The Holy Bible – Knox Translation
The Book of Esther
When the news reached Mardochaeus, he tore his garments about him; put on sackcloth, and sprinkled ashes on his head; and as he went through the open square in the heart of the city, loud lament betrayed the bitterness of his grief.
Lamenting he made his way to the outer gates of the palace; further than that he might not go, into the royal court, with sackcloth for his wear.
So it was everywhere; never a province, town or district the cruel edict reached but there was mourning and fasting, wailing and weeping among the Jewish folk, and of sackcloth and ashes many among them made their beds.
Esther heard, from her maidservants and from the chamberlains, what Mardochaeus did; she was bewildered at the news, and sent out clothes for him to wear instead of his sackcloth, but he would have none of it.
Then she sent for Athach, the chamberlain whom the king had deputed for her needs, bidding him go and ask Mardochaeus what his doings meant.
There in the public square, before the gate that led to the palace, Athach found him,
and heard from him all the news; of the money Aman had promised to the royal treasury in return for the Jews’ destruction.
Mardochaeus gave him a copy, too, of the edict which had been posted in Susan, bidding him shew it to the queen; go she must into the king’s presence, and plead there the cause of her people.✻
So Athach went back with his message.
But she sent this answer:
No subject of the king’s grace, no province in his domains, but knows the inner court of the palace to be sacred. Man or woman entering it unbidden dies there and then; unless indeed the king should grant them life, by holding out his gold sceptre in token of pardon. These thirty days past I have not been summoned to the king’s presence; how can I venture in?
Upon receiving this message,
Mardochaeus answered, Do not flatter thyself that a royal court will shelter thee in the general massacre of thy countrymen.
Keep silence, and the Jews will find some other means of deliverance; on thee and thine destruction shall fall. Who knows, but thou hast reached the throne only to be ready for such an opportunity as this?
Then Esther sent word,
Go and muster all the Jews thou canst find in Susan, and pray for me. Spend three days and nights without food or drink, while I and my maidens fast too. Then I will break the law by appearing in the king’s presence unsummoned, though I must die for it.
And Mardochaeus went away, to do as Esther had bidden him.
The Holy Bible