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The Oxford Study Bible Study Bible supplemented with commentary from scholars of various religions.

Chapter 1

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<i>1</i>[THOSE events happened in the days of Artaxerxes, that Artaxerxes who ruled from India to Ethiopia, a hundred and twenty-seven provinces, <i>2</i>at the time when he had taken his seat on the royal throne in the city of Susa. <i>3</i>In the third year of his reign he gave a reception for the king's Friends and for others of various races, the Persian and Median nobles, and the leading provincial governors. <i>4</i>Afterwards he put on display to them the wealth of his kingdom and the dazzling splendour of his riches for a hundred and eighty days. <i>5</i>When these days of feasting were over, the king held a banquet for all the people of various races present in the city of Susa; it lasted six days and took place in the palace court, <i>6</i>which was decorated with white curtains of linen and cotton stretched on cords of purple, and these were attached to blocks of gold and silver resting on stone and marble columns. There were gold and silver couches placed on a pavement of malachite, marble, and mother-of-pearl, and there were coverings of transparent weave elaborately embroidered with roses arranged in a circle. <i>7</i>The cups were of gold and silver, and on display was a miniature cup made from a ruby worth thirty thousand talents. The wine, which was from the king's own cellar, was abundant and sweet. <i>8</i>The drinking was according to no fixed rule, for the king had laid down that all the palace stewards should respect his wishes and those of the guests. <i>9</i>Queen Astin gave a banquet for the women inside King Artaxerxes' palace.

<i>10</i>On the seventh day, when he was feeling merry, the king ordered Haman, Mazan, Tharra, Borazes, Zatholtha, Abataza, and Tharaba, the seven eunuchs who were in attendance on the king's person, <i>11</i>to bring the queen into his presence, so that he might place the royal diadem on her head and display her beauty to the officers and people of various races; for she was indeed a beautiful woman. <i>12</i>But Queen Astin refused to obey and accompany the eunuchs. This incensed the king and his anger flared up. <i>13</i>He said to his courtiers, ‘You hear how Astin spoke. Give your ruling and judgement in the matter.’ <i>14</i>Harkesaeus, Sarathaeus, and Malesear, the nobles of Persia and Media who were closest to the king and occupied the seats of honour by him, approached <i>15</i>and made known to him what, according to the law, should be done to Queen Astin for disobeying the royal command conveyed to her by the eunuchs.

<i>16</i>Muchaeus made this reply to the king and the nobles: ‘Queen Astin has done wrong, not to the king alone, but also to all the nobles and officers of the king.’ <i>17</i>(For he had repeated to them what the queen had said and how she had defied the king.) <i>18</i>‘Just as she defied King Artaxerxes, so now the nobles of Persia and Media will find that all the great ladies are emboldened to treat their husbands with disrespect, when they hear what she said to the king. <i>19</i>If it please your majesty, let a royal decree be issued once and for all, and let it be inscribed among the laws of the Medes and Persians, that Astin shall not come in again to the king; and let your majesty give her place as queen to another who is more worthy of it than she. <i>20</i>Let whatever law the king makes be proclaimed throughout the kingdom, and so all women, rich and poor alike, will give honour to their husbands.’ <i>21</i>The advice pleased the king and the princes, and the king did as Muchaeus had proposed. <i>22</i>Dispatches were sent to all the provinces of the kingdom, to every province in its own language, in order that each man should be treated with deference in his own house.

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