Published: Sat, 13 Nov 2021
Below is the Apocryphal text from The Story of Esther. This extra text of Esther first appeared in the Greek translation of the Old Testament called the Septuagint. Originally, it was part of the ten chapters of Esther, but later it was separated into extra chapters. As you read this text, keep in mind that it is to be viewed as a historical account and not as Scripture, since it is not included within the 66 canonical books of the Bible. Still, there are some very interesting things to find in this text.
This text is unmodified and is taken from the English translation of the Septuagint by Sir Lancelot Charles Lee Brenton. Italicized text is text that is implied. This text is in the Public Domain.
[Chapter 1 of Esther opens with this text.]
In the second year of the reign of Artaxerxes the great king, on the first day of Nisan, Mardochaeus the son of Jairus, the son of Semeias, the son of Cissaeus, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Jew dwelling in the city Susa, a great man, serving in the king's palace, saw a vision. Now he was of the captivity which Nabuchodonosor king of Babylon had carried captive from Jerusalem, with Jechonias the king of Judea.
And this was his dream: Behold, voices and a noise, thunders and earthquake, tumult upon the earth. And, behold, two great serpents came forth, both ready for conflict, and there came from them a great voice, and by their voice every nation was prepared for battle, even to fight against the nation of the just. And, behold, a day of darkness and blackness, tribulation and anguish, affliction and great tumult upon the earth. And all the righteous nation was troubled, fearing their own afflictions; and they prepared to die, and cried to God: and from their cry there came as it were a great river from a little fountain, even much water. And light and the sun arose, and the lowly were exalted, and devoured the honourable.
And Mardochaeus who had seen this vision and what God designed to do, having awoke, kept it in his heart, and desired by all means to interpret it, even till night. And Mardochaeus rested quiet in the palace with Gabatha and Thara the king's two chamberlains, eunuchs who guarded the palace. And he heard their reasonings and searched out their plans, and learnt that they were preparing to lay hands on king Artaxerxes: and he informed the king concerning them. And the king examined the two chamberlains, and they confessed, and were executed. And the king wrote these things for a memorial; also Mardochaeus wrote concerning these matters. And the king commanded Mardochaeus to attend in the palace, and gave him gifts for this service. And Aman the son of Amadathes the Bugaean was honourable in the sight of the king, and he endeavoured to hurt Mardochaeus and his people, because of the two chamberlains of the king.
[Esther 1:1 begins here.]
[This text is between Esther 3:13 and 3:14.]
And the following is the copy of the letter; The great king Artaxerxes writes thus to the rulers and inferior governors of a hundred and twenty-seven provinces, from India even to Ethiopia, who hold authority under him. Ruling over many nations, and having obtained dominion over the whole world, I was minded, (not elated by the confidence of power but ever conducting myself with great moderation and with gentleness,) to make the lives of my subjects continually tranquil, desiring both to maintain the kingdom quiet and orderly to its utmost limits, and to restore the peace desired by all men. But when I had enquired of my counsellors how this should be brought to pass, Aman, who excels in soundness of judgment among us, and has been manifestly well inclined without wavering and with unshaken fidelity, and has obtained the second post in the kingdom, informed us that a certain ill-disposed people is mixed up with all the tribes throughout the world, opposed in their laws to every other nation, and continually neglecting the commands of the kings, so that the united government blamelessly administered by us is not quietly established. Having then conceived that this nation alone of all others is continually set in opposition to every man, introducing as a change a foreign code of laws, and injuriously plotting to accomplish the worst of evils against our interests, and against the happy establishment of the monarchy; we have accordingly appointed those who are signified to you the letters written by Aman, who is set over the public affairs and is our second governor, to destroy them all utterly with their wives and children by the swords of the enemies, without pitying or sparing any, on the fourteenth day of the twelfth month Adar, of the present year; that the people aforetime and now ill-disposed to us having been violently consigned to death in one day, may hereafter secure to us continually a well constituted and quiet state of affairs.
[This text follows Esther 4:17.]
