Purim

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Purim

פּוּר

Purim (see Esther 1-10), also known as The Feast of Lots, is a celebration of the deliverance of the Jewish people in Persia at the hand of a Jewish heroine, Queen Esther, also known as Hadassah.

Purim (pronounced ‘poo - ream’, the emphasis being on the second syllable, also known as The Feast of Lots, is a celebration of the deliverance of the Jewish people in Persia at the hand of a Jewish heroine, Queen Esther, also known as Hadassah. 

Esther was her Persian name and Hadassah her Jewish name. She was from the tribe of Benjamin and grew up as an exile in Persia as her family did not avail themselves of the permission granted by Cyrus for the exiles to return to Jerusalem. She lived with her cousin Mordecai after her parents died. He had a position in the household of the Persian king at Susa (Shushan) in the palace.

Purim, means ‘lots’ in ancient Persian and carries an ironic hidden message because Haman, the story’s villain and enemy of the Jews, plotted to eradicate them by casting lots to choose the date for the massacre (Esther 3:7, 9:24). This Feast of Purim is celebrated in remembrance of Queen Esther’s great victory and the survival of the Jewish race. It’s held on the 14th and 15th of Adar, the twelfth month of the Jewish Calendar which usually falls in March.

There is also another Jewish Feast associated with casting lots: Yom Kippur. In one of the most dramatic moments of the Yom Kippur in the Temple, the Kohen Gadol (High Priest) stood between two goats and cast lots to determine which should be offered to God and which should carry off the sins of Israel to the desert (Scapegoat).

Queen Esther

Purim, also known as the Feast of Lots or the Feast of Esther, celebrates God's deliverance of His people through the wisdom and godliness of a beautiful woman. The book of Esther tells the story, giving the glory to GOD without once mentioning Him by name. Due to her influence with the king she was able to thwart the efforts of Haman, a powerful court official. Esther was her Persian name and Hadassah her Jewish name. She was from the tribe of Benjamin and grew up as an exile in Persia as her family did not avail themselves of the permission granted by Cyrus for the exiles to return to Jerusalem. She lived with her cousin Mordecai after her parents died. He had a position in the household of the Persian king at Susa (Shushan) in the palace.

And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this? (Esther 4:14)

Esther was also known as Hadassah (הדסה) which is derived from the Hebrew word hadas (הדס), a myrtle tree whose leaves only release their fragrance when crushed. The name Hadassah represents righteousness. The name Esther (אסתר) is derived from the Hebrew word hester (הסתר), which means hidden, her Jewish identity being hidden for a long time. In using Queen Esther and Hadassah — both names represent the self-sacrifice she displayed in order to save the Jewish nation. A righteous woman who brought Godliness into the physical world, where Godliness is concealed. 

Purim, means lots in ancient Persian and carries an ironic hidden message because Haman, the story’s villain and enemy of the Jews, plotted to eradicate them by casting lots to choose the date for the massacre (Esther 3:7, 9:24). The Feast of Purim is celebrated in remembrance of Queen Esther’s great victory and the survival of the Jewish race. It’s held on the 14th and 15th of Adar, the twelfth month of the Jewish Calendar which usually falls in March.

Yeshua and Purim

Did Yeshua celebrate Purim? John chapter 5 states Yeshua was in Jerusalem for an unnamed feast! Scholars have naturally questioned which feast this was. Some have rejected the idea that this was Purim because it's considered a "minor" feast and not one of the shelosh regalim (שלוש רגלים) three pilgrimage festivals. However, we know Yeshua celebrated Hanukah (John 10:22) which is also a "minor" feast!  According to Lambert Dolphin's research on this question, chronologically the only feast that John could be referring to is Purim, since it's said to have fallen on Shabbat (see John 5:9) and the only feast that occurred on Shabbat between the years of 25-35 BC was in fact Purim 1. So why was it referred to as an unnamed feast? Perhaps the Spirit of God intentionally left out the name of the feast because the Name of the LORD was likewise deliberately left out of the Book of Esther (see below).

