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Esther 3:13 New International Version
13 Dispatches were sent by couriers to all the king’s provinces with the order to destroy, kill and annihilate all the Jews—young and old, women and children—on a single day, the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, the month of Adar, and to plunder their goods.
The Jewish Feast Of Purim begins on March 23 at sundown (Wednesday) and lasts until March 24 at sundown (Thursday). The feast commemorates the salvation of the Jewish people in ancient Persia (present day Iran) from Haman’s plot to kill and annihilate all Jews, young and old, infants and women, in a single day. This occurred in the days of Queen Esther of Persia in 445 B.C. Esther was a Jewess whose Hebrew name was Hadassah, Esther 2:7, and was given the Persian name of Esther. Read Esther 4:1-17 and consider God’s hand in the protection of the Persian Jews during the reign of Queen Esther. See Esther 14:4, Deuteronomy 7:6, and Psalm 122:6 for a view of God’s special love for the people of Israel. Consider the importance of the uncle of Esther, whose name was Mordecai (Esther Chapter 3). It is also important to know that it was because of the dispersion of the Jews from Judah, from 597 BC through 586 BC, that Jews became inhabitants of Persia during the time of Esther (2 Kings 24-25; 2 Chronicles 36). Another matter of significance is that the Name Of God is not found anywhere in the Book of Esther, but His presence there can not be denied. The key verse of the Book of Esther is Esther 4:14.
Esther 4:14 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
14 For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place and you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not attained royalty for such a time as this?”
Deuteronomy 7:6 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
6 For you are a holy people to the Lord your God; the Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for His own possession out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth.
Psalm 122:6 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
6 Pray for the peace of Jerusalem:
“May they prosper who love you.
Esther 3:1-15 New International Version
Haman’s Plot to Destroy the Jews
1 After these events, King Xerxes honored Haman son of Hammedatha, the Agagite, elevating him and giving him a seat of honor higher than that of all the other nobles. 2 All the royal officials at the king’s gate knelt down and paid honor to Haman, for the king had commanded this concerning him. But Mordecai would not kneel down or pay him honor.
3 Then the royal officials at the king’s gate asked Mordecai, “Why do you disobey the king’s command?” 4 Day after day they spoke to him but he refused to comply. Therefore they told Haman about it to see whether Mordecai’s behavior would be tolerated, for he had told them he was a Jew.
5 When Haman saw that Mordecai would not kneel down or pay him honor, he was enraged. 6 Yet having learned who Mordecai’s people were, he scorned the idea of killing only Mordecai. Instead Haman looked for a way to destroy all Mordecai’s people, the Jews, throughout the whole kingdom of Xerxes.
7 In the twelfth year of King Xerxes, in the first month, the month of Nisan, the pur (that is, the lot) was cast in the presence of Haman to select a day and month. And the lot fell on the twelfth month, the month of Adar.
8 Then Haman said to King Xerxes, “There is a certain people dispersed among the peoples in all the provinces of your kingdom who keep themselves separate. Their customs are different from those of all other people, and they do not obey the king’s laws; it is not in the king’s best interest to tolerate them. 9 If it pleases the king, let a decree be issued to destroy them, and I will give ten thousand talents of silver to the king’s administrators for the royal treasury.”
10 So the king took his signet ring from his finger and gave it to Haman son of Hammedatha, the Agagite, the enemy of the Jews. 11 “Keep the money,” the king said to Haman, “and do with the people as you please.”
12 Then on the thirteenth day of the first month the royal secretaries were summoned. They wrote out in the script of each province and in the language of each people all Haman’s orders to the king’s satraps, the governors of the various provinces and the nobles of the various peoples. These were written in the name of King Xerxes himself and sealed with his own ring. 13 Dispatches were sent by couriers to all the king’s provinces with the order to destroy, kill and annihilate all the Jews—young and old, women and children—on a single day, the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, the month of Adar, and to plunder their goods.14 A copy of the text of the edict was to be issued as law in every province and made known to the people of every nationality so they would be ready for that day.
15 The couriers went out, spurred on by the king’s command, and the edict was issued in the citadel of Susa. The king and Haman sat down to drink, but the city of Susa was bewildered.
Consider the following information that is provided by Chabad.org, which is a Jewish site. Click onto the link to see images.
