PURIM: THE FEAST OF LOTS (ESTHER 9:17-32)

. . . because Haman the son of Hammedatha, the Agagite, the enemy of all the Jews, had plotted against the Jews to destroy them, and had cast Pur, that is the lot, to consume them, and to destroy them; . . . Esther 9:24

Today, there are nine major feasts or holy seasons of Israel. Seven of these were inaugurated by Moses in Leviticus 23.[1] Of the two which were inaugurated after the Mosaic feasts, one is Channukah, the Feast of the Dedication or the Feast of Lights; and the other is the Feast of Purim, a feast inaugurated in the Book of Esther.

THE NAMES OF THE FEAST

By far the most common name today is Purim, and this is the biblical name according to Esther 9:26. Purim is the plural form of the singular word Pur meaning “lot,” so Purim means “lots.” Purim is the Feast of Lots, and the reason this name was given is spelled out in Esther 9:24: because Haman had cast Pur, the lot, to destroy the Jews (Esth. 3:7; 9:24). Of course he did not succeed and now the feast celebrates the fact that God delivered his people from this threat. The Nazis banned Purim observances. Hitler, on January 31, 1944, said that if the Nazis went down in defeat, the Jews would celebrate a second triumphal Purim. How right he was! On October 16, 1946, ten Nazis were hung in Nuremberg like the ten sons of Haman. One of them was Julius Streicher, who said as he was hung, “Purim, 1946.”

Other names for this day include: “Mordecai’s Day” (II Maccabees 15:36; Esth. 9:20‑21), since Mordecai actually inaugurated this feast, and Id El Sukar, which is Arabic, meaning “the sweet festival.”[2]

PURIM IN THE SCRIPTURE

Esther 9:17-32 is the only passage that actually deals with this feast. From this passage we can deduce a total of eight observations and conclusions.

  1. Outside the capital city of Shushan, the first observance took place on the fourteenth day of the month of Adar.
  2. In Shushan, the first observance took place on the fifteenth day of Adar.
  3. This set the stage for a differential in later Jewish observances. To this day, in villages and unwalled towns, the Jews celebrate this feast on the fourteenth day of the month, but inside walled cities, they celebrate it on the fifteenth day of the month of Adar.
  4. There are five elements in observing the Feast of Purim. First, this was to be a time of feasting in place of fasting, which would have been the case had the Jews been slaughtered. Secondly, it was to be a day of gladness, in place of being a day of sorrow, which would have been the case if the Jews were slaughtered. Thirdly, it was to be a good day in place of a day of mourning, which would have been the case if Haman’s plot had succeeded. Fourthly, it was to be a day of giving portions one to another in place of their own possessions becoming a spoil. For, in order to motivate people to kill Jews, Haman said that those who killed the Jews would then have the right to take over their possessions, thus the Jews would then have had their possessions taken away. And, fifth, it was to be a day of giving gifts to the poor, in contrast to having nothing to give had Haman’s plot succeeded.
  5. The name for the feast was based on Haman’s actions: he cast the Pur, or he cast the lot, to determine on which day he would try to destroy the Jews.
  6. The Feast of Purim is observed because of Haman’s failure.
  7. The first observance of the Feast of Purim was purely spontaneous as a sign of relief because they had rest from their enemies.
  8. The practice of the yearly observance was initiated by Mordecai. It was his letters that encouraged the Jews to do so, and it was given the status of law by Queen Esther. The Jewish people then made a commitment to keep it yearly.

THE MESSIANIC IMPLICATIONS

Although the Feast of Purim contains no direct reference to the Messianic Person or Messianic Program, it does have something to teach about the Messianic People, the Jewish people. The Messianic Person is Yeshua (Jesus) of Nazareth. The Messianic Program is to bring in the Messianic or Millennial Kingdom.

The Book of Esther is a good example of a principle found in the Abrahamic Covenant (Gen. 12:3): him that curses you will I curse.

This principle of the Abrahamic Covenant teaches that those who curse the Jews will be cursed by God. The principle of the Abrahamic Covenant contains a promise of Jewish survival throughout the Times of the Gentiles. Both the Law and the Prophets emphasize the fact that the Jews will survive, regardless of how bad it may get for them during the Times of the Gentiles-that is a biblical guarantee.

The key thing about the Messianic People as taught in the Book of Esther is an example of God’s use of providence to secure the survival of Israel in the Dispersion. The one thing about the Book of Esther that is not true of any other book of the Bible is that God’s name is found nowhere in this book. This makes the Book of Esther unique from all other books. There is no mention of God, no reference to God, and no prayer to God whatsoever. In fact, the author of this book is deliberately going well out of his way to avoid mentioning God. For example, there is one situation in the book where Mordecai, the real hero of the book, is arguing with Esther to do something to help the Jews out of a dangerous predicament.

Mordecai’s words to Esther are in Esther 4:14:

For if you altogether hold your peace at this time, then will relief and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place, . . .

The two words, another place, is as close as this book will come to any possible reference to God. It is very obvious that the author of this book is deliberately going well out of his way to avoid mentioning God. But, if that is true, why is this book in the Scriptures? Although God is not mentioned in the Book of Esther, God is working. However, God is not working in just any old way, He is working in a perfect way. He is working on the basis of the Abrahamic Covenant, especially upon the one principle in that covenant: him that curses you will I curse.

