The Book of Esther (2013) Script

Hadassah? Hadassah?

Come at once, my love. Quickly.

Yes, uncle?

I had a very strange dream...

...and I want you to hear it.

Behold, there were earthquakes upon the earth, and in time, two great dragons came forth, ready to fight against one another.

And at their cry, all nations were stirred up to fight against the Nation of the Just, and the Nation of the Just was prepared for death.

But the Nation of the Just cried out to the Lord, and as they were crying, the little spring grew into a great river, and abounded into many waters.

The sun rose up and the humble were exalted, and they defeated the haughty.

And that was the end of the dream.

How can a little spring turn into a great river?

Have faith, my love.

The Lord, in his infinite mercy, will reveal its meaning.

Until then, you must promise never to reveal to anyone that you are a Jew from the Tribe of Benjamin.

Never, Uncle?

As God lives, there will be a time for you to remain silent and a time for you to speak.

You shall no longer be called Hadassah; you shall be called Esther, a proper Persian name for a proper Persian girl.

But Uncle...

And you must never again call me Uncle.

From now on, you shall call me Teacher, for that is what I am.

Do you understand, Esther?

Yes, Teacher.

You must be careful, for God has given me this dream for a reason.

Come to me, my love.

Sing to me, my sweet, sing to me.


All hail, King Xerxes!

Hail, King Xerxes!

Esther, Esther, come quickly!

Esther!

As royal as the king himself.

I fear it fits me not at all.

I am only a modest man.

Well, you're going to the royal banquet, and you must honor the king and his queen.

Howl envy her.

You wish to be queen?

No, I wish to be married.

Esther, my love, you will marry when I find a suitable match.

Have I no say in the matter?

The Lord God requires of us obedience.

It is he that made us, not we who have made him.

The Lord will reveal his will soon enough, I promise.


A splendid Royal Banquet, thoroughly cheapened by the presence of that Jew, Mordecai.

A bit harsh, don't you think, Lord Haman?

It's not in my nature to mince words.

Lord Haman.

Mordecai.

I was not expecting to see you here.

Likewise.

I was lead to believe that only the king's closest advisors would be invited.

As was I, but apparently the Majesty decided to invite you as well.

The king is a most benevolent man.

Yes, most benevolent, I fear.

If I had it in my power, I'd crush you under my heel, you and your insidious people.

As my God lives, that day will never come.

All hail, King Xerxes!

Hail, King Xerxes!

Nobles, advisors, and all royal servants, I extend to you my warmest welcome.

I'm indeed pleased to celebrate with you the anniversary of my ascension to the throne.

Queen Vashti, too, extends her warmest welcome.

And where is our Queen Vashti?

Does she not find our celebration rich enough?

Perhaps she is unwell.

Please avail yourselves of the food and wine, eat and drink without limit, for it gives me great pleasure to share this celebration with you.

Let the feasting begin!

All hail, King Xerxes!

Hail, King Xerxes!

Keep open your ears, I wish to know exactly what my nobles and advisors are saying.

By your word, Majesty.

Mordecai's not slept well lately.

He speaks of rumors and threats against the king.

These palace intrigues are not our concern.

You should think of pleasant things.

Like marriage?

Don't you agree that a woman my age should be married by now?.

You ask a difficult question.

A woman should marry as soon as a suitable match can be found.

Suitable match? Suppose there is no suitable match?

Well, none of them are suitable matches, I should know.

But you married Jacob.

Aye, that I did.

Were the two of you not in love?

If it was love Jacob was after, he would have married his donkey and probably been happier.

And what about you?

If given the choice, I would have married Jacob's donkey.

Judith!

In truth, Jacob was a good match.

He's a hard worker when he works and a good provider when he provides.

Do you love him?

Between children, and grandchildren, and all the things a woman has to take care of these days, who has time to think about love?

Queen Vashti is a mystery.

Ever since the royal wedding, she is seen so rarely.

Pity, she's more beautiful than any flower.

Yes, Azada, but flowers fade.

She likewise is more beautiful than any sunset.

But the sunset eventually turns to darkness, does it not?

Then again, His Majesty believes her to be more beautiful than any jewel.

But jewels can be lost or stolen.

Mordecai?

All that you say is true, yet does not Vashti remain our queen?

Then she should appear before us and receive our honor.

As it is written, like a gold ring in a pig's snout, is a beautiful woman without discretion?

Yes, come.

What think you of our Queen Vashti?

The king has called her the most beautiful woman in the world.

Then why does she not appear?

Is our queen suddenly found unsuitable?

If the king chose her, then she is suitable.

Even kings have been known to make mistakes.

Toast to the king!

What news?

Your Majesty's nobles and advisors are anxious to see the queen.

My good people, as much as I have endeavored to provide you with the finest in food and wine, I regret that I have withheld from you the greatest of all blessings, Queen Vashti.

I shall therefore deny you no longer.

And not a moment too soon.

Sardar, I command that the Queen Vashti join us here in the royal hall and dance for us.

