Esther, Saviour of the People
(an adaptation from Esther in the Holy Bible)
by Melineze Logan Hite
( At rise King Ahasuerus sits on the throne center stage. On the right of him are four princes, and to the left of him there are three princes of his kingdom, lounging on large pillows on the floor. The palace is great and magnifiscent. At the left entrance of the the king's mighty chambers are the two palace gate keepers. Before a visitor enters through these gates, he must receive permission from the king. There are mighty soldiers with weapons standing up left and up right. The king with a glass of wine is happily entertaining his princes when the curtain rises .)
Narrator: (Speaking to the audience) This is a story about King Ahasuerus, who ruled from India throughout Ethiopia,
over one hundred and twenty-seven provinces. He was the ruler over many people. He was celebrating the third year of his reign in the palace of Shushan. Before his seven princes who were next in the royal line to him, he calls for his seven chamberlains.
The seven chamberlains: You have sent for us, O mighty one? ( Bowing with great respect, obedience, and fear)
King: ( Proudly) Bring Vashti the queen before me. Tell her to wear her royal crown. I wish for her to shew the people and the princes her great beauty.
The seven chamberlains: Your wish is our command, O mighty one. ( Bowing as they leave backwards.)
The seven chamberlains: ( Entering after only a few minutes ) O mighty King Ahasuerus, O mighty King Ahasuerus...
Mehuman: We went to Queen Vashti, O mighty one.
Biztha: She said she is busy.
Harbona: She would not come, O mighty one.
Abagtha: We told her it was the king's command that she cometh before the king.
Carcas: She said she is tired of entertaining the people for the king.
Bigtha: She ordered us to leave her quarters immediately.
Zethar: She said that she had already entertained the women in the royal house which belonged to King Ahasuerus and made a feast unto them. She said she is through with the entertainment. She could not be persuaded to come, O mighty one. We left when she screamed that she would call her soldiers to bodily remove us from her chambers. We left in fear of our lives, O mighty one. Please, O mighty one, look upon your humble seven chamberlains and do not punish us for this insult by Queen Vashti. ( They prostrate themselves on the floor after each speech. They speak in great fear of their lives.)
King: You may go.( He gestures with his hands for them to quickly go. He puts his hands to his forehead, ashamed before his princes. Then he suddenly stands up and stomps his foot to the floor very angrily.) This is unforgiveable! This is just unforgiveable! What shall I do? I must do something... (He turns and faces his seven princes.)
What shall we do unto Queen Vashti according to the law, because she hath not performed the commandment of king Ahasuerus by the chamberlains?
Memucan: ( Standing before the king) Vashti the queen hath not done wrong to the king only, but also to all the princes, and to all the people that are in all the provinces of the King Ahasuerus. For this deed of the queen shall come abroad unto all women, so that they shall depise their husbands in their eyes, when it shall be reported, the king Ahasuerus commanded Vashti the queen to be brought in before him, but she came not. Likewise shall the ladies of Persia and Media say this day unto all the king's princes, which have heard of the deed of the queen. Thus shall there arise too much contempt and wrath. If it please the king, let there go a royal commandment from him, and let it be written among the laws of the Persians and Medes, that it be not altered, that Vashti come no more before King Ahaseurus; and let the king give her royal estate unto another that is better than she. And when the king's decree which he shall make shall be published throughout all his empire, (for it is great,) all the wives shall give to their husbands honour, both to great and small.
King: It shall be done.
Narator: Soon the king became very unhappy and solemn. For he had remembered Vashti.
1st of the king's servants: ( While bringing the king food and drink) O mighty one, please give us permission to speak.
King: You have it, servant girl.
2nd king's servant: We have noticed that your mood, O mighty one, has grown sad since Queen Vashti has left the great palace.
3rd king's servant: Let there be fair young virgins sought for the king. And let the king appoint officers in all the provinces of his kingdom, that they may gather together all the fair young virgins unto Shushan the palace, to the house of the women, unto the custody of Hege the king's chamberlain, keeper of the women; and let their things for purification be given them. And let the maiden which pleaseth the king be queen instead of Vashti.
