of the provinces, being before him. And he showed the riches of his glorious kingdom and the honor of his excellent majesty, even a hundred and fourscore days.
NARR: And when these days were past, the king made a feast unto all the people that were present in Shushan the castle, both great and small, seven days, in the court of the garden of the king's castle. And they gave them drink in vessels of gold,
KING: the vessels being diverse one from another,
NARR: and royal wine in abundance, according to the bounty of the king.
KING: And the drinking was according to the law; none did restrain: for so the king had appointed to all the officers of his house, that they should do according to every man's pleasure.
VASHTI: Also Vashti the queen made a feast for the women in the royal house.
NARR: On the seventh day, when the heart of the king was merry with wine, he commanded his chamberlains
KING: to bring Vashti the queen with the crown royal, to show the people and the princes her . . . beauty:

NARR: for she was fair to look upon.

VASHTI: But the queen Vashti refused to come at the king's command!
KING: therefore was the king very wroth, and his anger burned in him. Then the king said to the wise men, which knew the times: What shall we do unto the queen Vashti according to law, because she has not obeyed the king?
NARR: And the prince Memucan answered before the king: Vashti the queen has not done wrong to the king only, but also to all the princes, and to all the people that are in all the provinces of the king. For this deed of the queen shall come abroad unto all women, so that they shall dishonor their husbands. If it please the king, let there go a royal commandment from him, and let it be written among the laws of the Persians and the Medes, that Vashti come no more before king Ahashverus; and let the king give her royal estate unto another that is better than she. And when the king's decree shall be published throughout all his empire, all the wives shall give to their husbands honor, both to great and small.
KING: And the saying pleased the king and the princes; for he sent letters into all the provinces, to every people after their language, that every man should bear rule in his own house.

Chapter 2.
NARR: After these things,
KING: when the wrath of king Ahashverus was appeased,
VASHTI: (wheedling) he remembered Vashti,
KING: (softening) and what she had done,
VASHTI: (whining) and what was decreed against her.
NARR: Then said the king's servants unto him: Let the king appoint officers in all the provinces of his kingdom, that they may gather together all the fair young maidens unto Shushan the castle, And let the maiden which best pleases the king be queen instead of Vashti.

KING: And the thing pleased the king; and he did so.

NARR: Now in Shushan the castle there was a certain Jew, whose name was
MORDECAI: Mordecai, the son of Yair, the son of Shimei, the son of Kish, a Benjamite;
NARR: (of the house of King Saul)* who was carried away from Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon.
MORD: And he brought up Hadassah,
ESTHER: that is, Esther,
MORD: his uncle's daughter:
ESTHER: for she had neither father nor mother,
MORD: so Mordecai, when her father and mother were dead, took her for his own daughter. And the maid was pleasant and beautiful;
NARR: So it came to pass, when the king's decree was heard, and when many maidens were gathered together unto Shushan the castle,
ESTHER: that Esther also was brought unto the king's house, to the custody of Hegai, keeper of the women.
NARR: And the maiden pleased him, and he preferred her unto the best place of the harem.
ESTHER: Now Esther
NARR: (which, in Hebrew, means “she who conceals”)*
ESTHER: had not revealed her people nor her kindred
MORD: for Mordecai had charged her that she should not make it known. And Mordecai walked every day before the harem to know how Esther did, and what would become of her.
NARR: Thus came each maiden unto the king; In the evening she went, and on the morrow she returned into the second harem, which kept the concubines: She came no more unto the king unless she were called by name.
ESTHER: Now when the turn of Esther had come, she obtained favour in the sight of all that looked upon her. So Esther was taken unto king Ahashverus into his house royal
NARR: in the tenth month, which is the month Teveth, in the seventh year of his reign.

