Megillah — Scroll of Esther
Before the Megillah is read, the reader recites the following three blessings and all those listening answer Amen as indicated:
Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the universe, who has sanctified us with His commandments and commanded us concerning the reading of the Megillah. (Amen)
Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the universe, who performed miracles for our forefathers in those days, at this time. (Amen)
Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the universe, who has granted us life, sustained us, and enabled us to reach this occasion. (Amen)
And these days shall be remembered and celebrated throughout every generation, in every family, every province, and every city, and these days of Purim shall not be revoked from amidst the Jews, and their memory shall not cease from their seed.
Now it came to pass in the days of Ahasuerus—he was the Ahasuerus who reigned from Hodu to Cush, one hundred twenty-seven provinces. In those days, when King Ahasuerus sat on the throne of his kingdom, which was in Shushan the capital. In the third year of his reign, he made a banquet for all his princes and his servants, the army of Persia and Media, the nobles, and the princes of the provinces who were before him.
When he showed the riches of his glorious kingdom, and the splendor of his excellent majesty, many days, yea one hundred and eighty days. And when these days were over, the king made for all the people present in Shushan the capital, for everyone both great and small, a banquet for seven days, in the court of the garden of the king’s orchard. There were spreads of white, fine cotton, and blue, embroidered with cords of linen and purple, on silver rods and marble columns; couches of gold and silver, on a pavement of green, white, shell, and onyx marble.
And they gave them to drink in golden vessels, and the vessels differed from one another, and royal wine was plentiful according to the bounty of the king. And the drinking was according to the law with no one coercing, for so had the king ordained upon every steward of his house, to do according to every man’s wish.
Also, Vashti the queen made a banquet for the women, in the royal house of King Ahasuerus. On the seventh day, when the king’s heart was merry with wine, he ordered Mehuman, Bizzetha, Harbona, Bigtha and Abagtha, Zethar, and Carcas, the seven chamberlains who ministered in the presence of King Ahasuerus. To bring Vashti the queen before the king with the royal crown, to show the peoples and the princes her beauty, for she was of comely appearance. But Queen Vashti refused to come at the king’s behest which was brought by the hand of the chamberlains, and the king became very wroth, and his anger burnt within him.
And the king said to the wise men who knew the times—for so was the king’s custom, to present the case before all who knew law and judgment. And the nearest to him were Carshena, Shethar, Admatha, Tarshish, Meres, Marsena, and Memucan, the seven princes of Persia and Media, who saw the king’s face, who sat first in the kingdom. “According to the law, what shall be done to Queen Vashti, inasmuch as she did not comply with the order of the king, brought by the hand of the chamberlains?”.
Then Memucan declared before the king and the princes, “Not against the king alone has Vashti the queen done wrong, but against all the princes and all the peoples that are in all King Ahasuerus’s provinces. For the word of the queen will spread to all the women, to make them despise their husbands in their eyes, when they say, ‘King Ahasuerus ordered to bring Vashti the queen before him, but she did not come.’ And this day, the princesses of Persia and Media who heard the word of the queen will say the like to all the princes of the king, and there will be much contempt and wrath. If it please the king, let a royal edict go forth from before him, and let it be inscribed in the laws of Persia and Media, and let it not be revoked, that Vashti did not come before King Ahasuerus, and let the king give her royal position to her peer who is better than she. And let the verdict of the king be heard throughout his entire kingdom, although it is great, and all the women shall give honor to their husbands, both great and small.”
And the matter pleased the king and the princes, and the king did according to the word of Memucan. And he sent letters to all the king’s provinces, to every province according to its script, and to every nationality according to its language, that every man dominate in his household and speak according to the language of his nationality.
After these events, when King Ahasuerus’s fury subsided, he remembered Vashti and what she had done, and what had been decreed upon her. And the king’s young men, his servants, said, “Let them seek for the king young maidens of comely appearance. And let the king appoint commissioners to all the provinces of his kingdom, and let them gather every young maiden of comely appearance to Shushan the caital, to the house of the women, to the custody of Hege, the king’s chamberlain, the keeper of the women, and let their ointments be given them. And let the maiden who pleases the king reign instead of Vashti.” And the matter pleased the king, and he did so.
