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Then the king, when he heard these words, was sore displeased with himself, and set his heart on Daniel to deliver him: and he laboured till the going down of the sun to deliver him.

Then these men assembled unto the king, and said unto the king :-“Know, O king, that the law of the Medes and Persians is, That no decree nor statute which the king establisheth may be changed.”

Then the king commanded, and they brought Daniel, and cast him into the den of lions.

Now the king spake and said unto Daniel :-“Thy God whom thou servest continually, He will deliver thee.” And a stone was brought, and laid upon the mouth of the den; and the king sealed it with his own signet, and with the signet of his lords; that the purpose might not be changed concerning Daniel.

Then the king went to his palace, and passed the night fasting: neither were instruments of music brought before him: and his sleep went from him. Then the king arose very early in the morning, and went in haste unto the den of lions. And when he came to the den, he cried with a lamentable voice unto Daniel: and the king spake and said to Daniel:—“O Daniel, servant of the living God, is thy God, whom thou servest continually, able to deliver thee from the lions?"

Then said Daniel unto the king :-"O king, live for ever. My God hath sent His angel, and hath shut the lions' mouths, that they have not hurt me: forasmuch as before Him innocency was found in me; and also before thee, O king, have I done no hurt."

Then was the king exceeding glad for him, and commanded that they should take Daniel up out of the den. So Daniel was taken up out of the den, and no manner of hurt was found upon him, because he believed in his God. And the king commanded, and they brought those men which had accused Daniel, and they cast them into the den of lions, them, their children, and their wives; and the lions had the mastery of them, and brake all their bones in pieces or ever they came at the bottom of the den.

Then king Darius wrote unto all people, nations, and languages, that dwell in all the earth :-"Peace be multiplied unto you. I make a decree, That in every dominion of my kingdom men tremble and fear before the God of Daniel : for He is the living God, and stedfast for ever, and His kingdom that which shall not be destroyed, and His dominion shall be even unto the end. He delivereth and rescueth, and He worketh signs and wonders in heaven and in earth, who hath delivered Daniel from the power of the lions.” So this Daniel prospered in the reign of Darius, and in the reign of Cyrus the Persian.

XXXII

THE STORY OF ESTHER

(Esther vi, vi, vii) Introductory Note.-Synopsis of the Story.

Not all the Judaeans returned to Jerusalem when the kings of Persia terminated the captivity in Babylon. Those who remained behind prospered in the Persian dominions, although they were not regarded as equals by the native Persians and Medes.

Ahasuerus, king of Persia, gave a great feast to his nobles at which he commanded the presence of his queen, Vashti. The queen refused to attend and was promptly divorced by unalterable decree, in the interest of domestic discipline in Persia. (Chapter i.) Ahasuerus then sought a new queen.

His choice fell on Esther (or Hadassah), a Jewess, whom he married in ignorance of her race. Esther acted by the advice of her uncle and foster father, Mordecai, and through information furnished by him, who, although a Jew, held a minor office at the court, she was able to save the king's life from the assassin's dagger. (Chapter ii.)

Soon after this event, the king chose for his prime minister Haman of the race of the Amelekites, traditional enemies of the Jews. Haman and Mordecai soon quarreled, and Haman easily procured from the king, who never before had known of the peculiar customs of the Jews, an edict for the destruction of all persons of that race in his dominions. (Chapter iii.)

Mordecai, in despair, appealed to Esther to save her people. The chosen people, it was true, would be saved in some way, but Esther might save her father's house and win renown for herself by persuading the king to revoke his edict. Esther

1. See Note 38, Outline Study.

promised to appeal to the king, although the punishment of death might be inflicted on one who came uninvited into the king's presence. (Chapter iv.)

Now it came to pass on the third day, that Esther put on her royal apparel, and stood in the inner court of the king's house, over against the king's house : and the king sat upon his royal throne in the royal house, over against the gate of the house. And it was so, when the king saw Esther the queen standing in the court, that she obtained favor in his sight: and the king held out to Esther the golden sceptre that was in his hand. So Esther drew near, and touched the top of the sceptre. Then said the king unto her :-"What wilt thou, queen Esther? and what is thy request? it shall be even given thee to the half of the kingdom.”

And Esther answered :—“If it seem good unto the king, let the king and Haman come this day unto the banquet that I have prepared for him."

Then the king said :-“Cause Haman to make haste, that he may do as Esther hath said.” So the king and Haman came to the banquet that Esther had prepared.

And the king said unto Esther at the banquet of wine :-“What is thy petition? and it shall be granted thee: and what is thy request ? even to the half of the kingdom it shall be performed."

Then answered Esther, and said :-"My petition and my request is: if I have found favour in the sight of the king, and if it please the king to grant my petition, and to perform my request, let the king and Haman come to the banquet that I shall prepare for them, and I will do to-morrow as the king hath said.”

Then went Haman forth that day joyful and with a glad heart: but when Haman saw Mordecai in the king's gate, that'he stood not up, nor moved for him, he was full of indignation against Mordecai. Nevertheless Haman refrained himself: and when he came home, he sent and called for his friends, and Zeresh his wife. And Haman told them of the glory of his riches, and the multitude of his children, and all the things wherein the king had promoted him, and how he had advanced him above the princes and servants of the king. Haman said moreover :-“Yea, Esther the queen did let no man come in with the king unto the banquet that she had prepared but myself; and tomorrow am I invited unto her also with the king. Yet all this availeth me nothing, so long as I see Mordecai the Jew sitting at the king's gate.”

Then said Zeresh his wife and all his friends unto him "Let a gallows be made of fifty cubits high, and to-morrow speak thou unto the king that Mordecai may be hanged thereon: then go thou in merrily with the king unto the banquet.” And the thing pleased Haman; and he caused the gallows to be made.

On that night could not the king sleep, and he commanded to bring the book of records of the chronicles ; and they were read before the king. And it was found written, that Mordecai had told of Bigthana and Teresh, two of the king's chamberlains, the keepers of the door, who sought to lay hand on the king Ahasuerus.

And the king said :—“What honour and dignity hath been done to Mordecai for this ?”

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