1 On the third day, Esther put on royal apparel and stood in the inner court of the king’s palace, facing the king’s palace, while the king was sitting on his royal throne in the throne room facing the entrance of the palace.
2 As soon as the king saw Queen Esther standing in the court, she won his favor. The king extended to Esther the golden scepter which he had in his hand, and Esther approached and touched the tip of the scepter.
3 “What troubles you, Queen Esther?” the king asked her. “And what is your request? Even to half the kingdom, it shall be granted you.”
va-YO-mer LAH ha-ME-lekh mah LAKH es-TAYR ha-mal-KAH u-mah ba-ka-sha-TAYKH ad kha-TZEE ha-mal-KHUT v’-yi-na-TAYN LAKH
ג וַיֹּאמֶר לָהּ הַמֶּלֶךְ מַה־לָּךְ אֶסְתֵּר הַמַּלְכָּה וּמַה־בַּקָּשָׁתֵךְ עַד־חֲצִי הַמַּלְכוּת וְיִנָּתֵן לָךְ׃
5:3 Even to half the kingdom
When Ahasuerus offered Esther up to half of the kingdom, this was not merely an exaggerated show of generosity, but it referred to a specific geographic location. Rashi notes that the halfway mark of Ahasuerus’ empire was the site of the Beit Hamikdash. Ahasuerus tells Esther that he is willing to do anything to make her happy, short of allowing the rebuilding of the Temple. Although Cyrus, his predecessor, had allowed the Children of Israel to return to Israel and begin reconstruction of the Beit Hamikdash, Ahasuerus was adamantly against it. Ironically, according to Jewish tradition it was his son Darius, born to him by Esther, who allowed the construction of the Beit Hamikdash to be completed.
6 At the wine feast, the king asked Esther, “What is your wish? It shall be granted you. And what is your request? Even to half the kingdom, it shall be fulfilled.”
ו וַיֹּאמֶר הַמֶּלֶךְ לְאֶסְתֵּר בְּמִשְׁתֵּה הַיַּיִן מַה־שְּׁאֵלָתֵךְ וְיִנָּתֵן לָךְ וּמַה־בַּקָּשָׁתֵךְ עַד־חֲצִי הַמַּלְכוּת וְתֵעָשׂ׃
8 if Your Majesty will do me the favor, if it please Your Majesty to grant my wish and accede to my request—let Your Majesty and Haman come to the feast which I will prepare for them; and tomorrow I will do Your Majesty’s bidding.”
11 and Haman told them about his great wealth and his many sons, and all about how the king had promoted him and advanced him above the officials and the king’s courtiers.
יא וַיְסַפֵּר לָהֶם הָמָן אֶת־כְּבוֹד עָשְׁרוֹ וְרֹב בָּנָיו וְאֵת כָּל־אֲשֶׁר גִּדְּלוֹ הַמֶּלֶךְ וְאֵת אֲשֶׁר נִשְּׂאוֹ עַל־הַשָּׂרִים וְעַבְדֵי הַמֶּלֶךְ׃
יג וְכָל־זֶה אֵינֶנּוּ שֹׁוֶה לִי בְּכָל־עֵת אֲשֶׁר אֲנִי רֹאֶה אֶת־מָרְדֳּכַי הַיְּהוּדִי יוֹשֵׁב בְּשַׁעַר הַמֶּלֶךְ׃
14 Then his wife Zeresh and all his friends said to him, “Let a stake be put up, fifty amot high, and in the morning ask the king to have Mordechai impaled on it. Then you can go gaily with the king to the feast.” The proposal pleased Haman, and he had the stake put up.