There was a Jewish man in Shushan the capital, whose name was Mordechai the son of Jair the son of Shimei the son of Kish, a Benjamite, who had been exiled from Jerusalem with the exile that was exiled with Jeconiah, king of Judah, which Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, had exiled. And he had brought up Hadassah, that is Esther, his uncle’s daughter, for she had neither father nor mother, and the maiden was of comely form and of comely appearance, and when her father and mother died, Mordechai took her to himself for a daughter.
And it came to pass, when the king’s order and his decree were heard, and when many maidens were gathered to Shushan the capital, to the custody of Hegai, that Esther was taken to the king’s house, to the custody of Hegai, keeper of the women. And the maiden pleased him, and she won his favor, and he hastened her ointments and her portions to give them to her, and the seven maidens fitting to give her from the king’s house, and he changed her and her maidens to the best portions in the house of the women. Esther did not reveal her nationality or her lineage, for Mordechai had ordered her not to reveal it. And every day, Mordechai would walk about in front of the court of the house of the women, to learn of Esther’s welfare and what would be done to her. And when each maiden’s turn arrived to go to King Ahasuerus, after having been treated according to the practice prescribed for the women, for twelve months, for so were the days of their ointments completed, six months with myrrh oil, and six months with perfumes, and with the ointments of the women.
Then with this the maiden would come to the king; whatever she would request would be given to her to come with her from the house of the women to the king’s house. In the evening she would go, and in the morning she would return to the second house of the women, to the custody of Shaashgaz, the king’s chamberlain, the guard of the concubines; she would no longer come to the king unless the king wanted her, and she was called by name.
Now, when the turn of Esther, the daughter of Abihail, Mordechai’s uncle, who had taken her for a daughter, came to go in to the king, she requested nothing, except what Hegai the king’s chamberlain, the guard of the women, would say, and Esther obtained grace in the eyes of all who beheld her. So Esther was taken to King Ahasuerus, to his royal house in the tenth month, which is the month of Tebeth, in the seventh year of his reign. And the king loved Esther more than all the women, and she won grace and favor before him more than all the maidens, and he placed the royal crown on her head and made her queen instead of Vashti.
And the king made a great banquet for all his princes and his servants, even Esther’s feast, and he granted a release to the provinces and gave gifts according to the bounty of the king. And when the maidens were gathered a second time, and Mordechai was sitting in the king’s gate. Esther would not tell her lineage or her nationality, as Mordechai had commanded her, for Esther kept Mordechai’s orders as she had when she was raised by him.
In those days, when Mordechai was sitting in the king’s gate, Bigthan and Teresh, two of the king’s chamberlains, of the guards of the threshold, became angry and sought to lay a hand on King Ahasuerus. And the matter became known to Mordechai, and he told it to Queen Esther, and Esther told it to the king in Mordechai’s name. And the matter was investigated and found to be so, and they were both hanged on a gallows, and it was written in the diary that was read before the king.
After these events, King Ahasuerus promoted Haman the son of Hammedatha the Agagite and advanced him, and placed his seat above all the princes who were with him. And all the king’s servants who were in the king’s gate would kneel and prostrate themselves before Haman, for so had the king commanded concerning him, but Mordechai would neither kneel nor prostrate himself.
Then the king’s servants who were in the king’s gate, said to Mordechai, “Why do you disobey the king’s orders?” Now it came to pass when they said this to him daily, and he did not heed them, that they told this to Haman, to see whether Mordechai’s words would stand up, for he had told them that he was a Jew.
And when Haman saw that Mordechai would neither kneel nor prostrate himself before him, Haman became full of wrath. But it seemed contemptible to him to lay hands on Mordechai alone, for they had told him Mordechai’s nationality, and Haman sought to destroy all the Jews who were throughout Ahasuerus’s entire kingdom, Mordechai’s people. In the first month, which is the month of Nisan, in the twelfth year of King Ahasuerus, one cast the pur-that is the lot-before Haman from day to day and from month to month, to the twelfth month, which is the month of Adar.
