Esther 1–2; Acts 5:1–21

Esther Illustration

Esther

The King's Banquets

Now in the days of Ahasuerus, the Ahasuerus who reigned afrom India to Ethiopia over b127 provinces, in those days when King Ahasuerus csat on his royal throne in dSusa, the citadel, in the third year of his reign ehe gave a feast for all his officials and servants. The army of Persia and Media and the nobles and governors of the provinces were before him, while he showed the riches of his royal glory and the splendor and pomp of his greatness for many days, 180 days. And when these days were completed, the king gave for all the people present in Susa the citadel, both great and small, a feast lasting for seven days in the court of fthe garden of the king's palace. There were white cotton curtains and violet hangings fastened with cords of fine linen and purple to silver rods1 and marble pillars, and also gcouches of gold and silver on a mosaic pavement of porphyry, marble, mother-of-pearl, and precious stones. Drinks were served in golden vessels, vessels of different kinds, and the royal wine was lavished according to the bounty of the king. And drinking was according to this edict: There is no compulsion. For the king had given orders to all the staff of his palace to do as each man desired. Queen Vashti also gave a feast for the women in the palace that belonged to King Ahasuerus.

Queen Vashti's Refusal

10 On the seventh day, hwhen the heart of the king was merry with wine, he commanded Mehuman, Biztha, iHarbona, jBigtha and Abagtha, Zethar and Carkas, the seven eunuchs who served in the presence of King Ahasuerus, 11 to bring Queen Vashti before the king with kher royal crown,2 in order to show the peoples and the princes her beauty, for she was lovely to look at. 12 But Queen Vashti refused to come at the king's command delivered by the eunuchs. At this the king became enraged, and his anger burned within him.

13 Then the king said to lthe wise men mwho knew the times (for this was the king's procedure toward all who were versed in law and judgment, 14 the men next to him being Carshena, Shethar, Admatha, Tarshish, Meres, Marsena, and nMemucan, othe seven princes of Persia and Media, pwho saw the king's face, and sat first in the kingdom): 15 According to the law, what is to be done to Queen Vashti, because she has not performed the command of King Ahasuerus delivered by the eunuchs? 16 Then Memucan said in the presence of the king and the officials, Not only against the king has Queen Vashti done wrong, but also against all the officials and all the peoples who are in all the provinces of King Ahasuerus. 17 For the queen's behavior will be made known to all women, causing them to look at their husbands with contempt,3 since they will say, King Ahasuerus commanded Queen Vashti to be brought before him, and she did not come. 18 This very day the noble women of Persia and Media who have heard of the queen's behavior will say the same to all the king's officials, and there will be contempt and wrath in plenty. 19 If it please the king, let a royal order go out from him, and let it be written among the laws of the Persians and the Medes so qthat it may not be repealed, that Vashti is never again to come before King Ahasuerus. And let the king give her royal position to another who is better than she. 20 So when the decree made by the king is proclaimed throughout all his kingdom, for it is vast, rall women will give honor to their husbands, high and low alike. 21 This advice pleased the king and the princes, and the king did as Memucan proposed. 22 He sent letters to all the royal provinces, sto every province in its own script and to every people in its own language, that every man be master in his own household and speak according to the language of his people.

Esther Chosen Queen

After these things, twhen the anger of King Ahasuerus had abated, he remembered Vashti uand what she had done and what had been decreed against her. Then the king's young men who attended him said, Let beautiful young virgins be sought out for the king. And let the king appoint officers in all the provinces of his kingdom to gather all the beautiful young virgins to the harem in Susa the citadel, under custody of vHegai, the king's eunuch, who is in charge of the women. wLet their cosmetics be given them. And let the young woman who pleases the king4 be queen instead of Vashti. This pleased the king, and he did so.

Now there was a Jew in Susa the citadel whose name was xMordecai, the son of Jair, son of Shimei, son of Kish, a Benjaminite, ywho had been carried away from Jerusalem among the captives carried away with Jeconiah king of Judah, whom Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon had carried away. He was bringing up Hadassah, that is Esther, zthe daughter of his uncle, for she had neither father nor mother. The young woman had a beautiful figure and was lovely to look at, and when her father and her mother died, Mordecai took her as his own daughter. So when the king's order and his edict were proclaimed, and awhen many young women were gathered in Susa the citadel in custody of bHegai, Esther also was taken into the king's palace and put in custody of Hegai, who had charge of the women. And the young woman pleased him and won his favor. And he quickly provided her cwith her cosmetics and her portion of food, and with seven chosen young women from the king's palace, and advanced her and her young women to the best place in the harem. 10 dEsther had not made known her people or kindred, for Mordecai had commanded her not to make it known. 11 And every day Mordecai walked in front of the court of the harem to learn how Esther was and what was happening to her.

