The Real Story of Purim from the Book of Esther
- Thomas Klock Harvest Ministries
- 2007 21 Sep
On the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, the month of Adar, the edict commanded by the king was to be carried out. On this day the enemies of the Jews had hoped to overpower them, but now the tables were turned and the Jews got the upper hand over those who hated them. The Jews assembled in their cities in all the provinces of King Xerxes to attack those determined to destroy them. No one could stand against them, because the people of all the other nationalities were afraid of them. And all the nobles of the provinces, the satraps, the governors and the king’s administrators helped the Jews, because fear of Mordecai had seized them. 4 Mordecai was prominent in the palace; his reputation spread throughout the provinces, and he became more and more powerful.
The Jews struck down all their enemies with the sword, killing and destroying them, and they did what they pleased to those who hated them. In the citadel of Susa, the Jews killed and destroyed five hundred men. They also killed Parshandatha, Dalphon, Aspatha, Poratha, Adalia, Aridatha, Parmashta, Arisai, Aridai and Vaizatha, the ten sons of Haman son of Hammedatha, the enemy of the Jews. But they did not lay their hands on the plunder.
The number of those killed in the citadel of Susa was reported to the king that same day. The king said to Queen Esther, “The Jews have killed and destroyed five hundred men and the ten sons of Haman in the citadel of Susa. What have they done in the rest of the king’s provinces? Now what is your petition? It will be given you. What is your request? It will also be granted.”
“If it pleases the king,” Esther answered, “give the Jews in Susa permission to carry out this day’s edict tomorrow also, and let Haman’s ten sons be impaled on poles.”
So the king commanded that this be done. An edict was issued in Susa, and they impaled the ten sons of Haman. The Jews in Susa came together on the fourteenth day of the month of Adar, and they put to death in Susa three hundred men, but they did not lay their hands on the plunder.
Meanwhile, the remainder of the Jews who were in the king’s provinces also assembled to protect themselves and get relief from their enemies. They killed seventy-five thousand of them but did not lay their hands on the plunder. This happened on the thirteenth day of the month of Adar, and on the fourteenth they rested and made it a day of feasting and joy.
The Jews in Susa, however, had assembled on the thirteenth and fourteenth, and then on the fifteenth they rested and made it a day of feasting and joy.
That is why rural Jews—those living in villages—observe the fourteenth of the month of Adar as a day of joy and feasting, a day for giving presents to each other.
Mordecai recorded these events, and he sent letters to all the Jews throughout the provinces of King Xerxes, near and far, to have them celebrate annually the fourteenth and fifteenth days of the month of Adar as the time when the Jews got relief from their enemies, and as the month when their sorrow was turned into joy and their mourning into a day of celebration. He wrote them to observe the days as days of feasting and joy and giving presents of food to one another and gifts to the poor.
So the Jews agreed to continue the celebration they had begun, doing what Mordecai had written to them. For Haman son of Hammedatha, the Agagite, the enemy of all the Jews, had plotted against the Jews to destroy them and had cast the pur (that is, the lot) for their ruin and destruction. But when the plot came to the king’s attention,[a] he issued written orders that the evil scheme Haman had devised against the Jews should come back onto his own head, and that he and his sons should be impaled on poles. (Therefore these days were called Purim, from the word pur.) Because of everything written in this letter and because of what they had seen and what had happened to them, the Jews took it on themselves to establish the custom that they and their descendants and all who join them should without fail observe these two days every year, in the way prescribed and at the time appointed. These days should be remembered and observed in every generation by every family, and in every province and in every city. And these days of Purim should never fail to be celebrated by the Jews—nor should the memory of these days die out among their descendants.
So Queen Esther, daughter of Abihail, along with Mordecai the Jew, wrote with full authority to confirm this second letter concerning Purim. And Mordecai sent letters to all the Jews in the 127 provinces of Xerxes’ kingdom—words of goodwill and assurance - to establish these days of Purim at their designated times, as Mordecai the Jew and Queen Esther had decreed for them, and as they had established for themselves and their descendants in regard to their times of fasting and lamentation. Esther’s decree confirmed these regulations about Purim, and it was written down in the records.
Purim will occur on the following days of the Gregorian calendar:
Jewish Year 5781: sunset March 9 - nightfall March 10, 2020
Jewish Year 5782: sunset February 25 - nightfall February 26, 2021
Jewish Year 5783: sunset March 15 - nightfall March 17, 2022
Jewish Year 5784: sunset March 6 - nightfall March 7, 2023
Jewish Year 5785: sunset March 21 - nightfall March 22, 2024
On both days of the feast the modern Jews read over the Megillah, or Book of Esther, in their synagogues. The copy read must not be printed, but written on vellum in the form of a roll; and the names of the ten sons of Haman are written on it in a special manner, being ranged, they say, like so many bodies on a gibbet. The reader must pronounce all these names in one breath. Whenever Haman's name is pronounced, they make a terrible noise in the synagogue. Some drum with their feet on the floor, and the boys have mallets with which they knock and make a noise. They prepare themselves for their carnival by a previous fast, which should continue three days, in imitation of Esther’s; but they have mostly reduced it to one day (Yenning’s ‘Jewish Antiquities’. From Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown Commentary, Electronic Database. Copyright ©1997 by Biblesoft.)