It will please me greatly to have her join me by my side.

By your word, Majesty.

Permission to enter?

Permission to enter, Royal One.

Granted.

My queen, the women wish to know whether you prefer diamonds or pearls on your headdress.

Cannot my husband, the king, afford both diamonds and pearls?

Yes, that is so, Royal One.

Then I shall have both.

Yes, Royal One.

It's the least that foolish man can do for me.

Royal One, I caution you to choose your words carefully.

And I caution you not to be so presumptuous.

Yes, Royal One.

The king is a fool, but he is also in love, which means I shall have the upper hand.

Did I not vow to be a queen unlike any Persia has ever seen?

Yes, my queen, and you have kept that vow most faithfully.

Who's there?

Sardar, the commander of His Majesty's royal army.

I honor you, Queen Vashti.

What is the meaning of this intrusion?

The king has commanded your presence at once.

You are to wear your finest garments and place a jeweled tiara upon your head.

In such fashion shall you dance for His Majesty and for his guests.

Is that what the king asks?

No, Royal One, it is what the king commands.

Tell him I'm busy.

Royal One, I'm afraid you misunderstand.

The king has commanded you to come before him and dance.

Suppose I'm not in the mood for dancing?

The king is also a warrior.

When he commands his soldiers, they must obey.

Very well, have him command his army to dance for him.

Royal One!

If I return to the king without you, my life may be in peril.

For the sake of my head, I ask that you do as the king commands.

I care not for your head nor for anyone else's.

I have made up my mind.

And even if His Majesty himself came to fetch me, I would not go.

Now leave me!

I find this conversation tiresome.


The queen tarries.

Perhaps she needs more time to make herself presentable.

Perhaps she is deliberately trying to keep us in suspense.

We soon shall see.

Sardar, what is the meaning of this?

Who dares disobey the king?

The queen, Your Majesty.

What did she say?

Out with it!

She said she was not in the mood for dancing.

If this is treason you speak against the queen...

It is not treason, Your Majesty, but truth.

Perhaps the queen misunderstood my command.

No, Majesty.

The queen understood perfectly.

She said that even if Your Majesty came to fetch her yourself, she would not go.

This impertinence shall not stand.

If I allow Queen Vashti to disobey me, then what will stop the women of Persia from doing likewise?

I shall therefore issue a new command.

By your word, Majesty.

I command that Queen Vashti be removed from the palace at once, and I decree that my marriage to her is null and void.

By your word, Majesty.

All hail, King Xerxes!

Hail, King Xerxes!

I wish to be alone.

Esther, Esther, I have terrible news!

What is it?

The king has dissolved his marriage to Queen Vashti.

It is said that she wickedly disobeyed a command.

What exactly did the king command her to do?

She was commanded to dance for the king and his guests, and she refused.

And for this reason she was banished?

Well, a royal command is not to be taken lightly, nor should a woman disobey her husband.

Oh Judith, you're one to talk.

Would you have me believe that there is no disobedience in your marriage?

None whatsoever.

Jacob does exactly what I tell him to do.

Perhaps it is best that I'm not married.

It is a complicated business.

But not without its rewards.

Judith, stop your gossiping.

These palace intrigues are none of our concern.

Oh, Miriam, Miriam! I have terrible news!

This is a disaster for the kingdom.

A fatalist sees a disaster; a wise man sees opportunity.

But Lord Haman, Persia is without a queen!

Then His Majesty will simply have to find a new one!

Yes, Lord Haman, but from which part of the world?

All of our allies have run out of eligible brides.

Well, then His Majesty will have to find a new queen amongst his own people, a young woman of nobility, preferably... a daughter of one of his closest advisors.

Ah!

What a pity it is that the gods have favored you with ten sons and not a single daughter.

But Gaspar, have you forgotten that I have daughter called Zara?

Forgive me, Lord Haman, but she is but a child.

That was yesterday.

You know children, they grow up so quickly.

Quickly enough for marriage?

Indeed!

You must take this proposal to the king at once.

No, no, no, I'm far too modest to make such a proposal myself.

No, no, that is why I'm relying upon you to make it for me.

Me? But...

Oh, faithful friend, I want the honor to be all yours.

But, Lord Haman, what if His Majesty receives it badly?

I may lose my head.

But I would be supremely grateful for your sacrifice.

Now, the king's counsel will be meeting with the king soon.

I want you to prepare well your speech, for my sake, as well as for yours.

Blessed are you, Lord, our God, King of the universe, who sanctifies us with his commandments and commands us to light the Sabbath candles.

Amen.

We should also give thanks for our King Xerxes, for permitting our people to celebrate the Sabbath in peace.

If the king did not permit us to celebrate the Sabbath, we would of course disobey, would we not?

Yes, my child, that is true.

It would be better to disobey the king than to disobey God.

And yet the queen disobeyed the king and was banished.

The queen was indeed banished because of her disobedience.

The queen was banished because she refused to dance before the king and make a spectacle of herself.

Esther!

