Purim: What is it and is it in the Bible?
Purim: The Beginnings…
Who am I that the King should choose me? Will I be a good queen? A good wife? Will he love me? Will I be able to stand where Queen Vashti once stood? What if he doesn’t find pleasure in me, will he dismiss me as he did Queen Vashti? What of my cousin? How do I conceal that I am a Jew? Why should I conceal that I’m a Jew? I have so many questions, but I know that they will be made clear to me in the days to come… “Yes. I am ready,” meekly said Hadassah to Hegai, the King’s chief eunuch in charge of the women.
“Please, kneel down,” said Hegai. As Hadassah knelt down, King Ahasuerus placed the queen’s crown on her head. “Will she love me? Will I be a good king to her? What if she is like Queen Vashti? Does she know how beautiful she is? I don’t believe so. Where did she come from? Who is this woman I now call my queen? Does she know that I love her more than all others? (Esther 2:17) He placed the crown on her head and smiled.
“Arise, Queen Esther,” said her husband, King Ahasuerus, to the newly crowned queen of over 127 provinces, from India to Ethiopia. As she arose, the banquet hall erupted in great cheer for the King and his new Queen, Esther. Little did all present realize that the real drama was yet to unfold.
What begins as the drama of the old queen leaving, the entry of a new queen and the unfolding of what could be a great love story, we find the plot twists, only this is not a fiction story, but the true account of a courageous woman who lived a long time ago. We find this young, but brave woman comes face-to-face with one of the most wicked plots to face her people up to this point.
Haman: Bow Down
Haman is the antagonist in this story and he’s not afraid to flex his pride for all to see. He gets his pride hurt when a particular Jew, by the name of Mordecai, refuse to bow down and pay this prince his “due” respect. (Esther 3:2-5) This guy decides that this offense is so great that not only Mordecai needs to die, but all Jews. Wait. What?! Yeah, this guy has a serious ego issue and was not afraid to show it. He wants these people to die so badly that he’s willing to pay out of his own pocket to get it down. Sadly, the king agrees under the false impression that the Jews are against him. The king gave his signet ring to Haman, which gave Haman the authority to destroy the Jews. A decree for their destruction is written up and dispersed throughout his provinces. (Esther 3:6-15)
The decree goes out for their destruction in the first month of the Jewish calendar, the month of Nisan and will be executed in the last month of their calendar, the month of Adar. (Esther 3:7)
Purim: Death Plot Unfolds and Unravels
Haman had this great plan for the destruction of the Jews. Mordecai, remember him? Haman sure did. Anyway, he finds out about this plot to destroy the Jewish people and gets word back to Queen Esther, his cousin, who he raised as his own daughter (Esther 2:7). Queen Esther is not sure what she can do about it. Mordecai had plead with Esther to go before the king and see if she could find favor with her husband for her people. The queen was in a very bad situation. In that time, no one was allowed to come before the king, unless he called for them. If they did come without being summoned, they would be put to death…unless he held out his golden scepter to pardon them. At the time she got this news, she had not been summoned into his presence for thirty days. She would be putting her life at risk to go before him now.
Mordecai reminds Esther that she too was a Jew and this decree included her as well. So, in essences, her life was on the line either way, whether she acted on this new information or not. The words that follow are repeated among believers: “And who knows whether you have not attained royalty for such a time as this?” Or some translations say it this way, “And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14) Meaning, was she brought into her current position for this very purpose?
Esther became resolved to help. She fasted for three days and asked her people to join her and her last words spoken before she went before the king, “And thus I will go in to the king, which is not according to the law; and if I perish, I perish.” (Esther 4:16) What a brave woman!
In the end, Haman’s plot is made known to the king and he is ultimately put to death, along with his sons. There remained one problem. The decree. See, in that time, once a decree was issued by the king, it was not reversible, not even by the king himself. The only thing that could be done was to write another decree to revoke the previous one. This new one allowed the Jews to defend themselves as the first decree unfolded.
Purim, what is it?
This is a festival that celebrates the victory the Jews had over a particular adversary. Pur, means “lots” as lots were casted for Haman to determine which day to put the Jewish people to death. This is one of the most joyous celebration on the Jewish calendar. They celebrate by reading the Scroll of Esther or also called the Megillah (pronounced muh-gil-uh or muh-gee-lah). As the scroll is being read, they will have instruments of noise or stomp their feet to drown out or blot out the name of Haman. They will wear costumes and give gifts. The gifts are food to each other and food or money to the poor.
Purim: Where is it in the Bible?
Esther 9:20-32 shares with us that Mordecai recorded these events and Queen Esther sent out a second letter about Purim and the importance to remember it. Though it is not considered one of God’s seven feasts and is one of the lesser feasts, it is still celebrated to this day, joyfully, for God’s hand moving once again to save, prosper and deliver His people.
Purim: Where is God?
One last, but very important, question you may have when reading the Book of Esther is, “Where is God and why is He not mentioned anywhere in the Book of Esther?” Great question and it was one of my questions too. If we look back in our own lives, we can see, just like in the days of Esther, that though we don’t always see God, though He doesn’t always make Himself known to us, we can always look back and know that we could not have survive, prospered and advanced in life without Him there. Some have interpreted the absence of God’s name as the absence of God Himself, but I personally cannot read this precious Book of Esther and ever come to that same conclusion. Despite all that was against the Jewish people and Queen Esther herself, God allowed them to prevail and defeat their enemies. We know that God is always at work in our lives and this Book can give us hope to know that even when we don’t “see” God or “hear” God, we can believe and know with absolute certainty, He is with us every step of the way and that no matter what comes against us, He will deliver us.
Purim: The Challenge
I have a fun challenge for anyone that would like to join Bruce and I in observing Purim this weekend. The dates are from the evening of Saturday, March 15th to the evening of Sunday, March 16th. The challenge is to read the entire Book of Esther. That’s it? Yes. You can do more, but that’s up to you. You can Google Purim to find out more about how it’s celebrated, but that’s an individual chose. Our challenge is for us to join many Jewish people, Messianic or not, around the world and remember the story of one bold queen named Esther, one young woman named Hadassah, but mostly, God who was faithful to deliver His people from destruction. I believe it’s okay for us to read this story and remember the events that took place. To celebrate that though enemies come against us, God remains faithful to His people. Haman was not just a wicked man of that day, but of days since and of days to come, but through it all, God will have Mordecais and Esthers to deliver His people, but the ultimate wicked man is yet to come, along with the second coming of the most victorious righteous deliver of all, our Jesus.
Also, there is a movie that I enjoy watching around this time of the year to remember Queen Esther and God’s faithful moving hand. It’s called, “One Night with the King,” and ladies, bring some kleenex!
Have fun reading this great story, cheer for the good guys and gals and I think it’s okay if you even boo a little at the mention of Haman. God’s Word is alive and living on the inside of us, let’s celebrate the joys of His victories through His people. I hope you’ve enjoyed this post. I hope that it brought some insight to this wonderful story of Esther. I know I’ve left out A LOT of details, but that will be the fun of you going on your own journey to discover what God has to say about this event in history. If you found this helpful, please let me know and please share it with others. Thanks!
God bless, Happy Purim and may God continue to deliver you out of the snares of the enemies hands,