Purim ~ Queen Esther A Story of Survival

Happy Purim
Happy Purim | Source
Happy Purim on Hubpages
Happy Purim on Hubpages

When is Purim in 2011

The holiday of Purim falls on the Hebrew calendar date of Adar 14. Here are the coinciding secular dates for the upcoming years:

2011: March 19-20

2012: March 7-8

2013: February 23-24

2014: March 15-16

2015: March 4-5

Note: The Jewish calendar date begins at sundown of the night beforehand. Thus holiday observances begin at sunset of the first secular date listed (with the Purim Night Megillah reading taking place that evening), and the holiday concludes at nightfall the following day.

(Source: Chabad.com)

Scroll of Esther

Scroll Of Esther - Bohemia, Czech Republic, 1825
Scroll Of Esther - Bohemia, Czech Republic, 1825

What is Purim

Purim is one of the happiest holidays of the Jewish year. The day itself is a day of joy. Purim occurs on the 14th of Adar. The name Adar is of Assyrian-Babylonian origin, and its zodiacal sign is Pisces. (In certain walled cities like Jerusalem, "Shushan Purim" is celebrated on the 15th of Adar.)

The Megillot

There are 5 books in the Bible referred to as megillot (scrolls): Song of Songs, Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, and Esther. The story of Purim is told in the Bible in the Book of Esther. Set in Persia 2,400 years ago, during the reign of King Ahasuerus, the "Megillah" recounts how a seemingly unrelated series of events spun together to save the Jewish people from annihilation. Megillah means scroll. The name Megillat Esther (Scroll of Esther) actually mean "revealing the hidden." Unlike every other book in the Bible, Megillat Esther never mentions God's name even once.

The story of Purim, through Megillat Esther, teaches us challenges in life life work out for the best, because what appears as obstacles are really hidden opportunities to develop ourselves for the better.


Rembrandt, Haman and Ahasuerus at the banquet with Esther,  c1660
Rembrandt, Haman and Ahasuerus at the banquet with Esther, c1660

The King Needs A Queen

When King Achashverosh threw a huge six-month party his wife Queen Vashti refused to follow orders. Incensed the King turns to his advisors to seek a suitable punishment. Some say the advisor was Haman who argued that the queen should be killed for her disobedience. The King takes the advice and the Queen is hanged.

So as time goes on the King intiates a contest among all the eligible girls in his kingdom. One of those was Esther, a Jewish girl. Esther parents had died and so she was raised by her uncle Mordechai. When Esther goes to the palace, Mordechai instructed Esther not to divulge her Jewishness when it was her time to meet the king.

Each day, Mordechai walked by the court and asked after his niece. Esther impressed all who met her, including the King, and so she became his new queen. Meanwhile Mordecai, while sitting near the palace gate overheard a plot to assassinate the king. He immediately told Esther who reported it to the King in the name of Mordecai. This puts Mordecai in a favorable position with the king. All this comes in handy when Haman, the king's top advisor, obtains a decree to have all the Jews destroyed.


Haman, Son of Hammedatha
Haman, Son of Hammedatha

Haman's Final Solution

The chief minister of King Ahasuerus name was Son of Hammedatha;. As his name indicates, Haman was a descendant of Agag, the king of the Amalekites. The nation of Amalek was one of the most ancient and persistent enemies of the Jewish people.

Haman was a man who in his position expected everyone to bow down to him. Mordechai, Esthers uncle refused to bow. And so Haman wanted to punish Mordechai, but that was not enough for Haman wanted to destroy the entire population of Jews. Haman went to the King, bad mouthed the Jews, and convinced the King to go along with his plans.

Haman was an astrologer and so he chose the date for this mass murder by casting lots. In Persian, the word for lot is pur. The plural form is Purim, and there is where the name of this holiday comes from.

The Story of Purim

Queen Esther, Mordechai and Haman
Queen Esther, Mordechai and Haman

DID YOU KNOW

  • The Book of Esther is the only book in the Bible which does not mention God's name.

  • The Book of Esther is unique in that it contains words which appear nowhere else in the Bible. These include:
    Tebet: the tenth Hebrew month
    Kasher: fit
    Patshegen: a copy of the (written) text
    Ahashdarpenim: Persian word for the King's officers
    Pur: Persian word meaning "lot"
    Karpas: Persian word for "cotton

  • All the letters of the Hebrew alphabet are found in the Book of Esther, ch. 3, v. 13.