I cannot find it in myself to condemn her, for if I had been commanded so, I too would have disobeyed.

Esther, you are permitted many things under my roof, but treason is not one of them.

If the king commands it, you are not to question.

Even if the king commanded our people not to obey the Sabbath?

Yes.

I mean no, I...

Either my words are failing me, or the student has indeed surpassed the teacher.

Esther, my love, you must follow your conscience, but obedience to God is the sure path to righteousness.

Yes, Teacher.

Yes.

Yes, Lord Haman.

All hail, King Xerxes!

Hail, King Xerxes!

There must be treachery afoot.

How so, Mordecai?

Haman's lips are moving.

Providence has ordained that my head bears the crown, but is it also the design of providence that I should spend my life in solitude?

Is there no suitable queen for the king of Persia?

Your Majesty, if I may have permission to speak?

Oh great king, it is neither the design of providence nor the will of your people that Your Majesty remain unmarried.

Where, then, would you have me find a queen?

Do you think we've not looked everywhere?

His Majesty has looked everywhere except from among his own people.

This eunich speaks truthfully.

Is it not customary for the king to marry the daughter of one of his allies?

Customary, Majesty, but not required.

Again, the eunuch speaks truthfully.

And Majesty, if I may be so bold, may I... may I suggest you look toward your nobles and advisors for such a queen?

Gentlemen, what think you of this proposal?

Your Majesty, if I may be permitted, Gaspar's suggestion, while it is a worthy one, is not feasible, I fear.

For what reason?

Your Majesty surely knows that more than half of your counselors are eunuchs.

That's a great disadvantage, I'm afraid, when it comes to producing offspring.

Your Majesty, my worthy colleague is mistaken.

One of your counselors does indeed have a suitable candidate for marriage.

Pray tell me Gaspar.

Who is this suitable candidate?

It is none other than Zara, the daughter of Lord Haman.

Lord Haman, does Gaspar speak the truth?

He does indeed, Your Majesty, and while I love my daughter more than my own life, it would give me great pleasure to offer her to you as a bride.

I also have another candidate, Your Majesty.

Mordecai, you have never taken a wife.

Whence comes this candidate?

Your Majesty speaks the truth, however it has been my pleasure to be the guardian of a young orphan girl who has grown into an exceptional young woman, as fine a daughter as Persia can produce.

Tell me, Mordecai, is she beautiful?

As lovely as a morning star, Your Majesty, and more importantly, she is as obedient and modest as she is beautiful.

Permit me a word, gracious Majesty.

As you wish, Lord Haman.

The selection of a bride is no small matter, but I would think you would agree with me that only women of quality should be selected.

Did not Gaspar say that my nobles and advisors could select a woman of good standing?

Why then do you disagree with your own eunuch?

Very well then, are there any others?

I have a candidate, Your Majesty.

I also have a candidate, Your Majesty.

As well do I, Majesty.

I command that the daughters of Persia be brought to the palace at the time of my choosing and presented to me for my royal perusal.

In such manner shall I find a new queen.

All hail, King Xerxes!

Hail, King Xerxes!

This is a disaster for the kingdom.

Oh, a fatalist sees a disaster; a wise man sees an opportunity.

Oh, silence, you foolish eunuch.

Didn't I tell you to prepare well your speech?

Lord Haman, I had no idea Mordecai would suggest a contest.

It's insolence, the nerve of that hapless Jew.

He proposes that a stray, a cast-off become queen.

Mordecai said she was an orphan.

We know not the child's true circumstances, nor are we likely to find them out.

Lord Haman, if she was raised by Mordecai, she is clearly unsuitable.

What further proof do you require?

Because Mordecai is cunning, if nothing else.

Who knows what trickery this old Jew has up his sleeve?

Lord Haman, I can confidently predict that whatever candidates may appear, they will be no match for your Zara.

What, are you a prophet suddenly as well as a fool?

Rarely are those two qualities captured in one man.

Shh, shh.

There we go, there we go.

Keep your head, Lord Haman.

All will be well, shh.

All better be well, because it will be your head that is lost.

Haman!

Esther, my love.

Oh, forgive me, Teacher.

I must remember not to make noise while you are studying.

Esther, your singing is sweet and it bothers me not.

My love, did I not promise that you would marry when I found a suitable match?

Teacher, has the Lord revealed his will to you?

Well...

All my worrying was for naught, for I know that the Lord has heard my prayers and he has answered them.

Tell me, Teacher, tell me. Who is it that I'm to marry?

It is the king.

The king of what?

Why, the king of Persia of course.

The same king who banished the queen because she refused to dance?

Esther, my love, I know this is a difficult thing.

Difficult? Might I suggest impossible?

Why would the king choose me as his queen?

He knows me not.

You speak the truth, my love, but it is also true the king may not take you for a queen.

I thought you said that a match had been made.

Not quite.

Am I to compete, as in a race?

Esther, the competition is fierce, and if you lose it may mean the death of our people.

This is beyond my understanding.

My child, listen to me.