Narrator: And the thing pleased the king; and he did so. Then thus came every maiden unto the king; whatsoever she desired was given her to go with her out of the house of the women unto the king's house. In the evening she went, and on the morrow she returned into the second house of the women, to the custody of Shaashgaz, the king's chamberlain, which kept the concubines: she came in unto the king no more, except the king delighted in her, and that she were called by name. ( Beautiful young ladies should be paraded up and down before King Ahasuerus, and in the presence of a mature woman; one virgin stands out among the rest. This young beauty is Esther.) Now when the turn of Esther, the daughter of Abihail was come to go in unto the king, she required nothing but what Hegai the king's chamberlain, the keeper of the women, appointed. And Esther obtained favour in the sight of all them that looked upon her. Hadassah ( Jewish name ) for Esther was so very fair and beautiful. She had neither father nor mother. Esther's kin Mordecai took her for his own daughter when her father and mother were dead. Mordecai loved and protected Esther from all danger. Mordecai was a Jew, the son of Jair, the son of Shimei, the son of Kish, a Benjamite. Esther was Mordecai's uncle's daughter. They were really cousins; however, because of his great age, her great respect for him, and his great wisdom, she referred to him as father. So Esther was taken unto King Ahasuerus into his house royal in the tenth month and in the seventh year of his reign. ( Esther in beautiful dress walks before the king, bows before him, and with his permission a crown is placed on her head. She gracefully sits at his feet.) And the king loved Esther above all the women, and she obtained grace and favour in his sight more than all the virgins; so that he set the royal crown upon her head, and made her queen instead of Vashti. Then the king made a great feast unto all his princes and his servants, even Esther's feast; and he made a release to the provinces, and gave gifts, according to the state of the king. Esther had not yet shewed her kindred nor her people; as Mordecai had charged her. Mordecai had ordered Esther not to reveal that she was a Jew or that her people were the Jews. There were many people who persecuted the Jews like Hammedatha, the Agagite. Esther did the commandment of Mordecai, like as when she was brought up with him. Presently, Mordecai sits in the king's gate, and he overhears an usual conversation.
( Two of the men that kept the door of the king were talking. They were huge men. They were very angry.)
Bigthan: I am tired of keeping this gate for the king.
Teresh: We are not shown any favour in his eyes. We are not respected. The king should die. Another should rule in his stead; then we can quit this gate and have the authority that we are due.
Bigthan: Let us plan how we will kill him.
( Mordecai hears these men, and he leans in closer to hear more. They continue to plan; they are not threatened by this unimportant Jew. He can surely not arm them; he has no power with the king.)
Narrator: Two of the king's chamberlains, Bigthan and Teresh, of those which kept the door, were wroth, and sought to lay hand on the King Ahasuerus. And the thing was known to Mordecai, who told it unto Esther the queen; and Esther certified the king thereof in Mordecai's name. And when inquisition was made of the matter, it was found out; therefore they were both hanged on a tree: and it was written in the book of the chronicles before the king.
( This is to be pantomined very effectively when the Narrator speaks the lines. Mordecai runs to Esther and whispers in her ears the news. Esther runs to the king, and she whispers in his ear the news. The king calls two of his soldiers to bring in the door keepers before him. They confess on their knees before the king by nodding their heads. The soldiers pick them off the floor before the king and tie their hands tightly. The soldiers place a rope around each traitor's neck, and the guilty men leave crying and screaming for their lives. They are forcibly removed out when the king dismisses them all. Esther is so proud and pleased with Mordecai. He has saved the king. However, she does not share with anyone that Mordecai is a family member of hers. All will leave except Esther and the king.)
Narrator: Soon King Ahasuerus favored Haman, the son of Hammedatha the Agaite, ( the enemy of the Jews ), and the king advanced him above the princes. Everyone bowed to Haman when he entered a room or when he appeared at the gate and gave him reverence, for the king had so commanded this. Everyone bowed except Mordecai.
The king's servants at the gate of the king : Mordecai, why do you not bow nor give reverence to Haman? Why transgressest thou the king's commandment? (Mordecai does not answer; he looks annoyed.)
