The Curse Reversed
INTRODUCTION TO PURIM
Julius Streicher was the foremost anti-Semitic propagandist in the German Nazi Party**
In 1945, Streicher was captured and brought before the Nazi war criminal court at Nuremberg. For his part in 'Crimes Against Humanity', he was sentenced to death. As he was led to the gallows, he uttered his parting words, " PURIM 1946". He was referring to the Book of Esther.
The Book of Esther records another anti-Semitic, Haman, who also plotted to annihilate the Jewish people who lived in the Persian Empire. Haman's plot was turned around and he ended up ascending to the gallows for his execution.
Those who curse the Jewish people are always, in the end cursed. Those who bless them are, in the end, blessed. That's what the Word of God's says. We can rejoice in God. For in God, we know that every dark cloud passes, and every night turns to dawn.
Feasts of Lots
Purim or the Feasts of Lots is a celebration of a defeat of God's enemies and a deliverance of God's people. It is a one-day carnival-like celebration in the Hebrew month Adar, which occurs in late February or early March in the secular calendar.
Purim is traditionally celebrated by the Jewish People in the way that Mordecai instruction the Jews (Esther 9:19) to commemorate their deliverance by THE FOUR MAIN MITZVOT (commandments) OF PURIM:
1. eating a festive Purim meal, the special holiday meal eaten on Purim afternoon
2. merrymaking and wearing costumes celebrating how everything can turn upside-down and into something else, and nothing is exactly what it seems to be
3. sending gifts of food to at least one friend or relative, because Purim is a time of love and friendship between Jews
4. giving gifts to the poor because Purim is a time of sharing and caring and helping
The events that led to the holiday of Purim can be found in the Book of Esther or in Hebrew:
which is Hebrew for the Scroll of Esther
Blessings are customarily said before the reading of the Scroll:
Baruch atah Adonai Eloheynu melech ha-olam
sheh-asah nissim l'avoteynu ba-yamim ha-heym
Blessed are You, L-rd our G-d, King of the universe,
who performed miracles for our forefathers in
those days at this time of year.
Baruch atah Adonai Eloheynu melech ha-olam
sheh-hechianu v'ki'manu v'higianu lazman hazeh.
Blessed are You, L-rd our G-d, King of the universe,
who has given us life, lifted us up, and
brought us to this moment.
Then the Scroll of Esther is read in the evening and the next day. During the reading of the scroll the congregation blots out the sound of the name of Haman and his memory using noisemakers called groggers and by booing and stamping feet.
are noise-makers used during the Megillah reading to drown out the sound of Haman's name, symbolically expressing the desire to rid the world of his evil.
The Story PURIM
(The Book of Esther)
Purim in a nutshell:
1) An ancient story of court intrigue
4) Drunken parties
5) Assassinations plots
6) A foolish king
7) A delinquent queen
9) A strong hero
10) One beautiful heroine.
This is the stuff of which best-selling novels are made!
The Book of Esther began in the third year of the reign of Ahasuerus (also know as Ahashverosh and Ahashuerus), the King of Persia. He decided to have a feast.
King Ahasuerus called Queen Vashti to come and show off her beauty in front of all his guests. Queen Vashti refused to obey an order from her husband, King Ahasuerus.
The king was furious and Queen Vashti was banished!
Good bye, Vashti!
With Vashti gone, the foolish king was advised to stage a beauty contest to pick a new wife.
A beautiful Jewish orphan named Esther was chosen as the new queen. Esther, whose Hebrew name was Hadassah, was raised by her uncle Mordecai, after her parents' death. Mordecai instructed Esther not to divulge her Jewishness when she went to meet the King.
Soon after Esther became queen, her uncle Mordecai overheard an assassination plot against the king while he was sitting near the palace gate.
He reported the conversation to Esther who reported it to the king, crediting Mordecai with the information. The incident was recorded in the king's chronicles. Even though Mordecai saved the king's life, his efforts went unrewarded and were quickly forgotten.
Meanwhile, a power-hungry, anti-Semitic named Haman (boo), a descendant of Amelak, the traditional enemy of the Jews, was appointed as the king's new Prime Minister. Haman (boo) was a wicked and vain man who expected everyone to bow down to him. Mordecai incurred the wrath of Haman (boo) by refusing to bow.
(Mordecai refused to bow because Jews are to bow only before G-d)
Not content to just punish Mordecai, Haman (boo) wanted to destroy all the Jews. Haman (boo) went to the king and slandered the Jews, convincing the King Ahasuerus to decree that all Jews be executed.
Haman (boo) cast lots or PURIM* to determine the day of annihilation.
That day was the 13th of Adar (11 months from the casting of lots), the day the Jews celebrate Purim.
*PUR-PURIM: The origin of the word 'Pur' would seem to be Persian. As written in the Book of Esther, it means a 'lot'. Purim is the plural form of the word 'Pur', and thus means 'lots'. The festival is called Purim because of the lots cast by Haman.
Two or three weeks later, Haman (boo) called in the king's secretaries and dictated letters to the governors and officials throughout the empire, to each province in its own languages and dialects. Those letters were signed in the name of King Ahasuerus and sealed with his ring.
They were then sent by messengers into all the provinces of the empire, decreeing that the Jews...young and old, women and children...must all be killed on the date of the following year and their property given to those who killed them.