And he besought the Lord, making mention of all the works of the Lord; and he said, Lord God, king ruling over all, for all things are in thy power, and there is no one that shall oppose thee in thy purpose to save Israel.\-- For thou hast made the heaven and the earth, and every wonderful thing in the world under heaven. And thou art Lord of all, and there is no one who shall resist thee the Lord. Thou knowest all things: thou knowest, Lord, that it is not in the insolence, nor haughtiness, nor love of glory, that I have done this, to refuse obeisance to the haughty Aman. For I would gladly have kissed the soles of his feet for the safety of Israel. But I have done this, that I might not set the glory of man above the glory of God: and I will not worship any one except thee, my Lord, and I will not do these things in haughtiness. And now, O Lord God, the King, the God of Abraam, spare thy people, for our enemies are looking upon us to our destruction, and they have desired to destroy thine ancient inheritance. Do not overlook thy peculiar people, whom thou hast redeemed for thyself out of the land of Egypt. Hearken to my prayer, and be propitious to thine inheritance in gladness, that we may live and sing praise to thy name, O Lord; and do not utterly destroy the mouth of them that praise thee, O Lord.
And all Israel cried with all their might for their death was before their eyes. And queen Esther betook herself for refuge to the Lord, being taken as it were in the agony of death. And having taken off her glorious apparel, she put on garments of distress and morning; and instead of grand perfumes she filled her head with ashes and dung, and she greatly brought down her body, and she filled every place of her glad adorning with the torn curls of her hair.
And she besought the Lord God of Israel, and said, O my Lord, thou alone art our king: help me who am destitute, and have no helper but thee, for my danger is near at hand. I have heard from my birth, in the tribe of my kindred, that thou, Lord, tookest Israel out of all the nations, and our fathers out of all their kindred for a perpetual inheritance, and hast wrought for them all that thou hast said. And now we have sinned before thee, and thou hast delivered us into the hands of our enemies, because we honoured their gods: thou art righteous, O Lord. But now they have not been contented with the bitterness of our slavery, but have laid their hands on the hands of their idols, in order to abolish the decree of thy mouth, and utterly to destroy thine inheritance, and to stop the mouth of them that praise thee, and to extinguish the glory of thine house and thine altar, and to open the mouth of the Gentiles to speak the praises of vanities, and in order that a mortal king should be admired for ever.
O Lord, do not resign thy sceptre to them that are not, and let them not laugh at our fall, but turn their counsel against themselves, and make an example of him who has begun to injure us. Remember us, O Lord, manifest thyself in the time of our affliction, and encourage me, O king of gods, and ruler of all dominion. Put harmonious speech into my mouth before the lion, and turn his heart to hate him that fights against us, to the utter destruction of him and of them that consent with him. But deliver us by thine hand, and help me who am destitute, and have none but thee, O Lord. Thou knowest all things, and knowest that I hate the glory of transgressors, and that I abhor the couch of the uncircumcised, and of every stranger. Thou knowest my necessity, for I abhor the symbol of my proud station, which is upon my head in the days of my splendour: I abhor it as a menstruous cloth, and I wear it not in the days of my tranquillity. And thy handmaid has not eaten at the table of Aman, and I have not honoured the banquet of the king, neither have I drunk wine of libations. Neither has thy handmaid rejoiced since the day of my promotion until now, except in thee, O Lord God of Abraam. O God, who hast power over all, hearken to the voice of the desperate, and deliver us from the hand of them that devise mischief; and deliver me from my fear.
[Verses 1 and 2 of Chapter 5 are very different in the Septuagint. They are as follows.]
1 And it came to pass on the third day, when she had ceased praying, that she put off her mean dress, and put on her glorious apparel. And being splendidly arrayed, and having called upon God the Overseer and Preserver of all things, she took her two maids, and she leaned upon one, as a delicate female, and the other followed bearing her train. And she was blooming in the perfection of her beauty; and her face was cheerful, as it were benevolent, but her heart was straitened for fear. And having passed through all the doors, she stood before the king: and he was sitting upon his royal throne, and he had put on all his glorious apparel, covered all over with gold and precious stones, and was very terrible. And having raised his face resplendent with glory, he looked with intense anger: and the queen fell, and changed her colour as she fainted; and she bowed herself upon the head of the maid that went before her. But God changed the spirit of the king to gentleness, and in intense feeling he sprang from off his throne, and took her into his arms, until she recovered: and he comforted her with peaceable words, and said to her, What is the matter, Esther? I am thy brother; be of good cheer, thou shalt not die, for our command is openly declared to thee, Draw nigh.
2 And having raised the golden sceptre he laid it upon her neck, and embraced her, and said, Speak to me. And she said to him, I saw thee, my lord, as an angel of God, and my heart was troubled for fear of thy glory; for thou, my lord, art to be wondered at, and thy face is full of grace. And while she was speaking, she fainted and fell. Then the king was troubled, and all his servants comforted her.
