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  • 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.