“Mordecai recorded these events and sent letters to all the Jews in all the provinces of King Ahasuerus, both near and far, instructing them to observe the fourteenth day of the month of Adar and the fifteenth day, every year, [to commemorate] the days on which the Jews obtained rest from their enemies and the month which for them was turned from sorrow into gladness and from mourning into a holiday; they were to make them days of celebrating and rejoicing, sending portions [of food] to each other and giving gifts to the poor” (Esther 9:20-22).
Purim is a memorial to the deliverance of the Jewish people from near annihilation while they were in exile in Persia (modern-day Iran). During the reign of Ahasuerus (King Xerxes), a wicked anti-semitic man named Haman came to power. He wanted all the Jews in the kingdom destroyed because they had customs that wouldn’t allow them to bow down and worship him. ‘Lots’ or purim were cast to choose the day of their destruction. A Jewish man named Mordecai, along with his niece who had become Queen, interceded for the Jewish people and the destruction was averted.
Purim celebrations are joyous with melodramas and audience participation. Groggers or noisemakers are used to drown out the name of Haman while the audience cheers for Mordecai and ‘ohhhs’ and ‘ahhhs’ for Queen Esther. Cookies called Hamantaschen are baked to look like Haman’s tricorn hat. Food is collected and put in baskets to give to the poor, the widow and the fatherless. Children dress in the costumes of their favorite Purim character.
Within the account of Purim there are an array of characters. As you read one or two specific verses from the megillah or scroll of Esther about each of them, watch how power corrupts, faith overcomes, and truth is revealed. More importantly, watch God work His hand of protection for the Jewish people, for without it, they would have been destroyed. Without the Jewish people, there would have been no Yeshua from the Tribe of Judah.
In these last days, the Jewish people and the nation of Israel are under great attack from the nations around the world. As global events continue to unfold, each person will have to choose a side: Israel and God’s people or the international community. As you read the account of Esther, check your own thoughts about the Jewish people. Are you rebellious Queen Vashti, faithful Queen Esther, discerning Mordecai, transformed King Ahasuerus, vindictive Zeresh, or anti-semitic Haman?
The queen who disobeyed King Ahasuerus’ command and lost her royal position in the kingdom.
“Therefore, if it pleases the king, let him issue a royal decree and let it be written in the laws of Persia and Media, which cannot be repealed, that Vashti is never again to enter the presence of King Xerxes. Also let the king give her royal position to someone else who is better than she” (Esther 1:19).
Hadassah means ‘myrtle’ in Hebrew while in Persian, Esther means ‘star’ and comes from the root for ‘hidden.’ She was ‘hidden’ in the king’s palace and became an intercessor for the lives of the Jewish people.
“Now there was in the citadel of Susa a Jew of the tribe of Benjamin, named Mordecai … who had a cousin named Hadassah. This girl, who was also known as Esther, was lovely in form and features, and Mordecai had taken her as his own daughter when her father and mother died” (Esther 2:4-5).
The King of Persia who was also known as King Xerxes who makes rash decisions and then has to face the consequences.
“Now the king was attracted to Esther more than to any of the other women, and she won his favor and approval more than any of the other virgins. So he set a royal crown on Esther’s head and made her queen instead of Vashti” (Esther 2:17).
Hadassah’s uncle from the Tribe of Benjamin who remained faithful to God and honored King Ahasuerus. Mordecai means ‘warrior.’
“During the time Mordecai was sitting at the king’s gate, two of the king’s officers who guarded the doorway, became angry and conspired to assassinate King Xerxes. But Mordecai found out about the plot and told Queen Esther, who in turn reported it to the king, giving credit to Mordecai” (Esther 2:21-22).
The King Ahasuerus’ right-hand man who descended from Amalek. His ancestors were to be destroyed by King Saul, except he disobeyed God and allowed some Amalekites to live. Just like his ancestors, Haman had an anti-semitic heart.
“Then Haman said to King Ahusuerus, ‘There is a certain people dispersed and scattered among the peoples in all the provinces of your kingdom whose customs are different from those of all other people and who do not obey the king’s laws; it is not in the king’s best interest to tolerate them. If it pleases the king, let a decree be issued to destroy them, and I will put ten thousand talents of silver into the royal treasury for the men who carry out this business’” (Esther 3:8-9).
Zeresh, Haman’s jealous wife, wanted her husband to rise to power in the kingdom, but she also understood the favor of God on the Jewish people.
“His wife Zeresh and all his friends said to him, ‘Have a gallows built, seventy-five feet high, and ask the king in the morning to have Mordecai hanged on it. Then go with the king to the dinner and be happy’” (Esther 5:14).
The Decree of Destruction
“Letters were sent by courier to all the royal provinces ‘to destroy, kill and exterminate all Jews, from young to old, including small children and women, on a specific day, the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, the month of Adar, and to seize their goods as plunder'” (Esther 3:13).
“For Such a Time as This” – A Prophetic Vision
“When Esther’s words were reported to Mordecai, he sent back this answer: ‘Do not think that because you are in the king’s house you alone of all the Jews will escape. For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?’” (Esther 4:12-14)
The Queen – The Bride of Messiah
The Bride petitions the King for the lives of God’s Chosen People.
