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Bible Reading Plan
Daily Bible Reading
December 21 - Old & New Testament
Haman's Plot to Destroy the Jews
1 After these events, King Xerxes honored Haman son of Hammedatha, the Agagite,(a) elevating him and giving him a seat of honor higher than that of all the other nobles. 2 All the royal officials at the king's gate knelt down and paid honor to Haman, for the king had commanded this concerning him. But Mordecai would not kneel down or pay him honor.
3 Then the royal officials at the king's gate asked Mordecai, "Why do you disobey the king's command?"(b) 4 Day after day they spoke to him but he refused to comply.(c) Therefore they told Haman about it to see whether Mordecai's behavior would be tolerated, for he had told them he was a Jew.
5 When Haman saw that Mordecai would not kneel down or pay him honor, he was enraged.(d) 6 Yet having learned who Mordecai's people were, he scorned the idea of killing only Mordecai. Instead Haman looked for a way(e) to destroy(f) all Mordecai's people, the Jews,(g) throughout the whole kingdom of Xerxes.
7 In the twelfth year of King Xerxes, in the first month, the month of Nisan, the pur(h) (that is, the lot(i)) was cast in the presence of Haman to select a day and month. And the lot fell on[a] the twelfth month, the month of Adar.(j)
8 Then Haman said to King Xerxes, "There is a certain people dispersed among the peoples in all the provinces of your kingdom who keep themselves separate. Their customs(k) are different from those of all other people, and they do not obey(l) the king's laws; it is not in the king's best interest to tolerate them.(m) 9 If it pleases the king, let a decree be issued to destroy them, and I will give ten thousand talents[b] of silver to the king's administrators for the royal treasury."(n)
10 So the king took his signet ring(o) from his finger and gave it to Haman son of Hammedatha, the Agagite, the enemy of the Jews. 11 "Keep the money," the king said to Haman, "and do with the people as you please."
12 Then on the thirteenth day of the first month the royal secretaries were summoned. They wrote out in the script of each province and in the language(p) of each people all Haman's orders to the king's satraps, the governors of the various provinces and the nobles of the various peoples. These were written in the name of King Xerxes himself and sealed(q) with his own ring. 13 Dispatches were sent by couriers to all the king's provinces with the order to destroy, kill and annihilate all the Jews(r)—young and old, women and children—on a single day, the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, the month of Adar,(s) and to plunder(t) their goods. 14 A copy of the text of the edict was to be issued as law in every province and made known to the people of every nationality so they would be ready for that day.(u)
15 The couriers went out, spurred on by the king's command, and the edict was issued in the citadel of Susa.(v) The king and Haman sat down to drink,(w) but the city of Susa was bewildered.(x)
Mordecai Persuades Esther to Help
1 When Mordecai learned of all that had been done, he tore his clothes,(a) put on sackcloth and ashes,(b) and went out into the city, wailing(c) loudly and bitterly. 2 But he went only as far as the king's gate,(d) because no one clothed in sackcloth was allowed to enter it. 3 In every province to which the edict and order of the king came, there was great mourning among the Jews, with fasting, weeping and wailing. Many lay in sackcloth and ashes.
4 When Esther's eunuchs and female attendants came and told her about Mordecai, she was in great distress. She sent clothes for him to put on instead of his sackcloth, but he would not accept them. 5 Then Esther summoned Hathak, one of the king's eunuchs assigned to attend her, and ordered him to find out what was troubling Mordecai and why.
6 So Hathak went out to Mordecai in the open square of the city in front of the king's gate. 7 Mordecai told him everything that had happened to him, including the exact amount of money Haman had promised to pay into the royal treasury for the destruction of the Jews.(e) 8 He also gave him a copy of the text of the edict for their annihilation, which had been published in Susa, to show to Esther and explain it to her, and he told him to instruct her to go into the king's presence to beg for mercy and plead with him for her people.
9 Hathak went back and reported to Esther what Mordecai had said. 10 Then she instructed him to say to Mordecai, 11 "All the king's officials and the people of the royal provinces know that for any man or woman who approaches the king in the inner court without being summoned(f) the king has but one law:(g) that they be put to death unless the king extends the gold scepter(h) to them and spares their lives. But thirty days have passed since I was called to go to the king."