(שלוש רגלים)

Did Yeshua (Jesus) celebrate Purim?  It is written in John chapter 5 that He was in Jerusalem for an unnamed feast, but scholars have questioned which feast this was. Some have rejected the idea that this was Purim because it is considered a "minor" feast and not one of the shelosh regalim (three pilgrimage festivals). However, we know that Jesus celebrated Chanukah (John 10:22) which is also another "minor" feast, so a priori that is not a worthy objection.  According to Lambert Dolphin's research on this question, chronologically the only feast that John could be referring to is Purim, since it is said to have fallen on Shabbat (John 5:9), but the only feast that occurred on Shabbat between the years of 25-35 CE was in fact Purim (in the year 28 CE). But why was it referred to as an unnamed feast? Perhaps the Spirit of God intentionally left out the name of the feast because the Name of the LORD was likewise deliberately left out of the Book of Esther.

Yom Kippur

There is also another Jewish Feast associated with casting lots: Yom Kippur. In one of the most dramatic moments of the Yom Kippur in the Temple, the Kohen Gadol (High Priest) stood between two goats and cast lots to determine which should be offered to God and which should carry off the sins of Israel to the desert (Scapegoat).

According to sages, ...

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... any day that is marked by special deliverance by the LORD can be called a Purim. In fact, Yom Kippur2 is also known as Yom Kippurim in the Tanakh, which can be read as Yom Ke-Purim, a day like Purim. Therefore, the day on which Yeshua sacrificed Himself on the cross is the greatest Purim of all, since through this we are eternally delivered from the hands of our enemies. Hallelujah!

Whist we should rejoice over the deliverance of the Lord in times past, Purim has a prophetic dimension that yet is to be fulfilled in acharit hayamim3.

The Midrash (מדרש), an ancient commentary on the Hebrew Scriptures, says that Purim, unlike many of the other holidays, will be celebrated even after the final redemption after the End of Days. This is because the story of Purim—God’s Covenantal faithfulness and defence of His people will be magnified in the deliverance that leads to the establishment of the Messianic Kingdom upon the earth. Indeed, the Second Coming of the Messiah will be regarded as the final fulfilment of Purim!

Vision of the coming Purim

Then I saw Heaven opened, and ... 

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... behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True (נֶאֱמָן וְיָשָׁר), and in righteousness He judges and makes war. His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on His head are many diadems, and He has a Name written that no one knows but Himself (שֵׁם כָּתוּב אֲשֶׁר לא־יָדַע אִישׁ כִּי אִם־הוּא לְבַדּוֹ). He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the Name by which He is called is 'the Word of God' (דְּבַר הָאֱלהִים). And the armies of Heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following Him on white horses. From His mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and He will rule them with a rod of iron. And He will tread the winepress of the fierce fury of the wrath of God, the Ruler over All, the Lord God Almighty (יְהוָה אֱלהֵי צְבָאוֹת). On His robe and on His thigh He has a Name written, the King of kings (מֶלֶךְ הַמְּלָכִים) and the Lord of lords (אֲדנֵי הָאֲדנִים). And with the breath of His lips He will slay the wicked. (Revelation 19:11-16)

Here is a vision of that coming Purim:
 
Then I saw Heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True (נֶאֱמָן וְיָשָׁר), and in righteousness He judges and makes war. His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on His head are many diadems, and He has a Name written that no one knows but Himself (שֵׁם כָּתוּב אֲשֶׁר לא־יָדַע אִישׁ כִּי אִם־הוּא לְבַדּוֹ). He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the Name by which He is called is 'the Word of God' (דְּבַר הָאֱלהִים). And the armies of Heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following Him on white horses. From His mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and He will rule them with a rod of iron. And He will tread the winepress of the fierce fury of the wrath of God, the Ruler over All, the Lord God Almighty (יְהוָה אֱלהֵי צְבָאוֹת). On His robe and on His thigh He has a Name written, the King of kings (מֶלֶךְ הַמְּלָכִים) and the Lord of lords (אֲדנֵי הָאֲדנִים). And with the breath of His lips He will slay the wicked. (Revelation 19:11-16)

According to sages, any day that is marked by special deliverance by the LORD can be called a "Purim." In fact, Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement) is also known as Yom Kippurim in the Tanakh, which can be read as Yom Ke-Purim, a "day like Purim." Thus the day on which Yeshua sacrificed Himself on the cross is the greatest Purim of all, since through this we are eternally delivered from the hands of our enemies.