[This text is between Esther 8:12 and 8:13.]
And the following is the copy of the letter of the orders.
The great king Artaxerxes sends greeting to the rulers of provinces in a hundred and twenty-seven satrapies, from India to Ethiopia, even to those who are faithful to our interests. Many who have been frequently honoured by the most abundant kindness of their benefactors have conceived ambitious designs, and not only endeavour to hurt our subjects, but moreover, not being able to bear prosperity, they also endeavour to plot against their own benefactors. And they not only would utterly abolish gratitude from among men, but also, elated by the boastings of men who are strangers to all that is good, they suppose that they shall escape the sin-hating vengeance of the ever-seeing God. And oftentimes evil exhortation has made partakers of the guilt of shedding innocent blood, and has involved in irremediable calamities, many of those who were appointed to offices of authority, who had been entrusted with the management of their friends' affairs; while men, by the false sophistry of an evil disposition, have deceived the simple candour of the ruling powers. And it is possible to see this, not so much from more ancient traditionary accounts, as it is immediately in your power to see it by examining what things have been wickedly perpetrated by the baseness of men unworthily holding power. And it is right to take heed with regard to the future, that we may maintain the government in undisturbed peace for all men, adopting needful changes, and ever judging those cases which come under our notice, with truly equitable decision.
For whereas Aman, a Macedonian, the son of Amadathes, in reality an alien from the blood of the Persians, and differing widely from our mild course of government, having been hospitably entertained by us, obtained so large a share of our universal kindness, as to be called our father, and to continue the person next to the royal throne, reverenced of all; he, however, overcome by the pride of his station, endeavoured to deprive us of our dominion, and our life; having by various and subtle artifices demanded for destruction both Mardochaeus our deliverer and perpetual benefactor, and Esther the blameless consort of our kingdom, with their whole nation. For by these methods he thought, having surprised us in a defenceless state, to transfer the dominion of the Persians to the Macedonians. But we find that the Jews, who have been consigned to destruction by the most abominable of men, are not malefactors, but living according to the justest laws, and being the sons of the living God, the most high and mighty, who maintains the kingdom, to us as well as to our forefathers, in the most excellent order.
Ye will therefore do well in refusing to obey the letters sent by Aman the son of Amadathes, because he that has done these things, has been hanged with his whole family at the gates of Susa, Almighty God having swiftly returned to him a worthy recompence. We enjoin you then, having openly published a copy of this letter in every place, to give the Jews permission to use their own lawful customs, and to strengthen them, that on the thirteenth of the twelfth month Adar, on self-same day, they may defend themselves against those who attacked them in a time of affliction. For in the place of the destruction of the chosen race, Almighty God has granted them this time of gladness.
Do ye therefore also among your notable feasts, keep a distinct day with all festivity, that both now and hereafter it may be a day of deliverance to us and those who are well disposed toward the Persians, but to those that plotted against us a memorial of destruction. And every city and province collectively, which shall not do accordingly, shall be consumed with vengeance by spear and fire: it shall be made not only inaccessible to men, but also most hateful to wild beasts and birds forever.
[This text follows Esther 10:3.]
And Mardochaeus said. These things have been done of God. For I remember the dream which I had concerning these matters: for not one particular of them has failed. There was the little fountain, which became a river, and there was light, and the sun, and much water. The river is Esther, whom the king married, and made queen. And the two serpents are I and Aman. And the nations are those nations that combined to destroy the name of the Jews. But as for my nation, this is Israel, even they that cried to God, and were delivered: for the Lord delivered his people, and the Lord rescued us out of all these calamities; and God wrought such signs and great wonders as have not been done among the nations. Therefore did he ordain two lots, one for the people of God, and one for all the other nations. And these two lots came for an appointed season, and for a day of judgment, before God, and for all the nations. And God remembered his people, and vindicated his inheritance. And they shall observe these days, in the month Adar, on the fourteenth and on the fifteenth day of the month, with an assembly, and joy and gladness before God, throughout the generations for ever among his people Israel.
In the fourth year of the reign of Ptolemy and Cleopatra, Dositheus, who said that he was a priest and a Levite, and Ptolemy his son, brought in the published letter of Phrurae, which they said existed, and which Lysimachus the son of Ptolemy, who was in Jerusalem, had interpreted.
: That is, Mordecai.
: A governor of a Persian province.