Lord Haman, the wicked man who hates our people has proposed his own daughter as a match.

If she becomes queen, Haman will be the power behind the throne.

Our king is still young and requires sound advice.

I worry that Haman's evil will be unrestricted.

You must pray, Esther.

You must ask God for wisdom and strength.

I will need much of both, I fear.

Fear not, they are richly blessed who put their trust in God.

I will pray, Teacher, for both wisdom and for strength.

Pray also for me.

I have lit a fire that will not be easily put out.

Yes, Father Mordecai.

I honor you, Lord Haman.

Oh, honor me later.

Fetch me my wife and be quick about it.

Begging your pardon, Lord Haman.

Your wife left word that she is too busy to see you.

Too busy?

If my wife intends to follow the example of the queen, tell her she can obtain the same results, only I shall banish her to the desert, and when the vultures have had their fill, she'll make a pretty fossil.

Hush Husband, this foolish slave has taken leave of his senses.

Nasir, return to your chores!

As you command, Lady Haman.

Oh my husband, what good news from the palace?

There is none.

Has the king rejected our daughter as his queen?

He has not as yet.

Then why did you insist the news is bad.

Because of that Jew, Mordecai!

Thanks to his treachery, the betrothal is now a contest in which his own candidate is a rival to our daughter, Zara.

The impertinence of that man.

Now, we'll have to depend on our daughter to win the affections of the king with her charm and beauty.

You realize, of course, that puts us at a great disadvantage.

Oh, have I not eyes, woman?

If only the king were blind, then all our troubles would soon be over.

Our daughter's not entirely unfair, and what of Mordecai's candidate?

Have you seen her?

Then perhaps this tension is for naught.

Oh, unlikely, Mordecai's too clever.

Perhaps you give him too much credit.

All I know is that Zara was not meant to have a rival.

There, there, my husband.

Leave it to me.

With some jewels and cosmetics and fine fabrics, I shall fashion our Zara into a worthy queen.

That'll take an act of the gods.

Is your ambition lacking?

I shall see the house of Haman rule, then shall I have my revenge on those insidious Jews whose king exterminated my people.

One task at a time, my lord.

Incline your ear, O Lord, and hear me, for I am poor and needy.

You are my God.

Save your servant who trusts in you.

Oh God, what you ask is a difficult thing, and yet I know that nothing is impossible with you.

If you will but call me by name, I will answer and obey.

Hadassah, Hadassah.

Who's there?

Hadassah.

Who calls me by that name?

It is I.

Lord?

Speak, Lord, for I am listening.

Because I am with you, you shall not be harmed, for I am the Lord, the Holy One of Israel.

Yes, God.

There will come for you a time to keep silent, and a time for you to speak, for in all things shall I be glorified.

My God speaks and I will obey.

Oh, house of Haman, today shall you receive your glory.

Where is my wife?

Is it success or failure?

Patience, Husband.

The house of Haman did not become great in 1 day.

No, but it can be ruined in 1 day if my wife and my daughter fail me.

We shall not fail.

Nasir.

Have a look.

It's a failure.

Oh, why have the gods not given me a worthy daughter?

She is worthy.

I didn't ask for a daughter as handsome as myself.

If she had but a fraction of our beauty, all would be well.

Hush, Husband, you upset the girl.

I will add a veil.

It will add an air of mystery for the king.

Nasir, fetch me my fabrics.

If His Majesty is enchanted by a bolt of cloth, then he's a greater fool than he's been given credit for.

Hush, Husband.

We shall not fail; all will be well.

All better be well!

I tell you this day that either my daughter Zara will be crowned the queen of Persia or I will have no daughter at all.

I may be poorly dressed, but I am rich in faith.

My child, the palace will provide you with all the oils and perfumes and cosmetics you require.

As much as she desires and more.

I have everything I need.

If she captures the king's heart, his eyes will not disagree.

Forgive me, I have not cried so since my wedding day.

Were they not tears of joy?

Not precisely.

We go to the palace.

And may our God go with you.

And be with your spirit, Judith.


Lord Haman's daughter, the lady Zara, is a woman of great modesty, my king.

She wouldn't dream of appearing before you with her face uncovered.

An admirable quality, I suppose.

Can it be?

Your Majesty?

You there, step forward.

By what name are you called?

My name is Esther, Your Majesty.

And who speaks for this woman, Esther?

I do, Your Majesty.

And what say you on her behalf?

I can only quote the writings of my people, that a virtuous wife is more precious than rubies.

Your Majesty, my daughter Zara comes from a noble house whose lineage goes back many generations.

She will make a charming wife as befits such a fine and noble king.

It is also written that charm is deceptive, but a woman who fears God will be greatly praised.

Majesty, these superstitious ramblings of this Jewish malcontent should have no impact on your decision.

Lord Haman, has it not always been my pleasure to consider all advice?

Indeed, Majesty, indeed.

Sardar...

Escort these two great daughters of Persia to my chamber.

I will summon them at my pleasure.