And Haman said to King Ahasuerus, “There is a certain people scattered and separate among the peoples throughout all the provinces of your kingdom, and their laws differ from those of every people, and they do not keep the king’s laws; it is therefore of no use for the king to let them be. If it pleases the king, let it be written to destroy them, and I will weigh out ten thousand silver talents into the hands of those who perform the work, to bring it into the king’s treasuries.”
And the king took his ring off his hand and gave it to Haman the son of Hammedatha the Agagite, the adversary of the Jews. And the king said to Haman, “The silver is given to you, and the people to do to them as it pleases you.”
And the king’s scribes were summoned in the first month, on the thirteenth day thereof, and it was written according to everything that Haman had ordered to the king’s satraps and to the governors who were over every province, and to the princes of every people, each province according to its script and each people according to its tongue; it was written in the name of King Ahasuerus, and it was sealed with the king’s ring. And letters shall be sent by the hand of the couriers to all the king’s provinces, to destroy, kill, and cause to perish all the Jews, both young and old, little children and women, on one day, on the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, which is the month of Adar, and their spoils to be taken as plunder.
The copy of the writ was for an edict to be given in every province, published to all the peoples, to be ready for that day.
The couriers went forth in haste by the king’s order, and the edict was given in Shushan the capital, and the king and Haman sat down to drink, and the city of Shushan was perturbed.
And Mordechai knew all that had transpired, and Mordechai rent his clothes and put on sackcloth and ashes, and he went out into the midst of the city and cried with a loud and bitter cry. And he came up as far as the king’s gate, for one may not enter the king’s gate dressed in sackcloth. And in every province, wherever the king’s orders and his edict reached, there was great mourning for the Jews, and fasting and weeping and lamenting; sackcloth and ashes were put on the most prominent.
And Esther’s maidens and her chamberlains came and told her, and the queen was extremely terrified, and she sent clothing to dress Mordechai and to take off his sackcloth, but he did not accept it. Then Esther summoned Hathach, one of the king’s chamberlains, whom he had appointed before her, and she commanded him concerning Mordechai, to know what this was and why this was. So Hathach went forth to Mordechai, to the city square, which was before the king’s gate.
And Mordechai told him all that had befallen him, and the full account of the silver that Haman had proposed to weigh out into the king’s treasuries on the Jews’ account, to cause them to perish. And the copy of the writ of the decree that was given in Shushan he gave him, to show Esther and to tell her, and to order her to come before the king to beseech him and to beg him for her people. And Hathach came, and he told Esther what Mordechai had said.
And Esther said to Hathach, and she ordered him to tell Mordechai: “All the king’s servants and the people of the king’s provinces know that any man or woman who comes to the king, into the inner court, who is not summoned, there is but one law for him, to be put to death, except the one to whom the king extends the golden scepter, that he may live, but I have not been summoned to come to the king these thirty days.”
And they told Esther’s words to Mordechai. And Mordechai ordered to reply to Esther, “Do not imagine to yourself that you will escape in the king’s house from among all the Jews. For if you remain silent at this time, relief and rescue will arise for the Jews from elsewhere, and you and your father’s household will perish; and who knows whether at a time like this you will attain the kingdom?”
Then Esther ordered to reply to Mordechai: “Go, assemble all the Jews who are present in Shushan and fast on my behalf, and neither eat nor drink for three days, day and night; also I and my maidens will fast in a like manner; then I will go to the king contrary to the law, and if I perish, I perish.” So Mordechai passed and did according to all that Esther had commanded him.
Now it came to pass on the third day, that Esther clothed herself regally, and she stood in the inner court of the king’s house, opposite the king’s house, and the king was sitting on his royal throne in the royal palace, opposite the entrance of the house.
And it came to pass when the king saw Queen Esther standing in the court, that she won favor in his eyes, and the king extended to Esther the golden scepter that was in his hand, and Esther approached and touched the end of the scepter. And the king said to her, “What concerns you, Queen Esther, and what is your petition? Even to half the kingdom, it will be given to you.”
