During early March, on the 13th day of the Hebrew month of Adar, the Feast of Purim will be celebrated here in Israel and in all Jewish communities around the world. Though not one of the original Seven Feasts of The Lord that the nation of Israel was commanded to observe in the Torah, Purim is nevertheless a biblical celebration that has its origins in the Book of Esther.
This is a happy and celebratory holiday in Israel which is celebrated by the reciting of the story of Esther in the schools, synagogues and public gathering, sharing festive meals, giving of gifts, and participating in a Purim street parade. Visitors who are here during the days of the Purim celebration will no doubt be delighted at the sight of loud and happy street celebrations and children in colorful costumes.
The readers would remember the biblical story of the miraculous rise of Esther, the Jewish orphan, to the position of Queen of the Persian Empire, and the evil plot of Haman to annihilate the entire Jewish population of the realm. Through prayer, fasting, and a courageous intercession before the King, Esther prevailed, and the day that was selected by lot (PUR) to be the doom and devastation of the Jews, was transformed by royal decree to become a day of victory and celebration. Jewish communities throughout the Empire were empowered by the King's new pronouncement to assemble themselves, mobilize their forces, and take action against their enemies.
In fact, so decisive was the campaign that the Jews of Shushan, the Capital City, requested royal permission to extend their offensive campaign one extra day in order to take full vengeance on their enemies and achieve conclusive victory. Consequently, the Bible says that many of the inhabitants of the Persian Empire joined with the Jews and put their trust in the God of Israel.
At the story's end, Mordechai, Esther's righteous uncle, was promoted to a high position; the Jewish population was spared a massacre; and their enemies suffered a decisive defeat. As it is written, "So they called these days Purim, after the name Pur. Therefore, because of all the words of this letter, what they had seen concerning this matter, and what had happened to them, that these days should be remembered and kept throughout every generation, every family, every province, and every city, that these days of Purim should not fail to be observed among the Jews, and that the memory of them should not perish among their descendants." (Esther 9:26-28).
Esther and Mordechai instituted a national celebration in order to remember and to rejoice in God's deliverance, and these days of the month of Adar, instead of being days of mourning and sorrow, have become days of joy and celebration for the Jewish people.
Who is the real "hero" of this story?
Young Queen Esther surely stands out with her purity, courage and tenacious faith. Mordechai, her righteous uncle, will always be remembered for his uncompromising fear of God, devotion and faithfulness. But the real WONDER of the story is not mentioned by name in the Book of Esther even once, though He is behind all these miraculous events. Who is this Hero? He is the One who conceals Himself behind the earnest prayers of His people and the courageous devotion of His servants. He is the God of Israel who never slumbers nor sleeps. He is the Rock of our Salvation and our hope in times of trouble.
May this celebration of Purim grant all of us a timely reminder that the God of Israel is ALWAYS in charge, EVER watching human events, and ETERNALLY FAITHFUL to His promises and purposes. We wish a happy and a blessed Purim to all our friends worldwide from Jerusalem.
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