KING: And the king loved Esther above all the women, and she obtained grace and favour in his sight more than all the maidens; so that he set the royal crown upon her head, and made her queen

VASHTI: (defeated ) instead of Vashti.
NARR: Then the king made a great feast unto all his princes and his servants, even Esther's feast; and he made a release to the provinces, and gave gifts, according to the bounty of the king.
ESTHER: Even now Esther had not yet made known her kindred nor her people
MORD: as Mordecai had charged her;
ESTHER: for Esther did the bidding of Mordecai, like as when she was brought up by him.

NARR: In those days, while Mordecai sat in the king's gate, two of the king's chamberlains,
BIGTHAN: Bigthan
TERESH: and Teresh,
BIGTHAN: of those who kept the door,
TERESH: were angry, and sought to
HAMAN: (inciting them) lay hands upon the king!
BIGTHAN & TERESH: lay hands upon the king!
MORD: And the thing was known to Mordecai, who told it unto Esther the queen;
ESTHER: and Esther warned the king thereof in Mordecai's name.
HAMAN: (disingenuous) And when inquisition was made of the matter, it was found out; therefore they were both
BIGTHAN & TERESH: (Groggers chatter ) HANGED!!! (Silence)
NARR: And it was written in the book of the chronicles before the king.

Chapter 3.
KING: After these things did king Ahashverus promote Haman the son of Hammedatha the Agagite,

NARR: (of the seed of Amalek)*
KING: and set his seat above all the princes that were with him.
NARR: And all the king's servants, that were in the king's gate, bowed, and honored Haman: for the king had so


MORD: But Mordecai bowed not, nor did him honor.

HAMAN: And when Haman saw that Mordecai bowed not, then was he full of wrath. And he scorned to lay hands on Mordecai alone; for they had shown him the people of Mordecai: wherefore Haman sought to destroy all the Jews that were throughout the whole kingdom.

NARR: In the first month, that is, the month Nisan, in the twelfth year of king Ahashverus, they cast Pur, that is, the lot, before Haman from day to day, and from month to month, to the twelfth month, that is, the month Adar.
HAMAN: And Haman said unto king Ahashverus: There is a certain people scattered among the people in all the provinces of your kingdom; and their laws are different from all people; neither keep they the king's laws; therefore it is not for the king to suffer them. If it please the king, let it be written that they may be destroyed; and I will put ten thousand talents of silver into the king's treasuries.

KING: And the king took his ring from his hand, and gave it unto Haman the son of Hammedatha the Agagite, the Jews' enemy. And the king said unto Haman: Their silver is given to you, the people also, to do with them as you will.
HAMAN: Then were the king's scribes called and there was written according to all that Haman had commanded, to the governors that were over every province, and to every people after their language;
KING: in the name of king Ahashverus was it written, and sealed with the king's ring.
NARR: And the letters were sent by posts into all the king's provinces, to destroy all Jews, both young and old, women and children also, in one day, even upon the thirteenth day of the month Adar, and to take the spoil of them for a prize. The commandment was published unto all people, that they should be ready for that day.
KING: And the king
HAMAN: and Haman
KING & HAMAN: sat down to drink;
NARR: but the city of Shushan was perplexed. And in every province, wherever the king's decree came, there was great mourning among the Jews.
Chapter 4.

NARR: When Mordecai learned all that was done,

MORD: he rent his clothes, and put on sackcloth with ashes, and went out into the midst of the city, and cried with a loud and a bitter cry; And came even before the king's gate.
NARR: But none might enter into the king's gate clothed with sackcloth. So Esther's maids and her chamberlains came and told it to her.
ESTHER: Then was the queen exceedingly grieved; and she sent a garment to clothe Mordecai, and to take away his sackcloth:
MORD: but he received it not.
ESTHER: Then called Esther for Hatach, one of the king’s chamberlains, and gave him a message to Mordecai, to know what it was, and why it was.
NARR: So Hatach went to Mordecai before the king's gate.
MORD: And Mordecai told him of all that had happened and of the sum of the money that Haman had promised to pay to the king's treasuries from the Jews, to destroy them. Also he gave him the copy of the decree that was given at Shushan, to show it unto Esther, and to charge her that she should go in unto the king, to make supplication for her people.
NARR: And Hatach came and told Esther Mordecai’s words.
ESTHER: Again Esther spoke unto Hatach, and gave him a

message for Mordecai: All the king's servants do know, that whosoever shall come unto the king who is not called, there is one law of his--to put him to death,

