Purim: From Terror to Triumph

Posted on March 20, 2019


By David Ettinger

Note: The Jewish holiday of Purim is today and tomorrow. As some of you know, I have been a longtime writer for the Christian magazine “Zion’s Fire.” Posted here are the final 576 words of my very long article of 3,708 words on the Book of Esther in the current issue. If you are interested in the entire article, you may download the Word document just below this paragraph. In the meantime, thank you for reading this abbreviated version!

The Legacy of Triumph beyond Mordecai

A holiday is born: Sadly, the history of the Jewish people has been one wrought with tragedy, trepidation, and trauma. But for one shining moment, they were given the opportunity to rejoice following an overwhelming triumph. So great was the victory that it was declared that a holiday – Purim – be created to honor the triumph (Esther 9:31).

A holiday is commemorated: Today, 2,500 years later, the Jewish community worldwide still celebrates Purim. The traditional date for Purim is Adar 14 for all but those living in Jerusalem, who celebrate the festival one day later because the Jews of Shushan needed one extra day to destroy their enemies (Esther 9:13). On modern calendars, Purim generally falls in late February or early-to-mid March.

A holiday is celebrated: Of all the Jewish holidays, Purim is the most festive, involving parties, masquerades, parodies, plays, food baskets, and festive meals. On Purim morning, the Migillah, or Scroll, of Esther is read in the synagogue. Children, and sometimes adults, attend synagogue in costume, dressed as one of the various Purim “characters”: Esther, Mordecai, Haman, or Ahasuerus. Later in the day, food baskets are sent to relatives, and donations are made to various charities. I have fond memories of Purim from my days growing up in a Jewish home.

A holiday is respected: For those who appreciate the importance of Purim, there is the Fast of Esther. On the 13th day of Adar, one day before Purim, some Jews observe a fast day in memory of Esther, who asked the Jews of Shushan to fast for three days before she approached the king.

Conclusion: Behind the Scenes
One missing name: Esther is the only book of the Bible which does not mention the name of God, the Law, and the sacrifices and offerings. And while fasting is mentioned, prayer is not. These omissions seem to fit the lifestyle of the Jews who resided in the Persian Empire. They lived secular lives outside of God’s will. Does this mean the Lord was not in any way connected to the events of the book of Esther? Absolutely not! The Lord was there every step of the way, orchestrating it all behind the scenes. In Hebrew, this is called Hester Panim, the hidden face of God.

One Sovereign God: By the time the Book of Esther was written in about 465 B.C., the majority of the Jewish people had already been in exile for 120 years. Many may have forgotten about God, but He certainly did not forget about them. When the threat of extinction came, the Lord saved His people according to a promise He had made to them decades earlier: “But as for you, O Jacob My servant, do not fear, nor be dismayed, O Israel! For, see, I am going to save you from afar, and your descendants from the land of their captivity; And Jacob will return and be undisturbed and secure, with no one making him tremble” (Jeremiah 46:27).

One clear reminder: If there is one lesson to be learned from Purim and the Book of Esther, it is this: Though men and women appear to control their destiny, it is in reality God who determines the fate of humanity and nations. It is He who engineered 1) the deposing of Vashti and the installation of Esther as queen; 2) the rise of Mordecai and fall of Haman; and 3) the destruction of Israel’s enemies and survival of the Jewish people.

And just as God was there every step of the way for His chosen people Israel, so is He here today every step of the way for those who love, worship, and revere Him!