12 Now when the turn came for each young woman to go in to King Ahasuerus, after being twelve months under the regulations for the women, since this was the regular period of their beautifying, six months with oil of myrrh and six months with spices and ointments for women 13 when the young woman went in to the king in this way, she was given whatever she desired to take with her from the harem to the king's palace. 14 In the evening she would go in, and in the morning she would return to the second harem in custody of Shaashgaz, the king's eunuch, who was in charge of the concubines. She would not go in to the king again, unless the king delighted in her and she was summoned by name.

15 When the turn came for Esther ethe daughter of Abihail the uncle of Mordecai, who had taken her as his own daughter, to go in to the king, she asked for nothing except what fHegai the king's eunuch, who had charge of the women, advised. Now Esther was winning favor in the eyes of all who saw her. 16 And when Esther was taken to King Ahasuerus, into his royal palace, in the tenth month, which is the month of Tebeth, in the seventh year of his reign, 17 the king loved Esther more than all the women, and she won grace and favor in his sight more than all the virgins, so that he set gthe royal crown5 on her head and made her queen instead of Vashti. 18 Then the king hgave a great feast for all his officials and servants; it was Esther's feast. He also granted a remission of taxes to the provinces and gave gifts with royal generosity.

Mordecai Discovers a Plot

19 Now when the virgins were gathered together ithe second time, Mordecai was sitting jat the king's gate. 20 kEsther had not made known her kindred or her people, as Mordecai had commanded her, for Esther obeyed Mordecai just las when she was brought up by him. 21 In those days, as Mordecai was sitting at the king's gate, mBigthan and nTeresh, two of the king's eunuchs, who guarded the threshold, became angry and sought to lay hands on King Ahasuerus. 22 And this came to the knowledge of Mordecai, oand he told it to Queen Esther, and Esther told the king in the name of Mordecai. 23 When the affair was investigated and found to be so, the men were both hanged on the gallows.6 And it was recorded in pthe book of the chronicles in the presence of the king.


Ananias and Sapphira

But a man named Ananias, with his wife Sapphira, sold a piece of property, and with his wife's knowledge vhe kept back for himself some of the proceeds and brought only a part of it and wlaid it at the apostles' feet. But Peter said, Ananias, why has xSatan filled your heart to lie yto the Holy Spirit and zto keep back for yourself part of the proceeds of the land? While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not at your disposal? Why is it that you have contrived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to man but ato God. When Ananias heard these words, he bfell down and breathed his last. And cgreat fear came upon all who heard of it. The young men rose and dwrapped him up and carried him out and buried him.

After an interval of about three hours his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. And Peter said to her, Tell me whether you1 sold the land for so much. And she said, Yes, for so much. But Peter said to her, How is it that you have agreed together eto test fthe Spirit of the Lord? Behold, the feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out. 10 Immediately she fell down at his feet and breathed her last. When the young men came in they found her dead, and they carried her out and buried her beside her husband. 11 And ggreat fear came upon the whole church and upon all who heard of these things.

Many Signs and Wonders Done

12 Now many signs and wonders were regularly done among the people hby the hands of the apostles. And they were all itogether in jSolomon's Portico. 13 None of the rest dared join them, but kthe people held them in high esteem. 14 And lmore than ever believers were added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women, 15 mso that they even ncarried out the sick into the streets and laid them on cots and mats, that as Peter came by oat least his shadow might fall on some of them. 16 The people also gathered from the towns around Jerusalem, pbringing the sick and those afflicted with unclean spirits, and they were all healed.

The Apostles Arrested and Freed

17 But the high priest rose up, and all who were with him (that is, the party of qthe Sadducees), and filled with rjealousy 18 they arrested the apostles and sput them in the public prison. 19 But during the night tan angel of the Lord uopened the prison doors and brought them out, and said, 20 Go and stand in the temple and speak to the people all vthe words of wthis xLife. 21 And when they heard this, ythey entered the temple zat daybreak and began to teach.

Now when the high priest came, and those who were with him, they called together the council, all the senate of the people of Israel, and sent to the prison to have them brought.