  • The Hebrew word Mishteh, meaning banquet, occurs 20 times in the Book of Esther (which is equal to the total of ALL the other times it is found in the rest of the Bible).

  • The longest verse in the Bible appears in the Book of Esther. It has 43 words in Hebrew (and approximately 90 words in English). It appears in ch. 8, v. 9.

Queen Esther and Mordechai

When Mordechai found out about Haman's plot he tore his clothes, wore sackcloth and ashes, and walked through the city crying loudly. When Esther heard about this she sent a messenger to discover what was troubling her uncle. Mordechai told all the details of the evil decree and begged for Esther to intercede on behalf.of the Jewish people. Esther agreed and asked Mordechai to ask all the Jews to fast for three days. On the third day she arranges a banquet with the King and invites Haman.

After the dinner Esther asked the King and Haman to return for another banquet the following night. Haman left that consumed with self- importance, but these feelings were turned to anger when he saw Mordechai sitting at the gate of the King's palace. As only Mordecai could do he paid no attention to Haman. This just angered Haman more. And so he devised a plan to set up the gallows for Mordecai.

That night, Esther tells the King about how Mordechai had never been rewarded for saving him from the assassination plot of two servants. At the next banquet Haman,the King asks Haman questions of compensation. At this point, Haman, had all intentions of asking the King's permission to hang Mordechai.Unwittingly this nasty character answered the King's questions as if the King were asking of him not Mordechai. The first question the King asked Haman was, "What should be done for the man the King wishes to reward?" Haman, thought that the King was going to reward him, and so he replied that the honoree should be dressed in royal clothing, ride upon a royal horse. And be led through the city streets by an official proclaiming "This is what is done to the man the King wishes to honor".

It was on this night that Esther reveals that she is Jewish. The King finds out about Hamans plan and so Esther gets the decree reversed, Haman is hanged on the gallows, and Mordechai becomes prime minister.

This allowed Mordecai to him be able to issue edicts permitting the Jews to fight their enemies. On the thirteenth and fourteenth of Adar the Jews won tremendous victories and were saved from the threat of total annihilation.

Mordecai the uncle of Queen Esther
Mordecai the uncle of Queen Esther
mishliach manot
mishliach manot

And So . . .

Ever since, Jewish people all over the world have observed Purim. The day before Purim is a day of fasting, in memory of Esther's fast. The reading of the Megillah is a time that whenever the name of Haman is read, everyone whirls their noisemakers, called gragers in Yiddish, and ra'ashanim in Hebrew, stamps their feet, and makes alot of noise so that his name is drowned out. Kids dress up in costumes and have parades and parties.

There is a Purim custom called "mishliach manot" which means "sending gifts." Baskets are filled with hamantaschen (triangle cookies that represent the triangle hat Haman wore), fruits and candy to share with family and friends.

It is also a time to help others, and especially of distributing food and money to the poor.

hamantaschen for Purim
hamantaschen for Purim
Eat drink and be Merry on Purim
Eat drink and be Merry on Purim

On An Interesting Note

While the events of Chanukah were principally a threat to Jewish spiritual survival, Purim recalls a threat to the physical existence of the Jewish people. Haman attempted to physically destroy every Jewish man, woman and child. The celebration of deliverance from this threat with sending gifts to one another (mishlo'ah manot) signifies that focus on the physical. According to the Talmud a person is required to drink until he can't tell the difference between "cursed be Haman" and "blessed be Mordecai" (note there are many different opinions as to exactly how drunk that is).

For list of dates when Purim will occur on the Gregorian calendar click here.

Comments 34 comments

jimmythejock profile image

jimmythejock 6 years ago from Scotland

What a compelling story Shari and a great read, it is well told and a fascinating look into Jewish history, I have learned a lot from your hub thanks for sharing this.....jimmy


MordechaiZoltan profile image

MordechaiZoltan 6 years ago

Ma nish tana..why is tonight different than all others? oops wrong holiday


wavegirl22 profile image

wavegirl22 6 years ago from New York, NY Author

jimmy - nothing like a good story when the good guys win out in the end ;) glad you stopped by for a little read . .I wish I could send you some of my hamentaschen. . lol they are so good!

