The Feasts of Israel
Session 11 | The Feast Of Purim
The Unordained Feasts
We have looked at the biblical feasts (ordained by God in Scripture). Now we turn our attention to what we will call unordained feasts. These are seen in Scripture but nor ordained in Scripture. These include Purim, Hanukkah, and the Feast of Wood. While Jews are not obligated by God to keep the feasts, to do so showed devotion to God and patriotism toward their nation.
Purim: The Happy Feast
The Biblical Instruction For the Feast
The first Purim was held during the time of Esther, celebrating the defeat of Hamaan. Purim stands as a reminder of his defeat and the salvation of the Jewish nation and identity at that time. The account of this first Purim is found in Esther 9:14-32. Outside of Shushan (the Persian capital at the time), the feast was observed on the 14th and 15th days of Adar, the last month of the religious year (Nissan being the first). Within the city, the feast was held on the 15th of Adar. Esther 9:19 instituted the tradition of those living in unwalled towns celebrating on the 14th. It became a day of gladness and feasting, and a good day, and of sending portions one to another (Est. 9:19). This is the tradition of all modern Jews today since they are all considered to live in unwalled towns.
In Esther 9:26 we are given the understanding of the name Purim. The word pur is the Persian word for lot. The "coincidence" of finding rest from enemies on the day of destruction is indicative the way in which God deals with His elect nation when they are out of fellowship with Him. Rather than dealing directly and explicitly, His work in such times is through what appears to be happenstance.
In verses 27-28 the Jewish people banded together, appointed time every And that these days should be remembered and kept throughout every generation, every family, every province, and every city; and that these days of Purim should not fail from among the Jews.
The Modern Observance of Purim
There are four mitvahs (activities which fulfill a Biblical instruction) that are observed by Jews today. According to Chabad, these are:
Megillah (book of Esther), which recounts the story of the Purim miracle. This is done once on the eve of Purim and then again on the following day.
Giving money gifts to at least two poor people.
Sending gifts of two kinds of food to at least one person.
A festive Purim feast, which often includes wine or other intoxicating beverages.
To put it mildly, the Jewish observance of Purim is the singular Jewish holiday in which chaos breaks loose! It is the “happiest" day in the Jewish year. In fact, the festive feast day involves so much wine that it is encouraged that adult Jews get drunk (something rare in Jewish life). The sages said that an “Blessed be Mordechai" and “Cursed be Haman."
One Rabbi explained the madness of the day as follows:
You really have to neighborhood becomes one big party.
“What does this have to do with Purim?"
The tradition is associated with the very name, Purim*.* As we previously mentioned, pur is a lot“by chance" that God saved the people from Haman. God's work was not obvious, but providential. Jews today try to be hidden in plain sight on Purim.
There are two others (besides God Himself) who are hidden in the story, and these are two hidden Kings, Agag and Saul. Agag was king of the Amalekites, the first enemy encountered by Israel after leaving Egypt. In 1 Samuel 15:7-11 the Bible tells us that King Saul was to kill King Agag but failed to do so. For this reason, God determined to remove Saul from the throne and give it to another. But how are these two Kings embedded in the Purim story?
In Esther 3:1 we learn that Haman, the villain of Esther who attempts to eradicate the Jewish people from the Kingdom, is an Agagite, a descendent of Agag! And it was King Saul who saw supposed to destroy Agag but“hidden hero" of the Esther account? According to Esther 2:5, Mordecai was the son of Jair, the son of Shimei, the son of Kish, a Benjamite. And why does that matter? Because, according to 1 Chronicles 12:1, King Saul himself is said to be the son of kish, a Benjamite.
Therefore, hidden in this story is a secret Saul who puts to death a secret Haman, and a secret God orchestrates it all using a secret Jewess named Esther.