By your word, Majesty.


All is prepared?

Would not Your Majesty be better served by speaking with each woman directly?

I shall learn more from this than I could learn from a thousand private talks, for to my face they will tell me what I wish to hear, but in secret shall I divine the true nature of these women.

Yes, my lord.

My lady, is this your first time to the palace?

Yes, yours as well?

And what think you of it?

The palace?

It's very... palatial.

Yes, yes it is.

My lady, I suspect you're a woman of great beauty.

Why then do you conceal yourself with silk cloths?

Alas, I am not a woman of great beauty.

This I cannot believe.

It is my wicked parents who have hidden my face.

They are hoping that the king confuses my disguise for modesty, for if he sees my face, he will be repulsed.

This cannot be.

May I be allowed to determine this for myself?

You are beautiful!

You mock me.

I do not!

Surely, anyone with eyes can see you are as lovely as any daughter of Persia.

You are the first person to pay me this compliment; forgive me if I am suspicious.

Can you not see for yourself?

I only know that I'm a disappointment to my family.

Your own parents do not know what a treasure they possess?

If I'm indeed a treasure, it is one they are so desperate to give away.

But surely it is because they wish to have a queen as a daughter.

It is because my father wishes to control the king.

I am only a means to an end.

Forgive me for asking, but suppose the king does not choose you?

Then I shall pay dearly.

I shall be banished and live on the streets.

No, if the king does not choose you, you shall not live on the streets.

You will live with me in the palace.

As your slave?

As my lady in waiting, and if there be a more exalted position, it shall be yours, you have my word.

Summon Mordecai and Haman, I have made my choice.

By your word, Majesty.

My good men, what a pleasant task I have completed this day.

To select a wife from Persia's finest daughters has been most agreeable to me.

Though I have chosen quickly, I am certain I have chosen wisely.

Without further ado, it is Esther whom I have chosen to be my queen.

But Your Majesty, a king that judges quickly judges unwisely.

My eyes have seen and my heart bares witness.

This is indeed my queen.

It can only be the work of our God.

I honor you, my lady, and I only ask that you commit to your promise that I shall be your faithful servant.

Consider it done.

I shall therefore issue a royal proclamation.

By your word, Great Majesty.

Let the word go forth that Esther is my queen.

Prepare a feast and declare a holiday!

Yes, King Xerxes.

I honor you.

Even the gods themselves are against me.

And why is my husband roaring about like a lion?

The house of Haman lies in ruins because of you.

Because of me?

It would be an amazing trick if I were able ponder it.

Your magic is worthless.

Hush, Husband. Tell me about our daughter.

We have no daughter.

This is strange news, Husband.

I suspect the king has chosen another.

What, you're mocking me to my face?

Husband, in love as in war, to the victor go the spoils.

Then I tell you, this is war.

With the king?

With Mordecai.

Hear me, woman.

The house of Haman shall be redeemed.


Do not fear, Esther.

Thou may come closer.

Closer.

Are you indeed afraid?

No, great king, I'm in awe of your majesty and of your wisdom.

How so?

You have chosen me for a bride without having spoken a single word to me.

Then come, sit at my feet and let us talk.

As you wish, Your Majesty.

Are you comfortable?

I must answer Your Majesty's question with another question.

Ask.

Is this always to be my position, at His Majesty's feet?

You are not of noble birth, and therefore you must take an inferior position.

His Majesty speaks the truth, but in marriage shall we not be equally yoked?

My lady...

I cannot raise you above the circumstances of your birth.

If you are indeed to be my husband, then there is only one solution to this problem.

This is the solution you had in mind?

The very one, my king.

You are much more beautiful from this perspective.

And His Majesty's face is much more dignified than His Majesty's feet.

Will you be an obedient queen?

That is all I ask.

Will you be a faithful husband?

That is all I ask.

My love for you is as great as my love for Persia.

And I shall obey you as I would obey my God.

My queen exalts me.

It was Mordecai who taught me thus.

You have learned well.

I wish our wedding was tonight.

Patience, my king.

We have only just engaged.

Is not the king entitled to get what he desires?

The king desires virtue above all else, and shall therefore be content to wait for his bride.

I will wait, but it will bring me no happiness.

Happier still will you be when the day of our marriage finally arrives.

Indeed, my love, my Esther.

Now you must go, before immodesty takes hold of me.

I fear no such thing, for you are a king.

But I am also a man.

Now go.

As my king commands, I shall obey.

Good night, sweet king.

Good night, dear Esther.

Walk with me.

This night hurts time.

Yes, my lord, but it is the dawn that heals.

The time has come for us to act.

Agreed.

We've delayed long enough while our foolish king follows his heart and not his head.

And Persia grows soft as the consequence.

Indeed.

I tell you, Teres, when I seize the crown, Persia will again be great.

The army stands behind you, my lord.

It appears.

Their patience shall be rewarded, for soon they will dip their spears in blood.

We strike at midnight.

I honor you, my lord.

Prepare the men.

