Esther and the King

 

 


Esther and the King
In 500 B.C., King Ahasuerus of Persia, the most powerful man on Earth, returns triumphant after conquering the Egyptians. As he approaches the palace gates, the king rewards Simon, the Jewish warrior who saved his life, with the Sword of the Golden Rooster.

Simon then returns to his village to marry his beloved, Esther. Meanwhile, inside the palace, Queen Vashti, the king’s unfaithful wife, ends her dalliance with her husband’s evil chief minister, Haman. The king already knows of her infidelity, however, and so labels her a harlot and casts her aside.

At court that night, Mordecai, the king’s loyal Judean advisor who is also Esther’s uncle, criticizes Haman for his persecution of the Jews and advocates peace over war. Intent on conquering Greece, the king lays out his plans for the battle, which Mordecai faithfully transcribes onto a set of secret tablets.

When Vashti defies the king by seductively dancing and exposing her body to all those present, the king banishes her. Haman offers to provide him with a new wife, but Mordecai objects, asserting that the law decrees the king must choose his own wife. Haman, who has been plundering the royal treasury and selling military secrets to Greece, then plots with Klydrathes, one of the king’s generals, to eliminate Mordecai by framing him for selling the secret tablets to the enemy.

To further control the king, Haman plans to install Keresh, his own concubine, as the new queen and so orders Vashti killed. As Simon and Esther prepare to recite their vows, the king’s soldiers, on the lookout for eligible brides to present to their ruler, abduct Esther and ride off with her.

In retaliation, Simon attacks one of the king’s generals and is forced to flee the village and take refuge in the temple ruins. At the palace, meanwhile, the prospective brides are sequestered to await the king’s decision. To narrow the field, Haman decides to hand several of the women over to his lusty soldiers and designates Esther as one of their victims.

As the soldiers carry the squealing women through the palace’s corridors, the king, dressed only in a loincloth and therefore unidentifiable as the royal leader, overpowers the brutish soldiers, freeing Esther. While wandering the hallways, Esther encounters Mordecai, who suggests that the gentle Esther may have been chosen to win the king’s favor and thus save her people.

As the women await presentation to the king, Hegai, the palace eunuch, impressed by Esther’s modesty, drapes a golden cloak over her shoulders. When Haman sees the cloak, he instructs an assassin to kill the woman wearing it. Jealous of the beautiful robe, Keresh snatches it from Esther when she is called to her audience with the king and thus meets death at the hands of Haman’s assassin. Esther, the last of the women, is curtly dismissed by the king until he recognizes her from the hallway.

Relenting, the king asks Esther to remain at the palace and make her own decision about marrying him. As the days pass, Esther finds herself attracted to the king, who is cheered by her presence. One day, Mordecai goes to Simon to inform him that Esther’s growing affection for the king will be the Jews’s salvation. Jealous, Simon uses his golden sword to gain entrance to the palace, where he tries to convince Esther to leave with him. When Simon threatens to kill the king, Esther rings for the guards, forcing Simon to flee.

Esther then consents to be the king’s wife and, once crowned queen, begins to advance reform through new, just taxation laws and courts of justice. When Haman callously calls for a law to annihilate the Jews unless they denounce their God, Esther urges the king to cast out all oppression and intolerance, prompting him to threaten Haman with exile unless he accepts the news precepts.

Esther and the King

Furious, Haman decides to launch his plan to overthrow the king and discredit the Jews through Mordecai. After planting a set of forged tablets outlining the invasion plans in the temple, Haman denounces Mordecai as a traitor and accuses Esther of conspiring with him.

When the king then orders Mordecai hanged and all the Jews killed unless they renounce their God, Esther proclaims that she will die, too, because she is a Jew. At Esther’s urging, the king decides to inspect the royal treasury before carrying out his edict. After the king rides off with his troops, Haman sends Klydrathes to kill the ruler and bring back his head.

As Klydrathes and his men wait in ambush at the temple ruins, Simon springs out and stabs Klydrathes. While Klydrathes’ troops charge the king’s soldiers, Simon duels with the king and accuses him of stealing Esther. As Klydrathes lays dying, he confesses that Haman betrayed the king and organized the assassination plot.

Realizing that Haman intends to kill all the Jews, the king gives Simon his sacred shield and sends him to the castle to arm the Jews. While Haman smugly ponders his victory, Simon dispenses swords to the Jews assembled at the temple. When the guards march Mordecai to the gallows, the Jews rush them, and Simon is fatally stabbed while cutting the rope encircling Mordecai’s neck.

Realizing that he has lost, Haman jumps into his chariot and orders the gates opened, but when they swing open, he is met by the triumphant king, who orders Haman’s execution. As Simon draws his last breath, Mordecai designates the night as “Purim,” marking the deliverance of the Jews from massacre. Esther then returns to her village and the king goes to war with Greece.

Some time later, the defeated king returns home, his troops beaten and in tatters, and Esther runs from the hills to embrace him.

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Esther and the King

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