NARR: except one to whom the king shall hold out the golden sceptre, that he may live:
ESTHER: but I have not been called to come in unto the king these thirty days.
NARR: And he told to Mordecai Esther's words.

MORD: Then Mordecai commanded to answer Esther: Think not that you shall escape in the king's house, more than all the Jews. For if you hold your peace at this time, then shall our deliverance arise from another place; but you and your father's house shall be dishonored; and who knows, but you are come to great estate for such a time as this?

ESTHER: Then Esther bade Hatach return Mordecai this answer: Go, gather together all the Jews in Shushan, and fast you all for me. I and my maidens will fast likewise; and so will I go in unto the king, which is against the law; and if I perish, I perish.
MORD: So Mordecai went and did according to all that Esther had commanded him.
Chapter 5.
NARR: Now it came to pass on the third day,
ESTHER: that Esther put on her royal robe, and stood in the inner court of the king's house,
KING: and there the king sat upon his throne.
NARR: And it was so, when the king saw Esther the queen

standing in the court,

KING: that the king held out to her the golden sceptre
ESTHER: (Relieved) and she obtained favour in his sight. So Esther drew near, and touched the top of the sceptre.
KING: Then said the king unto her, What would you, queen Esther? and what is your request? it shall be given you even unto half my kingdom!
ESTHER: And Esther answered, (nervously) If it seem good unto the king, let the king and Haman come this day unto a banquet that I have prepared for him.
KING: Then the king said: Cause Haman to make haste, that he may do as Esther has said.
NARR: So the king
HAMAN: and Haman
NARR: came to the banquet that Esther had prepared.
KING: And the king said unto Esther at the banquet of wine: Tell me your petition? it shall be granted you.
ESTHER: Then answered Esther, and said: If it please the king to grant my petition, let the king and Haman come to the banquet tomorrow, and I will make it known.
HAMAN: Then went Haman forth that day with a joyful heart; but when Haman saw Mordecai in the king's gate,

MORD: that he stood not up, nor moved for him,

HAMAN: he was full of rage against Mordecai.
NARR: Nevertheless Haman refrained himself: and when he came home,
HAMAN: he sent for his friends, and Zeresh his wife. And Haman told them of the glory of his riches, and all the things wherein the king had promoted him above the princes and servants of the king.
NARR: Haman said moreover,
HAMAN: Yea, Esther the queen did let no man come in with the king unto the banquet but myself; and tomorrow am I invited unto her also with the king. Yet all this avails me nothing, when I see Mordecai the Jew sitting at the king's gate.
ZERESH: Then said Zeresh his wife: Let a gallows be made of fifty cubits height, and tomorrow speak you unto the king that Mordecai may be hanged thereon; then go you in merrily unto the banquet.
HAMAN: And the thing pleased Haman; and he caused the gallows to be made. (SFX: Carpenter banging begins)
Chapter 6.
NARR: On that night the king could not sleep,
KING: and he commanded to bring the book of records of the chronicles;

NARR: and they were read before the king. And it was found written, that Mordecai had told of
BIGTHAN: Bigthan

TERESH: and Teresh,
NARR: the king's two chamberlains who sought to
BIGTHAN & TERESH: lay hands upon the king!
KING: And the king said: What honor has been done to Mordecai for this?
NARR: Then said the king's servants: There is nothing done for him.
KING: And the king said: Who is in the court?
HAMAN: Now Haman was come into the court of the king's house, to speak unto the king to hang Mordecai.
NARR: And the king's servants said: Behold, Haman stands in the court.

