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Purim

Hadassah was the daughter of Abihail, a Benjamite, who was among the people of the Kingdom of Judah (see The Southern Kingdom) in exile in Babylon (see Ancient Empires - Babylon; also The Two-Way Promise Of The Promised Land). When the Babylonian Empire fell to the Persian Empire (see Ancient Empires - Persia), the exiles found themselves with a new set of rulers. Hadassah (from the Hebrew name pronounced hawd-aws-saw), later known as Esther (from the Hebrew name pronounced est-tawr), was raised by her older cousin Mordecai because she by then "had neither father nor mother."

"2:5 Now in Shushan the palace there was a certain Jew, whose name was Mordecai, the son of Jair, the son of Shimei, the son of Kish, a Benjamite; 2:6 Who had been carried away from Jerusalem with the captivity which had been carried away with Jeconiah king of Judah, whom Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon had carried away. 2:7 And he brought up Hadassah, that is, Esther, his uncle's daughter: for she had neither father nor mother, and the maid was fair and beautiful; whom Mordecai, when her father and mother were dead, took for his own daughter." (Esther 2:5-7 KJV)

Mordecai helped Esther to become the new queen of Persia.

"2:17 And the king loved Esther above all the women, and she obtained grace and favour in his sight more than all the virgins; so that he set the royal crown upon her head, and made her queen instead of Vashti." (Esther 2:17 KJV)

Haman was the Prime Minister of Persia. He hated Jews, and Mordecai in particular. From that, Haman obtained a nation-wide order from the king (who did not at first know that Esther was a Jew too) to kill all Jews in Persia.

"3:5 And when Haman saw that Mordecai bowed not, nor did him reverence, then was Haman full of wrath. 3:6 And he thought scorn to lay hands on Mordecai alone; for they had showed him the people of Mordecai: wherefore Haman sought to destroy all the Jews that were throughout the whole kingdom of Ahasuerus, even the people of Mordecai." (Esther 3:5-6 KJV)

"These days of Purim in their times appointed, according as Mordecai the Jew and Esther the queen had enjoined them"

"Pur" and "Purim" are the singular and plural translations of the Hebrew words (in this case, "Pur" and "Purim" are derived from Persian) pronounced poor and poo-reem. They mean lot and lots. The word is first recorded when Haman "cast Pur, that is, the lot" to determine when would be the best time to carry out his genocide against the Jews.

Persian Empire Map

"3:7 In the first month, that is, the month Nisan, in the twelfth year of king Ahasuerus, they cast Pur, that is, the lot, before Haman from day to day, and from month to month, to the twelfth month, that is, the month Adar.

3:8 And Haman said unto king Ahasuerus, There is a certain people scattered abroad and dispersed among the people in all the provinces of thy kingdom; and their laws are diverse from all people; neither keep they the king's laws: therefore it is not for the king's profit to suffer them. 3:9 If it please the king, let it be written that they may be destroyed: and I will pay ten thousand talents of silver to the hands of those that have the charge of the business, to bring it into the king's treasuries.

3:10 And the king took his ring from his hand, and gave it unto Haman the son of Hammedatha the Agagite, the Jews' enemy. 3:11 And the king said unto Haman, The silver is given to thee, the people also, to do with them as it seemeth good to thee." (Esther 3:7-11 KJV)

When Mordecai heard of the planned mass murders, he urged Esther, as the king's wife, and as a Jew herself, to take action to prevent it. Her intervention resulted, first, in Haman being hung on the gallows that he had built to hang Mordecai (see Mordecai and Haman), but also the legal means for the Jews of Persia to defend themselves against an earlier proclamation of the king that could not be revoked. Their self-defence victory came "On the thirteenth day of the month Adar; and on the fourteenth day of the same rested they, and made it a day of feasting and gladness."

"9:1 Now in the twelfth month, that is, the month Adar, on the thirteenth day of the same, when the king's commandment and his decree drew near to be put in execution, in the day that the enemies of the Jews hoped to have power over them, though it was turned to the contrary, that the Jews had rule over them that hated them; 9:2 The Jews gathered themselves together in their cities throughout all the provinces of the king Ahasuerus, to lay hand on such as sought their hurt: and no man could withstand them; for the fear of them fell upon all people. 9:3 And all the rulers of the provinces, and the lieutenants, and the deputies, and officers of the king, helped the Jews; because the fear of Mordecai fell upon them. 9:4 For Mordecai was great in the king's house, and his fame went out throughout all the provinces: for this man Mordecai waxed greater and greater.

