The Meaning Of Purim – Story of Esther

Written by Michael

March 1, 2023

You Can Be An Esther Today – Stand with the Jewish People…

This week, the Jewish holiday of Purim is celebrated in the Jewish community around the world – but is there a prophetic significance to Believers in Yeshua?

Purim details the story of Queen Esther; the entire book of Esther is read along with Exodus 17 (which will show significance as well later on in the text) AND it entails an atmosphere of joy.

Jewish children will dress up in the characters of Esther (Mordechai, Esther, Haman, the King etc.) Plays called Purimspiels enact the story of the book of Esther. Young Jewish girls will participate in Queen Esther beauty pageants. During the plays and at the synagogue readings of the Megillah (Scroll of Esther), children drown out every mention of Haman’s name with greggers (noisemakers) while adults stamp their feet, boo and hiss. Donations are made to the poor, and everyone enjoys the traditional three-cornered poppyseed or fruit pastries called hamantaschen. Yet behind all the feasting and celebration lies a somber message: the near destruction of the Jewish people.

Purim reminds us that Jewish survival often hangs by a thread of circumstance—Much like we see in today’s news concerning the State of Israel. This year, Purim is celebrated March 7th, and typically what occurs, is the Jewish people fast the day before and celebrate with feasting and joy on the day of Purim. Purim is classified as one of the “minor” holidays in the Jewish calendar, but that is not the assessment of the ancient rabbis. Many believed that the book of Esther was intended to illustrate God at work behind the scenes. That interpretation makes sense in light of the Scriptural text which does not even mention the name of God one time.

The events recorded in the book of Esther took place in fifth-century Persia. Though they are real, with dramatic confrontations, heroes and villains establish the plot for a melodrama: Esther, the beautiful Jewish teenager, becomes queen of Persia. Haman, the ambitious, arrogant politician seeking power, turns his envy of godly Mordecai into a vendetta against the entire Jewish population of Persia. Mordecai, Esther’s cousin, appeals to her for help. She cautiously agrees to approach the king, but she has kept her religious and ethnic identity a secret. After hosting two banquets for Haman and the king, Esther reveals her Jewish identity. In the presence of Haman she tells the king of Haman’s treacherous plot to destroy the Jewish people. Haman and his sons are taken away and executed. Mordecai becomes prime minister and receives great honor. Esther remains queen, and the Jewish people are spared from extermination.

Many scholars have compared Purim to the “major” holiday of Yom Kippur. The Orthodox Hasidim interpreted Purim as a classic case of Kiddush Ha-Shem (the sanctification of the Name (of God) where individual Jews were willing to die rather than forsake their faith. (Similar to what happened prior to and during the time of Hannukah) The theme of preservation under severe hardship and genocidal threats runs throughout Jewish history. Thus at Purim, Haman is seen as a metaphor of evil like Pharaoh, Antiochus Epiphanes (who desecrated the temple during Channukah), Chmielnicki (who conducted the pogroms), King Ferdinand (who conducted the Inquisition) or even Adolf Hitler. (In a speech in 1944, Hitler actually said that if the Nazis were defeated, the Jewish people could celebrate “a second triumphant Purim.” – the fact he knew that and stated that shows the absolute raw intention he possessed and not simply deception)

As we look into what lies at the heart of the book of Esther, we see the Amalekite curse. In Esther 3:1 Haman is referred to as an Agagite, a descendant of Agag, King of Amalek. Israel’s first encounter with the Amalekites is recorded in Exodus 17. After the Exodus, as the Israelites wandered in the wilderness prior to settling in the promised land, the Amalekites were the first of the Canaanite nations to attack them. For this arrogance, God punished the Amalekites with the ultimate curse of the ancient Near East: the blotting out of their name. Then the LORD said to Moses, “Write this for a memorial in the book and recount it in the hearing of Joshua, that I will utterly blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven.” “…the LORD will have war with Amalek from generation to generation” (Exodus 17:14,16). In Numbers 24:20, the disgraced prophet Balaam states, “Amalek was first among the nations, but shall be last until he perishes.” The shame of the Amalekites was memorialized in Moses’ farewell speech to Israel: Cursing or blotting out the names of evil men is found throughout the Hebrew Scriptures. The verb most often used in this context is machah, which means “to blot out” or “to obliterate.” It occurs 35 times in various forms, often describing the actions of God to “blot out” the name or the memory of particular individuals or nations. Sometimes it refers to the “blotting out” of sin.

