Purim is an important Jewish holiday which celebrates the time in which the Jews were saved from annihilation while living in ancient Persia. The history behind this event is revealed in the Book of Esther.
The Origin of Purim
Esther was a Jewish woman who lived in Ancient Persia and she was raised by her cousin who was named Mordecai. She was attractive and as a result was chosen by King Ahasuerus, the ruler of Persia at that time, to be placed in his harem. The King fell in love with her and elevated her to the status of queen, but he didn’t realize that she was Jewish as Mordecai had instructed her to keep this information hidden.
Haman was one of the advisors of Ahasuerus and was known for his ego and arrogance. He despised Mordecai as he would not bow before him, so Haman begins conspiring to eliminate the Jews. Haman persuaded the King to exterminate him and Ahasuerus gave him the authorization to do so. Mordecai, in turn, asked Esther to plead with the king to spare the lives of the Jews.
Even as queen, this was risky for Esther as appearing before the king without first being summoned could lead to execution. She decided to do so, fasted for days in preparation, and then went before the king and revealed the plot of Haman, which result in the execution of him and ten of his sons. The Book of Esther is the only Biblical text in which God’s name is not mentioned, and the lesson of the story is that he will often work in ways that are not well understood or which are considered coincidence or the product of good fortune.
What Does Purim Mean?
There are a number of lessons that can be learned from Purim. First, it is a reminder to Jews that in each generation there will be individuals that will emerge to destroy them. However, God will deliver them from the hands of these would-be destroyers.
Purim is observed during Adar, on the fourteenth day, which is typically in March. Adar 13th is the day Haman chose to destroy the Jews, and is also the day when they resisted him. On the following day they commemorated their survival. During leap year Adar occurs in two months and Purim will be observed in the second, a month before Passover is held. Purim will be preceded by a moderate fast, which is a reference to the three days that Esther spent fasting in her preparation to approach the king.