And Esther said, “If it pleases the king, let the king and Haman come today to the banquet that I have prepared for him.” And the king said, “Rush Haman to do Esther’s bidding,” and the king and Haman came to the banquet that Esther had prepared.
And the king said to Esther during the wine banquet, “What is your petition? It shall be granted you. And what is your request? Even up to half the kingdom, it shall be fulfilled.” Then Esther replied and said, “My petition and my request are as follows: If I have found favor in the king’s eyes, and if it pleases the king to grant my petition and to fulfill my request, let the king and Haman come to the banquet that I will make for them, and tomorrow I will do the king’s bidding.”
And Haman went out on that day, happy and with a cheerful heart, but when Haman saw Mordechai in the king’s gate, and he neither rose nor stirred because of him, Haman was filled with wrath against Mordechai. But Haman restrained himself, and he came home, and he sent and brought his friends and Zeresh his wife. And Haman recounted to them the glory of his riches and the multitude of his sons, and all the ways that the king had promoted him and that he had exalted him over the princes and the king’s servants.
And Haman said, “Esther did not even bring anyone to the party that she made, except me, and tomorrow, too, I am invited to her with the king. But all this is worth nothing to me, every time I see Mordechai the Jew sitting in the king’s gate.”
And Zeresh his wife and all his friends said, “Let them make a gallows fifty cubits high, and in the morning say to the king that they should hang Mordechai on it, and go to the king to the banquet joyfully.” The matter pleased Haman, and he made the gallows.
On that night, the king’s sleep was disturbed, and he ordered to bring the book of the records, the chronicles, and they were read before the king. And it was found written that Mordechai had reported about Bigthana and Teresh, two chamberlains of the king, of the guards of the threshold, who had sought to lay a hand on King Ahasuerus.
And the king said, “What honor and greatness was done to Mordechai on that account?” And the king’s servants who minister before him said, “Nothing was done for him.”
And the king said, “Who is in the court?” And Haman had come to the outside court of the king’s house, to petition the king to hang Mordechai on the gallows that he had prepared for him.
And the king’s servants said to him, “Behold Haman is standing in the court.”
And the king said, “Let him enter.” And Haman entered, and the king said to him, “What should be done to a man whom the king wishes to honor?”
And Haman said to himself, “Whom would the king wish to honor more than me?” And Haman said to the King, “A man whom the king wishes to honor. Let them bring the royal raiment that the king wore and the horse that the king rode upon, and the royal crown should be placed on his head. And let the raiment and the horse be delivered into the hand of one of the king’s most noble princes and let them dress the man whom the king wishes to honor, and let them parade him on the horse in the city square and announce before him, ‘So shall be done to the man whom the king wishes to honor!'”
And the king said to Haman, “Hurry, take the raiment and the horse as you have spoken and do so to Mordechai the Jew, who sits in the king’s gate; let nothing fail of all that you have spoken.” And Haman took the raiment and the horse, and he dressed Mordechai and paraded him in the city square and announced before him, “So shall be done to the man whom the king wishes to honor!”
And Mordechai returned to the king’s gate, and Haman rushed home, mourning and with his head covered. And Haman recounted to Zeresh his wife and to all his friends all that had befallen him.
And his wise men and Zeresh his wife said to him, “If Mordechai, before whom you have begun to fall, is of Jewish stock, you will not prevail against him, but you will surely fall before him.” While they were still talking to him, the king’s chamberlains arrived, and hastened to bring Haman to the banquet that Esther had prepared.
So the king and Haman came to drink with Queen Esther. And the king said to Esther also on the second day during the wine feast, “What is your petition, Queen Esther, and it shall be given to you. And what is your request, even up to half the kingdom, and it shall be granted.” And Queen Esther replied and said, “If I have found favor in your eyes, O king, and if it pleases the king, may my life be given me in my petition and my people in my request. For we have been sold, I and my people, to be destroyed, to be slain, and to perish; now had we been sold for slaves and bondswomen, I would have kept silent, for the adversary has no consideration for the king’s loss.”