Lord Haman, why trouble me at this hour?

Gracious Majesty, I have a thorn in my side.

Shall I help you remove it along with your head?

Gracious Majesty, have I not been a loyal servant?

Your fidelity is unquestionable, Haman.

Since you have chosen Mordecai's candidate as your queen, it occurs to me that I'm less esteemed as a result.

Your worthiness is not diminished in my eyes.

Yes, maybe not in His Majesty's eyes, but in the eyes of my peers.

What would you have me do?

Your Majesty, if it not be too great a request, it would please me well if you could make me the king's prime minister.

Prime minister?

It is simply another title, Lord Haman.

Yes, but one that would require your people to bow before me.

Very well, Lord Haman.

Is there no peace for the king?

Who calls?!

Mordecai, Your Majesty.

Mordecai, my friend, enter.

A thousand pardons for the lateness of the hour, Your Majesty.

Am I not still awake?

Your Majesty, I have a matter of great importance to discuss.

Well then, keep us not in suspense, Mordecai.

It is a matter that concerns the king.

I am now the king's prime minister; what concerns the king concerns me.

Merely another title.

Yes, but one that requires that you bow before me, Jew.

There's not time, Lord Haman.

Great Majesty, moments ago did I hear Sardar, the commander of your army; and Teres, your bodyguard, plot your assassination.

My assassination?

Your Majesty, this man has lost his senses.

He's accusing His Majesty's two of his most faithful servants?

Your Majesty must act at once.

The plot commences at midnight.

Your Majesty, as your prime minister, I advise you to send this man back to his bedroom.

Obviously he has had too much to drink.

Overruled!

We will investigate these charges, for Mordecai would have no cause to deceive me.

Your Majesty.

Send for Sardar and Teres, we will find the truth of this matter.


What troubles my husband now?.

Have another of his schemes come to naught?

Taunt me no further, woman, or I shall banish you as I have banished my daughter.

Yes, Husband, banish me to the palace where I too shall serve Queen Esther.

Oh, silence.

Am I not the king's prime minister?

Is not everyone required to bow before me?

Why does this revolting Jew Mordecai refuse to pay me honor?

I suspect he has found favor in the king's eyes.

This Mordecai shall not live and neither shall his people.

Propose you then...murder?

I shall arrange for their execution.

A fine, subtle distinction, but a difficult task, for the Jewish people are very loyal to their king.

Then what if they were found to be disloyal?

An unlikely event.

I must get my hands on as much of the Jewish writings as I can find.

Does my husband wish to turn Hebrew?.

Mordecai, he quotes his people's writings selectively, but not fully I suspect.

There's only one way to discern this.

Will you read all the writings, Husband?

I won't read any of them.

It shall be done for me.

And suppose no treason is found?

Then I shall create treason!

We shall gather the great architects of Persia and have them design gallows fit for Mordecai, the Jew.

Finally, my wife comes up with a sensible idea.

Teacher! My queen!

And my dear, sweet Judith.

My darling child, I mean, my queen.

Oh!

And what think you of the palace, Judith?

It has so many rooms, a person could get lost.

Yes.

Who is this lovely young girl?

Oh, this is Zara, Lord Haman's daughter.

I honor you, Mordecai.

This beautiful woman is Haman's daughter?

I confess to the truth of it, but with no gladness of heart.

My lovely girl, I fear for your life.

Your father is a proud man, easily angered.

I have no concern for my life, for Esther has promised to take care of me.

My queen, I trust that you have found marriage agreeable?

In truth, Teacher, I find it bittersweet.

How so?

My husband, the king, I so rarely see him.

Surely the queen may see the king at her pleasure?

Nay, Judith.

A woman is not to enter the king's presence unless she be summoned, even the queen.

Aye, if Jacob had such a law, he would spend even more time alone.

Judith.

And likely be grateful for the silence.

I would be put to death were I too to disobey.

Lord Haman has lately kept the king heavily engaged with the affairs of state.

I doubt not the king's love for me, but I fear my rival is Persia for the king's affection.

Fear not, my queen.

If the king loves you as well as Persia, then he loves you well indeed.

As always, my Teacher speaks the truth.

My queen, you have learned well.

Come Judith, I have much to show you.

All hail, King Xerxes of Persia.

Hail, King Xerxes!

Lord Haman, I should have chosen you for a consort, for I spend more time with you than I spend with the queen.

Your Majesty, this is a matter of extreme urgency.

For the sake of your neck, Lord Haman, I require that it be a matter of life or death.

Your Majesty, this is a matter of treason.

Treason?

Am I surrounded by nothing but conspirators?

If my throne is in peril, Lord Haman, why then are we completely unaware?

Because, Your Majesty, the threat comes not from without.

The threat comes from within.

And only now you bring this to my attention?

Your Majesty, there is a group of people in your kingdom who are disloyal.

And who are these disloyal people?

The Jews, Your Majesty.

The Jews?

They support another?

Impossible!

The evidence lies here before you.

