Purim starts today and continues tomorrow. What an amazing story this is from the Bible! It reads like a melodrama — it has been a tradition to “boo” and make noise when you hear the name of the protagonist read–Haman. For more fun traditions, complete with photos, check out this website.
What I love most about the celebration, is that God authorized it and said to give gifts to the poor on those days. Isn’t that amazing? To understand the meaning of Purim, you need to read the entire book of Esther. It truly is a great (and true) story, and even humorous in many ways. Here are a few excerpts:
When Haman saw that Mordecai would not bow down or show him respect, he was filled with rage. He had learned of Mordecai’s nationality, so he decided it was not enough to lay hands on Mordecai alone. Instead, he looked for a way to destroy all the Jews throughout the entire empire of Xerxes. — Esther 3:5-6 [NLT]
Mordecai sent this reply to Esther: “Don’t think for a moment that because you’re in the palace you will escape when all other Jews are killed. If you keep quiet at a time like this, deliverance and relief for the Jews will arise from some other place, but you and your relatives will die. Who knows if perhaps you were made queen for just such a time as this?” Then Esther sent this reply to Mordecai: “Go and gather together all the Jews of Susa and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. My maids and I will do the same. And then, though it is against the law, I will go in to see the king. If I must die, I must die.” — Esther 4:13-16 [NLT]
…Haman hurried home dejected and completely humiliated. When Haman told his wife, Zeresh, and all his friends what had happened, his wise advisers and his wife said, “Since Mordecai–this man who has humiliated you–is of Jewish birth, you will never succeed in your plans against him. It will be fatal to continue opposing him. — Esther 6:12-13 [NLT]
Then Harbona, one of the king’s eunuchs, said, “Haman has set up a sharpened pole that stands seventy-five feet tall in his own courtyard. He intended to use it to impale Mordecai, the man who saved the king from assassination.” “Then impale Haman on it!” the king ordered. So they impaled Haman on the pole he had set up for Mordecai, and the king’g anger subsided. — Esther 7:9 [NLT]
Mordecai recorded these events and sent letters to the Jews near and far, throughout all the provinces of King Xerxes, calling on them to celebrate an annual festival on these two days. He told them to celebrate these days with feasting and gladness and by giving gifts of food to each other and presents to the poor. This would commemorate a time when the Jews gained relief from their enemies, when their sorrow was turned into gladness and their mourning into joy. — Esther 9:20-22 [NLT]