4 When Mordecai learned all that had been done, he tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and ashes, and went out into the midst of the city and wailed loudly and bitterly. 2 He went as far as the king’s gate, for no one was to enter the king’s gate clothed in sackcloth. 3 In each and every province where the command and decree of the king came, there was great mourning among the Jews, with fasting, weeping and wailing; and many lay on sackcloth and ashes.
When Mordecai heard about the law that the king and Haman had put into effect and the coming deadline for annihilation, he began mourning by putting on sackcloth and ashes according to Jewish customs and wailing loudly and bitterly. He didn’t go past the king’s gate in sackcloth, however, because it was against the law. He wasn’t trying to break any laws or be disrespectful to the king, but he was trying to show the agony that the law had brought upon him and his people. In each and every province, the Jews began wailing and weeping and laying on sackcloth and ashes, mourning over the law that had been decreed.
4 Then Esther’s maidens and her eunuchs came and told her, and the queen writhed in great anguish. And she sent garments to clothe Mordecai that he might remove his sackcloth from him, but he did not accept them. 5 Then Esther summoned Hathach from the king’s eunuchs, whom the king had appointed to attend her, and ordered him to go to Mordecai to learn what this was and why it was. 6 So Hathach went out to Mordecai to the city square in front of the king’s gate. 7 Mordecai told him all that had happened to him, and the exact amount of money that Haman had promised to pay to the king’s treasuries for the destruction of the Jews. 8 He also gave him a copy of the text of the edict which had been issued in Susa for their destruction, that he might show Esther and inform her, and to order her to go in to the king to implore his favor and to plead with him for her people.
When the queen’s maidens and servants came and told her about the Jews mourning, she writhed in anguish. She knew something was really wrong to create such a demonstration and mourning, but she didn’t have all the facts. As Esther 1 indicated, the women of the palace were segregated and often did their own thing. She sent clothes to Mordecai so that he could take off his sackcloth and enter the king’s gate. But he refused, for this was not a time to stop mourning. So since Mordecai would not come to her, she sent one of her servants Hathach to go to Mordecai to learn more. Hathach found Mordecai in front of the king’s gate, and he told him the whole story. He told him about how he refused to bow to Haman and how Haman began an agenda to destroy him and his people. He told him about how Haman had promised to enrich the king’s treasuries when the Jews were destroyed by plundering them. He also gave Hathach a copy of the edict from Susa concerning the destruction of the Jews. He wanted Hathach to inform Esther about everything so that she could fully understand the severity of the situation and that the Jews needed her help. Specifically, he wanted her to go in to the king and implore his favor. The king adored Esther, and perhaps he would listen to her, grant her favor, and agree to save the Jews, her people.
9 Hathach came back and related Mordecai’s words to Esther. 10 Then Esther spoke to Hathach and ordered him to reply to Mordecai: 11 “All the king’s servants and the people of the king’s provinces know that for any man or woman who comes to the king to the inner court who is not summoned, he has but one law, that he be put to death, unless the king holds out to him the golden scepter so that he may live. And I have not been summoned to come to the king for these thirty days.” 12 They related Esther’s words to Mordecai.
Hathach told Esther all that Mordecai had told her. She told Hathach to return to Mordecai and to remind him of the law of the land, that no one, not even the queen, was allowed to go in to the inner court of the king unless they were first summoned by the king. The penalty of going in without being first summoned was death unless the king granted them his favor by holding out the golden scepter, thereby sparing the person’s life. Esther had not been summoned to come to the king at all for an entire month. Thus, if she was going to seek the king’s favor, she would have to risk her life.
13 Then Mordecai told them to reply to Esther, “Do not imagine that you in the king’s palace can escape any more than all the Jews. 14 For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place and you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not attained royalty for such a time as this?”
Mordecai expressed to Esther his utmost confidence in God to save the Jews one way or the other. But he warned her not to shrink back in this time, for she, being a Jew as well, would also likely be killed given the wrath of Haman and the fact that the law could not be reversed. Furthermore, Mordecai reminded her that perhaps God had ordained all of the events of her life just for this very moment. Perhaps it was for such a time as this that God had allowed her to attain royalty. She needed to recognize her responsibility to speak up and be courageous in this time rather than be fearful and suffer a shameful death or even the punishment of God. If she was going to die, it ought to be in an act of bravery and worship of God. Mordecai wanted her to have confidence in God and to go to the king and seek his favor. When God gives His people opportunities, they need to take them. When believers do not do something that they know they should do, it is sin (James 4:17).
15 Then Esther told them to reply to Mordecai, 16 “Go, assemble all the Jews who are found in Susa, and fast for me; do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my maidens also will fast in the same way. And thus I will go in to the king, which is not according to the law; and if I perish, I perish.” 17 So Mordecai went away and did just as Esther had commanded him.
Esther decided to be brave and to put her faith in God. She asked Mordecai to tell all the Jews in Susa to assemble together to fast and pray for her for three days. She and her maidens would do the same. Evidently, Esther had had a positive influence on her maidservants because they were going to fast with her and seek the favor of God for her and for the preservation of her people. They obviously cared for her, which is a sign that she had been kind and gracious to them. They were quite possibly putting their lives on the line as well as conspirators with the Jews should Esther fail to get the king to do something. Mordecai went and did what Esther had asked, and they all prayed and fasted, seeking the Lord’s favor and protection. Esther was willing to die if that is what doing the right thing meant.