Purim Story

Queen Vashti, the wife of King Ahasuerus4 refused to parade before her husband's drunken friends at a royal banquet, so he divorced her. He then sought a new queen who was to be the most beautiful woman in the land. A young Jewish orphan, Esther, was chosen. She kept her Jewish identity secret. Her cousin Mordecai, a servant of the king, overheard a plot and warned his master through Esther.

Mordecai offended a high court official called Haman (chief minister and adviser to King Ahasuerus) who decided to kill not only Mordecai but all the Jews in the Persian empire (the first recorded pogrom against the Jews). 

Esther turned things around when she pleaded with the king at two banquets she gave, and Haman was horribly punished, being hanged on the very gallows he had built for Mordecai.

Letters were sent throughout the kingdom repealing the decree and the Jewish people in Persia were saved. There was great rejoicing, and the annual festival of Purim was celebrated to commemorate the courage of Esther and the deliverance of the Jews.

Megillah (Scroll)

The book of Esther is known as the Megillah, which means scroll. Although there are 5 books of Jewish Scripture that can be called Megillahs — Esther, Ruth, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, and Lamentations. The Book of Esther is the one people usually mean when they speak of the Megillah. It's unusual in that it is the only book of the Bible that does not contain the name of God. This has been traditionally explained as connected to the idea of hester panim, the hidden face of God.

Much is made over the fact that the book of Esther is the only book of the Tanakh that does not explicitly mention the Name of God. However, the idea of God's sovereignty and hashgachah5 is clearly implied throughout. In light of this nes nistar, or "hidden miracle" of the Jew's deliverance, Esther and Mordecai ordained that Purim should be observed as a "day of feasting and merrymaking" and of sending gifts to the poor (Esther 9:22, Esther 9:28). 

Mordecai makes a vague reference to the fact that the Jews will be saved by someone else, if not by Esther, but that is the closest the book comes to mentioning God. Thus, one important message to be gained from the story is that God often works in ways that are not apparent. 

Purim is so named because Haman cast lots (purim) to determine the day on which to destroy the Jews.  


The book of Esther is known as the Megillah, which means scroll. Although there are 5 books of Jewish Scripture that can be called Megillahs - Esther, Ruth, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, and Lamentations - The Book of Esther is the one people usually mean when they speak of the Megillah. It is unusual in that it is the only book of the Bible that does not contain the name of God. This has been traditionally explained as connected to the idea of hester panim, the hidden face of God. 

The book of Esther includes virtually no reference to God. Mordecai makes a vague reference to the fact that the Jews will be saved by someone else, if not by Esther, but that is the closest the book comes to mentioning God. Thus, one important message to be gained from the story is that God often works in ways that are not apparent.
Queen Vashti, the wife of King Ahasuerus (pronounced Achashverosh}, also known as Xerxes was the son of King Darius) refused to parade before her husband's drunken friends at a royal banquet, so he divorced her. He then sought a new queen who was to be the most beautiful woman in the land. A young Jewish orphan, Esther, was chosen. She kept her Jewish identity secret. Her cousin Mordecai, a servant of the king, overheard a plot and warned his master through Esther.

Mordecai offended a high court official called Haman (chief minister and adviser to King Ahasuerus) who decided to kill not only Mordecai but all the Jews in the Persian empire (the first recorded pogrom against the Jews). 

Esther turned things around when she pleaded with the king at two banquets she gave, and Haman was horribly punished, being hanged on the very gallows he had built for Mordecai.