And King Ahasuerus said, and he said to Queen Esther, “Who is this and where is he, who dared to do this?” And Esther said, “An adversary and an enemy, this evil Haman!”
And Haman became terrified before the king and the queen.
And the king arose in his fury from the wine feast to the orchard garden, and Haman stood to beg for his life of Queen Esther, for he saw that evil was determined against him by the king. Then the king returned from the orchard garden to the house of the wine feast, and Haman was falling on the couch upon which Esther was.
And the king said, “Will you even force the queen with me in the house?”
The word came out of the king’s mouth, and they covered Haman’s face. Then said Harbonah, one of the chamberlains before the king, “Also, behold the gallows that Haman made for Mordechai, who spoke well for the king, standing in Haman’s house, fifty cubits high!”
And the king said, “Hang him on it!” And they hanged Haman on the gallows that he had prepared for Mordechai, and the king’s anger abated.
On that day, King Ahasuerus gave Queen Esther the house of Haman the adversary of the Jews, and Mordechai came before the king, because Esther had told him what he was to her. And the king took off his ring, which he had removed from Haman and gave it to Mordechai, and Esther placed Mordechai in charge of the house of Haman.
And Esther resumed speaking before the king, and she fell before his feet, and she wept and beseeched him to avert the harm of Haman the Agagite and his device that he had plotted against the Jews. Then the king extended the golden scepter to Esther, and Esther arose and stood before the king. And she said, “If it please the king, and if I have found favor before him, and the matter is proper before the king, and I am good in his sight, let it be written to rescind the letters, the device of Haman the son of Hammedatha, the Agagite, which he wrote to destroy the Jews who are in all the king’s provinces. For how can I see the evil that will befall my people, and how can I see the destruction of my kindred?”
Then King Ahasuerus said to Queen Esther and to Mordechai the Jew, “Behold the house of Haman I have given to Esther, and they have hanged him on the gallows because he laid a hand on the Jews. And you-write about the Jews as you see fit, in the name of the king, and seal it with the king’s ring, for a writ that is written in the name of the king and sealed with the king’s ring cannot be rescinded.”
And the king’s scribes were summoned at that time, in the third month-that is the month of Sivan-on the twenty-third day thereof, and it was written according to all that Mordechai commanded, to the Jews and to the satraps and the governors, and the princes of the provinces from Hodu to Cush, a hundred and twenty-seven provinces, every province according to its script and every nationality according to its tongue, and to the Jews according to their script and according to their tongue. And he wrote in the name of King Ahasuerus and sealed it with the king’s ring, and he sent letters by the couriers on horseback, the riders of the king’s steeds-the camels, bred of the dromedaries that the king had given to the Jews who are in every city, the right to assemble and to protect themselves, to destroy, to slay, and to cause to perish the entire host of every people and province that oppress them, small children and women, and to take their spoils for plunder. In one day, in all the provinces of King Ahasuerus, on the thirteenth of the twelfth month, which is the month of Adar. The copy of the writ was that an edict be given in every province, published before all the peoples, and that the Jews be ready for that day, to avenge themselves upon their enemies.
The couriers, those who ride the king’s steeds, the camels, went out hastened and pressed by the king’s order, and the edict was given in Shushan the capital.
And Mordechai left the king’s presence with royal raiment, blue and white and a huge golden crown and a wrap of linen and purple, and the city of Shushan shouted and rejoiced.
The Jews had light and joy, and gladness and honor. And in every province and in every city, wherever the king’s order and his edict reached, there was joy and gladness for the Jews, a banquet and a festive day, and many of the peoples of the land became Jews because the fear of the Jews was upon them.
And in the twelfth month-which is the month of Adar-on the thirteenth day thereof, when the king’s order and his edict drew near to be put into execution, on the day that the Jews’ enemies looked forward to ruling over them, it was reversed,the Jews should rule over their enemies. The Jews assembled in their cities, in all the provinces of King Ahasuerus, to lay hand on those who sought to harm them, and no one stood up before them, for their fear had fallen upon all the peoples. And all the princes of the provinces and the satraps and the governors and those that conduct the king’s affairs elevated the Jews, for the fear of Mordechai fell upon them. For Mordechai was great in the king’s house, and his fame went forth throughout all the provinces, for the man Mordechai waxed greater and greater. And the Jews smote all their enemies with the stroke of the sword and with slaying and destruction, and they did to their enemies as they wished. And in Shushan the capital, the Jews slew and destroyed five hundred men.
