The Holy Bible – Knox Translation
The Book of Esther
The great king Artaxerxes, to the governors of the hundred and twenty-seven provinces between India and Ethiopia, and to all his vassal chiefs, sends greeting.
The favour of princes has often bred insolence in those whom they advanced to high rank;
they oppress their fellow-subjects, and are even prompted by their good fortune to plot against the authors of it;
deaf to the claims of gratitude and of humanity, they think to escape the all-seeing scrutiny of God.
A madness comes over them, and they assail with false charges the very men who win the praise of all by faithfulness to their duties;
what easier, than to abuse with calumny the confidence of an unsuspecting ruler, who fancies all men to be as honest as himself?
That men will so practise on the credulity of princes is evident both from history and from daily experience;
no little foresight is needed, if the welfare of a great empire is to be preserved.
The orders given yesterday must be reversed to-day; not from any caprice of ours, but because we have to consider the changing needs of the moment, in the best interests of the commonwealth.
But to our matter. We took under our protection, some time since, one Aman, son of Amadathi, a stranger; a Macedonian by race, with no share of our Persian blood, a Macedonian in his nature, whose cruel temper sorts ill with our Persian kindliness.✻
He received from us nothing but friendly usage; we would have him called our father, we would have reverence paid to him as one that stood next to the king’s person.
And he? So was his heart swelled with pride, that he went about to deprive us of our royalty, and of life itself.
First, with daring unheard-of, he would compass the death of two persons, through the general massacre of their race; Mardochaeus, to whose loyalty we owe life itself, and Esther, the queen-consort of our realm.
Then, when their deaths had left us unbefriended, he would plot against our own empire and transfer it to the Macedonians.✻
Meanwhile, the race this inhuman wretch had marked down for slaughter, the Jewish race, proves to have deserved no blame whatever. The laws they follow are just;
they are the children of that most high, most powerful and ever-living God by whose favour my fathers won this realm, and I maintain it.
Take note, then, that the directions which were sent out by Aman under our name are to be left unheeded.✻
He, the author of this plot, hangs now on a gibbet, here at the gates of Susan, with all his kindred; to God, not to us, thanks are due that he has received his deserts.
The decree we are now sending you, giving the Jews liberty to follow their own laws, is to be posted up in every city of the realm;
and you must furnish them with the means to make an end of all those who would have compassed their murder, on the thirteenth day of Adar, the last month of the year.
Here is a day marked down for mourning and lament, turned by God Almighty into a day of triumph for them;
you too must keep it as one of the year’s holidays, and observe it with due rejoicing; so making it known to posterity
that Persia’s loyal subjects are well rewarded for their loyalty, and that all who plot against her sovereignty atone for their crime with death.
Be there province or city that will not take its part in this observance, let it be laid waste with fire and sword; man nor beast shall tread its ways hereafter; to warn men what doom they suffer, that set edict of ours at defiance.
The Holy Bible