The King has recently conquered Babylon and for 6 months has been showing off his wealth and power. During the past 7 days, he has been hosting a major banquet and has invited all of the important people. Vashti his beautiful queen has been hosting a party for the women in a separate room.
The king likes to drink and continues to boast of how grand everything in his life is. Amongst the men, the subject of women naturally comes up and once again, the king boasts that his queen is the most beautiful of all.
All are lively and inebriated and coax the king to invite Vashti to come into their party wearing the royal crown…. Only the crown! Haman, the king’s chief advisor, along with others is sent to “invite” Vashti.
Vashti is of royal heritage (the king is not)… she must decide… Vashti refuses the king’s ridiculous proposal.
Haman and others report to the king that Vashti has refused. At first, the king laughs it off, but Haman points out the serious precedent that this might set. If the king’s own wife does not obey him, how will they control their wives? Especially since their wives were present at this event.
Haman suggests that Vashti be removed… that she be killed for being disrespectful to the king. Haman also suggests that the king change a rule of parliamentary law so that decisions like this can be done unilaterally by the king with no need to go through the counsel. The king is a brilliant strategist, yet at times poor in judgment, as he agrees with Haman and promotes him to Prime Minister. Additionally, the king has proven himself incredibly cruel and tyrannical at times, as it has become a capital offence simply to approach the king without his explicit permission!
Later the king begins to sober up and realizes that he is without a queen and is lonely. Once again, Haman has a plan… Why not have a beauty contest of all of the most beautiful women in Persia? Therefore, the king sends his men to round up the most beautiful women in the “world”.
Hadassah (Esther), the adopted daughter of Mordecai her cousin both live near the king in Shusan. Mordecai is a respected religious leader and teacher. She is taken by the king’s guards and against her will “entered” into the contest. Mordecai cautions her not to disclose to anyone that she is a Jew. The women from all over the kingdom are all collected and under the watchful eye of a court eunuch named Hathach. He becomes friends with Esther. Esther stands out from the rest as she has great natural beauty (inside and out). Hathach busies himself preparing the girls for the contest. herbs, perfumes, etc.
They are ready for the big contest (and some comic relief…parody of our American pageants).
Meanwhile, we learn more about Mordecai. One of his jobs includes translating documents and because he is a Jew, he is not allowed to enter into the gate unless invited. At times, Mordecai can be a visionary man and he has had a troubling dream.
While Mordecai is at the gate, he overhears two assassins planning an attack on the king. They are speaking in a different language assuming no one could understand them. Mordecai hears their plot to poison the king. He sends a note to the queen who is able to have the perpetrators stopped and records Mordecai’s good deed in the book of records.
Now Haman enters in through the gate and the people all bow before him—All except Mordecai who refuses. This is really upsetting to Haman and he returns home to his wife Zeresh. He vents over his issues with Mordecai! She convinces him the problem goes well beyond Mordecai. His whole race has been problematic for Haman.
Haman decides that all of the Jews must be destroyed. He tricks the king into allowing him to draft an edict on his behalf that allows the people of the empire to kill all of the Jews on a selected date. Haman meets with an astrologer to select the perfect date.
Mordecai reads the edict and begins to mourn outside the gates of the palace. He is able to send a message to Queen Esther regarding the edict. She is devastated, as she believes she is helpless to stop this genocide from proceeding. Mordecai tells her that she is the only one who can get to the king to stop this plan. Esther ponders that perhaps she was meant to be in this place for such a time as this.
Meanwhile, after lunch the king takes a break in solitude in his favorite place… the royal garden (his secret hideaway). It lends him an opportunity for his head to clear and he realizes that his life is not all it could be. While contemplating his life, he notices his beautiful queen and brightens up. Raises his scepter and invites Esther to come to him. He tells her she can have anything up to half the kingdom. Esther wants only to have a banquet to honor the king and his Prime Minister, Haman.
Therefore, the next day, Esther oversees a beautiful banquet. Haman’s ego is really fed. There is plenty food and drink. The king once again asks Esther, what she wants. Esther indicates that she will tell him tomorrow at yet another banquet.
The banquet is over and Haman leaves to boast once again to his wife. Not only does the king love him—so does the queen! As he is heading home, he passes through the gate and there is Mordecai standing defiantly before Haman.
Haman gets home, but his rage over Mordecai overshadows his pleasure of being the favorite of the royal couple. Zeresh reminds him that he is Prime Minister and there is no need to wait to destroy Mordecai. Together they decide that a huge gallows should be built for the sole purpose of hanging Mordecai.
Mordecai cannot wait to get to the king to implement his plan. Therefore, he heads off immediately to wait outside the king’s chambers... so that he can be first to see the king when he wakes.
In the meantime, the king has eaten so much at the banquet that he cannot sleep. He calls for a chamberlain to bring the book of records and read to him. They usually help him sleep. The chamberlain opens the book and relays the record about Mordecai and how he saved the king’s life. The king asks what has been done to honor such a loyal subject. It is clear that until that moment this good deed had been forgotten.
The king is anxious to reward loyalty and wants to recognize Mordecai is some grandiose way. He hears some noise outside his door and is pleased to see it is Haman. He invites Haman in and asks him for his recommendations on how to honor a loyal subject. Keeping right in character, Haman automatically assumes the king wishes to honor him. Haman then comes up with some grand ideas, wearing the crown; royal robes, riding the king’s horse, etc. Haman is getting excited. The king then indicates that this is a great plan and then asks Haman to go ahead and do it for Mordecai.
Haman is devastated, but does not dare refuse. So, Haman is humiliated as he leads Mordecai around on the king’s horse, shouting of all the wonderful things Mordecai has done.
Haman finally returns to this home and is in mourning… this was too much for him to handle. He is so upset that he forgets about the second banquet and Esther sends Hathach to get him. Flustered, Haman goes to the banquet part 2.
It is then that Esther dramatically exposes Haman’s plan to kill all of the Jews including her! The king steps away from the private banquet as he sorts this out and what to do about his once trusted advisor. He returns to the banquet only to find what appears to be Haman trying to seduce Esther. The king sentences Haman to death… claiming, “check-mate!”
Nevertheless, the edict that Haman signed on the king’s behalf cannot be undone. Mordecai suggests that though they cannot remove the edict, the king can endorse a new edict granting permission to the Jews to defend themselves. This proved to be effective and the king makes Mordecai his new prime minister and gives to him the house of Haman as a reward for his loyalty. The queen too is pleased as now her beloved Mordecai can be near.