Furthermore, we did need at least one example in Scripture that shows how God works by means of providence, rather than by means of direct intervention. Since throughout most of human history, God chooses to work providentially rather than by means of direct intervention, this book is a great example of how that system works.

The Book of Esther shows God’s use of providence to secure the survival of Israel during the period of the Dispersion. While great segments of the Jews may be killed, as it was with the Holocaust, God has guaranteed that the Jews as a people and as a nation will survive. And so it will be until Israel’s national salvation and the return of the Messiah. With Israel’s national salvation and with His return; there will be no further threat to Jewish survival whatsoever.

For a thorough discussion of Purim in Judaism, continue reading here.

Happy Purim!!



[1] This post is a modified version of Dr. Arnold Fruchtenbaum’s original Messianic Bible Study. The full version may be obtained here.

[2] This name was given by the Arabs of Jerusalem during the Turkish period (1517‑1917). It became the Jewish custom inJerusalem to give sugar candies to Moslem authorities on this day, thus, the Arabs began calling this feast the “Sweet Festival.”

9 thoughts on “PURIM: THE FEAST OF LOTS (ESTHER 9:17-32)

  1. i just wanted to thank each & every one of you @ ariel ministries for your faithfulness, devotion & service ….. happy purim, shabbat shalom, & may G_D bless & keep each & every one of you !….rabbidom

  2. Thank you for the “Feast of Purim” I think it is very important to know about the Feast of Purim, It is not new to me but a good reminder of how the Jewish history fits in so well for today.

  3. Glory to Elohim, I feel the presence of the Holy spirit, while I’m reading the short story about the feast of Purim, since i become a christian for the first time, that now I know about the Purim feast. thanks to God for the Messianic Bible Study by Dr. Arnold Fruchtenbaum, Shalom to all..

  4. Thank you all for your faithfulness, devotion and service and May God blass you all and keep you all. Shalom.

  5. Some interesting history about the connection between the Persian celebration of Sizdah-bedar (casting out 13) and Purim.

    Have you ever wondered about the history of April Fools? Well the origins of this tradition may date back to the common history of two nations which are still in the news today. By some accounts Israel and Iran are at the brink of war and events seem to be spiraling out of control. The history and dynamics surrounding the relationships of these two nations is fascinating and could well be the basis for the tradition of April Fools.

    Nowruz, literally “new light” is the name of the Persian new year celebration which lasts twelve days. It is celebrated in the spring and is closely related to the Spring Equinox. Historians say it has been celebrated for at least 3000 years. It is a joyous time of visiting family and friends.

    On the 13th day of the New Year the Persian people celebrate Sizdah-bedar. Sizdah-bedar literally means getting rid of 13. It is often associated with bad luck and ill omen. Many Persian families spend the day in the countryside. It is so widely celebrated that some towns seem deserted on this day. This tradition can be traced as far back as the 6th century BC. It is also celebrated in Iraq, Azerbaijan, Central Asia and Armenia. On this day Persian’s play practical jokes on each other and some claim it is the basis for April Fool’s day. It is interesting to note that Sizdah-bedar is strangely absent from much of Persian history after it became part of the Muslim World in the seventh century.

    About the same time Sizdah-bedar is first noticed historically in Persian culture the very same day is recorded as a day of infamy in Biblical tradition. In the book of Esther, a Persian named Haman conceives a plan to destroy the Jewish people. As part of his preparations he starts casting Pur (lots) in the 1st month (Nisan) of the 12th year of the Persian king Ahasuerus. He continues with this ritual for 12 months. Then in the 1st month (13th month from when it began), in the 13th year of king Ahasuerus, on the 13th day of the month the king makes Haman’s plan to destroy all the Jews of the kingdom, law. This day was Sizdah-bedar, the very same day which Persians for the last 2500 years have associated with bad luck.

    Those familiar with the book of Esther know that the date for the extermination of the Jewish people was set for the13th day of 12th month of the 13th year of king Ahasuerus. It was through the courage of Queen Hadassah (Esther) and her intervention on behalf of her people that a day meant for the destruction of the Jewish people instead became a day of destruction for their enemies. For over 2500 years the 13th- 15th of Adar is remembered as a day of deliverance for the Jewish people in their celebration of Purim.

    Ironic, isn’t it, that Sizdah-bedar, the day of getting rid of 13, was the day Haman was given permission to “get rid” of a nation of people who it could be argued consisted of 13 tribes.

    So next time April comes around give a thought to one of the greatest April fools of all time. Consider a man who had determined evil upon a whole race of people and ended up reaping what he had sown.

    April fools indeed!

  6. i took down my facebook i’m just tired, i want to go to the military so i can become a man i need to be broken a fresh start i hear the warriors call even if i’m useless i was juts going to man up, even if the made me pay for m sins fro proper reasoning i’d do my time like a man, i can take discipline from my pastor and any man of God i just want to know who am i and what am i supposed to do with these spots he always gives a hawk what if it touches my shoulder what am i to do i guess like i said before i am lost

  7. its kind of hard living with family who are not devoted to the lord, sure i sin but me knowing time is a burden i just wish everyone was saved at times, than again i need to quit smoking and provoking people. i don’t know i guess i’m just lost, i got heart full of thorns and at times i feel a pinch on my heart, i just want to know do i go to israel stake my claim or stay the way i am, i know and get the lord claimed the scripture but what do i do when he showed me through a revelation i was apart of it except i was in the whole he stuck his hand in. i’m scared to tell pastor why the mountain burned and i mean mount diablo, i do need help and advice

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