Greetings for His glory on Shushan PURIM,
Well, even though He is not mentioned once in the book of Esther, none the less it IS all about God. And I realized from an interesting comment that not everyone knows about Purim, a subject I have been writing about for years. Some of you are new and that is a joy.
For Jews, Esther is part of our history book and reminds us of the days during dispersion. And by comparison, it reminds us ALSO to rejoice that we are now free in our homeland, the land of promise.
It seems to me that EVERYTHING that The Lord does, He does to cause us to REMEMBER Who He is, what He has done for us, and what He requires of us. We have proven that we don’t have very long memories and our commitments are not always as deep as we wish, right?
Esther is not a difficult Old Testament book to understand and the queen is well known for her famous response of, “If I perish, I perish…” to her uncle Mordachai’s statement:
“Do not think in your heart that you will escape in the king’s palace any more than all the other Jews. For if you remain completely silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” Esther 4:13-16.
It is the one book in the Bible where God’s Name is not used and yet He is evident on each page. I love the pause between chapters 5 and 6. Chapter 6 begins with the simple statement:
“That night the king could not sleep.” And we know from that moment on, every thing changed. At the petition of His children, God invades the plans of men.
At the time (around 500 B.C.), there was anti-Semitism against the Jewish population of Persia, much the same as it has been throughout history.
What is interesting about Haman is that he was an Agagite. Fear grips my soul whenever I think of King Saul, the compromising, weak king who became the enemy of David and the enemy of God through his fears, disobedience and half obedience. It was Saul who was told to destroy the Amalekites, but who spared King Agag. Just as Abraham’s side track into the flesh resulted in an Ishmael, the results of which continue to play out today, so we see Haman the Agagite rising up with a hatred shown so clearly in Esther 3:8,9:
Then Haman said to KingAhasuerus, “There is a certain people scattered and dispersed among the people in all the provinces of your kingdom; their laws are different from all other people’s, and they do not keep the king’s laws. Therefore it is not fitting for the king to let them remain. If it pleases the king, let a decree be written that they be destroyed… “
I don’t need to read the book for you or to tell you the story, but to translate it and be your eyes and ears as to how it is followed TODAY in the land of Israel, particularly Jerusalem. The descendents of Esther who would NOT BE ALIVE TODAY (including me) but for the INTERVENTION OF GOD, over and over again, to show His faithfulness to the unthankful, His faithfulness to His eternal promises and the purpose to make His Name known and be glorified and KNOWN among His children, and to a lost and dying world. How GOOD He is.
So, it is written in chapter 9 of Esther:
18 But the Jews who were at Shushan assembled together on the thirteenth day, as well as on the fourteenth; and on the fifteenth of the month they rested, and made it a day of feasting and gladness. 19 Therefore the Jews of the villages who dwelt in the unwalled towns celebrated the fourteenth day of the month of Adarwith gladness and feasting, as a holiday, and for sending presents to oneanother. 20 And Mordecai wrote these things and sent letters to all the Jews, near and far, who were in all the provinces of King Ahasuerus, 21 to establish among them that they should celebrate yearly the fourteenth and fifteenth days of the month of Adar, 22 as the days on which the Jews had rest from their enemies, as the month which was turned from sorrow to joy for them, and from mourning to a holiday; that they should make them days of feasting and joy, of sending presents to one another and gifts to the poor. 23 So the Jews accepted the custom which they had begun, as Mordecai had written to them, 24 because Haman, the son of Hammedatha the Agagite, the enemy of all the Jews, had plotted against the Jews to annihilate them, and had cast Pur (that is, the lot), to consume them and destroy them; 25 but when Esther came before the king, he commanded by letter that this wicked plot which Haman had devised against the Jews should return on his own head, and that he and his sons should be hanged on the gallows. 26 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, 27 the Jews established and imposed it upon themselves and their descendants and all who would join them, that without fail they should celebrate these two days every year, according to the written instructions and according to the prescribed time, 28 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.”
And so it is celebrated today.
In the time of Aviv (Spring) on the 14th and 15th day of the Hebrew month of Adar, it is celebrated with a contagious joy, the giving of gift baskets, parades, the wearing of costumes, and the custom among the ultra orthodox men of drinking until they can not recognize their friend from their enemy. All of this comes from the idea that the opposite happened of what was intended and worked out for the good of the Jews.
The book of Esther (Magillet Esther) is read freely by everyone all over the country in gatherings, and noisemakers (greggors) and even fire crackers are set off in a racket at every mention of the name of Haman during the reading. What a belegan! You might scratch your head to think of a night in an orthodox synagogue when the most religious of men become drunk and the children are encouraged to set off fire crackers and make a racket during the service, but this is all part of the custom and rejoicing. And yes, baskets of goodies are given to one and all.
It is a time to bring a treat to the guard at the market door or to the bus driver and to wish them “Purim sa’maech” or Happy Purim. There are fun parties, particularly for the children, with special songs and foods. In Israel, a large Purim is celebrated on the first day but in walled cities, such as Jerusalem, we celebrate the second day which means that today is Purim here for us. It is fun to see all of the little Queen Esthers out on the street, dressed as small beaming brides bringing baskets to loved ones.
May we always be reminded to lift our voices, and our lives to Him in THANKSGIVING for His great deliverance from the death penalty of sin. May we choose like Esther…”if I perish, I perish.” May there be nights that we just can’t sleep and instead grab hold of some key Truth that was buried to us before that night. And may we be just who we are meant to be, doing His will, even if it is faithfully cleaning bathrooms, “for such a time as this.”
God bless each of you. Thank you for your patience, grace and love.
your sis J