And Parshandatha and Dalphon and Aspatha, and Poratha and Adalia and Aridatha, and Parmashta and Arisai and Aridai and Vaizatha: The ten sons of Haman the son of Hammedatha, the adversary of the Jews, they slew, but on the spoil they did not lay their hands.
On that day, the number of those slain in Shushan the capital came before the king. And the king said to Queen Esther, “In Shushan the capital the Jews slew and destroyed five hundred men, and the ten sons of Haman; in the rest of the king’s provinces what have they done! Now what is your petition, and it shall be granted you, and what is your request, and it shall be done.” And Esther said, “If it please the king, let tomorrow too be granted to the Jews to do as today’s decree, and let them hang Haman’s ten sons on the gallows.” Now the king ordered that it be done so, and a decree was given in Shushan, and they hanged Haman’s ten sons. Now the Jews who were in Shushan assembled on the fourteenth day of Adar as well, and they slew in Shushan three hundred men, but upon the spoils they did not lay their hands.
And the rest of the Jews who were in the king’s provinces assembled and protected themselves and had rest from their enemies and slew their foes, seventy-five thousand, but upon the spoil they did not lay their hands on the thirteenth of the month of Adar, and they rested on the fourteenth thereof, and made it a day of feasting and joy. And the Jews who were in Shushan assembled on the thirteenth thereof and on the fourteenth thereof, and rested on the fifteenth thereof, and made it a day of feasting and joy.
Therefore, the Jewish villagers, who live in open towns, make the fourteenth day of the month of Adar a day of joy and feasting and a festive day, and of sending portions to one another. And Mordechai inscribed these things and sent letters to all the Jews who were in all the provinces of King Ahasuerus, both near and far, to enjoin them to make the fourteenth day of the month of Adar and the fifteenth day thereof, every year, as the days when the Jews rested from their enemies, and the month that was reversed for them from grief to joy and from mourning to a festive day-to make them days of feasting and joy, and sending portions one to another, and gifts to the poor.
And the Jews took upon themselves what they had commenced to do and what Mordechai had written to them. For Haman the son of Hammedatha the Agagite, the adversary of all the Jews, had devised to destroy the Jews, and he cast the pur-that is the lot-to terrify them and destroy them. And when she came before the king, he commanded through letters that his evil device that he had devised against the Jews return upon his own head, and to destroy him and his sons on the gallows. Therefore, they called these days Purim after the name pur; therefore, because of all the words of this letter, and what they saw concerning this matter, and what happened to them. The Jews ordained and took upon themselves and upon their seed and upon all those who join them, that it is not to be revoked to make these two days according to their script and according to their appointed time, every year. And these days shall be remembered and celebrated throughout every generation, in every family, every province, and every city, and these days of Purim shall not be revoked from amidst the Jews, and their memory shall not cease from their seed.
Now, Queen Esther, the daughter of Abihail, and Mordechai the Jew wrote down all the acts of power, to confirm the second Purim letter. And he sent letters to all the Jews, to one hundred twenty-seven provinces, the realm of Ahasuerus, words of peace and truth, to confirm these days of Purim in their appointed times, as Mordechai the Jew and Esther the queen had enjoined them, and as they had ordained for themselves and for their seed, the matters of the fasts and their cry. Now Esther’s order confirmed these matters of Purim, and it was inscribed in the book.
And King Ahasuerus imposed a tribute on the land and on the isles of the sea. And all the acts of his power and his might and the full account of Mordechai’s greatness, how the king advanced him are recorded in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Media and Persia. For Mordechai the Jew was viceroy to King Ahasuerus, and great among the Jews and accepted by most of his brethren; seeking the good of his people and speaking peace to all their seed.