12 When Esther's words were reported to Mordecai, 13 he sent back this answer: "Do not think that because you are in the king's house you alone of all the Jews will escape. 14 For if you remain silent(i) at this time, relief(j) and deliverance(k) for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father's family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?"(l)
15 Then Esther sent this reply to Mordecai: 16 "Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast(m) for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my attendants will fast as you do. When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish."(n)
17 So Mordecai went away and carried out all of Esther's instructions.
Esther's Request to the King
1 On the third day Esther put on her royal robes(a) and stood in the inner court of the palace, in front of the king's(b) hall. The king was sitting on his royal throne in the hall, facing the entrance. 2 When he saw Queen Esther standing in the court, he was pleased with her and held out to her the gold scepter that was in his hand. So Esther approached and touched the tip of the scepter.(c)
3 Then the king asked, "What is it, Queen Esther? What is your request? Even up to half the kingdom,(d) it will be given you."
4 "If it pleases the king," replied Esther, "let the king, together with Haman, come today to a banquet I have prepared for him."
5 "Bring Haman at once," the king said, "so that we may do what Esther asks."
So the king and Haman went to the banquet Esther had prepared. 6 As they were drinking wine,(e) the king again asked Esther, "Now what is your petition? It will be given you. And what is your request? Even up to half the kingdom,(f) it will be granted."(g)
7 Esther replied, "My petition and my request is this: 8 If the king regards me with favor(h) and if it pleases the king to grant my petition and fulfill my request, let the king and Haman come tomorrow to the banquet(i) I will prepare for them. Then I will answer the king's question."
Haman's Rage Against Mordecai
9 Haman went out that day happy and in high spirits. But when he saw Mordecai at the king's gate and observed that he neither rose nor showed fear in his presence, he was filled with rage(j) against Mordecai.(k) 10 Nevertheless, Haman restrained himself and went home.
Calling together his friends and Zeresh,(l) his wife, 11 Haman boasted(m) to them about his vast wealth, his many sons,(n) and all the ways the king had honored him and how he had elevated him above the other nobles and officials. 12 "And that's not all," Haman added. "I'm the only person(o) Queen Esther invited to accompany the king to the banquet she gave. And she has invited me along with the king tomorrow. 13 But all this gives me no satisfaction as long as I see that Jew Mordecai sitting at the king's gate.(p)"
14 His wife Zeresh and all his friends said to him, "Have a pole set up, reaching to a height of fifty cubits,[a](q) and ask the king in the morning to have Mordecai impaled(r) on it. Then go with the king to the banquet and enjoy yourself." This suggestion delighted Haman, and he had the pole set up.
The Woman and the Dragon
1 A great sign(a) appeared in heaven:(b) a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars(c) on her head. 2 She was pregnant and cried out in pain(d) as she was about to give birth. 3 Then another sign appeared in heaven:(e) an enormous red dragon(f) with seven heads(g) and ten horns(h) and seven crowns(i) on its heads. 4 Its tail swept a third(j) of the stars out of the sky and flung them to the earth.(k) The dragon stood in front of the woman who was about to give birth, so that it might devour her child(l) the moment he was born. 5 She gave birth to a son, a male child, who "will rule all the nations with an iron scepter."[a](m) And her child was snatched up(n) to God and to his throne. 6 The woman fled into the wilderness to a place prepared for her by God, where she might be taken care of for 1,260 days.(o)
7 Then war broke out in heaven. Michael(p) and his angels fought against the dragon,(q) and the dragon and his angels(r) fought back. 8 But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven. 9 The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent(s) called the devil,(t) or Satan,(u) who leads the whole world astray.(v) He was hurled to the earth,(w) and his angels with him.
10 Then I heard a loud voice in heaven(x) say:
"Now have come the salvation(y) and the power
and the kingdom of our God,
and the authority of his Messiah.
For the accuser of our brothers and sisters,(z)
who accuses them before our God day and night,
has been hurled down.
11 They triumphed over(aa) him
by the blood of the Lamb(ab)
and by the word of their testimony;(ac)
they did not love their lives so much
as to shrink from death.(ad)
12 Therefore rejoice, you heavens(ae)
and you who dwell in them!
But woe(af) to the earth and the sea,(ag)
because the devil has gone down to you!
He is filled with fury,
because he knows that his time is short."
13 When the dragon(ah) saw that he had been hurled to the earth, he pursued the woman who had given birth to the male child.(ai) 14 The woman was given the two wings of a great eagle,(aj) so that she might fly to the place prepared for her in the wilderness, where she would be taken care of for a time, times and half a time,(ak) out of the serpent's reach. 15 Then from his mouth the serpent(al) spewed water like a river, to overtake the woman and sweep her away with the torrent. 16 But the earth helped the woman by opening its mouth and swallowing the river that the dragon had spewed out of his mouth. 17 Then the dragon was enraged at the woman and went off to wage war(am) against the rest of her offspring(an)—those who keep God's commands(ao) and hold fast their testimony about Jesus.(ap)
the Fifth Week after Epiphany