Subtitles section Play video Print subtitles MORDECAI: From whence comes the purpose of a person's life? Come it by chance, a casting of the lot, or does a call of destiny beckon to each of us? sah and why a simple Jewish orphan was chosen to stand against the annihilation of her people. And yet the mystery of the girl most know as Esther begins not where one might think, but 500 years earlier with a single act of disobedience. King Saul of the Israelites had been sent by the Prophet Samuel to wipe out an ancient child-sacrificing enemy. So pervasive was their evil that not even their oxen nor sheep were to be spared, and above all, no survivors left breathing. My lord, I give you Agag, king of the Amalekites. We have also seized for you his livestock. Even his queen. What dark portent bid me haste to cross this land of ours? How would you accuse me now, O Prophet? I carried out your lord's command. ears ring with the lowing of oxen and the bleating of sheep? Your Majesty, the Amalekite queen, she escaped. We have the king. What is one woman? You fool, she is with child. MORDECAI: While the Prophet Samuel put a swift end to King Agag, Agag's queen, fleeing with the seed of vengeance growing within her, the Jews never found. HADASSAH: Uncle Mordecai! Rebecca, what kind of housekeeper do you think you are? Serves you right for bringing home your work. HADASSAH: The caravan arrived this morning. Well, Susa is the capital of the new world. Caravans arrive every day. Not from Jerusalem. Well, perhaps you ought to go back and ask them if they'll arrive the same time next year. Next year? You promised. Rebecca! REBECCA: Fight your own battles. You don't pay me enough to fight the battle for you. Good morning, Hadassah. And where have you been? I'm sorry, Grandmother, the markets were really busy. There's a new caravan in from... (SHUSHING) Sore subject. Uncle Mordecai, does not your own heart long to see our people restored to glory? It does. Did not Cyrus the Great conquer Babylon and free our people from captivity? He did. But do we embrace our freedom and leave this pagan empire to embrace our destiny? Of course not. MORDECAI: Lord, I pray to you day and night to give me the patience of Job, give me the wisdom of Solomon. And what do you give me? You give me the endless equivocations of a beautiful, young woman. Look. Hadassah, always dreaming. Maybe... Here, then, you be the princess. While many Jews had forgotten the acts of centuries past, the descendants of Agag had not. For Agag's queen did indeed survive and gave birth to a son. And she forged for him a mark, prophesying that one day an Agagite would arrive, a descendant of Agag, who would finally exact vengeance upon the Jews. GIRL 1: Hadassah, read us a story! GIRL 2: Read us a story! A story? You want a story? GIRL: Hadassah, help! Over here. Are y HADASSAH: "And King Saul said to David, "'You cannot go before this Goliath "'for you are but a youth.' "David replied, "'While keeping my father's sheep, there came a l "'And I slew them both. "'This Goliath "'for he defied the armies of the Lord.'" As will Jesse Ben-Joseph, should he but take one step closer. With peace, Haman. There's little but random news I bear. I judge that. Rumor has it Queen Vashti plans not the King's banquet this evening, in protest of the war. Apparently the King has no idea. Some see random news. Others, opportunities. Of course, this is why you are a dispatch rider, and I am a prince of the Fars. Tell me, Agagite, what do you do with the extra darics you connive from me? I have 10 sons, my lord, and a wife that makes many demands. (CHUCKLES) Ten sons? You serve the great king well. Come, come. Go you now. Speak of me as you lavish your wife and sons. ABIHAIL: Happy birthday, Hadassah! HADASSAH: A stone ball? Remember, Hadassah, it is the glory of God to conceal a matter, the honor of kings to seek it out. It's from the Promised Land. Your great-grandmother brought it with her. And like you, its true treasure is etched within. PRIEST: Reconsider my proposition. There is much ed for leadership More stew, my lord? I don't suppose that in your entire caravan you have a cook one half as good as our Rebecca. Here you are but a poor palace scribe, one who passes as a Persian, at that. Are you a Jew? Or have you become a Gentile? We're a small people caught up in a vast and violent empir. We have capricious princes who could order our annihilation with the flick of a finger. And your presence in the palace might prevent it? Probably not. Look, tell me what I want to hear about. Tell me about the Temple. What ecstasy to stand in the presence Like the intimate embrace of a husband and wife. It's so much deeper than mere mortal love. Oh, hello. MORDECAI: Now, it came to pass in the days of King Xerxes, who ruled over the empire of the Medes and Persians, from Ethiopia to India, that in the third year of his reign, he decreed a season of feasting. Rumors of war were in the wind, however, and some thought this the King's way of stalling off a much-debated decision to march on Greece in retaliation for his father's death four years before. MAN: Queen Vashti, Your Maje Enter. The night's festivities hold not your interest, dear? It is long since you summoned me here. Your hands have not been idle. Not idle, not gifted either. MORDECAI: Later, Hadassah, we'll discuss this later. I have run out of laters. The caravan leaves tomorrow. Did not the priest even say it would be good for me? me? You have so much er And perhaps I'm just being a very selfish old man. Do you really want to go to Jerusalem? Truly. Then go with my blessing. Rebecca! Yes, well, I will be late coming back tonight. The feasting has been extended. All Susa is invited. All of Susa? A drunken brawl is no place for a young lady of purity. Then why is a good Jew like you going? All the scribes have to go! There is war in the air! (ALL CHATTERING) The Queen indeed holds her own feast in protest. All is prepared as you have asked. You do know why the princes have asked you to extend the feast another night. You are too late if you seek me to deny them. Especially now. Such clamoring to march upon Greece and avenge my father's death. How long have you dreamt of molding Persia int and A flame to make eve but as I, this is not something that is won in battle but in the hearts of men. You would have me do nothing, then? You're no warrior, no soldier. I'd have you stay, enhance your kingdom, preserve your throne. Looking for someone? hank you. You can run back to Rebecca now. Oh, I'm sure you're fine. Only tell me, Hadassah, or whoever you are, how do you intend ace? You didn't come to take me back? Come, or I shall call you Hadassah the mouse. Wait! I appear to you by the gracious command of the great king of kings, the emperor of the world, Xerxes, son of Darius. Great king. (ALL CHEERING) We drink. We drink also to my guard, the immortal 10,000, but I fear I would soon have to send them out to conquer new vineyards for me. ( Then let us drink to Queen Vashti, the most beautiful in the land. Bring forth Vashti! Vashti! (ALL CHANTING) Bring forth Vashti! They are serious? They demand Vashti be here before all? Already rumors circulate as to why the Queen holds her own feast instead of attending yours. They sound riotous, my lord. They fear a divided kingdom. My lord, you know the Queen's position on the war. They go She mus reigning in a place such as this. None is more lovely than you, my queen. My thanks, fair prince. Prince? Why is it for years you threatened to join the caravans to Jerusalem, yet you never do? What holds you back? Perhaps the courage to face it alone. What if you had someone to join you? MAN: The herald returns! The Queen asks the King's forgiveness. She cannot leave her guests. VASHTI: I'm queen, not a pawn, and I will not lower my dignity or shame my reign by wearing the royal crown before your drunk and thinly veiled war council. MAN 1: What news of the Queen? MAN 2: Where is our queen? MAN 3: Queen Vashti! Am I to be a mockery before my subjects? Or Greece as well? Continue, Cousin. Might not this deed of refusal travel abroad to all women, making their husbands contemptible in their eyes? Will not it be said by all, "Xerxes commanded his wife to come before him, "but she came not"? Vashti's guilty not only the crown but against the protocol of our fathers.