“Then Queen Esther answered, ‘If I have found favor with you, O king, and if it pleases your majesty, grant me my life—this is my petition. And spare my people—this is my request. For I and my people have been sold for destruction and slaughter and annihilation. If we had merely been sold as male and female slaves, I would have kept quiet, because no such distress would justify disturbing the king’” (Esther 7:3-4).
The King – Messiah Yeshua
The King rewards the Bride because of her faithful and courageous stand for his chosen people.
”That same day King Ahasuerus gave the house of Haman, the enemy of the Jews, to Esther the queen. Also Mordecai appeared before the king, for Esther had revealed his relationship to her” (Esther 8:1).
Mordecai – The Warrior
The warrior who fought for the lives of the chosen people is rewarded with a signet ring, the seal of the King, and dressed in royal robes.
“The king removed his signet ring, which he had taken back from Haman, and gave it to Mordecai. Then Esther put Mordecai in charge of Haman’s house. Meanwhile, Mordecai left the king’s presence arrayed in royal blue and white, wearing a large gold crown and a robe of fine linen and purple; and the city of Shushan shouted for joy” (Esther 8:2, 15).
The Jews – The Kingdom
The Jews celebrate Mordecai’s decree that freed them from certain death, keeping alive the nation of Israel.
“For the Jews, all was light, gladness, joy and honor. In every province and city where the king’s order and decree arrived, the Jews had gladness and joy, a feast and a holiday. Many from the peoples of the land became Jews, because fear of the Jews had overcome them” (Esther 8:16-17).
Haman – The Adversary
Haman builds a gallows 75 feet high in order to kill Mordecai, his sworn enemy. The word 75 in Hebrew is abos and means ‘to feed,’ ‘fatten’ or ‘food for livestock.’ The actual Hebrew letters that make up 75 are ayin and hey. The Hebrew letter pictures for these two letters mean ‘window’ and ‘reveal.’ The numerical meaning of 75 could mean ‘seeing and revealing’ the Adversary’s true desire: to destroy the Jewish people so Yeshua would not be born; and to destroy the nation of Israel in our day so he cannot return and end the rule of the ‘god of this world.’
“Haman had just fallen on the couch where Ester was, when the king returned from the palace garden to the wine banquet. He shouted, “Is he even going to rape the queen here in the palace, before my very eyes?” The moment these words left the king’s mouth, they covered Haman’s face. Harvonah, one of the king’s attendants, said, “Look! The gallows seventy-five feet high that Haman made for Mordekhai, who spoke only good for the king, is standing at Haman’s house.” The king said, “Hang him on it.” So they hanged Haman on the gallows he had prepared for Mordekhai” (Esther 7:8-10).
Yeshua and Purim
“After this, there was a Judean festival; and Yeshua went up to Yerushalayim. In Yerushalayim, by the Sheep Gate, is a pool called in Aramaic, Beit-Zata, in which lay a crowd of invalids — blind, lame, crippled. Now that day was Shabbat, so the Judeans said to the man who had been healed, ‘It’s Shabbat! It’s against Torah for you to carry your mat!’” (John 5:1-3, 9-10)
In John chapter 5, Yeshua goes to Jerusalem and celebrates an unnamed Biblical festival. In Bethesda, meaning ‘House of Mercy,’ he heals a crippled man on the Sabbath. The only Biblical festival to occur on a Sabbath during the years of Yeshua’s ministry was Purim in 28 CE. It is believed by scholars that the Spirit of God left out the specific name of the feast in the Gospel because references to God is not found in the book of Esther.
There is, however, the alef and the tav found throughout the book of Esther. In Revelation 22:13, Yeshua says that he is the ‘beginning and the end, “the alef and the tav.” He would not have used the Greek letters ‘alpha’ and ‘omega’ because he spoke Hebrew. The Hebrew letters alef and tav make the word ‘et’ and are sprinkled throughout the sentences in the Hebrew Scriptures. They do not have a specific meaning like ‘the’ or ‘and’ though they sometimes modify a noun. Until Yeshua explains those letters as a ‘sign’ of himself in Revelation, a reader of the Hebrew language couldn’t ‘see’ him in passages like Esther 4:7 and 9:29. Though the name of God is not found in Esther, Yeshua, who is the alef and the tav, is.
Purim – Victory over Anti-semitism and Death
“Mordecai recorded these events, and he sent letters to all the Jews throughout the provinces of King Ahasuerus, near and far, to have them celebrate annually the fourteenth and fifteenth days of the month of Adar as the time when the Jews got relief from their enemies, and as the month when their sorrow was turned into joy and their mourning into a day of celebration. He wrote them to observe the days as days of feasting and joy and giving presents of food to one another and gifts to the poor” (Esther 9:20-22).
The day of ‘lots’ became an annual memorial to the Jews’ victory over anti-semitism and Purim has been observed from the days of Persia through the days of Yeshua until today. Each of us has to choose whether we want to be like the warrior Mordecai who stood for the God of Israel, like Queen Esther who was willing to lay down her life for the Jewish people or like King Ahasuerus whose life was transformed by the faithful Jews in his life. Or, we can be like Haman who desired to destroy the nation of people from whom salvation would come.
For more about Yeshua fullfilling the ‘appointed times,’ purchase Yeshua in His Father’s Feasts.
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