KING: And the king said: Let him come in.

HAMAN: So Haman came in.
KING: And the king said unto him: What shall be done unto the man whom the king delights to honor?

HAMAN: Now Haman tought in his heart: To whom would the king delight to do honor more than to myself? And Haman answered the king: For the man whom the king delights to honor, Let the royal robe be brought, and the horse that the king rides upon, and the crown royal which is set upon his head: And let this robe and horse be delivered by the hand of one of the king's most noble princes, that he may dress the man and bring him on horseback through the street of the city, and proclaim before him: Thus shall it be done to the man whom the king delights to honor!
KING: Then the king said to Haman: Make haste, and do even so to Mordecai the Jew. (SFX: Carpenter banging ends.) Let nothing fail of all that you have spoken.
HAMAN: (Fuming) Then took Haman the robe and the horse, and dressed Mordecai,
MORD: (Amazed) and brought him on horseback through the street of the city,
HAMAN: and proclaimed before him: (sourly) Thus shall it be done unto the man whom the king delights to honor.
MORD: And Mordecai returned to the king's gate.
HAMAN: But Haman hastened to his house as in mourning, with his head covered. And Haman told Zeresh his wife and all his friends every thing that had befallen him.
ZERESH: Then said his wise men and Zeresh his wife unto him: If Mordecai be of the seed of the Jews, before whom you have begun to fall, you shall surely not prevail against him!
NARR: And while they were yet talking with him, came the king's chamberlains, and hastened to bring Haman unto the banquet that Esther had prepared.
Chapter 7.
KING: So the king
HAMAN: and Haman

KING: came to banquet with Esther the queen. And the king said again on the second day: What is your petition, queen Esther? It shall be granted you!

ESTHER: Then Esther the queen answered and said: If I have found favour in your sight, O king, let my life be given me at my petition, and my people at my request! If we had been sold for slaves, I would hold my tongue, but we are sold, I and my people, to be destroyed, to be slain, and to perish!
KING: Then the king Ahashverus answered and said: Who is he, and where is he, that durst presume in his heart to do so?
ESTHER: And Esther said: The adversary and the enemy is this wicked Haman!
HAMAN: Then Haman was afraid before the king and the queen.
KING: And the king rose in his wrath from the banquet of wine and went into the castle garden:

HAMAN: and Haman stood up to make request for his life to Esther the queen; for he saw that there was evil decided against him by the king.

KING: When the king returned from the castle garden
HAMAN: Haman was fallen upon the bed where Esther sat.
KING: Then said the king: Will he force the queen also before me in my house?
NARR: As the words went out of king's mouth,
HAMAN: Haman covered his face!
NARR: And Harbonah, one of the chamberlains, said before the king: Behold also, a gallows fifty cubits high stands in the house of Haman, which he had made for Mordecai, who had saved the king.
KING: Then the king said, Hang him thereon!
HAMAN: (Grogger) So they hanged Haman on the gallows that he had prepared for Mordecai. (Grogger slows to silence)
KING: Then was the king's wrath pacified.
Chapter 8.
KING: On that day did the king Ahashverus give the house of Haman, the Jews' enemy, unto Esther the queen.

MORD: And Mordecai came before the king

ESTHER: for Esther had told what he was unto her.
KING: And the king took off his ring (which he had taken from Haman) and gave it unto Mordecai.
ESTHER: And Esther set Mordecai over the house of Haman.

