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Esther 8-10: Purim

Original Publication Date
April 29, 2019
Updated
Nov 27, 2022 3:46 PM
Tags
EstherChapter StudyPurimFeasts & Holy Days
Bible References
Esther 8-10
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Done
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Table of Contents
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This page was originally posted on my Blogger version of the blog on April 29, 2019 The content below has a few minor tweaks for clarity, and additional references, and some updated information.

Introduction

Purim is Jewish holiday (or feast) that is celebrated on the 14th of Adar, roughly in February or March. The feast of Purim does is not one of the holy feasts commanded by God in the Books of Law, but a feast to commemorate and celebrate the deliverance of the Jews in Persia during Esther's time as queen.[1] Esther 8-10 detail the first celebration of Purim.

Victory

Now that Haman's evil scheme had been fully revealed to the king, something had to be done to save the Jewish people. Laws in Persia were irrevocable and Haman had already declared that all the Jews would be killed on a specific day.[2][3] Since the king cannot change the law, he enacts a counter law. In this, he awards Esther and Mordecai charge over Haman's house. He then gives Mordecai his ring as a seal to create the counter law. As a counter, the Jews are given the right to protect themselves from anyone who attacks that day.

A Modern Example

Imagine for an instant that citizens were not allowed to have guns in the US. One day, the government issues a law that on a specific day, government officials can shoot people from a certain group without consequence—they'll even get paid to do so. We have amendments, so this could easily be changed, but keeping with the times and culture of the Persians, we'll pretend we don't have amendments. When the president realizes how stupid of an idea it is to let such mayhem ensue, the counter law is that the members of that group are allowed to have weapons on that day so that they may protect themselves.

This is essentially what happened in Esther. Did some of the Jews still die? Possibly. Instead of an open fire on the unarmed and helpless, it turned into a battle. With the blessing of God and the ability to protect themselves, the Jews came out victorious.

Why Was the Law Like That?

Many people ask why the king didn't just repeal the first law. From an American point of view, where laws can be repealed or amended, it seems rather odd that the king was powerless to change the law. However, God's law is no different. Malachi 3:6 tells us that God doesn't change, and in Matthew 5:17-18, Jesus tells us His law won't change. The king of any nation should be wise, just, and long suffering. In this, he should be making laws with the utmost care. A king who could flip back and forth between laws, making them and repealing them whenever he saw fit, would be difficult to follow. Not only would citizens' have trouble keeping up with the law, but they wouldn't take his laws seriously.[4]

Conversion

Esther 8:17 tells us that many of the Persians became Jews after witnessing this victory. They saw that God favored the Jews and wanted to join the winning team.

I find this revelation particularly interesting because I have read suggestions from some, that the Jews who stayed behind were "less faithful" to God. The absence of God's name in the text is often used to support this position. However, you can't just become another race (unless you're Rachel Dolezal). The people of Persia weren’t changing the texture of their hair, the color of their eyes, or the shade of their skin. What they changed was their culture, their customs, and their beliefs. They became Jewish by faith, not by blood. In order for this to occur, the Jews must have still been keeping at least some of the law. If the Jews behaved identically to the Persians, there would be no reason for people to become Jewish. The converted Persians must have taken up Jewish customs to be included in the fold, and they must have learned these customs from the Jews still living in the city.

When the Day Comes

When the thirteenth of Adar—the day appointed by Haman for the destruction of the Jews—comes, there is great destruction. Haman sought to hurt the Jews but the edict brought suffering to everyone! Those who had been riled up by Haman's wicked scheme did not back down simply because Haman had been hanged. There was an actual battle for life that day. 500 men in the palace plus another 75,000 men in the city were killed. In addition Haman's 10 sons were executed. When you wish harm on people, it has a tendency to come back on you.

The next day is when the feasting and celebrating began. I imagine even those who were not Jewish celebrated the end of the commotion. Mordecai establishes this as a holiday to be kept yearly, and Esther makes the decree. Once again, it is interesting that God is not mentioned. Mordecai was neither a prophet nor a priest, and yet he called into practice a holiday that is still celebrated today... God speaks to those who listen and uses us to carry out His will regardless of our place in the world.

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Many people question the legitimacy of Esther due to the fact that God is not mentioned in the book. However there are many articles explaining this phenomenon such as the one on Bible Project. There are also some who believe Yeshua celebrated Purim as the unnamed feast in John 5:1.[5]

References and Footnotes

  1. "What is Purim?". Chabad.org; visited April 2017
  2. "Law of the Medes and the Persians". Dictonary.com; visited April 2017
  3. "Law of the Medes and the Persians". Oxford Dictionaries; visited April 2017
  4. "The Inconvenient Law of the Medes and Persians". Layman's Bible. November 2015
  5. Jesus Celebrated Purim!”. Bibloscope; visited November 2022

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