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Esther 1:1–2:23 (LEB)

The King’s Banquets

1 And it happened in the days of Ahasuerus, the Ahasuerus who reigned from India to Cushover one hundred and twenty-seven provinces. In those days as King Ahasuerus was sitting on the throne of his kingdom, which was in the citadel of Susa, he gave a banquet in the third year of his reign for all his officials and servants. The army of Persia and Media and the nobles and officials of the provinces were in his presence as he displayed the wealth of the glory of his kingdom and the glorious splendor of his greatness for many days, one hundred and eighty days.

And when those days were completed, the king gave for all the people that were present at the citadel of Susa, both great and small, a banquet in the courtyard of the king’s palace garden that lasted seven days. There were curtains of finely woven linen and blue cloth tied with cords of fine white linen and purple cloth to silver curtain rings and pillars of alabaster, and couches of gold and silver on a paved floor of alabaster, precious stone, mother-of-pearl, and costly stones. Drinks were served in goblets of gold and goblets of different kinds, and there was plentiful royal wine according to the bounty of the king. There were no restrictions on the drinking, for the king had instructed every official of his palace to do as each one pleased. Furthermore, Queen Vashti gave a banquet for the women in the palace that belonged to King Ahasuerus.

Queen Vashti Refuses the King’s Request

10 On the seventh day, when the heart of the king was merry with wine, he said to Mehuman, Biztha, Harbona, Bigtha, Abagtha, Zethar, and Carcas, seven of the eunuchs attending King Ahasuerus, 11 to bring Queen Vashti before the king with her royal crown to show the people and the officials her beauty, for she was very attractive. 12 But Queen Vashti refused to come at the word of the king that was conveyed by the eunuchs. And the king became very angry, and his anger burned in him.

13 And the king said to the wise men, the ones who know the times—for it was the procedure of the king before all those who knew law and rights; 14 and those next to him were Carshena, Shethar, Admatha, Tarshish, Meres, Marsena, Memucan, the seven officials of Persia and Media who had access to the king and sat first in the kingdom— 15 “According to the law, what is to be done with Queen Vashti, because she has not done the command of King Ahasuerus conveyed by the eunuchs? 16 And Memucan said before the king and the officials, “Not only has Queen Vashti done wrong to the king, but to all the officials and all of the people who are in all the provinces of King Ahasuerus. 17 For this deed of the queen will be known to all the women, causing them to look with contempt on their husbands, as they will say, ‘King Ahasuerus commanded Queen Vashti to be brought before him but she did not come!’ 18 This day the women of nobility from Persia and Media who have heard this deed of the queen will respond the same way to all the officials of the king and there will be no end to contempt and anger. 19 If it pleases the king, let a royal edict go out from him, and let it be written among the laws of Persia and Media so that it will not be altered, that Vashti cannot come before King Ahasuerus; and let the king give her royal position to her neighbor who is better than she. 20 And let the king’s decree that he will make be proclaimed in all his kingdom, because it is vast and all the women will honor their husbands, great and small.”

21 This advice pleased the king and the officials, and the king acted according to the word of Memucan. 22 And he sent letters to all the provinces of the king, to each province according to its own script, and to every people in their own language, that every man should be the master of his house and who speaks in the language of his people.

Esther is Chosen Queen

2 After these things, when the anger of King Ahasuerus subsided, he remembered Vashti and what she had done and what had been decreed against her. And the king’s servants attending him said, “Let them seek attractive young virgins for the king. Let the king appoint chief officers in all the provinces of his kingdom, and let them gather every attractive young virgin to the harem in the citadel of Susa under the care of Hegai, the king’s eunuch, who is in charge of the women; and let him give them their beauty treatment. And let the young woman who is pleasing in the king’s eyes become queen in place of Vashti. The thing was good in the king’s eyes, and he acted accordingly.

There was a Jew in the citadel of Susa whose name was Mordecai son of Jair, son of Shimei, son of Kish, a Benjaminite, who was deported from Jerusalem with the exiles who were deported with Jeconiah the king of Judah, whom King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon had deported. He was raising Hadassah, that is Esther, his uncle’s daughter, for she did not have a father or a mother; the young woman had a beautiful figure and was very attractive. When her father and mother died, Mordecai had taken her as his daughter. And it happened, at the proclaiming of the edict of the king and his law, when many young women were being gathered to the citadel of Susa under Hegai’s care, Esther was taken to the king’s palace under the care of Hegai who was in charge of the women. The young woman pleased him and she won favor in his presence, and he quickly provided for her beauty treatment and her portion of food, with seven chosen maids to give to her from the king’s palace, and he advanced her and her maids to the best part of the harem. 10 Esther did not disclose her people and her family because Modecai had charged her that she must not tell. 11 And every day Modecai would walk up and down in front of the courtyard of the harem to learn how Esther was doing.

12 When the turn came for each girl to go to King Ahasuerus, after the end of twelve months of being under the regulations of the women—for the days of their beauty treatments had to be filled, six months with the oil of myrrh and six months with perfumes and women’s cosmetics—13 in this way, the girl goes to the king and all that she asks is given to her to take with her from the harem to the king’s palace. 14 In the evening she would go and in the morning she would return to the second harem under the care of Shaashgaz, the king’s eunuch in charge of the concubines. She would not go back to the king unless the king delighted in her and she was called by name.

