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Chronicles of Jerahmeel, by M. Gaster [1899], at


LXXX. (1) And Esther fled to the Lord, for she feared the evil which was growing; and, stripping herself of her royal garments and the ornaments of her majesty, she clothed herself in sackcloth, and dishevelling the hair of her head, she put dust and ashes upon it. Then, afflicting

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her soul with fasting, she fell upon her face in prayer, saying, 'O Lord God of Israel, who art the King of kings, who art to be feared, who createdst the world, and who rulest over us, help Thine handmaid in her desolation, for she has no saviour except Thee. Behold, I dwell in the king's palace alone, without father or mother. Like an afflicted orphan begging charity from house to house, so do I beg for Thy mercy, from one window to the other in the palace of King Ahasuerus, and have done so from the time I was brought here until this present day. (2) O Lord, if it is pleasing to Thee, take my soul from my own hand; and if not, then deliver, I beseech Thee, the flock of Thy pasture from those lions who have risen up against them; for my father taught me that Thou didst redeem our forefathers from Egypt, and didst slay all the firstborn of the Egyptians. Thou didst bring Thy people forth thence with a strong hand and an outstretched arm, and didst cause them to pass over the sea like a horse on dry land. Thou didst give them food from heaven, water from the cleft of the rock, and meat in plenty. Thou didst smite great and mighty kings before them, and caused them to inherit the goodly land. But when our ancestors sinned against Thy great name, then didst Thou deliver them into captivity; and here we are in exile to this day. My father further told me that, through Moses Thy servant, Thou didst say, "When also they shall be in the land of their enemies, I will never forsake them."

(3) 'Now, O Lord, Father of the fatherless, stand at the right hand of this orphan, who trusts in Thee, and grant me mercy when I am in the presence of King Ahasuerus, for I fear him as a kid fears the lion. Make lowly all his counsellors, that he may be humbled and subdued before the grace and beauty Thou hast given me. O my God, cause his heart to hate our enemies and to love Thy servants, for the heart of kings is in Thy hand. O Thou mighty, revered, and exalted God, deliver me from the fear and trembling which have taken hold of me, that I may go into his presence in Thy name, and come out in peace.'

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(4) On the third day Esther accordingly clothed herself in royal garments, and came before the king, who was sitting upon the throne, accompanied by her two handmaidens. Upon one of them she placed her right hand, and leaned upon her, according to the royal custom, while the other maiden followed behind her to hold up her train, that the gold and precious stones should not touch the ground. Before him were seated all the potentates of the kingdom, who said one to the other, 'This woman is sure to be killed, since she has entered here without an appointed time.' One said, 'I will then take her royal garments '; another, 'I shall take the ornaments on her feet'; and another, 'I will take the ornaments on her hands.' When Esther heard these remarks, she kept her face serene, and concealed the grief of her soul.

(5) The king, then raising his eyes to her, was much enraged that she had transgressed the law by coming into his presence without being called. When Esther noticed the king's anger and fury, she trembled, and, feeling faint, placed her head upon the maid at her right; but our Lord saw the oppression of His people, and had pity upon Israel and upon the trouble of the orphan who trusted in Hint, and He made her find favour in the eyes of the king, for the Lord added beauty to her beauty and majesty to her majesty, and the king, rising in haste from his throne, ran towards Esther, and embraced and kissed her, and, taking her in his arms, said to her, 'What is this fear, O Queen Esther? for this decree of ours does not apply to thee, since thou art the queen, my friend and companion;' and, taking up the golden sceptre, he placed it into her hand, and added, 'Why dost thou not speak to me?' And Esther replied, 'When I saw thee, O lord, my soul trembled before thine honour, and on account of the greatness of thy glory.'

(6) She then leaned her head once more upon her handmaid, for she was faint from fasting and from trouble. The king, however, was now very much alarmed at this, and wept before his wife, while all his ministers entreated her to speak to the king, in order to appease

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his soul. And the Lord brought about that great salvation through Queen Esther and Mordecai. Haman and his sons were hanged upon the gallows, and all those who devised evil against Israel were slain at the edge of the sword, and Mordecai from that day forth was honoured in the king's palace.