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At this time, Mardochæus was among those nearest to the king, having entirely under his charge the affairs of the household. He had made known to the king a plot which had been formed by two eunuchs, and, on that account, had become a greater favorite, while he was presented with the highest honors. There was at that period one Haman, a very confidential friend of the king, whom he had made equal to himself and, after the manner of sovereign rulers, had ordered to be worshiped. Mardochæus being the one man among all who refused to do that, had greatly kindled the wrath of the Persian against himself. Accordingly, Haman setting his mind to work the ruin of the Hebrew, went to the king, and affirmed that there was in his kingdom a race of men of wicked superstitions, and hateful alike to God and men. He said that, as they lived according to foreign laws, they deserved to be destroyed; and that it was a righteous thing to hand over the whole of this nation to death. At the same time, he promised the king immense wealth out of their possessions. The barbarous prince was easily persuaded, and an edict was issued for the slaughter of the Jews, while men were at once sent out to publish it through the whole kingdom from India even to Ethiopia. When Mardochæus heard of this, he rent his clothes, clothed himself in sackcloth, scattered ashes upon his head, and, going to the palace, he there made the whole place resound with his wailing and complaints, crying out that it was an unworthy thing that an innocent nation should perish, while there existed no ground for its destruction. Esthers attention was attracted by the voice of lamentation, and she learned how the case really stood. But she was then at a loss what step she should take (for, according to the custom of the Persians, the queen is not permitted access to the king, unless she has been sent for, and indeed is not admitted at any time the king may please, but only at a fixed period); and it happened at the time, that by this rule, Esther was held as separated from the presence of the king for the next thirty days. However, thinking that she ought to run some risk in behalf of her fellow-countrymen, even should sure destruction await her, she was prepared to encounter death in such a noble cause, and, after having called upon God, she entered the court of the king. But the barbarian, though at first amazed at this unusual occurrence, was gradually won over by female blandishments, and at length went so far as to accompany the queen to a banquet which she had prepared. Along with him also went Haman, the favorite of the king, but a deadly enemy of the nation of the Jews. Well, when after the feasting the banquet began to become jovial through the many cups which were drank, Esther cast herself down at the knees of the king, and implored him to stay the destruction which threatened her nation. Then the king promised to refuse nothing to her entreaties, if she had any further request to make. Esther at once seized the opportunity, and demanded the death of Haman as a satisfaction to her nation, which he had desired to see destroyed. But the king could not forget his friend, and hesitating a little, he withdrew for a short time for the purpose of considering the matter. He then returned, and when he saw Haman grasping the knees of the queen, excited with rage, and, crying out that violence was being applied to the queen, he ordered him to be put to death. It then came to the knowlp. 104 edge of the king that a cross 343 had been got ready by Haman on which Mardochæus was to suffer. Thus, Haman was fixed to that very cross, and all his goods were handed over to Mardochæus, while the Jews at large were set free. Artaxerxes reigned sixty and two years, and was succeeded by Ochus.
“pœnam crucis”: after the Greek.
Next: Chapter XIV.
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