http://JewishHistory.org Have you ever asked yourself, “What is the Jewish holiday of Purim all about?”
The story of Purim is about the survival of the Jews and Judaism in Persia and Babylonia, despite attempts to destroy them.
After Persia conquers Babylonia, the Persian King Achashverosh throws a ball and invites the Jews to participate. They therefore feel confident that they will be safe in the kingdom. However, the King’s minister, Haman, plans to destroy the Jewish People. Meanwhile- the King holds a beauty contest in order to pick a new Queen, and in the end chooses an observant Jewish woman named Esther. Esther’s uncle Mordechai consents to the marriage and she becomes the queen, though Mordechai keeps constant awareness of his niece and the happenings of the Kingdom.
Haman, who is evil incarnate, convinces the King Achashverosh that the Jews must be gotten rid of. He cloaks this evil plan with a veneer of legitimacy, claiming that the Jews are subversive and that their money should go to Persian efforts. Mordechai explains to Esther that she, due to her position of power, must save the Jewish people- and she agrees to try.
Risking her life, Esther approaches the King, and they arrange to have a banquet. The King is suspicious of Haman, and Esther- who is aware of this suspicion, plans to trap Haman so that he will be seen as a true enemy to the King.
Meanwhile, Haman, trying to increase his status in the Kingdom, hears that the King is looking to honor one of his most loyal subjects- and advises that such a person should be dressed in royal clothing, and led around the city on a royal chariot. Haman, like all tyrants, believes that he must be the one whom the King wishes to honor- but is shocked to find that it is his enemy Mordechai (who had previously saved the King’s life). Nevertheless, Haman is forced to lead Mordechai around the city and proclaim that this is the reward for one who saves the King’s life.
Afterwards, Haman must come to the banquet which was arranged by Esther. When everybody has had a significant amount to drink, Esther tells the King that Haman does not care about the Kingdom and wishes to destroy the Jewish people- that he is an enemy of herself and the King. Haman then trips and falls onto Esther’s divan, which the King sees as a sexual advance and therefore becomes further enraged.
Haman, his family, and his cohorts are hanged. Mordechai is raised to a position of power, while he and Esther save the Jewish people.
We read this story from the Megillah (Scroll of Esther) every Purim festival, and it still applies today. In every generation there is a Haman, Achashverosh, Mordechai, and Esther
Categories: Jewish History
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