Narrator: Now it came to pass, when they spake daily unto him, and he hearkened not unto them, that they told Haman, to see whether Mordecai's matters would stand: for he had told them that he was a Jew. (The people at the gate signal to Haman to come to them before he passes them, and they point to Mordecai and whisper about him. Showing great superiority, Mordecai angrily turns his back to them all; he does not bow before Haman. ) And when Haman saw that Mordecai bowed not, nor did him reverence, then was Haman full of wrath. And he thought scorn to lay hands on Mordecai alone; then they had shewed him the people of Mordecai: wherefore Haman sought to destroy all the Jews that were throughout the whole kingdom of Ahasuerus, even the people of Mordecai. In the twelfth year of King Ahasuerus, Haman came before the king and said..
Haman: ( Haman stands before the king, pleading his case.) King Ahasuerus, there is a certain people scattered abroad and dispersed among the people in all the provinces of thy kingdom; and their laws are diverse from all people; neither keep they the king's laws: therefore it is not for the king's profit to suffer them. if it please the king, let it be written that they may be destroyed: and I will pay ten thousand talents of silver to the hands of those that have the charge of the business, to bring it into the king's treasuries.
King: ( Giving his royal ring to Haman) The silver is given to thee, the people also, to do with them as it seemeth good to thee.
Narrator: And the letters were sent by posts into all the king's provinces to destroy, to kill, and to cause to perish all Jews, both young and old, little children and women, in one day, even upon the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, which is the month Adar, and to take the spoil of them for a prey. When Mordecai perceived all that was done, he rent his clothes, and put on sackcloth with ashes, and went out into the midst of the city, and cried with a loud and a bitter cry. And there was great mourning among the Jews, and fasting, and weeping, and wailing, and many lay in sackcloth and ashes.
Esther: ( Upon hearing the cries and the weeping in the palace and outside her window): Go Hatach. Obey my orders.
Hatach, an attendant of Queen Esther: (Getting a message from Queen Esther to be given to her father Mordecai) O great Queen Esther, I shall go unto the streets of the city and find Mordecai and give him your message which asks what is happening to the Jewish people in the land.
Esther: ( Pacing the floor in her chambers as Hatach comes in secretly) O thank you Hatach. What is this you have brought me? (She begins to read and weeps helplessly.) A copy of the decree to kill and destroy all the Jews! ( She looks shocked.)
Hatach: Mordecai, your father commands you, Esther, to go in unto the king and make supplication unto him and to make request before him for your people.
Esther: Tell great Mordecai that all the king's servants, and the people of the king's provinces, do know, that whosoever, whether man or woman, shall come unto the king into the inner court, who is not called, there is one law of his to put him to death, except such to whom the king shall hold out the golden sceptre, that he may live: but I have not been called to come in unto the king these thirty days.( Hatach leaves.)
Mordecai : (Esther is still pacing the floor; Mordecai speaks to Hatech. The audience can see the worried and deeply troubled face of the beautiful Queen Esther when Mordecai speaks.) Think not with thyself that thou shalt escape in the king's house, more than all the Jews. For if thou altogether holdest thy peace at this time, then shall there enlargement and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place; but thou and thy father's house shall be destroyed: and who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this? ( Hatach leaves.)
Narrator: Esther will receive this message, and she will send Mordecai this last message.
Esther: ( To Hatach ) Go, tell Mordecai, to gather together all the Jews that are present in Shushan, and fast ye for me, and neither eat nor drink three days, night or day: I also and my maidens will fast likewise; and so will I go in unto the king, which is not acording to the law: and if I perish, I perish. ( Hatach, frightened, runs out to deliver the message.)
Narrator: So, Mordecai went his way, and did according to all that Esther had commanded him. Now it came to pass on the third day, that Esther put on her royal apparel, and stood in the inner court of the king's house, over against the king's house: and the king sat upon his royal throne in the royal house, over against the gate of the house. And it was so, when the king saw Esther the queen standing in the court, that she obtained favour in his sight: and the king held out to Esther the golden sceptre that was in his hand. So Esther drew near, and touched the top of the sceptre.
King: What wilt thou, Queen Esther? What is thy request? It shall be even given thee to the half of the kingdom.
Narrator: She does not answer. Esther simply invites the king and Haman to a banquet of wine. They will both joyfully attend. At the banquet Esther cunningly would not ask for a gift from the king, until Haman and he promise to return to a second banquet of the queen.
