Glimpses of Israel - The Festival of Purim

by Joy Hunting

The celebration of Purim on the 14th and 15th days of the Hebrew month Adar falls this year on March 2nd and 3rd, and in commemoration of this Biblical event each year the book of Esther is read in the synagogues. For the Jewish people it is a time of rejoicing, a time for gift-giving, and a time for the children in particular to dress up and re-enact the story of their deliverance from their enemies.

The events commemorated by Purim occurred in the time of Israel's servitude which began with their being taken captive to Babylon, and though the remembrance of Purim does not find a place in the Law of Moses, its institution and importance are recorded in the Bible in the book of Esther:

"And Mordechai wrote these things and sent letters to all the Jews who were in all the provinces of King Ahasuerus, both near and far, to establish among them that they should celebrate yearly the fourteenth and fifteenth days of the month Adar, as the days on which the Jews had rest from their enemies, as the month which was turned from sorrow to joy for them, and from mourning to a holiday;

"that they should make them days of feasting and joy, of sending presents to one another and gifts to the poor. So they called these days Purim, after the name Pur ... that without fail they should celebrate these two days every year ... that these days should be remembered and kept throughout every generation ... and that the memory of them should not perish among their descendants" (Esther 9:20-22,26,28).

The events recorded in the book of Esther happened at just the right time, in just the right way, when the Jewish people were preserved from an indescribable disaster. It was proof positive that God was "working all things after the counsel of His own will" because He had said, "No weapon formed against you shall prosper, and every tongue which rises against you in judgement you shall condemn."