It is the word used in the Torah for God’s promise to blot out the name of Amalek, but it is also used several times in reference to God’s anger toward the people of Israel.

It would seem that the enmity between Mordecai and Haman in the book of Esther was the dramatic climax of a feud that had lasted almost a thousand years. Not only was Haman an Agagite, but Mordecai was from the tribe of Benjamin and a descendant of Kish, who was the father of King Saul. So we see a pattern – initially existed Moses and Amalek, then Saul and Agag, and finally Mordecai and Haman. In the book of Esther the curse on Amalek and the obliteration of his name recurred. In the celebration of Purim, Jews, along with all of Israel, join Mordecai in blotting out the name of Haman and, by transference, the names of Agag and Amalek.  It is no coincidence, then, that at Purim the celebrations consist of making noise and trying to drown out the reader’s voice every time Haman’s name is mentioned in the reading of the Megillah. Like those Jews who follow the ancient tradition of writing Haman’s name on the soles of their shoes, every time they stamp their feet, boo and hiss and make noise at the mention of Haman, they are signifying the eliminating of the name that God has cursed and judged.

Haman ended up on the very gallows he had constructed for Mordecai.

In modern times, hanging conjures up the image of a limp body suspended by a rope with a noose around the victim’s neck. However, according to the Greek historian Herodotus, in ancient Persia hanging was a much more painful form of execution. The condemned person did not hang from a noose but was impaled on a stake and lifted high in the air, an early form of crucifixion. Thus Haman’s crime and punishment remind us of the passage in Deuteronomy 21:23: “…he who is hanged is accursed of God.” 

Purim reminds us of God’s faithfulness and the triumph of the righteous victim over the evil oppressor. There are those today who see the meaning of Purim only in terms of good deeds overpowering the Hamans of this world. The only way to rebuild the world is for it to be turned upside down once again—then finally it will be right side up.

Yeshua (Jesus), the innocent Messiah, willingly took the place of the guilty, and the weight of such a sacrifice was enough to swing the world back to an upright position where people could face God and ask forgiveness. Instead of an evil Haman hanging from the gallows, Yeshua, the innocent one, made that sacrifice. And though He was hung on a tree, His name is not blotted out or cursed. It has become the name that brings life and salvation—a name that is above all other names. 

Now that you understand the celebration of Purim, you need to ask yourself this question.  Could it be that you were placed in this world, for such a time as this, to be like Esther, one who cares for and blesses the people of God.  We see the evils of global governance, radical Islam, and anti-Semitism rising rapidly – just as Communism and the Nazis attempted, only decades ago these things: 1) Control the masses through terror, economics, and power; 2) Eliminate the individual’s right to worship and pursue life as they choose – essentially destroying freedom; and 3) To destroy Israel, the Jewish people, and believers in Jesus.  Today, you and I, being engrafted into the true root and covenant, can fill the role of Esther and stand for Israel and the Jewish people. We will then see God’s strength revealed through our solidarity to honor God and his covenant to His first born, Israel…and to those who are a part of “the Commonwealth of Israel…” – That is you and I as well…

What is happening in Ukraine, regardless of what one believes is the influence, cause, and Putin’s role; we know one thing is happening – Jewish people are escaping and going to Israel if at all possible.  This is significant! (leave the prognosticating out of it – Gog, Magog, Tubal etc.) – the fact that more are being FORCED out of Ukraine to make a new home in the Land should indicate to all Believers around the world – this thing is wrapping up.  Remember – the Scriptures were not written to Americans – read that again – they were not – They were written TO Ancient Near East peoples – and then to first Century Jews and then later included first Century Gentiles in the Epistles.  The Scriptures, in regard to those that followed were written FOR us as we are engrafted into the covenant of Abraham and Yeshua by our total belief and loyalty through grace and His body and blood.  When we see it through correct lenses like this – we realize that the significance of feasts like Purim – though outside the requirements – are extremely significant to us all. 

I encourage you to pray and ask the father how you can be a part of sowing into the lives of Jewish people.  We are taking the entire month of March and dedicating our HolocaustSurvivorhelp.com resources to helping Jewish immigrants and reaching them with love and the Good News – as well as if needs are required for their travel to Israel.  Please consider going to HolocaustSurvivorHelp.com to give.  We are working with our teams on the ground in Israel; this is fertile soil to see the love of the Good News of our King displayed to those who need help right now.

Shalom,

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