2019 Purim March 20

Remembering the day many years ago, Jehovah God delivered His people from slaughter from the wicked Haman in the days of Queen Esther of Persia.

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At sunset on Wednesday, March 20, we may remember a courageous woman who lived in Persia. She also might have been very beautiful because she managed to win a beauty contest after which she was crowned queen.

Again and again throughout Jewish history we might find people wanting to put Jews in a wrong frame. Therefore it is good to remember how Haman told the king that, because the Jews were different, they had to be suspect. Something which goes around still today.

This week all over the world many look at the allegory describing the life and lot of the Jewish people in an alien and hostile world and remember how the Jewish people were saved from slaughter.

The Shushanite resident named Mordechai (son of Jairus, the son of Shimei, the son of Kish, of the tribe of Benjamin) had a cousin, Esther, who was orphaned as a young girl. Mordechai had raised her as if she was his daughter. Esther was forcibly taken to the king’s harem, to participate in a contest for the most beautiful woman. And the girl who would find favour in the king’s eyes would be the new queen.

Interesting it might be to know that while all the other contestant beautified themselves with perfumes and lotions, Esther did nothing. Though when Esther appeared before the king, he was astonished by her purity and immediately liked her, and Esther became the new Queen of Persia. But as per Mordechai’s directive, Esther refused to divulge her nationality, even to the king.

The prime minister Haman, a descendant of the notoriously anti-Semitic nation of Amalek, as a virulent Jew-hater wanted the king to believe the Jews were plotting to kill him.

The king had issued a decree ordering everyone to bow down whenever Haman appeared. But when Haman walked around with a large idol hanging from a chain around his neck and Mordechai, a proud Jew, refused to bow down, Haman was infuriated. He resolved to take revenge against all the Jews and threw lots to determine the “lucky” day when he would implement his plan. The lot fell on the 13th day of the Hebrew month of Adar.

Haman approached Ahasuerus and offered him 10,000 silver talents in exchange for permission to exterminate the Jews. Haman spoke to king Ahasuerus, saying,

“There is a nation scattered among the nations in all your kingdom, and their laws differ from all the other nations. They disobey the king’s laws. It is not expedient for the king to tolerate them.

Ahasuerus, who was no friend of the Jews either, told Haman,

“Keep the silver, and treat the nation as you will.”

Haman immediately sent proclamations throughout the kingdom of Ahasuerus, to utterly destroy the race of the Jews and to plunder their goods. These declarations, sealed with the royal signet ring, ordered the people to rise up against the Jews and kill them all — men, women and children — on the following 13th of Adar.

Mordechai, who had become aware of the decree, sent a message to Esther, asking her to approach the king and beg him to spare her people. But Esther was aware of the rule that if anyone who entered the king’s presence unsummoned that person would would be put to death unless the king extended to that person his golden scepter and she had only been called to go into the king for thirty days. Herodotus informs us, that ever since the reign of Deioces, king of Media, for the security of the king’s person, it was enacted that no one should be admitted into his presence; but that if any one had business with him, he should transact it through the medium of his ministers.

Mordechai aware that she too could not escape the fate of all the Jews by being in the king’s palace and that the house of her father would be lost.
Esther was willing to approach the king on condition that all the Jews would gather in Shushan to fast for three days and nights. And after this fast, Esther would put her life in her hands and approach the king.

Mordechai complied with Esther’s request. He gathered the Jews of Shushan, especially the children — 22,000 of them — and they fasted, repented and prayed to the Most High Elohim.

After three days of fasting, Esther put on her royal clothing, and stood in the inner court of the king’s house, next to the king’s house. The king sat on his royal throne in the royal house, next to the entrance of the house and when seeing her, she obtained favour in his sight; and the king held out to Esther the golden scepter that was in his hand. So Esther came near, and touched the top of the scepter.

Esther invited the King with Haman to a banquet she prepared. At the banquet of wine, the king  asked her what her petition was and promised that it would be granted to her. He told her

“What is your request? Even to the half of the kingdom it shall be performed.”

Then Ester HaMalkah answered and said, If I have found chen (favor) in thy sight, O HaMelech, and if it is tov to HaMelech, let nafshi (my life) be given me at my she’elah (petition), and my Am at my bakash (request); (4) For we are sold, Ani (I) and Ami (my People), to be made shmad, to be slain, and to be annihilated. But if we had been sold for avadim and shfakhot, I would have held my tongue, since then the tzoros would not have been such as to injure the interests of HaMelech. (5) Then HaMelech Achashverosh answered and said unto Ester HaMalkah, Who is he, and where is he, who dares to presume in his lev to do such? (6) And Ester said, HaTzar (the foe) and the oyev (enemy) is this Haman HaRah (Vile Haman). Then Haman was terrified before HaMelech and HaMalkah. {Esther 7:3-6 OJB}

The adversary Haman could not escape the gallows he had letting be prepared to hang Mordechai.

So they hanged Haman on HaEtz that he had prepared for Mordechai. Then was the wrath of HaMelech pacified [Ps 24:10; Isa 53:11]. {Esther 7:10 OJB}

But Esther was far from satisfied. Haman was dead, but his evil decree was still in effect. According to Persian law, once a king issues a decree it can not be rescinded. But the king gave Mordechai and Esther permission, and they promptly wrote up a decree that countermanded Haman’s edict.  On that day, King Ahasuerus gave the house of Haman, the Jews’ enemy, to Esther the queen. Mordecai came before the king; for Esther had told what he was to her. The king then took off his ring, which he had taken from Haman, and gave it to Mordecai who by Esther was set over the house of Haman.

On the 13th of Adar that year, the Jews throughout the Persian Empire mobilized and killed the enemies who had wanted to kill them. In Shushan, among the dead were Haman’s 10 sons.

Esther asked the king’s permission for the Jews in Shushan to have one more day to destroy their enemy — and the king acceded to her wish. On that day, the 14th of Adar, the Jews worldwide celebrated, and the Jews of Shushan killed more of their enemies, and also hung Haman’s sons. The Jews of Shushan then rested and celebrated on the 15th of Adar.

Mordechai and Esther established a holiday to commemorate these amazing events. Lots were drawn to determine the date.
The first lot drawn was the l5th of Adar and therefore “Purim” is called “The Feast of Lots.”

The Book of Esther differentiates between Jews who lived and fought their enemies for two days within the walled, capital city of Shushan and those who lived in unwalled towns, where only one day was needed to subdue the enemy. The Rabbis determined we should make that same distinction when memorializing the event. Accordingly, if a person lives in a city that has been walled since the days of Joshua (circa 1250 B.C.E.), as Shushan was, Purim is celebrated on the fifteenth of the month of Adar, a day referred to as “Shushan Purim.”
Jews worldwide celebrate on the 14th of Adar, while residents of walled cities, like Shushan, celebrate on the 15th of Adar. This holiday, called “Purim,” is the most joyous holiday on the Jewish calendar.

Many people dress up in costume, following the theme of Purim as a holiday of disguise where nothing is quite as it seems. Synagogues and communities hold plays and festivals specifically for the day. Traditionally a gragger or noisemaker is used during the reading of the Kethuvim Estêr or Megillat Esther, also known as the Book of Esther, every time Haman’s name is said aloud during the megillah reading. Today some people have instituted a new practice of waving a celebratory flag when Esther’s name is recited.

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Preceding

13 Adar the onset of weeks of Feasts of deliverance

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Additional reading

Speaking up and Celebration of Purim

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