NARR: And Esther spoke yet again before the king,

ESTHER: and fell down at his feet, and besought him with tears to put away the mischief of Haman the Agagite, and the plot which he had devised against the Jews.
KING: Then the king held out the golden sceptre toward her.
ESTHER: So Esther arose, and stood before the king, and said: If it please the king, let it be written to reverse the letters devised by Haman, which he wrote to destroy the Jews. For how can I endure to see the destruction of my people?
KING: Then the king said: That which is written in the king's name, and sealed with the king's ring, may no man reverse! But write you also for the Jews, as it pleases you, in the king's name, and seal it with the king's ring.
MORD: Then were the king's scribes called at that time in the third month, that is, the month Sivan,
NARR: on the twenty-third day thereof;
MORD: and it was written according to all that Mordecai commanded unto the Jews, and to the lieutenants, and the deputies and rulers of the provinces which are from India unto Ethiopia, one hundred twenty and seven provinces, and unto every people after their language. And he wrote in the king’s name, and sealed it with the king's ring, and sent letters by posts on horseback, and riders on mules, and camels . . .

KING: wherein the king granted the Jews which were in every city to gather themselves together, but for one day, upon the thirteenth day of the month Adar, that the Jews should be ready for that day to avenge themselves on their enemies, and to stand for their lives, to destroy all the power of the people that would attack them, and to take the spoil of them for a prize.

Chapter 9.
NARR: Now on the day when the king's decree drew near to be done, the Jews gathered themselves together in their cities to lay hand on such as sought their ruin: and no man could withstand them! And many of the people of the land became Jews; for a fear of the Jews fell upon them. And all the rulers of the provinces helped the Jews; because a fear of Mordecai fell upon them.
MORD: For Mordecai waxed greater and greater in the king's house, and his fame went out through all the kingdom.

NARR: Thus the Jews smote all their enemies with the stroke of the sword, seventy and five thousand,
MORD: (A disclaimer) but they laid not their hands on the spoils.
ZERESH: (sadly) The ten sons of Haman, the enemy of the Jews, slew they also;

KING: And the king said unto Esther the queen: The Jews have slain five hundred men in Shushan the castle. Now what is your petition? It shall be granted you.
ESTHER: Then said Esther: If it please the king, let it be granted to the Jews of Shushan to do tomorrow as they have done this day, and let Haman's ten sons be hanged up on the gallows.
NARR: (as Saul and his sons were hanged up, in the days of the wars with Amalek.)*
KING: And the king commanded it so to be done:
NARR: So the Jews of the villages, made the fourteenth day of the month a day of feasting. But the Jews that were at Shushan stood for their lives on the thirteenth day, and on the fourteenth; therefore on the fifteenth day of Adar they rested, and made it a day of gladness.
ESTHER: Then Esther the queen, the daughter of Abihail,

MORD: and Mordecai the Jew, wrote with all authority, and sent letters unto all the Jews near and far, in all the provinces of the kingdom of Ahashverus, to establish this among them: That they should keep the fourteenth day of Adar, and the fifteenth, yearly, as the days wherein they had rest from their enemies.

ESTHER: Wherefore they called these days Purim after the name of Pur (which Haman had cast for their doom). But the month was turned unto them from sorrow to joy, and from mourning into celebration: that they should make them days of feasting, and of sending gifts one to another, and to the poor.

NARR: The Jews ordained that they would keep these two days according to their writing, And that these days should be remembered and kept throughout every generation, every family, every province, and every city.

ESTHER: And the decree of Esther confirmed these matters of Purim; and it was written in the book.
Chapter 10

KING: And the king Ahashverus laid a tribute upon the land, and upon the isles of the sea. And all the acts of his power and of his might,
ESTHER: and the declaration of the greatness of Mordecai, how the king advanced him,
MORD: are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Media and Persia?
NARR: And Mordecai went out from the presence of the king in royal apparel of blue and white, with a great crown of gold, and a garment of fine linen and purple: and the city of Shushan rejoiced and was glad. For Mordecai the Jew was next unto king Ahashverus, and great among the Jews, and accepted of the multitude, seeking the welfare of his people, and speaking peace to all his seed. And in every province, and in every city, the Jews had light, and gladness, and joy, and honor.

ALL: So may it be with us!*

The End

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