Esther: ( At the first banquet, using her feminine wiles )If I have found favour in the sight of the king, and if it please the king to grant my petition, and to perform my request, let the king and Haman come to the banquet that I shall prepare for them and I will do to morrow as the king hath said.
Narrator: The king and Haman will agree. Haman returns to his home, to his wife Zeresh. Before his wife and his friends, Haman announces...
Haman: The king has advanced me above the princes and his servants. Yea, Esther the queen did let no man come in with the king unto the banquet that she had prepared but myself; and tomorrow am I invited unto her also with the king. ( Sadly) Yet all this availeth me nothing, so long as I still see Mordecai the Jew sitting at the king's gate.
Zaresh: Let a gallows be made of fifty cubits high, and to- morrow speak thou unto the king that Mordecai may be hanged thereon: then go thou in merrily with the king unto the banquet.
Narrator: And the thing pleased Haman, and he caused the gallows to be made. ( The sound of hammering is heard, and it gradually fades before the king speaks.)
King: ( Clapping loudly, he calls for his servants to entertain him by reading from the royal book. ) Bring the book of records! Read to me of the most recent news of the kingdom.
The king's servants: It has been recorded that on this day,
that Bigthana and Teresh, two of the king's chamberlains, the keepers of the door, who sought to lay hand on the king were hanged. All praises to Mordecai, Saviour of O mighty one, King Ahasuerus.
King: What honour and dignity hath been done to Mordecai for this?
The king's servants: ( Turning the pages and diligently searching the notes from the past several days) There is nothing done for him.
The king's servants: O mighty one, Haman standeth in the court.
King: Let him come in.( The king is somewhat distacted.)
Narrator: Now Haman was come into the outward court of the king's house, to speak unto the king to hang Mordecai on the gallows that he had prepared for him.
King: What shall be done unto the man whom the king delighteth to honour?
Narrator: Now Haman thought in his heart, to whom would the king delight to do honour more than to the great Haman?
Haman ( Smiling with great vanity ) For the man whom the king delighteth to honour, let the royal apparel be brought which the king useth to wear, and the horse that the king rideth upon, and the crown royal which is set upon his head: and let this apparel and horse be delivered to the hand of one of the king's most noble princes, that they may array the man withal whom the king delighteth to honour, and bring him on horseback through the street of the city, and proclaim before him, thus shall it be done to the man whom the king delighteth to honour.
King: Make haste and take the apparel and the horse, as thou hast said, and do even so to Mordecai the Jew, that sitteth at the king's gate: let nothing fail of all that thou hast spoken. ( The king takes off his royal robe and his royal crown, and he gives these things to Haman, so that he can execute his spoken plan for Mordecai.)
Narrator: Then took Haman the apparel and the horse, and arrayed Mordecai, and brought him on horseback through the street of the city, and proclaimed him the man whom the king delighteth to honour. After these events, Haman returns home to his wife ashamed, with a bowed and covered head.( Haman speaks in pantomine to his wife; he is deeply saddened by this honour for Mordecai by the king.)
Zeresh: If Mordecai be of the seed of the Jews, before whom thou hast begun to fall, thou shalt not prevail against him, but shalt surely fall before him. Haman, maybe....( She is interrupted by the intrusion of the king's chamberlains. She looks visibly upset and clings to her husband in unknown fear. He is unaware of any danger. He stands to leave with the chamberlains.)
The king's chamberlains: Hear ye, hear ye. The mighty King Ahasuerus demand your immediate presence before the king and Queen Esther at the royal banquet.
Haman: I am ready.
Narrator: Haman enters the royal room of the king. He and Esther are merrily drinking wine.
King: What is thy petition Queen Esther? And it shall be granted thee: and what is thy request? And it shall be performed, even to the half of the kingdom. ( He is a little intoxicated by the wine.)
Esther: If I have found favour in thy sight, my king, and if it please the king, let my life be given me at my petition, and my people at my request: for we are sold, I and my people, to be destroyed, to be slain, and to perish. But if we had been sold for bond men and bondwomen, I had held my tongue, although the eneny could not countervail the king's damage.
King: ( Angrily, standing up and gesturing all around with a pointed finger) Who is he and where is he that durst presume in his heart to do so?