Letters were sent throughout the kingdom repealing the decree and the Jewish people in Persia were saved. There was great rejoicing, and the annual festival of Purim was celebrated to commemorate the courage of Esther and the deliverance of the Jews.

Purim (pronounced ‘poo - ream’, the emphasis being on the second syllable, also known as The Feast of Lots, is a celebration of the deliverance of the Jewish people in Persia at the hand of a Jewish heroine, Queen Esther, also known as Hadassah. 

Esther was her Persian name and Hadassah her Jewish name. She was from the tribe of Benjamin and grew up as an exile in Persia as her family did not avail themselves of the permission granted by Cyrus for the exiles to return to Jerusalem. She lived with her cousin Mordecai after her parents died. He had a position in the household of the Persian king at Susa (Shushan) in the palace.

Purim, means ‘lots’ in ancient Persian and carries an ironic hidden message because Haman, the story’s villain and enemy of the Jews, plotted to eradicate them by casting lots to choose the date for the massacre (Esther 3:7, 9:24). This Feast of Purim is celebrated in remembrance of Queen Esther’s great victory and the survival of the Jewish race. It’s held on the 14th and 15th of Adar, the twelfth month of the Jewish Calendar which usually falls in March.

There is also another Jewish Feast associated with casting lots: Yom Kippur. In one of the most dramatic moments of the Yom Kippur in the Temple, the Kohen Gadol (High Priest) stood between two goats and cast lots to determine which should be offered to God and which should carry off the sins of Israel to the desert (Scapegoat).

Purim Celebrations today

Today Purim is a happy festival with an almost carnival atmosphere. It is a time to remember that "in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose" (Romans 8:28).

Grogger

Celebrations are especially fun and noisy during Purim. During the retelling of the Purim story every time the villain Haman gets a mention, everyone present boos, hisses, stamps their feet and uses noisemakers similar to a football rattle 6 as well as using cymbals. This age-old practice accords with the injunction to ‘blot out the memory of Amalek’ (Deuteronomy 25:19), who is said to have been Haman's ancestor (Esther 3:1) his name indicates, Haman was a descendant of Agag, the king of the Amalekites. Every time Mordecai is mention the place erupts with cheers and whistles.

The giving gifts or making donations to the poor, called matanot l’evyonim is a tradition. As is performing the Purim story in a humorous way.

The giving gifts or making donations to the poor, called matanot l’evyonim is a tradition. As is performing the Purim story in a humorous way.

As with other Jewish Holy days, there is traditional food with symbolic significance — Hamantaschen Cookies, triangular shaped cookies stuffed with jam or some other sweet filling. Hamantashen is a German/Yiddish word which means either — Haman's pockets or Haman's ears. Kreplach, (Yiddish) is a pastry delicacy with filling of ground meat or chicken. Both of these with their fillings hidden inside, allude to the hidden nature of the Purim miracle.

It's customary to serve a long, braided challah in memory of the rope that was supposed to hang Mordecai but hanged Haman instead.

To remember the somberness of the time, the traditional Jewish community begins with a fast day every year — from sundown to sundown. This also is to recall the time that Mordecai and Esther began a three-day fast as they sought God's guidance (Esther 4:16).

As with other Jewish Holy days, there is traditional food with symbolic significance — Hamantaschen cookies, triangular shaped cookies stuffed with jam or some other sweet filling. Hamantashen is a German/Yiddish word which means either — Haman's pockets or Haman's ears. Kreplach, (Yiddish) is a pastry delicacy with filling of ground meat or chicken. Both of these with their fillings hidden inside, allude to the hidden nature of the Purim miracle.

Hamantaschen Cookies


Since the Biblical text commands that this event is to be remembered with "feasting" (Esther 9:22), this is a key part of the celebration. Mishteh (משׂתה) — Feast: A time of sitting together eating and drinking. The festive meal at Purim is called — Seudah — and takes place during the afternoon of the first day of Purim.