to Jerusalem at the degree of King Cyrus and the return of a second wave of Jews under the leadership of Ezra.
Esther was a Jewess orphaned in early childhood and raised by her uncle Mordecai. Through a chance of events, Esther became part of beauty pageant, so to speak, and became the one that King Xerxes chose as his next wife. The villain in the story was Haman who despised the Jews and schemed to have then all destroyed. However, he did not calculate that the Queen herself was a Jew. Although no one, not even the Queen, could enter the presence of the king uninvited, Mordecai stated that Esther being Queen was likely the reason that God had allowed her to have this position of authority. With time running out, and not being invited by the King to see her, Esther took her life in her hands and went to the king uninvited. However, God was gracious and the king extended his scepter towards her indicating his acceptance of her presence. Esther invited her king and Haman to a dinner party and they both accepted. At the second dinner, Esther announced the scheme of Haman and the king was angry. As the king left the room in his anger to think, Haman pleaded with Esther for his life; however, when the king returned it appeared to him that Haman was making advances toward Esther. This made him even angrier; so angry that he immediately ordered guards to take Haman away and kill him. Haman was executed on the very gallows which he had earlier prepared for Mordecai.
Previously, Haman had tricked Xerxes to allow him to announce that all Persians could kill Jews on a certain day and be protected from retaliation. Although Xerxes could not rescind his decree, he allowed Mordecai to send out another decree with his signet ring announcing to everyone in his kingdom that the Jews would be allowed to retaliate and defend their lives with the Jews being protected from retaliation for their actions.
Because the actions of Esther and Mordecai saved the lives of many Jews throughout Persia, a joyous festival was held and then commemorated each year thereafter by a similar joyous celebration. You can see why it is such a joyous celebration: so many lives were saved because Esther was willing to put her life on the line for her people. It became known as Purim because the word ‘pur’ means ‘to cast one’s lot’ which Haman had done against the Jews, and God had turned it into a victory.
The book of Esther is unique in other ways also. God is nowhere mentioned in the book and prayer is not mentioned. Esther asked Mordecai and her people to fast but prayer is not specifically mentioned. However, I find it hard to believe that fasting would not involve prayer; they are tightly linked. Although God is not mentioned, it is quite clear that God controlled the events and circumstances for Esther’s actions to be fruitful and profitable. It points to God’s divine grace and providence.
Although most Christians do not celebrate Purim, we have a lot to learn from the event. Has God called you to do something that is hard and difficult? If so, He also will see you through it. Esther is a testimony to God’s faithfulness and our faith in God’s promises.
Fall Jewish Holidays - Part 1: Rosh Hashanah