Esther: ( Pointing at Haman) The adversary and enemy is this wicked Haman!
Haman: ( Rising slowly from his lounging pillow on the floor, frightened to death, he moves his hand before him to calm down the queen. The king is outraged; he goes out to get his men. Haman gets on his knees before Queen Esther and he puts his head on her lap while she is on her lounging pillow with her head turned away from him, ignoring his pleads of mercy.) O spare me, great Queen Esther, I did not know that these people were your people.......
King: ( Upon entering the room it looks as though Haman is getting too familiar with his wife. The king is hysterical now; for how dare this man get close to his wife, the queen.) Will he force the queen also before me in the house? ( Upon the king's words, several guards overpower Haman who tries to fight the king's men. He cannot win. It is hopeless. The chamberlains enter also because of the commotion inside the room.)
The chamberlains: ( Pointing outside) Behold also, the gallows fifty cubits high, which Haman had made for Mordecai, who had spoken good for the king, standeth in the house of Haman.
King: ( Quickly without any thought) Hang him! Hang him!
Haman:( He is forcibly removed. ) No, no, I didn't know. No, I did not know!
Narrator: So they hanged Haman on the gallows that he had prepared for Mordecai. Then was the king's wrath pacified.
( The king comforts Queen Esther.) On that day did the king give the house of Haman, the Jew's enemy, unto Esther, the queen. ( Mordecai enters into the presence of the king and queen and kneels before them.) And Esther had told what Mordecai was unto her. And Esther set Mordecai over the house of Haman.( Mordecai proudly stands.)
Esther: ( Falling down at the feet of the king, crying ) Please, O mighty king, put away the mischief of Haman, the
Agagite, and his device that he had devised against the Jews.
King: ( Holding out the golden sceptre to her) So be it, Queen Esther.
Esther : ( Rising and touching the sceptre) If it please the king, and if I have found favour in his sight, and the thing seem right before the king, and I be pleasing in his eyes, let it be written to reverse the letters devised by Haman the son of Hammedatha the Agagite, which he wrote to destroy the Jews which are in all the king's provinces: For how can I endure to see the evil that shall come unto my people? How can I endure to see the destruction of my kindred?
King: Behold, I have given Esther the house of Haman, and him they have hanged upon the gallows, because he laid his hand upon the Jews. ( To Mordecai, giving him the ring of the king ) Write ye also for the Jews, as it liketh you, in the king's name, and seal it with the king's ring: for the writing which is written in the king's name, and sealed with the king's ring, may no man reverse.
Narrator: And all was written according to all that Mordecai commanded unto the Jews, and sent letters by posts on horseback, and riders on mules and camels. Now in the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, which is the month of Adar, when the king's commandment and his decree drew near to be put in execution, in the day that the enemies of the Jews hoped to have power over them, ( though it was turned to the contrary ) the Jews smote all their enemies with the stroke of the sword, and slaughter, and destruction, and did what they would unto those that hated them. And in Shushan the palace the Jews slew and destroyed five hundred men. And the ten sons of Haman, slew they; but on the spoil laid they not their hand.
King: ( To Esther) Now what is thy petition? And it shall be granted. What is thy request further? And it shall be done.
Esther: If it please the king, let it be granted to the Jews which are in Shushan to do tomorrow also according unto this day's decree, and let Haman's ten sons be hanged upon the gallows.
King: It shall be done.
Narrator: The sons of Haman were hung in Shushan. For the Jews that were in Shushan gathered themselves together on the fourteenth day also of the month Adar, and slew three hundred men at Shushan; but on the prey they laid not their hand. But the other Jews that were in the king's provinces gathered themselves together, and stood for their lives, and slew of their foes seventy and five thousand, but they laid not their hands on the prey. Mordecai sent letters unto all the Jews in all the provinces to stablish among them that they should keep the fourteenth and the fifteenth days of the month, yearly, as the days wherein the Jews rested from their enemies, and the month which was turned unto them from sorrow to joy, and from mourning into a good day: that they should make them days of feasting and joy, and of sending portions one to another, and gifts to the poor. Mordecai, the Jew was next unto the King Ahasuerus, and great among the Jews, and accepted of the multitude of his brethren, seeking the wealth of his people, and speaking peace to all his seed.
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