Sunday, 14 July 2024 - San Camillo de Lellis ( Letture di oggi)

Esther 1


1It was in the days of Ahasuerus, the Ahasuerus whose empire stretched from India to Ethiopia andcomprised one hundred and twenty-seven provinces. (a) In the second year of the reign of the Great King,Ahasuerus, on the first day of Nisan, a dream came to Mordecai son of Jair, son of Shimei, son of Kish, of thetribe of Benjamin, (b) a Jew living at Susa and holding high office at the royal court. (c) He was one of thecaptives whom Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon had deported from Jerusalem with Jeconiah king of Judah. (d)This was his dream. There were cries and noise, thunder and earthquakes, and disorder over the whole earth.(e) Then two great dragons came forward, each ready for the fray, and set up a great roar. (f) At the sound ofthem every nation made ready to wage war against the nation of the just. (g) A day of darkness and gloom, ofaffliction and distress, oppression and great disturbance on earth! (h) The entire upright nation was thrown intoconsternation at the fear of the evils awaiting it and prepared for death, crying out to God. (i) Then from its cry,as from a little spring, there grew a great river, a flood of water. (j) Light came as the sun rose, and the humblewere raised up and devoured the mighty. (k) On awakening from this dream and vision of God's designs,Mordecai thought deeply about the matter, trying his b Est al day to discover what its meaning might be. (l)Mordecai was lodging at court with Bigthan and Teresh, two of the king's eunuchs who guarded the palace. (m)Having got wind of their plotting and gained knowledge of their designs, he discovered that they were preparingto assassinate King Ahasuerus, and he warned the king against them. (n) The king gave orders for the twoofficers to be tortured; they confessed and were executed. (o) He then had these events entered in his RecordBook, while Mordecai himself also wrote an account of them. (p) The king then appointed Mordecai to an officeat court and rewarded him with presents. (q) But Haman son of Hammedatha, the Agagite, who enjoyed highfavour with the king, determined to injure Mordecai in revenge for the affair of the king's two officers.2In those days, when King Ahasuerus was sitting on his royal throne in the citadel of Susa,3in the third year of his reign, he gave a banquet at his court for al his officers-of-state and ministers,Persian and Median army-commanders, nobles and provincial governors.4Thus he displayed the riches and splendour of his empire and the pomp and glory of his majesty; thefestivities went on for a long time, a hundred and eighty days.5When this period was over, for seven days the king gave a banquet for al the people living in the citadelof Susa, to high and low alike, on the esplanade in the gardens of the royal palace.6There were white and violet hangings fastened with cords of fine linen and purple thread to silver ringson marble columns, couches of gold and silver on a pavement of porphyry, marble, mother-of-pearl and preciousstones.7For drinking there were golden cups of various design and plenty of wine provided by the king with royalliberality.8The royal edict did not, however, make drinking obligatory, the king having instructed the officials of hishousehold to treat each guest according to the guest's own wishes.9Queen Vashti, for her part, gave a banquet for the women in the royal palace of King Ahasuerus.10On the seventh day, when the king was merry with wine, he commanded Mehuman, Biztha, Harbona,Bigtha, Abagtha, Zethar and Carkas, the seven officers in attendance on the person of King Ahasuerus,11to bring Queen Vashti before the king, crowned with her royal diadem, in order to display her beauty tothe people and the officers-of-state, since she was very beautiful.12But Queen Vashti refused to come at the king's command delivered by the officers. The king was veryangry at this and his rage grew hot.13Addressing himself to the wise men who were versed in the law -- it being the practice to refer mattersaffecting the king to expert lawyers and jurists-14he summoned Carshena, Shethar, Admatha, Tarshish, Meres, Marsena and Memucan, seven Persianand Median officers-of-state who had privileged access to the royal presence and occupied the leading positionsin the kingdom.15'According to law,' he said, 'what is to be done to Queen Vashti for not obeying the command of KingAhasuerus delivered by the officers?'16In the presence of the king and the officers-of-state, Memucan replied, 'Queen Vashti has wronged notonly the king but also al the officers-of-state and all the peoples inhabiting the provinces of King Ahasuerus.17The queen's conduct wil soon become known to al the women, who wil adopt a contemptuousattitude towards their own husbands. They wil say, "King Ahasuerus himself commanded Queen Vashti toappear before him and she did not come."18Before the day is out, the wives of the Persian and Median officers-of-state wil be tel ing every one ofthe king's officers-of-state what they have heard about the queen's behaviour; and that wil mean contempt andanger all round.19If it is the king's pleasure, let him issue a royal edict, to be irrevocably incorporated into the laws of thePersians and Medes, to the effect that Vashti is never to appear again before King Ahasuerus, and let the kingconfer her royal dignity on a worthier woman.20Let this edict issued by the king be proclaimed throughout his empire -- which is great -- and al thewomen wil henceforth bow to the authority of their husbands, both high and low alike.'21This speech pleased the king and the officers-of-state, and the king did as Memucan advised.22He sent letters to all the provinces of the kingdom, to each province in its own script and to each nationin its own language, ensuring that every husband should be master in his own house.