Am I Jew, Lord Haman, that I can read such things?

Then allow us to translate.

''Sing praises to God.

''Sing praises to our King.

''For God is the King of all the earth.

''It is God who reigneth over the people.

It is God who sitteth upon the throne.''

If this is not proof of treason, Your Majesty, then I cannot produce any.

They repay my generosity with insolence?

Your Majesty, if it pleases you, I have chosen the 13th day of the 12th month, Your Majesty.

Let on this day every traitorous Jew, young, old, women, children, be annihilated.

Azada...

Let it be done as Lord Haman commands.

By your word, Your Majesty.

Who calls?

The lady Zara, Your Majesty.

Enter at once.

A visitor to see Your Majesty?

Enter.

I honor you, my queen.

Judith, it's so good to see you.

But the bad news I bring will surely hurt Your Majesty's heart.

I come at the request of Mordecai.

Why does he not come himself?

Because, my queen, Mordecai sits at home in sackcloth and ashes.

Judith, you must tell me this news at once.

Shall I speak freely, my queen?

Lady Zara has my confidence.

It is the wicked Lord Haman, my queen.

He has convinced your husband, the king, to destroy all the Jews.

No, this cannot be.

On the 13th of this month, all the Jews will be put to death, including you.

I've said too much.

Zara, I beg you to keep this a secret.

My lady, I would never betray you.

My father is an evil man and I beg you a thousand pardons.

It's no fault of yours, Zara.

There's no need for forgiveness.

What is Mordecai's advice?

He asks that you go to the king to beg him for mercy and plead for our people.

Judith, I cannot, for no woman is permitted to enter the king's presence without being summoned.

Even the queen must obey this law.

Then this is Mordecai's answer...

There is a time to remain silent and a time to speak, but if you remain silent now, you and your people will perish.

Is it not possible that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?

Judith, I...

Go then, and tell Mordecai to gather all the Jews of Persia and have them fast for me.

They shall not eat or drink for 3 days, day or night, and I shall do the same, and then I will go to the king.

And if I perish, I shall perish.

It will be done as you say, my queen.


I beg you, my queen, do not make this mistake.

The king is a man of his word, and you will surely be put to death.

Azada, do not fear.

Now take me at once to the king.

I honor you, Queen Esther.

Tell me, Lord Haman, that this concludes our business for the day.

If Your Majesty commands it then we shall continue at another time.

I do command it.

By your word, Great Majesty.

I honor you, King Xerxes.

What is the meaning of this intrusion?

Lord Haman.

The queen is here to see you, Your Majesty.

Summoned you the queen, great king?

I did not.

Esther, my queen.

Forgive my transgression, Your Majesty, for I know that your word is the law.

Forgive my transgression, my love, for because of Lord Haman, I have placed the affairs of the state above the affairs of the heart.

If it pleases Your Majesty, I would like to make a request.

It does indeed please me.

My petition is this:

Let Your Majesty come tomorrow to a banquet which I will prepare.

You and Lord Haman.

Then I will make my request known.

What say you, Lord Haman?

Your Majesty...

I wouldn't dream of declining such a gracious invitation.

Then let it be done.

Thank you, my king.


Does my wife adore her husband?

Your persistence exceeds your cruelty, a quality much to be admired.

Do we not have everything?

A great name.

Ah, and vast wealth.

And revenge.

And with the king under my thumb, the house of Haman rules.

Oh, I forgot to mention, my dear, beautiful wife, that I am the only person the queen has invited to the royal banquet for the king.

Queen Esther?

What a bizarre invitation.

Surely she knows what will become of her benefactor, Mordecai.

Mention not that name.

His demise will be soon enough.

It is the queen who arouses my suspicion.

Harbor no such thoughts, dear wife.

It is the king who controls the queen, but it is I who controls the king.

Is my husband, the king, well pleased?

As well pleased as I am well fed.

And you, Lord Haman?

The pleasure of this meal is matched only by the pleasure of the queen's company.

Queen Esther, what is your petition?

Ask and it shall be granted.

Whatever you request, even up to half my kingdom, I will give it to you.

If it pleases Your Majesty, grant me my life and spare my people, for this is my request.

Esther, my love, you make a strange petition.

Who has threatened your life?

A great enemy, Your Majesty.

Lord Haman.

Lord Haman, would you molest a queen in her own home?

Your Majesty, the queen is surely mistaken.

I would never lay a hand on her.

Lord Haman speaks falsely, Your Majesty, for he has ordered the destruction of my people and me.

If he had merely made us slaves, I would have remained silent, for there would be no need to disturb the king.

Lord Haman, have you an answer to this accusation?

Your Majesty, I know not of what this queen speaks of.

Lord Haman knows full well, Your Majesty, for did he not cause you to order the destruction of the Jews?

The Jews?

They are a treacherous people, my queen.

Lord Haman has shown me the evidence.

Has he indeed?

Your Majesty, may I ask, what has this matter got to do with the other?

Only that the Jews are my people.

If they be found traitors, let me be guilty as well.