Mordechai, Mordechai - seeing that your namesake is one of the stars in this story I would think it was your favorite holiday! Ha . .anyway Passover is next up on the board. . stay tuned and I may even let you do all 4 questions for that one. . .Chag Sameach!


Jai Warren profile image

Jai Warren 6 years ago from Dallas, Deep Ellum, Texas

I've never heard of Purim. It's a compelling story, good triumphs over evil. Thanks Shari, I enjoyed it. Be careful, drinking until you can't tell Haman from Mordecai could be dangerous.


Cagsil profile image

Cagsil 6 years ago from USA or America

Great Hub. That was definitely interesting and fun to read. Very cool. Thank you. :)


wavegirl22 profile image

wavegirl22 6 years ago from New York, NY Author

Jai - best part of the day is when you learn something new ;) As for me I would never mistake Haman for Mordecai . . good thing they wore different hats. Always a good thing when I see you around .. thanks for the visit ;)

Cags - I am flattered that you came for this read. Actually I am so flattered that I am speechless! But one thing is for sure I am so very happy to hear that you found it interesting. Thanks for stopping by!


jill of alltrades profile image

jill of alltrades 6 years ago from Philippines

What a fascinating story! I learned so much here.

Thanks very much for sharing.


dohn121 profile image

dohn121 6 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York

This was both educational and fascinating not to mention entertaining to read. You did a great job on retelling this great tale. Like with some of the other hubbers here, I didn't know about Purim until now. Great job, Shari! Love your new avatar by the way :)


Neil Sperling profile image

Neil Sperling 6 years ago from Port Dover Ontario Canada

I'm glad you stopped by for a second read - inspired me to drop by your hubs too - This was fascinating. Thanks


LizzyBoo profile image

LizzyBoo 6 years ago from Czech Republic

Shari I have red your story and realised that I have actually learn something. I had to read it twice as for the first time I did not remeber anything. Thank you for keeping my brain working


wavegirl22 profile image

wavegirl22 6 years ago from New York, NY Author

jill of alltrades - that is the best . . when someone comes by and tell me they learned something! So glad you came by always nice to see you ;)

dohn - wow. . to hear that from my favorite writer is more than I could have hoped for. You know that when one says it was longer than the whole megillah , it is Esthers story they refer to. . so I am so glad I took this story and made it interesting enough to read. . even better when i can retell a story and someone learns a new thing

xoxox

Neil - fascinating. .I know everytime I read about Esther I am amazed at her courage. Glad I came by you so that you came by me lol!

LizzyMyBoo - did you see the first pic I attached here.. I thought of you when I found it! So happy to hear your brain is up and working today ;)


MordechaiZoltan profile image

MordechaiZoltan 6 years ago

Hi Wavegirl! I always had to do the four questions cuz I was the youngest. Did I ever tell you my stories about living on the kibbutz? You are awesome!


wavegirl22 profile image

wavegirl22 6 years ago from New York, NY Author

Mordecai - Since you know the 4 questions so well maybe you should write the Pesach Hub! Or we can do a joint venture! You take 5 plaques and I'll take the other 5 ;) And I am waiting for your Hub all about the Kibbutz!!!!!


Cris A profile image

Cris A 6 years ago from Manila, Philippines

shari

enjoyed the story and the trivia on the sidebar. it's always fascinating to know of other cultural heritages and traditions.

btw, lurve the avatar! the smiling girl by the shore - very enchanting :D


wavegirl22 profile image

wavegirl22 6 years ago from New York, NY Author

Cris - always so nice to see you around here. You sure know how to make a girl smile ;) I love learning about other cultures and traditions as well . Even better that your enjoyed it! Smiling back at you ;) Big smiles that is:)))))


Cris A profile image

Cris A 6 years ago from Manila, Philippines

Aha! I found it! A song that will forever remind me of you my friend.

I'm not sure if you've heard it but it's by Donna Summer - one of her lesser known slow songs. Enjoy :D

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O-RxrmssTkY


Cris A profile image

Cris A 6 years ago from Manila, Philippines

I think this is a better video of the song :D

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_9e6NJh-Fes


Mystique1957 profile image

Mystique1957 6 years ago from Caracas-Venezuela

Shari Cherie...