As soon as the stars appear the festival commences, candles are lighted, and all the Jews go to the synagogue, where, after the evening service, the benediction is pronounced, and the book of Esther is read by the prelector. As often as the name of Haman is mentioned in the reading, the congregation stamps on the floor, saying, “Let his name be blotted out. The name of the wicked shall rot!” while the children shake rattles. After the reading the congregation exclaims, “Cursed be Haman; blessed be Mordecai!” etc.; the benediction is said, and all go home and partake of milk and eggs. On the 14th, in the morning, the people go to the synagogue; several prayers are inserted into the regular ritual; Exodus 17:8-16 is read as the lesson from the law, and Esther, as on the previous evening. The rest of the festival is given up to rejoicing, exchanging of presents, games, etc. Rejoicing continues on the 15th, and the festival terminates on the evening of this day. (from The New Unger's Bible Dictionary. Originally published by Moody Press of Chicago, Illinois. ©1988.)
When the stars appear at the beginning of the 14th candles are lighted in joy, and the people assemble in the synagogue. Then the megillah “roll” of Esther is read through histrionically. On Haman's name being mentioned the congregation exclaim, “let his name be blotted out!” His sons’ names are read in one enunciation to mark they were all hanged at once. At the close of reading the megallah all cry out, “cursed be Haman, blessed be Mordecai; cursed be Zeresh (Haman’s wife), blessed be Esther; cursed be all idolaters, blessed be all Israelites, and blessed be Harbonah who hanged Haman!” The repast at home is mainly milk and eggs. At morning service Exodus 17:8-16, the doom of Amalek the people of Agag (1 Samuel 15:8), Haman's ancestor (Esther 3:1), is read. Saturnalian-like drinking and acting, the men assuming women’s attire (the Purim suspending the prohibition, Deuteronomy 22:5), and offerings for the poor, characterize the feast (Esther 9:17-32). The feast began among the Jews of their own accord; Mordecai wrote confirming it, and Esther joined with him in “writing with all authority to confirm this second letter of Purlin.” (See JESUS CHRIST on “the feast of the Jews,” John 5:1, not probably Purim (which the Vaticanus and the Alexandrinus manuscripts reading, “a,” favors), but the Passover (which the Sinaiticus manuscript, “the,” indicates).) (from Fausset's Bible Dictionary, Electronic Database ©1998 by Biblesoft.)
Celebrating Purim Today
There are four mitzvot specific to the holiday of Purim:
- Reading the Megillah (Scroll of Esther)
- Festivity and rejoicing (the Purim meal)
- Sending food to friends (Mishloach Manot)
- Giving gifts to the poor (Matanot La'evyonim)
The Book of Esther is read on Purim night, and again the next day. Every word must be clearly heard. We read it in the synagogue, because the larger the crowd, the greater publicity is given to the miracle of our being saved.
On Purim morning, we bustle around town visiting friends and delivering tasty treats -- Mishloach Manot. Purim is the day we reach out to embrace our fellow Jews -- irrespective of any religious or social differences. After all, Haman did not discriminate amongst us... that's why it is particularly good to give gifts to those who you may have had an argument with, or someone new in the community who needs a new friend.
On Purim, it is also a special mitzvah to give gifts of money to the poor. The Jewish people are one unit -- we can't possibly enjoy the holiday if poor people don't have enough.
Then comes the day's grand finale -- the festive meal. We eat our fill and pamper our bodies -- because it is the Jewish bodies that Haman sought to destroy...We dress up in costumes, to let our defenses down and open up to the deeper reality of ourselves and our world. All our current problems and life’s imperfections blend into good, until they become one unified expression of the Almighty's infinite perfection.
There is truly no other holiday like Purim! (Taken from www.aish.com/holidays/purim)
Purim With Aish.com (www.aish.com/holidays/purim). It has a great one minute video about the implications of Purim for the modern Jewish people, and lots of information on the celebration of the holiday today.
Judaism 101: Purim (www.JewFAQ.org). It contains a lot of interesting information as well as recipes for dishes for the celebration.
A Virtual Purim (www.Chabad.org/holidays/purim). Exactly what it sounds like; lots of fun activities to explore about Purim. Only problem I found was that it wouldn’t let me out of the website!
EverythingJewish.Com (www.everythingjewish.com/Purim). And even more information on this holiday.
Torahtots.Com (www.torahtots.com/holidays/purim). Purim activities, games, coloring for the kids (get it, Torah Tots). I’ll bet you really wanted to color a picture of Haman!!
You can even buy a “Haman Bashing Piñata for Purim” online!! Maybe we Christians can take a lesson from these guys and learn to have fun a little more while honoring God and His Word.
© 2005 by Harvest Christian Fellowship. All rights reserved. Written by Thomas Klock for Men’s Bible Fellowship, 2004-2005.