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

Chapter 16

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1 THE following is a copy of the letter:

From Artaxerxes the Great King to the Governors of the one hundred and twenty-seven provinces from India to Ethiopia, and to our loyal subjects.

Greeting.

2Many who have been repeatedly honoured by the bountiful goodness of their benefactors have grown arrogant, 3and not only attempt to injure our subjects but, unable to keep their insolence within bounds, even plot mischief against those same benefactors. 4Not content with destroying gratitude among men, they are so carried away by the presumption of those who are strangers to good breeding that they even suppose they will escape the avenging justice of the all-seeing God. 5Often, when the king's business has been entrusted to those he counts his friends, they have, by their plausibility, made those in supreme authority partners in the shedding of innocent blood and involved them in irreparable misfortunes, 6for their malevolence with its misleading sophistries has imposed upon the sincere goodwill of their rulers. 7The evil brought about by those who wield power unworthily you can observe, not only in the accounts handed down to us from the past, but also in your familiar experience, 8and the lesson can be applied to the future. Thus we shall ensure the peace and stability of the realm for the benefit of all; 9we shall make no changes but shall always decide such matters as come to our notice with firmness and equity.

10Now Haman son of Hamadathus, a Macedonian, an alien in fact with no Persian blood and not a trace of our kindly nature, was accepted by us 11and enjoyed so fully the benevolence which we extend to every nation that he was given the title of Father and used to receive obeisance from everyone as second only to our royal throne. 12But this man in his unbridled arrogance schemed to deprive us of our kingdom and our life; 13by deceitfulness and tortuous cunning he sought to bring about the destruction of Mardochaeus, our constant benefactor who had saved our life, and of Esther, our blameless consort, together with their whole nation. 14He thought, by these means, to catch us without support and transfer to the Macedonians the sovereignty now held by the Persians.

15We find, however, that the Jews whom this double-dyed villain had consigned to extinction are no evildoers; on the contrary, they order their lives by the most just of laws 16and are children of the living God, the Most High and Most Mighty, who for us as for our ancestors has maintained the kingdom in excellent order. 17You will, therefore, disregard the letters sent by Haman son of Hamadathus, 18because he, the contriver of all this, has been hanged at the gate of Susa, he and his whole household, for God who controls all things brought on him speedily the punishment he deserved.

19Copies of this letter are to be posted up in all public places. The Jews are to live under their own laws, 20and be given every assistance so that on the very same day, the thirteenth day of Adar, the twelfth month, they may avenge themselves on their assailants in the time of oppression. 21God, who has all things in his power, has made that a day of joy, not of ruin, for his chosen people.

22Therefore you also must keep it with all good cheer, as a notable day among your feasts of commemoration, 23so that henceforth it may be a standing symbol of deliverance to us and our loyal Persians, but a reminder of destruction to those who plot against us. 24Any city or country whatsoever which does not act upon these orders will incur our wrath and be destroyed with fire and sword. Not only will no man set foot in it, but it will also be shunned by beast and bird for all time.

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