What a beautiful story! I didnĀ“t know anything about it! It is fascinating how history and culture develop a very unique viewpoint on life. I enjoyed your story, my dear!

Thumbs up!

warmest regards,love,light and blessings,

Al

XOXOXOX


Faybe Bay profile image

Faybe Bay 6 years ago from Florida

I love this. I never knew all this about Purim.!


wavegirl22 profile image

wavegirl22 6 years ago from New York, NY Author

Cris - how I have missed you! I never did hear that song. . but you can bet that it went directly onto my ipod and you know now that whenever I hear it . it is you I will be thinking about. Thanks so much for it!!!!

Al- so glad you enjoyed this story. Purim is by far my most favorite time of the year. Not only is the story of Esther so uplifting but it also means that Spring is in the air. She is my hero and Spring is my favorite season:) So glad you stopped by for a visit. Always nice to see you here:)

Faybe Bay - best thing they say is to learn a new thing everyday. Glad I had a part in your day!!!


prasetio30 profile image

prasetio30 6 years ago from malang-indonesia

nice information. I never know about purim before. It give me a new knowledge, thank you very much.


wavegirl22 profile image

wavegirl22 6 years ago from New York, NY Author

prasetio30-Its a wonderful time to celebrate a wonderful story. Purim is just about my favorite time of the year. I am so glad you learned about Purim. Glad to have you visit my Hubs:)


anglnwu profile image

anglnwu 6 years ago

Send some hamatashens! I love them, tried making them but since I'm not Jewish (my husband is ), the result was dismal--that was the last time I tried making them. Anyway, good excuse to just buy them. I love this celebration, the gragers, the dress-up and above, celebrating the power of Hashem. Thanks for sharing and Happy Purim!


wavegirl22 profile image

wavegirl22 6 years ago from New York, NY Author

anglnwu - I am going to have to make another batch just for me and you to share. . cause I already ate them all! This is by far my very favorite holiday. Glad you came over for a visit;) Passover next up and unfortunately that holiday isnt known to have the best deserts .. hahah but we get to put all the plagues out;)


anglnwu profile image

anglnwu 6 years ago

Looking forward to the hamatashens! Actually, you should write a hub on making hamatashens--i'll give it another shot.

Wavegirl, i just learned that my hubs, "Use of herbal therapy in chinese medicine," made it to the top 10. If you can find the time, pleases vote for me on the health contest page. THank you so much.


wavegirl22 profile image

wavegirl22 6 years ago from New York, NY Author

anglnwu - actually I did write one on my blog. If you follow the hamatashen link above it takes you there;)

Wow ang -that is so great to hear I am heading right over there and voting for you!! It will be my pleasure to place that vote for you ..


electricsky profile image

electricsky 6 years ago from North Georgia

Happy Purim. Thank you for your hub.


wavegirl22 profile image

wavegirl22 6 years ago from New York, NY Author

electricsky - and a Happy Purim to you . though a bit belated! Better late than never . . right? Glad you stopped by for a visit;)


livelonger profile image

livelonger 6 years ago from San Francisco

Another great Hub. Everyone interested in learning about Jewish holidays - all of which have powerful symbolic value - should read these hubs. Next year I'll have a try at making hamentashen. :)


wavegirl22 profile image

wavegirl22 6 years ago from New York, NY Author

livelonger - thank you so much for your kind words. I love all the traditions of the Jewish Holidays. . and Purim is by far my favorite. must be the hamentashen .. I cant wait to hear about your cookies when you make them next year!!!


almasi profile image

almasi 5 years ago

Thanks, I learnt something new as I didn't there was a fast to commemorate Esther's fast.


Israel 5 years ago

I think the Purim story is the most interesting one even though I love all the Jewish holidays.

I also think there are some lessons to this day yet. The Jewish people must never forget their amazing history.

Thank you Wavegirl for the well written article.

Cheers


ReuVera profile image

ReuVera 4 years ago from USA

Purim is almost here! Hag Purim sameach! Whom are you going to dress in? I will be hamentashen! LOL.


wavegirl22 profile image

wavegirl22 4 years ago from New York, NY Author

Queen Esther of course . . and my belly is going to be plenty full of hamentashen, ,all raspberry of course no prunes for me ;) Chag Sameach my friend!

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