From Esther 6-10
Pur means ‘to cast lots’. The casting of lots in the Bible is similar to throwing dice or drawing straws. Earlier in Esther Haman cast lots to nominate the day when the Jews would be destroyed (Est 3.7). So the Jews are now to celebrate when Haman’s plan ‘returned on his own head’.
This post is part of my bible in a year series.
Passage and Comments
On the night after the first feast the king could not sleep. The LORD was at work getting him to remember what Mordecai had done for him in the past. The king looked at his records and realised Mordecai had not been honoured for telling him about the people plotting against him. The king asks Haman how he should honour someone he delights in. Thinking the king was referring to himself Haman replied he should be dressed in fine clothes, lead around the city with one of his highest officials proclaiming the king wishes to honour him. In gratitude for what Mordecai had done the king commands that Haman do this for Mordecai. After Haman had glorified Mordecai this way he returned home grieving and one of his friends predicted his downfall.
Esther hosts the second and final feast for the king and Haman. When the king again asks Esther what she would like she asks for her life and the life of her people. The king is surprised because he didn’t know she was a Jew. When the king asks who has dared to endanger her and her people so Esther replies is was Haman. Who is sitting with them. The king walks out angry. When he returns Haman is assaulting Esther. So the king hangs him on the gallows Haman originally prepared for Mordecai.
He then gives the signet ring which was in Haman’s possession to Mordecai. Promoting him to the highest official in the land. Esther again pleads for her life and the life of her people. The king can’t revoke his earlier command, but he does send out another edict allowing the Jews all across the nation to bear arms and defend themselves from their enemies. The Jews were ready for a fight and some of the other people of the land declare themselves Jews out of fear.
When the day came for the enemies of the Jews to attack them there was fighting. But the Jews gained the upper hand and defeated them. Haman’s ten sons were killed in battle. Esther requested another day be given to the Jews to rise against their enemies and that the ten sons of Haman be hanged. He granted her request. In all their fighting the Jews claimed none of the plunder for themselves. Its implied they devoted it to the LORD. The Jews killed up to 75000 of their enemies over those two days.
This is where our passage picks up.
20 And Mordecai recorded these things and sent letters to all the Jews who were in all the provinces of King Ahasuerus, both near and far, 21 obliging them to keep the fourteenth day of the month Adar and also the fifteenth day of the same, year by year, 22 as the days on which the Jews got relief from their enemies, and as the month that had been turned for them from sorrow into gladness and from mourning into a holiday; that they should make them days of feasting and gladness, days for sending gifts of food to one another and gifts to the poor. (Est 9.20-22)
In memory of this event Mordecai created a new festival for the Jews. Once every year on a certain day the Jews are to celebrate the relief they received from their enemies, giving one another food to one another and gifts to the poor.
23 So the Jews accepted what they had started to do, and what Mordecai had written to them. 24 For Haman the Agagite, the son of Hammedatha, the enemy of all the Jews, had plotted against the Jews to destroy them, and had cast Pur (that is, cast lots), to crush and to destroy them. 25 But when it came before the king, he gave orders in writing that his evil plan that he had devised against the Jews should return on his own head, and that he and his sons should be hanged on the gallows. (Est 9.23-25)
Pur means ‘to cast lots’. The casting of lots in the Bible is similar to throwing dice or drawing straws. Earlier in Esther Haman cast lots to nominate the day when the Jews would be destroyed (Est 3.7). So the Jews are now to celebrate when Haman’s plan ‘returned on his own head’ or went south or came to grief or …
26 Therefore they called these days Purim, after the term Pur. Therefore, because of all that was written in this letter, and of what they had faced in this matter, and of what had happened to them, 27 the Jews firmly obligated themselves and their offspring and all who joined them, that without fail they would keep these two days according to what was written and at the time appointed every year, 28 that these days should be remembered and kept throughout every generation, in every clan, province, and city, and that these days of Purim should never fall into disuse among the Jews, nor should the commemoration of these days cease among their descendants. (Est 9.26-28)
The Jews vow to keep this festival for all their generations. There is no mention of the LORD, nor of them giving thanks to him. But perhaps they would do that on this day as well.
29 Then Queen Esther, the daughter of Abihail, and Mordecai the Jew gave full written authority, confirming this second letter about Purim. 30 Letters were sent to all the Jews, to the 127 provinces of the kingdom of Ahasuerus, in words of peace and truth, 31 that these days of Purim should be observed at their appointed seasons, as Mordecai the Jew and Queen Esther obligated them, and as they had obligated themselves and their offspring, with regard to their fasts and their lamenting. 32 The command of Queen Esther confirmed these practices of Purim, and it was recorded in writing. (Est 9.20-32)
Following this written proclamation, Mordecai is further honoured among the community because he sought the welfare of his people.
Story of Israel
Esther is a story of encouragement for the Jews. Remember, they are in captivity, under foreign rule, exiled because of their sins. The story of Esther, like Daniel as well reminded the Jews that the LORD was still working, protecting them from the nations. Despite Haman’s attempt to wipe them out, the LORD enabled them to come out on top.
Story of Jesus
The festival of Purim is not explicitly mentioned in the rest of the scriptures. We can safely assume however that the Jews continued in its practice and imposed it on their Gentile converts.
In the gospel Jesus never imposed Purim on the his followers. So it is not a requirement for us today. We have out own special days where we remember the works of the LORD. I’m thinking about the Lords supper where we commemorate Jesus death and in light of his resurrection look forward to his return.
We can still however and its a good idea to remember the good things the LORD has done for us in our lives and share these good things with a others.
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