Purim ~ Queen Esther A Story of Survival
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.
Scroll of Esther
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.)
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.
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'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
DID YOU KNOW
Book of Esther is the only book in the Bible which does not mention God's
The Book of Esther
is unique in that it contains words which appear nowhere else in the Bible.
Tebet: the tenth Hebrew month
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 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.
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.
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.
Purim Recipes on Hubpages
- Jewish Holiday Purim. Recipe of Purim cookies (hamantashen or Haman's ears).
All holidays of a Jewish calendar are connected with Bible. Some of them are strictly religious, others are less. As for our family, some holidays we do celebrate traditionally, some we don't. Purim is our...
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