Upon learning of the plot, Mordecai tore his clothes, wore sackcloth and ashes, and walked through the city crying loudly.
When Esther heard of Mordecai's display, she dispatched a messenger to discover what was troubling her relative. Mordecai told Esther of the evil decree and instructed Esther to intercede on the Jews' behalf. Esther agreed to appear before the king unannounced even though anyone who came to the king uninvited risked losing their life. In preparation, she and her people fasted and prayed for three days requesting Divine assistance.
(An excellent plan if you are approaching God with something really important.)
After completing the three-day fast, Esther entered the king's inner court dressed in her most royal garb. King Ahasuerus welcomed her, holding out the golden scepter.
(Normally nobody approached the king without being invited.
If you went in without an invitation the king had the option of holding out his scepter to invite you forward or he didn't hold it out. If he didn't hold it out that meant he didn't want to see you. Then you would be put to death.)
King Ahasuerus granted her an audience promising her that virtually anything she would ask would be granted. (He loved her! True love overrides everything!)
Esther replied that she wished to invite the king and Haman (boo) to a banquet on that day. After the feast Esther asked the king and Haman (boo) to return for another banquet the following night. Haman (boo) left the banquet consumed with self-importance and pride, but those feelings were turned to anger when he saw Mordecai sitting at the gate of the King's palace and paying Haman (boo) no mind. Haman (boo) went home, angered by Mordecai. Haman's wife, Zeresh, advised him to construct a gallows and to ask the king to hang Mordecai. Haman (boo) joyously acted upon that suggestion.
That night, King Ahasuerus had trouble sleeping . To pass the time, he asked that his 'book of chronicles' be read out loud. The chapter read to him was about the time Mordecai revealed an assassination plot against him. He was told that Mordecai was never rewarded.
Haman (boo), who 'just happened to be in the palace',
overheard the king wondering how to honor a good man. Haman (boo), assuming the king wanted to honor him, advised the king that the lucky one should be adorned in the king's robes and crown, and paraded through the streets on the king's horse, and proclaimed as the king's honored subject.
The king liked Haman's (boo) suggestion so much, he informed him that he was to be the one to lead Mordecai through the streets of the capital city Shushan on the king's horse, dressed in the king's robes. Haman (boo), was stunned, but had no choice but to fulfill the king's orders, hating Mordecai all the more.
After this humiliation, Haman (boo) attended Esther's second banquet. It was there that Esther revealed that she was Jewish and exposed Haman (boo) as the evil plotter against her people.
King Ahasuerus was consumed with anger amd ordered that Haman (boo) be hanged on the gallows intended for Mordecai.
However, the king was unable to rescind Haman's (boo) decree against his Jewish subjects since it already bore the king's seal.
The king elevated Mordecai to be his new prime minister in place of Haman. According to Persian law, it was impossible to change a decree stamped with the royal seal, so the king could not cancel the decree against the Jews. However, he gave Mordechai the royal signet ring to issue whatever new decrees he could think of to help save the Jews.
Mordecai sent out a letter saying: On the 13th of Adar, all the Jews in the kingdom would organize to defend themselves. On the 13th of Adar, Jews across the kingdom assembled and defended themselves. Thousands of their enemies were killed, including Haman's ten sons who were hanged from a tree. Unlike the Persians who planned to take money and property, the Jews took no loot at all. On the 14th of Adar, they gave thanks to God and celebrated.
But in the walled capital city of Shushan, the Jews continued to fight an additional day. On the 15th of Adar the Jews of Shushan celebrated their victory.
Esther asked the rabbis to write the story of Purim. Scrolls - megillot – were written and sent to the Jews throughout the kingdom.
In the Book of Esther we are introduced to a villainous character named Haman the Agagite. "Agagite" is a name which contains the clues of an ancient mystery. When Israel came out of Egypt they were attacked by the Amalekites. It was then said that, "the Lord will war against Amalek from generation to generation." Amalek had a descendant named King Agag. The Lord told Saul to kill him, but Saul refused. As a result, centuries later there arose an evil man named Haman, who, if not for the hand of God, would have wiped out all the Jewish people living in the Persian empire. Haman was a descendant of Amalek.
We learn two things here. First, God's Word is always deeper than you think. Second, find out what God's will is. He can see into the future and you can't. If you decide your way is better you may be making a HUGE mistake!
Today's celebrations include:
The Fast of Esther on the 13th of Adar
Purim Day on the 14th of Adar
Shushan Purim on the 15th of Adar
which is the main cellebration in the walled city of Jerusalem
In the Book of Esther, we clearly see God at work in the lives of individuals and in the affairs of a nation. Even when it looks as if the world is in the hands of evil men, God is still in control.
He sets them up and He can take them down.
Although we may not understand everything happening around us, we must trust in God's protection and retain our integrity by doing what we know is right. Esther, who risked her life appearing before the king, became a heroine. Mordecai, who was on 'death row' (so to speak), rose to become the Prime Minister of the nation.
No matter how hopeless our condition, or how much we would like to give up, we need not despair. God is in control of our world!
**Jewish Virtual Library http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Holocaust/Streicher.html
Purim: Origins by Amy Kramer
Life Application Bible
Shalom and blessings