King And Queen

In the third year of his reign, Artaxerxes Longimanus, called also Ahasuerus, made a great feast; and when he had become merry with wine, sent for Vashti, his queen, to come in, and make a display of her remarkable beauty before his drunken lords. This, Vashti resolutely refused to do, whereupon the princes decided that she should be divorced.

Search was immediately made throughout the realm for a beautiful young woman to take Vashti's place as queen. Among many others brought to the king was Esther, a Jewish orphan, brought up by her uncle, Mordecai. Her beauty and modesty pleased the king, and she became his queen just about the time that Ezra set out for Jerusalem.

As Mordecai sat at the king's gate, he discovered a conspiracy against the king's life on the part of two of his chief officers. This he immediately made known, and the officers were hung.

Some time after this a wicked man by the name of Haman, having been greatly honored by the king, was much annoyed at seeing Mordecai sitting at the king's gate, and laid a plot for the destruction of the entire Jewish nation. 

He told the king that the Jews, who were scattered throughout the empire, had laws diverse from all other people, and that they would not obey the laws of the king. So the king made a decree that on a certain day all the Jews in his realm should be slain. Now Haman's only cause for such a course was that Mordecai refused to bow to him.

When Esther heard of the decree, she set to work to deliver her people. At the risk of her life she presented herself to the king, who in the providence of God received her graciously, and consented to be present at a banquet which she wished him and Haman to attend the next day. 

At the banquet he offered to grant any request she might make, even to half of his kingdom; but she only asked his presence the next day.  On leaving the banquet, Haman met Mordecai standing erect at the gate, and was so chagrined at the Jew's want of deference as to lose all satisfaction in the high honors he had just enjoyed. His wife, however, suggested a very speedy remedy, and a gallows was at once erected for the execution of Mordecai.

During the night the king was much troubled in mind, and recollected that Mordecai had never been rewarded for saving him from the bloody hand of the assassin. The next morning, when Haman came to ask the king's permission to hang Mordecai, the king, accosting him, said, "What shall be done to the man whom the king delighteth to honor? "Haman, thinking himself to be the man, proposed that he should be arrayed in the king's apparel, and paraded through the streets on the king's horse. 

The king at once caused Haman to carry out his suggestion upon Mordecai, the Jew.

On the second day of the banquet, when Esther begged the king to spare her life and the life of her people, he was so displeased at the cruelty and treachery of Haman that he had him hung on the gallows which Haman had prepared for Mordecai. The decree that had been made could not be remanded, but another was issued granting the Jews permission to defend themselves, which they did so effectually as to cost the lives of seventy-five thousand Persians.

The king then gave Haman's palace and all his vast wealth to Esther, who in turn passed them over to Mordecai, her uncle, who was raised to the highest position in the kingdom, next to the king. With a Jewess for a wife, and a Jew for a prime minister, it does not seem strange that the king favored the restoration of Jerusalem.