15 When the turn came near for Esther daughter of Abihail the uncle of Mordecai, who had taken her as a daughter, to go to the king, she did not ask anything except what Hegai the eunuch of the king who was in charge of the women, advised. And Esther carried favor in the eyes of everyone that saw her. 16 Esther was taken to King Ahasuerus, to his palace, in the tenth month that is Tebeth in the seventh year of his reign. 17 And the king loved Esther more than all the women, and she won his favor and loyalty more than all the virgins, so he put a royal crown on her head and made her queen instead of Vashti. 18 And the king gave a great banquet, Esther’s banquet, for all his officials and servants. And he granted a tax amnesty to the provinces and he gave gifts with royal liberality.

A Plot Against the King

19 When the virgins were gathered a second time, Mordecai was sitting at the gate of the king. 20 Esther had not made known her family and her people, just as Mordecai had instructed her; for Esther did what Mordecai told her, just as when she was brought up by him. 21 In those days Mordecai was sitting at the gate of the king. Bigthana and Teresh, two of the king’s eunuchs from the keepers of the threshold, became angry and they conspired to assassinate King Ahasuerus. 22 And the matter became known to Mordecai and he told it to Queen Esther, and Esther told it to the king in the name of Mordecai. 23 And the matter was investigated and found to be so; and the two of them were hanged on the gallows, and it was written in the scroll of the events of the days before the presence of the king.

2 John 7–13 (LEB)

For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not confess Jesus Christ coming in the flesh. This person is the deceiver and the antichrist! Watch yourselves that you do not lose what we have worked for, but receive a full reward.

Everyone who goes too far and does not remain in the teaching of Christ does not have God. The one who remains in the teaching—this person has both the Father and the Son. 10 If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house and do not speak a greeting to him, 11 because the one who speaks a greeting to him shares in his evil deeds.

Conclusion and Final Greeting

12 Although​ I have many things to write to you, I do not want to do so by means of paper and ink, but I hope to be with you and to speak face to face, so that your joy may be complete. 13 The children of your elect sister greet you.

Psalm 116:1–19 (LEB)

Thanksgiving for God’s Deliverance

116 I love him, because Yahweh has heard

the voice of my supplications.

Because he has inclined his ear to me,

I will call all my days.

The ropes of death encircled me,

and the distresses of Sheol found me.

I found trouble and grief.

Then I called on the name of Yahweh:

“O Yahweh, please save my life!”

Gracious is Yahweh and righteous,

and our God is merciful.

Yahweh watches over the simple.

I was brought low, but he gave me victory.

Return, O my soul, to your repose,

for Yahweh has dealt bountifully with you.

For you have rescued me from death,

my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling.

I will walk before Yahweh

in the land of the living.

10 I believed when I spoke,

“I am afflicted greatly.”

11 I said in my haste,

Everyone is a liar.”

12 What shall I give back to Yahweh

for all his benefits to me?

13 I will lift up the cup of salvation

and proclaim the name of Yahweh.

14 I will pay my vows made to Yahweh

in the presence of all his people.

15 Costly in Yahweh’s view is

the death of his faithful ones.

16 Ah, Yahweh, I am indeed your servant;

I am your servant, the child of your maidservant.

You have loosed my bonds.

17 I will offer to you a sacrifice of thanksgiving,

and proclaim the name of Yahweh.

18 I will pay my vows made to Yahweh

in the presence of all his people,

19 in the courts of the house of Yahweh,

in the midst of you, O Jerusalem.

Praise Yah!

June 28: Meet and Greet (Rebecca Van Noord)

June 28

“If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house and do not speak a greeting to him, because the one who speaks a greeting to him shares in his evil deeds” (2 John 9–11).

This passage is sometimes used as support for forming exclusive communities—ones that don’t interact with people who don’t believe in the gospel or who have a different faith. Based on this passage, some believe that we as Christians are not permitted to interact with nonbelievers. Is that what John is really teaching?

John issued this warning during a time when false teachers were spreading confusing doctrines about Christ. He exhorted believers to “test the spirits” to see if these teachers were actually from God (1 John 4:1). They would know if these teachers were from God if they confessed the true message of Jesus Christ—specifically that He had come in the flesh and was from God (1 John 2:1).

John wanted the community to be aware of false teachings so they wouldn’t become confused or weakened in their faith. We, too, need to be intentional about the teaching we adhere to. If we are weak and troubled in our faith, we should seek out mature believers who can teach and minister to us. However, if we are confident in our faith, we should be ready and willing to share the message of salvation with those who need to hear it—both inside and outside our communities.

How are you sharing the gospel with those who need to receive it?

Rebecca Van Noord is editor-in-chief of Bible Study Magazine. She has developed content for several Bible reference products, including Lexham Bible Dictionary and Faithlife Study Bible.

Connect the Testaments: A Daily Devotional

Author: John D. Barry & Rebecca Van Noord

Publisher: Lexham Press

Publication Date: 2012

This 365-day devotional walks you through the Bible in a year, following a custom reading plan that delves into the stories of the Bible from five unique perspectives.