December 09, 2002 Copyright © by United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
- When Mordecai learned all that was happening, he tore his garments, put on sackcloth and ashes, and walked through the city crying out loudly and bitterly,
- till he came before the royal gate, which no one clothed in sackcloth might enter.
- (Likewise in each of the provinces, wherever the king's legal enactment reached, the Jews went into deep mourning, with fasting, weeping, and lament; they all slept on sackcloth and ashes.)
- Queen Esther's maids and eunuchs came and told her. Overwhelmed with anguish, she sent garments for Mordecai to put on, so that he might take off his sackcloth; but he refused.
- Esther then summoned Hathach, one of the king's eunuchs whom he had placed at her service, and commanded him to find out what this action of Mordecai meant and the reason for it.
- So Hathach went out to Mordecai in the public square in front of the royal gate,
- and Mordecai told him all that had happened, as well as the exact amount of silver Haman had promised to pay to the royal treasury for the slaughter of the Jews.
- He also gave him a copy of the written decree for their destruction which had been promulgated in Susa, to show and explain to Esther. He was to instruct her to go to the king; she was to plead and intercede with him in behalf of her people.
- "Remember the days of your lowly estate," Mordecai had him say, "when you were brought up in my charge; for Haman, who is second to the king, has asked for our death.
- Invoke the Lord and speak to the king for us: save us from death." Hathach returned to Esther and told her what Mordecai had said.
- Then Esther replied to Hathach and gave him this message for Mordecai:
- "All the servants of the king and the people of his provinces know that any man or woman who goes to the king in the inner court without being summoned, suffers the automatic penalty of death, unless the king extends to him the golden scepter, thus sparing his life. Now as for me, I have not been summoned to the king for thirty days."
- When Esther's words were reported to Mordecai,
- he had this reply brought to her: "Do not imagine that because you are in the king's palace, you alone of all the Jews will escape.
- 1 Even if you now remain silent, relief and deliverance will come to the Jews from another source; but you and your father's house will perish. Who knows but that it was for a time like this that you obtained the royal dignity?"
- Esther sent back to Mordecai the response:
- "Go and assemble all the Jews who are in Susa; fast on my behalf, all of you, not eating or drinking, night or day, for three days. I and my maids will also fast in the same way. Thus prepared, I will go to the king, contrary to the law. If I perish, I perish!"
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1  From another source: very probably Mordecai refers to divine aid; the Greek additions (C) are explicit about this.
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