The jolly festival of Purim is celebrated every year on the 14th of the Hebrew month of Adar (late winter/early spring). It commemorates the salvation of the Jewish people in ancient Persia from Haman’s plot “to destroy, kill and annihilate all the Jews, young and old, infants and women, in a single day,” as recorded in the Megillah (book of Esther).
The Story in a Nutshell
The Persian Empire of the 4th century BCE extended over 127 lands, and all the Jews were its subjects. When King Ahasuerus had his wife, QueenVashti, executed for failing to follow his orders, he arranged a beauty pageant to find a new queen. A Jewish girl, Esther, found favor in his eyes and became the new queen, though she refused to divulge her nationality.
Meanwhile, the Jew-hating Haman was appointed prime minister of the empire. Mordechai, the leader of the Jews (and Esther’s cousin), defied the king’s orders and refused to bow to Haman. Haman was incensed, and he convinced the king to issue a decree ordering the extermination of all the Jews on the 13th of Adar, a date chosen by a lottery Haman made.
Mordechai galvanized all the Jews, convincing them to repent, fast and pray to G‑d. Meanwhile, Esther asked the king and Haman to join her for a feast. At a subsequent feast, Esther revealed to the king her Jewish identity. Haman was hanged, Mordechai was appointed prime minister in his stead, and a new decree was issued, granting the Jews the right to defend themselves against their enemies.
On the 13th of Adar, the Jews mobilized and killed many of their enemies. On the 14th of Adar, they rested and celebrated. In the capital city of Shushan, they took one more day to finish the job.
Read the complete story of Purim.
Why Is It Called Purim?
Purim means “lots” in ancient Persian. The holiday was thus named since Haman had thrown lots to determine when he would carry out his diabolical scheme. You can pronounce this name many ways. In Eastern tradition, it is called poo-REEM. Among Westerners, it is often called PUH-rim. Some Central-European communities even call it PEE-rim. (WARNING: Calling this holiday PYOO-rim—as English speakers are sometimes wont to do—is a surefire newbie cover-blower.)
Reading of the Megillah (book of Esther), which recounts the story of the Purim miracle. This is done once on the eve of Purim and then again on the following day.
Giving money gifts to at least two poor people.
Sending gifts of two kinds of food to at least one person.
A festive Purim feast, which often includes wine or other intoxicating beverages.
Learn more about the four Purim mitzvahs here.
There is a spirit of revelry and fun on Purim that is unparalleled on the Jewish calendar. If there were ever a day to “let loose” and just be Jewish, this is it!Read why here.
It is also customary for children (and adults, if they desire) to dress up in costumes. Read why here.
A traditional Purim food is hamantaschen (or oznay Haman), three-cornered pastries bursting with poppy seeds or another sweet filling. Read why here.
On the day before Purim (or on the Thursday before, when Purim is on Sunday), it is customary to fast, commemorating Esther’s fasting and praying to G‑d that He save His people. Read more here.
When to Celebrate
One of the unique aspects of Purim is the diverse timing for its celebration.
● Common Custom: Jews all over the world celebrate Purim on Adar 14, the day when our ancestors rested from the war against their enemies.
● Walled Cities: Since the Jews of Shushan rested one day later, their Purim was deferred to the 15th. This was extended to include any city that was surrounded by walls in the days of Joshua, notably Jerusalem.
● Small Towns: In ancient times, villagers only banded together with fellow Jews in the larger towns on Mondays and Thursdays, which were market days. Thus, the sages decreed that they should read the Megillah on the market day preceding 14 Adar. This custom is no longer practiced.
Read more about the days of Purim here.
Note that on Jewish leap years, there are actually two months called Adar, Adar I and Adar II. Purim is celebrated in the second Adar, but 14 Adar I is still a happy day, referred to as Purim Katan (Small Purim).
The Significance of Purim
In addition to the miracle of Jewish survival despite the efforts of our enemies, Purim celebrates G‑d’s intimate involvement in every aspect of this world. Even though there were no overt miracles recorded in the Megillah—indeed, His name is not even mentioned once—G‑d was actively “pulling the strings” to care for His nation.
Additionally, Haman’s edict catalyzed a spiritual revival among the Jews. In a sense, this was even more significant than the Covenant at Sinai—an overwhelming spiritual experience that compelled the Jews to accept the Torah—since it occurred of their own volition, even as they were scattered among the Persian people and immersed in their culture. It was in the merit of this spiritual reawakening that G‑d orchestrated their salvation.