This cannot be.

Your Majesty, perhaps the queen is unwell.

Please, I beg you to have mercy on her.

You would beg mercy for me yet deny it to my people and Mordecai?

Is he a traitor?

Has it not been recorded in history that Mordecai once saved your life?

Does a traitor conspire against himself?

Great Majesty...

Were not for Mordecai, Esther would not be my queen.

Yes, that is indeed true.

I have made a terrible mistake.

One that is easily rectified, Your Majesty.

You will simply have to find yourself another queen.

I have condemned a man to death without first giving him the opportunity to defend himself, he and his people.

Azada! Yes, my king?

Send for Mordecai at once and summon my counselors.

I wish for everyone to hear the testimony tomorrow at noon.

By your word, King Xerxes.

Then we shall know the truth.


All hail, King Xerxes of Persia!

Hail, King Xerxes!

Men of Persia, this day I have summoned you to hear the case against the Jewish people.

I was persuaded of their guilt and sentenced them to a violent death, all the Jews, all the Jews, including Mordecai and my queen.

But as Lord Haman once pronounced, the king who judges quickly judges not wisely.

And in this event, he is correct.

Therefore I shall ask Lord Haman again to present his case against the Jews.

But this time, Mordecai will be allowed to defend the Jews.

Lord Haman?

Your Majesty, as I believe I have so eloquently proven, that the Jews are a traitorous people, who honor their God and despise their king, and as their writings also affirm, it is their God who rules them, and it is their God who sits upon the throne.

Mordecai, have you an answer to this charge?

Your Majesty, Lord Haman does indeed quote the writings of my people accurately, but not completely, for it also written that God establishes kings.

Therefore to disobey the king would be to disobey God.

Mordecai, I must ask you in truth if you are and always have been an obedient servant to me?

Your Majesty knows well the answer to that question, for I have served you faithfully and obediently all these years, and indeed your father before you.

Of this, Mordecai, I am certain.

But I must also ask you, are you also an obedient servant of your God?

Your Majesty also knows well that as a Jew from the Tribe of Benjamin, I am an obedient servant to my God.

That was quite elegant, Mordecai, if not a bit deceptive.

But answer me this, Mordecai:

What if there was a contradiction?

What if His Majesty commanded one thing and your God commanded another?

Who then, Mordecai, would you obey?

Mordecai?

For many years I have lived in peace and prospered in the service of Your Majesty.

But before Your Majesty came to be, my people worshipped the God of Israel, a living God who brought my people out of Egypt and delivered them from slavery.

To Your Majesty I owe my living, but to my God, I owe my life.

Traitor!

Order, order!

Mordecai, perhaps you did not understand my question.

These are words of treason, Your Majesty, straight from the traitor's own lips.

Order, order!

Your Majesty, you have permitted Mordecai to speak on behalf of his people.

Permit me now to speak on behalf of Mordecai.

As you wish, Esther.

Your Majesty, have you not always granted the Jewish people the freedom to worship their God in peace?

My love, it has indeed been my pleasure, but it was also the will of the late king, my father.

Therefore I must ask you, great king, when ever did you issue an order to my Teacher, Mordecai, which he did not obey?

In truth, dear Esther, I cannot recall such an event.

Your Majesty cannot recall it because it has not happened.

Your Majesty, this Jewish queen pleads too late.

She acts out of preservation for her title as well as her life.

Did not once Mordecai save your life?

And did you not reward him with a royal robe and a royal horse?

And was it not Lord Haman who recommended it?

Your Majesty, the question that was asked was what would be done for the man that the king wishes to honor?.

I thought His Majesty was referring to me.

Therefore, Your Majesty, I pose to you the same question Lord Haman asks:

If a king commands one thing and God commands another, how would you have this conflict resolved?

I would have a man follow his own conscience,

for even kings have been known to make mistakes.

I find no treason in Mordecai or his people and he shall continue to serve me with honor and distinction.

And his people shall live.

Lord Haman, I am not yet finished with you, for we must still address the issue of your treason.

My treason?

For the havoc you have created and for the terrible advice you have rendered as prime minister, I hereby sentence you to death.

And I command that a gallows be built as quickly as possible with which to execute you.

Gracious Majesty, in his infinite wisdom, Haman has already prepared such a gallows.

Though it was tailored for Mordecai, I am sure you will find it for him a perfect fit.

I am repaid with my own coin.

To the gallows at once.

Azada.

I honor you, King Xerxes.

Remove at once Haman's royal robe and place it upon Mordecai, for it is Mordecai who will now be my prime minister.

These events shall be recorded in history.

By your word, Your Majesty.

And henceforth forever this will be, for the Jews, a time of joy and happiness, and let it be written that it is Queen Esther who has saved her people from the villain Haman.

Queen Esther!

Azada, take this man away.

It shall be done as you say.

Mordecai, now that you are second in rank to the king, command a banquet to be held with much food and wine.

Your Majesty.

For I would command it myself, but I wish to be alone with my queen.