1. When Mordecai learned what had happened, he tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and ashes, and walked through the city crying bitterly and loudly.
2. But he came only as far as the king's gate, for no one in sackcloth was allowed to enter.
3. In every province where the king's edict was read, there was great mourning among the Jews; fasting and weeping with lamentation, and many of them slept on sackcloth and ashes.
4. Queen Esther's maids and eunuchs informed her about Mordecai. Overcome with grief, she sent clothes for Mordecai to put on instead of his sackcloth, but he refused.
5. Esther summoned Hathach, one of the king's eunuchs assigned to attend to her, and ordered him to find out the reason for Mordecai's action.
6. So Hathach went out to Mordecai in the public square in front of the king's gate.
7. Mordecai told him all that had happened, as well as the exact amount of money Haman had promised to contribute to the royal treasury.
8. He also gave Hathach a copy of the written decree for their destruction, to show and explain to Esther. He further told him to urge her to go to the king to beg for mercy and intercede for her people: "Remember the days of your lowly estate when you were brought up in my charge. Haman, who is next to the king, has asked for our death. Pray to the Lord and speak to the king for us. Save us from death."
9. Hathach returned to Esther and told her what Mordecai had said.
10. In reply, Esther gave Hathach this message for Mordecai,
11. "All the king's servants and the people of his provinces know that any man or woman who goes to the king in the inner court without being summoned suffers the death penalty, unless the king grants them their life by holding out to them his golden scepter. But I have not been called to go to the king for thirty days now."
12. When Mordecai received Esther's words,
13. he sent back this answer, "Do not suppose that because you are in the king's palace, you alone of all the Jews will escape.
14. If you remain silent now, relief and deliverance will come to the Jews from another source, but you and your father's family will perish. And who knows - perhaps you have come to the throne for just such a time as this."
15. Esther sent back her reply to Mordecai,
16. "Go, gather all the Jews who are in Susa. Fast for me - all of you; do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. My maids and I will also fast. Then I will go to the king, even if it is against the law. If I die for this, let it be."
17. Mordecai went away and carried out Esther's instructions.