The Holy Bible – Knox Translation
The Book of Esther
With time, the rage of Assuerus cooled down, but he had not forgotten Vasthi’s offence, or her dismissal.
And now his courtiers and attendants offered him their counsel, It is time we made search for beauty and maidenhood, to console the king’s grace.
It would be well if commissioners were sent into all the provinces, to look out fair damsels that are maidens still, and bring them here to Susan. There let them be handed over to the chamberlain Egeus, that has charge of the women’s quarters in the palace, and an allowance be made them for adding art to their beauty, and for all else they need.
And she, who most of all wins the royal favour, shall be queen instead of Vasthi. The king liked this counsel well, and gave orders that it should be put into effect.
There was a Jew called Mardochaeus living at Susan, descended through Jair and Semei from Cis the Benjamite,✻
who was carried off from Jerusalem by the Babylonian king Nabuchodonosor at the same time as king Jechonias of Juda.
A ward this man had, a niece of his called Edissa, or Esther, that had lost both her parents. Beauty was hers of form and face, and when her parents died, Mardochaeus adopted her as his own daughter.
In accordance with the king’s bidding, Esther was carried off among many other fair maidens to Susan, and there handed over to the chamberlain Egeus, to be kept in waiting with the rest.
Her charms won his favour, and he bade her attendant set about the anointing of her without more ado; choice foods should be allotted to her, and seven maids, the fairest in all the palace, to wait on her, adorning with all his art her person and theirs.
Of her race and country she had told him nothing; concerning that, Mardochaeus had enjoined silence on her;
and he himself walked to and fro, every day, before the lodging of those fair pensioners, so great was his care for Esther and of what would befall her.
It was a full twelvemonth before a maiden’s turn came, to be the king’s bride; first she must add art to her beauty, anointing herself for six months with oil, and for six with paints and powders.
Ever the bride was given what adornment she would, and so, in finery of her own choosing, passed out from the maidens’ lodging to the royal bed-chamber.
Each morning, the bride of yesternight was escorted to a new home, where the chamberlain Susagazi, master of the royal concubines, had charge of her, nor might she ever find her way back to the king, save at his will and on his express summons.
So the day came when it was the turn of Esther, Abihail’s child, daughter now to his brother Mardochaeus, to be a king’s bride. For her adorning, she had no request to make; let the chamberlain Egeus, since the maidens were under his charge, deck her as he would. But oh, she was fair; she had beauty past all belief, to win men’s favour and their love.
It was in Tebeth, the tenth month, in the seventh year of Assuerus’ reign, that she was escorted to the royal bed-chamber.✻
More than all those others she won the king’s heart, more than all she enjoyed his loving favour; on her head he set the old royal crown, and made her his queen in place of Vasthi.
And he had a great feast prepared for all his lords and vassals, Esther’s bridal feast. To all his dominions he granted a public holiday, and made them gifts, with princely liberality, besides.
And now, the brides summoned and housed anew,✻ Mardochaeus took up his post at the gates of the palace itself.
Still faithful to his bidding, Esther had said no word about her race or her country; still, as in her nursery days, she remembered and did all he told her.
And it was while Mardochaeus haunted the palace gates that two of the royal chamberlains, Bagathan and Thares, door-keepers both at the palace entry, grew disaffected, and would have made a murderous attack on the king’s person.
Mardochaeus came to hear of it, and told queen Esther; she, naming him as her informant, told her husband.
The charge was investigated, and found true; the two conspirators were hanged, and the circumstance was put on record, being entered in the king’s own archives.
The Holy Bible