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Chapter summaries of the Book of Esther

by the editors of Torah from Dixie



The following is a brief guide to Megillat Esther which we read twice on Purim:

Chapter 1 - The story opens in the midst of the 180-day lavish banquet thrown by King Achashveirosh of Persia, detailing his extraordinary wealth and power. When Queen Vashti refuses to attend, Achashveirosh has her executed.

Chapter 2 - The king begins a world-wide search for a new queen. After introducing Mordechai and his niece Esther, the Megillah recounts how the king's officers bring Esther to the palace to participate in the lengthy beauty pageant through which the new queen will be selected. Achashveirosh chooses Esther to be his queen. As per Mordechai's orders, she does not inform the king of her Jewish heritage. In the meantime, Mordechai overhears a plot to assassinate the king. The conspirators are killed, and his heroic deed is recorded in the king's book of chronicles.

Chapter 3 - Achashveirosh appoints Haman to be his viceroy and all of the citizens of Shushan are ordered to bow before him. Mordechai, however, refuses to bow to Haman, inciting his wrath towards the Jewish people. Haman casts lots and determines that the 13th day of the month of Adar would be the propitious time to annihilate Mordechai and his people. After securing the king's permission, Haman sends edicts out to all 127 provinces in Achashveirosh's kingdom, informing them of the new decree.

Chapter 4 - A great sense of mourning descends upon the Jewish people. Mordechai asks Esther to intercede, and she agrees to risk her life by going before the king unsummoned.

Chapter 5 - After fasting for three days, Esther goes before the king. She invites both Achashveirosh and Haman to a feast, laying a trap for the wicked viceroy. At the banquet, Esther invites the two men to a second banquet to be held the next day. In the meantime, Haman constructs gallows fifty-cubits high upon which he plans to hang Mordechai.

Chapter 6 - That night the king could not sleep, so he ordered that his book of chronicles be read to him. The king is reminded of Mordechai's heroic deed, and that he never received a reward for foiling the assassination attempt. Haman, who had been in the outer courtyard of the palace preparing to ask the king's permission to hang Mordechai, is brought before the king. The king asks Haman what should be done for a man whom the king wants to honor? Thinking that Achashveirosh meant to honor him, Haman describes a royal reward where this man would ride around town in royal garments and upon one of the king's horses. Achashveirosh commands Haman to personally reward Mordechai in this fashion.

Chapter 7 - At the second banquet, Esther informs the king that Haman wants to destroy her people. Achashveirosh is outraged and orders that Haman be hanged on the very gallows which he had erected for Mordechai.

Chapter 8 - Mordechai is appointed the new viceroy to replace Haman. Esther begs Achashveirosh to retract Haman's decree against the Jews. The king grants permission that on the day that the Jews were to be annihilated, they will be permitted to defend themselves and destroy their enemies. The city of Shushan and its Jewish inhabitants rejoice.

Chapter 9 - On the 13th day of Adar, the Jewish people defeat their adversaries and hang the ten sons of Haman. The Jewish community of Shushan is granted a second day to destroy their enemies. Mordechai records these events and establishes the festival of Purim.

Chapter 10 - Mordechai is recognized as a hero of his people.

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