9:5 Thus the Jews smote all their enemies with the stroke of the sword, and slaughter, and destruction, and did what they would unto those that hated them. 9:6 And in Shushan the palace the Jews slew and destroyed five hundred men. 9:7 And Parshandatha, and Dalphon, and Aspatha, 9:8 And Poratha, and Adalia, and Aridatha, 9:9 And Parmashta, and Arisai, and Aridai, and Vajezatha, 9:10 The ten sons of Haman the son of Hammedatha, the enemy of the Jews, slew they; but on the spoil laid they not their hand.

9:11 On that day the number of those that were slain in Shushan the palace was brought before the king. 9:12 And the king said unto Esther the queen, The Jews have slain and destroyed five hundred men in Shushan the palace, and the ten sons of Haman; what have they done in the rest of the king's provinces? now what is thy petition? and it shall be granted thee: or what is thy request further? and it shall be done.

9:13 Then said Esther, If it please the king, let it be granted to the Jews which are in Shushan to do to morrow also according unto this day's decree, and let Haman's ten sons be hanged upon the gallows.

9:14 And the king commanded it so to be done: and the decree was given at Shushan; and they hanged Haman's ten sons. 9:15 For the Jews that were in Shushan gathered themselves together on the fourteenth day also of the month Adar, and slew three hundred men at Shushan; but on the prey they laid not their hand.

9:16 But the other Jews that were in the king's provinces gathered themselves together, and stood for their lives, and had rest from their enemies, and slew of their foes seventy and five thousand, but they laid not their hands on the prey, 9:17 On the thirteenth day of the month Adar; and on the fourteenth day of the same rested they, and made it a day of feasting and gladness." (Esther 9:1-17 KJV)

The victory was also the origin of the observance of Purim that continues to be observed by Jews to the present day. It is not a Holy Day commanded by the LORD, but rather a day specific to Jewish history, for "the enemy of all the Jews, had devised against the Jews to destroy them, and had cast Pur, that is, the lot, to consume them, and to destroy them" so then to "confirm these days of Purim in their times appointed, according as Mordecai the Jew and Esther the queen had enjoined them."

"9:18 But the Jews that were at Shushan assembled together on the thirteenth day thereof, and on the fourteenth thereof; and on the fifteenth day of the same they rested, and made it a day of feasting and gladness.

9:19 Therefore the Jews of the villages, that dwelt in the unwalled towns, made the fourteenth day of the month Adar a day of gladness and feasting, and a good day, and of sending portions one to another.

9:20 And Mordecai wrote these things, and sent letters unto all the Jews that were in all the provinces of the king Ahasuerus, both nigh and far, 9:21 To stablish this among them, that they should keep the fourteenth day of the month Adar, and the fifteenth day of the same, yearly, 9:22 As the days wherein the Jews rested from their enemies, and the month which was turned unto them from sorrow to joy, and from mourning into a good day: that they should make them days of feasting and joy, and of sending portions one to another, and gifts to the poor.

9:23 And the Jews undertook to do as they had begun, and as Mordecai had written unto them; 9:24 Because Haman the son of Hammedatha, the Agagite, the enemy of all the Jews, had devised against the Jews to destroy them, and had cast Pur, that is, the lot, to consume them, and to destroy them; 9:25 But when Esther came before the king, he commanded by letters that his wicked device, which he devised against the Jews, should return upon his own head, and that he and his sons should be hanged on the gallows. 9:26 Wherefore they called these days Purim after the name of Pur. Therefore for all the words of this letter, and of that which they had seen concerning this matter, and which had come unto them, 9:27 The Jews ordained, and took upon them, and upon their seed, and upon all such as joined themselves unto them, so as it should not fail, that they would keep these two days according to their writing, and according to their appointed time every year; 9:28 And that these days should be remembered and kept throughout every generation, every family, every province, and every city; and that these days of Purim should not fail from among the Jews, nor the memorial of them perish from their seed.

9:29 Then Esther the queen, the daughter of Abihail, and Mordecai the Jew, wrote with all authority, to confirm this second letter of Purim. 9:30 And he sent the letters unto all the Jews, to the hundred twenty and seven provinces of the kingdom of Ahasuerus, with words of peace and truth, 9:31 To confirm these days of Purim in their times appointed, according as Mordecai the Jew and Esther the queen had enjoined them, and as they had decreed for themselves and for their seed, the matters of the fastings and their cry. 9:32 And the decree of Esther confirmed these matters of Purim; and it was written in the book." (Esther 9:18-32 KJV)

Fact Finder: Esther was of the Israelite tribe of Benjamin, but she was called a Jew. Why?
See Was Paul A Jew or a Benjamite?


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